Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shake it off: Or, Boston Marathon 2015: where things get awesome.

Everyone knows about last years Boston experience. I was PR hunting in a big way and was very singularly focused on that- to the point where I ignored overly warm weather conditions and was not willing to change my plan. Mile 18, DIE. Then I spent the next few months questioning everything including if marathoning was worth it. (it isn't all rainbows and unicorns.)

Fast forward one year to yesterday and there I was, in Hopkinton with thousands of other people, in a tent, in the cold and rain and grinning my stupid face off. Yeah, that was me.
I was so happy to be there. I was the happiest person in the damn world! I was totally ready for a crap day of weather and so pumped to shake off the demons from last year and run whatever race was in store for me. Clearly, I had decided that it WAS worth it.

Two hats, two fleeces and a sweatshirt and three pairs of pants. YEP.
I'm still running garmin-less since I'm just too cheap to buy another. My plan was to "feel" like I was running 8:30's since that seemed like a reasonable pace given my training. I figured I could use the clocks at each mile for a rough estimate of how I was doing. "Calm and Reasonable" was my game plan- I wished to make it to the final 8 miles with gas left in the tank.

I snuck into my coral with only seconds to go. I'm sick and tired of having to take a pee break at mile 5 so I made a start line pit stop. Super smart, and I made it to coral 6 in time for the all important selfie. 

Down to one sweatshirt. One pair of pants. Two hats.  Happy not to be sweating!
From the start I felt good. I have always had some issue in Boston, either I take 10 miles to get into it or I'm a dumbass and run like I'm an elite and then fall over. Needless to say I was happy that my body got right into the action and even happier that I was consciously limiting my desire to sprint away with the win.
"Just be smart and easy" I kept telling myself  "run your own race, don't get sucked into chasing people." "Don't think about last year, just shake it off!"

There were a few rain showers in the first miles and it was cool but the wind was non existent (or, so little that I did not notice it.) (I had my last long run in a 40 mph headwind so there's that too.) The crowds were still out in droves despite the weather creating all kinds of mayhem which was great fun.

Thru the 5k and 10k I was running perfectly even splits according to my mental math. I thought I was somewhere in the 8:15 range and that was fine because I was feeling great. Happy legs, easy breathing, no issues. Somewhere around the 10K I had one of those "OMFG I'm running BOSTON AGAIN and it is SO AMAZING" moments which, of course, turned me into a crying mess. I pulled myself together because, seriously, and turned on my ipod for distraction from my own excitement.

Everyone talks about the Newton Hills but I have my own issues with Natick. It is 400 miles long and uphill in every direction. WHY? I really hated that stretch of road last year but this year I was up, over and through it before I even knew it. Which promptly had me celebrating and sobbing some more about how incredible everything, especially running Boston is.
I was just SO. DAMN. HAPPY.

From Wellsley to Newton it rained pretty hard and I was glad to have the distraction of more big crowds and a good (above pace- I'm bad at math) half marathon split. 1:44 might be the slowest first half I have ever run in Boston but it certainly was the smartest.

I feel like there are a few miles, maybe between 14-17 that are a little tricky. Maybe it is simply because one has been running for a while and there still is a ways to go, or maybe the adrenaline has worn off- who knows, but every year I lag slightly in this zone.  If I ever hit a small low point during the race it was then and I snapped out of it quickly. "SHAKE IT OFF" I shouted at myself "you are running smart and strong and there will be no whining!" And so it was, I had some snacks and got back to work.  Upsettingly, I also saw a clown during this period of time which is most certainly something I never wish for. (really, there was a clown creepily standing on the roadside. OMG. Who does this?) It was a good reason to try to run faster, so I fled.

Because of the cool temps and precip I was getting pretty chilled but knew that at mile 18 my Dad was waiting with a bag of dry clothing.*heaven* I was having a debate with myself about if stopping was worth it, but since my arms were completely numb and my hands were like little lobster claws I knew I had to! I started looking forward to warm arm sleeves and dry gloves at mile 15....

