Saturday, April 27, 2013

The process of processing.

It has been 12 days since my body and soul journeyed from Hopkinton to Boston - it feels like it was yesterday, but it also feel like lifetimes ago. 

Yesterday, I finished reading "26 Miles to Boston," by Michael Connelly. I had high hopes of finishing the book before I ran the marathon, but it wasn't in the cards given my crazy life lately.  So, last week, I set out to finishing what I started.  As I read, I ran through the miles with the author - reliving the sights I saw, some were the same as he saw 17 years ago (he ran the marathon in the 100th anniversary year), commiserating with him at certain "pain points" on the course.

It has been 12 days, and while my body is healed, my soul is still a work in progress. 

It has been 20 and a half days since my Papa died. One of the last things he told me was how proud of me he was that I was running "the B.A.A. marathon." He said, "You're going to run, and you'll do your best.  Your best is good enough for me."  Papa wasn't a runner, but his heart was always in sports, just as much as us grandkids playing those sports.  He appreciated sports - for the sportsmanship, perseverance, and dedication.  I know he was proud of me for what I accomplished on marathon day. 

I have been overwhelmed with people being proud of me, congratulating me, asking about my story, where I was, how far I got, and the big question: Did I finish?  When I say no, I was around mile 25.5 when the officials told us to stop, their immediate response is, "oh, but you finished. You would have. You deserve the medal."  And I know I would have finished. I had enough gas in the tank to get myself there.  But I didn't have the chance. 

"Too close to home."  Too close is my best friend having stood right where one explosion happened, but needing to nourish herself and the little life inside her, they went to grab some lunch.  Too close is my friend's mom, positioned on Boylston Street to cheer her daughter to the finish, when explosions happen to her left and right.  Too close is a friend who completed 2 Boston Marathons and whose job it is to guard that evil kid in the federal medical facility. Too close is being 0.7 miles from the finish line....that silly line of paint in front of the Boston Public Library....that line which millions may dream of crossing, yet a relatively small population can actually state with pride that they have done that. 

That's why I feel lost...still... like an unresolved minor chord, just ........hanging....... My major resolution hasn't come.  People who don't run or weren't there don't get it.  And I don't mean that maliciously, just as they don't mean their comments and reassurance maliciously.  That painted line on Boylston Street is the Holy Grail of running.  And I didn't get that.  I don't want anyone to think for a minute that I am diminishing what happened that day.  People died, lost limbs, and their lives will never be the same.  My heart breaks for those who were injured, and those who saw the chaos up close. 

One of the last paragraphs in Michael Connelly's book really sums it up.

"Twenty-six miles and 385 yards.  The start in Hopkinton seems as through it took place weeks ago. The runners lived each yard one at a time. As each step was completed, it became a distant memory while each yard in front seemed to stretch farther away. The cold, the heat, the rain, the snow, the traffic, the spilled beers, the car fumes - all for this euphoric feeling of crossing a simple line. The runs in the morning, at lunch, in the dark, past the chasing dogs, the puddle-splashing cars, the cars that pull out onto the crosswalk, the cars that played chicken with you - all for this euphoric feeling of crossing a simple line.

Of course it's not a simple line. It's a mental and physical barrier that, when conquered, offers a feeling of exaltation that is incomparable." 

One of many reasons why I will run next year.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sunshine on a cloudy day

