Good morning, friends!
I’m still on a high from Monday’s marathon! It was such an amazing experience. The whole day. Seriously, I had the best time ever.
Ok, ready for a recap? Let’s start at the beginning!
I woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 3:10 AM on Monday morning. I was too excited to sleep! I tossed and turned for about an hour and then finally decided to get out of bed. I laid out all of my running gear the night before, so I started to get dressed and then made breakfast (banana oatmeal + peanut butter) for myself.
I didn’t need to catch my transportation to Hopkinton until 6:00 AM, so I dillydallied around the house until about 5:15 AM. Then, I double triple-checked that I had everything I needed and then hopped in my car. I made a quick pit-stop at Marylou’s for an iced coffee (obviously) and then drove to the Braintree T station, where I took a bus chartered by the Colonial Road Runners to the start.
FYI: This bus was the greatest thing ever for race day. Here’s why: 1) It took you straight to the start in Hopkinton. 2) It had a bathroom on it. 3) It was warm and cozy and kept you out of the elements (i.e. rain and wind) while you waited for your wave to start. 4) It parked in a special lot in Hopkinton that had its own set of porta-potties, so you never had to wait in line. 5) You could hang out, nap, relax, etc. while waiting for your wave. 6) There were a number of experienced Boston Marathon runners on the bus, so it was easy to get tips and advice for running the course. Long story short, if you live south of the city, you should absolutely take this bus to the start! (It was $30 and you don’t need to be a Colonial Road Runner member to take it.)
We arrived in Hopkinton just before 7:00 AM, which meant I had about 4.5 hours before I started running, which is why I was so incredibly thankful for the bus. During that time, I relaxed, read a few issues of US Weekly, chatted with other runners on the bus, ate my peanut butter and banana sandwiches, hydrated, and used the bathroom approximately 800 times.
Just before the third wave kicked off, I headed up to the Athletes’ Village with Kassandra (I followed her entire training on her blog, so it was really cool to meet her in person).
Kassandra (on the right) with her friend, Kara!
The Athletes’ Village was bumping! And there was so much ENERGY there. I loved it, and it made me so excited to start running. On the flip side, the Athletes’ Village also seemed really cold. Everywhere I looked, there were people huddled up, trying to stay warm. Again, I am so thankful for the bus! After Cara and I said goodbye to Kassandra, we headed back to the bus to get ourselves ready for Wave 4.
Fun/funny story from before the race: Sean Astin was on the bus parked next to ours. I knew he was running Boston, so when one of the people on our bus mentioned that she saw him outside walking around, I kept my eyes peeled. And, sure enough, I saw him. Recognizing his familiar face made me so excited, so I smiled like the biggest goober and waved to him. I still have no idea why I decided to do this, but he waved back! Haha!
Anyway… back to my recap!
Around 10:30 AM, a group of us from the bus left together for the final wave of the marathon. Around this time, it started to rain. Prior to that, it was just gray and drizzling, but as soon as we got in our corrals, it was legit raining and it was starting to come down harder and harder. It was the worst feeling just standing there, getting wetter and wetter, and knowing that you still had 4+ hours of running to ahead of you. Boo. Even still, it was BOSTON, and I was pumped to get going. Plus, I knew as soon as I started running, I’d warm up and, hopefully, the rain and wind wouldn’t seem so bad.
At this point, I was wearing my bright orange Stonyfield singlet with gloves, homemade arm sleeves, a long-sleeve shirt, hooded sweatshirt, and trash bag over everything. Five minutes before the gun, I finally took off my hooded sweatshirt and gave it to one of the volunteers collecting donations. I started the marathon wearing a lot more clothing (and a trash bag) than I planned to, but it was chilly and raining, so I wanted to stay warm as long as possible. (The sign below says: “There’s only one Boston. It all starts here!)
Miles 1-5: The start of the race was crowded. Holy cow. Even if you wanted to run fast, you couldn’t. Plus, everyone who I talked to about Boston told me to run slow in the beginning and save my energy for the hills in Newton. Everybody I talked to said this exact same thing, so I really held back, despite the excitement of the day and much of the course being downhill. I did the majority of my long runs at a 10:00 pace, so I tried to stay just below that. (FYI: I listened to my RunKeeper app in one ear for the first half of the race to give me updates on my pace.) At mile 2, I ripped off my trash bag and, at mile 4, the long sleeve shirt came off. It was wet and heavy, so it needed to go. At first, I actually kind of regretted taking it off because I was pretty cold, but I warmed up and it stopped raining for the rest of the race. Hallelujah!
- Mile 1: 9:48
- Mile 2: 9:50
- Mile 3: 9:54
- Mile 4: 9:44
- Mile 5: 9:42
Miles 6-12: The next part of the race, I called the “all day” miles. Basically, I wanted to stay at a comfortable pace that I could run all day long. It wasn’t a slow pace, but it wasn’t too challenging either. I can’t remember a lot of specifics about these miles, but I really tried to relax and just enjoy the experience. I definitely had a few “OMG, I am running the Boston Marathon” moments!
Just as I passed mile 12, I remember hearing a roaring crowd. It actually sounded like a stadium to me, so I started wracking my brain, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. And then it occurred to me: Wellesley College! The crowds were so loud! So, so, so loud! It was insane, and it put the biggest smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to make it to Wellesley and see all of those crazy college kids cheering. I also loved all of the “kiss me” signs, which quite a few of the male runners took advantage of! Kiss me, I’m Irish. Kiss me, I’m French. Kiss me, I’m British. Kiss me, I’m wet for you. Clever, but hey now! Haha!
