Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Expo and the Boston Marathon

This post was difficult to write. I even debated on not writing it at all. It is told from a spectators view point, as of right now Ali has no interest in reliving his Boston run. That may change in the future...we will see. Why did I decide to write it anyway? Because I must admit that I loved being in Boston and am very proud of Ali's run. We didn't get any post-race celebratory or medal photos, but I made do with what we had.

Sunday morning after I finished the B.A.A. 5K we headed over to the Boston Marathon Expo. This was, by far, the largest expo I've been to recently. The only other expo that I have been to that would compare is the London Marathon Expo. There were thousands of people in there it seemed. The first place the guys went was to get their jackets. The marathon jackets this year are blue and yellow. I love the bright colors!! Here is a picture of Ali, Dale, Jim, and Kenny.

The sense of excitement in the expo was awesome! Ali picked up his race bib and finishers shirt. We snapped this pic as we were walking into the merchandise area.

Ali had gotten an email about a free gift from the Rock and Roll table for any runner who qualified for Boston at one of their races. Ali qualified at the New Orleans we wandered over to see what they had. He received this awesome Brooks hat, and I got this cool water bottle for wearing my RNR bag :)

We must have wandered around from booth to booth sampling protein products and hydration drinks for an hour!! After we had our fill of free samples, we decided to hit the Freedom Trail and tour Boston a little. Lucky for Ali, we ran into my friend Tristan... so he was able to return to the hotel to rest up while I toured the city with her. I'll post about that later this week :)

Monday morning came very early for us. Ali got up very early to start hydrating, and to walk to the bus that would take him to the start of the race. He was out the door by 6, yet the race wouldn't start for another 4 hours! I got up a little later and wandered on down to the finish line to meet Tristan. She had gotten down there very early to reserve us some amazing viewing spots! How awesome is she?!? She even bought some cool seats so we wouldn't have to stand the whole time. It sure made our 5 hour wait much more enjoyable!! We sat in front of the Lenox, which was prime spectating territory.

Here is a picture I took of the finish line before it got crowded with runners. It was amazing to see how many volunteers were working "behind the scenes" to get ready for the athletes to cross the line. The first racers started arriving before we knew it. I really enjoyed seeing the wheelchair racers come through. They amaze me. I have so much respect for anyone who has that much upper body strength! They came flying across the line. A few hours after the start we started getting anxious to see the elite runners come down Boylston Street. The very nice woman police officer who was standing in front of us was kind enough to keep us updated on the status of the runners. Whenever she got an update, she'd pass it along to us. I felt like aVIP!

Here is a great photo of Tristan and me waiting patiently on our husbands and friends. We had a great system going in order to keep track of our crew. This year the B.A.A. had a great app available for tracking runners. I downloaded the app on my iPhone and iPad. We received regular updates on my phone until it died an hour into the race. I then began trying to log onto wifi in the area to continue with our coverage on the iPad. Too bad for me that I couldn't get logged on to a very good connection. Thankfully Tristan had her phone too...though her battery was quickly dying on us too.

The app let us know approximately when the guys would be coming our way. Our friend Kenny was the first one we saw. He was flying and finished with a PR in 2:49:18!!! Ali came running through next in 3:02:56. I was so proud of him. I was glad he knew where I was standing, or else he may have missed us in the thousands of people that were around us. The noise level from the cheering crowd was amazing, and my cow bell didn't seem to be very loud. Haha!! Next came Steve (Tristan's hubby). He ran on over to the barricade and gave Tristan a huge kiss!!! It was the sweetest finish of the day. We missed the rest of our group due to the sheer number of people finishing at that time, and because we didn't know what they were wearing.
It was a challenge getting to the family meeting area, but we eventually made it. Tristan and I split up there to find our husbands. It had been a fantastic morning, and we were ready to celebrate a job well done by the guys!!

Unfortunately, our jolly moods were soon shattered as Ali and I headed back towards the finish line area. We had been back in our hotel room so he could shower and change when we decided to wander back down to enjoy the atmosphere and do a little site seeing. As we neared the finish area we heard the two explosions. The day quickly turned into a waking nightmare. The events of that afternoon left me nervous and shaky for nearly a week. Hours of excitement and fun was ruined in a matter of seconds. I pray every day for the unfortunate victims of that act of terrorism.

Will we ever attend another large running event? Absolutely. Will we sign up to run in a world famous venue ever again? Without a doubt. My family and I will keep running and racing. We will continue to stand at the finish lines and cheer on our friends. Will we ever forget how we felt on that Patriot's Day? NEVER. But we will only use that to make us stronger.

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