Well, friends, I was hoping for a better result on Patriot’s Day this year. I didn’t even come close to reaching my goal, but I finished.
I had to be transported to the med tent in a wheelchair, which was not something I ever imagined happening.
But let me go back to earlier in the day.
My sister Steph (19 weeks pregnant) and I (breast pump in tow) were laughing at the hashtag she created #breastpumpsandbabybumps and attempted to figure out a vague timeline for the morning on the bus ride out to Hopkinton. When you look at the schedule for race morning, it seems like you’ll have so much time but in reality the time goes by really fast. All we really did was wait in line for the porta potties and then it was time to go to the start. I didn’t have any trouble finding the operations tent where I turned in my pump. It didn’t bother me, but I did think it was comical that they put a bunch of guys in charge of that area.
Did you catch the selfie of a selfie? Also, Steph finished Boston in 4:50 at 19 weeks pregnant (thanks for making the rest of us feel lazy, sister)
It was a lot warmer than I had expected in Hopkinton. Apparently it was 70 degrees at the start, clear and sunny. I started coming down with a cold on Friday night so I already had a sore throat but I noticed that despite how much water I had been drinking my mouth felt dry. That was my first sign that I might have to adjust my goal.
After you leave the Athlete’s Village, it’s about a mile jog/ walk to the start line. Before you go into the corrals, there is an area with a bunch of porta potties where everyone makes their last pit stop. The lines were long and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to get through before 10 am. A bunch of guys were lined up along the embankment next to that area and I though “well, that’s not fair” so I marched myself along the row, kept my eyes down, and peed. Only got a little on my shoe.
I made my way to my corral and looked around to see if I recognized anyone. Nope. The sun felt really hot at this point and I was glad I had decided to wear a hat. A few minutes went by and I sort of spaced out until I heard someone call my name. It was Meg, another runner that I know from social media. We figured out that we both had similar goals so we decided to run together. The race started a few minutes later, and I was so damn excited to get going.
The first mile is a really steep downhill. We were towards the back of our corral and one of the last corrals in Wave 1, so it was tough to hit pace (although somewhat expected). The first mile was around 7:15, and then it started to spread out enough to weave through the crowds. The next three miles were all in the 6:50’s, which was encouraging except for 2 things- 1) my Garmin was already way off the mile markers on the course, and 2) I wasn’t feeling “good”. I tried to ignore those issues though because I know it’s normal to go through rough patches in the marathon (although not usually this early on). We chatted briefly about how we were feeling and decided to settle into the low 7’s for awhile.
At this point I knew I wasn’t going to hit my A goal, so you can only imagine what was going on in my mind. Of course I was disappointed, but I also knew going into this training cycle that Boston weather is totally unpredictable. I really had three main goals for this cycle- 1) to get through it without a major injury like I had 2 years ago coming back from my first pregnancy, 2) to run a PR in the half, and 3) to run a PR in the marathon and hopefully closer to 2:55- 2:59. So, knowing I already had met 2 of 3 made it a little easier to let go and back off the pace.
Although there were a few slower miles, we stayed in the low 7’s for the most part through Ashland, Framingham and Natick. Wellesley was a nice boost- my Oiselle teammates came out in full force at Cowbell Corner (there were almost 100 of us running Boston) and I got to see my family there and hug my girls. According to my watch I came through the half around 1:35 but was getting further and further off the mile markers. I had separated from Meg by then, so getting to see some familiar faces was awesome.
Don’t remember which mile this was, but I was still feeling good here.
I still felt pretty good through the first of the Newton hills and had a smile on my face even when I was hurting. I noticed somewhere in Newton that my right quad and the front of my hip had tightened up, so I tried to relax a little bit and just focus on getting up and over each hill as delicately as possible. I was tempted to join the walking party since it seemed like so many others around me were doing it, but I knew if I started walking now it would be hard to fight it for the next 6 miles… so I smiled up Heartbreak at 9:00 pace.
