My Boston Marathon Experience

Here is the update letter on the Boston Marathon that I sent to my donors this morning ūüôā I survived! Congrats to all my fellow Boston Marathon runners!!



Good Morning Family and Friends,

I successfully completed the 116th Boston Marathon!!!!!!  Thank you for your patience in my update for how the race went. As you can imagine it was a long day starting at 4AM!
It was definitely a challenging experience, but it was also life changing. Thank you for all sharing this experience with me from start to finish.  I had fun sharing my stories with you and updating you with the fundraising and training. I also enjoyed hearing your stories about how cancer has touched your lives because it gave me the motivation I needed these past 6 months.
To date, you helped me raise $8,360 for cancer research. THANK YOU for you generosity…in the beginning I had some serious doubts on if I could raise this kind of money, but everyone has been so supportive. I was recognized at the Dana-Farber pasta dinner for meeting the 8k pacesetter goal and got to wear a special badge on my marathon jersey! See pictures attached of the back of my marathon jersey and the names I ran for. I have until September to complete my fundraising, in which Dana-Farber had set the high goal of $8,700 for each runner. I am confident I will be able to meet this goal by Fall. ¬†Thank you again for all your help!
As for the Boston Marathon, the temperatures were brutal, reaching almost 90 degrees. I was sweating as I was standing at the start line. Boston Marathoners train during the winter season and are not acclimated to running in these conditions. To give you some perspective: this was the hottest Boston Marathon in 13 years Рtypically the Boston Marathon is around 50 degrees.  With numerous warnings from the Boston Athletic Association and the weather reports, I knew this was about surviving and finishing rather than trying to accomplish my time goal I originally had in mind.  The Boston Athletic Association even had signs up a long the course warning runners to slow their paces down.  Experts advised us to add at least a half hour Р45 minutes onto our originally anticipated times in this weather condition. According to the news there were 22,500 participants that  braved the hot weather, 4,300 participants who registered opted out to run, nearly 2,000 participants received medical attention, and another 120 were taken to hospitals by ambulances.  I wanted to be the one who braved the hot weather and finish without medical help!  I ended up finishing with a time of  4:26:43.
23450 Tomc, Jamie V. 26 F Waltham MA USA
5k 10k 15k 20k Half 25k 30k 35k 40k
0:28:02 0:55:30 1:24:51 1:57:32 2:03:56 2:32:06 3:06:37 3:39:15 4:12:24
Finish: Pace Proj. Time Offl. Time Overall Gender Division
0:10:11 4:26:43 4:26:43 13612 4961 2909
At times along the course, I questioned about finishing. People were walking and passing out besides me starting at mile 7. ¬†I couldn’t have been better prepared in terms of training for the marathon. I completed races this season that included a half marathon, 16 miler, and 20 miler race. ¬†I had training runs that included a number of 18 milers and a 22 miler. ¬†I was finishing these runs in 7:45-8:45 minute pace and I felt good. ¬†My racing strategy completely changed with these weather conditions. This race was more about mind over matter. Each time I questioned my abilities, I kept thinking about the names on the back of my jersey. ¬†Each step in front of the other was for each of your loved ones who’ve battled cancer. I wanted to do finish this race on behalf of those that couldn’t complete the marathon. I wanted to finish the Boston Marathon finish line because I wanted those names to cross with me. ¬†I wanted us to be winners in this together.
I had amazing support along the course. ¬†A number of my friends were spread out to cheer me on with beautifully made “Go Jamie” signs (although I missed a few along the way…sorry!). ¬†Seeing familiar faces at different points on the course really helped push me through. ¬†Hearing my name and seeing a smile helped me keep going when times got tough. ¬†Thank you to my friends and family for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come and cheer me on. It meant a lot to me. ¬†For those who couldn’t make it out, thank you for “virtually” cheering me on through the text message alerts and online. Each time I passed certain mile pointers, I knew you would get the alerts. This also helped me keep going because I knew if I slowed down or stopped you’d all worry about whether I finished so it helped me chug along.
It was also motivating to hear the number of supporters (who were complete strangers) that cheered for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At each mile of the course I heard numerous comments such as “Thank you for running for Dana-Farber” “I am a cancer survivor, thank you for support” “I was treated at Dana-Farber, thank you” “Go Dana-Farber, you’re making a difference” “My child is getting treated at Dana-Farber” “We love Dana-Farber” “You are making a difference running” ¬†“Keep going Dana-Farber, you’re running for a great cause” “I am living proof that Dana-Farber makes a difference” ¬†Each time I wanted to slow way down, these people kept me going. I am so glad I chose to run for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I felt like it was a real testament¬†to how many people are touched by cancer and by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. You all really helped make a difference in peoples’ lives by supporting this cause. Thank you.
The Boston Marathon course in itself was an amazing experience. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team. ¬†As a runner, it was a dream of mine to complete Boston, but having the cause that was beyond myself was what really motivated me to go for it. ¬†There were people cheering from Hopkinton all the way to the Prudential Center. ¬†The entire 26.2 mile route was lined with people cheering, yelling my name (because it was written on the front of my jersey). I felt like a celebrity for a day! ¬†I enjoyed seeing the key landmarks along the course including the Fire Stations, Wellesley College, Boston College, Boston University, Newton Fire station, Heartbreak Hill (OK, maybe I didn’t enjoy seeing it while I was running up it), the Citgo sign, etc.
Starting at mile 10 I felt the effects of the heat and had to walk during certain points to cool off and get re-fueld. I would pour entire cups of water on my head and on my body and stick ice cubes between my hat and head to keep me from getting over-heated. People had their hoses out and cooled down the runners. I was drenching in water pretty much the entire way, but it helped me manage the heat. This race really gives you a sense of community and compassion.  So many people along the course were sharing orange slices, their own water and Gatorade, ice cubes, water clothes, tissues, etc.  Talk about feeling loved.  Towards heartbreak hill I started to really slow down my running, but I saw a fellow Dana-Farber runner I had run with during speed workouts and long runs Рhe encouraged me to keep with it and get up the hill.  We had run heartbreak hill during our 22 mile practice run and he knew I could do it.  From mile 17 to 26.2 we pushed each other through the end. At mile 25 I got my second wind Рwe saw the kids from the Jimmy Fund with their families.  Seeing these kids who are batting cancer was reason in itself to finish the race strong. People were quite excited to see two Dana-Farber runners run side by side to the end.
I had the most amazing experience running Boston yesterday. Even though the conditions were not ideal, it wasn’t about running the best marathon time. For me, it was about running for the experience and knowing the people I was running for and the impact it would make in peoples’ lives. ¬†Thank you for supporting Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the cancer cause, and me. ¬†It means the world to me and to others impacted by cancer. ¬†Thank you for sharing this experience with me. ¬†I can’t thank you enough.
With gratitude,
Jamie Tomc

