The 2022 Boston Marathon

It took me a long time to write my Berlin Marathon recap, but I could not wait to write this one!

It feels downright surreal to be writing the following phrase.

Here is my 2022 Boston Marathon experience!

Why Boston?:

I LOVE American history, particularly the Revolutionary period, but my interest in visiting Boston and in running the Boston Marathon goes beyond that.

It even goes beyond the fact that Boston plays host to one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Boston is the running mecca, the People’s Olympics, and holds its own place in American history.

And I, an ordinary runner, got to be a part of it.

EEK!

Interesting fact: The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world. This year, also, was the first year that it was held on it’s normal date, Patriots’ Day, since the pandemic.

Photo Credit: Boston Athletic Association

Entry:

Here are the ways you can get into the Boston Marathon

  • Elite (i.e. super fast people)
  • Celebrity
  • Qualify based on time
  • Competitions (rare)
  • Invitational entries/sponsor organizations (again, rare)
  • Travel agencies with marathon/tour packages (international only)
  • Charity (largest fundraising minimums that I’ve seen for a race)
  • Para athletics division & adaptive programs (separate rules apply)

(Note: Boston does NOT offer a ballot option.)

As some of you reading this may know, I am not the fastest runner.

And I am certainly not “Boston fast”.

Originally I had dreamed of being able to qualify, but I decided to be more realistic with myself.

I am not the most patient person either.

Therefore, I went with the only other option available to me…a charity entry.

For those thinking this might be a “cop out” or the easy way, let me show you why it is not.

  1. You have to apply, and sometimes interview, to run in these highly coveted charity spots. You do not automatically get accepted.
  2. Each charity sets their minimum, but the prestige of this race comes with a lofty “price tag”. My charity’s minimum fundraising requirement, for example, was $9,000.
  3. You are responsible for the full minimum amount whether the race is held, you run, you finish, or not. This requires a lot of time, dedication, energy, and creativity that runs right alongside everyday life and marathon training.
  4. You are still required to run the race within the time limits…which is stricter than other Majors I’ve done up to this point (6 hours).

The charity I chose, and that chose me, was 261 Fearless.

Why 261?:

261 Fearless is an organization co-founded by Kathrine Switzer.

Kathrine was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a bib.

Talk about history!

She registered with her initials and the organizers assumed she was male. Come race day, they found out otherwise and tried to literally pull her from the course.

Her then-boyfriend tackled the race organizer and she went on to finish the race.

That day started something that would change everything for female marathoners runners.

This year’s race marks the 50th anniversary of women being officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon (5 of the 8 women who ran in 1972 are pictured below).

261 Fearless is an organization that is creating a global, social running network for women of all abilities and backgrounds to support and communicate with each other, encouraging healthy living and a positive sense of self-esteem and fearlessness. 

With my background with running and experiences of being put down for my pace, the phrase “for women of all abilities and backgrounds” really meant a lot to me.

I first heard about 261 Fearless from Kathrine’s book “Marathon Woman” (definitely a must-read).

Her story, and the organization’s message, really inspired me so I knew, if I was ever going to run Boston, I was going to run for 261.

Plus, running the 126th for 261 just sounds right, am I right?

Side note: Getting a chance to hang out with all of these amazing women in person at the team meeting was amazing. We were definitely spoiled (see above)…as were my initial plans to meet Kathrine. She wasn’t able to make the meeting and I wasn’t able to make her Expo talk after. DRAT!

Hotel:

I stayed at the Omni Parker House.

Well, for part of my stay.

You see, hotels were SO expensive (the sticker shock was real, ya’ll) that I decided I needed another plan.

I couldn’t find a roommate this time, but one of my husband’s best friends lived (semi) nearby.

He and his girlfriend agreed to not only take me in, but to take me around.

Let me tell you, the amount I owe to both of them for that and for dealing with me in my “marathon weekend state” is more than my fundraising minimum.

(Tip: budget for taxis/Ubers or the T, if you won’t have a car. Budget for parking, if you will.)

I chose the Omni for my hotel stay (starting Sunday), not only for it’s culinary history (it is the birthplace of Parker House rolls and the Boston cream pie), but because it was by the finish line, was in proximity to a lot of the other (race) activities, offered private bathrooms (something I didn’t know wasn’t a given in downtown Boston), and was able to accommodate my main room request…a bathtub.

Pre-Race:

While I wanted to save my legs, and was busy trying to channel my nerves (was this really happening?!), I still had a laundry list of things that I wanted to do.

I didn’t get around to all of them either which means, o drat, I’ve got to go back (maybe as a volunteer? Wink, wink).

Here is what I DID get to do.

(Note: Check out my #storytimeseries on Instagram for more in-depth details about some of these and the meaning behind them!)

  • The Boston Tea Party Museum
  • “Hocus Pocus” location tour/Salem
  • Axe-throwing at The Rugged Axe
  • The Blessing of the Athletes at Old South Church
  • Fan Fest
  • Easter lunch at Omni Parker House’s table 40

Since Easter was the day before the marathon, race-themed Easter goodies seemed to be in order!

Again, with all the other activities I had planned, I opted not to do the B.A.A. 5K as a shakeout run.

I kind of kicked myself for that one as it would’ve been an opportunity to meet Kathrine (I had, and missed, all of my other opportunities, too).

Alas, another reason to go back to Boston!

Expo:

Josh (my husband’s friend that I mentioned earlier) and I went to the Expo straight from the airport.

We lucked out here as we went into the Hynes Convention Center from our parking garage and had no wait whatsoever.

It had not sunken in yet (still hasn’t) what I was doing and was all still pretty dreamlike at that point.

Of course, I had gotten up super early and was operating on very little sleep.

I got my bib, my merch, tons of photos (Josh also played the role of photographer A LOT this trip. Thanks!), AND (drumroll) WAGAMAMA!

Side note: I always seem to just miss my chance to go to Wagamama when in Heathrow and was so excited there was one connected to the convention center.

Speaking of food, my pre-race dinner was AMAZING!!

Side note: I got the opportunity to ride the T but, again, missed Kathrine at the 261 Fearless team dinner.

The restaurant we went to was called Antico Forno and was the perfect “carb-load and chill” meal with friends.

(Tip: Make a reservation FAR in advance and make it for early evening so that you can rest…or try. Thanks for scoring those, Jen!).

A little something for the road

The Race:

Verse chosen for this race

Side note: Since I was SO nervous about the time limit, I was planning on NOT wearing a “costume” for this race. After I saw the disappointment on a friend’s face when I told her this, though, I changed my mind. I went with something simple and that coordinated with my charity’s white shirt, but jazzed it up a bit…and I’m glad I did. It turned out to be a hit. I was a unicorn, the symbol of the B.A.A., and a “fearless” one at that!

Getting There:

After a bagel and peanut butter breakfast, I headed to meet Jackey and Jen at Jen’s hotel.

This was super nice other than having to walk “against traffic” to get there.

Worth it…and not just for the SUPER nice bathrooms.

Once we all met up, we walked to the starting area together.

