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One last curveball on the way to the Boston Marathon start line

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 12, 2013 01:42 PM

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100klemond.jpg Jacqueline Palfy Klemond is one of six Boston Marathon entrants testing Polar personal training gear and blogging about it for Boston.com
I didn’t think getting to the starting line of the Boston Marathon could get any tougher for me.

Injuries, pregnancy, more injuries, stricter qualifying standards.

But then the ultimate curveball: weather and a dilemma.

We were scheduled to fly out of the Twin Cities on Thursday morning. I took Monday and Tuesday off work – the longest time off in 15 years, except for maternity leave – to clean the house, pack, rest and be ready.

Monday, I ended up so sick I slept all day.

Tuesday, we got an ice storm in Sioux Falls, SD, that left an inch of ice covering every surface, snapped trees and left tens of thousands without power – still. Philip and I and our kids, Jack, 4, and Genevieve, 2, live in a 100-year-old home surrounded by equally mature trees. All day Tuesday we watched them bend, and bend, then our beautiful honeysuckle in the back yard toppled.

chestnutdown.jpgThe chestnut next to our dining room dropped two huge branches, cracking and slamming down into our side yard. That same tree hangs low over our power lines behind the house, and we stared into the yard, hoping it would hang on for one more South Dakota storm.

The maple out front lost a leader, one of many on the street, leaving our historic neighborhood looking like a war zone.

But we felt OK – the kids were home with us, we didn’t have anywhere to be on Tuesday, and we had power.

Until.

We heard a huge crack and watched sparks fly and scatter Tuesday evening – a transformer blew and knocked out our block. I slept in the living room with Viv, in case the huge old tree next to her window fell. Philip slept in Jack's room with him, for the same reason.

At home, they are calling it Arborgeddon.

tree.jpgWe watched the trees bend and break and saw a forecast calling for 6 inches of heavy snow. And then another 9 inches in the Twin Cities – beginning a few hours before our flights on Thursday.

Frankly, we didn’t know what to do. Do you leave a house with no power surrounded by falling trees? Do you drive through an ice storm four hours to catch a flight that might not even go? We tried to reschedule out of Sioux Falls and Omaha – but it was thousands of dollars. We debated me driving alone, me taking the kids, not going at all, waiting a few more days, and driving straight through to Massachusetts. What’s 20 hours in the car?

In the end, we decided to ask our neighbors to watch the house – just call if a tree falls in! – and make the drive to the cities and hope.

viv.jpgWe made it – the highways were fine once we left Sioux Falls. The storm in Minneapolis held off just long enough to let our plane leave at 6:50 a.m. Thursday, delayed by an hour for deicing. And we sprinted through the Philadelphia airport holding a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, a car seat and three carry-on bags, to get to our connection seconds after they closed the gate. I can’t believe they opened it up for us, and we struggled down the aisle sweaty and tired and grateful to be on the plane.

My sister picked us up in Albany, and now I’m enjoying coffee in her Williamstown home while my kids play with her boys’ trains and Legos. We are waiting for my dad and sisters to drive in.

Honestly, as this week went on, I began caring less and less about the race. I worried about our beautiful home. Our trees. Our dog gutting it out in the cold, cold house as our neighbors checked on him. Our deep freeze and all the ruined food in it.

But we made it.

And my sister Kim wont let me forget why we are here – I went to my nephews’ lacrosse practice last night, and she introduced me as her sister, who was running the Boston Marathon on Monday. I got a lot of encouragement, smiles and looks from folks who know what that race is and what it takes to get there.

Then we talked with her friend, who ran it in 2011, and she was so excited the three of us teared up a bit thinking about it. Kim is considering bringing Jack and Viv down to watch.

It’s starting to feel real.

I hope our old trees hold up at home. And I hope I hold up on Monday.

Good luck to everyone on Monday. I can’t wait to see you there.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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