My final email to my donors…

I don’t have a lot of time to write tonight, but thought I’d share my last email I sent to my donors!! BOSTON MARATHON HERE I COME ūüôā


Dear friends and family, 

I sit here writing this email as I prepare for some much needed rest before tomorrow’s big day (nerves are in high gear). ¬†Days and months of preparation are past me and tomorrow I will be running for all those who’ve fought and battled cancer. ¬†It is well worth running the 26.2 miles…every last bit of it.
A couple of hours ago I went to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Pasta Party…almost 1000 people were in attendance. It was a really moving experience and at some points I felt choked up (especially when they shared stories of the young kids that have been afflicted by cancer and lost their battle to this disease). ¬†Your donations mean so much to so many people and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. You helped me achieve the 8k pacesetter goal set by Dana-Farber! ¬†Thank you – and I was recognized at the dinner tonight for raising this amount! ¬†Not in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to be able to raise over $8,000 for this cause. THANK YOU AGAIN! ¬†This cause means so much to me and as I take each step tomorrow I will be thinking about all your loved ones.
I also want to thank the donors who’ve donated in the past week and sorry if I haven’t had a chance to personally thank you yet (it is coming soon), this week in preparation for the marathon has been a busy one, but I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate it. ¬†Thank you.
Many of you may have heard that the weather for tomorrow is forecasted to be 88 degrees! It will certainly be one of the hottest Boston Marathon days in history. Luckily our coach, Jack Fultz, who won the 1976 Boston Marathon when it was nearly 100 degrees, has prepared us with many tips – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. ¬†The Boston Athletic Association has sent the marathon runners numerous heat warnings which have advised runners to think about not running and to defer their race entry to next year. For a few of you that have asked…I am going to still plan on running tomorrow. I’ve come too far and raised too much to look back! I will run to finish and feel good. ¬†I had a time in mind (around 3 hours 45 minutes), but as the Boston Athletic Association has pointed out, with the heat being as close to 90 degrees, that it is no day for personal records (however, since this is my first marathon – anything with be my personal record – lucky me)! According to what I’ve read and our coach advised us, experts say to add at LEAST a 1/2 hour on top of that in weather conditions like this. My plan is to run smart and run safe.
Also, If you want to track me run, but didn’t get the directions on how to do so, you can text RUNNER to 345678. You will get a text message to submit my bib number to track my times for the 10k, 1/2 marathon, 30k & finish marks. My bib number is #23450. Or you can visit the BAA website¬†¬†which can give you more directions. Attached is a more detailed explanation on tracking online.
I know many of you are planning to watch me run the Boston Marathon. ¬†In case you are out there, I am planning to wear my Dana-Farber jersey which has my name and bib number (#23450) on the front and those I’m honoring on the back. I also plan to wear a black hat and black shorts and socks. My sneakers have purple in them (This might be too much detail, but her there are a lot of us out there!) ¬†Please see pictures below for my jersey.
That is all for now. I better get to bed and rest. I will keep you posted when I finish the 26.2 miles! THANK YOU AGAIN!!!
Boston Marathon…here I come!
Jamie Tomc

