Boston Marathon Part Two {Race Recap}

Even though I set three alarms, I was up well before any of them went off. I was up at 6:15 am, ready to go. I got dressed and just sat around. I ate a single piece of toast while I packed up my other two pieces to eat on the bus ride to Hopkinton. I was abnormally calm considering I was able to leave to run the marathon I’ve worked towards for years. I said goodbye to Josh and went to get on the buses at Boston Common. Looking at the weather, I knew that I wasn’t going to get to run in my optimal conditions. Luckily I had already told myself, this is about the experience, not setting a new PR.

I was able to get on a bus right away which was great. The bus ride was long and hot. So warm that I took off my sweatshirt immediately upon sitting down. I definitely wasn’t going to need it. I choked down my toast as I talked to a guy from LA who had qualified in Chicago, the same year I ran it sick. The ride was about an hour long. When we arrived in Hopkinton, we walked about a quarter mile to the athlete’s village.

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The village was buzzing with runners. I dropped off my sweatshirt in the donation bags, got in line for a porta potty and waited. As soon as I had my turn, I grabbed a bottle of water and got right back in line. I was in the village about 90 minutes before being called to start walking to the start line. I finished my water and headed out. I wished I’d grabbed one more bottle for the walk.

It was almost a mile walk to the start line. Along the way, spectators were offering sunscreen, Vaseline, shots of whiskey and beer. As we got closer, my nerves turned to excitement until I realized I only had about eight minutes to get to my corral. I lead a group of five others through the crowd to get up to our spots in the first corral. I made it with four minutes to spare. Phew. I was sweating already.

After a few announcements, we were sent on our way. I crossed the start line of the Boston Marathon with a gigantic grin on my face. I probably looked ridiculous. I teared up again as I looked around me. I told myself, do not go out too fast. Let people pass you. My goal was to run the first 4-6 miles at an easy pace. I didn’t want to burn myself out on the downhills. I settled in checking my watch every once in a while to make sure I was in the 8:15-8:20 range. I was taking in the spectators and the people running with me. While the first few miles are mainly downhill, there are a few rolling hills. The first 5k flew by. I felt pretty good but I was hot already. There was no shade and the sun was almost directly overhead.

5k split: 25:55 (8:20 min/mile)

Between the 5k and 10k points, I decided I should grab a cup of water from every water stop. While I had water with me, I needed that for my gels and it was pretty warm already. This lead to some congestion and bumped elbows. Just past the six mile marker, the Sixth Mile Experience was bumping. The crowd was amazing, their was music and people on loud speakers. They were so into it and I loved it!

10k split: 51:54 (8:21 min/mile)

With the first six miles under my belt, I started to speed up a little bit. I was finally warmed up and ready to start making up some time before the Newton hills hit. I knew that I was no longer going to speed up substantially because my body was just not responding well to the heat, but I was going to knock a few seconds off. There were some little rolling hills that reminded me of some of the trails I had run during training. I knew once we hit Natick that Wellesley was the next township we would run through. I was looking forward to seeing some fellow Support the Girls affiliates who found out I was running and made a sign to cheer me on.

15k split: 1:17:22 (8:18 min/mile)

Honestly the only thing I remember here is how cute Natick was. I focused on reading signs the spectators were holding. Same favorites included: “Hold onto your uterus!” and “If Trump can try to run the country. You can run this marathon.”

20k split: 1:43:31 (8:19 min/mile)

I was entering Wellesley and getting closer to the “Scream Tunnel.” I was also trying to figure out what I needed to do in order to cool off. I was already drinking one cup of water and dumping some over my head and running through any sprinkler that was on. I was slowing my pace to compensate for the heat, but I was still struggling to bring down my body temperature. I decided I’d try to make it a few more miles before I started walking through water stops if I hadn’t cooled down a bit.

Half split: 1:49:14 (8:19 min/mile)

Just past the half, I was running by hundreds of Wellesley ladies holding their Kiss Me signs. The signs with all the reasons why to kiss them were hilarious. Kiss me…I have no ties to Russia, Kiss me…I’m not a Patriots Fan, etc.

