Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My amazing Boston adventure has come to an end but the emotions will last forever

Home.  Unpacked.  Settled in my nest.  STILL trying to wrap my head and heart around the past 4 days.

What an incredible journey.  A blessing. A once in a life time opportunity.  Sure, I might qualify again, but I don't know that I will be able to go back and actually run Boston again.  This might have been it.

If so, it was as good as I could imagine.  It was everything I had hoped for, and dreamed of.  It was perfection for me.

Sure, I'm sunburned.  My right tibia is so very angry.  I'm physically exhausted.  My legs hurt.  I'm limping.  My toes are a mangled mess.  But my heart is so full of love for my chosen sport, my fellow athlete's, and the city of Boston.  From the moment we landed, to the moment I boarded the plane out of Massachusetts, every single person was over the top nice to me.
(my sharpie name made a great "tattoo" in the sunburn)

Back home, the support and encouragement was overwhelming.  Every time I logged into the internet or snuck a peek at Facebook, I was inundated with kind messages, posts and shout out's.  It's like the entire universe was melded into one big love fest.

I wish it could last forever.

Tomorrow, Splenda will get up early and go back to work.  I'll stumble around and work at the store wearing my official jacket and probably my medal too.  Over the next few days, the excitement of the Boston Marathon will dwindle away and people's attention will turn elsewhere.  Move forward.

Such is the nature of life.

But know this.  These past four days are etched into my brain and heart so deeply that NOTHING will ever take it from me.

I Ran The Boston Marathon!  No matter what ever happens in my life from here on out, I will always have that.  Nothing and No one can ever take that away.  I earned it.  I ran it.  I was successful.

I'm beyond grateful for all the friends and family who showed such incredible support.  From real life friends to internet friends that I've ever had the chance to meet face to face,  to friends in Boston who made the effort to come and meet me, and then cheer me on at a tough portion of the race, the outpouring of confidence in me was humbling.

I am the most blessed mother with three sons, their wives and granddaughters who were my biggest cheering squad.  Who checked on me daily, skyped, and sent messages of love and encouragement.  The minute I walked in my house and saw my love note I was reminded that I have the most amazing children.  They far exceed any good I ever taught them.  They are remarkable.

Most importantly I am thankful for my beloved Splenda Daddy.  From the day I qualified, he has done everything in his power to get us out there.  From registration, airfare, hotel rooms, cab rides, food, keepsakes..... he is ever there.  Never does he question me, just counsels on injuries, advises on planning and then steps back and let's me go.  I truly have the golden ticket of a husband.  I feel bad for HIM that he wasn't able to get through the crowd and security to see me finish, but when I finally found him in the family meeting area, I thought my heart would burst.

So many tears have been shed over the past weekend.  Tears of happiness, gratitude, humility and pride in myself, my fellow running friends and in the community of Boston and their resilience.  I have never witnessed more heart and soul in a city than I did these past few days.  It is inspiring and I hope to carry a little bit of it with me forever.

For now, thank you Boston.  Thanks for being so kind, welcoming and letting me be a small part of your special Patriot's day.  There will be a place for you in my heart and I will be forever #bostonstrong.

PS - I won't ever be a Red Sox fan.  Just so we're clear here.  I love you, your city, your people, your heart and soul.  But I can't love the Red Sox.  Ever.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My amazing Boston adventure - Day 4 - The BIG day = Boston Strong

Oh my.

How I will ever get the adequate words to recount all that has happened today will be a miracle.  My emotions are high so hopefully I can articulate in a manner well enough to convey even a part of what I have experienced and felt today.

Surprisingly, I slept well and the alarm didn't go off until 6:15am.  So different than a marathon at home that usually STARTS at 6am.  I got dressed, loaded my stuff, had a prayer with Splenda Daddy, packed some breakfast and was out the door down to the line for the shuttle to the bus loading area.

As I was headed for the end of the line, I ran into a customer from the store!  HAH!  Good omen for the day!  We chatted a minute while waiting in line and then suddenly I remembered that I had forgot my Garmin in the room.  A quick call to the Splenda Daddy and he was delivering it to me.

Jumped in a cab (our "shuttle" with a couple of other people and headed to Boston Commons where the bus loading was at.  I found a place in the warm sun and sat down to rest and try to figure out how I could meet up with friends.  Thank goodness for texting and modern day technology!  Andrea, JaNae and I all were able to get on the same bus.

