The one where I ran the Boston Marathon…

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Right on Hereford. Oh my God…

“This is it!” Did I just say that out loud? Yup.

I took off in a dead sprint. Didn’t make the decision, it just happened.

Left on Boylston. I see the finish line! I was mowing people down, right and left.

I crossed the finish line with my arms up, like I won the whole freaking race. I remembered to stop my watch and saw 3:46. Ok, I’m fine with that. I just ran the entire 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston! I’m sure I looked like an idiot covered in salt, grinning from ear to ear.

Ok, let’s rewind.

Pete, mini Turner and I arrived in NY Friday night. We woke up early Saturday and drove over to Boston with the goal of getting to Hynes by 11 am (because Kara and Lauren were going to be at the CitySports booth from 11-1 signing autographs). We probably arrived around noon and the line was longer than I expected. Em was dressed in her WeeBird outfit, ready to look adorable as usual. Then, it happened.

“I smell something.” Butt sniff. Yup.

It was not pretty. I usually refrain from sharing details about the contents of my kid’s diaper, so use your imagination. Let’s just say that the WeeBird onesie was not in good condition. Pete went off on two unsuccessful attempts to find a replacement. We found ourselves at the front of the line with a half-naked baby… until my sister literally took the shirt off of her kid’s back. Luckily we all recovered in time for a photo.

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Afterwards we talked to Sally (you can see her on the right in the photo above) and then headed to pick up our numbers. Eventually we made it to my cousin’s house in Watertown, went out to dinner, and then crashed.

The next morning, after checking out what the Easter bunny had left for the kids, Steph and I went back to Boylston St. for a team shakeout run and coffee. Although we couldn’t stay for long, I did manage to have a complete freak out moment mid-conversation with Meghan (one of my Oiselle teammates). We were discussing the late start and how it poses a challenge to your normal pre-race nutrition, when I suddenly remembered that, uh, I had a milk situation to address. Somehow I had managed to forget that I would be gone from 6:30 am to about 2:30 pm. So… I either had to bring a hand pump or chance it. More on that later.

Sunday Shakeout (photo credit: Lindsey Hein)

Sunday Shakeout (photo credit: Lindsey Hein)

The rest of the day looked like this: carbs, outfit decisions, Easter egg hunt, more carbs, Easter dinner carbs, packing gear bag, more carbs, sleep.

Steph and I had originally planned to take the T to Boston Common, but my cousin insisted that it would be way faster for him to just drop us off. This paid off big time. We got extra sleep and got to ride in the comfort of a spacious car rather than the alternative. He dropped us off near the gear check, and we dropped off our bags and boarded the big yellow limousine around 7:15 am. I know it’s a long ride, but I felt like it went by quickly. When we stepped off in Hopkinton, the first person I noticed was a woman with a clear bag labeled “medical device” trying to explain or ask a volunteer a question about her breast pump. I was so glad I decided not to mess with that. (I promise that is the end of my side story about breast milk.)

I don’t know what time it was when we got to the Athlete’s Village, but it was already packed. Steph and I grabbed bagels and bananas, but we didn’t stay for long. We had been invited to the Skechers house (along with the rest of our team), so as long as we could find it we had access to private portable toilets and a more chill pre-race experience. Maybe we missed out on some of the Boston experience by not staying in the Athlete’s Village, but it was worth it to not have to stand in a long line for the bathroom. Commence half mile walk to the house… we passed lots of people already staking out spots on their lawns (an hour before the race even began), and one notable residence offering beer, donuts, and cigarettes (and, evidently, pot but not coffee).

The next hour was filled with talking to members of the Skechers team and Oiselle team, mostly about the race itself and the status of our toilet paper stash. I tried to force down a Powerbar and drink a bunch of water. Soon the first wavers left and it was mostly us girls. At about 10:15, Steph, Emily, and I excitedly walked down the street to our start corrals. We gave last minute hugs before parting ways with Emily and soon we were off!

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The first few miles were exciting and decidedly downhill, so I reminded Steph to hold back a little. I had my first pee break around 5 miles. I had a hard time finding a spot where there weren’t any spectators, and I know I ran too fast trying to catch up to Steph again, but I was worried either I wouldn’t find her or we would be separated when we saw our family around the 10k mark. I felt fine other than a side stitch I had for the first few miles and really just tried to soak in the experience.

