So I left off when I told you that I had gotten to the Start of the race late. Yes, I felt so awful when I finally got through thousands and thousands of people to get to my corral was gone and the entire second wave was leaving. I wanted to cry when I heard that I missed the start, thankfully my time didn't start at the wave start but when I crossed the timing mat. I cruised up to the end of the wave and made my way slowly through it. I began at about a 11 minute pace as people weren't moving very fast...I felt like a snail, then finally I was able to find some room and run a little bit more at my pace. The weather felt great, a little chilly but the sun was out and I had a hoodie on just in case it got too cold. The spectators from the start were lining the streets--both sides of the street! Little kids, adult, older adults, and their pets were outside cheering and singing and giving treats to the runners. It was amazing. I had never seen that before in my previous four marathons.
The first mile went by quite uneventful, just tried to get my little body in a space where I was okay to move at a decent pace. I knew the first couple of miles was going to be congested but I never imagined the magnitude of congestion I was presented with...the whole time I was surrounded by thousands of runners, to the left to the right to the front to the back. I seriously thought that if I could hook my arms to the people next to me and lift my feet that I could probably make it at least half way down the course. Crazy fun to be surrounded by so many runners!
Between mile 2 and 3, I unfortunately had a little mishap that I wasn't expecting. Someone ahead of me dropped a water bottle and I tried to avoid steppinp on it so I lifted my foot and side-stepped only to have my foot roll and my ankle go pop! I thought was going to die! In my head, the only thought that came was "no, not now, I still have 24 miles to go and I am not quitting". There were some lady spectators on the side who quikly ran to me and asked me if I was okay. I felt like crying and saying, "no, it hurts" but my stubborness came out and instead, I mumbled something along the lines of "I will be okay, it was nothing". I hopped for the next little bit and my hop became a small limp as I tested my weight on the foot. It hurt but not to the point of tears, so I kept going paying close attention to my foot. The pain lessened as I continued and I concentrated more on my left left and foot making sure that it wasn't taken all the weight of my body. In my head, I kept repeating that I had 24 miles to go and that I wasn't about to quit. My foot felt better and eventually the pain went away or my body realized that I wasn't going to pay any mind to it.
At mile 3, I took my first GU and started hydrating. I had a plan of taking one GU every 5 miles after mile 3, a GU every 40-45 minutes or so. I hate carrying GUs with me and most of my other marathons provide GUs along the way but Boston only provides 1 at mile 17. I wasn't prepared for this 1 GU deal so during the expo (by the way, the most amazing humongous expo I have ever seen, wish I had had extra mula with me to buy stuff) I purchased a SPI belt to carry my GUs. I was thankful that I was able to find a GU booth were they were selling the stuff super cheaper 5 of them for $6 bucks, cheaper than I buy them around here anyways. The belt weighs almost nothing, it is perfect for holding those gels. I just wish it doubled as a number belt too.
The next few miles truly went fast. I loved running down the streets with all the spectactors. They had bands playing or music playing. One of the towns even had the Elvis singing just for us! Another town was playing YMCA and all the runners were dancing to it and making the letters with their hands--I of course had to join in on the fun and had to dance along. It really didn't feel like I was running a marathon as I was having so much fun waving and laughing at everything around me.
When I reached my 13, I had to look at my Garmin just to be sure that I was truly at mile 13, I couldn't believe that I had ran already 13 miles and that I was feeling so good, even my foot was feeling great. I was keeping up with my hydration--walking through every aid station picking up a water and sipping just a little bit of it and then a little bit of gatorade.
