NPR

8 runners take on the 2014 Boston Marathon

amelia nelson

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And so we have come full circle. And like I started this blog, I figured it was appropriate to end it with a jumping picture … this time with my best friend Jes!

Well, the race was just about as hard as I anticipated it would be, with the nice added bonus of the heat. I went out too fast, like everyone warns you not to do. By the time I got to mile 15-16 I was having cramps in my right leg. I stretched out a little and they went away! Thank goodness … because I was not going to make it if that continued.

I had an incredible support system — my cousins, my parents, my incredible friends were all along the course with signs and cheering and hugs to get me through!! I would not have made it without you guys!!!

The rest of the race I made sure to have gatorade and water at every stop. I had to walk a little more than I was hoping to and I finished a lot slower than I thought I would.

I’ll never forget that incredible feeling of seeing the 1K sign. I started realizing that I was going to make it. What an incredible feeling that was! My parents and brother and best friend were right before the 1K sign and with a few last hugs I headed for the finish.

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Now, everyone tells you about the crowd and the unbelievable feeling that rises when you turn right of Hereford. It was an incredible sense of pride and community as we then turned right on to Boylston. And so I made it all the way to Boylston, head held high with tears in my eyes. And I will admit it was incredible. Although I cannot wait to be right back volunteering next year at the finish line, I would not trade this experience for the world! We took back the finish line and we showed everyone that we are BOSTON STRONG!!!

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The very real truth is that none of this would have been possible without the unbelievable support team that has believed in me, supported me and put up with me over the last year as I battled through training and through recovering from last years events. So THANK YOU to all those that liked and commented and read throughout these last few weeks … and THANK YOU to all of my amazing friends, co-workers, family!!!!!

— Amelia Nelson

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Today was the day that things became very, very real! The minute I was handed that number all I could think about was: “Oh crap … I really have to do this!” Ha-ha! I know it seems crazy with all the training that this would be the moment that that occurs to me …

I went to the Expo yesterday with my family and went through with all the other amazing, crazy runners. It was inspiring, anxiety filled and frightening, all at once. I am very anxious to see how this happens and after this very long build-up throughout the year. I am very excited to have a beautiful, joyful day and get to that finish line come hell or high water!!!! Here goes nothing …

— Amelia Nelson

One Year Later …

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4.15.13 — Kristy and me before the race started

Last year on this day Kristy and I showed up early to join the Boston community in celebrating one of its most prized days. The third Monday in April is a sacred tradition. This was Kristy and me just after receiving our jackets, a block or so up from the finish line.

The devastating events that would unfold later that day have been a daily part of my life. While I did not have physical injuries, mentally I have struggled with what happened all year. This last week I have been very anxious with the anniversary approaching.

I woke up this morning to a gray humid day and all I wanted was sunshine. So I put on a bright green dress under my BAA volunteer jacket, hoping to will the weather to change. Kristy and I once again met on Boylston. This time we headed to the Hynes Convention Center for The Tribute.

A room of 2,000+ people gathered to remember those that we have lost, honor those who were injured and say thank you to all of those that have come together in support. And although I have been anxious and dreaded the arrival of this day for months … even with tears in my eyes I felt comfort surrounded by this community and a great sense of relief knowing that we have survived through tho year together.

The overall theme was that of resilience, strength, courage and pride in our city of Boston. The courage of those first responders who ran toward the bombs, the courage of the survivors during their healing and rehab, the courage of our police officers who helped protect our city and finally the courage of a city to move forward.

We heard touching music from the Pops with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Children’s Chorus. We also had the exceptional opportunity to hear words of inspiration from survivors and government leaders. Mayor Menino has been an inspiration and leader in this community for years, especially so during this tragedy. I attended the church service just after the bombing last year and, although I don’t remember much of the service, what I remember is Mayor Menino being wheeled up to the pulpit and grabbing with both hands to pull himself up on his own two feet. This display of resolve, strength and determination has stayed with me all year. Today he walked to the stage with his famous baseball bat cane and had the same power on the people in the room. In his speech he made a solemn promise that the injured will never be forgotten and will forever be supported and cared for. 

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After The Tribute, in the rain and wind, we all walked together as one toward the finish line. As Deval Patrick told us during The Tribute, none of us are strangers anymore, we are all now one. At this point I realized it was just right that it should be raining on this day. We joined together in prayer and a moment of silence.

