I was up before my alarm went off on race morning and ready to go.
Silas and Emma got up with me, too. It was so nice to eat breakfast and drink coffee with them. Having awesome company really eases the pre-race jitters!
Everything went so smoothly! Since Silas’ uncle had shown us around the night before we had no problems getting to the start near Hayward Field. Parking was a breeze (probably ’cause we got there so dang early) and we had time to just sit in the car, stay warm, and listen to sweet jams on the radio. We were a wee bit slap happy and may or may not have had a 6am dance party in the car.
Finally we headed towards the start. Silas had me stretch and gave me a pre-race massage (I am spoiled).
I wanted to represent Boston in SOME way so Emma wrote “Boston is my home” across my thighs. I am nothing if not classy!
I had a lot of feelings going into this race. This was the first time I had a honest to goodness time goal. Previously I WANTED to qualify for Boston, but I hadn’t necessarily trained for it. It was just a “that would be nice!” thought. If I didn’t get it, no big deal!
This time I made no bones about it. I told everybody that was my goal and that, to me, was terrifying to admit because it was no longer a secret desire. It was out and in the world. So that meant I was really commiting. Crazy!
Everytime I had a doubt before the race I shoved it out of mind. And trust me, I had endless doubts (Did I train hard enough? Sleep enough? Eat well enough? Can I actually do this? Would my knee pain pop up? Why do I think I can do this?!), but I just told myself to shut the heck up. All I could do was show up on race day and trust in my own ability. My training. Yada yada.
But race morning I was pumped. I had waited so long for this race and I put in so many difficult runs to get there. I had all this restless, eager energy bubbling up and I wanted to kick this race’s butt! And having Silas and Emma there really put me in a positive, gung ho place!
And then it was time to line up in my corral. There was a HUGE group around the 3:35 pacer and I couldn’t even get close. So I just made sure I was close enough to see them and waited for the “go!”. There was a moment of silence for the Boston Marathon victims. I used that time to focus and dedicate my run to my city and all of the horrible shit it had to go through 12 days prior. I thought about how lucky I was to get to run. And then it was go time.
It was CROWDED to start out with. The first 4 miles or so I couldn’t even get near the pacer. I tried to focus on my surroundings, but I was lost in a sea of people. So I just kept my eyes on the pacer’s balloons as I settled into my groove. Honestly, the beginning of the race was kind of a blur and I hardly remember it! I finally caught up to the pacer around Mile 5 in time to hear a woman sigh and say “21 miles to go”. Pacer man aka Mike shot back “no counting down until Mile 20!!!”.
I knew I’d like this guy.
I was feeling really good. I took a gu at mile 6 and noticed how fresh my legs felt. I knew that I still had a loooong way to go, but instead of dwelling on that I embraced the pure running joy while it was around.
At Mile 8 there was a slight hill, but there was also a corgi puppy so….it was all good 😉 I knew it was the only hill so once we got over it I picked up the pace for a bit and left the pacer behind for a few miles. He caught up with me again around mile 11 so I just stuck with him, not wanting to burn out too early.
Hmm, it’s striking me as very difficult to recap this race in detail because it WAS such a blur. So screw it. Bullet points of things that I thought/felt/saw.
– I didn’t turn on music until Mile 15 because to me 15 – 18 are the hardest. I promised myself if I made it through Mile 18 on pace that I could, indeed, do it! And you know what? Miles 15 – 18 FLEW by. Ummm. That didn’t happen my last two marathons!!
– This course was beautiful! So many tree lined paths. So many gorgeous views of the river. I was so, so happy to be in the moment and taking in the fresh air, reacting to spectators, and just listening to the people running around me.
– I kept telling myself I would not hit the wall. Not today. I’m not sure if the mental talk did it or if my fueling was just spot on, but I never hit the wall! More on that later.
– At Mile 16 Emma and Silas found me!! I heard my name and couldn’t believe it! I was so, so happy to see them! And they had found cowbells!!! Just the thing I needed!