- Mile 6: 9:35
- Mile 7: 9:23
- Mile 8: 9:37
- Mile 9: 9:37
- Mile 10: 9:37
- Mile 11: 9:42
- Mile 12: 9:43
Miles 13-15: The next three miles were all about getting to mile 16, which I knew was the start of the infamous hills, including Heartbreak Hill. At this point, I had turned on my Kick-Butt Boston Marathon Playlist, so I just cruised along. Related: Starting my music on my iPhone was the hardest thing ever. My hands were so cold and wet, my fingers barely worked. My pinky finger on my right hand was basically dead– it actually kind of freaked me out– and it wouldn’t move at all. Putting my gloves on and opening GU was quite the challenge!
- Mile 13: 9:34
- Mile 14: 9:25
- Mile 15: 9:34
Miles 16-21: I called these next miles the “do work” miles. Mile 16 was the start of the hills, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so I mentally prepared myself. This was the hardest part of the race and it was time to DO WORK. I had saved my energy for THIS PART of the race, so I focused and kept trucking along. And, honestly, the hills weren’t as bad as I made them out to be in my head. I really thought they had the potential of ruining the marathon for me, but for every uphill, there was a downhill, which meant there was a little break between each one.
- Mile 16: 9:24
- Mile 17: 9:39
- Mile 18: 9:36
- Mile 19: 9:30
- Mile 20: 9:32
- Mile 21: 9:41
Miles 22-24: I made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill in one piece! Woohoo! I was still feeling pretty good, so it was time to pick up the pace! I started recognizing my old stomping grounds– Cleveland Circle, Washington Square, Coolidge Corner– and the closer I got to the city, the bigger the crowds grew and the more pumped up I got. It was so incredibly exciting. I had tears in my eyes, and I couldn’t stop smiling the entire way. (I’m even getting a little choked up as I write this.) The hills were done, and I was home free! At mile 24, I whipped off my gloves, all Kara Goucher-like, because they were so frickin’ heavy and cold, and I couldn’t stand having them on my hands anymore. Haha!
- Mile 22: 8:59
- Mile 23: 8:54
- Mile 24: 8:44
Miles 25-26.2: Mile 25 was my favorite of the entire race. Mal, my family, and friends were waiting for me there, so I knew they would be just the boost of motivation I needed for a strong finish. The crowds in Kenmore were unreal too. So many people! So much energy! I just wanted to be there already!
(Mal’s sign so I could find him! Haha!)
As soon as I saw everyone (I made eye contact with Mal), I smiled and started waving like a crazy person. It was the best feeling seeing loved ones when I was so tired and so close to the finish. Mal said I was flying by everyone in Kenmore Square!
As I ran through Kenmore, I saw “1 mile to go” painted on the pavement and gave it a big ol’ fist pump. Almost there!
The final mile + .2 was my fastest mile of the race and, man, I gave myself so many pep talks to keep myself going. Mentally, I was still in the game, but my legs were really starting to hurt. But, then I saw the “right on Hereford,” got all choked up, and started running as fast as my little legs would take me. I don’t remember the turn onto Boylston Street, but I remember seeing the finish line and thinking it was still so far away. I closed my eyes a few times, hoping it would just get closer and closer, but that last stretch seemed to take forever. I had tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line, but I stopped crying within a few seconds of finishing. The post-finish pain in my legs was intense. I remember it from NYCM too, and it’s not a good feeling at all.
- Mile 25: 8:40
- Mile 26: 8:29
FINISH: 4:10:10 (9:32)
As I caught my breath and walked toward the exit, one of the marathon volunteers wrapped me in mylar blanket. I was soaking wet and shaking like crazy, so it was the best feeling ever. A couple of minutes later, an older gentleman saw that my blanket was letting in a lot of cold air (I was too exhausted to fix it), so he used tape to close it up nice and tight. (I must have thanked him about 50 times.) I kept walking and volunteers handed me my medal (it was beautiful), a bag of food, a bottle of water, and a banana that someone actually had to open for me since my hands wouldn’t work because they were so cold.
Shortly after that, Mal called me and we figured out a place to meet. As I walked down Newbury Street toward him, I was shaking like crazy and pretty miserable, so I popped into a Starbucks to warm up. He, my mom, and sister met me there, and it was the best reunion ever. It meant so much to me that they all came out to cheer me on, especially in the cold and rain.
I still can’t believe I ran the Boston Marathon. It was such an amazing day, even with the terrible weather, and I couldn’t be more happy with my time. Truthfully, I was hoping for a 4:15 marathon, so 4:10 is just fantastic. And I wouldn’t change anything about the race that I ran. A friend of mine asked me if I thought I started out too slow in the beginning and, for a second, I thought maybe I did, but I honestly think I saved just the right amount of energy to tackle the hills and finish strong. I think I ran a smart race, and I am thrilled with my performance. Negative splits, baby!
And, of course, this amazing experience wouldn’t be possible without Stonyfield. Thank you, Stonyfield, for, as cheesy as it may sound, making one of my biggest dreams in life come true. The Boston Marathon is the race I always wanted to run, and Monday is a day that I will never, ever forget for as long as I live. And thank you you guys for all of the wonderful comments, support, and love over the past few days. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.