And then I saw my Support the Girls cheer squad with their amazing sign!

I was so excited for their support. It made me perk back up and keep working towards the finish line.

25k split: 2:10:35 (8:24 min/mile)

By mile 16 I was walking through all the water stops. I had stopped sweating which really freaked me out. Training through the winter in Minnesota had not prepared me for 70+ degree weather and direct sun. I knew that I had to do what I had to do to safely get to the finish line. There were medical tents at every mile and each one I passed was full of runners. I tried to just focus on keeping my legs moving and looking forward to seeing my cheer squad in the next few miles. A spectator was handing out ice. I was so excited. I grabbed a handful and put it down my bra. I held onto an ice cube in each hand until they melted. It really helped temporarily. We made our biggest turn thus far on the course at the Newton Fire Station a slight breeze started blowing across me. It felt so good!

30k split: 2:39:40 (8:33 min/mile)-18.6 miles

I’d just passed the 30k mark when Josh called to tell me that they were at mile 19. I was ready to see them. I was almost to the base of Heartbreak Hill when I heard them cheering. I was so excited to see them and just felt so lucky as I ran toward a dozen people schlepping all around the Boston metro area to cheer for me. I was soaking wet after running through water spraying from one of the fire hydrants the fire department had opened.

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Then I did something I’ve never done in a marathon, I stopped and talked to them. I drank some amazing ice cold water and started running again.

Then it was time for Heartbreak Hill. I was so happy when I saw a sign that said “This is the top of Heartbreak Hill.” I knew the biggest hill was now behind me. I also knew that there was another hill right after Heartbreak, regardless of what a few signs said. It was no big deal, though I’m glad I knew it was there and didn’t take me by surprise.

35k split: 3:09:05 (8:41 min/mile)- 21.7 miles

Heartbreak Hill was behind me. I could walk back to Boston under the 6 hour limit if I really needed to. This thought totally crossed my mind as I poured another cup on water over my head and took another gel. I was wishing I had brought some salt tabs with me because I think it may have helped me replace all the salt I had been sweating. Something I needed to think about for warmer races.

I started looking for the Citgo sign. I knew I was going to be able to catch a glimpse of it. That was my sign that I was going to finish this thing. I was almost to Boston! A head wind started picking up as some clouds started moving in. I was so thankful for a bit of shade and even for the head wind because I needed some cool air.

40k split: 3:37:28 (8:44 min/mile)-24.85

Seriously, a foot cramp. Yes, I got a crazy cramp in my left foot. Out of all the aches I worried about, I never thought I’d have a foot cramp. I walked up the final hill just past mile 25 while trying to stretch it out. Once I had that worked out, I started running again. The crowds were amazing. They were helping carry me through. All the sudden I saw the Hereford street sign. I was almost there! I made my right on Hereford, ran the short block up to Boylston, Left on Boylston and I could see the finish line. The streets were PACKED with people cheering. I did everything I could to pick up the pace. I was smiling from ear to ear. I tried to sprint and as I really started pumping my arms, I heard these guys yelling out, go orange shirt go!

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I raised my arms as I ran across the finish line. I had done it. I’d finished the Boston Marathon. I’d achieved a goal I’d been chasing for years. I’d qualified for Boston, trained hard and taken my victory lap. My friend Ashley captured me on video crossing. So cool.

Finish: 3:50:10 (8:47 min/mile)

I didn’t even know what my official time was until almost a week later. I stopped looking at my watch somewhere around mile 18. I pushed stop and save before I even glanced at the screen. I still haven’t looked at my mile splits. I knew I was not going to be as exciting after performing well under my ability. Anyway, once I crossed the finish line, I saw my family. The tears started flowing especially when Ella told me that she was proud of me. I hugged everyone then turned to get my medal.

Lucky for me, my family brought me a change of clothes. I popped over to the changing area and got into dry clothes. After changing, we took a few more pictures before I decided I was ready to head home.

I walked the two miles back to the North End. It actually felt really good. I think it helped delay the onset of post-marathon soreness. First stop, Mike’s Pastry.

A sweet reward, for a hard earned race.