Not much to report here other than I happened to catch my charity team’s group photo and that the bus lines were PURE PANDEMONIUM!

It was, to put it lightly, a mess.

There were times we were pushed up against each other so tightly I felt we were in a mosh pit.

Eventually, we did get a bus (one of the last ones) and were off.

Now, Hopkinton was about a 45 minute to an hour-bus ride away.

I found out that this was plenty of time to doubt myself.

Jen was calm and trying to point things out to me (sorry that I was such a bad tour attendee, Jen) and I was sitting there trying to remember if I knew how to run.

Start:

We made it to the Athletes’ Village just in time for one final bathroom stop (in which, TMI alert, I had a false alarm of the same “female problem” from Berlin. No lines, though), to ditch our throwaways, grab some pics, put on some more sunscreen, and to start our .7-mile walk to the start line.

I didn’t even have time to check out the indoor space reserved for the charities.

No matter, no matter.

Side note: I was concerned I would be cold, even in my throwaways, but the weather cooperated beautifully. Also, my throwaways came from and smelled like my parents (laundered, of course). I found that extremely comforting.

Then, they started “corralling” us to our zones.

I’m glad, again, that we didn’t have to linger.

Miles 1-26:

This can’t be real.

O. MY. GOSH.

Those were my two primary thoughts for the first few miles of this race.

I kept having to pinch myself…ok, just remind myself…that I was running THE Boston Marathon.

In all my disbelief, and maybe because I never wear one, I forgot to start my watch.

I tried not to stress about it, but I also wanted to be aware of my time at all times…so I improvised.

I added six hours to what my published start time was (even though I think I set off a bit earlier) and did mental math with my watch times from there.

Also, I had this race split into sections to try to “mind trick” my way through it.

My brain was certainly occupied.

My first section, or stop, was for Spencer and Penny.

Spencer was named the official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon and, along with his sister Penny, has become a “symbolic supporter” over the years.

He is currently in a battle with cancer and I knew going into the race that I wanted to stop for him, if at all possible.

The line for Spencer was crazy, but one of my 261 teammates let me in on her picture. Thanks Michelle!

After Spencer and Penny, I wanted to get to 7.2 so I could tell myself there was under 20 to go.

I took a fueling stop every 8 miles, so that was added into my “schedule”.

Then, I focused on getting to the halfway point as the “scream tunnel” (true to it’s name, by the way) was there.

Side note: I thought the crowds were amazing for other Majors, but the people who spectate the Boston Marathon are a different breed. By the time I got to certain spots on the course, there weren’t many spectators left, but the phrase “quality over quantity” could not have been more true here. They may have been few, but their voices were mighty. They were not only loud, but they were so specific in their cheers. They said my name, sure, but they weren’t just screaming “Go!”. They had whole encouraging monologues and chants to go with it. That is what struck me the most and I fed off of that energy. I didn’t think I was going to have “cheerleaders” for this race, but I was wrong…and SO happy to be. Thank you to you all, both ones I knew and ones that I did not, for being WICKED AWESOME!

After getting a proper screaming at by the Wellesley girls, it was time for a couple of “film points” before I hit the hills.

Side note (yes, another one. Sorry!): I was SO nervous about making the time limit for this race, as I’ve said, that I wasn’t going to film. HOWEVER, I thought it might provide a distraction from the pain AND provide something I hadn’t been able to find in all my race research…a view from the back of the pack.

I counted those hills down, as well, knowing there were four.

Then, I was aiming for that Citgo sign…first seeing it, then reeling it in.

I got to the sign and knew there was still a little hill under an overpass to deal with.

However, that came and went and, suddenly, I was faced with the last two infamous turns.

Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.

They truly had snuck up on me along with those same thoughts from the start.

This can’t be real.

O. MY. GOSH.

Finish:

It WAS real, though.

I could (literally) see it.

All that heartbreak, worry, and hill work had led to this.

The finish line.

Finishing strong, #BostonStrong!

After I crossed the line, a lovely volunteer handed me my medal (I didn’t have them put it on for a special reason), I took a few more pictures, I got a heat sheet with tape, I collected my finisher’s goodies, and I started the mile or so-walk back to my hotel…don’t worry, it felt A LOT closer than anything in Berlin did.

I actually felt great, all hills considered.

And, if you can believe it, I had a new PR (by 26 seconds but, hey, it counts!)

Star count

I captured the elusive unicorn!

Meet-up:

Catherine and I checked in with each other a couple times on my walk back, via phone, and agreed to meet at my hotel.

I was able to meet up with her and her dad in the lobby of the Omni with no problem and…

(super loud drumroll)

SHE GAVE ME MY MEDAL!

This moment is why I requested to be handed the medal at the finish.

I wanted Catherine, as the person who began my running journey, to put it around my neck.

That’s what I call a FULL CIRCLE moment (even though, I have a few more laps in me)!

Side note: Catherine also completed Boston that day. Can you tell…other than from her medal?

Post-Race:

Recovery is better with snacks!

I immediately went to take a bath in that tub I requested with a bath bomb and quickly discovered the drain wouldn’t go down/hold.

Now, I was undressed at this point, so calling maintenance was out, and on a time crunch.

I didn’t have time to soak in the bath as long as I wanted to (the rest of the night) since I was meeting up with my friends for a slew of celebrating.

I needed to get in and out in a (relatively) quick manner.

After debating my limited options for a minute or two, I did the only thing I could think of.

I shoved a hand towel in the drain and kept the water running.

Good news?

It did stay warmer that way and it worked.

After that, I got ready in bed with my feet up and headed to meet my friends (the ones I stayed with pre-Omni).

We went to the Mile 27 post-race party, at Fenway Park, to start with.

I didn’t get to touch/put my legs up on the Green Monster as planned (the line was WAY to long to stand in on marathon legs), but I did see a proposal and was able to get Cracker Jacks, a Fenway Frank, and vanilla soft serve in a mini cap cup.

SCORE!

Then, since our original destination of Wahlburgers was closed, we grabbed Tasty Burger (where a guy tried to, jokingly, buy my medal) and we headed to Cheers!

Yup, where everybody knows your name…and it ended up feeling exactly like that.

Check out my YouTube video called “Boston Marathon: Trip Haul-Part Two” for why.

Then, it was back to the hotel and to my bed.

While I didn’t get the deep sleep I expected (now I feel those hills!), the relief was real.

Once again, I stayed for a full day after the marathon to get some more sight-seeing and celebration in.

(Note: There were “race papers”, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, available the morning after at the bigger 7-Elevens. They didn’t list finisher names, though.)

And what a celebration it was.

It started with brunch at Clink, an old prison, with Jen, Kim, and Katie.

“Decompressing” over eggs and bacon was a great idea, ladies!

Then, I met up with Catherine, again, for some more adventures.

Those started by going back to the beginning…meaning back to Hopkinton…to take pictures of the start line and the marathon statues.

Next, we were able to meet up with Betty Robinson’s (check my Berlin blog and Instagram posts) granddaughter to deliver a gift I had for her.

Then, we grabbed some food (that pizza…yum), cannoli, and headed back to the hotel.

