It wasn't until I was on the plane ride home with my sleeping child in the seat next to me
that I finally got the chance to think about the weekend that I was departing from.
The 50 new faces who shared their gut-wrenchingly heartfelt stories
and the immediate connection I made with each of them.
The way my heart hiccuped when I noticed that Rick Hoyt had slipped into the room
and knowing that I was about to meet my hero.
The moment I was swept up by 3-time Boston Marathon winner Uta Pippig
and knowing how lucky I was to not only have her as a coach, but as a friend.
And finally, hearing my brother tell me the night before my race that he was proud of me.
I wept like a child.
But perhaps the most exciting part of it all,
and what should come as no surprise at all,
was the 26.2 from Hopkington to Boston.
In what would be revealed as record-setting heat,
the hottest city in America on that day,
on one of the most challenging courses in the world:
Team Hoyt lined up to make our victory lap.
Good god, lots of sweat.
In my case, uncontrollable sobs.
A jammed toe, two funky knees and cramps.
Hydration took on a new definition.
Flooding your body with water, gatorade and Gu mixed in with 90-degree weather = gross.
Watching people fall to the ground, rushed by ambulance and unconscious is frightful.
About 4,000 registered runners deferred this year's race.
But never ever once did I think about quitting.
This was the day I dreamt about for 6 months straight.
The moment I had been waiting for.
This was my victory lap
to celebrate the $10,275 I raised for the Hoyt Foundation,
to remember the 175 aprons I made to pay for my hotel room and plane tickets,
to honor my brother on the 29th anniversary of his accident,
to make my family and friends proud,
and to fulfill my heart to an extent that I didn't know was possible.
Next to childbirth, this was the most difficult and painful thing I've ever endured,
and yet, so incredibly enjoyable.
The first 13 miles were hard.
But I had my running partner, Jenny, with me.
We pushed each other, reminded each other to hydrate.
I checked on her torn glutes, and she made sure my knees were holding up.
But high noon hits hard when on shadeless asphalt,
and running turned to jogging,
jogging turned to awkward fast-steps,
fast-steps turned to walking.
We had our occasional burst of wind.
Running into teammates.
But nothing would give us as much determination
as when we actually found Dick and Rick on the course.
Although slowed down to a walking pace,
they were in an extreme mindset.
Then more teammates found us and joined.
Before we knew it, there was a strong group of 10 of us,
giving Dick and Rick their much deserved space,
but backing them up like an army.
For 6 miles, we walked (in my case limped)
and watched as our heroes marched on to their 30th Boston finish.
But they weren't just our heroes,
the entire crowd was moved,
or oftentimes were waiting just to see them pass.
I knew how much they meant to me,
but didn't entirely comprehend how much they meant to the community until that hike.
These two are what the Boston Marathon stands for.
Determination. Perseverance. Inspiration.
We made all made our final hike up to Boylston,
most of us at that point plagued with cramps, exhaustion and pain,
and then something amazing happened.
The other runners parted,
and without a soul 100 yards in front of behind of us,
we all flew down Boylston to the finish.
Together as Team Hoyt.
The crowds went wild.
I crossed the finish line with Dick and Rick Hoyt on their 30th Boston Marathon.
It was a moment that I will never forget and will cherish forever.
Running the Boston Marathon with Team Hoyt was not a chapter in my life,
it was a stepping stone to a new life.
I will run in my Team singlet in every race I run.
This will be my last blog post.
Until October 2012...when I start training for Boston 2013 as a Team Hoyt entrant.
The weekend in pictures: