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Boston with Determination

Posted Apr 19 2011 6:07pm

I can’t say that I PRed yesterday, that I finished the race smiling, that I ran negative splits, or that I was happy with how I did.

But I can say that I ran with determination, and with so much love and support around me.

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Let’s start at the beginning…

My parents got to Boston on Sunday. We had a great day relaxing, getting little last minute things, planning out where they would see me on the course, and finishing up my race day outfit.

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They made me the best (and most hilarious) signs…

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Best parents ever.

I was so happy to see them, and was feeling so great in every way possible. Psychologically I was in a good place, physically my muscles felt rested and ready to go. My “shake out” run on Sunday made me feel prepared.

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We had a nice and simple pasta dinner Sunday night, and stayed at a hotel near the start of the race.

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I slept relatively well and got up to eat a decent breakfast (with coffee).

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My stomach felt good, my legs felt good, and I was excited.

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My parents dropped me off at Hopkinton State Park, where I met Lizzy around 8:15, so that we could take the very short bus ride to the starting line.

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My parents gave me their last “good luck” and I knew that was it. I was on my way.

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At Athlete’s Village I was feeling pretty relaxed, until I was stuck in a port-a-potty line for way too long and had to basically run to my corral to make it there 2 minutes before the gun went off. It was stressful (and likely a waste of energy), but I quickly made myself forget that, and I started the race feeling fresh and calm.

Mile 1 – 7:55

Mile 2 – 7:34

Mile 3 – 7:35

I started off pretty much exactly on my target. The first mile was a little slow because of the congested roads at the very start, but I wasn’t worried and didn’t frantically start to pass people like I did last year. The pace felt good, easy, I wasn’t working hard.

Mile 4 – 7:28

Mile 5 – 7:37

Mile 6 – 7:28

I saw my parents around mile 6.5, and was feeling incredible, but at the same time I knew I wasn’t riding in adrenaline high. I was at a comfortable pace, and when my pace started to creep further toward 7:15, I made myself slow it down a little.

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That picture totally embodies how I felt for the first 9 miles of this race – I couldn’t stop smiling.

Mile 7 – 7:34

Miles 8 – 7:36

Miles 9 – 7:43

I started to feel pain during mile 9, the same spot in the course I felt pain last year. It was actually that same back-of-the-knee pain that I felt during last year’s Boston Marathon and haven’t felt since, not even during the 21 mile training run I did on the course.

I was not happy about it, but I kept telling myself, “I just need to ease up for a couple miles, and it will go away.” So I slowed down and kept calm.

Mile 10 – 7:42

Mile 11 -8:00

Mile 12 – 7:49

Then I saw my parents again around mile 12.5 and immediately started to cry. My mom had some ibuprofin ready, which I grabbed from her hoping it would do something for the pain. I think all I yelled to them was “Same pain as last year, I don’t know why this is happening” as I was crying.

The crowd helped me quickly pull myself back together though. I knew this race was only half over, and I needed to keep my head up if I was going to finish. I told myself “It’s okay, just slow down a little and the pain will go away”, “You are strong, marathons are mental races and you can do this”…but sadly as the pain got worse and worse and I felt my miles get slower and slower, nothing I told myself was working.

Mile 13 – 7:54

Mile 14 – 7:44

Mile 15 – 7:59

Mile 16 – 7:50

After even more downhills, the pain was getting bad, and it was spreading. The tension/pain in the back of my knee was making me compensate by running differently, because my knees were sore, my feet were hurting, and everything began to feel tense. It felt like my form went from being free and smooth to being forced and choppy.

Mile 17 – 8:12

Mile 18 – 8:23

Mile 19 -8:12

The uphills began, and I knew I had slowed down even more. At this point I was still trying to stay positive, but I knew my shot at a PR was gone, and I knew the pain was only going to increase the more I ran.

I did my best to embrace the crowd – because of my shirt, I got so many amazing comments and cheers, everything from people yelling crazy things to make me laugh, to crowds of people chanting my name. It was really incredible and I focused on that as much as possible.

