10 for 10!!!!!!!!!!

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This year I ran my 10th consecutive (11th overall) Boston Marathon! How did I get to 10? Seems like it was just yesterday when I ran my first Boston in 2005.

As a senior in college at Boston University, I ran on the Boston Marathon course because my apartment was at the 40K point of the marathon. During one of my runs, I thought of applying to run the Boston Marathon for the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC)! I did not know that DFMC was the largest charity team and a lot of people applied for the team. I was waitlisted. I did not have another plan, but kept running through the winter in case I got off the waitlist. Good thing I kept running because I got an email at the end of January saying that I got a spot on the team! I was so excited, but also very nervous because I did not have a lot of time to fundraise. I reached the fundraising minimum the week before the race (whew!)! I remember race day being sunny and I made the rookie mistake of not wearing sunglasses or a hat. I finished in 4:07 and was the happiest marathon finisher ever!

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2005 group photo in the corrals before the race!  (This is a scanned photo. I think I used a Kodak disposable camera to take photos that year!)

I made it a goal to qualify for my next Boston Marathon run because fundraising was too stressful as a student. It took me 2 years to qualify and I have to thank my Garmin for my time. Literally. In the 2007 NYC Marathon, there was a period of a few minutes where the finish line timing mats did not work. They asked runners who were affected to send in proof of their times. I was one of those runners!!  I sent in my Garmin time of 3:40:40 and hoped that they would make it official so that the BAA could verify my time after I applied. Back then, the qualifying time was 3:40:59 so I just made the cut!

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I will never forget the effort it took to run my first BQ.  I also secure my name tag much better these days.  hahah=)

New York Road Runners accepted my time and I was officially a Boston Qualifier for 2008’s race! I won’t bore you with race recaps of each year, but I will share with you my top 10 favorite things/memories of the Boston Marathon! In no particular order:

*The Dana Farber Marathon Challenge: I ran with the team again in 2012, 2013, & 2014. I owe a lot to this team and have made so many friends from being part of this team. I also met my husband on this team, so DFMC holds a very special place in my heart.  I ran in memory of my dad who passed away from cancer in 1998 and Andrew was running in honor of his dad who was fighting lung cancer when we met.  My dad never got to see me run, but Andrew’s dad was able to see us both run Boston in 2013.  Andrew’s dad passed away later that summer.  Though no longer with us in person, our dads will always be with us in spirit.

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This is the 2012 DFMC team picture!
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My dad’s “In Memory” card for the pasta dinner.

*Boston College: Everyone raves about the “Wellesley Scream Tunnel”, but to be honest, the Scream Tunnel has not been as loud in the past few years. In 2005, I could really hear them a mile away.  The girls are still there with lots of signs, but there are not as many as in the past.  The Boston College kids at mile 20 are my favorite. They are loud, drunk, and sooooo happy to see you!  Wellesley girls: step it up!

*The Expo: I love the expo. Enough said.

*My family cheer station at Mile 18: My sister has a friend who lives by Mile 18, so she parks at her friend’s house and waits for me to run by to cheer me on. My mom usually comes up from NYC to watch me run and in the past 3 years, Andrew has watched with them too.

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I was so excited to see my niece (in the white jacket) in 2011. This is the year that Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 and it did not count as a world record!
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My sister & niece braving the cold & rain in 2015!

*Seeing my friends along the way: My friends are the best!  I have to give a special shout out to my City Sports Run Club friend, Jan, for sharing miles with me and helping me when I was having a tough time in the Newton Hills.

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2013 Boston Marathon: When I see a friend on the course.  hahaha=) 
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2014 Boston Marathon: Hiiiiiiii!!!!
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2016 Boston Marathon: Same pose EVERY year. haha=)
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2012. Felt like 100 degrees. Jan (in yellow City Sports top) helped me through the heat!  I could not have finished without him.

* Kenmore Square: Running by my old apartments and through Kenmore Square always brings back fun memories of college & post college. DFMC also has their cheer station at mile 25 so that gives me a big boost before the final mile. The Red Sox game is usually done by the time I run by, so the crowds are amazing there.

*Boylston Street: The stretch to the finish line is always special.  Here you can get the crowds to scream louder if you gesture to them and you can soak in all the energy and realize that you will soon be a Boston Marathon finisher!

*I cannot write about Boston and not mention 2013. The weather was perfect that day and I had the race of my life. I was having the best time until I found out what happened at the finish line. I am thankful that my friends and I were safe, but am sad every time I think about everyone who was affected that day. How we came together after that day made me realize how strong runners can be to overcome anything. We will always be Boston Strong.

