First things first…Thank you all for all your good luck wishes and congratulations. I had so many friends, coworkers, people from DailyMile, Twitter, and blog readers wish me good luck. You were in my mind as I was racing! I didn’t want to let you down!
Let’s just get down to the numbers first. My ideal goal of 3:20 was not reached, but I was SO pleased with my performance. My final time was 3:26:04-only 6 minutes from my goal and 3 minutes from my PR.
NOW TO THE BEGINNING…BFAST, A BUS RIDE, AND WE’RE OFF!
I got up at 4:40 AM, ate some oatmeal with strawberries, had some OJ, and got dropped off at the meeting location for my running club’s bus. I was stressing out because my start wasn’t until 10:20 AM and we left so early! But I had heard that the bus was nice because you were with your fellow runners getting amped up. The only thing was-what was I going to do eating wise? I couldn’t go nearly 5 hours without eating before a race. My solution was to drink some gatorade followed by some water and eat a bagel with a banana.
How about the potty situation?
The porta potty lines weren’t terrible either, so that was a plus. But we were lucky and had a toilet on our bus! (I know-fancy!)
Yes…I said yoga. As my CRC-er’s (Cambridge Running Club = CRC) and I were sitting on the bus, we saw this man trying to hide in a corner near the school where all the runners hung out before the start. We saw him doing some sun salutations and some other poses (I don’t know the names of). We were all giggling like little high school girls. I wish I knew what his number was-maybe he was a top runner and the secret is yoga before you race!
It was kind of chilly out, but thankfully a fellow running club member brought extra trash bags for people to wear before the start. Another one of the club members brought an ugly holiday sweater to wear since he didn’t care if he tossed it or not after the start. When you become a runner, you not only become super comfortable with talking about bathroom issues, but you also can dress in trash bags and ugly holiday sweaters and it’s normal.
I was getting antsy and headed over to drop off my bag around 9:45 because my start time was 10:20 (not the 10:30 I had blogged about! oops!). I wiggled my way to the front of Wave 2, Corral 1. After the fact, I know I would have been fine being farther back in the corral because the race was well organized and not a jumble of people as some other races are that I’ve been in.
I was nervous, but it felt surreal-so I wasn’t too nervous. Before I knew it the gun went off and I off I zoomed! My friends kept saying, “Even though the start is all downhill, start slow.” Did I listen? Of course not! I got super nervous about meeting my goal so I tried to stick with people who started near me. I knew deep down this would be killing me later! IT DID. My plan was to go 8:00 pace for the first two miles, but I couldn’t help myself..
I slowly started to get closer to my goal pace (7:38). When I race, I set my goal pace but I always try to go faster than it. It’s a serious problem I have. Why do I set a goal pace but not stick to it?
I started to feel kind of faint around maybe mile 7…hm maybe because I was going too fast?! Whenever this happens, I Gu. But I started to Gu TOO much (yes for any of your non-runners, Gu is not only a gooey substance that you probably wouldn’t want to try, but it ALSO is a verb!). My stomach started to hurt. I laid off the Gu and started to drink a little water. I could feel my stomach start to cramp so I laid off everything.
HERE COME THE QUADS!!
I could feel my quads slowly tightening, so I tried to control my pace more. Those downhills were killing me! I usually try to power down the downhills, but after I could feel my body starting to hate me, I told myself to take it slow and steady. When I turned corners, I could also feel my toes start to cramp. I immediately started to slow down around corners and take them wide.
Between the potential stomach and toe cramping (which thankfully didn’t happen once I laid off some of the Gu and water intake and slowed on corners), tightening of my quads, and feeling faint, I told myself (I did a lot of talking to myself in my head), just get through this race. Go slow if you need to. I had come to the realization that this race, I need to just finish. I sincerely thought I wasn’t going to make it.
My past three marathons have been flat marathons and I did very well in them (for me) but have never raced on any course like this! I’d much rather run a slow race than stiffen up and have to walk the rest of the race or not finish. I started to run smarter by running a pace I felt comfortable at-not thinking of reaching the 3:20 or any goal except to enjoy the race and finish. But of course, whenever I get to water stops or really intense fans, I speed up because of the energy they have. It’s just natural for me-and I think most other runners.
In all sincerity, without the fans, I don’t think I could have gotten through it. Running is such a mental game. I kept thinking, “I need to walk.” Or “I need to stop.” Or “I can’t do this!” But with the help of some fans, I was able to maintain my mental toughness and finish the race and still have fun!
Fan sighting number 1. I saw multiple co-workers, which got me excited as they cheered my name! The first person I saw that I knew was a coworker who was screaming my name and it looked like he was fist pumping. The next day at work, he told me his kids were embarrassed of their dad screaming and cheering for someone (they are all around 7 years old so everything dad does is embarrassing). But he said later they ended up reading signs and screaming for people as well. So maybe dad WASN’T SO embarrassing 🙂
Fan sighting number 2 and a sneaky exchange. I saw a my friend Krista from my running club at mile 20 who jumped up and down ecstatically for me! And my girls at 23 ran to the rescue and gave me two more water bottles. They are SO adorable and I love them. They had practiced the handoff of the water bottles because they know how stressful a marathon can be! The plan was that I would hand off my old water bottles to Carrie and Denise would hand me the new water bottles.
