It’s time to start blogging again and what better way to jump into the fray than with a recap of a momentous moment in my life: running the 118th Boston Marathon.
I ran Boston in 2010 and chalked it up as a one and done. I qualify every year but it’s an expensive race (Dear hotels: Three times your standard rates—really??) and I never planned to go back.
Until last year.
I knew almost immediately after the bombings that I would run in Boston in 2014. I wanted to be part of the unity of runners—and of a town—that refused to allow a tragedy to mar the tradition and pride of a historic race.
Not only did I want to run Boston, I wanted to PR. My personal record going into the race stood at a 3:29:31. I wanted a 3:25 so I trained for sixteen weeks on a plan to get me 3:20. I knew I’d need the extra five minutes.
FAVORITE BOSTON MOMENTS
It’s impossible to cover the emotion and magnitude of a race as epic as a Boston, so here are just a few highlights of my race.
The Bus Driver. It’s an hour drive to the start line by bus. Our driver was a woman who from the moment we boarded told us, “I’m here to look after you guys. You need anything, you tell me. You’re all heroes.” Before we got off the bus she got on the loudspeaker and gave a short speech about what seeing runners like us return to Boston meant to her that pretty much had all of us hugging each other and sobbing as we filed off the bus toward Athlete’s Village.
Athlete’s Village. 36,000 runners mill around waiting for the start. I am good friends with two runners from GSO, one of them blind without his glasses—a standing joke in our running group. I’m walking away from the bagel table when a man grabs my shoulder and sticks his face into mine.
That’s right, blind Pat found me amid thousands of people. And walking to the start line, my other good friend Michael fell into step beside me. I took spotting two good friends at the start as a sign that this was going to be a great race.
Mile 5. We’re settling into our pace when a woman next to me spots a friend ahead of her and starts yelling to him. “John! John!” John doesn’t respond so a runner from Boston—a heavyset older guy—starts yelling, “John!” John still doesn’t hear so on the count of three, about eight of us scream, “JOHN!!!!” John almost wets himself but he did turn around. Classic.
Mile 19. A runner comes to a dead stop in front of me without warning and I can’t help but plow into him, shoving him with both hands so I don’t fall. He gives me a dirty look and I award myself BIG points for ignoring him and going on my way. My adrenaline is peaking and it would have been easy to throw down with a nasty comment. You want to dance, buddy? I will SO do this.
The Signs. The fun of running a race is reading the signs people hold up for loved ones. The one that made my laugh: “GO-NADS!” The one that made me smile: “Run, Random Stranger—Run!” And the one that motivated me: “If it were easy, I’d be doing it.”
The PACE. To run a 3:20, I needed a 7:38/mile pace. I held close to that pace through about mile 21-22. Then the heat got to me and—if I’m being honest—I knew I’d run strong enough to get me my 3:25 and I just didn’t have it in me to push harder. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I walked about 15 seconds at the start of the last mile. So. Tired.
The PR. But in the end, I got what I wanted. My final time was a 3:23:39—a walloping 6 minute PR which is HUGE for a marathon. I finished in the top 10% of women runners and the top 25% of all runners—statistics I plan to be quoting to nurses in the retirement home one day.
The Support. Family, friends and co-workers spent the week before my race pumping me up and wishing me well and then were kind enough to track my progress on race day. I got back to my room after the race and had 65 text messages and 108 emails. If you ever want to feel enveloped by love and support, run a marathon. It makes you sit up and take notice of the truly amazing people you have surrounded yourself with in life.
Although my left quad feels like a piece of solid steel is lodged inside of it, I’m quickly on the way to recovery. Never say never, but I don’t know that I’ll return to Boston. This race was epic in so many ways—the comeback of Boston, the emotion, the support, having a great run…
Boston 2014 will be very hard to top.
Thank you to all of you who made my journey possible. Much love.