After “testing” the cannoli, I packed up, we had a sleepover, and Catherine drove me to the airport early the next morning.

Did I mention how amazingly generous my friends are and how I owe them SO much?

‘Cause they are and I do!

Then, just like that, it was over.

Been there, got the jacket…and the sore muscles.

I did “people watch” in the airport in case Ms. Switzer happened to be nearby.

No luck.

Side note: Masks weren’t required for the flight home!

This was a BIG race, but an even BIGGER experience.

Thank you all for joining me for it.

Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions.

YouTube Boston Marathon Video:

Star #4…just two more!

Next up: The 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

The 2021 BMW Berlin Marathon

This one has taken a long time for me to write.

Sorry about that.

I just couldn’t face it right away and I think you will see why.

I am getting ahead of myself, though, so let’s start at the beginning.

Here is my 2021 BMW Berlin Marathon experience.

Why Berlin?:

I’ll be honest, as much as I did want to visit Germany, the deciding reason for my going to Berlin was that it plays host to one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Interesting fact: The 2019 New York City Marathon, which I ran, was the last in-person, mass (meaning not just for the elite runners) Major before the pandemic. The 2021 BMW Berlin Marathon was the first one back!

#restartrunning #finallytogether #runforjoy

Entry:

Here are the ways you can get into the Berlin Marathon (if I missed any, let me know!)

  • Elite (i.e. super fast people)
  • Qualify based on time
  • Travel agencies with marathon/tour packages
  • Ballot (lottery drawing of sorts. Berlin has better odds than most)
  • Charity
  • Claim a deferred entry
  • Jubilee Club (run 10 Berlin Marathons, join the free club, and have guaranteed entry for life)

I did enter the ballot in 2019 (for the cancelled 2020 race) as a part of a team and was unsuccessful.

The second time around, I again entered as a part of a team (two-person team this time) as I still believed it would increase my odds.

You see, if either/any member of your team is drawn, your entire team is in.

Knowing my luck as I do, I knew my other team member’s luck would be doing all the heavy lifting.

Thanks to Nicki, or Captain Nicki, we were drawn!

Side note: Even though you are on a team, your registrations are treated individually. This means, if someone cannot participate, it does not effect the rest of the team...other than you missing them, of course.

Hotel:

I stayed at the Berlin Marriott Hotel and split a room with another friend who was running.

Splitting it kept it within budget for me while still being able to enjoy the many “finer things” this hotel had to offer.

Staying here felt like a big hug!

My friend found this hotel and it was incredible!

Thanks for finding it and being my roomie, Jen!

It was right by Potsdamer Platz, was close to the start/finish line, had a couple of restaurants connected to it, had an executive lounge for free drinks and buffet-style food, AND had post-race perks that I will get into later.

(Tip: Budget for taxis! Not everything is within walking distance and there aren’t a ton of transportation options.)

Expo:

I went to the Expo as soon as I had met up with everyone in Berlin.

Jen and I dropped off our bags and our group headed back to the airport.

A different one this time.

The very unique and cool thing about Berlin’s expo is that it is held at an old airport called Tempelhof.

Preparing for takeoff!

While I LOVED the venue, I didn’t much care for the photo lines.

We certainly weren’t at RunDisney (where you pic and run) anymore!

(Note: We did have to wear masks practically everywhere and show our paperwork for a special wristband we had to wear throughout the entire event (i.e. any event/race space). Some people even leave them on until they fall off. Mine lasted until the morning after I got home before I cut it off.)

I did buy some merch and was even able to locate the turns-out-to-be elusive plush of Fridolin Flink.

(Tip: The mascot’s “friend” sold them. They are not sold inside with the official merch.)

After getting my bib, shirt, and some pictures, we headed back to the hotel.

Shopping sure takes a lot out of a girl…and her wallet!

Pre-Race:

I didn’t have NEAR the things that I wanted to do in Berlin versus New York but, through research, I was able to find a “few” things.

I saved most of it for after the marathon to try to save my legs.

Ironically though, our first activity wasn’t really “leg-saving” in nature.

Unlike previous races, I WANTED to do the pre-marathon shakeout run called “The Breakfast Run” but, with Covid still running rampant, it was not held.

I figured out a way to still have this experience.

Although, it wasn’t free or quite the same.

It was more of a “Breakfast Walk”.

My friends and I DID get breakfast (at the hotel) and DID get to go to the 1936 Olympic Stadium.

We just didn’t get to walk/run the track.

That might’ve been for the best, though, because we got to really soak in our time there…and the little bit of rain that fell while we were there.

I REALLY wanted to go to the stadium after reading the book “Fast Girls”.

I fell in love with the story of Betty Robinson and even had replica Team USA tanks and a sweater made.

Before you think I’m too crazy, go check out Betty’s story on my Instagram.

I dare you NOT to be inspired!

After that, we found our names on the Hall of Fame wall and headed to our next activity…spectating the inline skating marathon (another unique part of Berlin’s event weekend)!

The costumes were fun and it was interesting being on the other side of things for a change.

Unfortunately for me, and the group who had to deal with me, I felt AWFUL.

UPCOMING TMI ALERT!!

Being a female stinks sometimes.

I literally had to sit most of the spectating out on the nearby sidelines.

I rallied a bit, but between the issue I mentioned above, my stomach-churning nerves, and probably some sneaky jetlag, I was kind of a party pooper.

Sorry!

At this point, we needed to be getting some dinner and getting to bed.

The pre-race dinner we chose was close to the hotel and a chain I was familiar with.

Both key, I think.

It was called Vapiano.

The only thing to report here was actually getting to the restaurant.

While Vapiano was close to the hotel, I had just drug my friends around Tiergarten after spectating the inline event to go on a total “goose hunt” for a set of trees with the “Stand By Me” lyrics carved into them.

My directions were wrong and it was a lot more walking than it should’ve been to get there and to dinner.

Oops! Sorry again!

Thanks for standing by me and my crazy ideas, guys!

The Race:

Verse chosen for this race

Getting There:

This is where, again, the choice of hotel was ideal.

After breakfast at the hotel, the girls and I made the walk to the starting area with no issues (but plenty of bathroom stops!).

O, in case you were wondering, Jen reminded me about deodorant so that I wouldn’t have that issue to deal with.

Thanks, again, Jen!

Start:

This race was different than a lot of other races for me.

I was attempting a world record and, thus, was running for time…an extremely ambitious time for me.

Despite training hard for this goal, I was FREAKING OUT!

Luckily, we didn’t have to linger long.

I met up with someone who was going to help pace me and take the necessary pictures for proof along the way (every 2 kilometers) and, after the pre-start clapping Berlin is known for, we were off.

Kilometers 1-42 (Berlin is NOT marked by miles):

Since I was going for the record, I set out with my pacer instead of with Jen and Nicki.

I was planning to stay with my pacer for as long as possible with both of us having the option to strike out on our own, at any point, if needed.

That plan lasted all of about 6k until I exercised the option to fall back.

I just couldn’t keep up AND weave other runners at the same time (it was very congested in the beginning).