– At Mile 17 or so Mike the pacer told us to encourage every walker we saw because they’d been whooping our ass all race. So everytime we saw a runner walking we all shouted “You can do it!!! Join us!!” One guy took a deep breath and started running with us and we all cheered! I almost starting tearing up. Yes. I am a sap. Especially at Mile 17 of a marathon!
– At Mile 20 Mike asked me what my PR was. I told him and he said “Oh, you are going to beat that today!”. I told him I hoped so and that I felt oddly good for Mile 20 of a marathon. He smiled and said “See?”.
This is where it really became my race. After 20 miles of running for the first time in my life I had a kick! I left the safety net of my pace group and ran ahead. Partly terrified I’d fall apart, but mostly just trying to stay in the moment. I told myself I’d run 6 miles a million times before and that all I had to do was “run it in”.
Run it in became my mantra for the rest of the race. I was fairly ahead of the pacer and I got to the point where I couldn’t even see him anymore. I told myself that I had this. That I could really do it. Anytime a negative thought crept in I shut it out. Ain’t nobody got time for self doubt! I told myself this is why I did all that speedwork! This is why I trained! So I could feel strong and PUSH those last 6 miles.
At one point a girl with her dog hopped into the race to encourage her friend. She dropped her phone. I picked it up, but she had sprinted ahead and there was no way I could catch her at this point! I kept shouting “girl! Girl with dog! PHONE!!”. Finally she veered back off the course to cheer and I got her attention. I was so happy I didn’t have to sprint to catch up!!!
At Mile 22 my gps watch stopped getting a signal so I had no idea what my pace was. I didn’t care. I just plugged along. At mile 23.5 or so my watch said 22.2 and I had this moment of “oh shit, did I hallucinate that mile 23 marker?!!” when I got to the mile 24 marker I almost started laughing with relief. Two miles! TWO MILES. Giddiness was creeping in. I could taste the finish line!!! Mile 25 zoomed by…probably because I was just so happy it wasn’t mile 23! The last mile was TOUGH though. It was a windong path through an open field and I thought “where the EF is Hayward?!?!”. Just run it in. That’s all I had to do. I kept telling myself that. You are going to do it. You are doing it right now!!!
After what seemed like 1000 years I saw the corrals where we started in front of Hayward. I kept moving. My feet hit the track and before I knew it I was crossing the finish line. I could hear Emma and Silas shouting in the grandstands. The gun time was 3:35:10 as I crossed and I knew I had started more than a minute after the gun! I can’t even tell you how surreal and wonderful that moment was. All of the hard work. All of that training. It had given me the best race of my life. I never fell apart! I never hit the wall. I truly loved every single moment of that race. Even when it was tough! It was my first ever negative split (finally!!) and I ran the second half faster than I ran my terrible tune up half a month ago. How hilarious is that! It goes to show you one awful race doesn’t mean anything.
3:33:05 was my chip time and I could not be happier. Ahhh! I still can’t believe it!! After the race I found Emma and Silas and gave them huge sweaty hugs and kept saying “I did it!”. Ha! I’m such a dork, but I really just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
They had brought the mead we’d gotten the day before and we shared it as we walked to a nearby restaurant to stuff our faces. I was also finally able to check my phone and see all of the wonderful words of support sent my way while I was running (my favorite was probably Katie who texted me “run, bitch, run!”). To everybody who thought of me/tracked me that day…Thank you. It meant the world to me.
That race made me fall in love with running all over again. It also made me so thankful for my family and friends. I’ve said it before, but nothing puts things into perspective quite like running 26+ miles does. And I’d be an idiot not to appreciate all of the awesome people and things in my life. So, that’s pretty cool.
After breakfast we drove to the ocean and drank a little more celebratory mead. I soaked my sore legs in the cold pacific and then we just sat on the beach. Such a wonderful day.