I could have trained. I should have trained. But as we all know, sometimes things do not go according to plan. I knew that if I turned to the online running community for tips on running Boston while logging less than 20 mile/month would be met with anything but support.My running buddies who became my friends over the years never doubted and even made the trek to Boston for Marathon Monday. We were all committed to getting my body over that finish line.
The last year of my life have been utter chaos. Still I made a promise to my mother that I was going to run the race that I set my eyes on in early 2013. There was no way, sans a natural disaster, that I would miss running Boston. Who knows if I was going to BQ on another marathon in the near future. The 16-20 weeks leading up to the race I told myself that I would get out and run. Eight weeks out I officially joined a gym with the intention of logging many a mile on the treadmill. In reality I went to Zumba or cardio classes twice a week and log a mile or two after. My body and my brain were on totally different wavelengths.
I had decided that this was going to be the race that I truly ran for fun. Considering the fact that I had run a marathon seven months before I knew I was still capable of completing the distance. Shoot, I ran 81 miles in a 24 hour race on a whim.
In order to finish looking like a human and not a zombie my plan was to ride the coast the downhills with as little effort as possible and focus on my form and foot turnover on the uphills. My base goal was to get to the half marathon mark without walking and then walk the Newton Hills as needed. The expo was superb and the other runners that I met that day were a friendly reminder that we all run for a reason. A race wouldn’t be a good race if I hadn’t drunk my two god luck beers the night before the race. The race dinner offered Samuel Adam’s 26.2 tap, just my luck.
On race day the weather wasn’t great. It was just under 40 degrees with wind gusts of over 20mph. By the 5k mark the rain was another ‘perk’. Once I arrived at bag check I realized that I had left my Body Glide at home. I hadn’t planned for rain so a friend let me borrow her jacket to run in. This morning was off to an amazing start, but I still didn’t doubt that this would be a great day. After bag check things calmed down and I planned out my final race strategy.
The race went off without any further surprises. The downhills early in the race were helpful. I coasted through the 5k and 10k marks in good time. The crowds were great, it seemed that no one packed up shop and left due to the weather. Somewhere between the 10k and 21.1k mark I met my first running mate, a guy from the Czech Republic. Around the same time I saw a pizza shop and someone walking out with a few boxes of piping hot pizza. This is also the same time that I started craving pizza! Approaching the Wellesley crowd was something special. Those ladies (and gentlemen) must go to class without voices for the rest of the week. I partook in no kissing myself, but for those that are looking for a unique moment this is the place.
I slurped down my first two gels and ate a few oranges leading up to the halfway point, but my body wanted something else. I continued to push forward, head first into the wind and rain. As I made it to the first of the Newton Hills I slowed my pace and power walked my way up. My running mate for the next 7.5 miles spoke to me then. He said something along the lines of, “You look like you have the right idea.” At that point we began talking and motivating each other to make it to the next stoplight, tree or mile marker. He had a surgery a few months earlier and couldn’t train, but felt that he still had to complete the race.
We ran, talked, ate Pringles and Swedish Fish. At mile 19 I saw a few friends and became a little more energized. A few miles later we saw his cheer crew. Eventually I knew my legs need a slightly longer break, a couple of minutes in a lovely porto would work. For the first time in a race 50k or under I did something different. I stopped running completely and went to the loo. I wished my mate a strong finished and proceeded to compose myself and shed a bit of liquid.
The last couple miles were tiring, I was walking anything that felt like an incline. The hill leading up to the Citgo sign was a walking hill for me. At this point I was saving as much steam as I could for the final 1.2 miles. The crowds continued to cheer and motivate runners. I had a few fun and friendly quick conversations with spectators.
Once I made it onto Hereford Street I started to pick up the pace. There was no more walking now, I was only a few minutes from keeping my word on one of the biggest promises that I have ever made. As I left onto Boylston Street and saw the finish lines in the distance I started to get emotional. I wished my mother was able to watch the race, see me finish it, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I unzipped my jacket in hopes that the photographers would snap a good photo of my crossing with my tribute shirt to my mother. All race photographers have a goal of catching you mid-moment, I had just finished opening the jacket when they snapped a photo with my arms flailing. Than all of a sudden it was over, years of planning to get here and after a few fun hours of running it was over. It didn’t feel like I had run completed another marathon, well physically it felt like I had run one, painfully smart.
Treating this race like an ultramarathon was my personal key to success. Shoot, I even dressed like I was running an ultra – so many colors, so many brands. I listened very intently to my body, paid attention to my foot turnover and ran my own race. Staying true to my word was another reason why I didn’t let any minor pain deter me from finishing. The Boston Marathon was my slowest marathon, but it is the race that I am most proud of. Thank you Boston for allowing me to run this great race and thank you mom for being my greatest supporter and motivation.