 

Boston Marathon Recap Part I {Expo and the Night Before}

After a mere four hours of sleep, I was wide awake at 6:30 am, anxious to get to the expo so I could hold my bib. With hours to go until that was even a possibility, I got cleaned up, ate my toast and requested my Lyft to the convention center.

As our driver started getting closer to the convention center, I started seeing signs for the marathon, Boston Strong signs and hoards of runners walking around with their celebration jackets on.

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As we pulled up, I could see the finish line about a quarter mile in front of us. Walking into the convention center, I was on the verge of tears. Who had possessed me? I’m not one to get teary over packet pick-up.

We got in line with all the other eager runners and waited for the doors to open.

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Once we were moving, the line went quickly. Before I knew it, I had my bib in hand and a tear on the verge of falling. We snapped some pictures before heading into the actual expo.

I went into the morning thinking I was going to buy all.the.stuff, but the official merchandise area was a zoo. Not wanting to waste energy on fighting the crowds, I grabbed a tank top, beer glass, a couple of Spike stuffed animals for the kids and got out of there.

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After paying for those, I hit the KT Tape booth to have them tape my shoulder. It was pretty achy but once the tape was applied, it actually felt normal-ish. I walked around a bit more and picked up one more t-shirt. I was getting overwhelmed. Suddenly I became fearful that I was going to have a bunch of Boston Marathon stuff and then DNF. What would I do with it all if that happened? I stopped looking for anything else to buy, which I’m a bit bummed about. I should have bought the water bottle I wanted (only available at the expo), the license plate cover and  key chain that I need for my new car keys.

Done with the expo, it was finish line time. There were yellow daffodils in blue foiled pots lining the windows of the businesses all down Boylston.

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The closer we got to the finish line, the more anxious I got. Again I started worrying about having my first DNF. I really had no reason to think I wouldn’t successfully finish the race, but my nerves were getting the best of me.

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We crossed the street and there I was. Standing in front of the finish line I’d be crossing the next day. Of course we took a million pictures. And once again, I was all choked up. Who was this emotional basket case?

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Pictures taken and crowds getting bigger, I was ready to leave. It was nearing 86 degrees. Not wanting to get dehydrated, and getting hungry, we swung by Whole Foods to pick up my bland food to make for my dinner that night. When we got back to the apartment, I ate my safe lunch and took a nap while the rest of the family went to enjoy delicious looking pizza.

A short while later, our friends Ryan and Claire arrived from Providence. We met up with the family and headed for a stroller through Boston Commons and the Public Garden. We even took a ride on a swan boat before walking across the street to Cheers. While I drank more water, we all discussed spectating plans for the race.

Shortly thereafter, we went back to our apartment, I made my sweet potato and pork chop with a side of toast with almond butter and jam. Super exciting. I laid out all my race stuff and pinned my bib to my tank top before sending Josh to get me some melatonin so I could actually fall asleep. Of course the next morning I ended up changing my shirt and having to repin it all over again. I seemed to get it on properly without any trouble the second time around.

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By 10:30 pm I was out…for a few hours. Then I was waking up every two hours, just in case I overslept.

My First Marathon Recap #tbt

Written two weeks after my first marathon (Seattle Rock N’ Roll) in June of 2009 in the form of an email to all of those who supported my fundraising for Team in Training. Re-reading it brought me right back to that day. As I upload it here, I’m looking at the shadow box hanging on the wall in our office with my medal, bib and picture of Meghan and I crossing the finish line, hands in the air, smiling. 

I did it, I ran a marathon!  It was by far the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done.  The weekend was a whirlwind of hilarity with my teammates, inspirational speakers including the head of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Runner‘s World’s The Penguin, and tears.  Tears of pain (mine), tears of remembrance, tears of happiness, and relief.

So here’s a little recap of my race, to give you an idea of what it’s like for a novice to run a marathon.  Sorry…it’s a bit long.

2:45 am

Time to get up and start getting ready.  It’s not like I had really been sleeping, but this time I was up for good.  I made my peanut butter and jelly toast (untoasted…boo) that I always have before a run and nervously paced the hotel room.  Once I had gotten dressed and put on plenty of sunscreen and Body Glide to prevent the dreaded chaffing, it was time to meet my team to go to the starting line.

