Run like a Bos(s) experience
I have to start out with thanking my amazing friend Diana and Lululemon for making my trip to Boston a once in a lifetime opportunity. Lululemon hosted 80 runners at The Verb Hotel for the weekend of the Boston Marathon. This experience included many great perks like breakfast, snacks available, fun group runs, transportation to the starting line, uplifting speakers, rest and recovery rooms in the hotel, pedicabs to and from the expo, and a pretty awesome after party. I was blown away.
The atmosphere of the hotel paired with a fun crew of runners picked helped make the weekend feel very pretty laid back. Our hotel was about a mile from the starting line and less than that from the expo. Right next to Fenway Park. It was really fun to be a part of the area of town. Tons of extremely friendly Bostonians that were very welcoming.
*Slide Show images pulled from the amazing collection included in the links below. Check it out!
One of the many, many awesome perks that Lululemon offered our group was transportation directly from the hotel and bag check. This really helped my morning start off relaxed. When we arrived at athlete’s village it was a pretty emotional moment, like, holy crap this is really happening. A couple of friends and I found some space under the tent so we could stay out of the warm sun as long as possible. I chatted with so many runners and shared so many stories. It was pretty fun. I was worried about the amount of time we would be waiting for the race to start, but it seemed like time flew by.
The lines to the bathrooms were long, but not unmanageable. I was pretty put-off by the large number of males willing to urinate right on the school building we were waiting at. This seemed extremely disrespectful to a community that completely welcomed and supported the runners. As we headed to the start there was another section of porta-potties and the lines were even longer. I think it was mostly nerves, but I need to make one more stop before getting into the corral.
The walk to the start was fun, there was a giddy friendly atmosphere. More chatting and meeting new runners. Officers and military lined up every other yard. People were stopping to thank them and take pictures. I felt a weird sense of calm. Not normal for this very anxious runner. I am happy I was able to be in the moment, and enjoy the journey. Not stressing like I normally would, before a race.
It was already warm in the extremely crowded starting corrals. As the race started it was pretty difficult to do much more than a shuffle. There was a lot of bumping and I was cut off and elbowed more than a few times. I found myself a bit overwhelmed and concerned. It did help me keep my pace under control but it also made it really hard to run a smooth consistent pace, in a straight line. I was surprised by the number of runners completely stopping, walking or cutting across without taking into consideration the tons of other runners around them. The first mile I was plowed into by a guy trying to make his way into the woods to pee. He cut right through a group of us. There were, again, a large number of men peeing in the woods the first 3 miles, tons of them. I started to get a side stitch around the second mile. It was pretty dull but I was sort of concerned how that would impact my race. I think I may have drank too much water, too close to the race. I wonder if drinking earlier would have avoided that. Luckily, it disappeared around mile 5. I took my first Cliff Shot at mile 5. I have a pretty weak stomach and have found, taking ½ a gel at a time, but more frequently seems to help me. So that is what I did here.
It was at this point in the race where people seemed to have found their pace and begin to settle into the groups they were with. It was still extremely crowded and the water stops were completely chaos. At mile 6 a water table was knocked over causing a ton of people to rush to the opposite side of the street to avoid collisions, which only caused further congestion and bumping into each other. I grabbed a few oranges from some kiddos along the side of the street. They went nuts when I did. I basically attacked the pieces like a vampire just sucking the juices out. It was very refreshing and helped get rid of the Cliff Shot taste. I’m not a big fan of the taste and textures of gels. Mile 8 was the first place I began to see a runner struggle. She looked pretty dizzy and the locals were very quick to get her some medical support. About mile 10 I saw another runner starting to struggle with leg cramps. I took my second (half) gel just before the mile 10 marker.
This is where I began to realize I was going to have a tough day. I was already feeling over heated and was needing water at every water stop. The water stations were so crowded it really killed the flow of the run. I started skipping the water stops and was able to grab water from spectators along the course. You didn’t have to go far to find someone handing out cups, and ice and full cold water bottles. I grab a cup ever chance I had. I would sip on it and then dump the rest on myself. Runners were grabbing water bottles and passing them around, sharing with each other and encouraging each other to stay cool. It was really neat to see the support and camaraderie. When we got to the Wellsely Scream Tunnel runners began darting to the side to get a hug, kiss or high five from the famous girls. I used this opportunity to keep in the middle and try to gain some consistency in my pace, breaking free of some of the crowd. I did get a boost of energy going through this part it was really fun to read the signs. As we left the Wellsely tunnel, I sucked down my 3rd, half energy gel.
