Ryan kept telling me that picking Boston for my sub 3 marathon was a huge risk because of the weather. I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and spend the last six months training through endless snowstorms, ridiculous wind and frigid temperatures. It was the hardest training cycle I have ever done. Hitting my goal pace was rare but in the end I knew that if the conditions were right I would be able to check off that sub 3 marathon at Boston.
Earlier in the week the weather looked perfect! It was supposed to be 45 degrees and have a 15mph tailwind. If that were to happen I knew I could do it! It would be tight based on where I was with my fitness, but with stellar conditions it would happen.
Ryan and I were in Boston on Easter Sunday and it was 90 degrees. The forecast also changed for Monday with temperatures soaring into the high 70’s. My heart sank a little but I was feeling really good and they predicted a 20mph tailwind and I hoped that would cool things down and push us toward the finish line.
I had a good dinner and strangely felt calm. I was not nervous and I was really excited to be at Boston for the Marathon! No matter what the outcome was I felt very proud to have been able to qualify for the race with such a great qualifying time! Not everyone gets to run Boston, the qualifying times are stout. No matter what I was ready to just have fun!
I woke up early and had a light breakfast and brought a bag of snacks and water to the start with me. The security at the race was absolutely incredible and there was not one moment that I did not feel safe. I got on the bus and struck up a conversation with a guy from Ohio who Nordic races and uses running to stay in shape for the ski season.
The bus driver took a few minutes before we left to explain the emergency protocol if we had to evacuate the bus which included being able to kick out the windows. We were instructed to stay in our seats. Halfway through the ride a guy started puking loudly into a ziplock bag. The smell and sounds started to make a few of us gag. It was going to be a long ride. Then a small man ran up to the front of the bus telling the driver she had to pull over. She asked him to sit down and he refused because he had to pee. She picked up the radio and started telling police that there was an issue on our bus. One of the other people on the bus offered him a water bottle to pee in and he refused.
We got off the highway and an officer came onto the bus to talk to the man. He started throwing a fit about having to pee. The officer basically gave him two options, get in the cruiser or pee in his pants. The man grabbed the water bottle and went to the back of the bus to pee.
Once we got to the Athlete Village at the start I would be waiting for about 3 hours before the race began. There were helicopters, police and soldiers everywhere. There was a sea of porto potties and tents with food and water. I took a moment to do a guided meditation at the Equinox tent. It was really nice.
After a while we were directed toward the start of the race which was a mile walk from where the busses dropped us off. We got into our corrals and some airforce fighter jets flew over to start the race. Before I could process what was happening we were off, running down a long hill. I tried to run a bit slower and hold back so I had some gas in the tank at the end. My plan was to run 6:50 pace for the first 19 miles and pick up the pace at the end.
It was crowded. It was like the Manchester Thanksgiving Day race but for 26.2 miles instead of 5 miles. There were endless crowds of screaming spectators and the sea of runners was so thick that it was next to impossible to not bump into anyone or get bumped into. I soon realized that running at my comfortable pace would be hard because I either had to slow up or speed up to get to an area where there would not be a collision. I tried to stay off to the left where there were fewer people. I still did not give up hope.
About 5 miles in the heat started wearing on me. The sun felt like it was cooking me like an egg and that wind they predicted…there were so many people the air was stagnant. Somewhere between miles 5 and 6 someone shit their pants and it was running down their leg. Then right in front of me someone collapsed, unconscious and I tripped on him and caught myself on a runner in front of him. I tried to stop and see if he was okay but the crowd behind me yelled at me to keep going and literally pushed me ahead. I heard people yelling not to trample the down runner.
This would be how the race would progress. I started seeing more people collapse from the heat and get dragged off the course while volunteers tried not to get trampled. People were crapping themselves and vomiting profusely. I started to have issues with the heat and by mile 6 decided I was no longer going to pursue breaking 3 hours and instead wanted to run smart and not join the people collapsing from the heat. I wanted to finish the race.
