If I had to sum up this race, it’d be easy: it hurt like HELL! I suffered every step of the 26.2, but OMG was it worth it! It was FANTASTIC and during the whole race I had to deal with my uncontrollable body and the crowds making me cry and dry-heave all the way onto Boylston. It was pure insanity in the streets!
As I was on the second wave, bus loading was between 7:00 and 7:30. I met some friends and teammates at 7:00 in Boston Common, so we could all get to the Athletes’ Village together. Once there it’s so hard to find anyone!
The Boston Common was quiet and super organized. We even went to the porta-potties before loading. The main thing though was you had to check your bags there, so you wouldn’t be bringing anything to the Village. So strange. So, for the first time in my life, I had to decide what to wear very early before the race, and I would run a marathon (my 9th, or 11th if you count the ultras) with a phone. So weird. But I have photos!!!!!
Anyway, we all hopped on the bus and just made sure we talked about everything! We ate, got our gear in order, and tried to stay loose. I was freaking out a bit. I knew it was going to hurt. The NYC Marathon in November had HURT, and now I was in worse shape and a *bit* heavier. I was really scared!
The Athletes’ Village was bopping! It was sunny and WARM out. We sat down and I could feel the warm sun in my back. I started to worry I had worn the wrong stuff. I had shorts and the Argentina t-shirt I always wear, and I have always been fine for all my marathons, but the forecast said 60s. I figured I’d be okay, but who knows. Nothing to do now…
We tried the porta-potties again and lines were LONG. Like “you’ll miss your wave” long! And we were being called by waves, and then by corrals. The corral area is small, so they call you in when you’re ready to go, and there you just go…
I took many pictures on the way to the start line.
If you haven’t run Boston, you wouldn’t know how suburban this race, especially its start, is. You are in someone’s front lawn most of the race, and these people are ALL OUTSIDE! It’s such a town-party. They all come out to celebrate, put signs up, hand you SOMETHING. Seriously, everyone had something, whether it was tissues, orange slices, cups of water, beer, kitchen rolls, Vaseline, ice in plastic bags, Twizzlers, or high fives… The town was out there to help the runners. And they ALL had a sign. Boston Strong was on everyone’s t-shirt, banner, tattoos, and balloons. I was walking to the corral and I was already crying. I knew I had to start controlling my emotions now or it’d be a mess!!
And that is what most of the first 24 miles looks like: small town vibe, friendly folks handing out stuff and celebrating us, trees, some trains and fire trucks, and a lot of blue and yellow love. Which, by the way, was freaking me out, because my team’s colors are blue and yellow! So, it was hard not to think it was someone I know as soon as I saw ANYONE! It really drove me mental.
Then it was time to stop taking pictures and put my phone away.
About a minute into the race, I FREAKING KID YOU NOT, I felt too hot to live! I couldn’t stand it. I considered dropping out and going back.
Seriously, I was so upset! I decided to drop the shirt, somehow, unpin all the bib stuff, somehow take it over my headband, headphones, watch, pace bracelet and what not, and bunch it up inside the back of my bra. That pissed me off, and it wasn’t an easy task while running in such a crowded start, while being SO hot. I could have easily done this five minutes ago when I wasn’t running! Ugh, I tried to re-pin the bib in the shorts and made a few holes on my fingers. Eventually I went to the side, stopped and took care of it all. Still, my first mile was a ridiculous 7:57! Major exasperation!
My plan was to go easy, and last. I estimated anything between 3:50 and 3:55, so I had a pace bracelet for 3:50 (which is 8:47 pace) and, oops, I messed up BY A LOT. CRAP. I am the one telling EVERYONE to go slow and I do this. What was I thinking? [Of course, I am also a twice certified coach and decided to do this marathon (like my last one!) without any training whatsoever. So, dear readers, PLEASE LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!] You can tell from this account, I am still upset at myself!
Even after taking my shirt off, I was still hot! WTF? Then I realized I’d have the sun at my back for four hours, and I had no sunscreen on. UGH, BAD. And my heart rate was high. I tried to relax and go easy. It didn’t work. Miles 2 and 3 were 7:57 and 7:56, and my first 5K was 24:42, which is a 7:58 average. NO, NO, CRAP! Okay, let’s not freak out!!!
Besides that mess I was doing, the course was quite entertaining. There were TONS of people cheering, spectating, with banners, with stuff, all the houses were decorated on some form. I saw a big house on the right all decked out by Skechers and Go Meb signs. It was pretty cool.
I am going to blame them all for making me too excited and going too fast. Hopkinton, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!
