April Race #2, Boston Marathon
Since qualifying for Boston at the Yakima River Canyon marathon, I planned to run it 2011. Also, my best friend from home Brian Bensch also qualified at the San Francisco marathon. So we began planning our trip to Boston together, which was already sounding to be an awesome weekend. When it came time to register for the marathon, I signed up the morning registration opened. The next day Brian tried to register, but Boston was already full. Huh? Seriously? Boston has NEVER filled up this quick, usually it takes months! As I sat there, I wondered what Brian was going to do. Eventually he decided to fly to Boston anyways and run the marathon as a bandit (an unregistered runner).
Friday, April 15th
|Me and Brian, College years, In-N-Out|
Saturday, April 16th
I arrived in Boston at 11:00 am Saturday (1 day before Brian). My plan was to stay with my friend Rachel for a night and meet up with Brian later. Who's Rachel? Well, Brian and I met her in Tijuana in 2003 and we've been friends ever since. She's currently residing in Boston, and she acted as my guide (thank you!). I dropped off my luggage at her pad, then we headed downtown towards the Marathon Expo to see my hero, Scott Jurek. After navigating our way through the public library, Rachel and I arrived at the 'Born to Run' book signing and barefoot running presentation. The presentation hadn't started yet, so we got in line to talk to Christopher McDougall. As we were in line, Scott walked by to fill up his water bottle. On his way back, I shyly and humbly started a conversation with the man. He is by far the nicest 7-time Western States 100 mile Champion I've ever met! We chatted for a good 5 minutes before he left to get ready for the presentation. I then got a book signed by Christopher McDougall and headed towards the Expo. That made my day!
At the Expo, my mission was simple. Get my bib/shirt, buy a hat, and buy 2 mugs. That's it. No fancy jacket or fancy running sunglasses (I hate running with sunglasses, but I was still tempted because they had some cool colors). After visiting every booth and grabbing every energy bar and recovery drink sample we could possibly find, we jetted. That night we met up with Rachel's friends Tom and Alison for some delicious Italian food in North Boston, followed by the Boston Bruins Hockey Playoff Match #2 against the Montreal French Canadians. Go Bruins! USA!
Sunday, April 17th
Marathon Monday, April 18th
The race itself started at 10:00 AM for my Wave, but I had to wake up at 5:30 am to head to Boston Common to catch a bus to the start. When we arrived at the 'Athletes Village' near the start at about 6:30 am, I had 3.5 hours to get ready for the marathon. It was windy, cold, and I couldn't have a pants party if I tried (i.e. wasn't wearing pants). I eventually found a bunch of runners huddled in a little garage/shed that was at least 10 degrees warmer than outside! But like most cool hangouts, the authorities kicked us out into the windy cold.
|Athlete's Village, near the Start|
When the race started, my first mile felt like a 4:00 min/mile pace. I kept pace with the elite runners for a while. Around the 20 mile mark, I pulled ahead on Heartbreak Hill (thanks to all my hill training). At that point, I was nose to nose with the Kenyans and running on the edge of exhaustion. All of a sudden, a tail wind kicked in and pushed me ahead of the Kenyans, and I won the Boston Marathon with a new World Record! But because of the tail wind, my time was so unbelievably fast, they thought if anyone saw my time, their heads would explode. So they ignored my time and gave the trophy to Geoffery Mutai, who had a much more believable finish time. Apparently a sub 2-hour marathon is impossible. What a rip.
Despite being shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of runners, I was grouped with hundreds of runners who run the same pace. When we crossed the starting line, we were all running 6:30 minute miles which was kind of a trip. The first mile of the marathon had some spectator support, but I mostly just noticed all the well-hydrated guys take a detour into the woods to relieve themselves. That 45 minute wait was killer. Water/Gatorade stations were every mile, so hydration during the race was never an issue. The first station I tried to drink WHILE running in order to save time, but I swear I almost drowned by Gatorade.
At the 1-mile mark, my good friend Brian saw me and jumped in. We ran and chatted for the next mile or so, which was kind of nice. We used to do a lot of summer running together, and it's funny how conversations during a run seem so different than conversations standing still. Too bad we couldn't have spent the marathon together. After a mile, he backed off (because of his knee) to run with another friend who was going a slower pace.
