This is kind of hard, not going to lie. I’m not really sure where to start. The whole weekend, the whole experience really, was…incredible. But, for the sake of clarity, this will be JUST the actual race report. More details on the rest of the weekend later.
ALSO: TEXT HEAVY. I didn’t take course pictures because I didn’t take my phone with me.
I was already awake when my alarm went off at 6 am. It hadn’t been a great week of sleep for me: I spent a lot of time with an insanely high amount of anxiety. I woke up twice that night and spent a lot of time just…pretending to sleep. But when my alarm went off, I was ready.
I ate 3/4 of a cup of Quaker Oatmeal (it has a high amount of fiber, so I wanted to curb that), drank a cup of coffee, drank a glass of water. Made myself a peanut butter bagel slice for later. Got dressed. Took a selfie (tried posting it but the tumblr app hates me?):
Then I threw on my super sexy sweats, grabbed my fuel, and headed out.
I got to Boston Common around 7:30 which I found pretty impressive. Flashed my bib, loaded the shuttle, and we were on the road to Hopkinton by 7:45! And it was a LONG drive. I don’t think I was expecting it to take that long! I made friends with a girl on the bus. It was only her second marathon too! We talked about training and our lives and it made things much easier. At this point, anxiety was gone. Because…well, there was only one way back to Boston.
The Athletes’ Village was MADNESS. People were just everywhere. But I found Jess (easybeinggreene)! Thank GOD. Time flew by: Two porta-potty lines and a few sips of coffee, water, my peanut butter bagel and we were shuffling to the starting corrals! I stopped to tie my shoe and Jess went on: that was the last I saw of her.
And this is where my report will split into two parts: The Race and The Run. They are two VERY different stories.
You know how to throw one hell of a marathon.
The start was…weird. There were so many people and we were moving at such a slow pace to get to the start that we didn’t actually go into corrals. We just started jogging up to the start.
The first few miles of the course had spectators but it was pretty light (comparatively). I enjoyed it. Things were going pretty swell: the weather was wonderful, people around me were wearing cool things.
As the course went on, the spectators got heavier and heavier. Highlights: one town had people on little trampolines on the side, bouncing up and down! They were playing YMCA and OF COURSE, when the chorus came, everybody started doing the YMCA. I’m smiling just thinking about it. Later, we passed through a part where they were playing Sweet Caroline and guess what? WE ALL SANG ALONG. It was amazing.
Honestly, I thought Wellesly got outshined by the rest of the course. Maybe the girls were over it by the time I rolled through but I was expecting a lot from this scream tunnel. They were kinda meh. But a lot of people stopped for kisses and the girls were very gracious about giving and taking them.
(And I saw FOUR OTHER PEOPLE wearing shwings. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a thing)
Then…the finish. The last few miles were just swarmed with people and when I turned onto Boylston, my best friend and our new bff were RIGHT on the corner. SCREAMING. It was amazing.
And then it was done. I got a medal. I got some water. I had run the Boston Marathon.
Points off: the LONGEST walk to get through the finishing area. And then to get to the family meeting area. Come on BAA. We just ran 26.2 miles, surely you can hand me my food bag before you push some sort of nasty protein mix on me? It was about half a mile to get out of there, another 8 blocks to get around back to the family area.
Honestly, the first 13 miles were pretty much on point for me. Everyone says you want to hold back on the downhills and save up your energy for Newton and the last half so that’s what I concentrated on doing. I tried drinking water at mile 5 but ended up with most of it on my shirt. Gel at 8, more water at 10, gel at 13. I hit 13 miles feeling a normal amount of fatigue but was fairly confident about it:
Split for the half was 1:44:35. Perfect.
And then…you guys, I don’t know. A combination of heat and hills and just plain old tired hit me. I hit the wall around mile 14. And I remember thinking in disbelief “no, this isn’t happening.” My legs were just not getting the turnover I wanted. And there were 12 miles to go. Newton was still up ahead. I was not feeling good. My neck was cramping. My legs were lead. For a while I thought maybe this was just a slump that I was going to get out of. Some miles are just like that.
