May 2

Blogging on Boston - Christine Houde

by: Christine Houde

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BQ: Two small letters that are a large feat to achieve. I believe that most runners dream to punch a ticket to the Boston Marathon, the oldest and most prestigious race in the U.S. It is a journey that makes you a stronger runner and a more appreciate individual.

My journey started in 2012, when I had the crazy idea to do my first full marathon after having completed a couple of half marathons. Once I registered for the Manchester City Marathon on November of that year, there was no turning back.

 

For Manchester, I trained without a GPS watch and had no idea what fueling and hydrating appropriately meant.  I completed the race and truly thought it was going to be a "one and done."

 

This thought changed after the 2013 Boston Marathon, when terrorists tried to tarnish a special day. I said to myself that I had to run Boston in 2014. My only ticket was through a charity team, so I raised over $11,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear, which was an awesome feeling. The thoughts of helping people regain vision or hearing and making the impossible seem possible for kids and adults was amazing.

 

Mid way through training, I picked up a nagging hip flexor injury. I was unable to run more than 9 miles at a time in March and April. I was unsure if I could even complete the race, but after working hard to fund raise and knowing my parents were going to come up an watch, I was damn sure going to try! I was able to make it to the finish line and experience the amazing crowds throughout the whole race. The B.A.A. allowed 5,000 more runners in than they typically do and the city really wanted to express that they bounced back from the previous year with huge resilience. I truly believe that will be the most special Boston Marathon in history. My finish time was a far cry from a B.Q. for my age group at 3:52 and change, but it was an unbelievable experience.

Later in October of 2014, I traveled to Chicago with my husband, Pete to take part in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The crowds lined the street comparable to Boston and the feeling of crossing the finish line was equally as special. To my surprise, I knocked off over 25 minutes from my Boston time that year and earned a BQ at 3:26:39! It could be the one and only time I am able to accomplish something like that and we celebrated for several days in the city of Chicago.

 

2015 was a special year for marathons, as I got to experience Boston by being someone's eyes for 14 miles of the race. Guiding my friend Randy to the finish line of Boston was such a special way to be a part of the marathon. Pete and I traveled to Chicago again that October and completed the 2015 Chicago Marathon together side by side. My biggest fan, my mom, was a spectator and a huge supporter for us out on the course and it was a beautiful race to be a part of.

I had to take some time off of running after the Chicago. A month turned into close to four months. It was a mental and physical battle, almost purposely losing fitness with Boston 2016 still in the back of my mind. My mental state took a downward turn and Boston seemed further out of the picture with no daily, weekly, or monthly miles in the old running log. Christmas came and went and as we entered the New Year, I had decided enough was enough and I was going to run, by golly, and I was going to celebrate earning a spot in the 120th Boston Marathon on April 20th, 2016.

 

I basically started from scratch with a 3 mile run that hurt me for weeks. I knew starting over was going to be difficult, but I didn't know how difficult. But, for every run that hurt and how winded I felt, I was so grateful to actually be running again that I had a renewed sense of appreciation for the sport and everything it brings to me.

I wanted to tailor my training this time around to include more strength training, less long distance, and more rest. I joined Great Bay Cross Fit in January and learned that short and sweet workouts get the job done equally as much as long runs. The miles became a little bit easier as I changed my nutrition around and always ran one or two days a week with my best running buddy, Salem and my second best buddy, Pete. Pete got himself an invitational entry and was extremely excited for his first Boston. I re-learned to appreciate the joy of running and was so happy that I decided to be a part of the journey to the starting line.

 

I went into the race with no goal or expectations, just to enjoy the ride and celebrate a Monday of running 26.2 miles with thousands of people watching you and cheering for you, including my mom and brother from Florida! My mom is turning into quite the marathon spectator! I managed real in my emotions and not go out of the corral at an unmanageable pace and finish feeling pretty darn good. The whole time I was out there, I was just thrilled to be a part of the day and I thought of it as a celebration. A celebration of my emotional and physical journey, a celebration of my accomplishment a year and a half ago, and a celebration of all the beautiful things running brings to your life.

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