I have to mention that it was between mile 13 and 14 that I was presented with a beautiful sight! The women from Wellesley College, hundreds of women lined the streets with signs that read "Kiss me" or "Kiss me, I won't tell your wife" or "This is your only chance to kiss a Chemist". I couldn't help but smile. Hundreds of young women spending their Saturday outside cheering for us crazies. It was beautiful. No, I didn't run to kiss any of them but I did smile as the men ran over and hugged them and gave them a kiss on the cheek. With memories of these women cheering me on, I kept going for the next few miles, smiling, high-fiving children along the way, my heart calls to them when I see their little hands out and I only imagine my kids doing the same thing. I always get a thrill when I high-five one of them and they turn to their parents and say "did you see that, they like me!" (picture found at FieldNotes)
When I crossed mile 18, I told myself--well ducky from now on it is all heart. You only trained to 18 miles this time around so from this point on, it is all coming from the heart. I knew that the next few miles had in store a couple of hills, including HeartBreak Hill but I was ready for them. I wasn't feeling tired, my legs felt okay, my lungs had plenty of air (the wonders of coming from a 4,500ft elevation down to 200ft) so I charged ahead. I kept my eyes down on purpose during the next few miles. I knew that hills were coming and the mind can play tricks on you making you believe that the hills are bigger than they truly are so with eyes on the ground, I dug in and ran forth. I counted the hills and I knew that I should be feeling the hills that they were right there and that I only had so many left.
Before reaching Heartbreak hill, I looked around and I saw a few people walking, I didn't want to walk, not yet. I told myself I could walk if I reached mile 22, then I could take a one minute break. I dug my toes and kicked up and started up what I thought was the second "big" hill in the course. I ran up it, passing a few people on the right and left. My pace wasn't fast but I was feeling pretty good. When I reached the top of the hill I was quite surprised to see a big broken heart drawn on the ground. I looked up and I had to ask the person next to me "was that Heartbreak hill" they confirmed it. I couldn't believe that I had ran up THE hill and I didn't even feel it. I had miscounted my hills and thought that I still had one more to go when in fact I was done. Granted, I was running a 9-something pace by this time so I wasn't sprinting up it.
The next few miles were all heart. At this point, I put my headphones on and listened to some songs. One of my favorite Zumba songs came on (Pegate by grupo Treo) and I was singing and trying to put my heart into my run. I had 5 miles left. I told myself I could run 5 miles. 50 minutes tops even with water breaks. I brougtht memories of my kids to the front of my mind and forged ahead. The spectators were still around cheering us on but at this point, I needed to reach deep within me for what I needed and my kids are usually the answer. As I pictured their little faces and imagined hearing their voices, the miles went by under my feet.
It was around mile 25 when we crossed some sort of bridge along the course that I remember getting all choked up, I put my headphones away and turned my iPod off. I felt out out breath not because of the intensity of the workout but because of my personal thoughts of things going on in our lives right now. I felt tears surfacing and I felt my heart hammer through my chest and the crowds around cheering me on. At that moment, it wasn't so much about the marathon I was running but more about my personal struggles at this time of my life. I remember as if I was in slow motion, I closed my eyes and one of my tears fells down on my lips. I could taste the saltyness from my tear combined with my sweat. I remember lifting my sunglasses and wiping my tears clean with my hand, feeling the remnants of salt particles on my face from the dried up sweat. I remember looking around and seeing a little girl with deep blue eyes just smiling and waving. I looked up and saw the Citgo sign and the promise that it brought of only 1 mile left.
I shuffled through the 25 mile aid station. Stopped to stretch my lower back and to reasses my feelings at the moment. I told myself again, 1 mile, anyone runs 1 mile, even my 6 year old has run 1 mile races. So, I stood up, smiled and high-fived one of the spectators and told myself that was the end of my break and no more breaks til I crossed the finish line.
Five words carried me through that last mile. YOU. CAN. DO. IT. MOM. At first, they were almost a whisper in my head, then they got louder and louder and louder. I could hear my little children's voices in my head cheering me on. As I reached the 26 mile mark, the voice just got louder and louder and louder. Then, I heard my name and my sweet husband was there screaming my name at the top of his lungs and taking pictures. It was exactly what I needed, my children's voices in my head, then my husband there in person cheering me to the end. I gave all the little bit left that I had in me and I crossed the finish line. 3:50:07 Boston dream completed!
Boston 2011--an Epic Year for the Boston Marathon. World records were broken with Mutai coming in at 2:03:02 for the fastest marathon ever. Many others achieved personal record times. Personally, I reached my goal of running the prestigious Boston marathon.
It was one of the best running experiences I have ever had, one that I truly will never forget and I hope I can repeat again in the future.