I willed myself to keep fighting (you never know right? It’s not over ’til it’s over!) and continued taking the “proof pictures” the rest of the race…even long after all hope of the record time was gone.

(Note: Even though I was setting the record instead of breaking it, the application I sent in after the race was denied. I knew it was a long shot, but it hurt all the same.)

That fight became a downright struggle early on in the race (well before the halfway point, if my memory serves me correctly).

I didn’t know if it was lingering “female problems” (which I’ll spare you from any more details there), jetlag, not hydrating properly, or the hot and humid weather, but I DID know my legs were SO tight.

I went from focusing on the record to hoping I could just get to the finish line in time.

I remember even looking behind me a couple of times expecting to see the sweepers coming for me.

I counted kilometers down and took a lot of walk breaks, but nothing seemed to be helping much.

Although, a cup of Coke (the race was, uniquely, offering tea, too. I took whatever I thought could help at this point) and some runners (most of them speaking German) commenting on my outfit were brighter spots.

Side note: I was wearing a very traditional German dress called a dirndl for this race. One lady, early on, came up to me speaking in German and pointing to my dress. She seemed so disappointed when I said I couldn’t understand her, so I just nodded along like I understood EVERYONE after that. I wish that I knew what all was said to me that day, but it all seemed positive!

I somehow made it to the road leading up to the Brandenburg Gate and looked over to the spot we had spectated at the day before.

We had agreed this would be our meeting spot and where Alex would stand to cheer us on.

He was there and was signing the number “1” to me.

Marathon brain was real at this point, so I couldn’t figure out what he meant.

I couldn’t believe that I was the first one to that point.

I thought Jen and Nicki passed me long ago and I had simply missed them in my haze of pain.

Turns out, he did mean that I was the first one he’d seen.

Finish:

FINALLY, I crossed the finish line (it is not as you pass under the Gate like some people might think) and got my medal.

Side note: Doesn’t Berlin have the BEST race photos?! Not only did they mask a lot of my pain, but they were so artsy! Prost to the photographers!

Then, unimaginably, the struggle got worse.

I turned in my shoe timing chip (so I wouldn’t be charged. I would’ve just kept it, if it had been cool, but it was plain) and saw a photo op.

I knew I’d regret it later if I didn’t take a picture in the finish area and I saw no other backgrounds set up, so I got in line.

I could barely stand at this point.

The runners around me in line, recognizing this, agreed to hold my place so that I could sit down until my turn.

I got my picture, thanked those runners, and started the “long journey” out of that area.

Smiling through the pain

Now, I had really wanted to go to the currywurst stand I had scouted the day before (I didn’t want to risk trying it pre-marathon) to (try to) celebrate…and to get some carbs.

Those usually help.

I thought I had some time and it was in the same general vicinity as the meeting place, so I started hobbling there.

All along this walk I had to take breaks, I considered asking for medical attention, and I questioned why I was doing this (running) to myself.

I swore I would NEVER do this again.

I felt THAT horrible.

I made it to “Wurst”, got my food (which did help), sat down, took a couple of pictures, got “checked on” by another runner, and headed to the meeting place.

Meet-up:

My group wasn’t at the meeting place.

Unlike London, I knew Alex had been/would be in that exact spot, so I (correctly) assumed that I had missed them.

It had taken me FOREVER to walk there, after all.

Then, I made the best decision of my entire trip.

I decided to take a cab to the hotel with the emergency cash I had stashed in my race belt along with my credit card and room key.

The only cabs around at the time, since roads were still closed/filled with runners, were bicycle cabs.

The cab-cyclist wasn’t sure about taking me at first but, after I told him what hotel I was staying at and he saw the pure desperation in my eyes, he decided to take me.

Enjoying the view…and the ride

I made it back to my room and the first words I heard were from Jen and were something along the lines of, “Hello, Miss Berlin Legend!”.

That was nice to hear…even if I wasn’t really ready to celebrate or fully accept congratulations at that point.

Then, I got caught up on Jen and Nicki’s race experience* and felt even worse for inwardly complaining.

*Since that isn’t my story to tell, I’m not going to elaborate.

I was broken.

In body, in mind, and in spirit.

Nevertheless, and only because I had such a great group “gently pushing” me, I showered and joined them for a celebration dinner.

Post-Race:

For this race, I took my own advice again and stayed an extra day for “Marathon Monday”.

(Tip: Be sure to get up early the day after the race to secure a paper. ALL runners are in this one! I tried too late, again, and spent most of the day making detours to try to find one. Luckily, it turned into one of my favorite moments from the trip when a runner I met in the airport said he’d send me one free of charge. Thanks, again, Andrew!)

I was still disappointed, but in a slightly better headspace when I got up that morning and I was going to do what I could to keep it that way.

I made sure to do what I could to stop the lactic acid from building, too.

The morning started with Jen and I having brunch at TV Tower (while there was an elevator, there also were some stairs. UGH!).

We could see the start/finish line from where we were eating as well as the Victory Column.

I decided that was my sign to be thankful and to try to declare victory.

I finished, after all, and was one step (or star) closer to completing another/the main goal.

Then, we proceeded to do a few other things.

These things included walking (some of) the remnants of the Berlin Wall, visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, checking out Checkpoint Charlie, putting our legs up on some walls, and enjoying the hotel’s infrared seat (uh, yes please!).

Then, I got a Covid test, packed up, and started the long journey home.

While this journey did include Whataburger, it also included a long delay and an unexpected welcome home.

You see, the morning after I got home, I went to work only to be permanently sent home within the hour… and after I had struggled up the stairs, too!

That, coupled with my race experience, really did a number on my confidence…as a runner and as a person.

That victorious feeling from the top of the TV Tower was gone…in record time.

I found it hard to declare victory in the face of that much “defeat”.

That is why it took me SO long to blog about this race.

While I try to disassociate the race from the trip and the trip from losing my job, it is hard to think about one without the others…and that makes it ALL hard to think about.

Yet, here we are.

Being reminded about the good things helps.

I am thankful for those and for the lessons I learned (you sometimes learn more in the struggle, you know) and now, many months later, I am reclaiming my victory.

Despite all that happened through my “less than stellar” race and return experience, I really enjoyed Berlin (the people were SO nice!) and I would love to go back to Germany someday.

Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions.

YouTube Berlin Marathon Video:

That’s all from me and Star #3!

Next up: The 2022 Boston Marathon

2021 Friendsgiving Virtual Run

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Friendsgiving Virtual Run to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I am a HUGE Friends fan so, when I saw this run come out, I raced to sign-up!

Now that the time is here, I could not BE more excited.

This is going to be my “Turkey Trot” this year and I may just give Phoebe’s running style a try.

The race offered some fun extras in the form of downloadable recipe cards and a free water bottle.

I do wish those recipe cards came with a Friends recipe on them (maybe something from Monica? I’m a runner and love my feet, but I don’t want to taste them. Sorry Rachel!) or all the swag wasn’t brown (totally appreciate the fall theming, but Friends is really colorful).

HOWEVER, the sweater they included is AMAZING!

It is thick and comfy and perfect for a “friendly” game of tag football or eating a grilled cheese sandwich.