I was hot and drinking like I had just finished the marathon. I was taking Gatorade AND water at every mile. And then I’d drop a cup of water in my head. I was burning up. I realize it was a lot hotter two years ago, and 60 to 75 degrees (people can’t seem to agree on what the temperature was) is not the worst it could be (my Ironman husband kept telling me later all his Ironman marathons are over 80! ugh!) and, most important, I always DO GREAT in the heat. But this day, I just couldn’t handle it for some reason. Maybe it’s the lack of training, maybe it’s the extra weight I put on, maybe I’d de-learned how to sweat efficiently. I don’t know. I was sweating and melting all over the course. I was a hot mess!! I was drinking and I couldn’t drink enough. It was painful the whole way.
My legs felt like jelly, my feet were hurting, my lungs were burning. I wasn’t just undertrained. I was just NOT trained. AT ALL. I shouldn’t have been there, and I knew it at mile 1, with the heat, the legs, the course’s ups and downs, my quads, my lungs, my burning skin. I was a mess and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I think I ran too fast to just get it over with. I was exhausted, I was tired, sore, even hopeless at some points. I did the unthinkable: I walked. Twice. I had never walked in a marathon, even in NYC when I was a lot slower and in more pain than this. I walked. I had given up. I was so upset at myself for putting myself in that situation. Why would I just not be willing to do the long runs anymore? Why did I care so little? I love running but the marathon love is slipping away. However, I keep signing up for them as a tick I have. I swore I wouldn’t do this again, please help me!
Anyway, remember I told you how amazing the crowds were? I kept focusing on that. But only a little. As soon as I’d go to the side and see people, I’d start crying. People were AMAZING, I had never seen anything like that! So I was in and out of the crowds to keep myself from dehydration from tears!
At Mile 10 I saw the Hoyts and peeled my phone off my fitletic (which, by the way, was SO comfortable!!). I HAD TO! So amazing.
I saw more signs for the Hoyts than for anything else! Things like these, so fantastic, were ALL OVER the course. How could I give up? I didn’t. I was enjoying this love-fest and ignoring the rest!
I knew I’d see Juan at mile 16 and that is all that kept me going. I’d finally hand out the t-shirt and lose three pounds there! Wellesley was loud and then I see a gentleman getting lots of smooches. (I realized I knew him, but I won’t name names!)
Soon, I saw Juan, in his amazing yellow wig that helped me spot him a block away!!! Apparently, the wig had gotten him in all sorts of trouble, but he made it. I waved, handed him the shirt, and he got a couple of shots. I also stopped for some kisses too! Ah, well, gotta stop for the hubs! He’s the best. It made me feel so good to see him!
Then the hills happened, and they sucked the life hope out of me. They really felt like dementors. That is when I walked. Luckily, at mile 17, I hear someone scream my name. And after a second, my fuzzy brain realized I wasn’t wearing my shirt with my name on it (which I missed so much. Doing a marathon without your name on your shirt makes no sense people!). It was Simon! I stopped for one second, again for a hug. I shouldn’t have hugged him. I wanted to stay there so bad. Thanks Simon for running up the hill like a maniac with me! And he got this pic:
I kept chugging. Every mile felt like forever. I walked twice, I drenched myself in water all I could, at mile 16 I had an s-cap, and was having a gel every five miles. I was hot, tired, sore, lifeless, but gosh the crowds! And then, My FAVORITE PART OF THE RACE! Yes, sorry Juan, Boston College ALWAYS takes the cake for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they’re louder than the girls at Wellesley and way crazier. I LOVE THEM.
Eventually, I see the Citgo sign. I know Juan will be right there. I turn from Beacon, spot him a block away again with that wig! He takes more pics.
Then the underpass, and then the turn on Hereford, and then we’re on Boylston, and you see the finish line. With just the .2 to go, it seems like it’s two miles or more. I always feel like they’re pushing it back away from me! Why does that stretch feel SO LONG? Every time.
But, I lost it. All that emotion and love and tears I had held on to during the race, I let it all out. I started crying. I started dry-heaving. I ran by the two explosions sites. I started screaming at those people standing there, telling us they weren’t afraid like we weren’t afraid. To those people standing right there, on the same block, telling me with their eyes, this is OUR CITY, and in my heart screaming THIS IS MY SPORT, no one is going to mess up with something as pure and free as running. To those people I shouted, I cried, I screamed “this is for you,” and I am sure I looked crazy, and I cried all the way to the finish line while looking all of them in the eyes, this is for you, I kept screaming, just like you’re here for us, we’re all here running for you, for Boston, for the innocents, for the kids, for the freedom of the sport, for the history of this race, for the love of your people you came to support, to take back the city, to take back the marathon.
