finally a finisher!


it’s been 10 days since i completed the boston marathon in 4:50:15! if i didn’t still have my name and a giant heart sunburt to my arm i would think it was all a dream. i have so much i want to re-live from that entire day. there are so many moments i want to write about so i don’t forget. i’m not sure if it’s something i will ever complete again so i want to try and remember everything i possibly can…soooo here we go ūüôā


there was so much coverage on the marathon the days leading up to the race. i thought this would have made me overly emotional, especially because i am that way regardless, but looking back i dont think it really effected me much. the rest of the world choses to remember april 15th on it’s yearly anniversary, or througout that week, or the days leading up to it each year. for me, the marathon has been something i have thought about every single day for the past 365 days. it was nice that the rest of the city (and world) finally started to think of it again, too.

easter was the sunday before so i was very thankful to be surrounded by my amazing family this day. sitting at home or at my parents may have made me go¬†a little stir-crazy. it was nice to have the chance to talk to all my aunts, uncles, and cousins about what is going on in their lives – and take the attention away from the race for a little while. my aunt had a boston strong t-shirt that she ironed my bib number onto the back of with a “Go Jess” message. that made me so happy. i also got to try out some archery and pretend i was katniss. it was a beautiful day. oh, and i also ate SO much. i love food more than anything. I had rolls, salad, quiche, homemade calzones with eggplant and vegan sausage peppers and onions, and baked ziti. i probably had two plates of everything. and when i got home i had a nice slice of chocolate cake my mom made. that cake was unreal. … i love food.

so the morning of the marathon¬†we went to the boston common to pick up the busses. there was definitely added security and plenty of news cameras. i dont even remember if i saw a single news camera there in 2013. of course this year was so different already. all of the runners were so nice & so were the volunteers. the feeling this year¬†was indescribable¬†– it felt like everyone was more thankful to be there or something. so we hopped on our bus pretty easily and off we went. one of the busses had all of the victims faces printed out and taped onto the windows – that was pretty amazing. i saw that bus drive by ours and the woman sitting in front of me just said “wow, thats incredible”.¬†there was just constant reminders or why i was doing this again…


so we took some pictures on the bus on the way out to hopkinton and ate some toast and bananas and finally got to runners village! it was cool not running on a team this year so we could experience this part of hopkinton that we didnt last year. the porter potty lines were ridiculous – like way too long. but i guess with over 30 thousand runners that was unavoidable. so we waited in line for awhile, wrote our names on our arms in sharpee, wrote some other strangers names on their arms that were waiting in line with us… then found a tiny grassy spot and sat down and just started waiting. there were sharpshooters on the roof of the school looking down at runners village all morning. that didn’t bother me much. it was hard to really worry about my safety when i knew what i was about to put myself through.Image

so the waves in front of us were getting called and finally it was time for wave 3 – that’s us!! we had to wait a little bit longer because we were in the last corral of this wave which was fine. we waited¬†over a year so what was another few minutes.¬†suddenly people just started surrounding us and¬†peeing. one guy into a dunkin donuts cup in front of us who did a horrible job of even trying to cover himself up a little bit. this other girl held a jar for her girlfriend while she pee’d in it behind us. she was a really good¬†friend. then there was pee in cups all around our little space blanket so luckily¬†soon after that it was time to head to the start line.

DOUG FLUTIE gave me a high five!! yup!! his¬†team was walking with us to the start line and i said “holy shit that’s doug flutie!” i thought i said it quietly but obviously¬†that wasnt the case so he gave me a big smile and high five. i felt like such a boss.

HERE WE GO! so we started running and we immediately noticed how hott it was. i mean 65 degrees is not hott on a normal 5 mile run or anything. but, when you have been training in 18 degree days and are about to run for over 4 hours Рtrust me, it is really hott. it shortly felt like 80 degrees and we probably made it about 3 miles before we ditched our bright yellow arm warmers that we spent so much time coordinating with our outfits. womp womp 

the first few miles was a little bit of a blur. we just kind of chatted about whatever – i really¬†spent a lot of time trying to remind myself to¬†be in the moment.¬†we would randomly say to eachother “wow, we’re running in the boston marathon!”¬†i dont remember a single blank space of road¬†for awhile… there were so many spectators.¬†last year i wrote COHEN on my arm because that’s what all my friends call me.¬†after so many people having a hard time pronouncing it and calling me weird names i decided to write JESS this year. wow was that a great idea. i got so many shoutouts! it¬†really helped boost my confidence even though it was from complete strangers. a special thanks to the lady who told me “you still look really pretty” around mile 14. that was honestly the best thing i heard all race.

