After all, I intentionally waited almost a week before attempting to transpose my thoughts onto paper. Boston was big - probably one of the biggest events of my thirty-eight years on the planet. So big, it's two parts. Part II will come out tomorrow.
Always darkest before dawn, remember? Well, I finally hit daybreak...but it was mostly uphill to get there.
Pre-Race (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Friday was not a good day.
I had posted the last blog entry around 4:30am, minutes before we left for the airport. Written the night before, I didn't want to publish until we were well on our way. I'm glad I wrote what I did, about making happiness a choice, because I needed to hear it. I needed to remind myself to be happy, because man, did my leg hurt. The opportunity to sink into a dark hole of worry and fear was high. I didn't know if it was the combo of Graston/ART on Wed, followed by dry needling on Thursday, flying, walking through the airports, or the stress of impending Marathon Monday, but my leg looked and felt like dog meat. Pain-wise, I was at a level 7 all day. I was having trouble just walking on it. My PT had cautioned me against using Ibuprofen as it could mitigate the healing process, so I was on my own. Lots of water, stretching and massage.Nine hours of traveling was not helpful.
I broke down Friday on our way home from dinner.
"I'm trying so hard," I sniffed to Brian as we walked back to our hotel. We had just packed my mom and Scotty into a cab, sending them back to their hotel. Not the thoughtfully-chosen hotel we had selected six months ago, the one that was a mere 800m away from own hotel. No, this hotel was on the other side of Boston. Why? Because at 6pm Friday night, just minutes after we arrived at the hotel Brian and I were staying at, Brian received an email stating the first hotel was overbooked. No room at the inn. Whoopsy. Had I been more dramatic, I might have thrown myself on the bed, screaming "Why? Why?" But instead I just stood there, gritting my teeth silently, while Brian spoke with the hotel manager. They rebooked them at another hotel for just a night, on the other side of town, with the promise of being at the closer hotel by Saturday morning. I knew they would be fine, it was just the surprise of "why can't anything go according to plan?" that was bugging me. A massive headache that would plague me until Sunday morning had just started to form on the edges of my brain. No Advil, just water please.
So there they went: my mother and my child headed across a town I knew nothing about, a city with tons of traffic, too many cars and too many stoplights. Not to mention, everyone here seemed very comfortable saying the 'f' word with shocking regularity. My first impression of Beantown: not good. However, I appeared to be the only one affected. My mom was in great spirits, Brian was chipper, and Scotty was doing just fine. It was me on the verge of a panic attack/migraine.
The Red Sox game had just gotten out. Brian and I were fish swimming upstream against a tide of angry, swearing fans. I don't know if anyone noticed the crying, limping girl. I hope my momentary breakdown was witnessed by no one other than my husband.
"It's not a question of if my calf goes, it's when, I told Brian tearfully. "I have no flipping idea how I'm going to get through 26.2 miles; I can't even run 3. I'm trying so hard to keep it together and I...just...can't. I can't anymore." Sobbing now.
I wasn't exaggerating. I was beaten down. Terrified. It felt like nothing would/could swing in my favor. The last two weeks had exhausted me in a way I had not experienced in a long time. I needed a break. I needed comfort. I needed something to go my way.
There was only one person who could help.
On Saturday, I found Scott Jurek and asked for his advice.
Pain doesn't last forever...pain doesn't last forever...I repeated that to myself as I wandered over to the expo building. Huh, the line looked...long. Wait, it went outside the building? Oh, it goes around the building...oh...that's not the end? Where is the...OH MY HEAVENS.
It appeared as everyone left the 5K in Boston Commons right around the same time to hit the expo. I limped further until finding my place behind approximately 13,000 other runners. Once again, I tried not to panic. I needed to be back to the hotel by 12:15pm for a bus tour of the course. It was now 11am. The hotel was at least 20 minutes away on foot.
We inched along. Hollie found me in line and I immediately started crying when I saw her. (My pattern of dehydrating via tears before every marathon seemed to be holding strong). Man, I needed to pull it together. But my head was throbbing, my leg ached, and I hadn't eaten yet. But Hollie is such a sweetheart with a great head on her shoulders; the tears didn't phase her in the slightest. She gave me a big hug. Much needed.
Once inside, I realized bib pickup was on the third floor. There were more lines just to get on both elevators. I asked a security guard if the long lines were normal. After all, I had run Chicago, which had 15,000 more runners but no where near this kind of wait. He just shrugged and said many people treat this like graduation. They like to bring their families, take photos, etc. Hence the lines.
Interesting. My family was somewhere in Boston: doing the duck tour, checking out the aquarium, walking the Freedom Trail, eating lobster rolls. I insisted they do their own thing; standing in line with a bunch of runners would have not benefited any of us. Regardless, I suddenly felt intensely lonely in a crowd of thousands.
Bib obtained. Picture taken. I'm smiling but I don't mean it. Wait, happiness is a choice.
Must. Remember. This.
As I walked, I noticed the iconic Hereford/Boyleston street sign. Right on Hereford, left on Boyleston: those are the last two turns before the finish. I snapped a picture and said a silent prayer to please get me to this point in approximately fifty hours.
I passed an angry-looking goose on my way back and took his picture too. Bad idea. Not only did he get up and look like he was going to charge, but my phone immediately died. Plugged it into the portable charger; nope, that wasn't working either. I am now phone-less in a foreign city trying to get escape a pissed off goose. Only one leg worked properly.
It's okay; I'm already on the right street. T-minus 15 minutes until the bus tour. I am Judy Hopps. I'm not giving. I'm not quitting...