The bus ride felt like it took forever.  I kept thinking, this feels like more than 26 miles, but I was assured they were taking a different route and yes, it was longer.  Chatting with the girls made the time go by fast and next thing we know, we are being dropped off at the Athlete's Village.

First order of business is to get in line for a porta pottie.  Whether one has to go or not, you get in line because by the time you get to the front you will need it.  After all three of us finished our business we decided that we'd probably need another one so we stepped back into a line and took advantage again.

As we started to walk away and head towards to exit gate, we ran into some cute girls with a sharpie pen that were writing their names on their arms.  What a great idea!!  We took advantage for a photo op at the same time.

They were calling our color of bibs so we headed up and out the starting chute (not the start line) and took about a quarter mile walk to the corrals.  Right before the corrals were more porta potties, so we did what any good runner would do.  Take advantage.

When I came out,  I couldn't find my girls.  I looked both directions and couldn't see them.  I walked back up the hill to the corrals and still couldn't see them.  I figured it would be a joke to try and connect with them again so I wandered by myself to the corrals.  I was supposed to be in corral 6, but there was so many people, I couldn't get to it.  No matter, I would just start a little later and I was okay with that.  I had some butterfly's and wanted to take my time and soak it all in.

As the crowd moved forward towards the starting line, I reviewed my strategy.  I would run hard, the best I could for as long as I could.  If my right calf gave out, then I would walk.  And I was mentally preparing myself to be okay with that.

The start line!  Oh my GOSH!  The feelings!  I started my Garmin and away with the crowd I went.  Yes each step on my right leg hurt but nothing I couldn't handle at the moment.  I had taken some Advil earlier so I told myself it just needed some time to kick in.  I had been warned about starting out too fast so I was careful to watch my pace and stay within a very comfortable zone.

The scenery was amazing!  Not knowing all the towns we went through, I can only say that at the beginning it felt like we were kind of in a forest.  Simply beautiful!  And the crowds!  Holy SMOKES!  There were people all along the route cheering and encouraging all the runners.

When I hit the 5k mark, I was pretty pleased.  Fastest 5k I've run in awhile.  But I also knew that I would not be able to maintain that kind of a pace the whole time, so I just made sure I stayed comfortable.

I have to talk about the spectators.  Never in my life have I seen such heart, such pride, such loyalty and such enthusiasm in a marathon crowd.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON was positive, and encouraging.  Many called me by name.  I lost count of how many times I heard the following: "Great job Melissa - looking good!"  "Melissa Strong"  "Boston's proud of you!" "You've got this!"  "Keep it up Melissa!"  "Go Marine's!"  I discovered an interesting contrast to signs held in Utah races versus the signs held here.  In Utah, there are several common ones that are supposed to make you chuckle and they are indeed funny, but the ones today had a different tone to them.  In Utah, some common signs are  "Worst parade ever"  "26.2 because 26.3 would just be crazy" "Hurry Mom, I want to go boating"  Funny yes.  But here in Boston?  "You are WICKED strong"  "You are WICKED awesome"  "Boston Strong mean YOU are strong"  "Way to go complete stranger!"  Nothing sarcastic, nothing snarky in the name of humor, just solid encouragement.  And while I'm the first to admit I totally laugh at the sarcastic ones (that's how I roll) , today was something completely different and I loved it so much!  Bostonians are proud of their city, their marathon, their Patriot's Day and their runners.  And by "their runners", I mean, they adopt every single one of us.

Another interesting thing along the route was in addition to the official aid stations, there were people everywhere offering things to the runners.  Beer, orange slices, water, banana's, otter pops, chocolate and licorice!  Complete strangers spending their own money to share things with their runners!  I tell you, a twizzlers at mile 10 never tasted so good!

At the half way mark, I was still feeling pretty good, right leg excepted, but in my self evaluation, I felt like I could continue at my pace and keep running.  The miles just kind of went by as I looked at the scenery, high fived the crowds, and soaked it all in.

At mile 16 all of a sudden, I hear my name called and I look to see it's Mary!!!  Oh my gosh!!  She has no idea that I truly needed her right then.  I knew heartbreak hill was coming, and I was getting tired. Her enthusiasm sparked some adrenaline in me.  I yelled at her to take pictures and then she got to suffer through a sweaty hug and kiss from me!  Oh my heart was so happy!  I tried to jump for a picture but my legs didn't have it in them.  Instead, as I continued on my way, I let myself bask in the moment of having a friend in this city who would take the time to come and cheer me on!  Especially right before I turned the corner and headed up the hills of Newton.
I know this one looks like I'm crooked, but I was attempting to jump

And here I am apologizing to the runner next to me for almost smacking her in my attempt

The face of joy and pain

Heartbreak Hill is infamous, but to be honest, it wasn't any tougher than the canyons we have in Utah.  I told myself that this was just like running Emigration and I let myself remember my last 20 miler training run with Vince and the fun we had take my mind off the hills.  Plus, seeing others walk it and I felt strong enough to run them, was a real ego boost.

