Spoiler alert: I finished. But not without a fight. A long, long, much longer than expected, cold, long, heavy, wet, damp, soaked, frigid, long, fight.
Obviously couldn’t sleep, and woke up before my alarm to get ready to head to Hopkinton. I decided against the bus, because it made no sense to go from Billerica to Boston to Hopkinton. This did cause me stress, though, because the BAA proclaimed that their buses are the only guaranteed way to get to the starting line. Gulp.
Dad, Jill, and I left around 7:30 to head down 495. (Jill and I did a complicated getaway car maneuver the night before so I could leave Boston after the race without dealing with the T. Jill is my MVP best friend of the month/life after what she has done for me this week. LOVE YOU). After a minor bump in the road involving Daddy Dearest missing the exit, we arrived at the South Street parking lot a little before 9. I had nothing to worry about- I was on a shuttle within 10 or 15 minutes, and was at the Athlete’s Village in another 5. I definitely recommend this method for anyone who lives along the 495 corridor.
First stop was the long porta potty line, where I hung out with the cutest Canadian woman who sounded like the lady cop from Fargo. (Oh, you BETCHA!!!) I found my Marathon Coalition buddies and sat down to wait. Just as our corrals were called, around 10:30, it started to rain. And not cute, misty rain. Like, rain-rain. I picked up a discarded trash bag and mylar sheet from the ground (new low?), and joined the mass exodus towards the start line.
The starting line was mayhem, and the rain wasn’t helping. The gun went off, and we shuffled uphill towards the start, already drenched. Then, holy cow, we were running the Boston Marathon.
Looking OH so photogenic, maybe in Natick center?
The first seven miles were awesome. I had my Turtles, the crowds were thick, and the course was nicely downhill. The rain was constant, though. I was wearing underarmour coldgear pants, my Feaster Five longsleeve techwick, my Girl Scouts penny (that never saw the light of day… sorry, team), gloves/headband, and a cycling raincoat that I bought a few weeks ago when I was in my obsessively-buying-things-for-every-possible-scenario phase (thanks, Theresa of the Past). But, I was still cold. Luckily, I knew my family was at mile 7 with an extra pair of leggings. I decided to slap them on when I got there.
Seeing my Dad, Auntie Susan, Uncle Dave, and Jill at Beaver Street in Framingham was AWESOME. I felt so great at that point. I told my turtles that I would catch up with them, and stopped to put on extra pants. Putting on another layer: good idea. Pushing myself to catch up with my team: BAD IDEA. Theresa, what did Coach Rick tell you over and over? CONSERVE. YOUR. ENERGY. But I was feeling great, and the thought of completing the remaining 19 miles alone in the rain was awful. So I sped up to meet up with everyone… and when I got there, I was a little toasted. I had a stitch in my side, and wasn’t feeling hot. No bueno.
Smile through the stitches!
I kept up with Karen and Charlie for a few more miles, through Natick and Wellesley (where I saw my yellow-coated lovey CAROLINE), until roughly Mile 17. I came to terms with the fact that they were feeling better than I was at that point, and if I was going to make it, I had to cool it. This was disheartening for me, because I had been training with them for much of the season… and had never had a problem keeping pace. Luckily, I knew I was seeing Chris at Mile 18.
By this point, I was BEYOND drenched. Like, beyond. Every step was a squish in my portable puddles aka my shoes. Although I was soaked, I was never uncomfortably cold. I have no idea how all the people in shorts and tank tops finished the race.
With a mocha ClifShot to pep me up, I made the turn at the fire station. Tons of people were looking dejected at this point, but not this girl. I KNEW those hills. I KNEW exactly how they would roll, all the way to BC. Seeing Chris at Mile 18, standing alone in the rain, gave me the energy I needed to get to the top of Heartbreak. I had made a promise to myself, on all those cold, hard, training runs, that I would try my best to run all the way up Heartbreak without stopping. And I did it. Yes, I did it at a turtle’s pace, but I jogged past dozens of defeated walkers, in the pouring rain, all the way to the top. Since I was the only person moving at a slightly above walking speed, all of the spectators zeroed in on me and cheered me on. It was one of my favorite moments of the race.
And then, the suck really began. The rain was not letting up, and a brutal headwind kicked in as I ran/walked into Brookline. Remember that the most I had run up to this point was 21 miles… many of the longer runs of my training were cancelled because of snow, and I missed a few because of China. And, I was carrying at least ten extra pounds on me because my clothes were so wet and heavy.
It was getting late. The crowds were thin in the awful weather. But still, me and thousands of others (including my friend Amy- we leapfrogged the last few miles) soldiered on towards Boylston. The best way to describe it was a death march. It was the opposite of fun.
A pretty good representation of the last 5 miles… lots of walking dejectedly.
But wait! What is that beautiful red, white, and blue sign breaking through the stormclouds? Ah, CITGO. I love you.
Because of the weather, we weren’t able to see the CITGO sign or the city in the distance until we were pretty much on top of the final hill. From there, it was a right on Hereford, left on Boylston…
In disbelief that the finish line was in sight.
From there, the crowd carried me. I stopped for quick hugs and kisses from my loved ones (again, so incredible to see my boyfriend, family, and friends standing there, knowing they had to wait half the day in the rain), and then spotted my Dad, who hopped a barrier to run the last smidge with me. And then, beautifully, gratefully, it was over. A little less than 6 hours. Almost an hour longer than I had originally reckoned it would take. But it didn’t matter: I was a Boston Marathon Finisher. After training in the worst winter ever recorded, I finished the race in some of the most challenging weather conditions in Marathon history. My two feet carried me all the way from Hopkinton to Boston. 26.2 miles. I did it all.
From there, it’s a frigid blur: wrapping myself in a tiny mylar sheet because they ran out of blankets, shivering through the streets of Boston looking for the Westin, pounding the most wonderful hot pretzel, and weaseling my way into scoring a free burrito from Chipotle. And then, it was over. Got back to my house in time to watch Bates Motel, and slept like a rock.
I finished the race feeling 100% confident that I would never run a marathon again. Of course, a week later, my resolve is weaning. I’m perusing fall halfs, training plans, marathon blogs. I KNOW I can do better, time-wise. And I can’t help but feel that my Boston experience was dampened (ha) by the rain. Regardless of whether I return as a runner or a spectator in the future, you can bet that I will be back, Boston. My teammate Karen put it perfectly: The marathon is just a celebration of all of your training. Being a part of the Marathon Coalition, and having the opportunity to reconnect with so many people I love through this blog, was an amazing experience. And over $5,500 raised for the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA. So one, final time: thank. you. Thank. You. THANK. YOU. As Coach Rick says: “Nothing significant in life is ever accomplished alone.”
So, that’s it for this chapter. It was a long, but wonderful, road to Copley. I’ve received so much positive feedback about this blog, it’s been overwhelming. I’m excited to take this momentum and start a new project, Run Hike Pizza, which will combine some ideas that have been floating around in my head for a while. More on that in a few weeks… for now, I am declaring this blog done, so I can finally catch up on Game of Thrones and talk to Taylor about it. YEAH!