Repeat of state
I woke up at 6am on Monday and got ready. I ate a little baked potato and rice and Nuun and packed my bagel for my second breakfast. I had set everything out on Sunday so I didn’t feel rushed. My stomach was okay, and was able to go to the bathroom 3 times before I had to leave for the buses to meet Molly and Michelle. We had planned to take an Uber to not have to walk, but their cars couldn’t get to us because of security (our airbnb wasn’t too far from the finish line) and I had to walk. It was about a mile, and not one I wanted to add to my day (knowing there was another mile just to walk to the start line).I met Michele and Molly, we said our goodbyes to our loved ones and we headed to the buses. The bus ride flew by and we were at the start in no time. We got lucky and ended up on a bus that didn’t involve a lot of walking to the start village and we found a spot to sit in the shade until our corrals were called. My friends from Mobile, Becca, Amanda and Donnelly, all made it to where we were hanging out, too. It was nice to have all of my favorite running people in one place. I went to the bathroom, ate my bagel, finished getting ready (sunscreen, hair, changed shoes), and did my stretches. Before I knew it, it was time for us to head to our corrals.
The start felt more calm for me than it did last year. I knew what to expect. I knew where the bathrooms were going to be. I just felt better. I noticed I didn’t feel as hot as last year, and I took that as a good sign. I was in the back of wave 2 this time, instead of at the front of 3, and that was the only change.
I started out nice and easy, all smiles and taking it in. I knew the downhill was dangerous, and made sure to hold back more than I did the year before. I made note that I felt much better this year than last year and that was a plus. Could this year be better than last year? I was feeling it- the miles honestly clicked on by.
I got water at every aid station and took my first chews at mile 5. So far, so good. As I went through Ashland and Framingham, I high fived as many people as I could. I smiled. This year was different- less expectations, less pressure, more joy. Thankful that I actually made it to the start after missing almost a full month of training.
I was warm, but holding on. I kept checking in with myself and comparing how I felt last year to this year and I was good. Still no music in my ears (saving it only for when things felt tough). I made sure to use my sponge at every aid station and continued to hydrate at each one, also taking in my endorolyte pills at an hour in.
I had asked a high school friend (who lives in Natick) where they would be cheering and I made sure to let her know what I was wearing. I saw a sign with “Elizabeth” on it and it made me smile thinking someone had cheerleaders. Little did I realize, it was for ME! Stacy’s kids had made me a sign and I teared up and smiled ear to ear. It was SO good to see a familiar face in a sea of strangers. It definitely gave me a boost.
I knew I would see Rich and Matt around the half way mark in the same place as last year, and I did. I felt okay. Better than last year, I thought. I could tell I had slowed a little, but nothing too bad. I enjoyed the run through Wellsley, debated stopping for a kiss but decided to stay to the left and enjoy the signs and watch others.
It was hot. It was starting to get to me. I couldn’t cool off and I realized I wasn’t really sweating. I had brought a nuun tablet for this reason, and ate half of it along with more endurolyte pills and more chews hoping it would do the trick.
There was a bit of a breeze at times, but not enough to fight off the sun beaming down on me. As I took the turn at the fire station, I remember hundreds of cups flying in the air too. It was a funny thing to see and notice, but it also made me think HOW many cups were out there. I wasn’t the only one struggling.
Runners were starting to walk. Aid stations had less cups full and ready and I was surprised by this. I knew there was still an entire wave of runners behind me and I didn’t remember noticing this last year. We, as a race, had gone through A LOT of water.
The Newton hills pretty much did me in. I swore I wasn’t going to call Rich this year but I decided to so he could let the rest of the family know I was okay. I still wasn’t sweating and was panicking. Finishing was more important than my actual time. I told him I was okay, just slowing down. He said he would see me at mile 20. Okay, get to 20, I told myself.I thought it would be a slow jog, but that turned to a walk. I felt defeated. I didn’t want to quit, though I thought about it many times, but was so sad I was at this point again for the second year in a row. I looked around and realized, though, I wasn’t the only one. Bibs with numbers lower than mine (meaning faster than me) were walking. I tried not to let the walking last long and started to do almost fartleks of walking/running. Just make it to the next mile or water stop- THEN you can walk.