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2013 pre-race photo with the guys at the DFMC refuge.  I love these guys.

*Meb: I first met Meb after the 2013 BAA 5K at the Fairmont Copley Hotel. Back on my Feet had a team run the 5K and our meeting room was in the same hotel where the elite athletes were staying. As I was leaving with my friend Seann, Meb was walking to get breakfast. He seemed to be in a rush, but when we showed him that we actually knew who he was and asked him about his injury and his plan for coming back, he slowed down and talked to us! We took a photo, shook hands, and let him go eat breakfast! Meb watched the race from the grandstands that year because he was injured. He came back in 2014 and won for the city of Boston. I was at mile 10 when someone told me that Meb won the race and it totally made my day!

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Me & Meb back in 2013!

*Andrew: We met on the day of the 2012 Boston Marathon at the church where DFMC runners gathered before the race. We did not start dating until after the 2013 Boston Marathon and got married last year! Andrew was stopped on Boylston Street in 2013 and he returned in 2014 to finish what he started. He decided to take a break from fundraising and watch the race in 2015. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy in 2015. Terrible conditions for runners and spectators, but he was there again in 2016 and 2017. Thanks love! I will not talk about getting to the Quarter Century Club for a while. Getting to 10 in a row is a huge accomplishment for me. I will take it one year at a time from now! =)

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Andrew escorting me up the Newton Hills in 2016!

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I want to congratulate my marathon sister, Bethany, for also running her 10th consecutive Boston this year!  Here’s to many more!  =)

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2013 NYC Marathon Race Report!

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Many runners breathed a sigh of relief when there was no hurricane in the forecast leading up to the marathon this year.  Andrew and I ran most of the course a few times during training, but I was excited to run the course on closed streets again!  The week leading up the marathon is a mini marathon in itself if you are in Betty-land!

Marathon weekend started on Wednesday at the New York Running Company.  They hosted a meet and greet event with Dean Karnazes.  I went to say hi to Dean and ask him how he did in Chicago.  Dean recognized me and I got a nice “Sweaty Betty” greeting from Dean!

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Thursday night, Andrew and I went to the expo to pick up our numbers after work and we enjoyed the expo before it got too packed Friday and Saturday.

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Friday, I picked up Sarkis from Port Authority and we went to the expo to pick up his number!  Afterwards, we went to the NYAC’s pasta party!  Olympic marathoner, Shalane Flanagan, was the guest speaker at the party and she gave us some words of encouragement.  “Best efforts!  Run until your teeth sweat!”

Andrew, Joe, Shalane, and I at NYAC's Pre-Marathon Pasta Party.
Andrew, Joe, Shalane, and I at NYAC’s Pre-Marathon Pasta Party.

Saturday morning, Sarkis, Andrew, and I ran the Dash to the Finish Line 5K for a pre-race shake out.  We saw Dave McGillivray in our starting corral and went over to talk to him.  We introduced ourselves as DFMC runners and wished him luck on organizing next year’s race!

Cannot wait to run Boston 2014!
Cannot wait to run Boston 2014!

Saturday night, I had my family pasta party at Patsy’s.  We had a party of 16 and Patsy’s was so awesome in serving us quickly since 8 of my party were children!  Everyone left with a full stomach within an hour!!

Half of our table for 16 people!
Half of our table for 16 people!  My brother-in-law, Winston also ran this year!

Race Day!  (Yes, after all the events, there was still a marathon to run!)

Many dread the long wait at Fort Wadsworth before the start of the race, but time passed quite quickly for me at the start.  Runners have to understand that it takes time to get 40,000+ runners to get to Staten Island and to line up in the correct corral for the race to start on time and in an organized fashion.  Andrew, Sarkis, and I got off the buses in Staten Island by 7:15AM and after a bathroom trip, pre-race prep, and pre-race photos, I dropped off my bag and headed to my corral by 8:20AM.  My corral closed at 8:55AM and then we were herded to the start line on the Verrazano.  See, time passed by quickly!

On the bus to the start!
On the bus to the start!
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Quick group photo before heading to the corrals!  We wore our 2013 DFMC singlets one last time and got a few shout outs from random DFMC alumni during the race!
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Can’t run a race without a pre-race gun show picture with these guys!

At 9:40AM (1st wave start time), canons went off and they blasted Sinatra’s “New York New York” on the speakers.  A runner next to me said “This never gets old!” and I thought to myself after being here for the 11th time, “He’s right.  This does not get old.”  The NYC Marathon is one of a kind and despite all the negative publicity from last year, it is still my favorite race because of the course, the crowds, and the excitement.