It's now about mile 18 or 19 and fatigue is setting in.  I realize my form is off so I took myself back to my run with Galen and the importance of foot turn over and cadence.  I began counting in my head.  Which led to singing the USMC song in my head which is the perfect cadence.  I have them to thank for getting me through to mile 24.  Counting and singing the corp song in my head.  Hearing Galen remind me "Cadence is your friend".

As I got nearer and nearer the finish, I was watching my pace closely.  I wanted to finish in a respectable time and while my leg was screaming, I still felt like I could continue to push.  The crowds were HUGE by now and I kept hearing my name over and over again.  So many hands outstretched for a high five.  So much LOVE oozing from the sidelines.

The dirty trick was the right hand turn somewhere in the middle of mile 25 or so that took us up hill to Boylston street.  Seriously?!?!  I wanted to walk to badly, but wearing the USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor on my shirt stopped me.  I was wearing Marine Corp gear. No way in hades was I going to represent poorly on my beloved Corp.  I have that EGA to thank for keeping me running.

I turned onto Boylston and it was back down hill slightly.  I picked up some steam and all of a sudden I see JaNae ahead of me!  I SPRINTED towards her!  We were going to finish this together!!  The cheering crowds were deafening and I don't think I could smile any bigger!  As we neared the finish line, we joined hands, raised our arms and crossed triumphantly together!  And then immediately hugged and melted into tears.
There we are circled in red

Wow. I looked at my Garmin and saw 4:12 and some change.  Wow.  Other than my qualifying race time, this was a personal best.  I was beyond ecstatic!  I ran that race exactly how I wanted to.  Enjoyed every stinkin minute of it, and STILL posted a respectable time!  The icing on the cake was crossing with JaNae.  So special!

We walked through the chute, followed the directions of the volunteers and got our space blankets, water and food.  Then it was time to figure out where to meet our husbands at!  I turned my phone back on and it went crazy with notifications.  I didn't even dare look at them since my battery seems to drain fast here, instead I called Splenda Daddy, Corbin and then Tiburon.  Crying.  Sobbing tears of happiness, euphoria and exhaustion.

Finally found my man, we hailed a cab and came back to the hotel room for ice, a hot shower, and some dinner.

My official BAA 2014 jacket that I was too superstitious to wear until I had "earned" it.

And my new Boston 2014 charm to add to my other special charms on my necklace.

Now, I have the luxury of basking in the overwhelming feelings of gratitude that I feel. I'm so thankful for a healthy body to be able to run.  For good friends who exploded on Facebook with well wishes and words of encouragement and praise.  For family members and friends who have supported me every step of the way.  Most importantly for Boston.

As I mentioned earlier, Boston is a proud city.  Not in a "cocky" proud way, but in a true sense of "we know who we are" pride.  To see the entire community come together for this event was unbelievable.  Knowing that I ran right past where the bombs went off and people lost their lives and their limbs was extremely humbling to me.  In a way, I don't think I can adequately describe.  But very, very humbling and so grateful and blessed to be a small part of something so incredibly wonderful.  The Boston Marathon is like the Superbowl for runners.  It takes so much to earn the right to be here.  The experience can never be duplicated and will be a memory for a lifetime.

As always, marathon running is so like life.  This race was no different.  I had good miles, I had tough miles.  I had friends along the way to support me, I had cheerleaders in complete strangers and just when I thought I needed to give up, a little voice inside reminded me of who I was and who I was representing and I didn't want to fail.

Some days in life are good. Some are tough.  We have friends and family to support us, and we SHOULD be more of cheerleaders to complete strangers.  Sometimes God puts a person right in the exact spot that you need them at the exact time.  And whenever we feel like we've had enough and want to give up, we just need to remind ourselves that we are sons and daughters of God, we represent Him and we don't want to let Him down.

So for Boston - I thank you.  Thank you for letting me come and play in your streets.  For cheering me on, and accepting the best I had to offer.  For showing confidence in me when I didn't have it for myself.  But most importantly, for loving me, an old lady from Utah that just likes to run.  I hope to be back, but if not, this weekend will live with me for the rest of my life.  I will cherish it and you. For you truly are #bostonstrong.


