It's about time I post something about that little race I ran on Monday. I'll post again on the vacation part of our trip to Boston, but first I'll start with running part....
I finished in 3:45:31. I'm not all that pleased with that time, but I'm not all that disappointed either. Realistically, that's a decent time for me. This course was no doubt the hardest marathon I've run, and I was only 12 minutes off my PR which was done on a pretty easy course. Even so, I felt like I was dead last to cross the finish line in my wave and that was frustrating for me. Since the race I've talked to a ton of people and it seems that a lot of people finished 10-20 minutes behind their qualifying times, so I guess I should be happy with how I finished.
The race course was much harder than I imagined. I knew the first half would be super easy and the second half super hard. The first 11 miles were a piece of cake. There were rolling hills, but more downhills than uphills. I wanted to run around 7:50's each mile and was perfectly on pace. My hip was holding out alright. The road was banked a little and it felt fine if I ran on the left side of the road. Thankfully the water stops were set up on both sides of the street, so I could stay on the left the entire race.
One thing I thought was interesting was that the packs of runners never thinned out. Usually people spread out as you get farther into the race. That didn't happen here. It wasn't annoying though because everyone ran the same speed. You were completely boxed in by other runners, but they were going the same speed as you, so it didn't matter.
At mile 12 the hills kick in. Mile 12 is also where you pass the Women of Wellesley. I thought that sounded like a spring issue of Playboy, but it's really just thousands of college girls cheering on runners and holding up signs that say things like "Kiss Me!" and "I'm single!". The cool part was that you could hear them for a good 3-4 minutes before you could actually see them. It sounded like the roar of a packed football stadium after a winning touchdown, except the cheering was constant.
At mile 15 my race started to fall apart. My legs were hurting pretty bad and mile 15 was down a pretty steep descent. Looking back, I reallize I just wasn't educated enough on how to run this course. I had heard someone say not to run too fast down the hill because there was a large uphill after it that I would need my legs for. I held back a little and was able to maintain my pace on mile 15 but then fell off pace on the uphill of mile 16.
At this point I was in hell. I was trying to convince myself not to quit, but I really wanted to. I couldn't remember what mile my husband said he would be cheering on. Was it 16 or 18? Or did he say Heartbreak Hill? I thought to myself that when I saw him, I was quitting. I started walking little bits of the race. I didn't care if I finished or not. I had made it to Boston and how I did there didn't really matter to me.
Mile 18 was another huge hill. My splits were well over 9 minute miles at this point and this wasn't even Heartbreak Hill. I was getting passed by everyone. I seriously think a good 1,000 people passed me in miles 17-21. It seemed like everyone was feeling great, except me.
At Heartbreak Hill, I was walking/jogging. All of a sudden Husband popped out of the crowd and started walking/jogging along side me. I told him I was dropping out. He told me I shouldn't - I'd finished 4 previous marathons, I couldn't quit this one. I wanted to tell him to F off. He had no idea how much pain I was in.
At this point I didn't even know what mile I was on. Husband said the 21 mile marker was just around the corner. I got to the top of the hill and stopped. I didn't want to do this any more. I wondered if I could turn around and still find Husband.
Someone in the crowd told me there was a medical tent up around the corner. That sounded like a better idea. I decided I'd run to that and then drop out.
I got to the medical tent and looked at the EMT's there. I knew they were going to ask me what was hurting and I didn't know what I would say. My legs? Well, who's legs aren't hurting after 21 miles? My hip? Well that would be a lie because my hip was actually feeling pretty good. My pride? I'd just taken a 12:07 split on that last mile. I didn't know if I could handle a crappy finishing time.
I ran past the medical tent. I looked at my watch and did some quick calculations. If I could maintain a 10 minute mile pace, I could break 4 hours. That was one of my goals, so I decided to go for it.
At this point the course was flat again and I was feeling better. Other runners were starting to hurt and I was slowly passing people one by one. The crowd along the course was wall to wall people from about mile 16 to the end of the race. I couldn't believe so many people were out to watch the race. At mile 24 I realized if I kicked it in a little I could finish around 3:45. One of my college cross country teammates had run a 3:45 at Boston a few years earlier. She is a much stronger runner than me, so I figured if I could run the same as her, I would be happy.
I crossed the line in 3:45:31.
The next slice of hell was having to walk about 4 blocks to get my heat sheet, have a volunteer take my timing chip off my shoe, get my medal, get some food and water, and finally get my sweats off the baggage buses. I was in a world of hurt. I was trying to concentrate on breathing. I tend to hold my breath when I'm in pain. I just wanted to stop and put my feet up.
Fortunately Husband popped up right in front of my baggage bus. I jumped the fence to get out of the runners area instead of walking another 3 blocks to leave through the appropriate exit. I immediately found the nearest store front and laid down to get my feet up.
My college cross country coach always made us lay with our butt against the wall and our feet up after a hard practice. I'm not sure exactly what it does for your legs, but it feels good when you do it.
I achieved my goals of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. Now I'm excited to move on to other goals in my life and put marathon running behind me.
Time to enjoy 2 full weeks of NO RUNNING and then move on to that triathlon season!