Safe Running Precaution

With the warm weather expected on Marathon Monday, we just received this email from the B.A.A. this morning. Hope everyone is smart and runs safe!  This is about finishing!


Advisory From Boston Marathon Medical Directors to Entrants in the 2012 Boston Marathon

Saturday, April 14, 2012 as of 11:30 a.m.

We are looking closely at the current weather situation which is projected  to be quite warm. The B.A.A. is closely monitoring this situation for for race day decisions. If the temperatures reach certain levels, running will put even the most fit athletes at risk for heat injury.
We are now making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit or if you have any underlying medical conditions (for example-cardiac disease, pulmonary disease or any of a number of medical problems), you should NOT run this race.
Inexperienced marathoners should not run.
Those who have only trained in a cooler climate and who may not be acclimated (for at least the last 10 days) to warm weather running conditions should also consider not running.
For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions:

Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration.
You should frequently take breaks by walking instead of running.

This will not be a day to run a personal best.  If you choose to run, run safely above all else. Speed can kill.

Heat stroke is a serious issue and is related to intensity of running as well as the heat and humidity.

Good hydration is important but over hydration can also be a problem. Thirst is an indication that you are under-hydrated. You should maintain hydration levels slightly greater than your hydration program in your training, but not excessively so.

Even the fittest athletes, that take precautions can still suffer serious heat illness. Recognizing symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others is critical , this may include headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these, stop running immediately and if symptoms persist seek medical attention.

Boston Marathon Co-Medical Directors,
Dr. Pierre d’Hemecourt and Dr. Sophia Dyer

The race jitters mounting…

It is gonna be a hot one on Monday…any one else nervous about the forecast of low 80s? With this kind of weather, I am definitely going to have to see how I feel as I go. ¬†I am hoping I can still run under 4 hours with this heat wave coming in! ¬†I’ve been intaking salt tablets to see how they feel with my stomach…so far, so good!

I picked up my bib number at the Marathon Expo today!!! WOO HOO. ¬†The expo was located at the seaport hotel & conference center. It was so fun! I loved the energy of all the runners. We got the hot orange sports bags filled with goodies and our 2012 Boston Marathon runners shirt (YIPPEE!!) ¬†The expo is a runner’s shopping dream with vendors ranging from Adidas, North Face, CEP, Asics, Gatorade, Poweraid,¬†etc. etc. I bought a couple memorable items (including a race medal display rack), but didn’t get too crazy….I just enjoyed walking around and looking at everything. Any type of running gear you’re interested in was there. SO FUN! ¬†I was pretty exhausted after I left and am glad I was able to do it on the Friday. I see how someone could easily spend 3-4 hours there. ¬†Veteran teammates suggested that the earlier we can get to the expo the better.

