Sunday, May 9, 2010

Boston Marathon 2010

The most famous route in all of runnerdom.

I dragged my feet for so long in posting this that even Spike beat me to posting his race report, and that's saying something, considering in the past we've had good-natured contests to see who is lazier. I think I won this one, my friend.

Boston. Where do I begin? How can I accurately articulate what running this race meant to me? Should I start here:

Just after I ran my qualifying time at the Cleveland Marathon, May 2009

Or should I start here:

August 2006. Before everything.

Four years ago, pushing 225 pounds, the idea that I could change my life for the better was nonexistent. Exercise? What's that? Eating wisely? Ha!

Needless to say, my, how things have changed. From that first 5K I ran after starting to lose weight, where my only goal was to finish without walking, to my first half marathon and onward to my first marathon...what a journey. What a fucking incredible journey, people.

I arrived in Boston on the Friday before the race. I visited the expo, collected my race packet, spent WAY too much money, ate WAY too many free samples of anything that was offered, and then hit up a local watering hole with my awesome hostess for the weekend. Saturday brought entertainment in the form of the Boston Hash House Harriers, who put on a stupendous hash through the streets of Boston.

It was about 40 degrees and spitting rain but I was very happy amongst my tribe.

Sunday I met up with some other run-blogger folks at a brunch gathering organized by the Redhead. I also saw Spike and we exchanged valuable prerace strategy in the form of giant tater tots stuffed with cheese. Carb loading, right?

With Spike and the Redhead at brunch. YOU GUYS ROCK!

I chilled out for the rest of Sunday, had a big pasta dinner with some other runners from Michigan, and hit the sack around 10:00 Sunday night. My bag was packed, I was ready.

What a girl wants, what a girl run a marathon.

Race morning was cool and sunny, unlike the previous three. I took the T into the city, met up with the other Michigan folks, and rode the special Michigan runners' charter bus to Hopkinton. After hanging around the bus and the athletes' village for a while, it was time to go. I strapped on my various accessories, dropped off my bag, and headed to the start. I found my corral and wriggled into the crowd. I took a moment to relax and ready myself for the task at hand. I was about to run the BOSTON MARATHON!

Right before the start.

Without much fanfare, we were off. I had decided long ago that I was not going for any particular time on this day. It was my very first Boston, and I just wanted to enjoy every moment. Consequently, I held my pace to a leisurely 9:00-plus per mile. I listened to the abundant people cheering, waved to various folks, high-fived little kids. Around mile 2 my fellow runner Erika, one of my Thursday night running group, came up behind me. I was very glad to see her and we ran together for the next 14 miles.

On the road in the early part of the race.

Midrace action!

I was moving along comfortably, soaking up the experience. When I got to the famous "Tunnel of Noise" at Wellesley College, Erika and I sped up considerably, buoyed by the cheering. I looked at Garmy after we ran through the screams and I said, "We gotta slow down, we're running like 8:30 pace!"

Even though I'm a Smithie, I have to give these women some props.

Just after Wellesley was the halfway point, which I reached in 2:00:42, right on pace for a 4:00 marathon. Around mile 16 I said to Erika, "I have to stop and use the bathroom, go ahead and don't wait for me. Good luck!" It was a miracle I had made it that far without having to use a port-a-potty. Usually the beast rears its head long before that. After exiting the bathroom, I settled in to run the rest of the race alone. I clearly remember passing mile 17 and thinking, "Nine more miles...shit." I knew where I was heading: that lonely territory of the mind where every marathon runner goes eventually. The late miles of a marathon are an out of body experience. We grit our teeth and concentrate on forward motion, pushing through the pain. I was closing in on that place. I made it through the series of hills culminating with Heartbreak at mile 21. At mile 22 I thought wearily, "Only four more to go."

On the course

And the pavement slid past under my feet, and lo I was very tired and did want to stop more than anything, but come ON, this was the BOSTON MARATHON, and I was in it. And I made the turn onto Boylston St and the final 0.3 miles stretched out in front of me. The screaming coming from the assembled crowds reached new heights and I pushed my glasses onto my forehead because I wanted to see everything as clearly as possible, only I found myself running with eyes half closed and a stupid grin on my face as a tsunami of emotion crashed over me. I was alternately laughing with joy and crying in disbelief as I ran toward the finish.

How can I look so happy at the end of a marathon? Because it's Boston.

I am so close to being done.

As soon as I finished, I knew I had to come back. There's no question. I can't let this be my only Boston.

About a minute after I finished. I was still riding an incredible emotional high.

I finished the Boston Marathon!!

Of course, no marathon report of mine would be complete without a picture of me savoring my first post-race beer:

Victory never tasted so hoppy.

So now what? I'm looking ahead to October and the Grand Rapids Marathon. I will try for another BQ at that race. In the shorter term, I've already run three races (two 5Ks and a 10K) since Boston. Next Sunday I will be running the Cleveland Half Marathon with my dad. I ran 10 miles this morning which was my longest run since the marathon. I'm enjoying running a lot at the moment. The weather is ideal and I am shedding some pounds and moving faster, which make me happy.

What a journey, folks. What an amazing journey. Most of the time I still have trouble believing that I actually did it.

Race stats:
Official finish time: 4:11:57
Age group: 3757 out of 4984
Overall: 17420 out of 22645


MCM Mama said...

You are amazing!! You've come such a long way!

Zoomy said...

I <3 your finish photos...pure happy! If you are running GR in the Fall I will try to come cheer.

Congrats on your Boston experience...I can't wait to see you BQ again!

Carolina John said...

again... you are incredible. wow.

B. Kramer said...

Congrats ... again (finally). Nice recap of your entire running journey. Cheers to you!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Hey, did you have to show your t*ts in NOLA to get that stylin' necklace you're rockin in photo 2?

That's all I have to say.

O, yeh ... [grudgingly] ... Congrats on finishing BOSTON!

(I'm assuming that beer is a Sam Adams?)

C said...

Well worth the wait. Great report. Congrats again on your amazing achievement. You more than deserve it.

Sun Runner said...

@GQH: No, I did NOT. :P

And that beer (the first of many that evening) was a Harpoon IPA.

Running Diva Mom said...

awesome recap and photos. So you ran with your camera the entire time?! You're crazy girl. What a machine you are .... all of those races right after Boston. Love all the detail and all of the photos. You are truly amazing. Enjoy every moment of your success!! (I've been WAITING for your post!)

Nitmos said...

"Usually the beast rears its head..." I've never heard a turtle called "The Beast" before.

Congrats on a special day and special accomplishment!

Run Jess Run said...

Congrats to you!!! What a great journey!!

Anne said...

I've been waiting for this! Girlfriend, you rock. Congratulations.