The day! Oh how long I'd trained and waited. I was hoping for a 3:20...that was my A+ goal. Under 3:30 would be the next goal and certainly doable. I hadn't really planned on much else. I knew I could do this.
We got up at a decent hour for a race and boy had the temperature changed. It was warm. I was worried about being too cold...ha! Bret and I got on the buses together and actually met up with Lisa just as she was getting on the bus. They had a seamless bag drop and checkpoint and loading for the buses. No lines, no nothing. It was seamless. it truly is incredible how well Boston takes care of 35,000 people!
We got to the athletes village, got settled in to a spot and chatted. Lisa and I were planning on running together and we both had similar goals, but knew that we didn't need to stick together if one was feeling it and took off or feel bad for doing it if the other was struggling. This year they had you congregrate at the HS then walk down to the corrals and the start line. They must've held us back too long, because despite getting to say hello to Hill Billy runner (which was SO great to see him again this year!!!) we spent too much time there and weren't even in a corral (and we were in the middle of the group) when the gun went off for our wave. AACK! So, we jumped in the closest corral (6, I think) and just went through the lines until we got to the start. We still had stop and gos until we got there, but getting to that start line was amazing! It was go time.
I had a problem. I started and although I'd had a nice taper...I think it must've been too much of a taper. My quads were just feeling tight and sore by 1K...getting to the 2K mark seemed like forever. This race was NOT starting how I had hoped and dreamed. The easiest miles were getting harder by the kilometer. I kept my brain quiet as it told me this was going to be torture. I got through to mile 5 and finally loosened up a bit, but still didn't feel right. At mile 8 I asked Lisa where we were, knowing I wanted to be at 1:00:00 or just over. I think we were almost 1:03, ugh. Well, now it is time to just suck it up and deal with what the day was giving me. This included heat. My arm warmers came off at mile 2, if not before. The cold had been around for so long this spring and even in Boston the past few days that the high 50s were feeling a little hot...and with a race that starts at 10:30, it never gets cooler.
It was really nice having Lisa beside me. We didn't talk much, but we had each other to kind of pace off of and have as a support. I've never raced with someone before. But, Lisa and I are so equally matched in our pace that it was perfect. A small pull when you needed it and then you could return the favor for the other at times. Matt Shoemaker from Logan picked me out of the crowd (the tall blonde girl with braids is easy to pick out) and unfortuantely I didn't recognize him. Luckily Lisa saved my butt! :)
The crowds were incredible. Smaller than I remember with Paul, but more solid. There was a solid force out there. You could feel it. It was different from last year. This was the "I've got your back, thanks for having ours!" feeling. The crowd wanted you there and was proud to have you and proud to be supporting you. Signs that read "YOU are the true hero" I didn't really feel like a hero for simply running a marathon, but to them I knew they felt I was. We were taking back the streets of their city. They appreciated our sacrifice. We weren't just athletes, we were their heros for being willing to come back in droves and show the world that we will not be stopped. Good always conquers evil and runners are persistent as crap and we won't be deterred, even by bombs!
At mile 15 I went to the side to get a drink and Lisa stayed in the middle. Then I lost her. We'd seen Teena fly by just a mile-ish before and I noticed she was walking and drinking, but I guess I lost track of Lisa there. I looked behind me, I didn't see her. I couldn't see her ahead either. Shoot. I was on my own. After mile 11's confession of "I'm going to say it. I don't feel good for mile 11!" I was pretty bummed to lose my companion. I did know that mom (Laura) was going to be at mile 16 on the right side. So I stuck like glue to the right side and searched faces. Lisa must've been in front of me, so I figured I'd see her saying hello to her mom. I couldn't see her, searched and searched. No one, nothing :( I kind of gave up at that point. I knew I was alone, tired and done. I was either going to finish or not...I was going to finish. My pace wasn't horrible to that point and the hills were ahead. Sometimes it is the steps you take alone that make you who you are.