And then there were the Wellesley College girls, the sirens of the Boston Marathon. You could hear them cheering from half a mile away. The marathon goes right by this prestigious women's liberal arts college, and seemingly every other girl held up a sign saying something to the affect of "Kiss me, I'm _______". Some of the weaker men went in for a kiss, but it would take much more than that to stop me and my argonauts. Although, I might have stopped for a "Kiss me, I'm Polish".
Getting near the halfway point, I felt a disturbance in the Force. After a couple unfortunate porto breaks, I found myself around 1 hour 30 minutes for the half marathon. My overall goal was to run under 3 hours, so at this point I planned to run hard and try to negative split the second half of the race. I was feeling amazing so far, so maybe it was possible? I don't know. Ah! Don't think! Thinking wastes energy! RUN!
There were SOOO MANY SPECTATORS. Some were handing out food, water, and sometimes beer. By chance I ended up grabbing Jelly Beans, a York Peppermint Patty, and some GU along the way. So good! The Gatorade was beginning to give me side aches at this point, they put too much damn sugar in that stuff.
By the time heartbreak hill was over, I wanted to ask someone "uh, was that heartbreak hill?" The hill itself was not terribly epic, it's simply located at a critical location...mile 21. Maybe it's because most marathoners don't train beyond the 21 mile mark, but that's probably where most people at least begin to hit the wall (or at least slow down). Any hill at that point can put someone over the edge. In the Seattle Marathon, there's a hill at mile 21 that's much much worse than heartbreak, and it nearly destroyed me when I ran it in 2008 and 2009. This time, my training prepared me well for this silly obstacle. (For Bloomsday runners, Doomsday hill is harder than heartbreak hill).
|Rachel and me, Boston Bruins Game|
The final stretch of the marathon is about half a mile long, and it was a glorious finish. I had enough energy to sprint the final 50 meters, and I crossed the legendary finish line. I had no idea what my time was because I didn't run with a watch and forgot what time I crossed the starting line. Some of my friends who were following me probably knew my finish time before I did. Eventually one of my friends texted my time to me, and I got a new Personal Record!
Results: 3:02:16 - 1,791st out of 23,879 Finishers
Pace: 6:57 min/mile
The Boston Marathon was an amazing experience that I'll never forget. I felt like a hero the entire time running the race, and for that I thank the spectators. They truly make Boston what it is. I didn't even get a chance to get a song stuck in my head, there was so much going on that my mind was almost overloaded the entire time thinking about the fans, my pace, other runners, what should I drink, what should I eat, oh look crazy college girls, how're me legs feeling, hey that runner is wearing an elmo shirt, man it's sunny out, my bandana is bugging me, high five, hey that guy's from spain, high five, there's a camera gotta look tough, crap another girl is outrunning me, high five, I can't wait to eat afterwards, high five, high five, high five, dear gatorade please cutback on the sugar there is such a thing as too many electrolytes per fluid ounce, how can that man be wearing tights in this weather, I should have written my name on my shirt so people could yell my name, I wonder if Scott Jurek will remember me if I see him again, I hope there's free massage therapy, EPIC HIGH FIVE, I wonder if Poland Spring Water comes from Poland or if it was founded by someone Polish, I miss Portland, I think I'm seriously getting sunburned for the first time since August, I hate how medium sized t-shirts vary in size depending on the manufacturer, did I get enough James Bronder photos this trip, maybe I should get a puppy, I should become vegan so I can have ultra vegan powers, what should I name my puppy, high five, who's getting texts on my progress, I hope Mom's watching, why doesn't the West Coast have Patriot's Day off, will I ever run this race again, marathons suck trail is better, will I ever be considered 'elite', what kind of dog should I get, high five....
For now, I'm retiring from road marathons and sticking with trail. The size of the Boston Marathon was overwhelming at times before and after the race. During the race, I didn't care. But it's getting TO the race that's half the battle. I'll forever remember this race, and I'm grateful for having the chance to run it. Go Boston!
SPECIAL THANKS: Rachel, Alison, Tom, Lindsay, Zach, Brian, Lindsay's parents, Team Dolphin, James Bronder (You're the Best, Around!), and all my Friends & Family who followed me at home. Thank you for everything!
Shout out to John Lotts and Gary Daubenspeck who also ran the race!