Marathon Monday has come and gone, but the excitement and prestige of the Boston Marathon is not leaving the hearts and minds of runners and non-runners anytime soon. As you read in my previous post, Noel had an extremely hard fought race and truly gave it her all, as demonstrated by her near collapse and rush to the medical tent. Noel and I have always been intense competitors, but she truly stepped up to the plate and left everything out on the storied 26.2 mile marathon course. Before she left my apartment to head to the start line I gave her a few color print outs with pictures, memories and motivational quotes to really get her in the zone. The quote that resonates the most with the marathon, as well as Noel’s personal race, is one of my all-time personal favorites:
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”-Steve Prefontaine
Below is Noel’s personal race recap as she saw it over those 26.2 miles. Congrats again to Noel on a job well done!
My first Boston Marathon was certainly an unforgettable experience. This was my first major marathon, and what an initiation! The race weekend kicked off with a trip to the Expo. Luckily, Kim was smart enough to get us there early on Saturday morning around 10 AM before we were shoulder to shoulder with other runners. We retrieved our race numbers, shopped for goodies, and chatted with some of the vendors. It was amazing to see so many runners in the same place who had achieved such an amazing goal of qualifying to run in the most prestigious marathon. Throughout the weekend, I kept seeing the bright blue and teal jackets all over the city, reminding me of what I had come to do! Enjoying Kim’s fabulous meals, catching up with old friends, and watching the 5K race sure made the weekend go by quickly. Before I knew it, Monday morning was upon me.
Foxy (Kim’s boyfriend) was nice enough to drive me to the loading buses early Monday morning. When I arrived at 7 AM, the lines were already long, and I got on the 2nd to last group of buses around 8. The drive was very long and painful for all of us racers, as our anxiety built. We finally reached Athlete’s Village around 9:30, leaving a limited amount of time to wait for a porta-potty. After relieving myself, I made the .7 mile trek to my start corral #14. I can’t go without mentioning my “star” sighting of Rudy from the Biggest Loser in one of the charity corrals. I wish I could say I told him to have a good race, but I was too focused on my 10:30 start time.
The gun went off, and I was across the start line in under 30 seconds. It definitely pays to be in the first corral! The first several miles had a lot of rolling hills, more than I expected. The spectators lining every inch of the course, the net downhill grade, and the general excitement took everyone out fast. I checked my Garmin very frequently and kept seeing 7:49, 7:53, 8:04 pace. I knew, with my training and the uphills that were to come, I had taken it out too fast, but there was nothing I could do to slow myself down. I just went with it and crossed the half marathon mark at 1:44. Around mile 15, I started feeling it…my stomach couldn’t tolerate Gatorade or Gels any longer, so from there on out I drank only water. Thank goodness I saw my friends soon after I hit the wall because they motivated me for several miles to follow. Then came mile 16 and the Newton Hills. I was not prepared. They were steep and seemed to go on forever. The only thing that kept me going was the crowd and different spectators yelling my name which was written on the front of my shirt. Before long, I was walking through the water stations to make sure I was getting my fluids and then starting back up to a slow trot – 9 min/ miles on downhills and flat roads, and 11 min/ miles up the hills. My crowning accomplishment was making it up Heartbreak Hill without walking. When I came to the last few miles, the crowds were amazing. Rows and rows of families, drunk college kids, professionals on their lunch break just chanting my name. It was truly unbelievable, and I wish I felt better so that I could’ve truly enjoyed it. When I made the final turn towards the finish line, I could barely hear myself think, when I heard Kim’s voice from the opposite side of the course. I immediately spotted her yellow Livestrong hat and was inspired to hammer down into the finish. I crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 44 mins, within the target range of 3:35-3:45 I had set for myself in the weeks leading up to the marathon. Although during the race, I just promised myself I would finish no matter what the time.
My first Boston Marathon was without a doubt the hardest athletic endeavor I’ve ever taken on. I was unprepared for the hills and honestly the duration of the race, but the crowds and my psychological strength got me through the finish. A few hours after the race, I ended up in the medical tent with IVs of fluids running through my veins. It was at that time I knew I had given it my all, and even though I felt miserable, I was more proud of myself than I have ever been. I look forward to my next Boston experience, where I will be more physically and mentally prepared for what’s to come. Reflecting back on the weekend, I understand why it is such an honor to be a participant in the race, and I can’t wait to be back for Round 2!