Why I run the Boston Marathon #3: save the best for last

Thanks for continuing to read about my Boston Marathon journey!
(see Part 1 & Part 2 to catch up) If you have stuck around this long, you are pretty amazing!

This last part was the hard part for me to write about. I don’t like thinking about it and I try not to but it is always there in the back of my mind. (if you’re not a new reader and you’ve read this before, I will try not to bore you 😉)

Boston has always been a day that my friends and family Celebrate together.. Long before my husband arrived on my marathon scene, Ive been blessed to have had a core group of AMAZING girlfriends who have come to the finish line. They make a whole day of it-mimosas on the train, early morning beers, flasks…they do it right! Everyone always travels in one big group to meet me at the finish. Thanks to the tracking systems that the BAA has in place, they know pretty much exactly where I am at on the course. It’s pretty convenient nowadays to track your runner!

Some pics of us through the years at the finish line!
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For someone who doesn’t know my Boston Marathon story at all, there is an immediate follow up question after I have told them that I have run 8 (7 consecutive)Boston Marathons:

Where were you during the bombings in 2013?

Here. I was here during the bombs.
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I will sum it up as briefly as I can: my friends and family were all there: my husband, SIL, BIL, and 9 girlfriends. Big group. All there, and incredibly, no one was hurt. They were directly in between the two bombs (I was about 15-20 feet from the 2nd) After the 2nd bomb went off, I panicked. I have said it before and I will say it again: I thought the ground under my feet was going to explode. I had no idea what was going to happen next. I managed to find my framily within two minutes after the detonations. I know how blessed I was because some of my friends who were further back were stuck forhours without their families or a way to contact them.

**I would like to note that Everett was not there that day-he was sick so his dad stayed home with him. Now tell me that isn’t the greatest creaming miracle ever???**

One of the reasons I started this blog as a way to let out a lot of emotions about the aftermath from this tragedy. I can say to you that although it was almost two years ago, there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about the marathon bombings. I still cringe and cower at loud noises. Hearing fireworks makes me cry. PTSD is real and it is NOT a joke, friends. My husband who has always suffered with anxiety has possibly been affected the most. That is all I will say on that.

I spent the 2013-2014 marathon training season being angry at the marathon bombers. I felt sick, constantly thinking of those who had been hurt while we were all miraculously left unscathed. Survivors guilt. I had to learn that it was not my fault that this happened. Let’s just say running was pretty much therapy for me earlier this year. It was how I connected back to my own experience, and how I was able to make sense of it all. I realized that this world is chock full of amazing people. I mean sure, there are a hell of a lot of Kim & Kanye losers..but for the most part, the world is an incredibly beautiful and generous place. For example, after the bombings, I will never forget how one of my childhood besties stopped by house and left a bottle of champagne and then put a finish line on my door step for me to cross..(it still makes me cry when I think of it.) I’ll also never forget the hundreds of texts/facebooks/voicemails/phone calls we got making sure we were okay…people who I hadn’t spoken to in yearscalled my parents house to make sure we were okay. So people, although they may piss you off at times—they are GOOD. #lessonlearned

I refused not to go back to the starting line in 2014. I pretty much could have been pregnant and giving birth or sick with amoebic dysentery and would have still showed up at that starting line. I had to finish the race I started. All runners know that training for a marathon isn’t just the day you race. It’s the culmination of months and months of hard work and training. To have a moment of crossing the finish line stolen right from me felt like someone cut off an actual piece of me.

I trained for both the Hyannis and Boston Marathons at the same time, furious at the bombers. My anger at them fueled (and still does fuel) a lot of runs. I did fantastic in the Hyannis marathon this year:I set a new PR for myself of 3:45(in February), but then in April.. I could barely break 4:30. Why so slow? That day was an emotional roller coaster for me. I knew how worried my husband was that I was there ( he was home) and I was worried about my small group of friends who put on brave faces to get to the marathon finish line and pick me up. It was not an easy day. Combined with the heat, the mental exhaustion crushed me to slow, turtle like(for me) paces.

Perhaps my crappy finishing time is why I chose to train so hard for Baystate this year.. I really wanted the redemption. I refused to go quietly. I guess that is what has made me a hearty marathoner: I’ve never once thought about quitting. I have never thought I couldn’t do better. I’ve always assumed that because I’ve struggled so much that this means I can be more. Try to BQ after once running a 6 hour marathon? ok. Survive a terrorist attack and go back? ok.
There is nothing that isn’t “doable.” I continue to run Boston because it is at the core of my heart. There is nothing that will stop me.