Some sights and thoughts from my perspective on Monday....
Crowds along the start line
The fiddlers at Weston Nurseries....
Loud and awesome crowd at TJ’s in Ashland...
Donna P. at her house in Ashland...with her sign :)
1000-marathon Larry in Framingham - “Way to go, Larry!”
80+ rock.
Meeting Don and Melissa from Team NF in Framingham, after the train station
Firefighters on the ladder truck over the intersection on 135 - cheering us on from the best seat in the house
Garage band getting some exposure...cheering on everyone....
Aunt Kathy and Janet in Natick....right after Speen St.
Seeing a few fellow Anselmians running
Sox game on the radio
Guy on the porch with a full drum set....rocking out...
The MSB crew on 135 near the center of town...with signs!
Maria, Linds, and Lukasz at Natick Center - and a big hug!
Kristen and the boys in Natick
The Wellesley scream tunnel....never felt more like a rock star...
Amy D. at mile 14. A shriek and a huge hug...and some water. :)
Brian and Kelsey at MSB Wellesley... “Look! We made you a sign!!”
Kesha soon after...”Oh! There she is!”
“Our guys” at Newton-Wellesley Hospital - Derek and Dad...then Fred and Catherine right over the hill....
The 3 Marines: 1 visually impaired, 2 guides. awesome.
The “burger people” around us most of the way
The girl dribbling a basketball the entire way. amazing.
Right turn like an airplane....up the hills....
Jo, Ro, and Steve on “the” hill..mile 21-ish....Ro: ”Run for me, Keeps!” Me: “Ro, I want ice cream!”
Never been so happy to see BC
Down into the city.... feeling pretty good...
Brookline - Hi Suz!!
Random strangers cheering us on by name.....
Turn a corner....Citgo sign.
almost there.....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Untitled Two

So, we stopped after mile 25.  I made friends with a girl next to me, Casey, and learned it was her first marathon too. She was supposed to meet her boyfriend on St. James Ave (ironically, where my brother works). We just kept walking.  I remember saying I wanted to keep walking as long as they let me go, and I needed to find my family. 

We found Mom, Dad, Derek, Andy, and Jen - and then Christine.  I just broke down. We were so close, and someone with a point to prove or a higher power to bow down to ruined it.  They ruined it for 4500+ of us.  We had worked so hard....

We walked on - trying to find cell service, get a call or text message out.... my cell battery died, so I couldn't talk to anyone.  My brother was able to post on Facebook to let our small world know that we were ok.  I was just hoping that the others I knew in town were ok too. 

I felt lost...even after I found my family, and mom made some calls to other relatives... I still feel lost.  What do we do?  We rally, we come together, we support each other...isn't that what running is about?  The camaraderie, mutual love for punishing ourselves, bragging rights...?  I had hopes of going to work today, but I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't process all of this.  I think I am, but I am not sure...

We united with Fred and Catherine in the lobby of Andy's building, but I still hadn't heard from Bobbie, Andy, and that group.  What I learned later was they were so close on Boylston St., ended up in the basement of Uno's restaurant until the staff there could see if it was safe for everyone.... I can't even imagine what they were feeling.  I just am thankful the people I know and love are safe. 

My brother texted me a picture this afternoon that brought on such emotion I was a mess - he got my medal for me.  His text said, "In my eyes, you finished. I got your medal for you."  I cannot begin to decribe the pride I have in my brother, my family, my friends.... I have no words.  I love you all.

As I try to wrap my mind around what happened, I want to ask "why?" over and over again.  But I know I can ask that forever and still not understand.  I can be angry. I can be indignant. But honestly, I am sad. The running communities are so supportive of each other - it doesn't matter what country you are from, what color you are, what age/size/shape you are....that is just how it is.  I will run again next year.  I know this.  And I will cross the finish line.  Because I deserve to...we all deserve to. 

Peace, my friends.


Untitled (on purpose)

I sit and write this post while so many thoughts and emotions swirling through my mind.  Yesterday began as probably the biggest day of my life - I was running the Boston Marathon. I had trained hard, rode the roller coaster of emotions that come with training for a marathon (that you don't realize until you actually do it), had to say goodbye to my grandfather the week before, and now I was ready to run.  I had Papa's hankie in my shorts pocket. He was with me...keeping an eye on me.

I walked down the street to meet up with Christine and Tedy's Team.  And I not only got to meet Tedy Bruschi, but I got a hug from him too! Yes, it was awesome. 

