To sum it up: A Stunning Success.

On Sunday, eight of us headed into downtown Boston to compete in the fourth annual B.A.A. 5k race, which had us wind our way around Boston Commons and into the Back Bay neighborhood before doubling back to finish strong at the Boston Marathon finish line. Though it wasn't the marathon, it felt nothing less than epic to sprint to the finish line with a grand stand full of people cheering.

For me, the weekend started with an almost eight-hour trip east, broken up by a nice visit with my parents and some old family friends. It was a low-key way to start building up for the action-packed weekend that was about to unfold. Saturday morning we drove into Boston, met up with the rest of the family, and eventually found our way down to the race registration and convention. I was simply blown away by the number of people and the number of vendors selling everything from sparkling, no-slip headbands to gel energy snacks. It made me realize that this wasn't just a 5k fun run at a small local college in Buffalo. This was for real.

Sunday morning we had to get up pretty early and had to be out the door before 7:00 a.m. to get down to the start line on time. We met up with Mike, Mark, Emily, and Adrienne with hardly any time to spare, and we ended up being hustled across to the start line just in the nick of time. We lined up at the 4- to 5-min pace time slot . . . which was pretty amusing considering none of us could run at that pace, but hey, none of the people around us looked like they could either! After an interesting rendition of the National Anthem, we were off. I think we were all a little surprised at how quickly we crossed the start line, and off we went. Dave went off with Mark for the first bit, and Mike, myself, and Susan ran together, pushing are way through.

Mike and Susan shortly after the race began, Mike with his arms up and Susan to the right of him.

It was an interesting first mile. Coming from Buffalo with almost zero hills, I was honestly not prepared for the mile-long uphill battle we were to begin right off the bat. Susan kept a very steady nine-minute-mile pace, and I had all I could do to keep up with her. It was extremely helpful to have someone running at a steady pace to keep up with. The second mile was completely downhill, which was also not my favorite, but we made it through. At this point I was really, really hot and luckily my parents were standing nearby so I sprinted ahead and tossed them the hat I was wearing. Thus, my dad got a nice picture of my back . . . !

Dave, Adrienne, Emily, and Brooks were all trucking along, too, having great races as well!

Adrienne and Brooks to the left, having a blast

Dave looking as happy as could be

Once I tossed my hat to my parents, I separated from Mike and Susan. We were at the two-mile mark, and I knew I didn't want to leave anything in my tank or I would have felt like I could have done better. I set off at the fastest pace I could go, and I quickly began passing other runners. Making that last turn into the final stretch, seeing the grand stand and the marathon finish line, I poured everything I had left, sprinting as fast as I could. My last mile was fast. I ended up with a 26:40 time, with 8:35 average pace. Quite a bit faster than my 5k in December.

Everyone was pretty pumped up at the finish line, and many pictures were taken; thus, a photo break:

From left to right: Mark, Dave, Jon

Jon and Adrienne

My mom congratulating everyone

Left to right: Mom, Mike, Susan, Mark, Jon

Dave and Brooks

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and everyone had a great time. I am looking forward to writing posts on a couple more things from the weekend and about watching the marathon. I am also looking forward to a couple of posts by Dave and Adrienne talking about their experiences. Awesome job, everyone!

Left to right: Emily, Mark, Dave, Brooks, Jon, Adrienne, Susan, Mike