Saturday, April 8, 2017

Countdown to Boston: Heartbreak Hill

In January of 2009 we went to Puerto Rico for 5 days to get out of the bitter cold and train in warmer weather. On the flight back from Puerto Rico, our daughter was conversing with the people who she was seated next to. It was a full flight and for some reason we did not have 3 seats together. She was bemoaning the fact (and rightfully so) that she was going to have to do an 18 miler the next day and was not looking forward to it after being spoiled by running in the warm weather.

She was having this conversation with Johnny Kelley's nephew and his wife!

She told them my Boston Marathon story. We exchanged information and Dottie sent us a handwritten letter along with a poster signed by Johnny Kelley which we had framed. Dottie and Tommy said that Johnny would be watching over us on Heartbreak Hill. Was he ever!

Our Blue Diamond Athletic Medal Display adorns the space under Johnny Kelley's iconic photo!

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":

The first time we ran Heartbreak Hill was on January 24, 2009.

When we arrived, {at Marathon Sports} Domenick {our coach} was there along with some other runners. Team McManus was a wee bit nervous not knowing what to expect or what was going to happen today. Domenick was deep in thought about what route we should run today, "Have you run outdoors? Have you done hills" and with a yes answer to both those questions he sent us down Beacon Street to Newton Wellesley Hospital, over to Wellesley, up Concord Rd, over to Route 30 via the Marriott, down Route 30 through Heartbreak Hill, through BC to go around the Reservoir and then back to Marathon Sports for a total of 17.5 miles....

God smiled with sunshine and the wind at our backs when we got to Heartbreak Hill and She told me you are going to run the Marathon and finish the course - you deserve all the joy and triumph and courage and celebration that saying Yes to me is bringing you. And you are going to touch so many people's hearts and lives with this journey - you are blessed and you are going to bless the lives of others.

It was a magical day and I feel so incredibly blessed to be on this wild adventure.

Today Tom and I decided to get our 5 mile run in on Heartbreak Hill. I can't even begin to describe the energy and excitement out on the hills today. One runner said, "Thank you for the smile." We'd give the "hi" sign and smile and everyone was asking each other, "You running?" We didn't even need to finish our sentences.

Tom and I reminisced about our training runs on Heartbreak Hill and the magic of April 20, 2009 when our personal trainer met us at the top of Heartbreak Hill to run with us into the finish line. She was amazing and would not cross the finish line with us but told us that it was our moment - not hers.

At Cleveland Circle, coming down Boylston Street and crossing the finish line:

There's always magic and wonder on Heartbreak Hill. We still feel Johnny Kelley's presence smiling down on us.

I am so excited for next weekend when I welcome friends back to Boston and feel all the awe and wonder that is uniquely the Boston Marathon. But today we ran 5 miles on the Hills in Newton and experienced the anticipation of counting down to the 2017 Boston Marathon.

To your health and wellness!

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