Christine, our new BFF Tedy, and Amanda
We all walked down the street to join the rest of the masses heading toward the corrals.  After a bit of jostling with the race "hall monitors" we were in our corral and ready to go. We walked-sort of jogged across the start line and began our journey to Boston.  Little did we know what a journey it would be.

After a quick potty stop and wardrobe adjustment (for me) in Ashland, we came upon my colleague Donna in front of her house.  It was awesome to see an excited, supportive face so early on. :) 

We trotted along, checking off the miles and towns as we went along.  I saw my aunt Kathy and her friend Janet in Natick.  As we approached Natick center, I knew I had a cheering section here - all my MSB people!  I saw Sally holding a neon green sign, Andrea manning the camera, and many other familiar faces.  Soon after, I saw my cousins - Maria, Lindsey, and Lukasz.  They were lucky enough to get a big, sweaty hug from yours truly.  I'm sure they were pleased. :P  Natick was a big spot for fans, as we saw Kristen and the boys next (aka, the biggest NF contingent ever!). 

I enjoyed the flats of Natick into Wellesley, although by now I was struggling.  Things hurt - my legs, hips, and this nagging cramp in my side that just would not go away.  It was getting warmer too. 

Soon came Wellesley and the "scream tunnel" at the college.  What an experience.  Those girls are amazing. I got a much needed boost there.  We were looking forward to seeing Amy at the mile 14 water stop.  As soon as she saw us we got a thrilled shriek and a huge hug!!

Onward - past the MSB Wellesley branch - thanks to Brian and Kelsey for the sign!!  And then Kesha around mile 15.  Next, we knew "our guys" were going to be at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.  Honestly, by now, even though I was ready to be done with running, the time had passed rather quickly.  We went up and over 128/95 and down the small hill until the hospital was in sight.  Then we saw Dad and Derek - so excited to see us - both wielding their cameras!

Then we saw Fred and Catherine and paused for a photo shoot with them.  And we continued on toward "the hills."  Taking the corner onto Comm Ave, I felt it.  My body was talking - no, yelling at - to me.  I was struggling.  I knew Jo would be at the top of Heartbreak, if I could only make it.  I kept chugging. I had to.  We saw Jo, Ro, and Steve around mile 21 (I think...) and Ro kept screaming, "Run for me, Keeps!"  See, Ro always runs Boston, and this year she withdrew because of a nagging injury.  I was so excited to see her there.  To pay homage to her, I demanded ice cream. ;)

I remember saying, "I've never been so happy to see BC in my life."  And then I finally felt ok. I felt like I could do this.  Up until then, I had this nagging self doubt: Could I, really?  I couldn't find my pace, I didn't settle in, I didn't feel comfortable....but now, after cresting that hill, I knew I could do this. 

Descending into the city from Eagle territory, the mood changed a bit. More spectators and police were on their cell phones.  People seemed on edge.  There were still plenty of cheering fans...but something

I had written my name on the front of my shirt the night before, so I had become accustomed to 22+ miles of "Go Amanda!" "You're doing great, Amanda!" when I heard a voice yell, "Go Amanda Cancellieri!" I turned was Suzanna, my brother's friend from Holy Cross, and amazing photographer!!  It was such a great surprise!  Thanks Suz!

On we went...Chris still feeling good, me, well, I was alternating between walking and running.... I knew it would come to this, but I was hoping I would feel better.  My mentality was that I would rather make the decision to walk, rather than my body making the choice for me.  And that's where I was.  Another couple miles ticked by, and between 23 and 24, the sirens started... police motorcycles, unmarked cars, and I'm sure a few off duty officers sped by us... At the 40k electronic checkpoint, they were already starting to pull the wires up off the street.  Race officials and volunteers had a cautious look of panic on their faces.  Something was up. 

Making it past mile 25, past Fenway and Kenmore, onto Comm Ave., people were stopping.  People were saying to stop running...that it was over... the marathon was done. We would not be able to finish.  There were two explosions near the finish line on Boylston St.  I had less than a mile to go.....less than a mile...