This weekend someone asked me what my favorite part of the Boston Marathon course was and it took me a little while to articulate an answer. The entire course is so special, but running the Boston Marathon is more than just a race. It’s a whole weekend of experiences, people, and a city that comes to life. With that said, if I blogged about the whole weekend, you’d be reading forever so for the sake of everyone’s time, I’ll stick to the race for this recap.
Getting to the Start
I woke up to weather that looked eerily similar to last year, but I wasn’t going to let the rain get me down. So I bundled up in all my rain gear, almost forgot my shoes (since I was wearing throwaways), then started the trek down Boylston to Boston Commons. Due to the storms and a quick potty stop I was actually running a bit further behind than I’d planned and didn’t end up boarding the bus until a little after 8:45 am. Surrounded by yellow bibs (the wave after me), I started to get a little nervous.
I always love the bus ride to the start line of a race. The nervous energy and excitement of complete strangers all going out to run a marathon is a pretty unique experience. As we got closer to Hopkinton, there was a bit of other traffic, but our bus took a different exit and before I knew it we were stopping. Funnily enough, we’d completely bypassed Athlete’s Village (which I heard was yet again a mud pit) and instead were right behind the start line. To make it even better, we were a full hour ahead of my start time! As I found my way to the port-a-potties, I ran into my Sarasota Suncoast Miler buddies and snapped a quick selfie with my friend Doan. Out of 30,000+ runners, I was still able to find some familiar faces before the party got started!
After a few potty stops, a shoe change, and a snack, it was time to head to my start corral. I continued to ditch my clothes and after getting a start line pic (really glad I ran with my phone this year!) got ready to go!
The beginning of my wave was definitely a blur. Being the first corral in my wave, I was pretty close to the front. But as soon as that gun went off, it was go time and off we went! In last year’s rainy mess, I hadn’t realized how steep the first mile was, but this year it was very clear. I tried to put on the breaks and slow down, but I was also really overcome with gratitude that I wasn’t in pain so I tried to take it all in. That first mile was pretty emotional. Five weeks ago, I really didn’t think I was going to make it, but there I was running through Hopkinton for the second time. 7:59 clicked off on my watch…not a bad first mile!
The first few miles ticked off pretty quickly. The sun was hidden behind the clouds, the runners around me were just as excited to be out there as I was, and there was no rain. It was going to be a good day in Boston!
Just Be Patient
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in my last few (and fastest) marathons, is that patience really pays off at the end. As people were flying past me, I just had to remember that the race doesn’t start until mile 16. Hang in there and stay steady. Somewhere around mile 8, the weather started heating up. I pushed my arm warmers down to my wrists and decided it was time to lose the hat. I tossed my hat to some spectators, pulled on my sunglasses, and just kept trucking.
Here Comes the Sun
The sun started peaking out around mile 10 or 11 and noticeably, that’s when I started seeing people start to walk (already!). As we covered some easy rolling hills through Natick, the excitement of the crowd just carried me through! At this point, I’d been holding steady around 8s and knew that I could probably hold it, but not push it. So, I decided to just roll my arm sleeve over my watch and just run by feel.
The Scream Tunnel
There’s a short hill that takes you into Wellesley and at the top is the famous Shalene port-a-potty. I also peed there last year, so the spot holds a special memory for me. As we crested the hill, the roaring noise of the Wellesley girls began and the emotions started to hit me again. I think I high fived 75% of the girls out there and just had so much fun reading their signs and laughing at their aggressive kissing tactics.
Just Stay Steady
The next few miles I just plugged along, trying to stay steady and run the tangents. I ran past Patrick, one of the runners in Achilles & Catapult in Houston — told him I was from Houston and got a high five. I can’t imagine running those hills (or running at all…) on double prosthetics — gotta give him some serious props. The hill at 16.5 would be here before I knew it so conserving energy was the name of the game. The heat was starting to take it’s toll too, so it was all about staying in the mile I was in. I also started looking out for Kyle here, I wasn’t sure exactly where he’d be cheering and I didn’t want to miss him!
Last year, when I hit the hills my race turned into a survival game. Just get to the finish. This year, I felt stronger but I was cautious. The hills were where I felt a slight pull of my hamstring and decided getting to the finish healthy was more important than a slightly faster finish time so I took a few walking breaks starting after I hit the nuun hydration tent at 17.5. Heartbreak hill was my slowest mile, but I had some great moments! Kyle and Liz were cheering near the top and helped propel me there a little faster!
It’s All Downhill From Here
The few walking breaks I took on the hills were just enough to conserve the energy I needed to stay steady through the finish. At this point there were a lot of people walking and slowing down around me. I didn’t feel great, but I felt a lot better than last year and knew I was going to run a decent time considering. Around 23, I felt a tap on my back and it was my friend Sarah that I met on the course at Tunnel Vision (and ran the entire race together). Seeing her was such a bright spot in my race and helped give me enough positive energy to push through to that finish.
Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston
Oh those famous last two turns! We’d run the 5K on Saturday, so I had practice running this final stretch and was suddenly feeling pretty strong. As I powered up Hereford I started to throttle in some unknown speed and as soon as I hit Boylston I was feeling a pretty solid finish line kick! The crowds were roaring, the sun was shining, and the finish line was in sight. It was another glorious Boston Marathon finish! 3:37:08…11 minutes faster than last year, I’ll take it.
Boston is one of those races. It draws out human emotion unlike any other race. I laughed, I cried, I got frustrated, I smiled, I was inspired, I was moved. Boston, you did it again and I can’t wait to come back.