June 30, 2019

So the last time I posted, I was injured and unsure if I could race the Boston Marathon. Today, I ran the most I’ve run since that fateful long-run in the middle of March (10 miles! Whoop whoop! 10 VERY DIFFICULT miles with frequent stops, but HEY still happy!) So, on this momentous occasion, I’m finally posting about the Boston Marathon. I didn’t get the opportunity to race, but I did get to participate in the experience.

The experience:  Where to even BEGIN?! Maybe chronologically? Sure. I covered a lot of ground in three days. Below is a map of where I went, that I really need to make a better version of later.

So, would you hire me as a cartographer? Yes or Yes?

DAY 1: I flew in to Boston-Logan, and hopped aboard a shuttle to the T-station. This was my first time riding the infamous T, which is the rail system in the city of Boston that connects everything. I took Blue à Green, and picked up my Bib at the convention center(which in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done…) Then I got back on Green tried to get as far NW as possible, because my Air B&B was in Watertown. I got off at Boston College and Uber-ed the rest of the way. The Air B&B was an “art-house” situated on the banks of the Charles River. The house was really cool and was appropriately named. It also had a very friendly Siberian Husky. If you’re wondering, yes, the dog was indeed a very good boy.

 DAY 2: I ran the next day along the river, and unfortunately it inflamed my Achilles a bit. It hurt but I popped some ibuprofen and pretended it was OK. I Took an Uber to Cambridge, because I wanted to explore. It was so classically North-east: People walking their Setters or Spaniels, Lacrosse practices, students walking around in corduroy pants, argyle socks peeking out from LL Bean loafers, etc… You get the idea. Oh, and these too:

Image result for wicked smaaht
It’s kinda cute, but STILL.

I left around 12 to go Brighton, where I was meeting my friend Ali for lunch. (Follow her @irunscience!!) I ended up having to walk a little over a mile to meet up with her, and my Achilles hurt on that walk, I have to admit. More ibuprofen! After lunch, I walked (another mile) back to the T, took Green à Blue à airport shuttle to go get my mom, who flew in at 3pm. Mom and I went to our hotel on Copley Place, which was right near the finish-line, to check in, then went to Little Italy in the North end for dinner at Antico Forno:

Mom outside of the restaurant

The Italian food was AMAZING! So delicious. At this point, I told her I was going to race still, but I think I knew the impossibility of it, considering I had two glasses of wine… I joke, but this was a really tough mind-set for me. When we got back to the hotel, I called Tim and told him I was unsure if I should race, but ultimately said I would get up and see how it went. I set my alarm for 6am.

DAY 3: Race day for many, but not for me. I got up to run one mile warm up to the shuttle towards Hopkintown, but never got on. After one measly mile (plus a day of walking around + ignoring pain for days + cold + stubbornness) I knew I wasn’t going to Hopkintown. I called Tim and told him I wasn’t going to race, then did a very stupid thing… I ran 5 more miles, even though it hurt. I can’t really explain why I thought this was a good idea. I think that I was so upset I wanted to at least run 6 of the 26.2 I was supposed to run that day. Whatever my reason, I was went from injured to SUPER INJURED later that day. We’re talking pain walking and going down stairs. Damnit. I was really upset. On top of the heartbreak of not being able to run my goal race, I now couldn’t even walk. I was in such a negative head space too. I kept thinking of all the winter runs: in the dark, through the Rochester snow storms, monotonous back-and-forth runs on the scant plowed roads. I was so mad because I put up with all of that for nothing. I toughed it out for nothing. (Important note: while I did “tough-it-out” I was not stretching, was not doing strength, and was letting a lot of important little things slip by the wayside. These are JUST as important as being tough as a runner! Stay heathy fellow runners, do the little stuff!)

Mom tried to console me, but it didn’t really work. So, I watched the race in the lobby, and I met a few other runners in there who also were sitting this year out due to injury. I felt less alone. I also realized that I was very young as a marathon runner, and was told my best years are about a decade off. I felt less hopeless. After about an hour, I transitioned to the sidelines to watch in-person. There, I saw some of the most inspiring feats of human endurance, determination, sportsmanship, and grace. From the elites, to the wheelchair division, to my friends and old teammates competing, I was inspired by all of it. In retrospect, I’m thrilled that I got to experience the Boston Marathon this way. This wasn’t the vantage point that I originally envisioned, but that was OK. Next time, however, I plan to be healthy, strong, and ready to RACE!!

My vantage point of the Boston Marathon

DAY 4: Mom and I had fun in Boston together and took a Duck Tour. It’s a tour led by a themed guide (a conDUCKtor). The tours go over the historical sights of Boston, and also plunge into the Charles River because they’re land-sea vehicles. NEAT! Check it out:

Ducks & ConDUCKtors®

Mom and me outside of the Duck

As I write this now, I am healed and back to running pain-free. The experience of recovery is a story in itself, and worth recording, so I’ll recount it in another post because TBH this is already pretty hefty. So, for anyone else who 1) is also struggling through an Achilles tendon injury or 2) Just curious about how I went from not being able to walk down stairs to training again, check it out. Spoiler: it involves a lot of Physical Therapy from Jillian who is a freaking MAGICIAN.

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Toxicologist & marathon runner

3 thoughts on “Boston”

  1. As a non-runner I didn’t get why you ran the morning of the marathon and injured yourself more. But the way you described it here, I totally get it. All that perserverence through the Rochester winter. But it wasn’t for nothing, as you said, just for something different… As my dad always says, “Experience is what you got when you didn’t get what you wanted.” Builds character! This is just one chapter of your life story, Ash! So glad to hear that you’re healing and racking up those miles again.

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    1. Thanks for these comments, Kelly ! ☺️ I love that quote from your dad.

      Girl who are you calling a “Non-runner”?? You run, you’re a runner 💁🏻‍♀️💫🏃🏽‍♀️


      1. Haha okay, maybe I’m a runner but we’re definitely at different degrees of loving running, how about that 😉

        And yes of all my Dad’s quotes, that one sticks with me!


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