I headed to Boston on Saturday morning (after my last pre-race run of an easy four miles) and landed a bit later than originally expected, which was kind of a bummer — we were invited to the Brooks press conference with Desi & Amy and didn’t make it in time — boo!
But that’s okay. I ventured over to Cambridge to eat at a delicious restaurant. I am not sure why we never headed this way the other times we’ve been to Boston because it’s super easy to get to on the train and a new area to explore!
Sunday we hit the expo and oh, there’s just so much excitement in the air! From picking up the bib…
… to connecting with new friends like Duncan from Oofos (more on those later!)…
… and stopping by to see old friends like Dave from Janji…
… and everything else in between…
Afterwards, we did a little walking in Boston and headed to Fanueil Hall for lunch. And some relaxation, followed by Chipotle. I did something completely different this time around and skipped the black beans — I think it was a good choice.
[with kelly the night before]
The next morning, I met up with Kelly (my random college roommate turned bestie) at Boston Common and we hit the buses out to the start around 6:15 a.m. That may sound a little crazy since I didn’t start until 10:50, but let’s be honest — it’s not like I would be sleeping in anyways and I like to get to the start early to chill out and relax. We met some cool people while we were in the Athlete’s Village, with everyone talking about the forecast and staring out of the tent to make sure it wasn’t pouring yet.
I headed to the start around 10 a.m. — you have to walk about 1/2 mile to get there and I wanted one last bathroom break. I made it to the area right when the other wave was going off, so I had a bit of a delay before I got let into my corral. Because there were more waves this year, they were each smaller — which was awesome both at the start and throughout the race. I was actually in corral 1 and it was so cool to be able to see the start for more than the three seconds it takes to run over it.
Just minutes before our start, it started to pour, which the announcers said was a passing shower. Not quite, since it was what we ran in for the rest of the race.
I was still aiming for a sub-3:30 even though I knew the weather was going to stand in my way. The first three miles go really fast and since its primarily downhill, just let my body take myself down the hills because I didn’t want to waste any energy trying to brake. I averaged around 7:30-7:40 and once we hit mile four, I slowed it down a bit but still aimed for around 8 minute miles.
For some reason, I forgot about the rolling hills between miles 4-6 but pushed through. I don’t really remember miles 6-10, but remember hitting mile 10 and thinking, I’ve already been running for that long already!? What?
The Wellesley girls were out in full force this year despite the weather (they are known for holding signs that say “kiss me because [insert reason here]” and their screams that create a Scream Tunnel). I heard then around mile 12, the earliest I’ve ever heard them in the times I’ve run Boston! So that was epic.
I hit mile 13.1 at just over 1:45… my goal was to hit it around 1:40-1:45. I was pleased with that at the time.
I knew I’d see my family (aka support crew) around mile 16.7 so I started focusing on that. My pace began to go all over the place as the winds seemed to pick up — I felt like I was running with the same amount of effort but posting 30-40 seconds slower on my pace. At mile 15, there’s this epic downhill and I felt like I was gaining some ground (I also made a super awkward comment to this dude next to me about how tall he was, I’m sorry if that was offensive for any reason but it just felt right at the time and man, he was SO tall!).
I was carrying a water bottle with some Nuun and made the decision to chuck it, mostly because my gut was under control and I wanted more freedom with my arms. (As a side note, I took a full gel around mile 3, with half gels around mile 6, 9, 13.5, 17, 20, 23)
Then the Newton Hills came into play, where I felt like I was pushing it really hard to make it up the hills but moving like molasses. Heartbreak came and went and then we were amongst the college kids, who are just insanely fun and crazy. Miles 22-24 seemed to drag a little bit and I tried to heed the advice of a friend of focusing on my arm movements to no avail.
After I saw the Citgo sign, I decided to enjoy the rest of the ride into the finish.
Right on Hereford, left on Boylston and fighting back tears… crossing the finish line in 3:42.06.
While I didn’t hit my PR goal, or even my “B” goal of requalifying for Boston, I left it all out there. The conditions were something that I never imagined fighting through for an entire race and I learned that sometimes you can fight as hard as you can and that often feels better than a PR. I feel like I conquered the negative thoughts that tend to creep into my mind when I hit the teens in a marathon, as all I kept telling myself was “run like Meb.”
And it’s Boston, there’s no way you can ever be disappointed with any finish you have at Boston because it’s such an honor to be able to run the race among the best of the best. I finally feel like I have closure after the events of 2013, I had no idea how emotional it would be to run down Boylston, but a big thank you to the volunteer who grabbed me into a bear hug when he saw me broke down after crossing the finish line.
[and a big thank you to all of the volunteers out there, for those that stood for hours out in the pouring rain to make all of our dreams come true and for making sure that we were all okay and able to conquer our goals, even if it meant standing in the middle of the course handing out heat sheets to shivering runners.]
I will be back, Boston. And I can’t wait.
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