Race morning really went off without a hitch, got ready and made our way to Boston Common to catch a bus to Hopkinton with everyone else. Somehow it all worked out that I was able to meet up with Lindsey, Ashley, Danielle and Sarah near bag check before the race. It was the least awkward internet-friends-meeting-for-first-time-IRL ever, I felt like I had hung out with them a million times before. We sat in the back of the bus like rebels, laughed and enjoyed the morning of what we all knew was going to be a big day.
Athletes Village was nothing short of insanity. We went through metal detectors, got felt up a bit and then made our way through the sea of people. Literally, people EVERYWHERE.
|Ashley, Danielle, Lindsey, Me & Sarah
|Me, Lindsey, Ashley, Sarah & Danielle
The first few miles were crowded, as expected. I had a side stitch for the first 2-3 miles which didn't do anything but annoy the crap out of me. I took some deep breaths and eventually found a comfortable stride and pace. I was 100% running by feel, I looked at my watch out of curiosity at each mile marker but never really for pace control. I wanted to see what I could do without being a slave to my watch. I high-fived a million and one people, especially kids and I couldn't help but get the goofiest grin on my face. I even got a blue/yellow bracelet a little boy handed me and gave me the BEST high five ever (along with the cutest little smile). Jewelry on the first date, normally would be a little much but for that 5 year old...I'll make an exception.
I was happy with the times I was running, while still enjoying myself taking in the sights and sounds of the insane amount of spectators. 6-10 people deep on both sides of the road, screaming so loud I couldn't hear myself think. Almost everyone wearing blue/yellow or anything with BOSTON STRONG on it. I fought back some tears quite a few times, there really was nothing like it. (Insert *omg cheesy eyeroll* here).
I thought about so many things while running. Wondering how my friends were all doing as they took to the course, crossing my fingers that everyone was having a great day. Thought about all those affected by last years events, and how amazing the running community and Boston have pulled together since then. I thought about where I am at in my own life, thinking about things past and things to come. I also thought about how the journey of getting to Boston changed me and how grateful I am for that desire to keep pushing myself.
According to the BAA Splits, my first four 5ks of the course were almost dead on-- 23:13, 23:27, 23:13, 23:13. Uhh yeah, I've NEVER been that consistent. Normally I am the negative split girl, but control and consistency was where it was at for me Monday. Running by feel wasn't the worst thing in the world.
I had been told before the race that I would hear the Wellesley girls, well before I could see them. I can confirm that is an incredibly true statement. Ladies were fabulous and I hope that they have boyfriends to make them tea with honey the rest of the week because they certainly aren't going to be able to speak again, like ever. I high fived a bunch of the girls, and stole a kiss from the girl holding a sign saying 'I'm from Upstate NY, kiss me!'. Hopefully my little boyfriend from earlier in the race who gave me a bracelet isn't mad I was kissing a girl a few miles later.
I crossed the half in 1:38:11, this is when the math started. Okay, I was on pace for 3:16ish...but knew I wasn't going to be negative splitting that second half. This is the point where I pretty much knew I was going to run around 3:18-3:20. I kept the pace I had settled into and held it as long as I could knowing if my predictions were correct I would still run my 3rd fastest marathon.
|Trucking up a hill...
I think mile 18-19 was about when I decided to stop taking my gels. They weren't sitting super well, and the last thing I wanted was stomach problems. So I started taking oranges (thank you to all the spectators handing them out!), and Gatorade instead of water.
I could pretty much see Danielle not far in front of me for most of the race, it was comforting seeing someone I knew in a sea of thousands of strangers. Around mile 19 she came up to me and told me I was looking good and gave me a mini pep talk- that meant more to me than I could say, I really needed it. I pushed through the rest of the hills, and even made it up 'heartbreak' without too much struggle. I knew I was going slower than before but definitely still holding on.
Once I hit mile 21 I tried to pick up the pace. The last few miles of the marathon have really become a love of mine in a sick and twisted way. This is where I have been able to push harder and really pour my heart out onto the course (particularly at Wineglass and CIM). At Boston, that push lasted about a half mile before I realized it just wasn't going to happen. I settled back into a pace I hoped to maintain for the remainder of the race.
I'm not going to blame that on the course, the hills, the heat or anything- I know EXACTLY what it was. I knew going into this race that my speed and strength were good but my endurance was nowhere near where it was in the fall. I knew that at some point between Hopkinton and Boston that this was going to catch up to me, and it did. No excuses, I was running what I was capable of on that particular day.
Once I made the turn onto Hereford, my eyes shot straight up while making the quick left onto Boylston. I wanted that damn finish line. Boylston street was incredible, but I know that I didn't embrace it as much as I could have. I was so focused on moving forward and was lost in my own little world. Maybe that sounds selfish, maybe it sounds like I didn't care- but in reality it was nothing less than keeping myself composed for a finish line that would most certainly be unlike any other.
I finished in 3:20:14 which is a 7:38 average pace. I'm super proud that I managed to crack the top 1000 women, coming in at 958 (top 6.6%). Not too shabby for my first Boston. As for my personal standings, it was marathon #8 and my 3rd fastest (knocking my first BQ 3:21 from 2012) into 4th place :) I finished feeling tired for sure, but my legs held up really well especially considering my lower right leg boycotted the last few months of training.
|Danielle and I after the race :)
I have a LOT of thoughts regarding the race, and how I feel about my time etc. But that is a whole post in itself. Short version: Boston reminded me of that fire I have, to be happy, to push myself, and to never settle. I'm not mad whatsoever that I didn't PR, I didn't have any intentions of running one on April 21, 2014. I ran that race for me and for Boston, with everything that's been going on I needed control and that's what I did.
More thoughts to come on the race, my time, my experience and....WHAT'S NEXT :)