I have written this post about 15,754 times in my head but I haven't been able to bring myself to put it out in bloggy land. I needed time to decompress, to digest what was Boston, and to gather my head for tomorrow's race, Big Sur. First off, I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement. I received so many wonderful emails from my post about being sick that I felt so much love and support. Thank you.
I had big plans for Boston. As I am sure many of you are aware, nothing went as planned. I woke up on April 15th with a ragging stomach flu that left me drained and weak. I cried all day on Thursday as I flushed my Boston dreams down the toilet. But I was bound and determined to go no matter what. Flying there was a nightmare, thank God for first class. I was still sick as a dog and so worried about the race. But everyone kept telling me Monday was a long way off. Well, it was...and it wasn't. Not only did I have to battle the drain from the flu, I had to collect my thoughts and my head so that I could even tackle 26.2 miles on a notoriously difficult course. I don't care how prepared you are, flu or no flu, 26.2 miles is a long way even a peak conditioning. I tried to take in the city and everything that the race had to offer but my self doubts did get the best of me. I have to say though, the second I got off the plane in Boston, you could feel the electricity of the marathon. Even in the simple kiosks in the airport, they were selling the Adidas racing gear and everyone, including the locals, had marathon fever. It's electrifying, and you feel it everywhere you go. That is what makes Boston so awesome. It is everything that you hope for a race and then some. And I was so disappointed I couldn't enjoy it more.
Friday we checked into our hotel and I continued to battle the flu. I was still wicked sick and had a fever. But Saturday morning I woke up and felt well enough to go and see the awesomeness of the Expo. Every where you you went people had on their famous Boston Adidas jackets and I wanted mine! It was rainy and cold and although they were predicting it to all clear up for Monday, it was hard to also not dwell on the shitty weather. But the expo was calling and we had to get there!
They were setting up the start line and you could right up to it!
I felt like garbage here but was bound and determined to soak it all up!
At the expo I also had to pick up my 5K gear and when I mentioned to the volunteers I had the flu they were shocked I was there! But it's Boston! And I had worked soooo hard to get there, I wasn't going to miss it! The expo is everything you want it to be. At packet pick up you felt like a rockstar and it was so cool to see how many people were running it. 26,000+ runners, and they had an entire expo wing dedicated to packet pick up. This was the MOST ORGANIZED expo I had been to. They made it easy and fun and it was hard not to get sucked into all the excitement even when you felt like crap!
I quickly grabbed my packet, went shopping for my jacket and hit the expo. BTW, I spent way too much money there! The second you walk in, you are accosted by the Adidas Boston garb. You want it all and it's hard to hold back! I walked away with my Boston jacket, a pair of Boston capri's, a Boston long sleeve shirt and a Boston sweatshirt! It was awesome. The expo is a blast too, and even though I was hot and light headed, I didn't want to leave. The electricity of it is contagious and you want to be there surrounded by the best of the best in running. But I also had the 5K the next day and wanted to rest. I still hadn't eaten much by then and I wanted to start feeling better. On our way back to the hotel we snapped some more fun pics of the starting line. I kept having to pinch myself that I was actually there! It is everything you want it to be and more :)
It was so cool they let you walk right up to the finish as they were working on it. I could see myself crossing it and I got a little teary eyed. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing yourself to the finish line (literally) of your goal.
Saw this and had to take a pick. I would have loved to go to this, as I needed all the help I could get, but it was during the same time as the 5K and the bloggy meet up breakfast, boo!
When we got back to the hotel we took a nap and I attempted to start fueling up. I was going to use the 5K as a measure of how I would feel come Monday. My brother had told us we had to go to Fenway Park. We are HUGE baseball fans at my house, especially my hubbs and he told us to go to a specific bar called the Bleacher Bar. So, that afternoon we headed out on the "T" to Fenway and take in the sights.
I won't ruin it for you, but Bleacher Bar has a little secret in it for the guys. If you go with your hubbs or BF next year, take them there and have them use the men's restroom, they won't be disappointed! You can watch the game from out in center field of the Green Monster while you sip your beer. Soo cool! When we go there, I ordered a beer and a giant pretzel (yeah, probably not the best with the flu but I had to carb up!) and Ari told me he wasn't feeling to well and headed off to the restroom. As I waited for our drinks Ari came back looking as pale as a ghost! He told me he had caught what I had and we had to leave NOW! It was awful! He got my flu! So we high tailed it back to the hotel (sans beer and pretzel!) and proceeded to take care of him. So far we were off to a really rocky start for Boston. I was kind-of feeling better and he had come down with it! He could tell his wasn't nearly as bad as mine, but we both spent the rest of Saturday sleeping and resting.