Unfortunately, Boston doesn’t give you an opportunity to get out of slumps. “Course flattens out” my ass. Those are rolling hills the entire way. Little ones but it’s enough. And it was hot: there isn’t really any shade on the course. I started drinking water or gatorade at every other aid station. I was super paranoid that I was dehydrating. I also snagged two ice pops and they were the BEST THINGS EVER.
At some point, my Garmin also got paused and never restarted so guess what? Power save! And then it didn’t come back for a while. So I was disoriented on pace, on where I was in relation to the official mile markers. It wasn’t a nice thing to have happen.
Mile 18 was probably when I gave up on the PR. Again, I didn’t really know how far off my Garmin was (basic math skills at this point weren’t really happening) but I knew my pace was way down.
The hills of Newton were a battle but honestly, I just kept going. Slowly but steadily (I hoped).
I crested Heartbreak and wanted to cry because I wasn’t done and there were MORE HILLS. I didn’t think I was going to make it. Swear to God. People around me were walking and all I could think about was how everyone was getting these trackers on me and wondering wtf had happened.
But I kept going. I saw more people collapsing than I would have liked. I thought one of them might be me at some point. I couldn’t take my last gel at 23 because my stomach was so tight. I just took gatorade when I could. Another ice pop. My feet ACHED.
I started counting down by half miles. And then finally 1k to go. I was turning onto Boylston. My friends were at the corner cheering and I was so close to done.
Coming through the finish chute I was so happy to hit the mat and stop running. I felt lightheaded and really bleary. I was still worried I was going to faint. I didn’t feel better until I ate the chips in the food bag (that’s why I was so focused on getting it. Cruel, BAA).
Shockingly, I haven’t felt super sore. I think that’s probably because my second half was so much slower than my usual pace so my body didn’t take the pounding it would have. Also, post-marathon margaritas:
Real talk: I know Boston is tough. I know everyone says it’s not a PR course. However, I thought I could outsmart it. Aaah, pride goeth before fall.
And I don’t think I could have changed much. I was trained. My long runs were good. I was adequately fueled. But I couldn’t train for heat (thanks polar vortex) and didn’t train for the rolling hills. I don’t regret my training but I am hungry for that PR. I know I’m capable of sub-3:30. And I want to try that course again. BUT, I’m not beating myself up about it. Too much :)
Summary: Best Race, Worst Run. I’ll be back.
I’m currently writing the longest, most rambling race report ever. Hopefully I will find a way to edit it. But I have ALL THE FEELS.
“I will go through a lot of pain to beat someone. If there’s pride and ego on the line, if I’m desperate, then I’m willing to go to a place where it hurts a lot more.” Shalane Flanagan
Photo by Dylan Coulter.
I got this from Flotrack.
Shalane apparently told Kara Goucher at the start of the marathon in Beijing “let’s fuck shit up.” Any girl with that kind of a mouth is a personal hero of mine.
Hopefully (if I did it right), this will be posting up on tumblr right around the time I’m starting the Boston Marathon. I chose to reblog this post because 1. Shalane is also running this race and I love her and 2. I feel like her words are going to be echoing through me right now.
No, I’m not talking about the first quote. I’m talking about the second one:
Let’s fuck shit up
You might not know this, but I have kind of a mouth. Probably because for 16 years I wasn’t allowed to say shut up or crap or butt (still not allowed around my mother). So, I can appreciate Shalane’s choice of words here.
I also appreciate the sentiment. Here we are, at the starting line. There’s nothing left in me except this race: all my training is behind me, my anxieties and my hopes and my dreams are about to become reality. There’s nothing left except buckling down, gritting my teeth, and pulling it off.
See you at the finish line.