I kept my head high. I was determined to conquer the hills. I'm not very good at running hills, so this was my chance. On the rollers that become heartbreak, just at the bottom a guy was waving in the crowd and stepped in a man-hole rut/hole. He wobbled then fell right in front of me! I couldn't help but stop and help him up on his feet. He was okay and didn't even have road rash. We both set off running together again and he seemed okay. As I pushed up the hill I kept imagining Chad just ahead dragging me up just like a couple weeks ago when I was determined to conquer my 10 mile route hill. I just kept going and pushing. I knew when I got to the top that I'd have just 3 miles of downhill to go to the finish. I could do this. Hang on girl.
The last few miles of downhill were incredible. I finally was able to get back into a groove and I pushed past many that were walking or falling into a shuffle. I knew I was far off my 3:20 goal after the half and 20 mile splits, but I thought I still might be able to gather enough to finish under 3:30. When I got to the 40K mark I, for the life of me, couldn't figure out how fast I can run a km. I deal in miles, not km. So I had to wait until I hit the 1 mile mark...unless I ran a 6mm I wasn't finishing under 3:30! So, I just kept pushing and thought "at least I'm going to BQ in Boston!" Which isn't easy from what I understand, so I was pleased with my effort. As I turned onto Boylston I had decided to run down the left side of the road so that I could honor the bombing sites as I ran past them. But, then I heard my name. Over my right shoulder. What? I turned...it was Lisa!!! I told her I couldn't believe I'd caught up. She said oh no, I've been chasing you for 10 miles! LOL! I thought she was in front of me and I was in front of her. I was SO happy to have her with me as I finished this journey. With tears in my eyes I grabbed her hand and said "I'm SO glad to have you here!" We ran the last quarter mile together and finished at the exact same time. It was incredible. A perfect finish to a great race.
We wandered through the finishers area getting our cool blankets (which we were both too hot to wear!), medals, water, food...then after we got our Dole fruit cups a guy pulled us aside and asked to take our picture with the cups, because we looked quite a bit happier than the rest of the crowd. HAHAHA! So, we got to be models for the Dole people...awesome. The drop bags were SO far away. By the time we got almost there I was done walking. I decided to just leave it until I picked up Lowell and Terry and Bret and we all met there. All I wanted was my flip flops, but I was okay. I visited with Lisa, Julie and Laura when we found her for a while, then I got a hold of Susie and took off to find a way across the finishing area to get to her.
Trying to get there I was asking a couple officers where I could cut through. I ended up having a good converstion with them and they asked me "why do you look like that and everyone else looks that they do?" I just had to laugh. They apologized for not being able to let me through and I told them I wanted them to do their jobs and I was grateful they were there not letting people through to protect us! I finally found Susie and we chatted and waited for Lowell and Terry. We were down the finishers area past the finish line and so they called when they finished and I walked against traffic to see them. After my emotional breakdown yesterday I felt so close to Terry and having this be his last marathon and he ran the first 10 miles with me my first marathon. I gave him a great big hug and then Lowell. Terry and I walked together while Lowell visited with everyone and it was so great and emotional. I love those guys! My two running dads. I'm so stinkin' lucky!
On the way to the drop bag area I saw a fire hydrant open and spraying into the street for the runners. I was SO excited! I'd always seen kids playing in them in movies and I always wanted to as well! So Terry sat down and took my picture as I ran my victory lap through the fire hydrant in Boston. A capstone to a terrific day. We gathered our drop bags and Lowell, of course headed to McDonalds for a bacon cheeseburger. I really didn't want McDonalds, so I visited while they ate then I stopped at Clover (an organic vegetarian local place) to get a bite near our hotel. Oh, that place is yummy! They even let me pay only the sweaty $5 cash I had in my pocket instead of the $7 the menu posted. The people of Boston LOVE marathoners! I was grateful for their hospitality.
After being lazy and hanging out at the hotel and getting showered, we went to Legal Seafood and I had a great dish of pan fried kale with greek yogurt and peanuts. Yum. Almost as good as the steak and shrimp :)