In case you haven’t read my previous entries leading into Marathon Monday here they are …
If you have read those, well … here is all about Marathon Monday!
The morning started off with an early wake up call, so I could get myself ready and catch an Uber to Boston Common. This is the staging area for runners catching the busses out to Hopkinton. When I jumped on the bus there, I was able to catch some extra shut eye while we traveled the 26.2 miles to Athlete’s Village located at Hopkinton High School. There we would gather ourselves consume some early morning calories, grab a coffee or other liquids and relax amongst others until our wave was called, I was in wave 1 so my call time would be between 9:05 and 9:20AM, the earliest of the groups in regards to the open divisions.
While there I was sitting around looking at all of these runners, thinking to myself I am surrounded by some pretty bad ass runners! Most of these runners, earned the right to run the Boston Marathon through a qualifying race. Each person here outside of the charity runners, ran a race that was at least 2 minutes and 28 seconds faster than their standard time, talk about FASSSSST!
While sitting in the open grass field there in Hopkinson, one of my fellow Buffalo Chips Running Club team members, Charsey. She qualified through the Santa Rosa Marathon after only running 3 or 4 marathons previously. With about 20 minutes until my call time, I made my way to the porto johns to make sure I was ready to get this run on. During the time in line I chatted up with other runners, who were from Buffalo, these guys were fast, talking about going sub 2:50 … I didn’t know how they did, but I hope they crushed their goal.
Now the the pre-race needs were completed, it was time to head to the staging area for Wave 1 runners, here everyone chatted up about various races, while others talked about their qualifying race and race day strategy. Boston Marathon veterans talked about the course, while runners like myself who had never been there just soaked it all in as part of the new course that was going to challenge us in a moments time.
As we gathered at the start line, the National Anthem was played then we were treated to a fly over by 2 amazing nighthawk helicopters. The pre-race festivities completed, the reality of taking on the 26.2 miles to Boston were really about to happen! I wasn’t sure how I really was going to tackle this race having had some set backs in training for about 6 weeks, where I was hit with a pretty nasty virus. So my plan was to run the race based on feel and go off some of the paces that I was able to muster up in training, with the ultimate goal of having a blast and enjoying the course and everything the roads to Boston had to offer, not to mention the crowds that were already supporting us even before the race had officially even started.
With the first few miles under way, I was feeling really good though I did start to feel pretty warm already, before the race had even started I dumped the gloves and kept my arm sleeves. The first 5k I was able to get in around the 7min/mile average.
Moving into the 10k mark I was just over 7 minutes per mile at this point, but feeling not as sharp and well as I was at the 5k mark. I knew today wasn’t going to be the race I would have dreamed of having, like running a BQ at Boston. At this point, I started to pull back a little moving from the 10k mark to the 10 mile mark, and pulled through the 1/2 marathon mark at around 1:39:xx. At this point, I made a decision that I was going to pull out of the race, and jump into the event! The event to me was much more important that running for a specific time. This was my first Boston Marathon, and nothing that day was going to ruin the enjoyment and fun that this weekend was already was about.
Around this point in the race, I heard a lot of screaming … I knew I was moving into Wellesley, where the college girls would be lined up screaming their freaking lungs out for the runners coming through their town. The screaming and yelling was much louder than I expected, though to be honest, the support on the course from beginning to end was more than I expected, though this wouldn’t be the loudest crowd of the day, that would be later in the race, where I would experience the unreal support of the Boston Marathon.
With Wellesley passed through, the next town I would be entering was Newton. This is where I knew there would be Heartbreak Hill, November Project Boston (and other Tribes) and where Donovan and Bethany would be viewing the marathon from. It was easier for them to see me there than at the finish line, so we planned that as I would get up Heartbreak Hill I would stay to the left and look for them there.
This is where I remember seeing so many people and gaining so much momentum getting up the hills. To be honest Heartbreak on it’s own isn’t that bad, but throw 20 miles in front of it then it becomes a full on challenge, most runners would feel it at this point. I was already feeling the cramping in my legs and side, I tried to stay hydrated as much as possible and even slowed to a walk at times to stretch out and sort out my cramping, though I found it best to keep moving at a slower run and the cramping would pass through.
Finally, I was over Heartbreak and moved out of Newton going into Brookline, the second to last town before making my way into Boston. Brookline was tough for me perhaps one of the toughest stretches where the fatigue was really starting to get to me. During this moment, I reminded myself of the work that was put into getting to Boston, and NOTHING was going to stop me from feeling that awesomeness that awaited on Boylston Street.
Gathering myself back to moving at a slow run, I saw other runners struggling as well, a lot of support came from the crowd and from fellow runners along the course. I remember approaching Fenway and seeing a sea of Red Sox hats along the side of the course, adding for some added support, as I started moving towards Boylston, I remember seeing a sign that read BOSTON STRONG along an overpass or walk path that we would run under. At that point, I’ll be honest I got a little emotional thinking about all of those events I saw what happened on tv in 2013, the families, the individuals and everyone else that were affected by the unfortunate incidents on April 15, 2013 during the bombings. This added some internal motivation to be Boston Strong and run this final stretch for all those affected, and for myself!
Moving closer to Boylston, I always remembered the scenes from previous races where announcers would talk about making the final turn onto Boylston Street. I could begin to hear a loud roar happening, but wasn’t certain if this was actually Boylston … and there it was I was turning onto the famous Boylston Street! The crowds so loud that it seemed like I was running through a thunder storm due to the loudness of the supporters along this final stretch. During the final 400 meters, I ended up running along side another runner named, Guy from New York who was running his first Boston Marathon … we looked at each other and helped one another get through that finish line … right when we crossed he looked over at me as said “We did it! We finished the mother fucking Boston Marathon!”, then gave me a hug and high five.
Crossing the line at 3:39:17 was no were close to my best time in the marathon, but the experience was the greatest feeling I have ever had in my 28 marathons. There is no feeling like crossing that finish line, the support and the special moments that the race had to offer. I crossed the finish line with a smile and was truly excited, I just ran the best marathon of my life! I knew there was no other race that would be able to capture the same emotion and enthusiasm as this race.
In the end I would never trade in the journey it took to get to Boston. The ups and downs in training, the races that didn’t go my way, the earning of previous Boston Qualifying times only to be seconds short once the final field time was announced. Everything, I would redo all 27 marathons to get to this awesome 28th all over again. Each marathon, training run and experience only made crossing the finish line on Boylston that much sweeter.
After crossing the finish line, it was a quick turn around to get back to the hotel, shower, pack up and head to the airport to catch our 4:35PM flight out of Boston … at that point the trip would be officially over.
So I guess there went the weekend and the journey … until we have another go at Boston. Thank you Boston Marathon, the BAA, and everyone who was part of the journey directly and indirectly, for the great memories I will always treasure.