posted by Brittney

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My heart is heavy as I write this, and I can’t keep my emotions from coming through, so I apologize in advance.

As most of you know, this past weekend was supposed to be a weekend of joy and triumph as I participated in the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, it was the complete opposite. But I will start from the beginning.

The weekend started out perfect. My parents came into town on Friday and took Eric & I to Texas Motor Speedway to watch some race car driving action. Eric had never been to the race track before, and he loved every second of it. When I was younger, I went to MANY MANY races to cheer on Dupont’s driver, Jeff Gordon. [My dad is a Dupont paint distributor at his company, so he was automatically my fave.]
Anyways, we had a great time and we got to tour the garages, which Eric had a field day in.

Saturday, I was able to see my sweet Alpha Chi Omega sisters at my friend's hometown wedding reception. Icing on top of the cake before we left for the race.

On Sunday morning at 7 am, my parents and I flew to Boston, leaving Eric here in Dallas since he couldn’t get off from work. The nerves were definitely getting to me around this time, just because I was knew I was capable of a WAY better time than last year, and it was 24 hours before the race began.

Once we arrived in Boston, we picked up our rental car, and drove to the expo. The expo was insanely crazy. I didn’t realize how many people went to expos at the last minute to pick up their bib and packet. I thought it would be empty! But no, it was insane.

After the expo, we went to the hotel to rest take a nap, and ended up eating at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant for my pre-race carb loading. It was actually really good! I had my doubts, but apparently Yelp didn’t disappoint. Usually around this time, my pre-race jitters are in full force, which they were. I pretty much always get like this before a race, and for some reason, this time it was even more extreme.

Dad ate this...
And I ate this!

When we got back to the hotel, I laid out all my running gear, nutrition, accessories, and stuff to check in my race bag. Pre-race ritual of mine. I couldn’t really sleep due to the nerves, but somehow I managed a good 5 hours. Record!

I woke up at 6 am (thank you, late start race!) and was on the shuttle to Athlete’s village by 7:30 am.
Once I got there, I got into my zone. I waited in line at the porta-potty (of course, so was everyone else), and I laid out my trash bag on the ground, put on my sunglasses, put in my headphones, and sat down. This was it. My training had gone well, my fitness level was at an all time high, and I was ready.
I was freezing.
Beautiful morning & beautiful race weather.

{Thinking back, to that morning, I should have noticed something was out of place. I’m not sure if many of you are watching the news, but apparently there is a rumor going around that police were tipped off that something was going to happen that day. Not sure if it’s true, but as I looked around race morning, I noticed that there were more cops than last year. As well as police dogs. So who knows.}

When it was time for my wave/corral to get in place at the start, I went to the bathroom one last time, checked my bag at the buses that were headed to the finish line, and got in my corral. I said one last prayer before the start, praying to God that I would finish the race, and stay healthy and uninjured along the way. {Little did I know, that he would have His mighty hand over me the whole time.}

The race started and I was off. If anyone has ever looked at Boston’s course map and elevation changes, it is intense. The first 5-6 miles are pretty much all downhill, with the occasional bump in the road. The middle of the course is all rolling hills, and starting at mile 17 or 18 is where the infamous “Newton Hills” begin. This includes Heartbreak Hill, which is around mile 21. After Heartbreak Hill, it is pretty flat and downhill the rest of the way to the finish. I don’t know if any of you have every tried to run 5 miles of downhills successively, but if you have, I bet you would agree that running downhill is worse than running uphill. I dread downhills. They rip up my quads and when you have straight downhill for more than 3 miles, it is not pleasant. Yes, you may go faster, but I promise you will hate it after the race.

Don't mind my angry face...I was in the process of throwing my gloves to my rents.

I have a habit of starting out too quickly in races [who doesn’t?], and I consciously tried to tell myself to slow down, especially since I knew it was downhill for the first part. I stayed about an 8 minute pace for the first 2 miles, which is good for me (it means I was enforcing my strategy of going slower), but by mile 3, I was back down to a 7:30-7:45. Then the rolling hills came. They slowed me down a bit, but not too much. Once I hit the halfway point, I was staying strong at a 7:45 pace. Newton hills came up, and it was all I could do to even keep an even 8 minute pace. I started hitting 8:30 and then on heartbreak hill, I even hit a 9 minute pace. Ugh. I was not a happy camper. The Boston marathon is all about strategy. And I guess I just hadn’t been strategical enough. By the time the last downhills came, my quads were already shredded and it was all I could do to keep an 8-8:30 pace. Most of you know that this really upsets me. When my training had been about a 7:30 pace, this just pissed me off. Regardless, I finished the race around 3:43, which isn’t a PR, since my last race was a 3:31. But overall, I am pleased with my time, for 2 reasons: I beat last year’s Boston time by a long shot (thank you, extreme heat in 2012), and secondly, I came in before 4 hours and 10 minutes {which is when the chaos began}.

So peaceful.

