One week ago today, I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I’ve taken this past week to reflect internally on my race, and to come down off the lobster high I was on while vacationing in New England. I would like to share my thoughts on how the race went!
As I mentioned in my training recap, I was not trying to run a PR at Boston. My goal was simply to finish with a big smile on my face, and I did just that! And wow, it did not come easy; that was the hardest marathon I have ever ran. My time was 3:52:09, and simply finishing really was a challenge for me. Rather than take you through the race mile by mile, I thought I would just share my specific memories from the entire race!
- The weather. By now I’m sure you have heard enough about it- some of the worst conditions in the history of this race. Temps in the 30-40 degree range, headwinds of about 20-30 mph (with higher gusts), plus an absolute downpour the entire race. I have ran in sub zero temperatures, snow, rain, hail, a tornado warning (accidentally!), wind.. just about everything you can think of. But running 26.2 miles in that kind of weather is drastically different than running 3-5 miles. The cold just builds and builds, especially since I was not moving that quickly! My legs were stiff and feeling as if they were locking up by mile 20 or so, which was something I had not anticipated. I actually didn’t feel THAT cold during the race itself (or I was having too much fun to let it get to me), but immediately after the race is when it really got dangerous for most runners. The finish area was a like a zombie apocalypse- runners were doing the post-marathon shuffle (think of a penguin trying to walk), shivering to the point where they couldn’t think straight or speak clearly, which are signs of hypothermia. Immediately after the race, it wasn’t a celebratory mood as much as it was just survival mode for most runners. Trying to get to their gear check bags, meet their family/get out of the weather, all while being insanely cold and unable to think or work our fingers. I remember letting a few women ahead of me for the gear check tent (& rubbing their backs trying to warm them up a bit) because they were clearly in far worse shape than me and needed to get out of there to receive medical attention.
- The bus to the start. My bus driver took our bus to the wrong town! We drove for a long time, pulled up to a random high school, and our driver looks around and says, “Wait, what town are we supposed to be in?” He then pulled out his phone and used GPS to get us to Hopkinton; but his GPS route ran right into the race course! The mobility impaired runners were already running so we could not continue to the athletes village (this is the area where the runners wait to start the race). The entire bus load of runners all got off the bus, and proceeded to walk from mile 1 of the course backwards to the start line, then from the start line up to athletes village (walking the opposite way of the corrals). It ended up being around 2 miles total! Other runners on my bus were in tears, and understandably so if you were trying to PR! When we finally got to the athletes village, I got in line for the bathrooms only to hear that my wave was already called. I got right out of bathroom line and into my starting corral. I tried to handle it with grace and let it just be part of my Boston experience, but wow, what a nightmare!
- The Wellesley scream tunnel. It might have been my favorite part of the entire race! Even in the pouring rain and wind, you can hear the screams from far away as you approach it. I can’t believe how many of them still showed up on a terrible weather day; it makes me wonder if it is even louder and crazier on a nice day! I slowed down, slapped every high five and had the biggest grin on my face the whole time. I even stopped to get my kiss!
- Desi’s win. When the word spread around the runners on the course that Desi won the women’s race, it was just electric. I was so pumped for her, and it is so fun to have been on the very course that she was just running knowing she just crossed the finish line in first place!
- My family at mile 16. I was looking forward to seeing them the entire race! It’s nice to have something like that to look forward to when you are running a tough race, and I was thankful that they hung out in the pouring rain to see me run by for 5 seconds!
- The Citgo sign. It really is a cool experience when you finally see it and know you are only a few miles from the finish! Especially in the rain, it was like a glowing beacon!
- Heartbreak Hill. This is the hill at mile 21 of the race, named Heartbreak Hill for a reason. It’s not so much the hill itself, but the timing of the hill. On tired legs at mile 21, that hill can seem like a mountain. I got to Heartbreak Hill and told myself I would not walk an inch of it (I was in rough shape at this point, and did not want to walk at all during my first Boston). Honestly though, it wasn’t that bad! At all! Maybe it made a difference that I was not racing my hardest? But I mean, I live in Nebraska (NO hills) and thought that it was pretty tame. So- my advice to future first time Boston Marathoners, is to not turn this molehill into a mountain in your own head.
- Boylston street. It was just a surreal experience, and such a cool finish to a race. You make the turn onto Boylston and you can see the finish line, but you still have quite a bit of distance to cover. I love that they did it this way; you get the finish line feels for much longer, and truly appreciate what you have just done. I got choked up running down Boylston, which never happens to me in races. It was just the culmination of so many years of work! Luckily, the massive amount of rain probably masked that I had shed a tear or two!
- The volunteers. I don’t think anyone can say enough good things about them. For them to come out and brave this weather for us, and with the level of love and enthusiasm they had, is simply incredible. I could tell that every volunteer I interacted with sincerely wanted to make sure the runners were ok, and were working so hard to get runners who needed it medical attention. I was so thankful for each and every volunteer for coming out and helping me achieve my dream.
- MY FEET! My feet had ZERO blisters and NO lost toenails. It’s a miracle after running a marathon in the rain! I wore my Balega Blister Resist socks, and I seriously give them all the credit for keeping my feet pain-free in this terrible weather.
I am so happy to officially be a Boston Marathon finisher. And, I can’t wait to go back and run it again! My first Boston has been extremely memorable, but I think I can sum up my thoughts in two words: unfinished business. I want to go back and RACE Boston, and hopefully on a day with better weather. I do not have plans to try to qualify for the 2019 race because my husband and I will have some volatility with our jobs coming up (so planning & booking travel is going to be difficult), but I do think I plan to try to qualify and return in 2020. And I can’t wait!