This morning I got super anxious thinking about the race (even more so than earlier this week). My friends have been sending me emails to wish me luck and it brought reality to the forefront that the race is literally in a couple of days.  Everyone has been awesome with their support. THANK YOU.

Here are some pictures I thought I’d share from the expo! ¬†Fun stuff!

Only Saturday, Sunday….Eeek, then MARATHON MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 posts in one night!

I am making up for my lack of blog posts the last week…please see my prior two blog posts that I just posted earlier tonight.

Why am I posting for a 3rd time in just an hour…well because today I was driving along the Charles River in Boston and noticed this…

You might say, what is this that you are posting?

Yes, it is a running hamburger man by the Charles River. I had to snap a picture and share it with you.

Just made me smile, thought it might make you smile too. ¬†Especially if your nerves are getting to you with the Boston Marathon being around the corner…we all need to lighten up a little ūüôā


Please check out this blog post on marathon pacing from my fellow Dana-Farber team member. It helped me a lot with trying to figure out my pacing for Monday, so I thought it might help you too! Thanks so much for your expertise Mark! (PS – Can we give him KUDOS for raising over $55,000 in donations to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute!…WOW)

The Schedule

I’ve spent the last hour reading, thinking about, and replying to Jamie’s question about pacing

Here‚Äôs a brain dump of what I know about pacing from my ‚Äúdeep‚ÄĚ study of Boston pacing¬†(and 2 runs there).¬† This is really meant for someone doing it for the first time, and possibly running their first or second marathon.

Pacing in Boston is hard.  There are downhills at the beginning, everyone around you is a good, fast runner, you are excited to be there, and after a whole lot of waiting you finally get to run.  So it’s easy to go fast out of the start line.  Too fast.  That is a killer in the last five, downhill miles when the quads are trashed and life becomes very painful.  We (my wife, my friend Paul, and I) will probably aim for a 3:50 time which is an 8:46 pace.  But… we’ll aim for…

View original post 614 more words

Less than a week away …Pre-Marathon jitters!

Sorry for being so behind on last week’s updates (I’ve been a little late the past few posts)! ¬†So much has happened since my last post, but of course it has now that we are only a week away (now less than a week away) from the Boston Marathon!

My donors have been SO amazing and I have officially reached the $8,000.00 fundraising mark since my last post. ¬†WOW. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to be able to raise this much money, and it was all done because of each of you. Thank you so very much again from the bottom of my heart. ¬†I’ve had close friends and family donate to this wonderful cause, but also some strangers, customers, and acquaintances. ¬†I am so thankful for every dollar, every ¬†kind word, and every story you have all shared with me. ¬†I get emotional just thinking about the outpouring of support people had towards me and towards the cancer cause. ¬†Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a leader in research cancer institute and your sponsorship will impact many people. I will never forget the people who have supported me a long this journey. It has been a truly life changing experience for me. Not only has the training showed me the meaning of endurance through the hours, days, weeks, and months of training, but it has also helped me build confidence in my abilities and showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to. ¬†It has allowed me to grow as an individual and provided more clarity than any reflection or mediation could have for me. It has made me realize there are causes, like cancer, that are bigger and more important than myself. It has made me realize life is too short to take anything for granted. It has made me a better person because of this experience. So I want to thank you not only for your donations, but for sharing this experience with me over the past 6 months.

This past week was pretty easy on the training now that I started tapering before the big race and the taper has really paid off. I was telling my dad today on the phone that my right leg is almost completely pain free (knock on wood). I ran without compression socks last night and I felt good. ¬†Here goes last week’s training:

Monday – 45 minute spin class, stretching and weights

Tuesday – Rest Day

Wednesday – 60 minute power spin class. This instructor is a fire cracker. ¬†I’ve taken her class before and she is this petite girl with the loudest voice and more energy than you’d imagine. ¬†I like it because it really motivates you to push yourself. She also tricks you into thinking you’re almost done with a hard hill and then 20 minutes later you still realize you never put down the resistance. ¬†She also plays some awesome jams (some I have to add to my iPod before the marathon).

Thursday – 5 mile run on the treadmill. I was going to run outside and then decided against it just because I am super cautious now to make sure I don’t get any injuries before the marathon. I also did some stretching.

Friday – Rest day (mainly because I had a bad day – read more below to hear why). I also drove home to CT to be with my family over the Easter weekend!