It was such a long time ago that I was just a 14 year old kid vowing to be the youngest runner ever to run the Boston Marathon. I can’t believe I’m 32 and about to start training to run my 9th, (that ‘ish is cray) I never forgot the excitement of the crowds, or how those runners looked on TV as they sprinted towards Boylston street. You can feel the electric excitement and the energy of the runners coming right through your tv! That magical feeling is why I keep going back. I’ve never forgotten what I felt as a kid and I feel like I carry that feeling in my heart still. I love the Boston Marathon. It’s not only the oldest marathon in the world, it’s a part of my own history. It has shaped me into a better runner and made me push myself. So THAT is why I continue to run the Boston Marathon.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey!

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32 thoughts on “Why I run the Boston Marathon #3: save the best for last

  1. Wow! I had no idea that you were so close to the bombings. My Mom was at the race (working as an ambassador for our local city marathon) and she usually watches the finish. It took a while to get in contact with her (she actually left early to head to New York) and those couple of hours were awful. I can only imagine how awful it was for those directly affected. But major props to you (and your friends) to go back and reclaim your race.

    • Whoa!
      I can only imagine how awful
      That was for you, I was lucky bc my phone had enough juice for me to send a text to my sister to tell her to tell my mom we’re ok..so they knew we were alright! I can’t imagine what you went though waiting to hear!!

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing. I’m from the area, and after the bombings I wanted to run the next one so badly to prove to those bastards that they couldn’t take that away from us. So glad you got to go back. And so sorry that you had to experience that. I’m glad you were able to get closure.

  3. We were so lucky to find you that day! I got to go back that fall and my friend who didn’t get to finish wanted to finish, so we jogged the last 1/4 mile together. It makes me teary even now. When the Red Sox won I wanted so bad to go to the parade but I couldn’t. But I’m glad Boston took back tge city that day! I’m so glad we got to see you finish this year! Can’t wait for 2015!

  4. wow nicole. just wow. i got goosebumps reading this post and seeing how close you were to the 2nd bomb and that you werent hurt. and knowing that everett wasn’t there. and your friends and family werent hurt. my heart and prayers go out to you. gosh.

  5. WOW!!! WOW!!! And … WOW!!! Such an amazing story, truly book worthy for real Nicole. I had no idea how close you and your loved ones were to the bombs. I didn’t know then but I do now and I’m happy to say I do. I think you and Boston will forever be linked. And nooooo you are not cray … cray. Just a strong and determined runner with an amazing story. disappointments and tragedies are what make us stronger and you are no exception to the rule you may actually be the DEFINITION according to Webster’s Dictionary for strength and perseverance 🙂 Thanks for sharing this amazing story. Joking aside you should put your journey in a book someday.

  6. Nicole, you are truly a resilient and very inspiring woman to me. When I first found your blog a few months ago, I looked through some of your race reports and read about your 2013 Boston Marathon experience. I had tears running down my face because I could feel how real all your emotions were. It also brought up alot of memories and feelings of my own worst day in life when I lost my cousin in a terrorist bus bombing. It happened many years ago, but the hardest most painful memories will often remain the most vivid ones in your life. I think the most touching part of your story is that you are able to see so much good in people. When bad things happen to good people, I still struggle with finding all that goodness in the world. This is the story that made me choose to follow you and continue to learn about your positive outlook in life. Thanks for sharing – it means alot to me and I really take it to heart ❤

  7. What an awesome journey to share, Nicole. I enjoyed every part of it, but especially today’s. You’re so honest about your journey and what happened that day. While it’s so sad you have to deal with the aftermaths of the attack, you’re really coming out on top. I can’t wait to keep following your journey as you train for another Boston!

  8. Wow I am so glad that you shared your story. Todays post definitely made me tear up. I can’t imagine all the emotions you have dealt with since the bombings. But I love how you have been able to use those feelings to fuel your desire to train and run even harder. What an amazing journey!

  9. I didn’t realize that was why you started blogging. What a great emotional outlet. Emotions fuel me, too, and I am so proud of the strong runner you’ve become and the determination you have. I just love following your journey!

  10. Thanks for sharing that incredible story. Every runner and particularly every Mass native lost something of themselves that day as we watched what happened … but none so much as those like you and your family who were right there. I am sorry it is something you have had to deal with.

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