What it Means to be a Marathon Finisher

To explain the Boston Marathon to someone is one of the most difficult things to do in my opinion. As a Massachusetts native, my description of the marathon has changed through various stages in my life. For children, it’s a fun day during school vacation to learn about Patriots Day and spend the afternoon watching the runners go by. In high school, it’s a day to take in the Red Sox game, while in college, students enjoy one of the first warm days after the winter and take to the streets and party. Adults enjoy the day by watching friends and family along the route and at the finish line. However, there are no words to adequately explain the emotions and feelings of a truly special day for the runners who have trained all winter in the cold and snow to get to this one moment of crossing the finish line on Boylston St.

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Nicole at the finish line the Friday before the big race.

There are many stories in the news about the tragedy of the 2013 marathon and all the runners that came out to support Boston Strong and the survivors, as well as the recent story of people who wanted to be a part of the day so badly that they fraudulently made their own bibs to get into the race. While these stories are important, they have been covered with beautiful tributes and mainstream articles. To say I won’t be “checking in” anytime soon is an understatement, but my marathon story is much simpler. Though an avid gym user and member of Beantown Bootcamp, I never thought I could run a marathon. I was lucky that I could get through a half marathon. However, when I saw that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (a cause very close to my heart) had a team, I started to consider if maybe I could, in fact, run a marathon. After much persuasion from friends, fellow bootcamp members and a great debate in my head, I decided to take on the challenge. I could bore you with all the details of running in rain and snow but it’s spring and no one wants to hear about the winter anymore.

Finishing the Boston Marathon was one of the proudest moments of my life. Even more amazing were the two people that never left my side the entire race. My trainer and the owner of Beantown Bootcamp, John Wayman, and my training partner Alexa Nicholls stayed with me the whole race although they could have finished much faster than I. During the race I kept telling them I was sorry for holding them back but never once did I get an answer other than, “We are here to have fun and enjoy this special day.” It was truly a special day indeed. Many people ask what my favorite memory of the race was. Everything was my favorite but the most memorable and touching moment was entering Kenmore Square, standing with my two running partners and our favorite Boston police officer and fellow bootcamper, looking around at all the people who had come out to watch the race this year. There were rows and rows of people on all sides of the street cheering for all the runners.

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From left, Nicole Solera, Alexa Nicholls and John Wayman

I also want to say a special thank you to all my colleagues at The Castle Group who made this journey possible. Between donating to my cause, helping with the fundraising process and always being my support system, I am so lucky to call this special place my home during the work week.

For another marathon recap, I enjoyed reading this blog as well.

One little side note is my new found favorite running product that I had to plug. The FlipBelt made by Level Terrain Apparel is my new best friend. I never thought I would need so many things to run a marathon but trust me, you do! Between my phone, inhaler, ID, snacks, hydration, and Advil I had quite the pack of things to carry with me on race day. The FlipBelt allowed me to keep everything with me in an easy to reach belt that sits on your waistline and still somehow allows me to look cool (maybe). I recommend this product for anyone who finds traditional belts uncomfortable and have trouble keeping them in place. This belt never moved from where I put it for 26.2 miles. As you can imagine, after the 26.2 miles the belt was sweaty and wet from spilling Gatorade. Not to worry! The belt can be thrown right into the washing machine and comes out no worse for wear. They also come in all sorts of fun colors.

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