Needless to say at 18 I came to a full halt, my Dad and I wrestled the sleeves onto my soggy arms, I snagged some extra food, grabbed my gloves and I was off- about 2 minutes later. (my poor Dad drives 600 hours to see me for 2 minutes! Best Dad ever.) Dad and his brother had been standing there with gigantic umbrellas for who knows how long just to see me for a tiny moment, but it is a great couple minutes of the race for me!
At any rate, it was the smartest 2 minute stop that I have EVER made. I was immediately so much more comfortable that I dropped the hammer and started running like someone was chasing me!
....and then my shoe came untied.... Triple knots. UNTIED. So I stopped and my lobster claw hands managed to get the damn shoe tied- I was laughing and wishing someone would help me! I felt like it took 10 minutes but it probably took 1.

Anywhoo. I jumped back up and ran as fast as I could to the finish.
No seriously, that is what I did. Like an effing boss. Sure, it was a positive split finish but there was all that mile 18 stopping- and the hills- and shit shoelaces- but no lie, I ran like a superhero for those last 8 miles. High fiving all the people, smiling like an idiot, telling my screaming quads to shut up.

All I could remember was the death march of last year and how now I was running through the rain like a lunatic, having the best time ever and leaving 2014 in my dust. Honestly you guys, it was incredible. I have never had such a good time running a marathon. And yes, it was cold and rainy and not exactly a stylish running day but I didn't care- I trained in horrible weather all winter for a horrible weather day and here is was. No complaints.

Turning onto Boylston I ran by my Uncle Bill who was cheering his head off and, keeping in the mood of the day I started crying and cried all the way through the finish line. I'm an emotional mess of a woman. While a 3:33:07 might not be the fastest time of my running career I honestly believe it was one of the best runs of my life. Complete redemption. Happiest marathon that I have ever had.

Upon finishing I immediately froze a horrible death. I don't know if the wind just picked up then or if I simply ignored it while running (I believe that is the case) but either way, it was 45 degrees and wet and windy and I got stupid cold. Luckily my perfect husband met me quickly and put all 3 of his jackets onto my shivering body. If THAT is not love I don't know what is! I told him that giving me all of his clothing on this particular day made me almost as happy as the day he proposed a few years ago. That says something about how cold I was! (and how thoughtful Eric is!)

Back to THREE jackets and a heat sheet of magic.
I spent today being pretty damn sore but it certainly didn't take away from the sense of pride that I have in my race yesterday. Getting to run Boston is a really big deal and I felt so lucky to be there again. While I was focused enough to run my own race I really picked up on the positive energy of the crowds this year more than ever and tremendously enjoyed what a special experience it was.

So there it is, Boston Marathon 2015. A day of rain and cold, happy crying, the best feeling marathon I have ever run, my great family supporting me, terrifying clowns, screaming crowds and redemption.

The HAPPIEST of running!



  1. Well written race report that had me tearing up too!

  2. I always enjoy your race accounts. This one is great! I hear you on the clown creepiness-shiver! Congratulations on your great marathon in less than spectacular running conditions. Mainers are tough!

    1. Thanks anonymous! I sure wish I knew who you anon readers were- y'all need to sign your comments or something! :-)

  3. Everyone I know had such a great race on Monday. Congratulations on slaying your demons and conquering the beast.

    1. Thank you so much! And you will get your BQ soon!

  4. I love your race report!! Wow, we were close in time. And experience. I swear I could just take your race report and use it for myself in so many ways. Well, no clown for me. ha! And no dad to give me dry clothes. But I relate to you on so many of your feelings, how you approached and experienced this race, your training (lower mileage, slower long runs....)....yes yes! Feeling it! And imagine how cold you were at the finish and then walking to the Boston Commons and not getting dry for another hour! It royally sucked! Love your blog...maybe we will see each other next time!

    1. I am so lucky that I had Eric waiting close to the finish with extra clothes. I feel so bad for you having to make that long walk, it wasn't really the best day for a post race stroll..... Good weather for running- but so damn cold post race!