i had cousins¬†just after mile 6 and then just after¬†wellesley college.¬†i loved seeing people i knew.¬†my family after mile 13 was with a bunch of strangers who all started chanting my name “Go Jess! Go Jess!”¬†when i stopped to give them both a hug.¬†all of the fans were just so happy and had so much energy.

so many other things stick out in my mind – i forget what¬†town we were entering… maybe wellesley or natick? but there was this big bar right as we¬†hit the “entering…” sign and they were blasting the song¬†‘girl on¬†fire’ by alicia keys. and the sun was shining and¬†everyone was singing and dancing on the sides of the roads and wow it was just an awesome moment that i will never forget. and really that¬†was a perfect song because it was SO hott¬†we were all dying. girl on fire… get it? perfect. the scream tunnel in wellesley was so loud. i saw so many men pull over and take selfies kissing the college girls. it was nice to have a distraction from the heat. i saw my mom, dad, brother, & best friend right near the newton-wellesley hospital. i pulled over and gave them all a hug and am not sure what the hell i said to them but that moment was great. i was starting to fade and needed a boost.

i forgot to mention our singlet’s that we made. the back said “this year we turn” and i dont think anyone in the crowd could really read them which is fine – but the runners that passed us (which was a lot of runners) could read them. and that was what mattered. so many of them told us that they loved our shirts, or this year they are going to turn too. some would run with us for a few minutes and ask where we were stopped and if we are running for a team this year and we would hear a few minutes of what their story was. that was really¬†awesome because it took us a long time to decide what we wanted to write on them. they were perfect


this one guy was running near me for a good portion of the marathon. his shirt said ‘WILD BILL’ in huge letters on the front.¬†the crowd loved wild bill and everyone was constantly yelling and cheering for him. we chatted for awhile and he asked my pace to finish which i told him was 4:37 and that we ditched it at mile 11 because it was too hott to keep up. he was aiming for a 4:45 finish time.¬†note to self:¬†make a shirt that says WILD JESS for the next race to get the crowd on my side. he took away a lot of attention from people who otherwise would have probably been yelling my name but he was more creative so i guess he deserved it.¬†

so all of¬†a sudden we were at the hills – the newton firehouse at mile 18. at this point it was just¬†sharon and myself and¬†i told her that this was the moment we trained¬†for. we had done it plenty of times before and this is the day that it matters and then we never have to do it again. saying that out loud really helped me mentally. so we started the hills and runners were dropping like flies. all around us people started walking. i was determined to run all of the hills. i dont care if we were running 12 minute miles by the end – we were not walking.¬†everytime there was a¬†sign that said ICE sharon would yell it out and we would¬†go grab some. we were¬†so disgusting. grabbing huge chunks of ice from these bags that everyone else was sticking their dirty hands into. i would try and bite off a chunk of it to keep in my mouth and stick the rest down my shirt. overall i was just a gross human being at that point but i was desperate to stay cool. i was drinking water and gatorade¬†every single mile and stopped taking my chomps because the mix of everything was making me feel nausace. i think i had a twizzler and¬†grabbed us¬†freeze pops and that’s all i really had the entire second¬†half of the race.

i had two more girlfriends waiting on the hills. i didnt see or hear them until i had just run past them but i am so glad i did. i turned around and ran back to them and gave them both hugs. one of them had tears in her eyes of course and it was just so nice to see people i knew at such a difficult time in the race. they had my cohen superfan t shirt from last year which i now consider a vintage item…

we made it up the hills without walking!¬†at the top everyone was yelling at us so loud ” YOU JUST¬†RAN HEARTBREAK HILL!” and that¬†just makes you feel so cool. so at this point sharon had the same struggles i did –¬†overheating, upset stomach, just overall dead tired. i spent the next mile or so just chatting with¬†her and¬†trying to stay optimistic and be by her side. although i absolutely felt like death myself, repeating the positive words to her really helped me keep moving. we were together for another mile or so and split up near BC to cleveland circle. i knew all of my family and friends were at the stretch ahead and i think that gave me the boost i needed to keep going. i turned back to make sure she was still moving and once realizing she was okay i pushed forward and didn’t look¬†back again.

