Boston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Boston Athletic Association
50F / 10C
Total Time = 4h 27m 1s
Overall Rank = 19117/22588
Age Group = F35-39
Age Group Rank = 4093/
Pre-race routine:

Before diving into the pre-race routine, I want to say that this is one of the most incredible races I've done. I went after a BQ a couple times and missed it before I finally hit the mark, and it was well worth the effort to get there. Now, onto the details of the actual race...

Went for a short easy run on Saturday morning and I did something to my calf that felt like a strain, but I wasn't sure. Flew out Saturday night and sprinted to catch a connecting flight, which aggravated the calf some more. Did the expo on Sunday and met up with jschmitchicago, who had me talk with a certified athletic trainer from Gatorade. She confirmed what I thought - minor calf strain. She advised me to ice and advil and wear a compression sleeve on it during the race. I happily obliged and bought some compression sleeves. :)
Event warmup:

Hour long bus ride to Hopkinton, and then waited around in the Athlete's Village for a couple hours before the start. Met up with my friend IP while I was there. We were both really excited to be there.

When it was time (10:30 for me since I was in the second wave) I did the three quarters of a mile or so walk to the start line with everyone else. We lined up and I kept thinking that I couldn't believe I was really there. Finally I heard a 'pop' sound, and we were off!
  • 4h 27m 1s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 11s  min/mile

I didn't wear a watch for the race. I wanted to enjoy the race and my training has been less than stellar. I knew if I wore a watch I would get caught up on pace, and if I wasn't running as fast as I would like, I would get upset about that. Instead, I ran by RPE and treated it like a long training run.

Even though I knew the race started out in a suburb, I don't know why I was still expecting more 'city' surroundings. Here's a sample of what the first few miles were like though:

I really enjoyed myself during this section. I slapped the hands of kids along way, enjoyed the music the Harley Davidson-ish crowd had blaring around the 5k mark, and generally took in my surroundings. I could tell my calf was going to be an issue by the end of mile 1, but I didn't care. It took me a long time to qualify for this race, and I wasn't going to miss out because of an injury I knew I could deal with if I stayed calm and was smart about things.

I could feel the pain right away and it kept getting worse until about mile 8 or 9. I started limping for awhile because it felt like my calf was tearing in half and there was a burning sensation. It only took a few miles for me to realize there was no way my left leg could handle so much of the work load. Regardless of what my right calf did, my left quad would give out long before the finish line if I kept it up. I went back to running with as 'normal' a stride as possible and resolved to make this an issue of mind over matter. I couldn't let the physical pain take over the experience. I was here to have fun, and that's what I intended to do.

Somewhere around mile 12, I heard it. There was a dull roar from up ahead. I reached the top of the hill and there they were - the girls of Wellesley College. Screaming, clapping, leaning over the railing with their hands out, jumping up and down, holding out signs that said: "Kiss me, I'm a senior" or just "Kiss me." While I didn't kiss any of them, I did take a picture with a couple of them and slapped the hand of every girl I could. The energy was incredible and it really carried you through that section of the course until eventually the roar quieted as you left them behind.

Then around mile 15, I confirmed what I had suspected for the past couple miles - there was a donkey jersey ahead of me. My calf was still hurting quite a bit then, so I zeroed in on my target and decided I would catch the carrot and at least have company for a few seconds to boost my spirits. I finally caught her and introduced myself. It was pjgrande. She was having some hip issues and our pace felt comfortable so I asked her if I could hang with her for awhile. We chatted for the next five or six miles, and got ourselves up a couple of tough hills with much less pain than it would have been if I was running by myself.

Boston marathon race registration: $130
Round trip tickets from Chicago to Boston: $230
Finding an unexpected donkey out on the race course: Priceless

Shortly after mile 21 PJ said she was going to need to walk for a bit due to her hip and she told me to go on. I was hesitant about leaving her, but she told me I needed to. We said goodbye and I tackled the last big hill.

I got to the top and saw a string of girls in pink t-shirts holding out a sign that said, "You just finished Heartbreak Hill." I had thought this was only the start of the hills so I assumed they didn't know the course. Then the announcer confirmed it: "CONGRATULATIONS RUNNERRRS! You are up and over Heartbreak Hill!" What? That was Heartbreak Hill? I couldn't believe Heartbreak Hill was behind me and I hadn't even known I was running it!

I'm not sure what it was about conquering that hill, but I had a surge of energy. For a moment (and I knew it might be fleeting) I felt like I could conquer anything. I had tried so hard to qualify - failing twice, thought I might back out of the race because of the way things were working out, and injured myself two days before, and now I was at mile 21 of the Boston Marathon with the worst of the hills behind me.

Miles 22 through 24 ticked by in a blur of renewed energy, huge cheering crowds as we were now in the city, and increasingly painful quads. The downhills were getting to them. And yet, I was so close I could taste the finish line. Boston College is also in this stretch of the course and while they don't receive the same love the girls of Wellesley do, they absolutely match them in the energy level and volume. They just aren't giving kisses, have consumed more beer, and have boys mixed in amongst them. Their section felt even longer than the Wellesley section and was easily as deafening. It was a huge energy boost near the end.

Then I hit mile 25 and hit the wall. Slammed into it might be a more appropriate description. That last 1.2 miles were tough. I couldn't even feel my calf anymore my quads were so sore. And at the same time I was completely elated because I was so close to the finish, I felt a little like puking. There's a tiny descent (and I mean tiny) at about 25.5 miles and as I started down it my quads hurt so bad I thought that log rolling would be a more appealing option if only I didn't have to use my quads to lower myself into the log roll and get myself back up again. Then I hit the hard right someone had told me about and thought "ohmygod.ohmygod.ohmygod." I knew all that remained was the hard left up ahead and the finish line would be in view. I made the hard left ("ohmygod.ohmygod.ohmygod") and looked up. OH.MY.GOD. The finish line was a tiny strip of blue wwwaaaayyyy down the street. So far away. I sucked it up and kept pushing, saw the finish clock, and realized I was going to finish sub 4:30. I hit the finish mats and blew the finish line a kiss.

Thank you Gods of Running for giving us this day. I will forever be grateful.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe I would have stayed with PJ since her splits didn't really drop off after I left her, but in general I dealt with the conditions I was given on race day and the training I had put in and did the best I could with things. Most importantly, I enjoyed myself and that was my primary goal. What an amazing experience!
Post race
Warm down:

Walked the looonnnng finishing chute and then met up with IP and a couple others for a post-race lunch. I had to have Trudy put my warm-up pants on for me like I was a three year old because I could barely use my legs.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Covered in the race report.

Event comments:

If you have the chance - Do this race!

Last updated: 2009-10-22 12:00 AM
04:27:01 | 26.2 miles | 10m 11s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/22588
Performance: Good
I didn't wear a watch so I don't have this info.
Course: From Hopkinton to downtown Boston. You can find it on-line if you want the details.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5