Sunday morning, the day of the 5K I woke up feeling pretty good. Well, well enough to run a 5K and see some bloggy peeps. We headed down to the start line and I right away met up with the Redhead, Spike and Lauren. Lauren wanted a PR, and so did the Redhead. But the Redhead wanted to race and I knew I didn't have a sub 22 in me, especially the day before a marathon. So I stuck with Lauren and paced her to a 5K PR! Whoo hoo! 26:26 - she did great and felt awesome to be apart of some one's goals.
Pre 5K - I think I might puke!
Sorry it's sideways, won't let me flip it!
Me, Lauren, and the Redhead - as you can see I'm all bundled up, and they are ready to race! Hahaha!
After the 5K - awesome PR's!!
After the 5K we had a bloggy breakfast meet up with 18 bloggy peeps! It was so cool to finally meet everyone in person and make sure they weren't actually serial killers :) I finally got to meet Jill, Sam from Operationjack.org, Marcia, Christy and tons of others! (Check out their blogs for great recaps and more pics!) It was so nice to sit down and chat with people who you feel like you have known forever! Breakfast was tasty, the conversation was great and I was finally feeling a bit decent. I was actually thinking I might do okay the next day!
So excited to finally meet this guy! Please go and check out Operationjack.org and see what Sam is doing! He was just as great in person as on his blog. Cool thing is, I get to run with him in a couple of more races this year, San Francisco Marathon and Lake Tahoe marathon! Whoo hoo! Also, go and check out the Redhead's blog for many more bloggy photos of the breakfast. I wasn't feeling all that picture happy that morning but she did a great job! Thanks Morgan!
Sunday afternoon I just lazed around and tried to eat. I had no appetite beyond a few bites of food at a time. And I tried to get down the water and fluids, but I knew trying to make up for lost time was a lost cause. I went to bed on Sunday night praying I wouldn't die out there, and that I would just make it to the finish line. I had resigned myself to even being picked up by the sweeper bus if need be. After all, Boston is your victory lap, right?
Monday I woke up feeling okay. Tired, but okay. The buses were picking up peeps at Boston Commons which was just down the street from my hotel. I had plans to ride the bus with Marcia and Jill so we meet up and waited and waited. One thing about this race, you walk a lot before you even hit the starting line. I had probably walked a good 3 miles already that morning before you even get to the start. And since I was already running on low, that was a heavy toll to take.
I had no idea what to wear. I went with capri's, shorts and a long sleeve shirt. It was chilly but not bad out and they predicting the 50's by race time. But I was still not 100% and my body temps were all over the place still.
Waiting in line for the buses!
I didn't really have a race plan. I knew I need to run conservatively until the Newton Hills and Heartbreak hill, but I had no other idea than that. I also thought I could do a 3:50 or 4:00 marathon, keeping it right around the 9:00 mi/pace. Jill had said that was what she was shooting for since her glute was giving her trouble and she just wanted to enjoy it. So I decided to stick with her. The bus ride was a blast. I had so much fun chatting with Marcia and Jill that I totally forgot we were on our way to run a marathon! Those ladies are SO NICE! Love them both so much! Thanks girls for everything! They were both veteran Boston runners and I soaked up everything I could. Our buses were running a big behind, so by the time we got to the athletes village, we literally only had time to use the porta potties once, check our bags, snap some photos and head to the start line, which by the way, is 0.7 miles away from the village! Add that to the long day already! We checked our bags, said good bye to Marcia and Jill and I raced to the corrals. She was in corral 18, I was in 15 but she couldn't go to mine but I could go to hers. So we attempted to get in, but all of a sudden they said one minute to the start! We raced into the corrals and off we went! A little chaotic for my taste but really I was just going with the flow!
I could go into major detail about the race, but I'm not. Right off the bat I could feel that I was no where near 100%. My knees started killing me, I was feeling tired by mile 3 and I just attempted to soak it all up. One thing about this race, it doesn't matter where you start or how fast you are. It is constant congestion the whole time!! There are 26,000+ runners out there and the roads at times are not very wide. You would look up at one point and could see about a half a mile ahead of you and it was one giant snake of runners all crammed together. It was actually awe inspiring. I have goose bumps still thinking about it. Also, it's Patriot's Day and everyone has the day off!