BC was just loaded with drunk students. once i hit cleveland circle i was so psyched. my pace started to pick back up under 11 minute miles again and i just charged ahead. my parents, brother and olivia were right near the shaws supermarket before washington square. i think they told me that i looked great but i dont remember exactly what they said. i somehow felt so good at that point. next i was in washington square and i was searching the crowd for all my friends. from washington square to coolidge corner i had 3 different groups of friends stretched out along beacon street. this was so perfect. that mile is just so long and so difficult and to see familiar faces every few hundred yards was¬†exactly what i needed. i’m so happy i stopped and hugged and kissed every one along the way…

running through fenway came and went and i was just so focused on finishing the race. as i passed through the entering Boston flags i had two hands in the air already in celebration… fenway was jam packed with people and at that point¬†it started to get a little blurry for me. i finally came to the point where i was stopped last year and i had no idea what to expect from myself. now i was about to embark on unfamiliar territory and that was so exciting. i went under this little bridge and as i came up all i could see was Hereford. FINALLY. i instantly had tears in my eyes. there were so many people surrounding the road so all you can really focus on is that right on Hereford and nothing else. i¬†held back¬†the tears for a short second until i took the turn. it was such a cool feeling because this is what i had been chasing for almost 2 years now.¬†i instantly¬†was just balling my eyes out to the point of embarrassment. i kindly told myself to get my shit together. i didnt want people to think i was crying because i was so exhausted and i wanted to look¬†good at the finish.¬†

the right on hereford is so quick. i almost wish i could have¬†frozen that moment and gone a little slower but at that point¬†my¬†garmin was about to die and i didnt want to lose my entire run on my watch so i know i had to speed it up.¬†finally… LEFT ON BOYLSTON!¬†you can see the finish line as soon as you¬†turn. i started¬†to all out sprint as fast as i could like i would at any¬†race. you see the finish line and you run faster. but the thing is that the finish line is much farther away than it looks. i think i made it about half way¬†down boylston and then was so winded¬†so i¬†had to chill out and slow back down. there¬†was just a sea of people and it was overwhelming and you can’t really hear anyone cheering for you anymore because at that point everyone is cheering for everyone.¬†4:50:15 i finally crossed that finish line! i was so happy to be done and so¬†happy to get that medal put around my neck for real this year.¬†Image

everyone around is telling me congrats and hugging and high fiving. the energy is something i had never experienced before in my life. i could probably write another 4 pages about my feelings at the finish line and the days after but i know that it is something i will carry with me for the rest of my life. i am a boston marathon finisher!

a big thank you to everyone who kept me motivated for the entire race and year leadind up to it. i would have never had the courage to start if it wasnt for my two amazing friends and running buddies who are now stuck with me for life. i cannot wait to be a spectator next year and am praying that i have a friend or know someone who is running so i can follow them on their journey too.

woo hoo!  


Enjoying these moments

“we’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are”


22 MILER DONE!! done… finished… finuto… over with! I will never EVER ever in my entire life have to run that distance again until marathon monday!! then really, never again… EVER! ever. the happiness that brings me is off the charts. I am welcoming the next 3 weeks of tapering with a big huge hug. I could not be more thrilled with how my longest run¬†went. it was definitely challenging but¬†a huge reminder of how incredibly lucky¬†I am to be a part of this day. getting dropped off in hopkinton was surreal. well, the¬†scariest part of the day is actually being the car driving out¬†to the starting line knowing that you are going to be running the entire way back. no ride… just running – that’s¬†kind of scary. it’s a long ride.

there were more people at the start line in hopkinton that I have seen at some smaller races I’ve done. lots of busses carting charity teams… people waiting for porter pottys, news cameras, groups of runners similar to us snapping pictures & taking it all in. I was really nervous happy. the run itself took us just under 4 hours. I did not listen to a single second of music (aside from whatever the cheering fans were playing in their front yards). I really hope I can run the¬†entire marathon without headphones. I know there are going to be so many spectators and I don’t want to miss a single second of¬†the yelling and cheering and drunk people of boston. we thought a lot about how we are going to break down the race… last year i thought of it as 4, 10K’s then with another two miles tacked onto the end… this run we really¬†focused on getting through¬†to the next town. every time we saw one of those street signs was a mini celebration between the¬†3 of us. it also took us a few miles¬†to remember all 8¬†towns that we actually touched. hopkinton, ashland, framingham, natick, wellesley and newton were the ones we hit on saturday – all that was left is brookline and boston!


I¬†have always believed in the power of positive thinking but this long run is what really proved it to be true. i usually hit a wall around 15-16 miles – just anything beyond that distance is too much for my body. everything starts to hurt – and I mean everything from my toenails through to my shoulders… just pain all over. it sucks and I still don’t know why people would¬†really want to run marathons all the time. just don’t get it!¬†any time¬†I wanted to drag or quit or take a walk break¬†I made a conscious effort to say outloud to myself or the girls “i’m feeling good”. and they would respond the same. that simple statement helped more than I could imagine. to hear myself say something positive¬†in a time where I was definitely¬†feeling less than okay is what made all the difference. I truly believe¬†this was able to convince myself to move on. the body believes what the mind says… I know this mental strength is what will get me to the finish line in three weeks. If I hit coolidge corner feeling as run down tired as I did last year I will simply convince myself otherwise. After finishing 22 and feeling good I know I will make it across that finish on the 21st… such a cool feeling.