OH MY GAWD! Look at that swag!

If you are wondering where the medal is, not to worry, it is on the way and the race was WONDERFUL about providing updates (including the note you see pictured above).

The medal has the infamous “dressed turkey” on it and I can’t wait to dance around with that without having to put a buttered bird on my head.

See you next time and, if you have any questions, let me know.

I’ll be there for you!

Tanri Outdoors Suncare Products Review

Disclaimer: I received Tanri products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I have a confession…I am AWFUL at skincare.

I don’t have a good skincare routine, because I don’t really have a routine at all.

The shame I feel is real.

I knew this is something I needed to fix, sooner rather than later, and that is where Tanri comes in.

I was able to test out four of their amazing products and found that I could easily fit each one into my daily, and running, routine.

The four products were:

SPF 30 Sunscreen

I enjoyed this sunscreen as it didn’t have a distinctive smell and is mineral-based/all-natural. It also didn’t sting as a traditional sunscreen would when it got in my eyes (as sunscreen always seems to do).

The one negative about this product is that it is a little stubborn on application. For example, I didn’t rub it in nearly enough the first couple of uses and it ran off my legs like water after I started to sweat.

That’s ok, though. Tanri is just trying to tell me I need to slow down and spend more time “securing” my skin.

SPF 15 Daily Moisturizer

Again, I’m not the best with skincare, much less daily skincare.

This little pump bottle made it easy, though, and I am happy to report it is a “founding father” of my new routine.

After Sun Restorative Moisturizer

Being (cough, cough) not fast, I can spend a lot of time out in the sun to finish my runs.

That makes this product a “skin-saver”.

I think I will get the most use out of it!

Chai SPF 15 Lip Balm

Last, but certainly not least, was a product I didn’t even think about for suncare.

I mean, I know people use the phrase “sun-kissed”, but do you usually sunscreen your lips?

I know I didn’t…until now.

I LOVED this product.

It was easy to apply, make my lips feel great (and protected), and smelled of chai.

Win-win-win!

Thank you, Tanri, for helping this distant relative of Casper and skincare newb find her way.

If you want to score some of your own Tanri products and improve your skin (routine), use the code BIBRAVE10 for 10% off on tanri.com!

Hurry, though, the code expires on 6/30/21.

Now, go (safely) soak up the sun!

Run to Escape Series: Mission Mt. Olympus

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Run to Escape Series: Mission Mt Olympus to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I have done a TON of virtual races since I began my running journey in 2013.

HOWEVER, RTE’s Mission Mt. Olympus is something else…it is a virtual experience!

Now, let me explain what I mean by that.

A normal race, virtual or otherwise, is typically for one run or one distance.

RTE’s experience is not.

It is six runs at varying distances and each run comes with it’s own unique challenge.

The overall objective of this series is to help Atalanta (the Greek Goddess of Running) secure a spot in the Pantheon by solving individual puzzles that the other gods have left behind.

Kind of like the challenges from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” except without the two-faced guy (it does still have a three-headed dog around, though).

You will receive audio clues from the gods themselves through the Runkeeper app and a puzzle to solve after you’ve done your run via e-mail.

BONUS: As part of your registration, you will be entered to win weekly giveaways (i.e. Aftershokz and Knockaround sunglasses)!

Apollo and I in our Knockaround sunnies!

I LOVE puzzles and riddles, so this experience was right up my alley.

I could not wait to get through my run to see what the gods had deemed too hard for a mere mortal to solve. It was extremely motivating but, more importantly, FUN!

Athena thinks she is SO smart but, once I was on the run, it was GAME OVER!

While you don’t get a medal or a t-shirt for this experience, as you would for a virtual race, you get something even better.

You get multiple runs that break up the monotonous training cycle and an invite to the Pantheon Party (I won’t spoil it for you, but it is more, dare I say better, than a free banana).

Just me hanging out on Mt. Olympus!

Moral of the story?

If you are looking for some fun on the run while also challenging your brain, sign up for this experience.

Otherwise, we may just have another Greek tragedy on our hands.

Use the code “BIBRAVE10” for 10% off registration and tell Hermes that I sent you!

God(s)speed!

ROAD iD Wrist iD Product Review

Disclaimer: I received a ROAD iD product to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Let me start by saying that I have wanted a ROAD iD product for a LONG time.

Well, Christmas came early and I am now the proud owner of a Wrist iD!

So, let me tell you the pros and cons of this product in case you want to customize one of your own, too.

Pros:

  • Safety- sadly, as a (mostly) solo female runner, I often have to think about what I would do if something happened to me out on the road. This little accessory gives me piece of mind. It has all of my emergency contacts on it in case I am unable to provide that information myself.
  • Motivational- while I have been lacking in this area lately, I do love that, when I’m feeling down, all I have to do is to look down at my wrist for a little jolt of encouragement via my favorite running mantra.
  • Adaptability- I mean it goes with everything. Even my craziest running costumes. That’s all I have to say about that!

Cons:

  • Umm…the clasp took me a while to get the hang off. Although, ROAD iD does give you a “how-to”. Instructions are hard.

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons, or semi-con, so it is safe (haha get it) to say that I highly recommend grabbing this product for your next run.

BONUS: If you want to score some free shipping on a ROAD iD product of your own, use the code SHIP4FREEBRP!

Tell them Meredith sent you!

2020 Virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k- Oklahoma City

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

This week, I participated in a VERY sweet race.

The 2020 Virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k- Oklahoma City through BibRave, to be exact!

First of all, let me get this out of the way.

I would’ve LOVED to do this race “irl” (wouldn’t we all?), but I tried my best to still make this a sweet experience.

First, I planned to run this in a place that I don’t normally run in.

Having treadmill trouble definitely helped with this step and I ended up running in a near-by school playground!

New furry friend I “ran” into on course

Second, I set up “stations” at every mile containing a different element of hot chocolate so that, by the end of the race, I would have everything I needed to build the perfect cuppa!

1 mile means (spooky) marshmallows
2 miles= CHOCOLATE!
Favorite mug to say, “Cheers to 3.1!”

Lastly, I saved my swag until after I’d finished the race as a reward!

SUPER sweet swag!

Moral of the story?

You can make every run a little sweeter with some simple switches.

I can’t wait to run one of these races in person one day (maybe with some of you) but, until then, enjoy this video and STAY SWEET!

Runderwear’s Paris Marathon Sweepstakes–Enter Now!

Disclaimer: I received Runderwear products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Last year, I had the extraordinary opportunity to run my first international race…in Paris.

Disneyland Paris that is.

While I spent most of my time with everyone’s favorite mouse, I did have the chance to explore the City of Light a bit.

I ate macarons, sat at an outdoor café, bought a beret, and visited the Eiffel Tower!

Beret or Nay?

Despite getting to do these things, though, I would LOVE to go back and explore this wonderful city even more some day.

This is where you come in.

You see, your someday could be right around the corner, because…

(drumroll)

Runderwear is giving you and a friend a chance to run in France as participants in the 2020 Paris Marathon!

