Congratulations to Michelle for being the closest to my finishing time. I would have gotten her something Boston Marathon related, but Michelle and her husband Brian just had their third baby on Sunday, so I have decided to get something for their little bundle of joy.
Now on to the marathon...........
Some marathons you run to run and others you toe the line to race. Monday I was ready to race. I have never felt as mentally prepared for a race than I was for Boston this year. I was nervous about my training as there weren't that many miles, but I was ready to handle the course and the spectators and the challenges that lay ahead. And when the weather forecast came in saying it was going to be in the 40s, I knew the stars were going to align.
We hopped the bus to Hopkinton around 6:30am and got to the Athlete Village in good time. We port-a-johned twice (yes it's a verb) and did a little eating and hydrating. 9:15 rolled around and it was time to drop our stuff at the buses and take the long walk to the starting corrals. I was in corral 12, the second to last one of the first wave. There was a fighter jet fly-over, the National Anthem was sung, and the starting gun sounded. Being as far back as I was, I made it to the start line probably about 10 minutes after the race actually started. I started my watch and I was off.
The very first mile of the race is so steep downhill that they don't even let the wheelchair racers start at the regular start line. I tried to run conservatively, in control, yet making sure not to pound my quads. It would be a long day. My first mile was conservative; one of my slowest of the race. Then I got into my groove and pushed the pace comfortably. The only times I pulled back was more emotionally than physically as I needed to control my breathing, yet my turnover continued at a fast clip.
The miles ticked by and before I knew it, I had entered my favorite part of the race: Wellesley. There was a gentleman running beside me who was wearing headsets. He turned to me and said, "what's that sound?" I said, that's Wellesley. Take off your headset and listen. He said, "we're like minor rock stars." I said no, we're major rock stars. I cruised through Welsley, pushing my fastest mile of the race.
I kept pushing my pace comfortably fast and I saw the sign that said we had entered Newton. Four hills and then we were back in Boston. Coach had told me to be hungry on the hills and I thought of that as I took it one step at a time powering up the hills. The heart rate didn't get out of control, but I certainly made it a point to push the hills, even if it really only was baby steps. In between the hills were stretches of flat and some sharp downhills. Mile 19 was a long downhill and I could really start to feel the day taking it's toll on my legs. This was the first time I had worn my racing flats for a marathon and my knees were getting achy. Every mile I made sure to change my stride--do a butt kick or pick my knees up--just to keep my legs feeling fresh. After three hills, I knew which one was left: Heartbreak. The thing that makes Heartbreak so bad is where it is. It's mile 21, it's long, it's the fourth of four hills, and it's after 14 miles of downhill. I knew it was the last one so I took it one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, and made sure not to walk up the hill. There would be time to relax after the hill was over. And the hill was over quickly. I had made it through the hills in Newton and now it was time to cruise home.
My body was really feeling fatigued and now it was a mental battle to keep moving forward, picking up my knees, and not to give up. I was so close to executing a great race. I took my last gel and salt cap at mile 23 and I choked really bad in the process. It was the only time I had to really slow down, yet I didn't walk. In fact, I didn't walk the whole race. Finally I looked up at mile 24 and could see the Citgo sign. That Citgo sign is where there is one mile to go. I kept my eye on the sign and pulled myself into the city. Dave would be at 25-1/2, two turns and I was done. I found Dave before he had found me. I pointed to my watch saying I had made great time and started to pick up the pace going up Hereford. I turned on Boylston and ran as hard as my little legs would take me. I put my hands up in the air and crossed the finish line in a new PR-3:29:28. I was overjoyed! I'm still overjoyed!
A year ago I had decided after Boston that I was done with the marathon and it was time to move on. But really I needed to refocus. And I'm so glad I did. Since I started working with Elizabeth and focused my running solely on myself and my own goals, my running has excelled. I am ecstatic about the last three races I've run and I'm looking forward to the races that are yet to come. Thanks everyone for coming along on this journey with me.
By the way, I am WAY sore!
Mile 26.2-9:59 (I never saw the sign for mile 26)
Official Time - 3:29:28
Come back tomorrow for pictures and videos from the weekend.