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!  


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

the expert in anything was once a beginner


there has been so much time to think… too much time. the next 6 weeks are taunting me in a way¬†I never thought possible. I know I promised myself to “trust the process”, but it is proving to be harder than I had ever imagined. (and I haven’t even started training yet)

I understand that the hype surrounding the 2014 Boston Marathon will be huge, it already is. The publicity and support will start well beyond April 21st, and I really need to prepare myself. Many are already starting to ask about my training schedule. “are you ready for those cold mornings?” and to sum it up… I most certainly am NOT ready…

this has also¬†lead to a number of other conversations about running, training, and working out in general. I have friends who would do anything to run a mile without stopping, some who have set goals to just finish a 5k, and others like myself, who want to complete a marathon. so quickly in these conversations those who are new to¬†running often downplay their ability to do anything… “i can’t run that fast, it’s hard to breathe,¬†I have the wrong sneakers and so on.” so quickly we put ourselves down. almost immediately the focus is on the negative. something is standing in the way of where we want to go. we are not improving at the rate we imagined we would.

I learned to run on a treadmill in 2010. At a max speed of 5mph, anything farther than 2 miles was out of the question. I can’t exactly remember if I even enjoyed it, but I showed up almost every day and did my time because I wanted to get better. granted, the barbie doll speeding along next to me without breaking a sweat was sometimes discouraging, but I kept quiet and stuck with it. very slowly I improved, and it was only with a positive mind and consistently showing up for myself that got me to where I am today.

“you don’t have to see the whole staircase. just take the first step.” – I am by no means an expert runner, or even in all that great physical shape. My proficiency truly lies¬†in my mental game. Pinpointing our negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones has proven, for me, to ultimately be the most difficult exercise of all.cf5a188fad1fda70701e20dbb3855c5d

On the treadmill, the road, the bike, at work, in our relationships, success depends on the quality of our thoughts. and sometimes a really great playlist. ūüôā

“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.