Here it is. Like many other bloggers, for some reason, I have putting off this post. Writing the race report makes the months of effort and training final. I am thrilled that I have made it across the finish line of the Boston Marathon but it is also bittersweet.
Even though the first wave of the marathon didn’t start until 10am, runners began boarding the busses at 6am. I set my race day alarm for 4:45. I was in bed by 10 the night before and slept like a baby. When my alarm went off Monday morning, I was ready to go. I had my race day outfit picked out a week in advance and had it laid out the night before. I got dressed quickly and went to my parents room for pre-race photos.
Around 5:45 we left the hotel, walked to the train and took it to Boston Commons where I would board the busses.
After taking a few more pictures, I was off to meet some members of the Sneaker Factory Running Club. Surprisingly, I was able to find them pretty easily. It was nice to have people to ride the bus with and hang out with while we were waiting for the race to start.
The club members have a routine of going to someone’s house before the race to relax. I was a little bummed to miss out on the whole Athlete’s Village experience but it was cold and windy and I didn’t want to sit by myself. The nice thing about the house was that we didn’t have to wait on lines to use the bathroom and they had coffee. Also it was warm. The house was literally across the street from Athlete’s Village.
We stayed for about an hour and then walked to the starting line. The men were in the first wave, so the ladies watched them start. We walked right up to the starting line to spectate, but couldn’t see the elite men. We just missed them walking out!
After the first wave started, we had a few minutes to walk back down to the corral entrance and enter our corrals. I was in the third corral. By the time we got to our spots, we only had to wait a few minutes before we were off. I walked about 30 seconds to the starting line and then it was go time.
Unfortunately, I lost all my Garmin splits when my hard drive crashed! I think they got deleted off my watch when they transferred to my old computer but I am going to see what I can do to get them back. The first few miles were crowded, and I know my first mile was around 7:48. My goal pace for this race was 7:38 (for a 3:20 marathon) and my strategy was to go out at between 7:30-7:45. I brought my second mile down to around 7:30. My breathing felt good but I was coughing a lot. I couldn’t stop coughing but I wasn’t out of breath. My legs were bothering me from the start. They felt heavy and tired and I remember having a small nagging pain from the beginning of the race. I was hoping after a few miles I would get into a rhythm and forget about the pain but it never really happened. The pain wasn’t bad, but enough that I was uncomfortable from the start. I new early on that my 3:20 wasn’t likely to happen that day.
I was content though. Trucking along, no music, taking in the scenery. It was quieter than I had expected the Boston Marathon to be, but it was still very early in the race. The miles ticked by, but not as easily as I would have hoped. My cough was annoying and my legs just didn’t feel right. As the race went on, my muscles felt worse and worse. Later, a team member suggested that perhaps because of all the coughing I was doing, I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my muscles and that is why they felt tired and sore. That is definitely a possibility. Usually, later in a marathon, I feel pain, but in my joints, not the muscles. It usually starts in my ankles, then creeps up to the knees and hips. Today my joints felt great, but I felt my calves and quads early on.
The hills didn’t help. No, not the uphills. I thrived on the uphils, it was the early down hills that hurt. I do not think I went out too fast. I paced myself for a 3:20 marathon all the way up until the half. About half a mile out from Wellesley, I heard the screaming start. This was probably my favorite part of the race- the Wellesley scream tunnel. Boy were they screaming! No, I didn’t kiss any of them. A friend told me not to high five all the kids and kiss the girls because it zaps too much energy. I high fived a few and smiled at the rest. I loved all the girls signs though. And it was fun to see the men cut over to kiss the girls. Right after the scream tunnel was the halfway point. I crossed in 1:40. Right on target, but I knew I couldn’t keep up.
I was anticipating mile 16 where my parents said they would try to be. Only a few more miles I told myself, but I was worried I might cry when I saw them. I was really emotional at this point. The pain was really setting in and I still had 13 miles to go. I knew my pace was about to slip and I told myself to just keep the effort consistent. I knew the hills were coming and there wasn’t much I could do. My parents were supposed to be between miles 16-18 so I kept busy scanning the crowds looking for them, but I never saw them. I figured it was too crowded. The next stop they were supposed to be was at the top of Heartbreak hill around mile 21. I settled in for the hills.
