(Lots of pictures and the recap of the first part of my trip are all in this post here).
I woke up on marathon morning feeling remarkably calm and relaxed. I got to sleep until a little after 5am (and got 7 full hours of sleep!) I took a shower and got dressed and ready, and took my time packing my gear bag and a bag for my dad to carry for me. I got a wonderful email from Josh and got a text from Jennifer that helped me feel even better. My Dad snapped a couple of pictures quickly, we made a plan on where he would be when during the race and where we would meet up afterwards, and then I was on my way!
I really was feeling good, and excited but calm. I had decided that the weather would be what it would be, I would do the best I could, and enjoy as much of the experience as I could. I knew that freaking out or stressing out would not help anything and I wanted to soak in and enjoy my first Boston Marathon. I also wanted to keep a positive attitude (which I did).
Rick picked me up at 7am. We drove out to Hopkington, and in a cool twist, we ended up right behind the police-escorted motorcade of the elite athletes. Pretty cool!
We parked and got on a school bus for a short ride in to Hopkinton, and after a short walk we were in the Athlete's Village.
I was trying to ignore how hot it was just sitting on the grass two hours before we were to even start running. I am always, always cold, and I didn't even need any warm ups or throwaways. Any last hopes that the weathermen were wrong went out the window. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was HOT.
I waited on a LONG portapotty line, and then I lubed up with Aquafor and sunscreen, mixed up my Perpetuem, changed into my racing shoes, and was ready to roll. I headed down towards the corrals. I got down there and we had to stand and wait until the first wave was gone. We were standing in the sun (there was no shade) and it was HOT. After about 30 minutes they filed us into the corrals, and again, we were standing around in the hot sun. I was already feeling overheated and we hadn't even started to run yet!
I was right at the front of Wave 2 Corral 3, and right on time (10:20am) we were off! I knew the first four miles were going to be crowded and steep downhill, and my goal was just not to go out too fast. I was pleasantly surprised to find that although it was crowded, it was not difficult to run at the pace I wanted and that things thinned out to a comfortable level of "congestion" within the first mile or so (totally different from my NY experience).
My legs felt good, but it didn't take long for me to feel hot, and to realize how difficult a day it was going to be. As we passed mile three and the sun was beating down, I remember truly wondering if I was going to be able to run another 23+ miles in that sun and those temperatures. It is not good to be doubting at mile three of a marathon!!
Splits for the first four miles were -
7:30, 7:19, 7:17, 7:12
I have never walked in a marathon, but I realized quickly that the only way to survive was to stay as cool as possible. So I started walking through the aid stations. At each one I got two waters (one went over the head, one went down the front) and then I got a third water to sip. I drink Hammer Perpetuem, and that only lasted me until Mile 16 and then it was gone! (It usually lasts me until mile 23 or 24). Because of running out of my drink I had to start taking Gatorade on the course, which only added to my stomach problems.
Splits for miles 5-8 were -
7:36, 7:34, 7:16, 7:30
It was right around mile 9 that things started to get rough. My stomach started to feel SICK, and my head started to get fuzzy. Rick had given me some Hammer Endurolytes to take every three miles. I took them at mile 3 and miles 6, but I looked down at my Garmin at mile 9.2 and honestly could NOT remember if I had taken the Enduroytes less than a quarter of a mile earlier! And taking them involved unzipping my handheld pouch, opening a container, and swallowing two pills. (I do think the Endurolytes helped).
I also honestly could not have told you how many portapotties I ended up in before looking at my Garmin splits, even though I normally could tell you the exact mileage I stopped at and for how many minutes/seconds. My mind got very fuzzy!
Splits for miles 9-12 were -
8:46 (first pit stop), 7:38, 8:00, 8:53 (second pit stop)
Running past the girls at Wellesley was as cool of an experience as everyone tells you. Oh the screaming! :)
At the half-way point I was still pretty happy with how I was running and the potential for a decent time (and a PR), although I could feel that the sun and the close to 90 degree temps were taking it's toll on me.
Splits for miles 13-16 were -
7:46, 7:42, 8:28 (quick pitstop), 7:37
I kept telling myself "just get to mile 15 in good shape", because that is what Coach Rick had told me to do, and that was where he was waiting for me. I knew seeing him, and hearing his voice and getting a quick pep talk would be a big boost. Sure enough, right at mile 15 I saw him standing on the course looking for me, and he quickly spotted me and jumped in. I tried to soak up his energy and positive words.
