Welcome to another work week, everyone! It’s the start of our second week back from vacation and I’m happy to say I’m feeling a little more prepared for this Monday than I was last week. Whew, coming back from vacation is tough!
In all honesty, it felt good to be back to a routine and our normal schedule, back into our own surroundings and comforts of home. Coming from an extremely small town (we’re talking school class size of 60 people, folks), I never thought I’d think of Madison, Wisconsin, as being calm or small. But after a week of being in downtown Boston and D.C., it definitely felt a little closer to home for me. All the people, hustle and bustle, and the activity was fun and exciting (for a week), but it made me that much more appreciative of my five minute commute to work and relatively easy-to-find parking in all areas of the city.
Let’s talk about our trip, shall we? Our first leg of the trip was to Boston so I could run the Boston Marathon (yippee!). What an amazing experience! It’s one I’ll never forget. The day before the race you could literally feel the excitement within the city. People were gathering from all over the world to run this race and it was so much fun to be a part of it all. Everyone I talked to said it’s the best race they’ve ever run and they always want to come back for it if they can. I had to almost pinch myself just to remind myself I was running the Boston Marathon, because in a way, it kind of felt like any other race in a large city. But the overall excitement from the city alone with store fronts and billboards decked out for the race helped me to remember it was so much more than just any race.
After checking out the large Expo and getting my official Boston Marathon jacket on Sunday, we were able to do some sightseeing with my cousin and his daughter. We logged a total of about 9 miles of walking on Sunday…perhaps not the best choice for the day before a marathon, but it was fun to explore the city and soak it all in. I had good intentions of seeing more sights after the race on Monday, but sitting and relaxing felt a lot more enjoyable post-race than I initially thought. :)
Monday was finally race day! After seven months of waiting, it was finally here! It was an absolutely gorgeous day. While slightly warmer than I would have liked (the warmest I had trained in was 40 degree weather, so the sunny, 65 degrees felt downright hot), it made for a relatively enjoyable day that brought tons of crowds out for it.
The journey out to Hopkinton, the small town we start in, was a ride that took, what felt like, an eternity. We loaded onto one of the many school buses and since I don’t run with my phone, I had nothing to do but sit and look out the window…and realize I was going to have to run this whole distance back. May I suggest never to drive the course you’re going to be running. Because you then realize just how crazy you are for thinking running 26 miles is a good idea. And just how far that distance actually is.
And run back into Boston I did. It was a tough course with about 4 or 5 hills in the last half of the course, the last being “Heartbreak Hill” at Mile 21 — a moderate hill spanning about a half mile. Uff-da! Let’s just say, my quads were burning and my legs were so sore before I was even close to finishing. The crowds kept me going, though, from the girls at Wellesley College offering roses and kisses to the runners to the residents of all the small towns we ran through, offering anything from oranges and ice cubes to Twizzlers and Freeze Pops. I think what kept me going the most, though, was seeing Philip cheering me on at Mile 25 — with just one more mile left to go, seeing him was just what I needed to give me the final push to the finish line. I’m smiling in these pictures because I just saw him for the first time since he saw me on my way at the bus pick-up earlier that morning (6:45 a.m. to be exact). Otherwise, no matter how much I enjoy running, I definitely would not have have been smiling at this point. :)
Everything about the race was surreal, especially the last 1/4 mile on Boylston Street to the finish line. With the left turn onto the street, I could clearly see the finish line and the bleachers filled with spectators. There was so much to take in and to think about as I made my way to the finish line. I was elated and thankful I was going to cross the finish line with a respectable time and, more importantly, finish with no sign of injuries.
After I crossed, a true smile crossed over my face that I couldn’t take off as I slowly made my way to receive my medal, water, and post-race food. Everybody had a tired, yet excited look in their eyes. We had just finished running the most prestigious road race. While my time was slower than my qualifying time from the Chicago Marathon and my finishing time wouldn’t qualify me for next year’s Boston marathon, I have a feeling I’ll be back… The experience was too incredible not to try for it again.
The remainder of our trip was much more relaxing…and — out of necessity — slower paced. The airport on Tuesday morning was a sight to see with everybody in their Boston jackets wobbling and slowly walking to their gate. Walking was slow going, but going up and down stairs was a definite challenge. Philip and I had decided to spend the last half of our trip visiting my brother and his family and touring Washington D.C.
The memorials and monuments were powerful and inspirational.
The food was incredible. We had great recommendations from friends and were able to visit Founding Farmers (a deliciously fresh farm to table restaurant), The Sweet Lobby (a tiny, hole in the wall, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and who had incredible macarons!), Rasika (a modern Indian restaurant that was top notch if you like Indian cuisine. Definitely get the Palak Chaat as an appetizer — it’s a signature of the restaurant for good reason. The crisp baby spinach with the sweet yogurt and date chutney was unbelievably good), and last, but not least, sweetgreen. It’s a “fast casual” chain restaurant only on the East coast that serves the most amazing salads that are fresh and oh-so-good. We actually ate there three times while in Boston and D.C., and we each got something different every time. All six salads or grain bowls were absolutely delicious! If only sweetgreens would open up here in the Midwest, this Midwestern girl would be a happy camper!
And the company was even better. :)
I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. Thanks for following along on this journey!
Congrats, Kara!! YOU AMAZE ME. I’m so happy you got to take part in this and that you had such a great time! I loved reading about your adventure and seeing such artful photos (nice work, Philip!). The one of you in the cape, looking down at your medal is epic – you should frame it! :)
Oh, Jaq! You are so sweet! Thanks for the kind words. They make me feel all good inside. :) I passed along your compliment to Philip as well. ;)
Glad I can live vicariously through you!!! What a cool experience! Thanks for sharing.
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