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THE Boston Marathon

Kristen Baird

As many of you know, when I'm not working on jewelry, I can usually be seen running the historic streets of Savannah and getting in a good workout. I find so much inspiration when I run which is why it's such an integral part of my workweek. Below is an account of our trip to Boston for my husband to run the Boston Marathon this spring. It was a life changing experience for me which is why I'm doing a takeover of the studio blog today to focus on that amazing trip...

On a beautiful Friday morning, April 14th, 2017, a group of 6 Savannah Striders (#1 Running Club on the Planet) departed Savannah International airport headed to Boston, bound for the Boston Marathon. The months and years of training was complete, the last taper run was done, the race strategy was in place, the shoes, and extra shoes and just one more pair of shoes (in case) were packed and all that was left was the journey!

Our group of 6, Ken and Rebecca Beasley, Tim and Tracey Fortier, my husband Drew and myself, we were ready to go. We hit the ground running (almost literally) when we landed in Boston. There were places to see and things to do…#1 find food, #2 attend the Boston Marathon Race Expo, and #3 meet up with the other 6+ Savannah runners also attending. While the other 5 in our group were veterans, having been to Boston several times to run and cheer, - quite a feat, I might add - this time was my first time being in Boston for marathon weekend and wow, it was phenomenal.

 Although I was there to cheer for my husband (humble brag moment, he qualified with a 2:45:25 marathon and was ranked #761 out of 30,074 runners) being a recreational runner, the buzz in the expo was mind blowing. Everyone there was fit and athletic. It was something I have never quite seen before even though I grew up playing sports. This was different. This was the Boston Marathon. It truly is in a league of its own.

 Between our arrival and Patriot’s Day or “Marathon Monday” as they call it, we spent time being tourists. A little time lounging in Boston Common, a trip over to Little Italy (holy cannoli!), a baseball game at Fenway Park, up and down the sights we went until Sunday night….that’s when it got real! Early to bed and early to rise. The alarm sounded at 5am and Drew was already up. The night before the marathon, rest is usually nowhere to be found and this was truly the case.

 Around 6:30am, we ladies sent our guys off with kisses and good wishes. They were bound for the bus to get to the start line 26 miles away in Hopkinton and we were bound for the Omni Parker breakfast and coffee (priorities!). After eating, Rebecca, Tracey and I headed for our cheering spot. Rebecca and Tracey knew exactly where to head so I followed and we were on our way. Security was tight. Ever since the bombing, the scene has been different. Heavily armed police, armored vehicles, and bomb sniffing dogs were quite visible and we were thankful to see them.

 We passed the security checkpoint and walked by the makeshift memorials on Bolyston St. where the bombings in 2014 took place. It was emotional. A few blocks further at Hereford St. we got to our spot, at mile 26. It was right on the last hill before the turn onto Boylston St. to the .2 mile stretch before the finish line. It was perfect. We could easily see the turn coming to us and the turn going away from us to the finish line and as the crowds gathered, we hunkered down.

 After standing and waiting about 2 hours, this isn’t for the faint of heart, the buzz picked up. I was following our guys and the other Savannah friends that were running and we were tracking their progress via our cell phones. We were also receiving updates from my mom and dad who were watching the elite leaders on TV back at home. My dad was giving me the countdown…..the wheelchair athletes are 2 miles away, the elite women are 6 miles away, the elite men are 12 miles away. The pursuit was on! About 10 minutes later a police motorcycle came whizzing by with the first wheelchair athlete hot on his tail. The roar of the crowd was massive.

 By this time, we were smooshed up against the barriers with 8 people deep behind us. It was thrilling. We cheered and yelled and screamed! The wheelchair athletes kept coming and then came the elite women led by winner Atsede Baysa. Even more yelling to be had! Then, the elite men, which was a true chase down between Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Galen Rupp, our Olympic bronze medalist in Rio. Rupp finished second in this Boston marathon, a great accomplishment for someone so new to the marathon distance.

 As the heat of the day kept building and we got further and further into the pack of athletes, we could tell exhaustion was setting in. Their speed was slower but their determination was more than ever. They would hit that hill and we could see the pain and agony on their faces but as we in the crowd let out a huge roar, they would light up and get that extra boost of adrenaline to make it one more push, one more step, one more stretch. I have never experienced anything like this before. It was the best of humanity on display that day. It gave me goosebumps then and it gives me goosebumps now.

 About 3 hours into the race, we knew our guys would be coming soon. We kept watch and not much later, we spotted them making the turn on their way to us. We hollered and jumped up and down so they would spot us. They looked exhausted but managed to swing over to the barrier for a sweaty kiss. As they turned away to head for the finish line, we screamed like little girls at a boy band concert. They made the turn and we started the 1 mile round-about trek to the family village to meet them post-race.

 After finding our runners, it was off to the hotel for showers, food, naps, and to meet back up for a celebratory dinner. What an amazing day it was! Boston lived up to the expectations plus some. For me, attending this marathon as a spectator was a life changing experience. I got to see the best in people in a day and age that often shows the worst. The true determination displayed by the athletes and the comradery amongst runners and supporters gave everyone a little extra hope and happiness. I will never forget our trip to Boston. Just 3 savannah runners and their cheering team….conquering the world, one race at a time. Look out NYC Marathon 2018. We are coming for you!

Until next time, 

Kristen


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