At Mile 2, I overheard a guy giving advice to his friend “Pick a girl with a cute butt and nice legs and just follow her.”  I said to him “Good advice!”  His response to me was “I’m looking at you.”  Unfortunately, the guy could not keep up with me so he did not look at my butt or legs for long!

My DFMC teammate, Sarkis, was running his first NYCM, but he was in a different corral so we did not get to start together.  Sarkis found me at mile 3  and we ran together to mile 14 before the Queensboro Bridge.  It was great to experience the craziness of NYCM together.

Running up the Queensboro Bridge is usually very quiet as no spectators are allowed on the bridge and all the runners are trying to focus on running uphill.  As I ran up the bridge, I heard a runner behind me screaming to give the other runners a boost.  I did not pay attention to him because I was in the zone, but then I heard “She runs for her dad, for her sister, and for Mrs. Chin!”  I realized that he was reading the back of my singlet!!  I gave a quick shout out to him and pumped my fists.  I appreciated the small gesture and boost that it gave me to get over the hill.  I felt pretty good running the bridge and made a mental note to myself to thank Andrew later for all the times he made me run this bridge in training.

As I ran, I also thought about my crazy race rituals and things that have helped me mentally and physically have a good race.  Everyone does something a little different, but here are a few things that have worked for me.  [I do not recommend you trying all of my race habits and do not take any responsibility if you try it and have a bad race!  Do what works for you and do not try anything new on race day.]

Betty’s (crazy) race habits:
1) Have chicken parm the night before.  Yum!
2) Run a few miles the day before the marathon.  Since running the Goofy Challenge in 2009, I have run up to 6 miles the day before the marathon to loosen up my legs and ease my pre-race anxiety.
3) Be patient.  Let runners pass you in the beginning because you will pass them later in the race.
4) Carry water for the first 10-12 miles of the race.  Being able to bypass the earlier water stations allows me to get into a comfortable pace faster.
5) Run while needing to pee makes you run a little faster.  This is totally not recommended, but it has happened to me at Boston 2013 and NYCM this year!  I ran a PR in Boston!  I did not have to go that badly, but I did not want to wait for a porto-potty on the course so I just held it in.  If you need to pee, go pee!  I was quite relieved to finally be able to pee after the race!
6) Take 2 salt tablets before and during the race.  Gatorade endurance formula upsets my stomach so I take salt tablets to replace my electrolytes.
7) Carry packets of Biofreeze.  I would have made it to the finish line much slower if I did not rub Biofreeze on my quads when they cramped.
8) Buy everything at the expo.  Putting on a new marathon jacket after the race feels awesome .  =)  [Please do not send me your credit card bills! hahah!]

There is a lot more to the list, but I do not want to expose all of my weird habits all at once!  Besides my race habits, having my family at mile 17 and 23 were a huge boost along the way and they helped push me to the finish line.  I was overwhelmed with emotion after crossing the finish line this year because I had a great race despite my quads cramping at mile 23.  I was so happy to have finally crossed that finish line again.  I was grateful for the perfect running weather and I was grateful for so many of my family members to have come watch me run by for a few seconds after waiting for hours!

Seeing my mom, sister, and niece on 1st Ave!
Seeing my mom, sister, and niece on 1st Ave!
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Still smiling at Mile 23 and happy to see the kids!!

I am so proud of Andrew for running sub 4 hours in NYC and doing it just two weeks after Chicago!  This was Andrew’s second official NYCM.  Although this was my 11th official NYCM, people ask if I am bored of running the same race over and over again and I always say “No”.  Like the guys at the start said “This never gets old.”  I am looking forward to future NYCM’s with Andrew and 40,000+ runners from around the world!

Happy to find each other after the finish!
Happy to find each other after the finish!
Post marathon photo on Monday with Andrew and Joe!
Post marathon photo on Monday with Andrew and Joe!!

Here are some race numbers:
Total Finishers: 50,304 (new record!)
Men’s Champion: Geoffrey Mutai 2:08:24
Women’s Champion: Priscah Jeptoo 2:25:07
Men’s Wheelchair Champion: Marcel Hug 1:40:14
Women’s Wheelchair Champion: Tatyana McFadden 1:59:13

My Finish Time: 3:36:58 (NYCM PR!)
Andrew: 3:55:12
Joe: 4:06:29
Sarkis: 3:48:00
Winston: 4:30:22