The race I beat the fastest Kenyan – Boston Marathon Recap

I’m warning you that this review will probably sound really negative but truth is with the heat and my hunger there would have been very few things I would have enjoyed even if I was running in Hawaii. The volunteers and the organizers did an amazing job. The truth is I just wasn’t prepared for the heat or running at that specific time of day.  I got my butt handed to me by Boston. However, that’s okay. I tried to stay safe and it’s a good thing I’m already qualified for next year because I’ll be coming back in 2013 for a rematch. Boston, I’m killing you next year =). With Boston’s bipolar weather, it’ll probably snow next year.

The 116th Boston Marathon took place on Monday April 16th, 2012 with a start time of 10:40 AM. Registration was $150 if qualified $300 if charity plus $6,000 fundraising requirement. It ain’t cheap running Boston.

I woke up at 6:30 and got dressed and cleaned in 15 minutes to be out the door by 6:45. I skipped coffee and food thinking there would be some at the athlete’s village. I felt fantastic and was excited for the day even if I barely slept and kept waking up every hour thinking I missed my alarm.

I got to the Commons by 7:15 (why we had traffic at 6:45 AM on marathon Monday, I have no idea) and got on a long line to board the Bus to ship us off to Hopkinton. The line took about 30 minutes but seemed orderly given the amount of runners and anxiety that was in the air. We hit some traffic but I think we were in the village by 8:40 or so giving me 2 hours to bask in the sun of anxiety and heat. I made friends with some runners from Vancouver on the bus line and ride over there.

This photo is incredibly misleading of the scene. I think my hand covered my phone lens but there was no shade other than those tents. The field was a clambake of runners. I think it was already 70 when I got off the bus. All the spots under the tent were taken up by faster runners in the 10AM wave or their friends. So instead I took a small walk around the field and munched on a bagel. Found some sharpies and decorated myself. Luckily I had a blanket and was able to relax in the sun as I battered myself up in sunblock andB Vaseline. They had water and I took two bottles to get me through the next two hours. I was already sweating, sweating hard from sitting and it was only 70. Runner’s world claims they had food vendors there. I did not see any in disappointment. I would have gone all Hunger Games style on someone had an ice coffee been offered to me. I also wasn’t feeling the bagel or PowerBar. Powerbar did an amazing job sponsoring the fuel with no shortage the whole time but I would have given up their 8 grams of protein for 8 grams of more carbs that were not in bagel form. I left my oatmeal and pita bread at home thinking I could buy breakfast at the village. Rookie mistake # 1: Always have your own breakfast and fuel; don’t rely on the race.Finally around 10:10 my wave (3rd one starting at 10:40 was called and we slowly and painfully zombie strolled to the starting line. I made my first portapotty stop in my race history which wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I tried to be bad and sneak into an earlier corral but they kicked me back to 9. I think it took me around 30-40 minutes before I made it to the start of the race (approx 3/4 mile)

I ran my first 5K in 23:08. Some might say that was too fast but honestly I’m used to running on hills and it felt like nothing to me. I was at the 10K mark at 48:17 which some might say was too fast but I still felt good. Some guy thought he was being funny.

I rejoiced when I saw the “15” sign only to cry later when I realized it was 15K and not 15 miles. I think this was when I started to get heat exhaustion because I stopped thinking clearly. My face at realizing the 15K was not 15 miles.

When I hit 20K I was in the 1:48 territory and have started my run/walk fiasco usually reserved for mile 24. It was nearing 1PM and way past my lunch time. It’s been four hours since I munched on half of a disappointing small bagel and my stomach was letting me know that. I tried to run, it screamed I’m hungry. I tried to jog, my stomach still kicked and screamed I’m hungry. I tried to walk and it didn’t let me forget about my lack of real food. And so began some of the 15 slowest, worst miles of my short running history thus far.

I was hitting the half-point at 1:55:18 and was seriously doubting my ability to finish this race. However, I knew people were tracking me, people donated in my name to Boston Medical Center and although everyone would have understood, I still did not want to give up without a fight. Suddenly I saw my angel. A little boy handed me a cup of Swedish fish. So I found a shaded area in the spectator area, sat down and finished off my cup of pure heaven sugar.

And so began my 15 mile walk. I thought this was just like the walk for hunger (ironic name for a 20 mile charity walk to end hunger in Boston) only with no 10 mile sandwich break. I heard people were giving out hot dogs, burgers and popsicles but I guess by the time the slow runners and walkers got there all the kind souls have run out of food. There were still plenty of amazing people handing out ice and I thank everyone one of them as I chewed on some and stuck ’em in my sports bra. I was sweating boobs and it was not pretty.