Splenda Daddy's guest post on HIS Boston marathon experience:
When we first got to Boston I saw all the tee shirts and hats saying “Boston Strong” and didn’t fully understand what it meant. Now I know. It’s not just for Boston; it’s for all of us. To me it means “We will not live our lives in fear”.

“Boston Strong” is a uniting phrase that brings everyone together who embraces it. With all the divisiveness these day’s it was great to see everyone come together, for a short period of time, to support everyone willing and able to run the 26.2 miles. It doesn’t matter what race, religion, gender, rich or poor etc... If you are a runner in this race, you’ll be supported and encourage to do your best and finish. It would be great if everyone had the “runner’s” attitude every day. They are supportive even though they are competing against each other. They fight through the pain and don’t blame others. They know if will be difficult and painful, yet they still do it. 
I want to be like runners, I just don’t want to run.

PS - if you see me wearing my medal for the next couple of months, please don't mock me.  I just love it so much!

PPS - Some other random pictures from the day
Andrea and I being interviewed yesterday for a documentary on Utah Runners

Splenda Daddy's view of the crowds.  He couldn't even get close enough to watch me finish

So many people.  All of them kind beyond imagination

When your hotel room doesn't have a bathtub, you lay on the floor and your husband creatively packs you in ice

The text alerts that went out.  Not bad for an old lady eh?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My amazing Boston adventure - Day 3 - Easter Sunday

The view from my hotel room.  Yeah, it IS gorgeous.  Don't let that sunshine fool you though, today was downright chilly!

We got up early and took a cab to the nearest LDS chapel we could find.  I was amazed at how many people were there!  I figured there would be a crowd because of the marathoner's but the chapel was packed, the over flow was filled and the cultural hall was crammed to capacity all the way back to the stage.  We found two seats at the very back, in the corner, and luckily - it happened to be right next to the friends that we had planned on meeting!  What luck!

As the meeting started, it became obvious that this wasn't an ordinary Sacrament meeting.  Instead, to my dismay, we discovered that we were in Stake Conference.  WHA?!?!  It's Easter and I wanted to do the best thing possible and that was to take the Sacrament.  They don't have the Sacrament in Stake Conference.  As we watched more and more people come in, look around, find nowhere to sit and end up standing we started to debate whether or not we should stay.  I felt bad that we were taking seats from people who LIVED there and were there for THEIR stake conference.

We got as far as about half way through before the guilt was too much.  We wandered out, met up with our friends.  As we left the building, I was amazed at how many people were there.  They were sitting on the floor in the foyer, in each of the rooms that they could broadcast the sound to, and even stairwells, and the gym floor.  I was impressed by the level of commitment that the members of the church here in Boston have.

We caught a cab back to Andrea's hotel for brunch.  A great morning, great food and a beautiful view!

From there Splenda Daddy and I took another cab back down to Copley Square.  Knowing that the Utah runners were going to gather at about 4 for a group picture, it didn't make sense to go back to our hotel and then another cab back downtown.  Since there is plenty to do in Copley Square, we managed to wander a bit, and then find a place to sit in the sun.

As I sat there, I was trying to save the battery on my phone and stay off of social media.  Which meant then I was left with my own thoughts.

Here it was Easter and while it didn't initially feel like a different day, in my heart I was wrapped in emotion.  Thinking of tomorrow.   Laying out my final strategy.  Plotting on how I would treat my injury to get through all 26 miles.  Remembering what it feels like to run 26 miles and telling myself I was up for the pain.  Thinking of last year's marathon and now - here I am in the exact same spot as others were when their lives were changed forever.

As we made our way to the finish line for the group meet up - I saw a memorial that I hadn't seen yesterday.  Lump in my throat, we got near the painted finish and then stopped.  No matter what, I wasn't going to cross it.  I didn't know exactly where the Utah group was meeting but if it was on the other side of that line, I wasn't going.  Nope.

The breeze kicked up and it was now getting downright cold!  Luckily, I found Andrea, and one by one, we found Utah people and then with a text here and there found the entire group.  A film maker has been following some Utah runners making a documentary and they were there filming and doing interviews.  Andrea I tagged teamed it

and then our large group (as many Utah runners as we could get) gathered in for a pic.

Look at us!

We are representing our state well!  In fact, I think I heard someone say we are sending the most runners per capita.  Nice work UTAH!