They had started cheering for another girl wearing a dark singlet and orange shorts, but luckily realized it wasn’t me! When I did arrive, their plan didn’t work completely the way they calculated. At mile 22, all I was thinking was “GET ME TO MILE 23 SO I CAN GET MY WATER BOTTLES AND SEE MY GIRLS!!” When I saw them cheering, I whipped out two water bottles at one time and threw them violently at the ground and reached in desperation for the refills.
Apparently everyone at the mile 23 BBQ for my running club said it was hilarious because I hucked the water bottles so quickly that it was kind of scary and that Denise looked like she was going to tackle me as she came to my rescue! I wish we got that on video! I didn’t even make eye contact with any of them because I was so selfishly focused on water! But knowing that they were there and cheering for me gave me some more energy.
I stuck the bottles into my hydration belt, but they were a little smaller than the hydration belt bottle holders. One popped out and fell on the ground. I immediately grabbed the second one and held on to it for dear life so that I wouldn’t lose it. I NEED MY WATER!
Before the race, one of my running club members said, “Jessica, do you run with all that water?! It looks so heavy!” I said “Yup!! But maybe next race I’ll try to race without my hydration belt.” After that Boston Marathon, I don’t think I’ll ever give up my hydration belt!!
Support. The fans gave support not only by cheering but also providing extra water, oranges, twizzlers, wet sponges, tissues, paper towels, and of course there was beer too! I took so many oranges. I felt like a sticky mess!
Kiss me?! Besides the people I knew, the other fans were awesome. One of my most memorable was seeing the Wellesley girls had their “Kiss me!” signs. There was a man in front of me who TOTALLY took advantage of that!! He kissed nearly 7 of the girls! He then shouted, “This is why I run the marathon!” Some of the girls who he kissed had priceless expressions of shock and maybe disgust on their face! I just laughed and wanted to say, “Well, your sign says ‘Kiss Me’, what do you expect?!” haha
Run with pride! Another scene I loved was seeing the troops running and walking as a team. They were amazing in their gear and carrying the huge backpacks. I don’t know how they do it! I struggle when it’s just myself. I was so proud of our country and remembered how important it is to support our troops.
The last fan I saw was Dave at the finish. He was there with my two coworkers Rob and Tom. I heard the guys cheering and turned my head slightly, but I honestly didn’t want to exert any extra energy to simply turn my head. I saw the finish and just wanted to cross that line. I normally have some kick left in me and pick up my pace so that I can steam through the finish. Not this time. This time I just wanted to get across that line! And when I saw my time, I had a huge smile on my face (not pictured in my finish picture! haha)
After I crossed the line, I went with the herds of people to gather our goodie bags of bagels, some pineapple cups, a Gatorade recovery drink, water, and our MEDALS!
Then I wandered over to the bag pickup. I think I got asked at least 5 times if I was ok. I was considering saying “NO take me away!” and going to get my quads massaged, but I decided to walk it off. I eventually ended up near Skipjack’s. It was perfect, I was craving some fried clams. I asked some stranger if I could use their phone because I couldn’t get to my boyfriend (our original meeting place was too far for my tired legs to get to). They were SO nice and let me. I apologized for my grossness but they said it was absolutely no problem (one of them was wearing a previous year’s marathon jacket-so she understood!). Once Dave arrived, I got my wish…fried clams and sweet potato fries!!!! Best EVER.
This was a very humbling race-not going to lie-this was the most painful race I’ve ever done. Despite the pain, I LOVED this race-even the pain part.
As a Type A personality, I am so proud of myself for not being upset for not reaching my goal of 3:20. I know I worked so hard and I know I have improved from my last race both mentally and physically. And looking at my time, you would have never guessed I didn’t feel tip top!
Some lessons learned:
- As they say…Pain is only weakness leaving the body. I am strong and can do whatever I want to if I put my mind to it and am dedicated. I feel like I can conquer anything! Half Ironman…you watch out!!!
- Train downhill not just uphill!
- Heartbreak Hill isn’t as bad as you think it is! Just take your time and run at a comfortable pace and you can get through it!
- Don’t go faster than your goal pace, especially in the beginning of the race
- Listen to your body and don’t worry about your PR all the time.
- Boston…you really are my home!
- And most importantly…HAVE FUN!
I hope that I can get into the Boston Marathon next year so I can experience the greatness of this race again. I felt like a superstar, had so much fun seeing all the spectators, and learned that I am a tough cookie!
Are you good at setting goal paces and sticking to it?
Obviously not. But after this experience, I am going to be much better!
Have you ever had a race that you didn’t feel the best?
This is my first one that my muscles have hurt. I’ve had races that have been extremely hot that I feel really faint, but my muscles all felt fine. However, I still had a great time and hope to run again next year!
Do you indulge with yummy goodness after a race?
I do! Fried food. Cupcakes. JPlick’s….and more….
Did you watch the marathon?