Some time before Wellesly I noticed Steph had gotten quiet. We were a little off our pace, but not enough to be worried yet. Then I heard the screams that everyone talks about. Wellesly did not disappoint. I side-fived more people than I have ever side-fived in my life. That mile was our slowest so far, I think an 8:24 or something around there. Soon after that we saw my family again.

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Unfortunately we didn’t get to see them again until after the race (although they tried to get to a few different spots, they ran into road closures). It was around this point, a little before the half, that I saw my friend Lauren walking on the side of the road. I found out she had only stopped temporarily to send a text message, so we got to talk and run together a little. None of us were feeling great and we didn’t exactly run side-by-side for the rest of the race, but we stayed near each other until the finish.

We passed the half marathon mark around 1:46 or 1:47. I think this was where Steph started to talk about not feeling great, so I still took splits and only read them to her if she asked for them. We were both feeling hot and dehydrated (although I took another pee break somewhere in Newton). We chugged up and over the hills, bypassing some amazingly creative signs. At some point I looked over and saw a woman holding a sign that read “MEB WON (yes really)”.

“Really?!” I asked, as I ran past.

“Yes, really!” she shouted.

I think that gave us both enough adrenaline to get through Newton and finally up Heartbreak Hill. I couldn’t believe I was still running and that I had stayed with Steph so long, but it was finally time for her to start pushing. I knew she wouldn’t be satisfied unless she tried her best, even if she wasn’t feeling great. Our average pace had slowed to around 8:30 and I knew she wanted to at least get under 3:45 so I let her go. I didn’t know what would happen in the last few miles so I just ran my pace and kept going.

I heard a lot of “Go Oiselle” cheers. I heard Danielle around mile 23 on Beacon St. It all went by so quickly, and before I knew it there was the “1k to go” sign and we were making the right on Hereford.

I have never cared about a finishing medal before, but this medal was different. I forgot to mention earlier that I started crying once we turned onto Hereford and I heard the crowd cheering. I started to think about what had happened here last year, and I was overwhelmed by the emotion of it. Then I started hyperventilating and had to pull it together so I could keep running. Well, the same thing happened when I got that medal around my neck. I’m such a sap.

“Mollie!” It was my sister. Good, because I couldn’t figure out how to operate my phone at that moment, which I had carried with me the whole way in case I had an emergency (given the wonky sacrum and lack of training).

We walked together for a few minutes and covered about ten meters. I felt ok, but was not looking forward to the walk to the gear tent. We ran into our friend and former high school teammate Diane. Then we ran into Corey, a Nuun ambassador we knew through Twitter. It felt good to stand and talk about the race a little. But once we started walking again I felt light headed. I was happy, but also was hoping there was one of those moving walkways like they have at the airport.

So, of course, we found our family. We also ran into Lauren again along with my friend Claire. Claire and I have a habit of running into one another as if we had planned it (and we didn’t) so I guess I should stop acting surprised when I see her anywhere on Earth.

There are so many things I could write about Boston, but I have to stop after this one last thing. If anyone ever asks me why I run, I will have a good response from now on. Here it is:

When in your lifetime will you have millions of people cheering for you, offering kisses, Twizzlers, full bottles of Corona, orange slices, and tissues to wipe the sweat from your brow? Wouldn’t you want to experience little kids holding out Dixie cups full of water for you, or just sticking their hands out waiting for a side-five from a passing runner? I think that’s a pretty good reason to run.

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2 thoughts on “The one where I ran the Boston Marathon…

  1. After everything you went through this training season, I cannot even imagine how overwhelming and awesome it was to cross the finish line. Nice work, it looks and sounds like you had such a great time.

    • The hyperventilating thing happened in another marathon towards the end too… there was a water stop sponsored by Team in Training I believe and they had all of these pictures of sick kids. I couldn’t take it and started hyperventilating. It’s hard to catch your breath in that type of situation. Anyway, besides not being able to breathe, it was an incredible experience. I highly recommend that you run it next year πŸ™‚

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