I have to say that it was the people along the course that really saved the day. There were so many spectators out with water, ice, cold washcloths, sponges, wet paper-towels, hoses, water guns, buckets, sprinklers, etc. The fire departments had some fire hydrants open and some "hydration tunnels" set up you could run through. I ran past every drop of water I was able to. Coach Rick had given me a sponge that I kept tucked in my top, and I used that to squeeze water on my neck as often as I could too. I was SOAKED. I was more wet than I was when I ran Top of Utah Marathon in the pouring rain/hail. My feet were sloshing in my shoes and my shorts kept sliding down because they were so wet/heavy. But being wet and cooling off (even if it only lasted a short time) was the only way for me to survive and keep running.
The Newton Hills actually weren't as bad as I expected. In different weather conditions I think I would have really ran this section of the course well. I am a decent hill runner and I really loved the Boston course.
Splits for miles 17-20 were -
8:19, 9:20 (pit stop), 8:11, 8:17
At this point part of my brain was saying that we were definitely going to finish and was very relieved and happy about that, and part of my brain was wondering how on earth we were going to run another 6+ miles. My stomach was just so so sick and my body felt so weak. There was no relief from the sun - I felt like I was baking - and it was just pretty dang miserable. Brutal. Brutal is the right word. It didn't help that so very many people were walking, being carted off, falling down, throwing up, going in to the medical tents, etc. It felt like a war zone at times.
Some fun things that happened during the race -
- I had two different people recognize me from the Runner's World article while I was running
- I had THREE friends in the crowd recognize me and get my attention
- For about half a mile people kept cheering for "Wyoming!" and I kept thinking, "how the heck do they know I am from Wyoming?" I even looked down a few times to see if I was somehow wearing something I had forgotten about. After a bit I realized that a man running next to me was wearing a Wyoming shirt. There were only 23 runners in the race from Wyoming. What are the chances I would end up running right with one of them?
- My new favorite marathon sign, "You aren't Crazy, We are just Lazy!"
I found myself walking longer through/after each aid station trying to cool myself down, get fluids in slowly, and settle my heart rate a bit. I hated walking (and it was very hard to start running again each time I walked an aid station). I felt like I was quitting and giving up. I felt wimpy. I knew I had to do it, but I hated it. I had stopped looking at my Garmin because I knew it would just make me feel discouraged, but by the course clocks I knew roughly what my time would be by about this point and I knew a PR wasn't happening. I did realize that a BQ was still possible if I held it together and didn't fall apart any further, and so I made that my goal.
21-26.2 were -
11:36 (pit stop, had to wait to get in), 8:00, 8:28, 9:43, 8:48, 8:50 and an average 7:01 pace for the final .2 (or .57 on the Garmin)
I saw that Citgo sign and knew I was getting close. I kept telling myself "two miles left" and picturing where I would be on my road to home and how easy of a distance that was. I kept telling myself I would be done running in less than 20 minutes. I knew my Dad would be right around mile 26, and I let that thought pull me in. I kept thinking about still being about to BQ in Boston, and let that push me.
I turned onto Hereford street, and heard my Dad yell loud and clear! I was so happy to see him and hear him (and I was so happy he was standing in the shade. I had been worrying about him being out in the crazy hot sun, especially since I was taking longer than hoped/planned). He didn't have an easy time spectating though. He watched one runner go down right in front of him and saw lots of people being carted off by EMT's, so of course he was very worried. He also did a lot of walking. Hearing him cheer for me was a big boost. He was great!
I made that final turn on to Boylston St., and really tried to soak in the crowds, the finish line getting closer and closer, the fact that I was finishing (and was BQ'ing), and the fact that I had survived and done it, when it was so terribly hard and it had seemed almost impossible at times during the course.
I crossed the finish line and my final stats were -
Time - 3:37:48
Overall - 4184/21554 finishers (top 19% overall)
In Gender - 729/8966 women (top 8% of women)
In 18-39 age group - 592/4580(top 13% of age group)
As I walked through the finish area I got water, the heat sheet, medal, and a snack bag, and we got funneled out toward the street where the family reunion area was. There were people in bad shape everywhere, and there was even a line of wheelchairs waiting to get in to the medical tent. I was grateful I was feeling ok physically (very exhausted, but ok).
As I started walking towards the Westin Hotel where I was going to meet my Dad, I let myself have a good cry. I knew that no one would want me to feel disappointed and I don't like crying around people, so I kept my sunglasses on and just cried while I walked. To be honest, I was feeling disappointed, and I was frustrated and doubting myself and my abilities. I felt like I had taken a big step backward instead of forward.