Twelve very stressful minutes later, I tearfully asked a stranger for directions. I had shaken the goose but was wandering across highway overpasses; where the hell did Boyleston Street go? Why is there a giant community garden directly in the middle of this street? Is NO street in this city straight?!
The stranger was very helpful; I managed to get back to the hotel just in time to see people queuing up for the buses. Sprinted to my room, said good-bye to my phone as I plugged it in, grabbed a bagel and a packet of almond butter. They'll have snacks on the bus, right? My tummy rumbled uncomfortably. I was supposed to be carbo-loading and doing a fairly poor job just getting food into my mouth. I had lost five pounds in the past two weeks, mainly due to having almost no appetite in the wake of CalfGate. Here I was so worried I was going to pack on the pounds and the opposite happened. I will admit, almost nothing causes me to lose my appetite...except extreme stress. I was going to hit a wall not on mile 20 but mile 2 at the rate I was going.
I'm not sure how to describe the next few hours of my life other than... they did not have snacks on the bus. #nosnacks
What should have been a 90 minute tour of the course took close to four hours. For reasons still unknown to me, we did not actually arrive in Hopkinton (the starting line) until close to 2:30. We had left at 12:45.
The trip back would take another two hours.
None of this would have really mattered except I had an appointment in town at 4pm. Whether I showed or I didn't, I would still be charged. Aside from wasting money, I had assured the person I would show up - on time, no less - because "I value other people's time." I actually said that, like a fool. LIKE A FOOL.
That afternoon in Hopkinton, while everyone briefly stretched their legs, I stalked around some poor person's front lawn, kicking rocks. That moment, I realized a huge piece of the puzzle: I had completely lost control of most of my life. NOTHING was working. Nothing was going the way it was supposed to. My leg. The last two weeks of training. My mom's hotel room. The expo, the goose, my phone, food, this Gilligan's Island-esque bus tour...
Choose happiness, remember Kim? Must..choose...happiness.
Well, happiness could go...::insert four-letter word here::...itself...I was over this whole bleeping weekend.
And then, ladies and gentleman, my seatmate saved the day.
Before we knew it, we were back in Boston. The back of the bus missed the entire course and the description, but I know I gained back something I had lost two weeks earlier: my sense of humor. Thank you, RG.
Mood lifted, I hightailed it to Pilates. My instructor graciously allowed me to push my appointment back from 4 to 5, and I was in an Uber at 4:35pm, ready to roll. I stuffed a Honey Stinger's waffle in my face as we headed to yet another part of Boston.
I knew I was in the right place when I walked in and Julie, the instructor, was eating what appeared to be the most amazing salad ever. A salad I would have ordered. The last few days of my life had been carbs, carbs, carbs. Blah. It was fun for about a day, then you just start to feel gross. I realized how much I wanted just a nice salad...and perhaps a big glass of wine. When I saw her chick pea/kale bowl of goodness, I couldn't help but be a bit wistful. Two more days...
The lesson itself was incredible and very helpful, and she was extremely gentle with my right leg. It felt so good to stretch out all of those poor muscles that have been dormant for two weeks. We chatted for a bit after the lesson; I asked her if she was running, she said no. She would be having coffee with a friend. She went on to say that this friend was one of the many folks affected by the bombing in 2013...and her friend was now a double amputee. Julie told me about the many survivors she'd worked with in the past four years, how everyone was still healing. Just the mention of her friends and she teared up. Watching her tear up made me tear up - and everything hit home.
My leg. My dumb leg. I'm not going to say it wasn't stressful, but it's about perspective. After all, I still have my leg, it was just a strain and the timing of everything was not ideal. But - to witness firsthand a person's reaction to the events that rocked this city four years ago - I realized, that's what matters. These are REAL people with REAL lives and very, very real feelings. We've all seen the five minute new clips and read the stories, but I had never really felt the realness, the very raw and devastating everyday problems that the survivors still face.
All of a sudden, all of the weekend's apprehension melted away. So I had a stressful, annoying day. So I'm running a marathon on a bum leg. So what. I'm here - with my family, with my friends, with my health. Life is good. REALLY good. Happiness IS a choice; a hard one, especially when patience is tested. And you have to look for the good in the situation, but it's always there. Happiness may be a tough choice at times, but ultimately, it's always the RIGHT choice.
And by the time I got to dinner that night, an hour late and inappropriately hungry, I walked up the stairs in the restaurant to find Brian, Scotty and my mom directly in front of me. The booth overlooked the bay with ship lights twinkling in the distance.They were all smiling and laughing. They actually appeared really happy to see me - me, a cranky, limping, hungry runner who immediately attempted to shove most of the bread basket into her mouth before even sitting down. They had the best day. So much to tell me about! I was so happy to be there, with the people that mattered, with people that I love and who love me. I laughed and tried to take in all of their descriptions and photos from the day.
I knew in that moment, it was all going to be okay.
I texted Johnny that night, telling him about the bipolarity of the day's events, and ended it with #zenkim. Because that's exactly how I felt. I was done stressing and being upset. Hanging out with Reinier, talking with Julie, and dinner with my family was the key to turning my weekend around. Humor. Perspective. Gratitude. THIS is what makes people happy. Not fake-happy, but happy-happy. Real-happy.
Sunday was a great day. Easter egg hunt for the kiddos in the morning. Baseball game at Fenway Park that afternoon. I ate a giant pretzel with ton of salt on it. Weather forecasters were calling for a HOT one the next day...and I'm pretty sure that salt saved me. But more on that later.
It's Marathon Eve!
Part II tomorrow -- the race! And after.
To be continued!