I think I was in so much pain I didn’t even realize I hit heartbreak hill. It wasn’t as memorable as last year. I got to mile 21 and never saw Rich. I called him (again) and we realized we missed each other. I would be okay. I could do this. He reminded me of this.
I wasn’t quitting.
I still high fived. I ate oranges. I ate my huma gel. I grabbed ice. I took water for my head/sponge and water to drink. I felt like I was hauling ass, but when I would look at my watch, I realized I wasn’t. I had my name on my shirt again this year and while it was great at the beginning, it felt like a walk of shame towards the end. Around Boston College some happily, drunk kids told me I looked amazing. I laughed and told them I appreciated it, but I definitely knew I didn’t LOOK amazing. I looked like hell. I wanted to look strong and happy, not miserable. I did my best to smile and still take it all in.There is something about this part of the course that seems to drag on. Not because it’s the last 10k, but more because you feel like you are closer to the city than you really are.
There were even more walkers. Some runners holding on to other runners and hobbling along. We still had a two miles or so to go and I was determined. I could see the Citgo sign. I saw the Boston Strong overpass. Almost there.One final hill before making that right onto Hereford. The energy around this last mile is like no other on the course. The spectators are several people deep and SO loud. No quitting. No walking. PUSH. Big smile. Hold back the tears. You got this, I told myself. Left on Boylston. Dang that finish line is so much further than I thought, but I made it. I didn’t quit. So loud, so much energy. Wide open road. Go, go, go. I can get sub 3:45 if I push hard enough. Even with nothing left to give, there is no better feeling than crossing the Boston Marathon finish line.Official Results
3:44:34. I finished faster than more than half of the field. I was really surprised by this when I found out, but it says even more about the challenges of the day.
Note the heat. You can see where the wheels slowed down and where they completely fell off.
I finished sad and happy at the same time. Sad that, again, it wasn’t the race I hoped. Yet I was thrilled to finish. I met my C goal. I got my medal and hobbled to the end of the blocked off area enjoying water and food, noticing how rough everyone else looked, until I saw Rich. He met me with flowers and mini-eggs (my fav) and we me up with Molly and Matt and went and sat in the grass at Boston Common.We shared our battle stories, her day much like my mine, and after about an hour we walked back to the airbnb to get ready to head back out to eat. We finished our day just like last year- dinner at The Met Backbay and then pictures and hanging out at the finish line.I woke up Tuesday to cold weather. JUST LIKE LAST YEAR. It was just around 40 degrees and perfect. We had all day to hang out- so we grabbed brunch, did a duck tour, went to Sam Adams, grabbed lobster rolls for dinner and then headed to the airport. I was glad we did it this way- mainly to have a chance to see other parts of Boston (things I don’t like to do before the race).
I love unicorns.Overall
- racing with friends/amazing weekend
Not so Much
- the weather (obvs can’t change that)
- the late start (can’t change that either)
- Fly in Friday if you can. Hit the expo early to get the best selection in race gear. This gives you Saturday to watch the 5k, go to a Red Sox day and maybe explore a little. Stay all day Tuesday to enjoy the day and walk around more.
- STAY OFF YOUR FEET ON SUNDAY.
- Book early. I’ve done airbnb the past two years to have a kitchen. The next time I may try and find a hotel just to have more space.
- Go to a church service on Sunday that has a blessing of the runners.
While I have struggled the past two years (thank you, weather), there is something about this race that sucks me in. It is one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, but I LOVE it. It is magical. The spectators are just as dedicated as the runners and the history and prestige of the race is like no other.
Boston, I will be back as often as my body will allow me to do so. And one day, I might just find that perfect weather and the perfect race.