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And so, one year later, after joining together with 2,000 people to both remember and show our love for each other and those we lost, we are healing. We are moving forward. And we are so wicked excited for the 118th Boston Marathon, less than a week away! We will run again and finish the race!!!

— Amelia Nelson

imageMy Zone One Warriors 1 year later …

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My co-workers from BIDMC.

This weekend was packed full. Saturday morning I went with my mom and some friends from work to the Sports Illustrated cover shoot at the marathon finish line. The sun was out and I had some of my absolute favorite people around. The group in the picture above are some of my incredible co-workers from Beth Israel. I also had the opportunity to finally meet fellow #npr8 blogger Dawn Harper. Copley was packed with spirited, incredible Boston people. What an exceptional display of the Boston Community!!

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My incredible mom … who was a volunteer last year too!

I went directly from Copley to Logan Airport to fly to Virginia. My roommate and I went to see our dear friend Linmarie. This year she has had a terrible battle of her own with cancer. Only a few weeks ago we thought that — in her normal fashion — she had kicked cancer’s ass. Unfortunately that is no longer true.

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Linmarie is someone who will make you laugh until you are crying and your stomach hurts. She is a spirited, stubborn, powerful, loving woman who has taught me an incredible amount about how to be a strong female. She was the friend in college who cut my hair so it had some semblance of a style, plucked all of our eyebrows, helped me dress fashionably and desperately tried to teach my how to apply make-up; a skill I still can’t master. She has been a friend, a mentor, teammate and so much more.

This is our team reunited after many years in support of our teammate. It is her unwavering strength that pushes and motivates me further. This is for Linma, my incredible friend! Thank you for all of your spirit and inspiration … I love you!

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— Amelia Nelson

Let Us Bind Together In Love, Not Hate

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Last week I had the incredible opportunity to go to “Dear Boston” a memorial to the Boston Marathon bombings. After the bombings last year there was a memorial that formed in Copley square. People left thousands of tokens of prayers, gratitude, love and remembrance. These items were removed and reassembled in this display.

It was extremely emotional. I happened to arrive with a group of high school students from out of state that didn’t quite understand the gravity of the situation at first. The exhibit was bright and engaging. The displays encouraged you to get closer and read the individual, inspiring notes. This poster above caught my eye and stuck with me throughout the day.  The quote came from Richard Martin’s school poster.

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There were running sneakers, posters, banners, hats and ribbons with touching words and then a chance to add to the exhibit. In the back left corner there were four trees. All four were just budding, with daffodils blooming around their trunks. From these trees hung hundreds of small white tags with messages of hope, love and strength. Now, if you haven’t started crying by this point I will be shocked.

It was here that I found the majority of the high school students silent and focused on writing meaningful messages to leave behind. This was exceptionally touching. At the Boston Public Library they have created a truly exceptional display of the hope, love, strength and resilience this city embodies. It was also a display of the love and support that exists in the running community and in cities all over the world. Let us take this as an opportunity to bind together in love and not hate.

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— Amelia Nelson

The Finish Line Is In Sight

I am an Emergency Department (ED) nurse. I have spent 6 years training and learning and preparing for whatever comes through our doors.

I love it! It is fast paced, energetic and you get to meet — and help — incredible people with all sorts of medical problems. I ended up an ED nurse because of my senior practicum. It seemed like there was some divine intervention involved.

Last night I had the incredible opportunity to speak to a nursing class at Regis College. Talking about the marathon helps me remember and process what happened last year. It has helped me heal, much like this blog.

So this is a big thank you to the Regis College Nursing Program! 

We are less than 2 weeks away from the marathon and I am shaking in my boots, nervous as can be. At the same time, I’m excited to take on the challenge.

I am, however, hesitant as we approach the anniversary. April 15th is less than a week away. For me, as for many, it will be a very emotional day. I have been invited to the Hynes Convention Center ceremony and we will walk toward the finish line altogether as a sign of ending this long year of healing and starting this year’s marathon.

— Amelia Nelson

Alaskan Adventure

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Last week I had the unbelievable opportunity to go to Alaska. While this absolutely threw a wrench in my training, it was also an incredible experience. As part of a Disaster Medicine Fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, we were invited to travel to Anchorage, Alaska, to participate as evaluators in the Alaska Shield disaster drill. We had the opportunity to see a beautiful state and participate in this large-scale drill.

