Dancer in a Heat Wave: Pain, Agony, and Distress on the Road to Boston

When I first set out with the intention of running the Boston Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of my dear grandfather, I had some idea of the challenges I would face in my training and fundraising. Some, but not all.

Let’s just say the next time a dancer tells you she wants to run a marathon, you should give her a hearty chuckle, accompanied by a very sarcastic “Well, good luck!” While many running enthusiasts regard routine stretching as a necessity for maintaining a functioning body, hypermobility (as they so kindly diagnosed me) is just about as detrimental as not stretching at all.

Without giving you the full rundown of ailments I acquired as part of my training for my first marathon, I’ll leave you with this image of former dancer turned long distance runner:

However, during my preparation, what I could not possibly imagine is that I would be setting out to run in the second hottest temperatures in Boston Marathon history. While physical therapy and a hefty amount of mental training prepared me to suffer through any injury that might crop up, nothing could have prepared me for the oppressive heat I had to endure in order to reach that fabled finish line.

The first few miles went swimmingly, running along with some of my Alzheimer’s Association teammates at just a hint slower than my intended pace. Much to my dismay, I hit “The Wall” at roughly Mile Eight. Side note: this happened to be when I was at the hottest recorded point of the race at the hottest recorded time of the day, with no shade and no clouds. Luckily, one of my teammates had heart enough to hang back with me while the others pressed on. It was ugly, but with the help of a few of my fans along the way and a pair of pantyhose stocked with ice (yes, pantyhose; it was a lifesaver), I pushed through and before I knew it I was coming up on Mile 16!

For the first few miles I had to hold the lifesaving
pantyhose because they bounced around too much.

On to the glorious Newton Hills! During training, when I had confidently tackled each of those climbs countless times (including a 21-mile run when the hills were saved for the very end), “glorious” was an apt adjective to describe them. Today, with the temperature of the pavement at Heartbreak Hill reaching a daunting 103 degrees, runners were using a more colorful vocabulary. Needless to say today the Newton Hills were…slow!

Once we hit Newton we caught up to my teammate Nicolle Renick,
with whom I had run the entire training season. We stayed together,
stride for painful stride, all the way to the end, barely missing
a finish in the top 20K runners…

Finally, onto my favorite part of the course (or at least is was until today, of course): Kenmore Square, where I had paraded for four years as a drunken college kid shouting indecipherable encouragements(?) at runners (and yes, I got my share of these along the way).

I’m not even entirely sure of what I was doing.
Delirium had set in and seeing some
friendly faces made me slightly psychotic.

Borrowing a term we used during my days of old with the BU Dance Team, Mile 25 was “Struggle City.” What they always tell you, but you just don’t believe until you have to do it yourself, is that when you turn left onto Boylston Street and gaze in the distance at the finish line, you realize you have SO FAR TO GO. Nicolle got the somewhat lethargic crowd going with a few pumps of her arms and we managed to kick it into gear to the finish line (that’s code phrase for a “less snail-like jog”).

As I had promised, I got to the finish line and struck a pose that channeled my inner Tim Tebow. At the end of a long, long, hot day, I still managed to feel cool for the briefest of moments.

Kate Stanton
Newton, Massachusetts
April 16, 2012
Age – 23
Bib # 21723

Click here to help me raise money for a cure for Alzheimer’s