Because my quads were already hurting, the uphills felt better than the downhills. There are supposed to be 4 hills between miles 16-21, but I only noticed 3 of them. I agree with most of the other runners who said the 2 hills that come before Heartbreak were worse that Heartbreak itself. As I said before, I thrived on those hills. My quads felt better going up and I was able to pass some people on them. It was the downhills that followed the ups that bothered me. Of course my pace slowed a bit on the hills but I welcomed the comfort they gave my quads.
I still had not seen my parents or Dan at this point and I was tired: physically and mentally. This was my third marathon, but it was also the loneliest. Philadelphia I ran the entire way with my dad and Steamtown I met to fantastic sisters and we basically ran the entire race together, talking the whole time, getting to know each other. (I still keep in touch with the sisters. One of them actually ran Boston!) Boston was different because I ran the entire race by myself. Since it is such a serious race, I think it was missing some of the fun that the other marathons I have run had. Not that this wasn’t a fun race, because it was, but it was also a serious race for serious runners. The spectators make this race but it almost seemed that the spectators were having more fun than the runners! They certainly were having more fun than I was!
I was approaching mile 22, but still felt I had such a long way to go. I tried to calculate the time I had left to run. Just 30 more minutes I would tell myself. Thats nothing. But it felt like an eternity. Just passed mile 22, a friend from college saw me and started screaming my name. It really helped to see him as it was the first familiar face I had seen since I started the race. I waved and smiled. I had needed that boost. Then, just around the corner from there, I saw my parents. Relief washed over me, although I was worried about how I looked. I was sure I looked like I was walking, although at that point I think I was running at an 8:15 pace. I tried to pick it up some more.
The next few miles were a blur. I saw the Citgo sign, but knew it was way to early to celebrate. The final miles were long, but the crowds kept getting bigger. Just before mile 26 I saw Dan, but he didn’t see me! I was shouting his name, but he didn’t turn. Right after than I heard a girl screaming my name. It was one of my best friends from college. I didn’t see her, but I heard her and it was all I needed. I picked it up to a 6:30 pace to get to the finish.
After crossing the finish line, we walked. A lot. I received my finishers medal and blanket and some snacks then headed to the busses to retrieve my bag. It took a few minutes to find my bag and there were some fights with anxious finishers. I took the opportunity to stretch while the volunteers searched. I was happy to get my phone out of my bag and see all the wonderful texts and messages. I called my family and went to find them.
This was hands down the hardest race I have ever run, but the funny thing is that I’m not sure why. I don’t think the course was that hard, although maybe it was the downhills that killed me. I think it was a combination of being sick and feeling lonely. This was truly the first marathon I ever ran entirely alone and mentally it was difficult. I wasn’t ever bored, but I was tired.
Since I don’t have my Garmin splits, here are the official splits.
Thank you to everyone for supporting me, tracking, texting, tweeting and cheering! I thought about you all a lot. Anytime I passed over a tracker mat, I thought, “I wonder what they are thinking.” How do they think I am doing?
Ultimately, I am happy with my time. It wasn’t a PR, but it was close (about 30 seconds off). I think I could have done better if I wasn’t sick, but I am happy with my results. They very wise Ana-Maria told me that people say you can run a marathon 10 minutes faster than you can run Boston, so I guess we will see! I do not think a 3:20 is out of the question someday, but Boston was not that day.
Boston was an incredible experience but it was not my favorite marathon. I have to say that the experience of actually qualifying for Boston was more exhilarating for me than actually running Boston. Please don’t get me wrong. The entire weekend was an amazing experience, but the hype and the crowds were overwhelming! It is an experience I will never forget, but I have to say nothing so far has beat the feeling of running the Philadelphia Marathon (my first) with my dad.