Race Recap: The 122nd Boston Marathon

I recapped my arrival in Boston, the expo, and pre-race activities in this post. So I’ll dive right into Marathon Monday.

Trying to describe the feelings from Monday is so hard. It’s the harshest conditions I’ve ever experienced running. There were near-freezing temps, heavy rain, and furious winds, and at times I couldn’t see. But would I change anything about Monday? No. This experience gave me the gift to learn to dig deeper, fight harder, know I’m stronger, and earn that finish like never before.

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Race day attire – long sleeve under armor, MGH singlet, rain coat, long leggings, wicker socks, gloves, headband ear warmers, hat, gloves (threw these away around mile 10), and a poncho.

Did I have enough to keep me dry? Nope.

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Getting to the Start Line

I took an Uber from Molly’s house in Alston to the Boston Common. Went through security and hoped on a bus that took me all the way to Hopkins!

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Before heading out to my corral I went to the MGH tent where I dried off, ate a snack, and donated my sweat pants and an old pair of shoes (I kept my running shoes in a bag and didn’t wear them until we left the tent in an attempt to keep my feet dry). Our team leader, Dr. Howard Weinstein, gave us a great pep talk, we then took a team photo, and headed out to the corrals!

At the corrals I saw all sorts of running attire. There were runners dressed in shorts and tank tops as if there was no bad weather. Others had trash bags on, poncho’s, plastic bags  wrapped around shoes or duct taped their shoes to keep their feet dry. Runners got really creative here.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, the race.

Miles 1-10

My goal for the first 10 miles was to take it easy, get into a rhythm, and not focus on the distance remaining. It’s funny I say take it easy because I started off pretty fast, I know…I told myself not to do this TWICE and I still did it.

I was relieved when I finally saw mile 10 because I began to really feel like I was in the race. There is something about finally hitting the double digits that makes me feel like I’m finally getting into it.

The crowd support during these miles were very limited, not many people out, but there was one brave member who was out offering some encouragement during the grueling race – Spencer, the flag waiving marathon dog!

Miles 11-17

I have to say Wellesley really lives up to the hype! I could hear the screams from half a mile a way. The women of Wellesley are loud and they are IMPOSSIBLE to ignore. This was a really good boost. It was at this point that I reminded myself to loosen up and ENJOY the moment!

During miles 13 and 14 I was distracted looking for Jennifer, an family friend, her daughter was also running Boston.

After mile 15 I began bracing myself for the beginning of the hills. You always hear about the Newton Hills but I think the hill at mile 16 and 17 can take a lot out of you.

Miles 17-21

The next 5 miles were a bit of a blur to be honest. I still was feeling pretty good but at about mile 19 my quads began to ache. I had just climbed up what I think are the toughest hill on the course, the long overpass that crosses I-95/Route 128 and Firehouse Hill. I just focused on getting through the next two miles and reaching mile 20 where MGH was out cheering us on.

To be honest I have never felt this good running. Although my pace was all over the place, I started off fast and slowed down, I actually felt really good running the first 20 miles. The walking didn’t start until mile 21…heartbreak hill broke me.

During mile 21 I focussed on getting through the 3 Newton Hills. Let me tell you – it feels so good to see the sign letting you know you’ve reached the top of heartbreak hill!

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Miles 22-26.2

The final miles are mostly downhill. There are a few rolling hills but nothing really big. I could tell my legs were starting to slow down and that I didn’t have enough left to try pick up the pace at this point so I just decided to keep up my effort, enjoy the rest of the course, and see where it left me.

At mile 22 I enter Boston College territory and I was disappointed, I was expecting a lot of noise from the screaming Eagles of BC, but there were very few of them out…this is when I started walking until I remembered I had friends on this mile!

I could also feel the roads starting to flat out and my quads were feeling it, but I just distracted myself by looking for my friends Jamie, Billie, and Molly. I eventually found them on the Green Line trolley tracks.

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Mile 24, that’s when I finally saw it! The glorious Citgo sign. I looked for it earlier (I read that we should be able to see it around mile 23, but with the heavy downpour, I never saw it until I started climbing up the hill).

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This was another empty mile no spectators , but then we hit Back Bay. BIG CROWDS.

We then ran through some overpasses and then dropped down underneath Mass Ave. *Quick Fun Fact – Remember, Loren Zitomersky, the athlete who was planned to run the Boston Marathon Backwards? This is were I passed him, underneath Mass Ave.

Next thing I know there was a quick jaunt up the hill, and boom, I was on Hereford. It was COVERED in ponchos that runners had shed so that they wouldn’t be wearing them in their official picture.

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For two blocks I played frogger, hoping to not accidentally catch the edge of a poncho then slip and fall. I saw the hill at the end of Hereford and thought that it was nothing more than a cruel trick of nature. And just like that, I turned left on Boylston!

The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger – once again it was absolutely amazing!

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I had another friend, Bryan, on this last stretch. I stopped, said hello, gritted my teeth and made the most of that final stretch.

I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 11 minutes.

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After I finished, I walked to the Boston Sports Clubs in the Prudential Center to meet up with my MGH team. I got my bag, changed out of my wet clothes, and took an Uber back to Molly’s where she had prepared a celebratory feast!

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Despite the terrible weather there were so many things I loved about this race:

– Hopkinton. It all starts here. The energy in Athlete’s Village was like no other and everything at the start line was very organized.

-The rows of little kids cheering you on in the small towns along the course.

-Wellesley- of course.

-The furniture store around mile 7. They don’t let any spectators block the windows so runners could see their reflections. There was a huge sign that said something like “Runners, check yourselves out!” Loved it!

-The amount of support from the spectators- SO MANY oranges, water, trashbags, platic gloves. Incredible.

– “Right on Hereford, left on Bolyston.” Obviously.

-That feeling of being part of something really special.

This feeling was all around – it was all the elite athletes there at the same time, the prestige of this holy grail of marathons that we all worked so hard to get to, the incredibly nice people, the charming town(s), and the history of this race; I was not immune to it.  Now I get it. I get why this marathon is so special.

I’m not sure when I’ll run Boston again, but I WILL DEFINITELY be back!