4:30-7:25 am

We arrived in Tukwila.  We waited to check out bag and I hung out in a plastic trash bag to keep me warm.  After about a dozen trips to the porta-potties (just in case) it was time to get into our heats.  It didn’t really hit me until Meghan (the best mentor ever!!!) and I were standing at the start line waiting to hear our start that I was actually going to do this.

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Here we go!  The Penguin sends us on our way.

Miles 1-5

I was feeling great!  Cheering and yelling out to fellow Team in Training teammates. I even sang a little Michael Jackson on the way. The sun was shining and I believe that Meghan put it just right when she said that it felt glorious.

Miles 7-14

Still feeling good, we broke from the half marathoners for an out and back over the water. We had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.  At this point I knew that there was no wimping out.  I couldn’t just do the half marathon anymore because when we met back up with them I’d already have run 14 miles.  After a quick porta-potty stop, we were on our way.  I was still feeling good but my tendons were starting to flare up a bit.  We saw Meghan’s boyfriend Adam who was cheering and capturing our excited smiles.

Miles 15-19

Now I was always told I’d hit the wall sometime around this point. Being positive, I though, eh, I’ve run 17 miles before, I won’t hit the wall this early.  Hit the wall I did not, but I sure did hit something.  This was a vicious out and back.  I was still smiling and feeling good when I saw Josh at mile 15.  I was shocked that I heard him yell out my name.  It pumped me up…until a two mile long hill hit.  That was the worst out and back of the entire race. I could see the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier but what I couldn’t see was the end of the hill.  It was shortly after we hit the turnaround point and headed towards the last 7 miles, that I shed my first tear. I tried to be tough and Meghan was cheering me on and staying by my side, but man exhaustion and pain were starting to set in and my GU was not helping.

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Mile 20-24

At this point I was in full blown tear mode.  Being tough went right out the window.  At this point it took everything I had to not to jump off the viaduct into the bay.  I was hot, tired and in excruciating pain.  So what do you do when you’re feeling like crap?  Stop? No way, Cry? yes. Yell and scream? Absolutely!   It’s amazing what some good yelling can do for you.

The Home Stretch (Miles 24-26.2)

This was my low point.  It took me an entire 31 minutes to get through these last 2.2 miles.  When I saw that I was so upset, 2 miles in 31 minutes?  Seriously, that is how long it usually takes for a 3.5 miles.  I walked up the last hill…who puts a hill in the last 1.5 miles?  That’s just mean.  It wasn’t a big hill, but you may as well had me running up Pikes Peak.  Meghan and Coach Jen were running and walking right besides me.  Cheering me on and telling me how tough I was to keep going even though my knees were barely bending. We all let out yells together.  Meghan and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.  I could not have done it without her.  If anyone wants yet another reason why TNT is such an amazing program, there is it.  Team Mentors really are there for you.

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Five hours later, I was at the finish line.  It was about a half hour slower than I wanted to run the race, but I finished which is what really matters.  It was exhilarating and sad at the same time.  I had worked so hard to get to the start line, ever harder to make it to the finish line and it was over. Once I got my medal, I went straight to the medical tent where they promptly plastic wrapped ice to both knees.  I grabbed my dry, plain bagel and devoured it.  Josh greeted me at the TNT tent with beautiful flowers from Pike’s Market and a big smile. We met up with the rest of my teammates who did the half and took lots of pictures before Josh had to lower me to the ground.

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Here I am almost two weeks later.  I’m walking normally again, with some nagging aches and pain. I’m taking the entire month off of running (killing me) as per my great physical therapist and really taking in what was just accomplished.  Yes, the marathon is my personal accomplishment but I could not have done it without all of your love and support. It got me through the injuries, pain and exhaustion.  More importantly, we raised $5000 to help find a cure for cancer.  As I ran beside people who had names and pictures of ppl that they lost to cancer it really hit me how important Team in Training is.

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25 runners came from the Rocky Mountain Chapter to run the Inaugural race with $109,000 raised to support important research and patient programs and we all came back with so much more than medals to show for it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You are all amazing.