Monday was an epic day. Those are probably the best words out there to describe the whole seen. Actually this article sums up everything I felt and saw down to every last word. It’s like he went into my head and wrote from there.
The whole weekend I had grave anxiety. It started with the Boston Marathon Expo. Normally, I go at noon during my lunch break, pick up my bib and go home. This time, I got there at 12:02 th an expo that opened at 12:00 and waited over 30 minutes in one of the biggest but most orderly lines ever.
I walked around the expo stopping by to stay hello to some of my favorites, Sketchers, Level Renner, Energybits and UCan (which I’m excited to try since I heard awesome things from my trail running friends). I also stopped by the Sam Adams booth for a 26.2 tasting. The energy level was high, but so were the crowds.
After somehow finding an exit out of the expo, I made my way back to work with a short bit stop by Boston Old South Church to be scarfed up.
Not the sexiest photo of my face, but be grateful there’s no boogies. The church received over 7,000 of these scarf donations for the runners from all over the world. Each one is uniquely handmade and beautiful.
Then on Sunday night, I randomly decided to stop by the pre-race pasta dinner. I don’t usually do the dinner, but I wanted to pick up the dessert. In the past, the lines for the dessert and dinner were separate. This time it was one line. I got there around 5PM and barely moved by 5:30 before giving up. The line was going all around Government Center for blocks on end. At this point, after seeing the crowd, I gave up any of hope of being able to even run a mile with the crowds.
On Sunday night after Easter and giving up on spotting running celebrities on the pasta line, I kicked back and prepped my breakfast and outfit. Two slices of bread, generous serving of peanut butter and a bottle of water. I packed a Hammer gel, 5 salt tabs, Imodium (just in case!) and my ID so I can get into my office to shower and change. I declined a glass of wine for dinner and went to sleep.
When you live in a house with two cats, there’s very few things you can do without a ginger in your photo.
When I think about Boston, it always seems like a bit of an ordeal, from the buses, village, the slight hike to the starting line. Yet it always happens so fast and before I know it, it’s just another blurry memory.
The bundle of prerace nerves barely woke me up this time. I woke up at 6:30, only 30 minutes before my 7am alarm. Since I was planning on eating my breakfast on the bus, all I really had to do was get dressed. So I lazed around in bed a bit like it was any other Monday.
Luckily, Tony checked traffic before we were about to leave, because a giant trail flipped over and exploded on 93, but luckily for us (not the unfortunate drivers in the accident) we took an alternative route. We got to the buses in downtown Boston in 25 minutes vs expected 20 at around 8am.
This time instead of the buses being a mess of crazy lines, each a separate entity, it seem almost empty. The photo makes it look busy, but I think a lot of those are runners’ friends and family saying goodbye and wishing their friends luck. Maybe everyone decided to be an early bird. Then, I found the golden and blue arch or metal detectors as you may call them. The entry to the buses only had one access point and a small line was gathered as volunteers checked that no one has any bags, or sleeping bags or something “suspicious” looking. The whole process took maybe a minute and I was on a bus in about 5 minutes tops.
What did take a while was getting our bus full enough to leave. Where have all the runners gone? I sat there for about 15 minutes before we were full and had the green flag wave us out. The bus pick up volunteers did an amazing job on what I expected to be a zoo!
On the bus, I was a white bib in a sea of blues and yellows and I started to doubt my decision. Last night I was convinced I was okay with starting in the third wave, since my corral was in the back of the second wave. Better than waiting; however, everything changes the morning of when prerace jitters make you doubt everything!
The ride to the village was an unusually slow one. For some unknown reason, traffic built up on the Mass pike heading out of Boston and according to Waze, there was an accident. Everyone around me chatted excitedly as we all bragged or mumbled how many Boston’s or New Yorks or other marathons everyone’s done. I wondered are these my people? Are trail runners my people? Who am I and other existential thoughts. Luckily before my brain went into a song of I don’t belong here, I started chatting with a very friendly woman whose done 27 New Yorks! Runners, no matter what type, all love geeking out on running.
And just like that, before I knew it, traffic opened up and we were turning into the Hopkington exit, a monstrous wave of every school bus in the state! I got off the bus at 9:36 (about 30 minutes later than planned due to traffic) and scurried of to find the entrance and corrals!
I was in my hobo outfit that was carefully selected from everything Tony would like to never see again. I shed a tear for my valour pants! However, within a minute I was immediately sweating as 40 degree weather seemed to have come and gone!
We walked through another golden and blue arch/metal detectors with a volunteering glancing that we all had bib numbers. Could you have sneaked in? My thoughts probably yes, but with all the marine and military volunteers at the village, I personally wouldn’t risk it.
