So, I left off in Wellesley. This was probably my favorite part of the course. When they talk about the screaming girls of Wellesley, they weren’t joking. They were so loud and energetic. I continued my high fiving and was offered more kisses than ever before in my life. I saw a lot of people stopping to give the girls kisses, I just watched and laughed as I passed by!
There was a pretty steep decline and then an incline that comes quickly after. I remember eating another GU at the 15 mile mark and I was still stopping and walked through every water station to drink, I was really starting to feel the heat around mile 15.
From mile 15-16ish are the Wellesley hills, they weren’t too awful, but after you cross Route 9, you hit a half-mile long descent that is the longest in the course. Then you get to Route 128 and you get to climb for 3/4 of a mile until you reach Beacon St in Newton. It was right around this point that my IT bands were tightening up (thanks hills) and I felt like I was starting to lose steam but I told myself to just keep moving. I was now in the single digits for miles left to complete. I was letting the crowd carry me and reminding myself that I COULD do this, that I TRAINED to do this and it was SUPPOSED to be hard.
I knew one of my friends Hung would be hanging around the mile 17 marker at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital area. I remember passing the Power Bar stand at mile 17 and kept trying to find my friend, but unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him. Before I knew it, I was running downhill for the next mile to the Newton Fire Station. By mile 18, my left inner quad was spasming and seizing up. I stopped quickly to try and massage it and had to keep moving. I was afraid if I had stopped for too long, I wouldn’t be able to start back up. I didn’t feel tired, that was the worst part, my legs were just angry. Again, I tried to turn my attention to the crowd, they were many deep and just amazing. They were handing out water, banana pieces, and freeze pops. Some were even spraying us with water as we ran by because it was getting so hot and some young kids were passing out Twizzlers and pretzel rods.
At this point, I looked up and noticed a fairly steep hill in front of me, I knew we were near Boston College as kids were all decked out in the BC gear and I was offered more than 1 beer. Gotta love those college kids!! I was still really hurting and after I finished that hill, there was another that was about 1/4 mile long. I was slowing down a lot and had to dig deep. There was a fairly flat mile or so where I just kept telling myself that I had to make it to mile 20 to see my next set of friends on the course. It was mentally really hard not to see people you know on the course, especially when you are struggling. I knew my family was all at the end of the course so I was really looking forward to seeing some friendly faces earlier on in the course.
I remember passing the Newton City Hall and then was slapped with a third hill. I made it almost to the top and had to walk the last few steps, I just couldn’t do it. I had to collect myself. I felt like I wasn’t even inside my own body. I knew I wasn’t hitting the dreaded wall though. I had fueled perfectly, I had done everything I was supposed to, but I think the combination of the heat and the course was getting the best of me. I had lost track of the hills at this point, I thought I had two more. I took a deep breath, gave myself a pep talk and told myself to just get this done. I passed through a little town center of shops and saw another hill. I put my head down and put one foot in front of the other. I wouldn’t call what I was doing running, rather shuffling but I made it to the top of that hill without stopping. When I finally crested that hill, I saw this huge banner that said:
The Heartbreak is over. I was so confused…I thought I had one more hill. Not that I was complaining at all!! At this point we were at mile 20 so I took another round of ENERGYbits and a GU. There was only a 10k left. At this point I was taking the course fuel station by fuel station and kept chanting “You can do this” and “one foot in front of the other, DO NOT STOP!” over and over again. After being relieved that HBH was over, there was a 1/2 mile downhill that just killed my IT bands. I was cramping so much but had to keep moving. I was looking for my friends after mile 20 but again, didn’t see them. There were just too many people in the crowds to make out anyone. I was thankful the crowds were still going strong though and they were great about looking right at you and saying motivational things like “You’ve got this” or “Do not give up, you just have a 10k left.” I thanked them and tried to give them a smile, I wish they knew how much this helped.
We hit Brookline at mile 23 and after I drank some Gatorade, I continued to walk through the fueling stations and for another minute or so. I had 2 more miles until I hit the Hotel Commonwealth where my family was going to be. I HAD to get there. I felt like my legs were not part of my body. How could my IT bands and quad be hurting like this? I knew the hills were going to be bad, but I think the heat and loss of salt played a large part in how I was feeling too. Dead legs was the best way to describe how I was feeling. I remember not feeling angry though, at one point, I looked over and saw one of the many blind runners tethered to their guide and said “Great job, keep going.” I tried to say this to everyone who was running with a guide or walking/struggling to keep moving throughout the course. I think it helped them as much as it helped me.