Once I crossed the finish line, I actually teared up. I never get emotional after races, except the Boston Marathon. Last year, I was sobbing, mostly due to the conditions and how miserable I was feeling, but this year it was because of how joyful I was. I had such a wave of emotion hit me after the finish...joy, triumph, excitement, and happiness. This is what everyone should feel when they cross the Boston marathon finish line. Unfortunately, the day quickly turned from a day of triumph & joy to a day of sadness & loss.

So cold after the finish.
After I finished, I grabbed a bottle of gatorade, a bottle of water, a heatsheet blanket, and my medal. Then I had to walk about a half mile to the buses that transported my bag of stuff to the finish, while weaving in and out of people. Once I grabbed that, I had to walk about another half mile to find my parents. I was literally SHAKING when I got to my mom & dad. I was freezing cold. When I started walking after the finish, it was like the wind decided to pick up and start swarming around everyone. This combined with my body temp starting to cool down had my teeth chattering and my body shaking. I changed into my warm up clothes that I put on over my running gear, and then we decided I needed to get somewhere warm. So we picked up our stuff and walked about 2 minutes when all of a sudden, we heard a sound that you would only hear in war.

My dad said that my eyes bulged out of my head and that my face went pale. For some reason, I felt like I knew exactly what it was, but I asked my dad, “what was that?” I didn’t want to register the fact that it was an actual bomb. My dad immediately went into police mode and herded my mom & I towards the train. It was then that we heard the second bomb go off. Looking back, it felt like HOURS between the 2 explosions, but I later found out it was only seconds. It was like everything was in slow motion - my mom lagging behind wanting to find out what it was, me hobbling along trying to move as fast as I could, my dad telling me I was doing good and yelling at my mom to move faster. We finally made it to the train station {me limping down the stairs} and we made it on the train right as it pulled up to the station. We didn’t even buy tickets.

Ya’ll, I can’t even explain how much of a whirlwind this was. But yet, it seemed to go in slow motion too. I was so in shock, that I didn’t register it until I got into the shower at the hotel and I just sobbed. The tears just started to flow. For the people injured, for the families of those injured, for the dead, for the runners, for the spectators, and for myself - that God chose to save me from the direct effects of the bombs.

Bittersweet ending to the day.

I can’t even count how many people called/texted/tweeted/facebooked me, asking if I was ok and telling me how happy they were that my family & I were safe. I feel like I didn’t get off my phone for a solid 2 hours. But I am so happy that I was. I would rather be talking to my friends and family than be sitting in a hospital bed with my legs gone, or worse, dead. I know this is hard to read, and trust me, its even harder to write. But I am filled with so much emotion. I can still hear the bombs going off and I have cried every day since the race for the people involved. I was only indirectly affected, and I can’t imagine what those directly involved must be going through. It pains me to think about it and my heart aches for them.

After I got out of the shower, I called Eric and just told him how ready I was to be home and see him. I told him I loved him and that I missed him. Experiences like this really make you count your blessings and not want to take anything for granted.

Flowers from my sweet hubby waiting for me when I got home.

My parents & I watched the news the rest of the night. I felt like I couldn’t really be happy about the race because of the bombings. And to be honest, I haven’t actually looked up my exact time or the details of my run on the results website. I feel like the race part never happened....its the bombings that I think about when I think about the marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my run and I am proud that I finished Boston for the 2nd time, but I am still not truly happy.
I am still so shaken and so freaked out about the whole thing. I think it’s because I have a big heart. I always have. Everything affects me to the extreme, regardless of if I was directly involved or not.

The next morning, we were worried that we wouldn’t get out Boston. But we checked our flight (at 3:30 am), and it said it was still on time for 6:50 am. So we dropped off the rental car and got bussed to the airport. When we got inside, the security was INSANE. FBI agents, police officers, drug dogs, and TSA officers were everywhere. But being that we got there at 5:30 am, the line wasn’t long and we got to our gate in plenty of time. Thank goodness. I slept a fitful sleep during the flight and I can’t even tell you how happy I was to be back in my home state on Texas soil. I was finally home, away from the madness and away from the fresh memory of the bombings.

News crews at the airport.
I am so thankful to be safe and sound, with my husband, back in our tiny apartment with our crazy 2 dogs. Thank you again, friends, for your sweet words and for your concern. I am so appreciative of all of it & it means SO SO much to me. I am thanking God every day for watching over me during the race and after it. So incredibly thankful.

As a friend, I ask you this...
Please pray for Boston and please pray for peace for the people and the families involved. I wish there was more I could do, but all I can do from Texas is pray my heart out & pass the word along to others to pray. Also, please pray for our country. My heart is aching for not only the victims of the bombing, but for our country. It saddens me to know that our world has come to this. It makes me sick to my stomach. In all honesty, I think I am also just very angry.If we can’t run a marathon, one of the most innocent sports there is, without the possibility of being bombed, then what can we do anymore? I don't recognize this world anymore.
{Lord, please come quickly.}

Romans 5:2-5
"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

John 16:33
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

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