By the time the group picture was done, I was frozen to the bone.  Still in my church clothes, no jacket (can't wear it yet, I haven't earned it), Splenda Daddy and I headed for back inside the mall and dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  A safe place, with food my stomach knows and nothing new before race day.

The rest of our evening has been spent back in the hotel, skyping with the kids back home, relaxing, and trying to get my nerves to settle down.  In thinking over this Easter Sunday, a couple of thoughts come to mind.  It wasn't what I had pictured in my mind.  I REALLY wanted to take the Sacrament.  I wanted it to be meaningful on this particular Sunday.  I didn't want myself to get disappointed about it, so instead I thought back to all the people at the church.  Literally sprawled wherever they could find a spot.  Willing to sit uncomfortably on the hard floor or to stand for two hours.  All in the name of their faith and dedication to worshipping God.  They sacrificed.

Every day, I can do the same.  Not sit on the floor at church, but instead be ready to serve whenever, whomever, and wherever I can.  As I people watched in the mall at Copley Square, I thought of all the different faces I was seeing.  Wondering where they were going, why they were here at this time.  Were they running the marathon?  Were they going to watch and support?  Are they locals that will be honoring their city tomorrow?

I was asked the question in the interview if I "felt Boston Strong".  I had to think about it for a minute.  If you had asked me that yesterday, I would have had to say no.  But today.  Today after spending some time reflecting, watching and thinking about what tomorrow is going to bring, I have to say yes.  I feel strong.  Is it Boston strong or is it strength in the Lord knowing that He has blessed me to do the things that I love to do?

I DO know that no matter how things shake out tomorrow, I will enjoy the experience and appreciate every step, of every mile.  I will love every spectator, every volunteer and every fellow runner.  As I write this, my phone just dinged with a text from a runner bestie at home.  His words: "My heart will soar with you as you fly over hallowed ground tomorrow.  Prayers for strength, stamina and for you to enjoy all the race has to offer."

And that my friends, articulates the love of Easter and of Jesus Christ.  Life is just a big marathon with all of us running along at whatever speed we can, but most importantly, loving one another and encouraging each other along the way.

Here's to honoring that hallowed ground tomorrow.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My amazing Boston adventure - Day 2 - Remembering

Okay being two hours off my usual time zone is throwing me for a loop.  My usual, wake up at 2:30/3am to let the dogs out, translated to 4:30/5 and that was too early to do anything so I fell back asleep until about 10:30.  HOLY COW!!  That's like half the day over!

With not much of a plan in place other than to pick up my packet and get a run in, we walked out our hotel and right into a cab for a ride to the expo.

Security was tight, bags were checked and several officers in view as the masses of people were all around us trying to navigate all the same places.  I found where I picked up my bib and I have to say - the volunteers are SO NICE!

After donning my Runner's Passport, we headed to pick my shirt and then find the expo.  Holy SMOKES!  So much to see at the expo.  The line to purchase official BAA items was pretty long so once I decided on the size of my official jacket, we got in the queue to wait our turn.

(signing my name on the HUGE banner)

Everyone is so friendly and nice, and I found myself looking at everyone's shoes.  Saucony's here......Brooks there...... Adidas popping up now and again........lot's of Asics.  Pretty sick that I look at shoes before I notice much more.  After getting the official BAA gear, we ended up in the rest of the large expo.  I checked a few vendors just to see what prices were and then we decided to find food.

Quick stop in the food court of the mall, a jaunt to the grocery store, a hat for Splenda Daddy and then we wandered towards the finish line.  It was lined with people taking pictures and it appeared that there were several cameras in place (I think the 5k was earlier).  Pretty amazing to be standing there in the middle of the road with the spectator viewing boxes set up on the side.  Of course no way was I going to even step foot on the actual finish line.  Bad luck dude!

We found the library and got in line to see the Memorial that had been set up.  If I thought I was emotional before, I thought wrong.  It was quiet in the room where the items had been set up, with no one speaking.  We just walked along, took pictures and soaked up the Spirit of the room.

(I love this - we are all Boston Marthoners at heart)

Trees with love notes hanging from them


I added my own note of love

As I walked out and back into the sunlight I felt even more humbled and grateful to be here.  As I looked around me at all the amazing and elite athlete's, I found myself questioning my worthiness to be here.  I know on paper, I qualified and I earned the right to be running this, but wow, I am definitely feeling out of my league.  Like it was just a hoax and that I'm not really supposed to be here.

