Race takeaway: OUCH, OUCH, HOT, HOT, OUCH
As you may have heard from others this race was amazingly challenging. The weather was in the 80s and the sun beat down on us 98% of the time. It became a race of pure fight. Anyone who endured this thing should be so proud. And everyone had their own battles out there. Let alone that it’s a challenging course, mixing in those temps it adds a new layer of complexity that only those out there could understand. I hope that other running had their bodies cooperate and hold on through it. Now to my story….
I slept really well, better than I have for any marathon. Never was up in the night, no thoughts racing. Instead I blacked out, slept deeply and was up pretty easily at 4:30am. I had everything laid out the night prior so getting ready was a breeze.
My stomach was feeling perfect too! I had a hammer bar, soy latte and then we were ready to make our way to the busses by 5:30am.
I brought my tunes for this marathon. I haven’t run with music in a marathon in a while, 2010 Chicago Marathon I think. I like having a small handful of songs that I can play to keep me mellow during the race or pump me up and I can turn it on and off at different parts of the course when I need it.
Last year I got to the busses right at 5:00am. I wanted to make sure I was in line with no issues. This time I was thinking that 5:30 won’t mean I’m on the first busses, but still on in a decent amount of time.
As you can see behind me in this picture, the lines are not too crazy yet. Rob got a couple pictures with is phone of me walking to the bus and getting in line.
I was able to get in line and on a bus in a decent amount of time, but there were people trying to cut in front of our line pretending like they didn’t know this long line existed, yeah right. I informed them that the line ends much further back. By the time we loaded our bus a mass of people arrived and the lines became just a sea of people and mayhem. If I ever get to race Boston again I won’t this late to get to the busses again, it’s just not worth the hassle.
Our bus ride wasn’t the smoothest. The bus got turned around and it added at least an extra 20 minutes. There were guys on the bus who said this happens every year, no biggie. That was alright except I was trying to meet up with my friend Natalie at 7am. We met while riding the bus last year and in our few hours of hanging out at Athletes Village I felt like I had known her forever. I was so excited to meet up with her. She was getting a ride into Hopkington and was even brining me a Starbucks! Isn’t she the best?! Well we weren’t going to be there by 7am and it was more like 7:40. The bus parked far away from the entrance and the runners were pretty grouchy about the walk. I didn’t do a good job of picking a meet up place to find Natalie. I said “I’ll find you at the end of the food table.” and not knowing what I would wear year I did know I was bringing an orange IL Marathon bag as I was not gear checking. I said “I’ll have an orange IL Marathon bag.” Not a great choice when everyone is carrying orange gear check bags, duh! Natalie says she’s wearing a blue shirt and that wasn’t going to be easy to pick out in the crowds. I stood at the end of a food line, the first one in the entrance and it seem sparse. I realized I wasn’t at the main food tent and then made my way there. It was a sea of people. I stood around for a while looking around and resigned myself to the thought that we weren’t going to meet after all. I pulled out my blanket/snuggie and parked half shade, half sun in hopes that she may re-look for me here. Within a few minutes I hear “Christine!” and Natalie comes to tackle me and says she could see my green shoes from far away and that she got a primo-spot in the shade under the tent. Natalie always takes care of me (based on two years, but that’s still always).
Me and Natalie.
We then spend our time gabbing about the logistics of her driving in, me and the busses, athlete’s village, the temps and the race. Hanging with Natalie feels like a part of the Boston Marathon tradition. We even told a couple of people that this is our annual reunion, which technically is true. Time passed by quickly and was so relaxing. I had a chocolate chip bagel at 8:00am and a banana at 9:00am. I sipped on Hammer Fizz in my water the whole time and took one Imodium at 9:30am.
We both thought the gear check retrieval is too much of a wait so we didn’t have anything to check and made our way to Wave 2 start. One last coat of sunscreen for good measure and we were set. It was baking hot and still we were optimistic that we would slow our pace in the heat, but that it would be more manageable than it would turn out to actually be.
Time for a couple more photos! 🙂
We hug, say our goodbyes and well wishes and jump into our corrals. It was barely a 2 minute wait and we were off and going.
My “plan” was to run near 8:00s as long as possible and if the heat got to me to back off more. This would on a normal day would be a backed off pace for me so I felt good and conservative out the gate. I kept relaxed and people were passing me like crazy. I noticed the biker bar on the left at mile 2 and they are great! There cheering and energy was infectious. The course is up and down from the start, but I was happy to see my pacing start off so even: 7:53, 7:53, 7:57. I hit 5K in 24, 10K in 50.