I¬†spent the rest of saturday and half of sunday indulging in absolutely anything i wanted to…¬† piled all of my favorite foods¬†on at once. those burt calories were hard earned and i’ll be damned if I was going to let them go to waste. bring on the cadburry eggs, spinach dip, angry orchid’s¬†and buffalo chicken nachos. based on my stomach ache yesterday I probably won’t be doing that again any time soon

tonight we are going to get our shirts screened with the awesome design sharon came up with. this weekend is a 15k¬†followed by an 8 miler next weekend.¬†I promised to wear my taco costume if we could raise another $1,500 to Mar’s charity…¬†I half hope we raise $1,450 just so I can avoid my promise… ūüôā

oh! we also got our runner passports and everything else in the mail this week too! photo below


I run to breathe fresh air…


“I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” – Dean Karnazes

I’ve thought about updating this several times in the past few weeks but just couldnt quite find the motivation. A brief recap, mostly for myself, of the past several weeks…

This polar vortex of a winter really sucks. I was injured for the past two weeks after my 15 miler at the beginning of February (12.5 outside, 2.5 on the treadmill). A horrible pain on the outside of my left foot¬†had me limping for days… running was almost out of the question.¬†After¬†struggling through 4 miles on that Monday¬†I immediately started to WebMD¬†and self-diagnose myself with a stress fracture. In tears I immediately called my doctor and¬†was recommended to see a podiatrist. Fast forward from that visit, some perscription pain¬†medicine, an X-Ray, and several trips to my new physical therapist office – I’m really fine. I think it was just a combination of running the longer miles on snowy, uneven sidewalks that really irritated my foot. I took a few weeks¬†of rest and a few extra spinning classes and have successfully completed a 20 miler¬†on the 1st and half marathon¬†last¬†Sunday…Image¬†

I love half marathon’s. I remember specificically around mile 8 or 9 thinking how¬†great of a distance it is. I was very comfortable running about 10 minute miles the entire time, and lucky to have my running girls to push me to do about 9:30’s over the last 3. We¬†finished at 2:11,¬†not a PR but very happy¬†with how I felt and my ability to speed up the last 3 miles and use the rest of my juice.¬†I am hoping that speeding up these¬†shorter long runs that I will be able to keep a comfortable 10:30 pace for the entire 26.2 on marathon Monday. No time goals this year… but that would be nice.

As April 15th is¬†approaching I am starting to have some of those marathon-related emotions resurface.¬†It’s easy¬†for me to be emotional over just about anything – say yes to the dress, the season finale of the bachelor, the piece of cheesecake¬†I¬†lovingly devoured last night… I am most definitely a crier. This year’s rules have been outlined for runners and spectators – no bags in Hopkinton, added security, no bandits, no costumes covering your face, it was all very expected. With really only 3 weeks left of hard training everything is starting to feel so real.

The marathon outfit is on its way (bright blue singlet and neon yellow arm warmers). My last few runs are scheduled and fuel plan is in place.¬†I am¬†scared and also looking forward to that last long run on March 29th where¬†nearly everyone is out on the marathon course. I am hoping we get dropped in Hopkinton and are able to run the first 20 miles into Boston with all of the other’s¬†training together. I’ve been very lucky to train on the course and am¬†more than looking forward to the real¬†thing.


It’s so wonderful reading all of the articles about Boston from the runners, but I have especially enjoyed some pieces from spectators as well. The below is something I came across when reading about the tribute on Aptil 15th that I especially connected with:

“To be in Boston on Marathon Monday is to feel a buzz in the air, like it’s the last day of classes before summer break, or it’s 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve and your boss just sent out an email that you can all go home at 3. It’s feeling a sense of excitement, euphoria, electricity, and to know that sense is shared by everyone you pass. It’s high-fives from strangers, it’s sidewalk barbecues, it’s families enjoying a day together, it’s even sometimes Red Sox fans celebrating a win. It’s what DisneyWorld pretends to be.” Katie Lannan, Lowell Sun

Everything she said¬†could not be more true. Although I know I will enjoy the many marathon monday’s as a spectator after today, this Patriot’s day will be something special to everyone who was affected by last years tragedy.




that first step out the door

is always the hardest.