Saturday – Ran 10.5 miles in my hometown of Middletown, CT. I had in my calendar to avoid hills the past 2 weeks before the marathon, which was a bit hard to do since my hometown is rather hilly. My dad reminded me of a different course I could have taken after I got back from my run…oops was too late. So I ran a few hills during this last “long” run and it was a good humble reminder that I will have to respect the hills of Boston come Marathon Monday. ¬†I felt pretty good and maybe a wee bit tired from the run, mainly because I didn’t really eat a good breakfast (my sister and her boyfriend were coming home to CT and I wanted to get back from my run in time). I ran around Wesleyan University and around my neighborhood. I had to do a lot of smaller loops, but got the distance in.

My mileage went way down this past week to just over 15 miles. This upcoming week will be similar and if anything less in miles. Hope my body continues to condition itself in prime condition for Boston!

I want to quickly touch on my “bad day” from Friday that I refer to above.(and bare with my slight venting). If you’ve been following my prior posts you may have read that I had arranged for a vendor to print up names on the back of my jersey. ¬†I am putting the names of our loved ones’ who’ve been afflicted by cancer to honor their fight with cancer. This is something that is extremely important for me to do and to do on behalf of those that have had friends and family affected by this disease. ¬†In the beginning of February I spoke with a sales rep EmbroidMe in Chelmsford, MA to talk about the possibility of printing on my Dana-Farber jersey. ¬†We discussed the type of material, that I was looking to get 40-50 names printed and that I’d bring in the file of names on a word document to make the process easier. ¬†The sales rep assured me that this was something they’ve done before and even showed me the type of technique they’d use in order to print on the shirt. ¬†He said that I could bring in the jersey just to confirm the material was ok to print on (totally understandable). ¬†I went back at the beginning of March with my jersey and in less than a couple of minutes he confirmed that he’d be able to print on my jersey. ¬†I left satisfied and confident that this would be the perfect place to get my jersey done because they had supposedly done this many other times. ¬†The sales rep said he would need a 5 day lead period in order to ensure printing would be done on time. ¬†Since I had finalized my list of names, I went to Embroid me last Tuesday with my jersey (again) and a word document with the names arranged as I wanted them on the jersey. The sales rep downloaded the file, looked at the jersey again, and assured me this would be fine and he’d call me back as soon it was ready (however he said it may take 10 days to complete). A little worried about the 10 day lead, instead of the original 5 day lead as he first told me, I went with it – because it would be done Saturday before the marathon. ¬†I got a voicemail on Friday (4 days after I dropped off the shirt) …I thought “oh good, this must mean the shirt is done” – instead they called to tell me that they would no longer be able to print on my shirt. ¬†I was devastated, upset, and frustrated by the customer experience. ¬†Not because they weren’t able to print on the shirt, but because I went two times prior to dropping off my jersey last week to confirm they’d be able to do it and now, 4 days later from dropping off my jersey, they call me to tell me they no longer want to “take the chance” of printing on my jersey. ¬†I was really upset because I didn’t want to disappoint any of my donors and because this was really important for me to do. ¬†I knew I was getting a little worked up because my donors were likely more concerned with donating to the cause, but when I promise I am going to do something I don’t go back on my word.

After some cooling down over the weekend, my dad helped me come up with a great solution. While I called a number of other screen printers, I was debating whether the week before the marathon I wanted to “chance” it and go with another vendor who may “mess up” my ownly singlet jersey or put the matter into my own hands. ¬†My dad helped me buy all the materials I will need to be writing and arranging the names myself. Now I promise you this will look just as good if not better than having the names printed. Remember, I was an art minor in college, so I do have some skills ūüôā ¬†Anyways, thanks to my dad for helping me come up with a great solution and thanks to my donors to understanding that not everything goes as planned. But the names, I assure you, will be carried with me on my back and displayed proudly as I run 26.2 miles. ¬†I will post a picture before the marathon so you get a sneak peak!

Now that my jersey is all set and my training is all done…it is time for me to try and RELAX before the big day. Is it just me, or is anyone else just as nervous/anxious/excited as I am?….and the marathon is 5 days away! ¬†My first day of nervousness actually started about a week ago…I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it. ¬†Way too early to be thinking like this! Hopefully this nervous energy will drive me through the Boston Marathon!

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