It’s been exactly one week since I ran the Boston Marathon. Last week I was fighting against a headwind and at least 20 mph wind gusts, rain interspersed with sudden downpours, and a starting temperature of a whopping 40 degrees. For three and a half hours. To say conditions for running 26.2 miles were less than ideal would be an understatement. Of course, today looks like great weather for a run…go figure.
But you know what? I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t put it into words, but the Boston Marathon is like no other marathon—no matter what the weather. The spectators cheering you on, the volunteers who are there to help with any and every need you may have, and the 25,000+ runners who are right there experiencing it all with you; it’s just incredible. Plus, I know the 122nd Boston Marathon will go down in history as being one of the worst days for a marathon weather-wise, so getting to say I did that counts for something, right? ;)
I was able to run the Boston Marathon two years ago for the first time and while it’s easy to compare between the two years, I have just as sweet of memories from this year. While two years ago, it was almost too hot (I can’t believe I’m saying that), this year just brought other challenges. If you’re curious, here are my thoughts from two years ago leading up to the Boston Marathon and my thoughts following the race. When I read back through them, all of my sentiments and feelings about the experience still hold true. Only this time, I improved my time and, unlike two years ago, I had another Boston qualifying time…so you know what that means. ;)
There’s so much I could share about our trip to Boston and the race weekend, so to help me touch on the highlights, I’m doing another round of my “Current Thoughts and Ponderings”—Boston Marathon style.
Favorite memory: Spotting Philip at Mile 10. While I have a lot of great memories (turning onto Boylston Street for the last .25 miles and crossing the finish line certainly being one of them), seeing Philip was a highlight. We had it planned out that he would be waiting for me somewhere right after the Mile 10 marker, on the left-hand side. With so many spectators, it’s easy to miss each other, so he had attached bright colored towels and a cowbell to the end of a selfie stick (probably the most use we’ve ever gotten out of that thing!). I was so excited to see him, briefly say hi to him, and to tell him that I was feeling great (hoping that he would pass this information onto our parents, which he did). While looking through my watch’s data from the race last week, I was pleased with my average heart rate of about 147 bpm. There was only one spot where it had drastically jumped up. Turns out, it was right where Philip was standing. :)
Worst realization: That hill wasn’t Heartbreak Hill…it’s still coming. Heartbreak Hill is the famous last hill that comes at Mile 20. It’s not so much that it’s steep, but rather that it’s a long, gradual incline for about half a mile. There was a different hill at about Mile 18, and even though I knew deep down the “big hill” wasn’t coming until between Mile 20 and 21, I sure did question myself for a minute. That first hill really should’ve been the one.
Best idea: Wearing an old pair of running shoes to Athlete’s Village. Athlete’s Village is where all the athletes wait in Hopkinton before the start of the race. There are big tents set up and a lot of grassy areas to sit and relax…at least that’s the idea. However, when it’s raining and there are 30,000 people walking on the grass, it gets
a little a lot muddy. Like, sinking-into-the-mud muddy. Being able to change into a clean, dry pair of socks and shoes just before I toed the starting line was one of the best, last minute decisions I could have made. That, and buying a poncho for $1 at Hy-Vee. I knew there was a reason why I randomly spotted those ponchos one day in the middle of the winter. :)
Best purchase: The North Face Reversible Jacket. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this jacket saved me! I purposely over packed for the race to accommodate whatever weather conditions I’d be running in (#options), but once I arrived, I felt like I had packed everything but the right attire and gear. I started to panic and knew that I had one day to find something that would be wind and water resistant. Thanks to a huge expo with everything under the sun, I was able to snag this jacket up on a sales rack. I tried it on and I was sold. Everybody else had the same idea, so rain gear was selling quickly! This jacket kept me dry through the large majority of the race, and in my opinion, one of the main reasons why I was able to do so well.
Best motivation: Learning about Desiree Linden’s win. I was at about Mile 18 when another runner asked a spectator who had won. It was like a ripple effect, as the small group I was with at the time passed along the news that Des Linden had won, the first American female to win since 1985! To learn about an American winning made us all push a little harder and keep going a little bit longer. The camaraderie we all shared at that moment as fellow runners was also a special moment. We were all in this together.
Best thoughts: I can do this, I’m feeling great. Running is a mental sport and I realized that to an even greater extent on this run. The weather was—to put it bluntly—horrible and yet, I was pleasantly surprised with how “warm” it was when I stepped outside on Monday morning. I focused on the good, rather than the bad. I thought about how great I was feeling and was actually smiling at times while running through the rain. I looked at how each mile marker brought me that much closer to the finish line and the warm seafood chowder my aunt and uncle were making for me after the race. It’s all a matter of perspective, which I think is fitting for life just as much as it is for running.
Scariest moment: Seeing runners get hypothermia. While it was “warmer” than I was expecting, it wasn’t exactly warm. I felt more prepared than others thanks to my new jacket and the fact that I had been training in sub-freezing weather all winter. But that didn’t negate the fact that I was soaking wet at the end of the race, no longer running, and it was still pretty chilly out. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to meet up with Philip and our hotel was a short walk away. You think you’ve made it once you cross the finish line, but for several runners, it was after the race that got them.
Grateful for: Awesome volunteers! Seriously, they are just amazing. Volunteers for anything, but specifically the 9,000+ volunteers that went into making the race happen. I felt worse for the volunteers (and spectators) than I did for myself or the other runners actually. Standing outside in the rain looked pretty miserable. But I heard no complaints, saw nothing but smiles, and felt all the compassion from each volunteer I interacted with.
Most surprised by: The hotel shower. Boston always goes above and beyond for Marathon Monday and the hotels are no different. Even though we had checked out of our hotel before the race, they opened a room for us so we could take a warm shower (best ever!) and put on dry clothes before we left. On top of that, when we walked into the hotel following the race, they had balloons lined up, recovery drinks and goodies, and a bag of treats to go home with. What a great way to make you feel special.
Favorite way to relax and end our trip: Spending time with my aunt and uncle. We stayed in the Boston area for a couple days following the race to spend time with my aunt and uncle. As nice as the hotel was, it was so comforting to be able to arrive to a warm, homemade meal, enjoy great company with good conversation and laughs, and have our own tour guides to show us around the old New England towns. Like any great visit, our time together ended too quickly.
Boston—I’ll be back. :)