When I got to the corral entrance, they were only letting in red bibs and then a terrible announcement was made. They claimed there was no bathrooms once we exit the village into the trail of corrals. I debated peeing in my skirt and quickly went to go look for a bush or a portapotty. That’s when I finally got a good look at the village and realized no one was sitting and relaxing, everyone was on the longest bathroom lines I’ve ever seen! I got on and one and waited for. 20 minutes barely making a dent. Luckily, a few people in the front let me go in front of them so I only waited another 10 minutes before running to my corrals just as they were planning on closing them.
I exit the village and what do I see? The bathrooms they claimed wouldn’t be there. I give out a yelp of exasperation and scurry on to try to find the 6th corral.
I walk by the usual. The friendly tent with sunscreen, gels, hair elastics and any other last minute goodies you could need. Next is the tent of drink men pushing beer and bagels in our face (that I’m sure are in good nature). I hear them saying 30 seconds to gun time just as I contemplate a second layer of sunblock and decide I ain’t got time for that. How bad could the sun be when my heating oil is still burning every night?
And just like that we are off like cattle!
I’m not going to break up the course mile by miles since I already did that before. The elevation and the course hasn’t changed since I studied it mile by mile earlier in the week.
The only time I felt crowded during the race was the first four miles. I couldn’t pick up my speed above 7:45 where as last year I was around 7:15 minute miles. However, slowing down allowed me to notice more about my surroundings.
Like all the guides running with blind runners zooming by, or the kid on crutches that I was terrified would get trampled.
I could feel the heat of the run and the drench of sweat already starting. Luckily, I wasn’t too frustrated with the slow down pace since I expected it and figured it was probably a good idea with the weather soaring past the 60s and up into the 70s. I had a long way to go before a friendly face.
Immediately, you’ll notice crowds building up along the curb early on in the race where it used to be scarce in years before. Anyone, whose anyone and was within proximity wanted to see part of the race. The kids and their orange slice, the adults cheering on. It was incredible!
My friend took this incredible photo at mile 11!
I started sucking up salt tabs and water every 30 minutes pretty early in the race. I usually race without food or water, but today it was just too hot for me, to try otherwise. I could feel my body burning up and I slowed down my effort. Emotionally, with the pressure of trying to train for a PR, it was hard to allow myself to slow down, but I learned the lesson on what happens if you don’t in 2012.
After mile 13 or so, I started dumping water over my head every other water stop. If I saw a kid with a cup of ice, bless his heart, I wanted to hug them. Slowly but surely, I moved on! I tried to push my pace, but slowing down every time my head would get dizzy.
At mile 15, I saw a friend volunteering at the water station as I hugged her in the joy and hallucinations of seeing a friendly face again. I was dying of thirst again!
The only funny part is, that despite the heat and how much struggle I felt during the race, the hills felt smaller and shorter than ever before?
Another friend got this wonder of me taking a little walking break as I look for water! You have to be very careful and not confuse them with Gatorade, as I imagine a cup of that over your head would be awful.
Despite how difficult the second half the course is, it’s always my favorite. This is where I run from left to right looking for all my favorite faces! Since security was so tight and no one was allowed to cross the route of the runners, it was a mystery of where I would find anyone. I almost ran past Tony and my brother and some of our friends. Well I actually did run past them and waved when I heard my name. I was too tired and delirious to run back the few steps. I’ve given up my goal A and goal B, but I was still focused on my goal C!
The last 5K is the biggest blur of it all. Suddenly hills seemed to pop out where I don’t remember there being any. The tunnel on Comm Ave under mass ave felt like a mountain. People around me are collapsing from heat exhaustion just minutes away from the finish line. I look at my Garmin and see 3:31 just minutes below my goal C. I dig deep and begin to focus. No more walking breaks, no more jogging. The crowds on Bolyston are screaming at a new level but I don’t hear any of it. All I can focus on is the golden blue arch that stands between me and a shaded place to sit. I must go under. And within a minute, it’s all quiet.
I’m finished and so did hundreds of runners in front of me who were just sprinting moments ago. Except now, they all seem to have forgotten how to walk and keep moving. I crossed the finish line just as they were announcing that Meb, an American won the race and that Rita Jeptoo broke the course record! The walk to exit the finish line feels forever and the medics with their wheel chairs are always so tempting. My head is spinning and I think about taking a seat down, no one will notice, I don’t have to tell anyone. Instead, I just ask a medic for a water, because my whole body feels on fire and I didn’t think I could make the walk past the blankets, and the runners who can barely take a step forward without it. With water in my hand, I zoombie crawl on for my silver cape, my baggy of food and the glorious shade on a side street.
Total Net Time: 3:33:56
Overall Place: 10,509
Gender Place: 2678
It wasn’t my best Boston, nor my worse, but I’m already looking forward and counting the days until 2015.