We were all together on Marathon Monday: runners, spectators, volunteers, police, neighbors. Everyone was getting this race up to help the city move past the horrible acts of last year. We left our fears on the door on April 15th and we all took on this race as if all had a part on helping the city heal. I swear, I felt like everyone in the city was holding my hand through the race. I really needed that, but I know they needed it more. That’s why I, along with pretty much everyone racing on Monday, was there. It got done. We all walked away with a lot of love, with a sense of community you don’t see too often, with a sense of accomplishment: we are stronger together. We are. Adidas had the perfect slogan: We All Run Boston. On Monday we did. We all did. Everyone in the city did. All those reading and tracking runners from home and work ran Boston too. We all felt it there. I have to stop crying now. Again.
I finished: 3:48:58. I cried some more… I was SO HAPPY TO BE DONE. And, all of a sudden: nothing was hurting.. WTF! Of course.
I instantly had six cups of Gatorade, two bottles of water, and a protein shake. And then I heard Meb had won. I was in such shock. I was SO, SO, SO, SO happy about that! Then I grabbed the poncho and headed out to meet the hubs, having a phone makes it all SO much easier!
I was walking soooooo slow it was funny. The poncho was actually warm for the train ride – I was in a soaking wet sports bra, not fit for train rides!
Our landlady had given us a really nice exception to let us check out at 4pm, so we rushed back to the apartment to shower before we had to rush back to our transportation back. I was in PAIN already.
We dressed and headed out for food before rushing back to the city. NOW I could wear my jacket. I had the best burger, and fries, and pizza.
In hindsight, my race was pretty much the same crap I did in the NYC Marathon 2013. I am starting to think it’s not that I start fast (I don’t!). I just 1) can’t hold it (because I am not trained), 2) have no idea what marathon pace should feel like (because I am not trained), 3) have no idea what I am doing (because I am not trained). All those, plus the heat. I blame the crowds for getting me excited to keep going instead of dropping and the orange jacket (which looks like the hot-sun-drenched-road, and MY BACK!). Adidas, this is on YOU!
Well, so another marathon in the books. Not the slowest, but around there, and 21 minutes slower than my qualifying race. I really can’t keep doing this to myself, it’s NOT enjoyable to run like that. I’ve had marathons where I run fast and enjoyed it the whole way. Next one is gonna be that way or NO marathon! Is that a deal, Elizabeth, you lazy, fair-weather runner??
Looking ahead, we all know about “no new shoes on race day,” and hydrate before, and all that. Before I forget, I decided to write down some future Boston advice for myself:
Train for the course. Do long runs that are hilly. You need ups and downs: BOTH. Training on a flat terrain will not work. Build your eccentric quad muscles by running down a steep downhill, increase your turnover, and work on hill form (up and down).
Hotel: if you can, get a hotel close to the finish area. If not (because they are a tad expensive), NOT to worry, pick one on the red or orange lines. Avoid the green line, it gets CRAZY busy the whole time you’re there. We got a place in Charlestown, and it was perfectly close.
Expo: handle with care. In my opinion it’s the biggest/best one, but it’s SO crowded, I tend to get really crazy stressed out. Keep an eye out on your excitement level. Don’t forget to get the poster from Adidas: YOUR NAME IS IN THERE! Do go to the Runner’s World seminars, mostly the Legends one, to hear the most inspiring stories you couldn’t even believe! If it’s your first or second time, DO watch the video of the course a couple of times, will get you super prepared for what’s ahead.
If there is a bit of a hint of sun in the forecast: SUN protection on the back, shoulders and the right side is a MUST. As is a visor or HAT, and sunglasses. The sun will be on your back/right side 98% of the race. It can get quite annoying.
Name on the shirt, ALWAYS.
Music: you will not need it. If you have it, you won’t hear it because the crowds are SO loud. I couldn’t even hear my silly watch yelling my splits at me even covering my ears!
Get on the porta-potties before getting on the bus, as soon as you get out of the bus, and then wait for the porta-potties going into the corrals: they’ll be on your left and they’re almost empty!!!
Go out slow. No, slower. Not, slower slower. We ALL fall prey to this course, no matter how slow we “think” we are going.
If you have issues staying on pace in the beginning, start a few corrals back. That helped me a few years ago (when I got to the Start super late!) to stay put behind “slower” people. Couldn’t have dreamed of better pacers! Weaving NOT allowed!
New York, New York
[Follow Elizabeth Miauolo through her blog Running and the City, by which she means New York City!]