Yes, I know, just a city. But, if you're a runner, you know that means one thing and one thing only.
The. Boston. Marathon.
I had the awesome experience of running that marathon just a little over four weeks ago, even though it seems like a century ago.
It was a bit of a struggle leading up to the race. We had a nasty, cold, miserable winter. The cold was ugly, but the conditions were even worse.
I got so sick of running on snow and ice, and I hated every second of having a big race in April. Now that it's warm-ish and the lilacs are blooming, though, I think having a spring time race is a great way to keep myself training through the winter. I was too nervous to skip.
I'm a total nerd about keeping stats. I ran 883.19 miles to prepare for Boston. Approximately.
It's always weird to me to plan for so long for a big day to have it finally arrive. It's almost like I didn't think it would really happen, but sure enough the day did finally come.
I agonized over the packing, but felt pretty relieved when I finally got it done.
My husband and I ditched the kids at the hotel (don't worry, they're old and were happy to stay behind), and headed to the expo. Lesson learned, next time, we'll take the T. Waited in lots of traffic and paid lots of money in tolls and parking.
The expo was great. It was exciting to pick up my number and my official shirt. There was so much stuff to look at (and buy). The most memorable was trying a pizza flavored energy type shake thing. Not sure it's going to take off. There was a cool wall to sign and just so much to see. We breezed through in about 2 hours, but we could have easily spent twice as much time.
The next day, we went to the pre-race dinner. I didn't do that for my other two marathons because I figured I could find better food elsewhere, but this was Boston, and I wanted to get the full experience.
(Oh yeah, and I bought the jacket. I wasn't going to because, frankly, I didn't really love the style and wasn't sure I would wear it, but I totally succumbed to the mob mentality at the expo.)
I was so glad we went to the dinner because it was really cool. The really long line moved really fast (especially if you didn't bring a bag to be inspected), and we got there just in time to hear the mayor of Boston speak and introduce our food servers for the night who turned out to be previous Boston winners. The guy who served my pasta was an Olympic winner and Boston winner. The woman who served my salad was the first female winner. How cool is that?! I congratulated them all, but they looked at me kind of funny. I guess maybe it had been so long ago for some of them. Still I didn't want them to think I thought they were just some worker hired for the night to serve my food.
I was so super nervous, but I felt surprisingly calm the next morning when my husband dropped me off at the T (subway). The station master waved us runners in for free which was pretty cool. I chatted with another runner, a veteran Boston-er, on the long ride in. We went our separate ways at gear drop off, and I got on the bus to Hopkinton and met another runner on the way.
I arrived at "Athlete's Village" and wandered around in a daze. I knew I hadn't eaten enough, too nervous, so I tried to gnaw on a bagel and wandered around some more amazed at the runners camped out everywhere. I waited in the Port-a-potty lines twice as much for something to do as anything else.
Finally, it was time for my wave to head toward the start line.
We walked about half a mile to where there were, somewhat anticlimactically, more port-a-potties.
I went again, just to be safe and to kill more time.
Finally, we made our way to the start line, and I reluctantly stripped off my warm, non-running clothes. It was kind of funny to see everyone in their clothes that they didn't mind getting rid of. Lots of p.j.'s and most memorably, 80's style warm up suits. No one was making a fashion statement at that point.
Finally, we started, along with the rain. I was glad that it least held off until we started running. I don't mind running in the rain, but just standing in the rain, not so tolerable. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood as we started. I was too.
After all the build up and anticipation, I was glad to finally be doing the thing that I'd been practicing. The spectators were great. I high fived everyone I possibly could. Especially the kids. They seemed so excited about it, like I was someone special.
There was a lot of rain.
(That's a raindrop by my nose, not a big snot rocket.)
But, I felt pretty good until about mile 15 (I "gu-ed" around miles 7, 14, and 21), but I perked up when I realized only 4 miles to go until I would see my family at mile 19. I never saw them, and they never saw me, but just thinking I was going to see them was good enough.
I was really hoping to beat my qualifying time (3:30:28 at Grandma's), but by mile 20, I really didn't care anymore. I didn't really know whether I was close or not either. I wasn't keeping track. I just wanted to be done. Not looking so happy now . . .
I have to try to remember to look better for the cameras next time, but I wasn't noticing much at that point. The crowds really were amazing and a welcome distraction. The line of Wellesley students was just as loud and crazy as I had heard. Lots of people were stopping for kisses. I opted for high fives instead and got about 40 in one fell swoop. People were really creative with signs and sounds and food, beverage, and even paper towel offerings. And the sheer volume of people was amazing as well. There didn't seem to be a single spot along the whole route where there weren't fans, and in the last mile or so, spectators seemed to be at least 6 rows deep.
I finally made the last turn and was able to see the finish line. What a beautiful sight. At that point, even that last little bit seemed almost insurmountable, but I think I was on auto pilot by then, and I made it!
I was just happy to be done, but it was a nice bonus to see that my time wasn't too, too far off my goal. Official time was 3:35:29. (Five minutes or so for high fives, right?)
All I wanted to do next was sit down, but we were paraded through the gauntlet of getting our medal, water, thermal blanket, protein drink, snacks, and more snacks.
There were plenty of wheelchairs along the walkway, and I contemplated just sitting in one, but I wasn't bad enough for medical attention and didn't want to attract it.
I was then faced with the agonizing decision of going right to meet my family at the family meeting area or continuing along what felt like a death march to my gear bag with warm clothes. I was getting colder and stiffer as I walked along, so I opted for the warm clothes.
Pickup was quick, and I would have changed just about anywhere, but the line for the changing tent was short, and it looked like there might have been space heaters in there. I went in and tried to claim my square foot of space. I struggled to remove my sopping wet, pasted to me, sports bra without elbowing my neighbors. Two nice ladies stopped what they were doing and yanked it over my head without me even asking. I managed to change my top half then tried to bend over to untie my shoes. I didn't get very far without bumping into my neighbors, and I quickly realized my body wasn't going to let me bend over that far anyway.
I gave up and found a bench to sit on. Glorious but cold. Between being somewhat (a lot) brain dead and having shaky, shivering fingers, I managed to text my husband after about 60 attempts (why didn't I just call?) begging him to come and find me even though we'd planned to meet elsewhere. He and my kids showed up amazingly quickly. I even got a hug from my teenage daughter. If I'd only known that's all it took! My husband and 7 year old stripped off my soaked shoes and replaced them with my Converse. (I forgot socks, and I never did manage to change out of my running skirt.)
There was more walking to do as we made our way to the T station, but I was relieved to have my family back with me. There was more standing on the crowded T where one crazy woman asked me if I'd run the marathon in the Converse that I now had on. We finally got a seat toward the end of our ride.
My dad and brother picked us up at the T station. We went to my mom's house in Arlington where they had a big party for me. Everyone had lots of compliments for me and waited on me hand and foot.
It was great!
Whew. That was a marathon post. Ha ha.