Just after mile 15 I saw one of my local running buddies. I was focused on catching up to him. At this point my pace was feeling more difficult to maintain. My breathing was okay, and I didn’t have any muscle issues. I just felt drained of energy at this point. Like I was missing that next gear. I am guessing maybe the sun was depleting my energy levels faster than I expected. It was frustrating. It was at this point I started noticing a large increase in runners needing medical help. A lady had fallen and hit her head and a gentle men was laying on the ground surrounded by people. Mostly, it was runners who had stopped themselves at medical tents, along the way. As I came up to mile marker 18 I was feeling pretty hazy. I felt like I had medicine head and starting to feel sick and dizzy. I contemplated stopping at a medical tent. I went back and forth on what I should do. I took a risk, and kept going. I grabbed two cups of Gatorade and a water, sucking them completely down. As we got to the top of the second hill, the hill just before heartbreak hill, my stomach was completely wrecked. I threw up just as we started to finish the down hill. The crowds at heartbreak hill were great, I felt a sense of relief as we came over the top. My stomach felt much better. I was feeling pretty beat up, but I also felt confident that I was going to make it through.
I took a second to calculate what it would take to break the 3 hour mark. I started to surge for a little bit, I was cruising for a second. It didn’t last long though, and I was sliding back to a pace that hovered between 6:50-7:10. I was checking my watch constantly trying to keep myself pushing closer to that 6:50 pace. It was tough, I relied on the energy from the crowds here. There weren’t too many girls around me, at that time, so I think I got more than my fair share of cheers as many people were picking me out and yelling my number. There is a point where you go slightly down hill and under a bridge, followed by a short uphill. This was when I felt my quads strain. I guess it was one too many downhills, my legs were finally as mad as the rest of my body. A man alongside of me was going up the hill and just seemed to run into an imaginary object and fall backwards. He seemed dizzy but luckily didn’t hurt himself when he fell. The officer in the area was very quick to get him medical help. As I passed each mile marker I kept recalculating my target pace. Hoping I could pull some hidden energy out of my hat and push through to a sub 3. Mile 24 was probably the hardest. I was in denial still that I was going to fall short of my goal. I kept trying to surge and couldn’t push through for more than 10-15 seconds at a time.
It was so loud that last mile. Some how I can always hear my dad in races. He yelled that I looked strong, I think he was lieing to me. It gave me an extra push. I got so excited when I got to Hereford, I knew we were getting close. As I turned onto Bolstyn I tried to sprint. I don’t think my speed changed all that much but I was giving it my everything. It seemed like that final stretch was never going to end. You can see the finish line and it feels like you aren’t getting any closer. The noise is almost deafening, so many people lined up along the way. I saw the clock counting and I pushed with everything I had, to keep it under 3:01. I finished with 1 second to spare, 3:00:59. I later found out, I finished at the 100th overall female. That’s pretty neat and gave me a huge boost.
After the race
As I finished I was filled with a wave of mixed emotions. I was so proud to have pushed myself through such a struggle, for such a longtime. I knew it was going to be tough. However, I wasn’t expecting to struggle so early. I had a brief moment of disappointment to have missed the sub 3 goal. I was able to quickly move past it and felt proud of myself and the journey I just had. I was greeted by many of the medical helpers. One lady was pretty insistent that I was lacking color and wanted me to get checked out at the tents, but I assured her I just needed to keep moving.
The walk to gear check and then to the family meeting area was horrible. I may have teared up a bit. My husband and mom were waiting for me and quickly took care of my every needed. I was supported by mom, dad, husband, aunt and grandma along the way. A shower, some rest and food helped me bounce back pretty quickly.
Although the race was more difficult than I had imagined, and I struggled for quite a while. I am super happy to have had this experience. I feel like I learned a lot about my own personal strength, and can walk away with pride. I still cannot believe the amount of people along the course that come out to support the runners. They cheered, they danced, they made signs. They seriously took care of your every need, bringing paper towels, water, snacks, gels, Vaseline and anything else you can imagine. I got to share the same course as some of the world’s best runners. I am filled with a sense of accomplishment.
I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do next. I’m going to let this race sink in, let my body heal and reflect on my goals for the second half of this year. I feel torn between trying another marathon and crushing that sub 3 goal and taking a break from marathon training to work on some shorter race distance training. I have some pretty lofty goals. I think writing them down and assessing which goals are the most attainable and working towards them one by one may give me the best chance for success.