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I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write this post. It might have had something to do with the fact that I haven’t updated my operating software in years, and my anitquated iOS Super Sloth was preventing me from uploading pictures/posts/seeing content, something I thought was just series of wifi issues. (So just wait… I’m back and I have a lot to talk about!)

Other than that, I’ve had a lot of work/kid stuff/more kid stuff going on, but I honestly wasn’t really ready to write about Boston until a chance encounter I had on Thursday.

I was at Costco with my kids stocking up on Kirkland prosecco (yes, it’s real!) and sampling hand-dipped chocolate strawberries when a dude stopped me to ask if I ran Boston. I was wearing my neon orange finishers jacket. I wear it everywhere. It’s my jam. (Not necessarily the color, but definitely the work put in to earn it.)

“You will probably think I’m crazy, but I ran six marathons last year,” he said.

Friend? I already have 5 on this year’s schedule. I totally get you.

We chatted about how crazy awesome it was. He proudly told me that he finished in 2:58 (Yikes! Speed demon!), knocking out a hard-earned PR. We agreed that we live in the perfect area of California to train well for the hilly course that runs from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. I told him that I will be going back next year, and I’ll tack on Big Sur for the challenge. He told me he was probably not going to go back next year, but that Big Sur sounds like a beautiful course.

You see… when I got back from Boston, I realized that the grandeur of the Boston Marathon is still lost on a majority of people living in my corner of California and most likely the larger part of the nation. And that’s okay. Actually, it would be way more awesome if more non-runners knew about it for reasons other than the tragedy in 2013, so maybe everybody should consider becoming a run lover.

It took me until talking with Fast Dude at Costco to remember that we were part of something so special out there on the streets of Boston. Wearing the jacket, however bright and obnoxious it may look (I happen to totally dig a bit of neon in my life), is rad. I did something hard (qualifying) to earn the opportunity to do something harder (running Boston), and wearing that jacket is my dedication and hard work and all of the sacrifices my mom, husband, sister, friends made for me giving me a giant bear hug.

IMG_7696<I almost feel like it’s an homage to my Dutch roots!

It’s also code for “Hey! Did you run Boston? Did you want to run Boston? Do you want to run Boston? Are you a runner or a run fan? Are you the mother/father/sister/brother/child of a runner? Does your best friend talk about running non-stop? ‘Cause I’ll talk to you! Please, come talk to me about running!” It makes connections with others, which is what the running community is all about.

So, without further adieu, I present to you:

Boston Run-Down 2014

Pre-race (AKA All the things I did with my family and need to document so that I can remember how amazing this trip was when I’m old and forgetful).

Rest my legs? Get lots of sleep? These are both really important when preparing to run 26.2, but I was in Boston for the first time! No way was I going to do that! And, shockingly, it didn’t even stress me out!

My family and I spent the three days leading up to the marathon exploring the city like crazy. The Friday before race day, while strolling the streets with my step-dad, we came across the Old South Church where I was brought to tears as a volunteer placed a hand-knitted scarf around my neck.

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It was very emotional.

So, naturally, I went directly for the nearest Dunkin Donuts to have my first “experience,” if you know what I mean. I still was on my insane coffee fast, so I opted for the brilliant blue Boston donut.

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Donuts just aren’t for me, but that frosting was extra tasty! Bonus for turning my teeth blue!

After that, I explored the expo with my family where I said “Heeeeeyyyy!” to my peeps at Oiselle and Nuun!<–I was strangely CRAVING grape Nuun.

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In It’s a Small World news, out of all of the people who were at the expo on Friday, I ran into a man who lives down the street from me! Our kids go to the same school, in fact! Luckily, his wife is the knower of all things important and informed me that we were staying near the DC Cupcakes shop!

Afterwards, my internal GPS directed us directly to the nearest Trader Joe’s so I could stock up on water. Boston wins for the most spirit!

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Friday was also my sister’s birthday, so my mom and I went to Georgetown Cupcakes (DC Cupcake tip from neighbor) to bring back a tasty treat before heading to the ballgame.

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Back at the hotel, my whole family crammed into my sister’s room, sang her “Happy Birthday,” and grubbed on the tasty treats. My salted caramel cupcake was just about the best thing I ate that day! I guess that’s what happens when you have “lunch” at the expo.

