Our Cruiser running group enjoyed a fun weekend filled with attending the huge Boston Marathon expo and packet pick-up, the guys’ 5K on Sunday morning, and our pre-race dinner on Sunday night. After dinner, we got back to our hotel, and before heading to bed, I tied my chip to my shoe, and set out my clothes, bib, banana, water, etc. for race morning. The only thing left to do was run the marathon on Patriots’ Day!
Monday morning, I woke up easily to a beautiful sunny day and my entourage escorted me to the bus pick-up area. The lines were crazy long and Alan and I couldn’t find Candy so we decided to meet her in Hopkinton. After a 30 minute wait in line and an hour and a half on the school bus, our well-hydrated bladders were practically exploding and we couldn’t wait to find a porta-potty.
The Athletes’ Village had three tents this year (compared to only one in 1998 when I last ran Boston) and they had bagels, water, Gatorade, Power Bars, etc. for us. I ate a banana at the hotel and planned to eat a bagel at the Athletes’ Village, but didn’t get there in time to eat the entire bagel. I ate half of it: too little food and too close to the race start, and I paid for it later.
Just as I sent Alan on his way to his earlier starting wave, I found Candy and her brother Todd. We got a few photos and slipped out of our warm clothes and headed to deposit our bags on the buses before heading to the starting line. I strapped my camera around my wrist for the 26.2-mile journey to Boston in the perfect 55-degree weather. My approach to running Boston was since I worked so hard to get there, I was going to enjoy my race, and capture some memories along the way!
As our wave was started, we jockeyed a little bit, but got started a lot easier than in 1998. The staggered starting waves helped keep 22,540 runners moving forward without stopping. As we ran past the huge camera boom hanging over the course, we all waved like crazy!
The early miles of the course are downhill, but the crowded conditions make it impossible to glide, a technique I’ve learned to use to my advantage when racing.
It’s not everyday you see a chicken on a bicycle while running a marathon. My friends asked if I wanted a photo of me with the chicken, but I told them I was afraid if I got too close, I’d be tempted to knock the chicken off the bike and steal it!
[I did offer him $10 for his bicycle!]
The race organizers did an outstanding job with the water/Gatorade stops. Thanks, BAA!
There were spectators lining the course all 26.2 miles, but it was loudest by far as the course ran through Wellesley. The young ladies from Wellesley were holding up signs saying, “Kiss me,” but I didn’t happen to see any runners take them up on it.
As we started up the first big hill at Mile 16, we started looking for our cheering squad, and soon found the first of three groups holding signs of encouragement and ringing their cowbells. Seeing these friends really made that first tough hill bearable.
After stopping to see our friends, it seemed like we ran up hill, after hill, after hill. I certainly don’t remember them from 1998! Of course, as one of my friends was very quick to point out, I was twelve years younger back then!
Just before Mile 20, I realized I was really struggling to keep up with Candy and Todd. My stomach started bothering me (remember the half bagel I ate too late), and I ducked into a porta-potty. After that, I had to walk for about two minutes to get my head back into the game. I took a GU and started running again.
I trudged along and finally made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill. I kept reminding myself that twelve years ago when I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill, a volunteer had shouted, “Congrats, you made it to the top!” to which I had replied, “Of what?” She replied “Heartbreak Hill,” and I incredulously said, “THAT was Heartbreak Hill?” I laughed now, because back then it seemed like nothing; and this time around, it kicked my butt!
The crowds were crazy as I ran through Boston College and I occasionally heard “Go VT.” I decided to pull over to the side and take a photo, so I shouted, “This Hokie wants a photo of some Boston College guys.” They went crazy and started posing for the photo. The Boston College crowds got me pumped and cruising on toward Boston, and finally I had some nice down hills to help get me there!
As I rounded the corner onto Boylston Street, I hoped to see my friends and there they were as promised! I could see the finish line and almost burst into tears. As I approached, I noticed how beautiful the American flag looked flying in front of the finish line banner so I pulled over to the side again and took another photo. I proceeded on and finished with a time of 4:16:05 (36:08 slower than my 1998 Boston Marathon time).
I worked my way through the sea of finishers and finally found Alan (3:40:16 finish time). We hung out together and waited for Sal, Jerome, and Chuck to join us. We called Candy to see how she’d done (she finished in 4:07:49). We all finished quite a bit slower than our qualifying times, but that had allowed us to take in the sights and truly enjoy being a part of the 114th Boston Marathon.
Back in the room, Chuck made multiple trips to the ice machine to get my ice bath ready. After an ice bath and cool shower, I was ready for a much deserved post race meal. I could only think of a big delicious burger because Candy and I smelled burgers grilling along the course and talked about how good one would taste! That burger was one of the best I’ve ever eaten! After lots of fun stories and laughs, the Cruisers headed back to our suite to relax before our trip home the next morning.
On Tuesday morning, we headed home. My hamstrings tightened up and started hurting so I decided to lie down in the backseat. I fell asleep and slept for an hour or so until we stopped for lunch. Once back on the road I probably slept for another three hours. The best line of the trip was when I woke up as we were exiting the interstate near our home and Sal said, “Okay Debbie, get your lazy ass up. We’re in Virginia now and I’m revoking your princess status. You’re a mere mortal now.”
When I got home, my sweet hubby had roses waiting for me. He’s the best! [Note: Bill missed qualifying for Boston by eight seconds…]
A special thank you goes to all of the Cruisers who logged many long training miles with us. Without your companionship and encouragement, our training would have been very lonely and difficult.
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