I got close to the Westin and pulled myself together. I looked around out front and there were lots of other people, but not my Dad. I borrowed a phone and sent him a text to tell him I was going in to the hotel, and just before I did I noticed a family face. It was Merhawi Keflezighi, Meb's brother! I knew him from running on Meb's charity team last year in NY, as he is Meb's agent (and he is one of the nicest people you could ever know). I called out his name and he turned around, and surprisingly he recognized me immediately. We started talking and I realized that there was someone standing off to the side waiting for us to stop talking. I looked up to be polite and realized it was Meb! He recognized me as well and I gave him a big hug and congratulated him on his Olympics Trial win and wished him luck at the Olympics. I told him all the kids were routing for him when the race was on TV (except for Shorty, who loves Ryan Hall). :)
Meb asked about Josh, the kids, and my Dad and it was just a really nice moment. My one regret about the expo was that I hadn't gotten to say hi to Meb, so it was such a neat twist of fate to run in to him and Merhawi.
I went in to the Westin and got a round of applause when I went in to the suite for Rick's runners. My Dad found me and we headed upstairs to one of the two hotel rooms that they had set up for runners to use to shower. It was a beautiful room and it was heavenly to get out of my damp uniform, take a shower, and put on clean, dry clothes.
My body was the worst it has ever been after a race! I was sunburned in quite a few place (despite putting on a TON of spf50 sport sunblock), my feet were like raisins from being soaked for so long (although miraculously I didn't have any blisters) and the Aquafor was no match for the heat/water because I chafed like I have never chafed before. (And chafing hasn't ever been an issue for me). The shower was pretty painful! The worst sunburned area I have is my right hand. It is puffy and swollen today even. Ouch!
I talked to Josh and Pam quickly and got some texts and Facebook messages from Jennifer. If you didn't see this post of hers, you need to go see it. That is the kind of friend she is! On top of that, she was texting with Josh throughout the race. I am not sure who was keeping who calm (or who was getting who more excited???) but they both had a lot of fun. :)
ALL of the Facebook messages, blog comments, emails, etc. were so very uplifting and mean more than I can say. THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to say something. I am very, very grateful for all the kind words and encouragement and very humbled by the outpouring of support.
When all the runners had made it in, the suite had cleared, and everyone was packing up and leaving, my Dad and I said good-bye and went to dinner. I had a burger and fries and then some fabulous bread pudding (my favorite treat). Since I hadn't eaten before the race and had just had some fruit and pretzels afterwards, I was STARVING.
|This is the bread pudding. Yes, it was ridiculously big. Pam loves to get a "happy picture" of me eating something good after a race, hence the extra big smile ;)|
I actually slept really well, and was pleasantly surprised when I got out of bed feeling pretty good this morning and not nearly as stiff as I usually am. I went for a short, slow, easy, three mile run and felt better and better as the run went on. It always hurts me to take a deep breath the night/morning after a marathon and after I go for a short, easy run that disappears. My body feels very tired overall, but nothing specific hurts (besides the sunburn!) and my legs feel pretty dang good.
I enjoyed a slow morning with my Dad, we went and had some delicious Ethiopian food (and ate way too much), and then he dropped me off at the airport.
It was an incredible weekend and experience. I love the city of Boston and I love the Boston Marathon. I am hooked! The time spent with my Dad and Pam was wonderful and uplifting. Meeting so many inspiring runners was a very special experience. Seeing Amanda and Robin was great! And, I got Ethiopian food and bread pudding. :) Next year I want to do it all over again, and bring Josh. :)
So how am I feeling now? I know that the conditions were brutal. I know that everyone's times were slower than they hoped and that everyone had to adjust their strategies/goals. I know that my time was decent considering the temps and that just finishing yesterday was an accomplishment. I am not going to feel disappointed anymore, and I am not going to feel discouraged. I had worried about letting a lot of people down, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I can't help but wonder if I could have pushed myself harder, stopped less, walked less, and done better, but I guess I will never know. I did learn a lot yesterday, and can now say I have run a marathon in just about every weather extreme possible! I will certainly never forget my first Boston Marathon and look very forward to running it again and again.
I am going to take what I learned in Boston and add it to the training I have done and the training I will do and keep moving forward. I have just under 8 weeks until the Utah Valley Marathon. :)
Congratulations to ALL of the runners in Boston yesterday. I was amazed at the spirit, heart, and determination I saw in all of the runners out there.