I gave it a couple days to write my race re-cap because I wanted time to reflect. It wasn’t my day.. it wasn’t anyone’s’ day really. The weather made the “perfect” marathon an impossibility. While I am really disappointed, I have used the time since Monday at 1:45 to focus on the positives: I got to run in the most iconic road marathon in the world. I was cheered on by the most supportive city in the world. I got to run with my idol for about 2 minutes. I received unbelievable support from my friends, family and an entire tribe of people who didn’t even know me but supported me because I was wearing a November Project shirt.I finished. I PR’d by a minute. I discovered a whole new level of strength I didn’t know I had. Here is the Play by play:
The first 10K
The first 10K went pretty perfectly. The first mile was a little slow because of the crowds, but I wasn’t too concerned and knew the slower pace would help me out later on. I started with an ear warmer and some cheap kids gloves I bought at CVS the night before, but discarded the gloves by mile 3. I felt some minor discomfort in my back, but nothing to cause much concern. I was hitting just slightly faster than my goal pace and overall felt really smooth and comfortable. By mile 6 though, the small discomfort in my back became more noticeable and was starting to distract me. I had my first honey stinger and some water here to stave off disaster later on.
10K – Halfway
The second 10K started out ok but was also the beginning of the end. I caught up to Lauren, a fellow Husky alum and co-leader of the San Diego tribe around mile 10. We ran together for a couple of miles and were still relatively comfortable and able to chat bit and of course make some funny faces for the camera but my ability to hold the pace started to wain by the time we reached Wellesley. I told myself I could put music on at mile 11, but then told myself to wait until after we went through Wellesley because the crowd there is amazing. Then I made myself wait until after the half. I started noticing pace creep right before the half, but was still on track for the 3:05 I was aiming for.
Half – Newton
This was where things started to really go south for me. It was getting colder, the rain was picking up and a nasty headwind started to pick up. The streets were also noticeably less packed with cheering fans than last year and I finally succumbed to my desire for a distraction and put my headphones in around mile 15. I had my second honey stinger around mile 14 and made sure to have water even though I didn’t feel like I needed it. The hills in Newton really didn’t feel that bad on my legs or my breathing but I was in so much pain by this point I slowed down a lot. I let go of the 3:05 around mile 15 once I saw the split time on my watch, but held onto hope for 3:10 at mile 16 when I clocked close to where I was supposed to be. Mile 17 was a killer though and by the time I got to mile 18 I was seriously contemplating dropping out at the November Project cheer station. I head them before I saw them but the second I got there I started crying and knew I had to keep pushing. Two of my staple San Francisco ladies jumped in with me but I was in so much pain I didn’t even notice who the second one was (sorry Sasha!). My ex team mate Laura ran with me for a little bit and tried to talk me down from the ledge, I had given up on all time goals and just wanted to finish. I knew she was lying about me being close to the two girls I was chasing but it didn’t matter. The fact that she believed in me enough to try to convince me I could catch them was enough. I pushed on and by the time I crested Heartbreak Hill, I knew I was going to make it, and that I actually still had the chance to PR.
The Final 10K or so
The final 5-6 miles were a roller coaster.. which is clearly shown in my splits. It is all downhill from mile 21 on and my quads felt fine, probably because of the extremely decreased speed of the previous 6 miles, so in theory I should have been able to let go and fly down into Boston. I have waves of being able to just let go of the pain and waves of it coming back with a vengeance. By this point, I was really regretting dropping my gloves and was extremely cold. I figured the faster I could get to the finish the sooner this would be over. Every step was excruciating and I was making some really unattractive grunts and some pretty epic grimace faces. I had kind of forgotten how soon the turn into Hereford is after we go under Mass Ave, so was pleasantly surprised to find myself so close to the end. Once we turned onto Boylston street, I was feeling the runner’s high for sure and some amazing photographer captured what is probably my most favorite race photo to date. I really pushed in that last 1000 meters down Boylston and kind of couldn’t believe I could stop running once I crossed the finish line.
However anyone who has run Boston knows the hardest part was actually just beginning. I immediately started shivering so intensely my entire body was convulsing, and the pain I felt while running was actually nothing compared to walking. The finisher’s chute feels like some form of cruel and unusual punishment and by the time I got the cape around me I was so cold I could barely function. Several medical volunteers asked if I needed help and I should have said yes but I wasn’t thinking straight and all I could focus on was getting back to my air bnb and getting in the shower. It took me over 45 minutes to walk the mile to the apartment I was staying in and I had to stop and cry several times. I made it, pretty much entirely thanks to the grandpa who was walking behind me with his 3 year old grandson basically pep talking me.
Once I got warm and dry, the reality of the morning started to set it. I was really upset with the performance and the result. I know I had 3:05 in me even with the weather conditions and it was hard not to feel like I had let all the people who were supporting me down. But after what felt like hundreds of supportive text messages, phone calls, emails and facebook messages I realized I hadn’t let anybody down, especially not myself. I had a blast training the way I did and I found ways to smile and enjoy what was a really difficult physical and mental test. I learned I have a whole other level of strength and endurance in me that I know will come in handy in my next marathon. I also know I have unfinished business in Boston (still) and that I will be back next year.