Just so you know, the Paris Marathon starts at the Arc de Triomphe, runs through the Place de la Bastille, AND has views of the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower.

See THIS for yourself!

Talk about a walking running tour!

The sweepstakes includes:

  • Two (2) admissions to the Paris Marathon in April 2020
  • Round-trip airfare for two (2) from the United States to London, England
  • Hotel accommodations for one night in London, England
  • Two (2) Eurostar tickets from London, England to Paris, France
  • Hotel accommodations for three nights in Paris, France
  • A full Runderwear kit
  • Plus, additional partner prizes!

Read all of the details and ENTER NOW at: http://bit.ly/bibraveparis

The 2019 TCS New York City Marathon

I cannot believe that it has been over a month since I took on the Big Apple.

It just hasn’t fully sunk in. Maybe this recap will help with that, though.

So, without further ado, here is my 2019 TCS New York City Marathon experience!

Why New York?:

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to go to New York.

It has everything I love.

Broadway and movie/TV references and historic landmarks. O my!

Now, as an adult, I found another reason to visit.

New York plays host to one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Well, this is a no-brainer!

Interesting fact: The New York City Marathon is the largest marathon in the world. This year, 53,627 runners crossed the finish line. Spoiler: I was one of them!

“One bite and all your dreams will come true!”

Entry:

Here are the ways you can get into the New York City Marathon

  • Elite (i.e. super fast people)
  • Celebrity
  • Qualify based on time
  • NYRR’s 9+1 program
  • Competitions (rare)
  • Sponsor organizations (again, rare)
  • Travel agencies with marathon/tour packages (international only)
  • Ballot (lottery drawing of sorts)
  • Charity/Team for Kids
  • New Balance Rewards
  • NYRR Virtual from previous year (limited spots and has rules)
  • Claim a deferred entry
  • 15+ Legacy Program (run 15 NYC Marathons and have guaranteed entry for life)

I did enter the ballot, but did not get in. The odds were not in my favor.

I thought that was it for my chances this year as I did not want to fund raise for two marathons in the same year.

I figured that might be asking too much of my supporters even with the many, many good causes available to support.

So, I looked at running the virtual marathon in hopes of gaining entry into the 2020 anniversary race.

I was so nervous about:

1. Being quick enough to register for one of the guaranteed entry spots (the Internet breaks when these things open), 2. Being able to meet the time requirement, 3. Running the full distance solo (i.e. without race support or any distractions), and 4. Being dependent on weather/a time-keeping app (you only had one weekend, and essentially one run, to get it right).

Then, something amazing happened.

I saw a deal through New Balance Rewards for a bib.

It even waived the race entry fee!

While I didn’t have the 10,000 points needed, there was a person in a Facebook group I had joined for the Majors that was close and wasn’t going to be able to use them.

So, with some trust, some phone calls, and some New Balance items bought to get my new friend’s total to 10,000 (items I would need anyway and that were still less than the race fee), I was in!

O, the power of social media. Don’t underestimate it.

I originally thought I was doing this/in for the 2020 race. The realization that it was for the 2019 race came quickly enough, though. It was just meant to be this year, I guess!

Side note: Thank you to my friend for getting me into this amazing event. I won’t mention your name so you won’t be bombarded, but you know who you are!

Hotel:

I stayed at the Parker New York.

My home away from home

This was a hotel that my sister actually found and it was great!

It was between Central Park and Times Square and, I’d say, 90% of the things I wanted/needed were within a couple of blocks…including race transportation..,but I’m getting ahead of myself.

(Tip: get a MetroCard or budget for taxis/Ubers. A combination of subways and rides saved my legs!)

Bright Lights, Big City

Pre-Race:

I’ve long dreamed of a trip to New York, as I mentioned, so I did have some things in mind that I wanted to do.

Pretty much your typical tourist things.

  • The Statue of Liberty (no, I didn’t go up into the crown…that whole “stairs before a marathon” rule again)
  • The Charging Bull and Fearless Girl
  • The NYSE (that was for my dad)
  • The 9/11 Memorial
  • The Brooklyn Bridge (do not Uber in traffic..yikes)
  • The Central Park Zoo
  • Two Broadway shows (I saw Frozen and The Lion King and I saw other marathoners at each show. It is the perfect pre-race activity as you are sitting for it)

Again, with all the walking I did, I opted not to do the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K as a shakeout run.

Expo:

I went to the Expo the first day it opened this time.

I’m making progress!

Although, now that I think about it, it was Halloween (I saw a couple of costumes in the airport) and I was coming off a travel day complete with flight delays (we had a bird strike…ya, you read that right).

So, maybe not too much progress.

While I wasn’t there when the doors opened, more like at the end of the day, the crowds did not seem bad at all. Especially considering this is the world’s largest marathon.

I think the venue had a lot to do with that. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was a lot bigger than the ExCeL London which gave the whole event a more open and relaxed feel. My nerves and I appreciated that.

This Expo had a unique area where you tried on sample shirts and, then, you picked up your official shirt based on that. I thought this was a great idea to be sure you not only got your size, but that they weren’t out after the race. Then, it was off to the race merchandise, the booths, and the name wall.

Note that New York didn’t have games as London did, but I still enjoyed it.

After getting my bib, shirt, and some pictures and being COMPLETELY spoiled by my family, it was back to the hotel to join the rest of the crew for dinner!

Speaking of dinner, my pre-race dinner was literally around the corner from my hotel. It was called Pazza Notte and was the perfect carb-loading excursion. (Tip: Make a reservation in advance and make it for early evening so that you can rest…or try).

Carbs. ‘Nuff said.

The Race:

Verse chosen for this race

Getting There:

While the option to ride by the Statue of Liberty before the race via the Staten Island Ferry was tempting, I had already toured Lady Liberty.

Therefore, I opted for the charter bus transportation option.

There was less to “mess up” with this option, I think, which is always good for me.

This is where, again, my choice of hotel was ideal.

After a quick “breakfast” stop, my crew and I were able to walk to the New York Public Library with no issues.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

(Tip: get there at least 30 minutes before your bus time. There will be a line)

My coach was the lead bus and must not have known where to go as we made a weird turn and dropped back to follow others.

Let me tell you, you could’ve cut the tension on that bus full of pre-race runners with a (peanut) butter knife!

My “bus buddy”, Kathryn, and I were keeping each other calm. Happy First Marathon to her!

We made it in the end, though, and the coach dropped us all off within walking distance of the security gates. Beyond that were signs directing you to the colored “villages” corresponding to your bib.

Start:

I was in the Green Village, Corral E, Wave 4.

Just call us the “Village People”

It was a cold morning, but my mother had packed other layers ready for me to discard/donate to charity before the race and I had Hot Hands and a mylar blanket.

The start area itself had therapy dogs to pet, free food and drinks (Tip: Try to get a free…and infamous…Dunkin’ Donuts hat as soon as you arrive and attach it to your race belt with a safety pin. Don’t be discouraged if they run out. You will be able to find a discarded one before you start), UPS trucks if you opted to check a bag (I went for the legendary poncho so didn’t use this service), and many, many porta-potties.