Jill and I just started running and enjoying each other's company. We were cracking jokes about the peeps around us or on the side lines and complaining about our different ailments. I think we both joked around mile 5, "that was fun, I'm done! Where's my damn medal!" We both felt like garbage and just tried to smile and ENJOY the Boston experience. As crappy as I felt, you couldn't mistake the energy of the race. The ENTIRE RACE COURSE is lined with people cheering you on. Sometimes it is 3-4 people deep! Every town we ran through the people loved the runners! Everyone cheered, young and old. We even passed an old folks home where they wheeled out the people in their wheel chairs to cheer us on! You couldn't help but get energy from the crowd and I def was feeding off it. We kept checking in with one another and assessing our paces. We were doing pretty good at keeping it around 8:30-9:15's. There is no mistaking it, it is a hilly course. It's constant ups and downs and you feel it. I was taking my Gu, drinking the Gatorade and water at each stop and just trying to survive. My legs were feeling tired, something that I usually don't ever battle through. That was hard, I wasn't prepared for that. Normally, on my long runs, my legs can keep going and going, it's my head and my body that give out first. But right off the bat and through the whole race my legs felt like led - like somebody had taken my batteries out.
The other neat thing about the race is that the spectators are out there for YOU! There are rogue water stations and people passing out orange slices! I def took advantage of the orange slices. I was tired of lemon-line Gatorade by the half way point and I would be happy if I never drank that shit again! But I had to since I need the electrolytes. I also took three salt tabs but it never really helped since I had already started the race so depleted. Right before the half way point is the famous Welsley girls. It is an experience I will never forget. I was feeling kind-of low, we had just tackled a rather large hill and I needed a boost! They are soooo nice! They are holding out signs for free kiss and hugs, screaming wicked loud and their energy is contagious! I even stopped a few times for some kisses! It was just so awesome. At this point, Jill's bladder was about to explode. She needed to stop, but I was afraid if I did I wouldn't start again. I also wanted to see if I could work on my stride and get some more power. The Welsley girls had given me some strength and so I decided to try to pick up the pace and leave Jill. We said our good bye's, hugged and kissed and we vowed to pick the other one up if we saw them on the road dying at any point.
It felt good to start running a bit faster. My mile 14 was an 8:15 but after that I kept it around 8:40. At mile 16 I was feeling tired and drained again but then I saw ARI! He had taken the T out there to see me and I was so surprised! I wanted to stop but he wouldn't let me! He just told me to keep going, enjoy the race and he would see me at the finish. That couldn't have come at a better time. The Newton hills were about to start and I was very worried about them. The Newton Hills are a series of 4 big hills from mile 17-21, with heartbreak hill coming it at the end. When I got to hill one, I just put my head up and ran. I used everything I had in those hills, and when I would get to the flat parts, I would back off, take some water and gather myself for the next one. I was running like 10:00 miles up them, but that was okay. I was not stopping. But by Heartbreak hill I was done. I think I ran an 11:30 up that one. But I knew that if I made it to mile 21 it was all down hill the rest of the race. So I just kept plugging away. Finally at the top I had a Gu and a crap load of Gatorade from a nice rogue water stop. It was blue Gatorade and it tasted fantastic! I was tired, I was spent, and I was still on track for a sub 4. So I pushed on. But, then mile 22 hit and all of a sudden my legs seized up. I was running one second and the next I was sitting on the ground with the worst cramps of my life. I was crying and it was hard. It was near Boston College and all the drunk boys were out there screaming and telling me to get up! I couldn't though. I was trying to stretch but I had nothing left. I got up and tried to walk but that was hard. So I sat back down and tried to stretch on the side. It felt like forever, and I think it was. But I had to get up, only 4 miles to go. There is a good side to all the cheering, and then there is the bad side. I just wanted everyone to shut the F up! They kept yelling, you're almost there! LIKE HELL I WAS! My legs were cramping, I could barely walk and 4 miles is a long f-ing way! But I started to walk and told myself I would finish no matter what. I tried to walk/jog but every time I would stop jogging my legs would cramp even worse! I was crying, and there is no crying in the marathon!
By about mile 22.5 I was drained. All of a sudden, Jill comes up behind me!! Thank GOD! I saw her and started crying really bad, and so did she! We exchanged war stories from the last 10 miles and vowed to finish together. I was so thankful for her. She helped me stretch it out good, we got some water and plugged away. We were reunited again and back to laughing and telling ourselves how crazy this race had been. The crowds just get louder and louder. By this time also, I had passed the four hour mark. I was ashamed, I was sad and I wanted it to be over. I had never felt pain and heart ache like that before, but I had Jill with me and we tried to just enjoy the race. We distracted ourselves with run/walking and looking at all the crazies on the sidelines. It's funny, the closer we got the Boylston street, the more it smelt like beer and sweat! Hahaha! People really embrace the marathon there!