It was about the same temperature there as it has been here in Boston. But with very long days. Being in an unfamiliar city, it was difficult to get in any long runs.

Alaska was a spectacularly beautiful place. Anchorage is surrounded by mountains that are distracting as you drive around the city. The days are really long right now. There was so much beautiful light and sunshine.

The amazing fellows and faculty that I worked with this past week have been a huge part of my healing over the last year. They have been an exceptional support system and I am thankful to have been invited to join this exceptionally intelligent group of doctors and nurses.

— Amelia Nelson

It’s Not The Marathon I Dread, It’s The Miles That Come Before It

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This is the run that I have been dreading from the beginning. When I decided to run the marathon I knew that I would eventually have to run 26.2 on the day of but that wasn’t what made me nervous. It was the 18 mile run and the 20 mile run leading up to it that did.

Due to an upcoming trip, I had to bump up my run to this past Saturday.

Accompanied by a friend from work and her wife, we met at the top of Heartbreak Hill and drove out toward the marathon start about 20 miles. As we headed out to Hopkinton, it began to rain. Then just as we were parking at about 3:30 p.m., the skies cleared and the sun came out.

It was — dare I say — warm.

The first few miles went great. I managed to pace myself well. As I run, I usually try to not look at the miles because that usually gets to me mentally, especially in the beginning. I keep a close eye on maintaining my heart rate between 150-170. I know from my training that I can maintain this heart rate for long periods of time. It is my comfort zone for aerobic activity and generally mentally keeps me calm knowing that my heart rate is in that range.

It was the first time that I was able to keep up with caloric and fluid intake during a long run. I have struggled with this a lot during my training. I do not generally like to eat or drink while working out because I hate getting cramps and feeling sluggish after eating something. However, I have learned the hard way that starving your body has bad consequences… you just have to suck it up and eat and drink something.  I love the Stinger gummies. They taste great and don’t upset my stomach.

Mentally I find anything more than 10 miles hard to process. So like most of my long runs I treated this one like 4 x 5 mile intervals. Just getting through 5 miles at a time broke it down to a doable number.

I was tired by the time I got to mile 15… my legs were a little stiff and I was starting to get sore. But because it was a beautiful day and I was in the right state of mind that didn’t stop me. I told myself you could do five miles in your sleep! Crazy that only a few months ago five miles was a daunting amount and now it is a piece of cake!

The run progressed with the sun dipping lower in the sky behind me and my shadow stretching onward almost propelling me forward. It was a beautiful end to an exceptional gorgeous day.

I made it to the top of Heartbreak hill triumphantly and encouraged that I might actually survive this crazy challenge of getting to Boylston!

Okay so maybe I do enjoy running… just a little!

imageThe beautiful sunset to end our run.

— Amelia Nelson

'We claim you, you can’t leave us now!'

I grew up in Milton, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. People in the rest of the country are usually disappointed that I don’t have an accent!

Volleyball was my sport of choice. I also dabbled in lacrosse and threw shot put for the track team. I starting running to play lacrosse and I despised it! Running was a means to an end. It allowed me to keep up with the offensive player on the other team and help my team win games.

After high school I went to George Mason University (GMU) to study nursing. I like taking care of people and nursing seemed like the perfect profession. When I first got to GMU I was bored. It was the first time I wasn’t playing a sport in my life and I missed it. So I walked up to the women’s rowing coaches and told them I wanted to row. Surprisingly, it worked.

I spent four years with an incredible coach and a group of exceptional young women who taught me a remarkable amount about competition and hard work. My coach used to tell me at the beginning of our erg tests: “Make the first half easy!” I still hear that in my head when I start a run. It was Geoff Dillard who taught me the importance of mental toughness and pushed me harder than any coach before, far beyond my comfort zone! Thank you Geoff!

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(The Head of the Charles 2005)

Currently, I am an emergency department nurse. I have spent the last six years in emergency departments all over the country. After much traveling, I found a home here in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). It is here that I have found a new work family and a place to stay after the marathon. A friend of mine at work, Kristin, said to me after the marathon: “We claim you, you can’t leave us now!” I’m not sure she realized how much that meant to me. I believe in the team that I work with and am lucky to have this job at a hospital so focused on exceptional and compassionate care. I did not intend to stay in Boston; but here I am and happy to be!

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Outside Our Emergency Department … a quote from one of our trauma surgeons

— Amelia Nelson