Although, there is somehow never enough porta-potties…or toilet paper.

(Tip: BYOTP)

I kept my start village bag with me for a while, had breakfast, petted a couple of the dogs, hopped in line for the bathroom, got a hat, took some pics, and waited.

My new furry friend. I believe her name was Charlotte

Then, they started “corralling” us to our zones.

I did find a porta-potty with TP in it and a kind soul with some hand sanitizer once there. I, also, remembered deodorant this time (see London Marathon post for reference).

So, again, getting a bit better.

Miles 1-26:

It is funny.

I was SO nervous about this race but, as soon as I started, I was instantly filled with joy and peace.

With “New York, New York” playing as we crossed the start line and the views from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge (yes, the view is still good from the bottom level…and less windy), I don’t know how anyone could be filled with anything less.

Crowd support, like London, was incredible.

People were out on their balconies and their stoops cheering us on.

O, and the city workers (police officers, fire fighters, highway maintenance workers, etc.)?

Fuhgeddaboudit!

To compare major marathons, I have to give the atmosphere advantage to London. I felt like there were more “blank spots” in New York. For instance, the silence of the Hasidic neighborhoods of Williamsburg. Maybe I am, and always will be, partial to my first full marathon, though.

However, I will say, the city of New York embraced the marathon more than any other city I have yet to race in. Definite win there!

Some other “memorable moments” from the race included being cheered on by a spirited chicken, high-fiving a cat, running to a Queen song in Queens, hearing many compliments on my “Sunday dress”, and seeing my “fan section”.

I had a larger fan section this time around.

Now, I had convinced my parents to buy grandstand tickets and to not try to go anywhere else, so I wasn’t worried about seeing them.

I gave my sister and Catherine (who came in the night before the race…a last-minute surprise) rough instructions of where I’d like them to be, but wasn’t expecting much as I knew it was going to be crazy and I didn’t know New York as well as London.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

I was able to see my sister and Catherine twice (they saw me three times) and my brother-in-law and nieces once.

What about my parents? Well, we will get to that.

Finish:

All those hills and bridges were leading to this.

The finish line.

If you read my London recap, you will remember that a runner stopped in front of me right in the middle of the finish line. Sadly, I had some finish line drama in the Big Apple as well.

You see, I thought I saw my parents cheering for me in the grandstands and began waving and blowing them kisses in my rush to cross the line.

As it turns out my parents were there, but didn’t see me and were not cheering.

Ever thought someone was one person and waved like mad only to find out they were a stranger?

Mmhmm…did that.

I wasn’t embarrassed, but was SO disappointed.

Not for me, but for my parents. They had come all the way to New York (no small feat for my mother) and didn’t get to see me race.

And they had paid for tickets after being encouraged to do so by me. (Sigh)

My finish line picture, however, wasn’t interrupted.

So, there is that.

I didn’t really get a close-up one of me crossing the line, BUT I did get one right after and it was on the NYC Marathon’s Twitter page!

Here it is!

EEK!

That certainly makes up for my name/time not making the papers, I think.

After that, a lovely volunteer handed me my medal, I took a few more pictures, got a heat sheet with tape, collected my finisher’s goodies, and went to get this poncho I’d been hearing so much about.

When there are no words left…

(Tip: If you choose the poncho option, be prepared for quite the walk. I had to dig deep for that one. It was worth it, though)

Now, that’s a golden apple

Meet-up:

This was, again, a little scattered, but something has to be said for cell phone service/not being international this time.

I walked a bit A LOT to get to where my parents were and had to stop once, but I found them with essentially no problems.

It wasn’t that much further to the hotel at that point and, with my dad taking the very heavy recovery bag off my hands, I was able to walk it.

No wonder it was so heavy!

This turned into a walk I will never forget.

As we walked (I was hobbling at this point) into my hotel’s bar/lounge area, everyone there stood up and started clapping.

I didn’t get emotional on the finish line, but that got my eyes very misty.

Post-Race:

I immediately put my legs up on a wall, took a soak in a tub with a bath bomb, and foam rolled.

Ouch!

In the meantime, my sister was ordering all my requested food (P.J. Clarke’s and Levain Bakery. Both of which I highly recommend) to be delivered to the room.

Did I mention that I love my family?

For this race, I took my own advice and stayed an extra day for “Marathon Monday”.

(Tip: Be sure to get up early the day after the race to secure a New York Times. You may just be in it!)

Since I was dressed as Audrey Hepburn à la Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the race, I decided to “run” with the Tiffany’s theme once again by going to see Fred (Lebow), visiting Holly Golightly’s apartment, going to the Blue Box Café (Tip: be available the minute the reservations come live and make a special request, if you are getting the celebration cake. Also, note that each person has to order a full meal. You can’t just get dessert…which was my original plan), and getting something from the Tiffany’s marathon collection (Thanks Mom and Dad!).

I also went to a brunch with some other marathoners, saw the elite winners in Central Park, got a recovery massage (yes, I mentioned I had just completed a marathon the day before), went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, and ventured to the Top of the Rock. I was going to go to the New York Giants game, as they were playing the Dallas Cowboys, with my dad and brother-in-law, but I was a little tired from the day’s activities.

Side note: Thanks to the cat for bringing the ‘Boys some luck!

I can go on and on about my first trip to New York…and I have. Thanks for sticking with me!

Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions.

YouTube New York City Marathon Video:

Star #2 is through!

Next up: TBD

The 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon

Since I will be leaving for New York in mere days (DAYS!) for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon, I thought I’d take a look back at my first 26.2-mile run.

The 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Why London?:

I chose to run my first marathon in jolly old England, because it was a place that held great significance for me.

I studied abroad there in 2011, I started talking to my now-husband there (he, having lived there once upon a time, was giving me recommendations), and I absolutely fell in love with the city and its history.

London is, also, one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Completing all six, Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City, would put me in a very special group of runners called Six Star Finishers.

To put it into perspective, there are currently only 6,401 Six Star Finishers in the world.

With my study abroad class at Tower Bridge. I would run across it 8 years later. Life is funny!

Entry:

You can get into the London Marathon a few ways.

  • Elite (i.e. super fast people)
  • Celebrity
  • Good for Age (U.K. residents only)
  • Running clubs (U.K. only)
  • Competitions (rare)
  • Sponsor organizations (again, rare)
  • Travel agencies with marathon/tour packages
  • Ballot (lottery drawing of sorts)
  • Charity

I did not enter the ballot but, instead, opted to go straight for the charity route. Which is not to be taken lightly.

Fundraising is hard.

Interesting fact: The London Marathon holds the Guinness world record as the largest annual fundraising event in the world. That means A LOT of people run for charity!

After a look at all of the awesome charities, I applied for three that spoke to me.

I got invited to join two but, ultimately, went with the first one to accept me. It was “Get Kids Going!” (https://www.getkidsgoing.com/aboutus.htm).

Get Kids Going is a U.K.-based charity that gives disabled children and young people the opportunity to participate in sports by providing them with specially built sports’ wheelchairs.

