It is now a full week after the 2014 Boston Marathon. This is going to be a long blog, but I promise I keep things interesting. Physically, I am still recovering while emotionally I am still processing. I thought I would share my experience and I can only hope you get the slightest taste of what it was like to be in Boston this year. In order to truly understand my emotions leading up to race day it is important to know this was my second marathon (qualifying race was the 2013 Cincinnati Flying Pig), I still haven’t grasped why I was given this opportunity and no, I didn’t “deserve” it. Sure, I worked hard to qualify, but there are bigger reasons as to why I got to be a participant in the 2014 Boston Marathon and I couldn’t be more grateful to share the experience.
Jeff (my boyfriend) and I got up around 5:00 am race day and took our time getting ready. Showered up, put on the body glide (I missed a few spots, ha), tossed on CTF gear and ate a solid breakfast. Jeff’s dad kindly drove us to the bus stop while I took a quick nap—apparently I still needed some shut eye. We arrived to Athlete’s Village around 7:30 am and I knew it was going to be a long wait before I started. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about this part but there is nothing you can do except rest, chit-chat, refuel, use the bathrooms and watch the snipers on top of a local school (craziness). Jeff left around 9:30 am and I had another hour or so before I made my way to the starting line.
Physically, my legs felt ready to go but my stomach was in rumble mode. So many thoughts and emotions—I felt honored to be there knowing so many people were tracking and supporting; having our families awaiting at mile 25 and knowing Jeff was out there was comforting, exciting and nerve racking all at the same time. It was finally time to get started and I couldn’t be happier.
Miles 1-6: Go figure the first thing I hear is the Dropkick Murphys song…it instantly made me think of everyone at CTF and “3, 2, 1, work” became real. I paced my first 6 miles really well given it was a lot of downhill. I knew that would hit me later… going downhill is not fun. It was only fun when I was 6 years old and thought it was cool to run down the hill next to my house to see how fast I could go. I got to mile 7 and couldn’t believe I was already 25% done with the course. Miles 7-13: I made sure to stay on top of my nutrition plan of using my gels, drinking water, drinking Gatorade every so often, and had my first dose of salt supplement. I was able to hold my pace and I couldn’t be more excited about that. These miles were a blast. I tried to clap as many hands as possible, favoring the kiddies. I was truly savoring every mile at this point.
Miles 13-19: Mile 13 wasn’t my finest mile. Thank goodness there was a bathroom close by because I felt my throat start to cease up—that feeling right before you puke. Awesome. I paused my watch at this point, got sick in a porter potty, felt a million times better then kept moving on. Physically, I knew this would probably catch up later but what can ya’ do? You keep moving. Ran to mile 14, drank Gatorade and water, recovered my pace miles 15-17 then proceeded to get sick AGAIN at mile 18. At this point, I was concerned about how my body would handle this once I got to my final miles but all I could do was follow my game plan and try to get my pacing back. Mile 19 was a 9:30 mile and that was when my quads started to cramp stronger than I’ve ever felt in my life.
Miles 20-26.2: These miles were the hardest miles I have ever physically ran/walked/stretched/trotted in my life. Mentally I was strong and knew the goal was to FINISH the race. KEEP MOVING. Maintain form. Wooooah–ceasing up. Pull over. Stop. Stretch. Shake it out. KEEP MOVING. Lean on the crowd’s support. Drink water, drink Gatorade, stay on the nutrition plan, pray and KEEP MOVING. Your friends are tracking you—KEEP MOVING. Family is at mile 25—smile for the picture and act like you aren’t in pain. Drink water. Stop, stretch, shake it out, talk to the person behind the fence then KEEP MOVING. These thoughts and actions were literally my last 6.2 miles. Crossing that finish line was emotional and I couldn’t wait to find Jeff, family and sit down. Finishing at 4:05 was not in the cards at mile 18 (I could have finished around 3:40), but starting at mile 19 a 4:05 finish was stellar. I found Jeff pretty easily and the tears came streaming down.
As I replay my miles, one of the main reasons I believe I had the opportunity to run that race was to be humbled.
Humble literally means to “bow down.” I felt what it was like to mentally rely on something bigger than me because my body was shutting down. In so many words, I had to look up, look around me and have faith that I was going to finish that race—no matter what.