With a lot of walking and sitting the miles somehow passed by. I loved seeing that “All In” posters, from Hopkinton to Ashland to Framingham to Natick. I listened to This American Life, some music and I took a lot of sit breaks. I’ve never worn a heart strap but I know the feeling of heat stroke and exhaust (in my dumber/younger days I literally passed out twice from heat exhaustion at music festivals). Every once in a while my heart would start racing again from walking and I would sit down to slow my heart rate, and drink more water.

After the annoying BC kids (sorry but they were just too loud for how exhausted and miserable I felt), my favorite part of the course began around mile 21 when I hit familiar ground. My friends! I found Tony with some of our friends Paola & Kyle who took the above and many other awesome photos!

I couldn’t run even down hill without wanting to die from side cramps. As I approached Cleveland Circle I commanded Tony to buy me a bag of pretzels. I was so hungry, very few instances in my life could compete with how starving and light-headed I felt. He walked with me for half a mile before he got too scared of all the water sprinklers being turned on for all the runners. I was left to be at the mile 23 sign with a bag full of pretzels. Needless to say, this made me quite the popular girl in the back of the pack.

At mile 24 I saw more awesome friends with a sign =)

Not pictured is Ana who was taking the photo! <333 My amazing friends somehow got my body to run an extra mile after this boost when I’ve been walking the past 10 miles.

Around mile 25, I saw Tony’s parents and I sprinted a few blocks before taking once again another sit break. I probably would have taken more sit breaks when my friends were not watching but with all the spectators there was very little room to do so in the last 5 miles.

The distance between Kenmore Square and Copley Square has never in my entire Boston life seem so far. I almost cried when I saw the finish line. It felt like I was climbing a mountain, but since I knew there was cameras I pretended to run.

I don’t know how I did it, but somehow in 5:10:54 I finished the race/walk. I’m writing Boston off a half marathon run and a half marathon walk. When I got home after eating a bag of chips, a bar and two bananas I was still down 6 pounds from when I weighted myself that morning. I stopped at almost every water station and drank enough water that I had to use a portapotty a second time during the race.

The results of my 2nd marathon are quite in contrast to my first debut last month. I went from a 3:24 finish to a 5:10.B While a huge part of me is very disappointed by my performance I don’t know if I could have done a whole lot better with the little training I had for this weather. I’m still a fairly new long distance runner. I only started running more than 5 mile runs in December. My training has been in New England winter and although mild, it was still Winter. Earlier this week, I had my heat turned out. My body is not ready for 75 degree weather, let alone 90 degrees. I probably should not had sat in the sun for the two hours I was waiting for my wave to start. I probably should have eaten a ton more than half a crappy little bagel. I probably should not have went for a 10 mile run the day before. Maybe I drank too much, but probably not enough. Maybe I drank too muchB GatoradeB and my stomach did not like it and cramped up. There’s countless reasons for my awful performance; but I finished. I finished and I earned my metal and in the end with 90 degree weather that was all that I could do. I finished standing up with my head held high and not on a stretcher.

BAA and all the volunteers did an amazing job given the conditions. A few statistics I read online.

* 427 Picked up their packets and did not start the race

* 26,716 runners registered for today’s marathon, versus 22,426 who actually started the race

* Most amazing performance to me was Jason Hartmann who finished in 2:14:31 out doing his Olympic trials of 2;16:44. His PR was 2:11:06 at Chicago 2010 which was also a hot race. I guess this guys likes it hot.

* Geoffrey Mutai who holds Boston Marathon record, dropped out in the Newton hills past the 30-kilometer mark with stomach cramps. He said in a brief post-race appearance that his stomach started bothering him at 25K. That is what I mean by beating the world’s fastest Kenyan. He dropped out, while I finished. Although he has cooler things to worry about like the Kenyan Olympic team and the London Marathon.

I’m going to stop here but words cannot express everything I felt on this day. I can’t wait until next year =)

4 thoughts on “The race I beat the fastest Kenyan – Boston Marathon Recap”

  1. Oh wow. Tough day. You gutted this one out! Very impressive and I am glad you are alive and okay. It was miserable out there. This was my second marathon too and I was much slower than my 3:26 debut. It was the heat! Rest up and recover. You will be so fast in your next marathon. May it be a cool one with lots of cloud cover. 🙂

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