We stayed at the Loew’s in the Back Bay area (old police headquarters!), which was a block away from two of the T stations. Note for myself and others who are looking for reqs: the stay was great; beds were extra comfy; ask for a room on the street and with a bath tub if you want an ice bath post-mary; word was other hotels afforded marathoners more “perks.”

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 After changing into our warmest clothes (temps were around 37 degrees, and the wind was howling), we hopped onto the T and headed to meet the Green Monster for the first time!

$120 dollars in Red Sox fleece blankets, a beer and a half (spilled. Sad times. Avoid Googling “beer prices at Fanway.” Just be prepared to take out a second mortgage on your house), and a ($29) lobstah roll later (how’s that for fine dining at the ballpark?!?!)…

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we became Sox fans for life.

Back at the hotel, I was rungry again. The girls and I went to the liquor store to grab some pints (beer/wine/liquor is only sold at liquor stores in Boston… not at TJs or the market or anywhere else), and the husband graciously stopped back at the Parish Cafe on Boylston to bring me my beloved corn cakes.

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That was the best late-night snack I’ve had in a really long time!

The next morning, we promised the girls a trip to the New England Aquarium.

They LOVED it!!!

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Their favorite parts were the hairy seals that reminded them of our dogs, the giant sea turtles, the dragonfish, and the ray and shark touch tank.

By the way, when you exit the T before the Aquarium exit, you come out on the site of the Boston Massacre!!!

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Tip: If a doctor of the Revolutionary War is standing guard, he will politely refuse to give you directions. The aquarium was most certainly not around during the Revolution, so why on Earth would he be able to tell you where it might possibly be?

After exploring the aquarium, we strolled through the streets and came across one of the oldest restaurants in Boston called Durgin Park. My mom and I shared a delicious lobstah roll and I had a pint, and then we split– my mom and stepdad towards the Italian quarter of the North End, my family towards my best friend since high school’s house.

We rode the T to the very end of the line.

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When we arrived, the girls were super excited to meet up with my girlfriend’s daughter and to play in the park that was right next to a pond!

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I was SOOOOOOO happy to see my friend A! We only usually see her and her family when she comes out to the West Coast, so I think that I need to make this an annual tradition!

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The best part was that her parents, who were (and still are) super sweet and used to drive us to 5 o’clock AM basketball practices back in high school, were visiting her, too! It was like a giant extended reunion! The only one missing was her brother (hint, hint<-if you read this blog!).

A and her husband graciously took us out to a fabulous Indian restaurant where I grubbed on all kinds of delicious vegetarian dishes. I also ate my weight in naan. I have this theory that naan and pita are the key to running a successful marathon.

We got back to our hotel late once again, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying these life changing treats that my wonderfully amazing mom brought back from the North End.

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Now, I’m not a pastry person. At all. But those cannolis (vanilla custard with chocolate chips) were so fabulous that they need to be part of my Boston routine next year. I was sad that I didn’t have a cannoli re-do before the end of the trip. Next year.

The next day was Easter, the day before the marathon. I was able to meet up with some of my Oiselle teammates for a shakeout run near the expo.

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Photo cred: Lindsey Hein

Photo cred: Lindsey Hein

It was so great to meet so many super talented, encouraging, sweet chicks. Knocking out the few miles definitely pumped me up for running the next day.

After a quick breakfast, I came back to the hotel room and slept for a couple hours while the husband took the girls to play at Boston Common. Those two hours of sleep were lifesavers! Thank you so much, husband, mom, and stepdad!!!

Later that afternoon, my whole family convened at Davio’s for Easter Dinner, where I ordered yet another life-chaning meal!

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If you ever go to Davio’s, order the gnocchi with mushrooms and truffle oil. You can thank me later.

Sadly, I had to share it with this handsome dude.

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I don’t share well. I guess technically he ordered it, so I should be grateful that he shared his pasta dish with me, but those are just minor details.

After dinner, my mini-me and Papa danced through the streets.

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And then we walked over to the Boston FD station for the huz to buy a shirt and for us to take more pictures.

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And finally:

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Just looking at that picture fills me with so much emotion. There I was, the eve of my very first Boston Marathon, which also happened to be special for much larger reasons that simply being my first, standing beneath the finish chute. Holy cow.

Come back tomorrow for Part II: The Race.

 

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