I kept moving forward, hitting a bunch of little hills and feeling like the end was so close but still SO freaking far away. Almost delirious, I hit the mile 25 fuel station, took another GU, drank some more and put on my game face. I was about to enter Kenmore Square and I knew I was going to finally see my family. I was exhausted, playing games mentally in my head, calculating how much time I had left to run, trying to gauge the terrain in front of me. I saw a sea of Orange and knew I found the MMRF cheer group. I moved closer to the right side of the street so I would be up close. They saw me coming and started screaming so loud. I don’t know how I managed, but I smiled as big as I could and I saw my Mom and sister in the group cheering and smiling. I was just SO happy to see a friendly face. They took these pics as I was running by.
How I managed a smile I don’t know, I remember thinking, finally, I saw them, I am ALMOST there. I was in a lot of pain, I was exhausted and I just wanted to be done. I ran for a couple more minutes, went under the underpass that was filled was spectators screaming at the top of their lungs and took a right onto Hereford Street. That was one of the most crowded areas of the whole course as we start inching towards the finish line. I had to stop and walk again for about 20 seconds and give myself another pep talk. I had one more turn to make, a left onto Boylston Street. I took that left and saw the finish line, but it still felt miles away. I quickly tried to regain my composure. I focused on the finish line and didn’t let it leave my line of sight. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t stop until I crossed that line. It felt like it took 20 minutes, you know in the movies when everything feels like it’s playing in slow motion, well, that is how I felt. Every step felt slow, every movement felt heavy, but I gave that road everything I had left and I crossed that finish line and everything around me went quiet.
Did I really just finish the Boston Marathon?
Yup, looks like I did. I got my medal and had this picture snapped. For the first time in my life, I took a decent race pic. I’ve never purchased a race pic before because I always look awful in every race pic, but I am REALLY happy there were a couple of great (for me) pics to buy!
After stopping my Garmin and taking off my headphones I heard my name being yelled loudly, I looked to the left and saw Robyn and my nephew Tommy with huge smiles on their faces. It was SO good to see them. I stood and just looked at them for a minute when I let the fact that I had just finished the Boston Marathon, the race that has sat in the #1 place on my running bucket list for as long as I can remember sink in. I may have been in a world of pain, I may have wanted to collapse on the ground and stay there for the rest of the day, but I did it!! I walked over to Robyn and told him that I would meet him at the family finish area and he said okay. I got my warmth jacket and a water. I bypassed the food (I can’t eat after I run) and headed to the family meeting area. Of course, it was by alphabetical order so I had a long walk ahead of me. Finding my family could take up an entire post as it was pretty messy and ended with me having a bit of a meltdown, but I ended up having to walk an additional two miles AFTER the marathon to get to them because they weren’t allowed to cross over to the family meeting areas?!? But when I finally got to them, it was so great to see everyone.
After we snapped some pics, we made the trek to Back Bay and got on the 5:05 train to Framingham. Robyn dropped Erica and I off at my car in Hopkinton and he went to pick up Ashton at daycare with the kids. By the time everyone got home, I jumped into a hot Epsom salt bath at 7:45 p.m…and it was over. All the months of training in the cold, countless sessions with my PT, hundreds of miles logged, and early morning wake ups led me to this:
I didn’t hit my 4 hour time goal but I did PR the course and given how hard it was…I will take it and call it a win all around! I truly believe this is the best marathon in the world and I hope that everyone who wants to run it can by either qualifying or doing it through a charity, it was just THAT incredible! I have been on the cheering side for years, but there is NOTHING that can compare to running this race. I feel so incredibly fortunate that I was able to run Boston. This will be my last full marathon and there was no better race to end this distance at!
If you made it this far, you are amazing! I want to thank each and every one of you for all the support you have given me over the past few months. I love you guys!! Stay tuned for what’s next…but until then, have an awesome weekend!!
Question of the day
How was your week? What are your plans for the weekend?