Splenda Daddy and I walked around for a bit before we hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel.  From there, we walked to where we thought was a nice park for me to get a run in, but instead, it was just a little patch of grass.  Concrete is everywhere to the idea of running 20 minutes outside is unappealing.  Instead, I hit the treadmill which really is pretty symbolic.

6 years ago and MANY pounds heavier, my journey began on a treadmill.  A fat, middle aged, worn out and frazzled mother attempting to get lose some weight, get healthy and alleviate some stress.  I wore baggy sweats and oversized tshirts to hide my body and used the treadmill to walk/jog/run on for months before I got brave enough to go back to any kind of fitness class.

Tonight. my last run before the biggest of my life, seemed fitting to be on the treadmill. At about a buck-seventeen, in a tank and shorts, the woman on the treadmill tonight is much different than the woman 6 years ago.  The woman now has more confidence.  She is stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually,  She has learned many valuable life lessons through unspeakable trials and tests that could have easily done her in but instead - she's strong.  She's determined to be happy and to infuse other's with happiness if she can.  She recognizes God in her life and all the good people He has placed in her path to add to the joy and beauty of life.  She has confidence in her attempts.  Her attempts at being a good wife, a good mother, a good friend.   She has inner peace.  She knows that where she is in life, is exactly where she should be.

So even though I spent much of the day with an inner voice telling me I'm a fraud for being here, I've been able to silence it for tonight and concentrate on one day at a time.  Tomorrow is Easter.  I think I need to set aside all the "Boston talk".  I spent today remembering Boston.  Remembering my own journey.  Tomorrow will be a day of remembering my Savior and the Easter celebration.  For without God, none of this would be possible.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My amazing Boston Marathon adventure - Day 1

My oldest shared some wise counsel with me and encouraged me to spend some time with all the medals I have earned over the past 6 years of racing, to look at each of the bibs I have saved and just reflect on everything it has taken to get me here.  To the runner's Superbowl - The Boston Marathon.

So I did exactly that.  The numbers add up like this since 2008:

5k's = 20
10k's = 10
1/2 marathon's = 16
full marathon's = 10
Century (100 mile) bike rides - 3
Triathlon - Sprint distance = 6
Triathlon - Olympic distance - 1
Relay's = 7
Miscellaneous races that don't fit the above criteria = 5

To be honest I thought it was much more.  I counted a total of 47 medals and two ribbons so clearly I have lost bibs or screwed up counts somewhere but the bottom line is I have done a lot of events.  For me anyway.  Others could put their list over the last 6 years and it could be much different, but for me, this is quite a list.  And I'm proud of it.  As I looked at the medals and each of the bibs I remembered specific things about that race.  The course, the friends, my feelings, challenges, and on occasion my successes.  Pretty sweet experience.

Corbin picked us up early and off to the airport we went!

Our first flight into Detroit wasn't too bad.  There were a couple of movies offered for free, so I got to watch Big and part of Ferris Buehler to pass the time.  I'm not used to packing a book since we have been spoiled with JetBlue and free TV.

We landed in Detroit.  A three hour layer over.  I think this about sums up my view.
(yes that is bird crap)

The great part was getting some food, hooking into the wifi and chatting up with some friends.  A dear, long time friend from back in the blogging days sent me a message that she would be at the airport to pick us up.  Wha???  Who comes into the city on a Friday night to shuttle a couple of people that you haven't even met in real life yet to their hotel?

Mary does that's who.  Holy Freakin Crap!  As we were walking towards the baggage claim, Splenda starts laughing and tells me to look ahead

Isn't she DARLING!?!!

Big hugs, grabbed our bag and then out to the curb where her husband was waiting with the car.  I have to say that the drive from Logan International to our hotel was the absolute highlight of my day.  Mae Rae and her hubby are serious GOOD PEOPLE!  The kind of people we could sit and hang out with all night long.  We were chatting away until the valet people at the hotel made us move along.

I cannot thank her enough for making such  a great effort and sacrifice on her part to make such a wonderful and memorable welcome for Splenda and me to Boston.  GAH!  I love her!  I love this city and I love the spirit of the marathon that is already here.

For a travel day, it ended up very nice.  Time to hit the sack and map out what needs to be done tomorrow.

Thanks Corb and the other kids for holding down the fort at home, thanks for the snaps of my yummy granddaughter, thanks for the all the kind comments of encouragement and THANKS to my friend Mary and her husband T for taking time out of their Friday night to take care of us.

I feel so freakin loved and not gonna lie, it feels pretty darn good!