Boston seemed so far away for so long, and now, Poof, it’s over. I hadn’t been crazy excited for this race. I’d simply viewed it as an inconvenient stop along my ultra training way. Fortunately, I went up to Boston with my Mom who planned a heck of a trip that led to a heck of a race. I had never been to Boston so we did some fun touristy things, including a Freedom Trail Tour with Bree. The takeaways– I know there’s a bar across from Samuel Adams’s grave and Bostonians have a lot of energy when it comes to history. We also hit up the race expo a couple of times where I was able to see (track down, stalk) the amazing Sage Canaday
Mom and I also practiced how I would get from the hotel to the buses at Boston Common on race day a couple of times. Every where you looked that weekend, people were decked out in either this year or a previous year’s Boston jacket (and shirt and shorts and socks and hats and speedos). How do you know someone has run Boston before? They’ll be wearing the jacket. It was hard not to get swept up in it just a little bit, and it was hard not to start doubting my abilities to run 26.2 on Marathon Monday. After eating and drinking our way through Boston for two and a half days, it was finally time to do it to it.
Monday morning I woke up around 5:30am. I ate breakfast with Mom before I left– an english muffin and small omelet. I never eat a lot before a race, but I figured with the time gap I’d be ok to stuff my face a little more than usual. Everyone at the hotel was a runner, and the shuttle took us to the subway which took us pretty close to Boston Common. As soon as I was coming out of the station, I saw Stephen and Tricia. It was seriously a race day miracle. I was able to hang out with Stephen on the bus to Hopkinton up until he had to post up in his corral. Seriously, it was the best luck ever to run into him. I had about 45 minutes after Stephen left before it was time for me to take my place in my assigned wave/corral. The walk from Athlete’s Village to the start line was a lot longer than I anticipated, but it felt good to shake out the legs a bit. Finally, we were off.
The first 10k of this race was extremely frustrating. As soon as we started, I felt GOOD. The masses ahead of me and I were not on the same pace though. All I wanted was to settle into a comfortably hard pace for the day, but I was trapped every mile or so. I know they say take it slowly the first 5 or 10k, but not being able to run the pace I wanted really got to me. After a while, the crowd thinned a nominal amount but enough to where I could settle into a groove. I honestly had no time goals or expectations for the day. I found a pace I liked and decided I’d stay there as long as I could or until the finish line . . . whichever came first. If I had to back off later in the race, so be it. I know it’s not ideal racing strategy, but again, having no expectations or goals, you can do what you want. We made our way through Hopkinton, Ashland, and Framingham. I still felt golden, and the crowds were doing nothing but helping that feeling.
Somewhere along the way, (I think between Framingham and Natick?) I hear, “Is that Beth?!” I turn around and see David Dye just cruising. I ran with David and his friend off and on for a while. It was nice to see a familiar face and to chat with someone for a bit.
Pretty soon, I was around the half way/20K mark. My only race day strategy was drink every 5K and eat every 10K. So at the 20K mark, I ate my second handful of Honey Stinger chews and chugged some water. Right around this point in the race is Wellesley College where all of the college gals line the street. Many a runner will snag a kiss from them. I had totally planned on it especially after seeing some of their hilarious signs. However, my chews and water didn’t sit right, and I puked in my mouth just a little bit as we were running through. I thought it would be bad race karma to then go kiss a gal with vomit breath so I kept on trucking through. At the half-marathon point, I checked my watch. 1:32ish — a PR of over 8 minutes.
I have no clue when it started raining, but it registered with me around mile 16 or 17 that I was WET. Some people were running in those space blanket things. I still had on my sock mittens from the start of the race, but they were completely soaked. I tossed them when I ate at 30K as we were coming into Newton. I probably wasted a minute just trying to get my chews out of the package with my numb, frozen hands. Honestly, this was the only real effect that the weather had on me, I think. Fortunately, I didn’t puke up this round of nutrition. We hit the Newton hills, and finally, there it was– “Heartbreak Hill”. UM, seriously? This is what I’ve been waiting for/scared of? Not that it isn’t difficult to run up a hill at mile 20ish, but running in Nashville and on the trails definitely helped here. I was able to keep a steady effort all of the way to the (pretty short) top.
We made our way through Boston College which was great. My legs were starting to feel it a bit between miles 21-23 (ok so maybe that hill was bigger than I thought). I attempted to calculate pace and estimated time from this point but said screw it, just run. At about my lowest point in the race came probably my highest point. The only time this will ever, ever, ever happen to me — I passed Scott Jurek. He was a guide for a visually impaired runner which is such a cool thing, but it was also so fun to see him/pass him. I smiled and cruised on. By this point, I’d given up on eating or drinking anything else– I really felt like I didn’t need it. As we made our way through Brookline, I still felt really good but was ready to be done. I just kept thinking “Make it to the next mile” and Hunter’s suggested mantra “Happy Beers on Boylston”. Mile 25, we see the famed Citgo sign. I thought we were closer to Boylston than we were so I mustered up a little more energy in the ol’ legs. Even though we were further away, I was still able to maintain it until we turned left onto Boylston. I could see the finish line. I glanced at my watch– 3:04:01. For the first time all race, I pulled a Phil and had a last minute time goal. I, all of a sudden, wanted to break 3:05. I had run a pretty consistently paced race. I probably had a little more to give here than I should have so I was able to turn it on enough to cross in 3:04:50. A PR of over 15:00. I was pumped…and cold. Getting out of the finish area and finding my mom was probably harder than running the race. Fortunately, my friend Angie found me and took care of my cold ass until Mom came with warm (new) clothes.
The day was better than I could have ever envisioned. Thank you to everyone who texted, called, FB’ed– that made the day truly special. Thank you SO much to Steven and Dad and the rest of my family who supported from afar. HUGE thanks to Angie for battling the cold, wind, and rain to wait with me and to Joy for taking care of my babies while I was gone. Thanks to Nashville Running Company for, well, everything. Most of all, thank you so much to my Mom for coming with me, planning the trip, waiting for hours in the rain, and being the best “crew”. Give me the trails any day of the week, but this was still something spectacular to be a part of. (But I still didn’t buy the jacket).