Then I saw Lauren and Becky , who were jumping up and down, screaming, and making me feel like a rock star even though I felt like a total failure.

Mile 20 – 8:19

Mile 21 – 8:26

Mile 22 – 8:30

At Mile 20, Ben was waiting for me and ready to run. We had planned for him to meet me at the 20 mile marker and to run with me for as long as I needed. Oh boy did I need it…

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I’m pretty sure I was screaming “I NEED YOU” in the above picture. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy to see him.

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And off we went. While I told him what happened and how terrible I felt, he told me jokes and stories, told me I was awesome and that I was going to make it.

Mile 23 – 8:44

Mile 24 -9:05

The pain got drastically worse, and I actually wanted to quit. I told Ben I couldn’t do it, but he told me I was wrong and I was going to finish. I wanted to stop and walk and just cry. Instead Ben encouraged me to walk a little on each downhill, take water or Gatorade at every chance, and just think about the finish line.

Mile 25 -8:43

I was suffering so badly here, I’m pretty sure I was just listening to Ben and the crowd, trying to stay out of my own head.

Mile 26 -9:19

I don’t remember much of the last mile, except that it felt like my body might collapse at any second. Everything felt like jello.

Turning onto Boylston Street, instead of joy I felt defeated. Even with everyone screaming and Ben beside me, I felt like I failed. I wanted to finish but only so that the pain would stop.

last 0.2 (0.5 on my Garmin) – 8:23

I finished in 3:33:38, placed 8,694 overall and 1,831 for women. Average official pace was 8:08, and average Garmin pace was 8:04.

I crossed the finish line and started to sob. I just stopped walking and fell into Ben, which I think freaked out all of the paramedics, even though I was okay, just completely devastated.

It sounds ridiculous, but I felt like all of my training was wasted, that I just blew it all. I was telling myself I wasn’t in shape, I wasn’t fast, and that I will never be able to run Boston successfully. I didn’t really want my medal.

I know that the pace I set for myself at the beginning was ambitious, but I truly believed that I trained well enough to hold that, and I was (and still am) very disappointed that I just couldn’t do it. I know it’s a challenging course, and I know it was a little hot out, but that doesn’t take away from how awful it felt to crash and burn in a race like that, especially Boston, a race that means so much to me. Particularly after last year’s injury, I wanted to conquer this course and run a good time for me.

Today I’m still upset, but I know that I ran with heart and determination yesterday. I could have easily dropped out, but I didn’t. I could have walked more, but I didn’t. I was in more pain this year compared to Boston 2010, yet I finished 5 minutes faster.

But I honestly could not have done that without Ben. He kept me going and wouldn’t let me feel sorry for myself. For every groan and “I can’t do this” I let out, he had something positive to say to me. He reminded me how badly I wanted to finish, and how amazing it was that I was still running. He told me I could do it, so I just listened to that and blocked out the voices in my head.

The thing about running is that you can train as hard as you want, and you never know what will happen during the race. Marathons are tremendously difficult mentally and physically, and sometimes both. I hope to get my physical stuff worked out and get my confidence back to do another marathon.

Boston was still an incredible experience yesterday. How can you have thousands of people screaming your name and know that you are running behind the best runners in the world at the most coveted and sought after marathon, and not be at least a little happy? It was amazing, I just wish that I had the good performance to go along with that.

I know there will be more marathons in my future, I know I will PR again, and I know I will finish another race smiling. It just wasn’t my day yesterday, and I can’t let my self doubts and criticism get the best of me.

Boston, I ran you with determination.

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Today I’m moving pretty badly and can’t put weight on my left foot (don’t worry, I got crutches and am going to the doctor tonight). I also got a very strange and huge blister between my 2 biggest toes on my left foot, which makes me think that I was rotating my foot somehow as things started to hurt, and perhaps that’s why my foot feels so terrible today. I will keep you guys updated on that.

I honestly can’t thank all of you enough for your encouraging comments, tweets, texts and cheering. Each one helped me yesterday and I am so thankful for the support.

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