“Fancy Dress”/World Record:

The London and Berlin Marathons have a special incentive for runners wanting to run in costume or “fancy dress”.

These two majors have teamed up with Guinness World Records to wave the application fee and have an adjudicator onsite to validate your attempt.

Because running my first full while completing my MBA didn’t seem like enough, I decided to go for this. I wanted something distinctly British, that went with a “kids in sports” theme for my charity and, most importantly, that hadn’t been done before.

I didn’t want the added pressure of trying to beat a specific time on my first time out.

Thus, the Golden Snitch was born.

The Golden Snitch is one of the balls in the game of Quidditch played by school-age witches and wizards. Quidditch was introduced in a little book series by British author J.K. Rowling called Harry Potter. You may have heard of it.

While I later found that I didn’t qualify for a record, I do not regret my choice of “fancy dress”!

Hotel:

I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express London-City. This was a race partner hotel. It was about halfway between the start and the finish, but everything I wanted was an Underground ride away (Tip: get an Oyster card) and I got an early breakfast and coach ticket as part of their marathon package.

More on that later!

The world, or London, is your oyster with this card
View from my room. Is the ambulance a bad sign?
Provided coach ticket with some back-up breakfast options

Pre-Race:

I studied abroad in London, as I mentioned, so I didn’t do some of the traditional tourist sites.

Since I was dressing as the Golden Snitch, I decided to “run” with the Harry Potter theme by going to the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour (Tip: get the Butterbeer ice cream).

Neither of these were available when I was last there and were brilliant (pardon my British!).

I had considered a trip to St. Paul’s Cathedral, but I decided the stairs you have to climb to get the prized view of the city were not pre-marathon friendly.

In fact, with all the walking I was doing (probably too much), I opted not to do a shakeout run.

The Palace Theatre
Off to Hogwarts!

If you had never been to London before and wanted to fit in a couple of sites that wouldn’t be too taxing on the tootsies, I would recommend taking in a tea time (I, personally, loved tea at The Orangery) and a double-decker bus tour.

Pinkies up! It is only proper.

Expo:

I went to the Expo the day before the race.

I know, I know, not smart.

However, that was the only time that really worked in my schedule. We were there as the doors opened, though, and it wasn’t too bad crowd-wise until we were about ready to leave.

Crowds are to be expected, though, with over 40,000 runners in the race!

The Expo had race-day merchandise (you run the risk of this running out if you go too late), vendors, local race booths, a café, multiple speakers (including Martin Yelling who hosted extremely helpful pre-race Q&A sessions via Facebook), race charities, a race wall to sign, and games.

That’s right. Games!

These were so much fun and you could win money for your charity.

Win-win!

I highly recommend taking a bit of time and trying these out.

After playing a few, getting my bib and some pictures, stopping by my charity’s booth, buying a bear, mug and, of course, race-branded clothing, it was off to relax a bit before dinner!

Meeting Martin Yelling
Sending all my supporters some love
Shirley and I at Get Kids Going charity booth!

Speaking of dinner, I met up with a group at Limoncello and would recommend it…plenty of carbs!

That’s a lot of carbs…
BRING IT ON!

The Race:

Getting There:

While the Tube was free for runners that day, I preferred not to fight the masses or worry about connections.

Especially with a costume.

This is where my choice of hotel came into play. We were given a coach bus to the start. It was very calming and one less thing to worry with on the day. The coach dropped us within walking distance of each of the colored starts.

I put a bible verse on all my “major race” costumes. This was the “Verse of the Day”

Start:

I was in the Red Start, Zone 7.

It was a bit cold and breezy that morning, but I had a blanket from the airplane and some other layers ready to discard before the race. The start area had screens showing the other areas and the race, entertainment, some food and drinks (I think…I was too busy trying not to lose what I’d already eaten), lines and lines of “lorries” (gear bag trucks), and even more port-a-potties.

I kept my bag with me for a while then hopped in the bathroom line.

Going to the bathroom in a Golden Snitch was an interesting experience.

Then, they started “corralling” us to our zones. This is where I had discovered that, despite all of my Body Glide applications and bathroom visits, I had forgotten to put on deodorant…oops!

Red means “go” today!
Loo lines
All smiles, no deodorant

Miles 1-26:

I loved (almost) every second as I ran by the infamous Rhinos, the Big Pink Dress, and over Tower Bridge.

The course support was amazing with lots of water and “loos” available starting after mile three and continuing to the end.

The atmosphere was nothing short of electric with people cheering everywhere (other than a tunnel they weren’t allowed in at Mile 15…that was a definite walk break for me).

Luckily, I was able to see Catherine, the person that inspired me to start running in the first place and my roomie for the week, a few times on course! O, and I was “caught” by a spectating “Seeker”. Wish I would’ve gotten a picture of that, but I will always remember it. Always.               

Sweaty hugs! Get your sweaty hugs here!
My cheer section

Finish:

Aw, the moment I had dreamed about for months and months.

The finish line.

Turning by Buckingham Palace to the Union Jack-lined street was truly a sight to behold.

I was ready for my moment and my picture. However, there was a guy in front of me that “camped out” on the mat which took away a bit from that last part (Tip: don’t be like that guy).

Nothing could take away from this fact, though.

I was a marathoner!

After that, a lovely volunteer handed me my medal, I took a few more pictures, collected my finisher’s shirt and goodies (They were out of my size by the time I got there, but they were fielding exchanges a few days later), and went to collect my gear bag. All of this was seamless and very well organized.

Flying to the finish line
He is a happy camper!
First marathon, First star

Meet-up:

This was where I got lost.

I am not sure if it was the signs or my “marathon mind”, but I could not figure out where the Overseas Runners meet-up area (where Catherine and I had agreed to meet) was.

I walked a bit and had to sit down. I couldn’t call her as I didn’t have a cellular plan…I had been doing everything over free Wi-Fi…and after a bit (and asking a local to borrow her phone only to hand it right back remembering that an international call would cost her) decided to go back to the hotel.

I figured, even if she didn’t go back, I could use the room’s phone (they had a cell phone for free use) to get in touch with her.

We eventually reunited and, while it took us a while to find a place that was still serving food, I got my celebratory fish and chips!

Finisher’s shirt

Post-Race:

I immediately put my legs up on a wall, showered, foam rolled, and napped.

After dinner, mentioned above, I packed for the flight home and slept in a pair of compression socks.

Once home I was right back to studying for my finals. However, pictures came in from MarathonFoto (I had pre-ordered their package and am so happy that I did) over the next couple of weeks keeping the marathon excitement alive.

I was fortunate to have quite a few, but still had to search for a couple that had been added later.

Bonus Tips: Stay an extra day after the marathon, if possible, as some places have deals (wish I had! Do as I say, not as I did) and grab a free paper in the airport as a souvenir!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Well, I think that about covers it. Please comment below if you have any questions!

YouTube London Marathon Video:

Go Find Your Awesome London Marathon Podcast:

Part 1- https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/go-find-your-awesome-podcast/e/61707876

Part 2- https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/go-find-your-awesome-podcast/e/61736078

Star #1 Done!

Next up: The 2019 TCS New York City Marathon