it’s been a successful first three weeks thus far. the 8 and 9 mile long runs each saturday morning were in the front of my mind for months before training even started. now that they are behind me i feel much more relaxed and confident in this training season. it has been beyond great reconnecting with my running buddies/girlfriends during those runs & i am actually starting to look forward to the next 16 weeks that remain.

with christmas & new years behind me¬†including an abundance of cheese, crackers, and dips, my focus has shifted to myself completely¬†– a healthier mind and body. tracking everything that goes in and out can be daunting but i know i will be thankful for it when i step up to the start line feeling my best. i found a lot of joy in those first two long runs around boston. the first to beacon hill and back – stopping on the way back to take a group photo at my favorite view in the city. i find that this helped all three of us slow down and enjoy what we were doing and why we were there…


the next 9 miles was just two of us but we made an effort to do the same. stopping in the middle of the mass ave bridge which¬†was about our halfway point of the run- it was great to take a moment and soak¬†our surroundings¬†& take some more pictures.¬†i will never get sick of that view, regardless that i see it every single day on my commute to and from¬†work. it brings up a different emotion when you are on foot as opposed to riding the T or being in the car… i feel small. i feel proud that i can train in the city i will run in. i feel proud of the other runners griding it out on saturday mornings. i want¬†to know who they all are. i want to know why they are running. i¬†really want to be friends with them… but that’s probably a little weird.

the following weekend i ran in the somerville jingle bell 5k –¬†i love this race.¬†just about everyone is in a festive holiday costume, ready for their¬†free beers by 10am (mainly my friends).¬†i enjoyed running with some new and old friends, listening to the crowds and conversation around me for those 3 miles. music is definitely a big part of my life whether¬†running or relaxing, but¬†i am sometimes amazed at how great company and good conversation can pass the run much more quickly than the songs. i am looking forward to the¬†months of continued bonding i will have with my friends during training this year.

ImageOn a sidenote, I am thinking of keeping a separate album of all of the picturesi take throughout training & create something with them once we are closer to the start date… i’ll have to start brainstorming now. i’m a sucker for a group photo or good motivational quote.¬†

Happy Running! Image

“I was definitely starting to associate running with sad things. I just stopped.”


I never felt this way. Even after what happened. I did hate the idea of the marathon for quite some time, but I could never have “enough” of running.

The crazy thing is that so many probably have. It only dawned on me this week after receiving this in an email from a friend I had trained and ran the marathon with. Those who didn’t have their finisher’s moment were likely not qualifiers. Those of us who didn’t cross were the charity runners, the “bucket list” runners, the 4:30+ marathon runners.¬†Many were¬†running in honor of a family member or friend who was sick or who had passed away. The majority of those who did not finish, had together, raised THOUSANDS of dollars in order to be part of the Boston Marathon community on April 15th.

Hours and miles of training with my friends – needless to say we had a lot of time to talk (about everything). We would gossip a little, give our general updates, talk about what we were going to eat when we were finished and so on. But, the one thing that really got us through, (when it was snowing, or 19 degrees, or our knees were giving out)… was imagining that finisher’s moment. We would imagine that it would all be worth it when we crossed the finish line. I think at one point I may have even practiced the face I was going to make for the guy snapping my photo from up above. How vain…

I cannot even begin to explain how I felt being stripped of that moment. It took 18 long weeks to prepare for this one day that I would remember as the worst day of my life.¬†The¬†5 months of preparation left me with nothing to show for it. I had a Boston Marathon Jacket and medal that I did not feel I deserved to wear.¬†And to make matters worse, fans and families were left missing, injured, and killed. I had no right to feel like I was “robbed”¬†when¬†everyone I knew had made it out okay. So to top it all off… guilt.¬†

Only recently have I started to realize that I went about this all wrong. My focus was too much on the finish line. Did I even enjoy the journey when my only thought was of the destination? I need to start to practice what I preach. Next time will be different.Image

This week I received a nice little package from the B.A.A. I knew exactly what to expect before I even opened it. My “projected” finisher time & the 117th record book.¬†This is really cool.

I stared at that paper for awhile, just smiling. Each moment moving forward will make this journey different from the last.¬†This year, when I’m running with my friends & there’s snot dripping down their¬†faces, I WILL laugh at them. I will¬†be sure to¬†remember that moment. I may even take a picture and post it on this blog… because that is what will keep me going. Of course, the finish line will be sweet, but¬†it is not why I continue to run.

Running provides moments of simplicity, peace, & reflection in my busy world. It nourishes both my brain & my body. It is my meditation, my religion, & my therapist. Running keeps me going.