Nearing the top of Heartbreak Hill.
From the top of Heartbreak to the finish the streets are lined with people cheering. It’s such a strange experience because you’re exhausted, your legs feel like jello, and every ounce of you wants to stop running (or at least somehow skip forward to the finish line). But you’ve got friends and strangers cheering for you and telling you to keep going… and somehow you will your legs to keep going. I felt myself starting to get emotional, which led me to start hyperventilating so I had to try to disassociate in those last few miles. I counted from 1- 100 focusing on taking deep breaths. Then I’d start over again. I did this for 6 miles, with a few breaks in between. I looked up and saw the Citgo sign, then looked down and started counting again. I looked up when I heard someone cheer for me by name, then I’d get back to counting. It felt like I was barely picking my feet up but in reality I was still running around 8:30 pace for the last 10k through Brookline and Boston.
Running through Chestnut Hill area and Boston College.
Before I knew it, we were turning right on Hereford! Both times I’ve made that turn it has caught me by surprise…. like, this can’t be the finish already?! But, there’s only one right turn into Hereford, so it has to be the end. Then we turn left on Boylston and you can see the finish line. Without thinking, my turnover got quicker- I just wanted to get to the finish.
I see you, finish line.
I remembered to stop my watch this time. My official finish time was 3:24:57 for 26.2 miles.
…and I actually ran 26.9 miles, which is probably the worst tangent running of my life. But for this race it was more important to get water every mile than to try and run the shortest distance possible
I had another hyperventilating episode at the finish but I was able to calm myself down, then slowly walk through the finish area along Boylston and pick up my gear bag. This is when things got a little ugly…. I was dehydrated and not thinking straight. I had to find the operations tent to pick up my pump, but I couldn’t remember any details about where it was (they transported the pump from Hopkinton for us to the finish, unlike our gear which was dropped off at the same tent where we picked it up in Boston). The volunteer who I spoke with wasn’t helpful- maybe I wasn’t being clear, maybe I just picked the wrong person to talk to, but I felt myself start to hyperventilate again and then I started seeing stars and things got black for a moment. A kind volunteer brought me a wheelchair, and since I wasn’t confident I could walk on my own at this point they wheeled me to the med tent.
They used a scanner on my bib number as I went in the tent and then took me to an area for the less serious ailments. There were signs over each section, and I noticed one that said “Leg Cramps” which made one of my legs instantly cramp up. I laid down on a cot with a blanket, tried to eat and drink water. A nurse came to take my blood pressure, and a doctor came over to ask me questions and make sure I was okay (like how many marathons have you run, was this your first Boston, and a few others pertaining to how I was feeling). My breathing was still labored at this point but much better than it had been. The staff and volunteers were all incredibly helpful and talked to me until I felt better. It took about 30 minutes before I sat up and realized I was fine. They brought over someone with a cell phone and I was able to call my family and let them know I was okay. Once I was cleared to leave, they scanned me out and I met up with my family.
I wanted to get a photo with my two girls after the race, but Natalie had me pinned down and Emma wanted to play hide and seek with her cousins. So, you get the idea. I was pretty sore yesterday, I think partly because of the hills and also from sitting in this position for an hour and a half after the race. Poor girl was hungry.
I plan on taking two weeks completely off from running and then will go from there. I was lucky I felt good enough to finish and get a qualifier for next year. Maybe the third time I’ll get it right. I’m extremely excited to run shorter distances this summer and then go for a fast half marathon in October, and as of now I’m not planning to run a fall marathon.
A huge hug, high five, and thank you to everyone who offered support these last few months and on Monday. My mom, dad, sisters, and Pete all helped watch the girls on weekends and sometimes on weekdays so I could train. Thanks to my Willow Street teammates for your words of encouragement and support on the course yesterday, my Oiselle teammates who had such a freaking awesome cowbell corner in Wellesley and along the course, and the Averill Park alumni cheer section (Mindel, you really are everywhere). Over and out for now, friends. Boston, I love you!