I started gatorade and water at every stop from mile 4 on. I had a Hammer Gel at mile 7 as planned and it stayed down. My stomach was feeling so good! At mile 8 I felt like “man this is hot, this is going to feel awful in the miles to come. I’m going to have to back off my pace.” 15K at 1:17. Still feeling like this is alright. So many people were walking by mile 11 and it made me think that today is going to be a long day. People were already puking tons of liquid. I felt lucky that I only had two little throw ups in my mouth along the way and otherwise my stomach did SO well.
This is where things get blurry. I had wicked quad cramping in both legs that I’ve never had before sometime before the half, but I can’t remember it was before the Wellesley girls or after. It wasn’t just pain, it was full on muscle seized up, unbendable legs. I stopped and did quad stretches and had to walk a water stop to get them to loosen up. It was extremely painful and I was worried it would be something I wouldn’t be able to shake off, or worse, what if my whole body did this? I would surely drop to the ground.
1:51 at the half and I’m thinking if my legs can throw a fit and we aren’t even at the hard part this is going to be painful. I know under 4 hours is not likely if the first half is any indication of what could come.
I got back to running as well as I could and ignored my pacing and got into managing my effort level to try and keep my legs happy and to avoid what others were dealing with around me. So many people were at the medical stops, puking and fit people sitting on the side of the road. Even when my legs felt better I was conservative because I didn’t want to make a bad choice that would stop my race altogether, it was such a gamble on how much effort was good.
I felt like I was able to notice more of the towns this year than last. I distinctly remember signs for Natick, Ashland, Wellesley, Newton and so on. That was nice. I felt like while things were so crazy I was still able to take in the race better this year.
The water and gatorade stops were complete mayhem. The volunteers were working so hard and couldn’t keep up with the demand. Many stations we had to grab cups ourselves or wait for them to be poured. I made it a point to get fluids every time there was nothing to be gained from rushing through. Thank you volunteers for everything you did! It was greatly appreciated!
The crowds were so amazing! They were in full effect, so encouraging and even more importantly they were supporting us runners with wet sponges, ice, water, and hoses. We all took advantage of their offerings and it felt so great to have an ice cube or a garden hose on full blast hit you.
It was so gratifying to run past the porta-potty that I stopped at mile 15 this year and have a stomach that felt so good!
Meanwhile I’m running Rob did a long run on the hotel treadmill, got cleaned up, watched the wheelchair and elite starts, and then got down to the race on the before Boylston to keep tabs on my progress and take pictures. He said it was heartbreaking to see elites struggling in the heat and to hear some may have dropped out. Here are some pictures he took.
The men’s wheelchair record was broken by Joshua Cassidy with a 1:18:25. Rob wasn’t down there in time to see his finish. Here is another racer toughing it out.
The women’s elite finish….it was that close, but Sharon Cherop (pink shorts) took the win with 2:31:50 and Jemima Jelagat Sumgong was just 2 seconds behind her. What a battle!
Back to my race…My legs seized up 4 or 5 more times, turning into in movable limp walking until the pain would subside enough that I could run again. I ran up heartbreak and felt victorious even in my pitiful state. I felt like I was conquering the awful. Seeing Boston College after Heartbreak was a nice surge of energy. The little rollers after heartbreak were just awful and it took forever to get through the last 5 miles. I knew I wouldn’t break 4 hours. I endured and around mile 23 I enjoyed a purple popsicle. The frozen and fruity taste was so good and so needed. Then at mile 24 the race hit me like a wave of emotion like last year, but even more so because I just endured the most painful race I’ve done so far. I turned my iPod to “Fighter” from Christina Aguliera and hit replay for two miles. I felt like a fighter. I remembered Rob’s comments about getting to the last miles and the pain would be there no matter what so make it hurt. Run as hard as I can move and live in the pain. I psyched myself up on the music and the crowd cheers and got my pace into the 8:30s. My legs were searing pain and I was smiling and crying at the same time. I was so proud of enduring the suffering. Knowing that it wasn’t my best race day, but it was another earned marathon notch. I waved my arms and pointed for home on the turn to Hereford.
I didn’t hear Rob but he saw me, cheered and got pictures!
My heart burst open turning to Boylston, knowing it was over and that I’m better for it. I made my way through the finish area and found Rob in the family meet up area with no problems.
Rob helped me change my shoes and then I hobbled back to clean up and get lunch. We had originally planned to go to the post race party, but I was so mentally tired from the race that the idea of socializing was just not something I felt like doing. I just wanted to replay the race with Rob and describe as best as I could what we were all going through. As with all races I’m sure there are runners who had a better day than I did and others that had it worse, but at the end we all pushed through our battles and finished a very tough day.
#8 Marathon, #2 Boston!
I love that the jacket is bright orange, it is an instant reminder of the scorching hot temps of that day.
A video of my 2011 and 2012 Boston Marathon.