We decided to cross the finish line together and I was so happy to do it with her. Jill is an amazing runner and person, and I felt so lucky to share my Boston experience with her. As shitty as it was out there, we had made it. We crossed the finish line in 4:30. A PW for me. I had ran Lake Tahoe in elevation, injured 20 mins faster! I was devastated and excited all at once.
My legs were bad again when we stopped. They cramped up bad! But they have you walk FOREVER to get your water, blanket, medal, etc. Which I am sure under normal circumstances is great. But when I felt so drained and cramped it was awful. Jill and I gathered our stuff and went to find Ari. The man was a godsend at that point! He brought us doughnuts that we both inhaled in about 30 seconds. A doughnut has never tasted so good in my life.
Jill was a huge help to me out there. I need to thank her a million times. I have so many stories to share of all our Boston craziness that I just don't have the time or space to fill it with here. But let me say, I was so honored to run BOSTON with Jill on her BIRTHDAY! It was awesome :)
My facebook post after the race was, "A bad day in Boston is better than a good day any where else." And it is so true. As hard as that race was, as difficult and draining and miserable it was for the last 40 mins, I am thankful for it. It showed me I am strong, I can do anything, and I can even pull of a decent marathon time just four days after the flu. I could make a million excuses for myself, but I did it under some crappy conditions. A 4:30 in Boston is something some people only dream of. A 4:30 marathon period, is something some people only dream of. And I wasn't at my best. I did ENJOY the entire race, the whole experience. It is like nothing else in this world. It is worth all the sweat and tears of training for a BQ. It is worth all your time and energy. It is worth everything it takes to get there and when you do, even when you're not 100%, it is the race of a lifetime that will change you forever. It is all the hype and more. I am going back next year and I WILL HAVE MY REDEMPTION. It is a hard course, but it is doable and I know I can run a BQ in Boston. At the meet up for Jill's birthday race night, the general feeling was, either you ran your heart out and had a kick-as time, or you crashed and burned like me. There was no middle of the road. It is a difficult course. 26.2 miles is hard, no matter what and race day can bring anything. I have had some pretty awesome marathon's, all of them had been great. I was due for a really bad one, and even then I lucked out it was in Boston, where even on a bad day, it is still great.
This has been a long post, but so I won't bore you too much longer. I got back to the hotel, iced bathed and was good to go. My legs were tired but not beat up. And I was angry with that. The cramping I got was all due to lack of nutrition. And there was nothing more I could have done about that. I wasn't sore, I wasn't having trouble really walking, I was just okay. Yes, my muscles were tight, but I wasn't marathon sore. I know the ice bath was helpful but really, I didn't race it out there. Which is probably a blessing in disguise since I have Big Sur tomorrow and I want to really go out there and race. I have some time goals but I am going to stick with a pacer. They say to add about 20 mins to your normal marathon time since the course is so hard, so I am going to stick with the 3:50 pacer and see how I do.
Thank you all for reading and supporting. Boston was the best experience. On Tuesday, the following day, Jill, Ari and I headed out for some pastries and some sight seeing. That was a blast. Both Ari and I were recovered from our respectable flu's and wanted to finally see Boston. It was so fun to share it was Jill. Thanks again Jill for everything, I had so much fun with you and am so blessed to be able to call you a friend. Love ya!
I guess my final thought is that Boston was not everything I wanted to be but I have come full circle this week and can say I am so happy I went, I ran and I soaked it all up. Even in the midst of the pain and tears I SOAKED IT ALL UP! I actually saw and enjoyed what I was running past, usually something that gets lost on me since I am so focused on my race and pace and fuel, etc. I can remember all the miles, I can remember all the pain and I can remember all the times I was smiling and pinching myself as I reminded myself how lucky I was to be there. It was not lost on me. If you want to run Boston, put all your heart and effort into to qualifying. It is the best running experience on the planet and it is worth all the blood, sweat, tears and MONEY! I can't wait to go back next year ;) Hopefully with many of you!
Go and check out Jill's blog, the Redhead's blog and Marcia's blog. They all took a ton of pics and have their own race story. Thanks ladies for everything, I am so blessed to call you all friends.
It took me so long to get this down because I needed to wrap my head around it. I needed to come full circle, and I have. Thanks for listening and reading and all of your support!
Happy Running Peeps!
P.S. I promise my race report for Big Sur will be up sometime on Monday! Wish me luck! It will be so much fun!!