I did cry a bit because I spent so much time trying to get ready for this race and letting go was not easy. I took some deep breaths in and looked at the cheering spectators, the silly signs and decided I was going to fully enjoy the Boston experience. As I made the decision I felt something wet on my left leg and realized a guy to the left of me pulled out his crank along the right side of his shorts and started peeing while running. I was getting a golden shower, it was nasty! I got frustrated and sprinted ahead while wondering how he could do that. I can’t pee while I am running that fast!
The water stops were tough and I missed a few. It was total chaos and felt like being in the center of a mosh pit. There were ankle deep piles of cups that I had to trip on and run through and over. There were plastic bottles and garbage everywhere that I tripped on.
At one aid station I grabbed five cups of water because i missed the last one and a runner started calling me an asshole. I felt bad but I was hot and there was plenty of water for everyone.
Then there were the tongue depressors with Vaseline. I thought what a nice idea until I looked at what was happening. People were scraping their ass cracks with the stick and covering it with poop and tossing the poop covered sticks on the ground. It was so disgusting! Every time I ran through one of these foul Vaseline stations I tried not to stop on all of the poop covered sticks on the ground. I feel bad for whoever had to pick those up.
The carnage continued as the race went on and people were literally dropping like flies. The spectators kept on cheering and bringing smiles to my face! I loved the little kids and must have high fived at least 1000 kids! I even took some popsicles and stuck them in my bra and shorts to try to keep myself cool.
Then there was the famous Wellesley college where the girls were holding out signs asking for kisses. I figured this was my only Boston marathon so why not get a kiss. I ran up to a girl with a sign asking for a kiss and gave her what she asked for! Don’t worry, I kept it classy, no tongue! Everyone was laughing and I ran away giggling.
People started handing runners beers and I thought about it but figured I would wait until the last mile and figured it would be funny to cross the finish line with a beer in hand. I had to treat this race like the party it was!
Heartbreak hill was a little bump compared to what we have to deal with in New Hampshire and I was very happy that it was short and not steep. In that heat I was looking for the path of least resistance.
As I got closer to the finish I was really proud of sticking it out and running smart. I was certainly feeling dehydrated from missing a couple of water stops but I ran in smooth like butter toward the end. I wanted to grab a beer from someone but at that point the spectators were barricaded from the runners and I just enjoyed the screaming people as I entered the last few hundred feet before crossing the finish! I saw Ryan and his dad and was ready to be done.
I was getting my finisher medal when I started to shiver and get cold. I got an instant headache and was sent to the medical tent where they got me warm and comfortable. They sent me away with a Gatorade and some water.
My finish time was 3:12:43 and was the 8th New Hampshire woman. It was my slowest marathon ever. I was not happy with my time, but I was very happy with my race. I ran smart and took care of myself. I allowed myself to slow down and not has serious issues from the heat. Not once did I have GI issues and my legs felt pretty good aside from some cramps from being dehydrated. It was a wonderful experience and I don’t think that running with 32,000 people is my thing. I would not have changed a thing and I learned a lot about myself and running marathons that day. I will break 3 hours in a marathon, but it will be on a cooler day at a quaint little race that nobody has really heard of.
So, for now I am thrilled to be getting back in the mountains where I belong and the best part about not being able to run fast is that my legs feel so much better than they usually do after a race! I will recover quicker. I am happy for the journey and the ending was a good one. It is time to pick up my pen and start writing the next chapter in my book. It’s going to be called “Mountain Running”
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, Choucas Hats, JULBO USA and Carboom for all of their support. I want to thank my friends for helping me stay motivated and stick out my training. I want to thank Ryan for his patience during my six month stint of being a “roadie” and for being at the race with me. I want to thank my pups for dealing with running on the roads with leashes and harnesses when I could not get in the woods. I also want to thank Andy Jones Wilkinson for helping me finish out my training, he has become a very good friend.
I am still basically off social media, feel free to message me through Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for following my jouneys!
My dream isn’t over, it has just begun.