Race: Boston Marathon
Place: Boston, Massachusetts
Date: April 18, 2022
“The best gift in life is a second chance.”
Let’s hear it for a new course PR…by a lot! I mean…we’re talking 1 hour 20 minutes and 5 seconds difference in finish times between my 2015 Boston Marathon time and my 2022 Boston Marathon time. In 2015…I was running on a torn hip labrum. In 2022…I was healthy and feeling ready to run the course. What a difference 7 years makes, right?
But let’s not jump to the end before we start at the beginning.
On Sunday morning, I woke up in time to eat a bagel for breakfast, grab some coffee (while in Boston, get your coffee from Tatte. Don’t question it…just do it!), and get to Boston Common for the McKirdy Trained shakeout run. I wasn’t actually running, and to make myself behave, I wore jeans. BUT…I did want to go and meet up with other McKirdy athletes because…I love meeting people.
The first person I met…was Gabby. And it went from there. I had quite a few people come up to me and say that they follow me on Instagram. Enough to make my friend Heather laugh at how “famous” I am. With just over 4K followers on IG…legit not even close to Insta-famous…but it’s the thought that counts. I was in for the group shot, the trivia (I didn’t win either giveaway…dang it), and then got to take photos with my coach and the group of athletes she had there. And after that…I waved to the groups that were doing a shakeout and went to go back to my hotel room to grab the hat I bought at the expo because it was very windy and cold outside and I had a Swan Boat ride to go on.
The Swan Boats were a good way to be out in Boston but not on my feet. It wasn’t a very long ride. And it was cold. But it was fun. Afterwards, we darted over to do some shopping (and others not me because food allergies!) at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. After that, I knew I needed to go back to the hotel room to put my feet up for the rest of the day. My friend Heather and I did that, while Cathy went out to see a cemetery she had wanted to go back to from when we visited in 2015.
And so, I watched television, was amused by Heather’s shadow puppets on the wall, hydrated, snacked….and finally ordered dinner for delivery from Poke by Love Art. I ordered the Garden Special, as it was vegan. From things I have learned since then, I should have gotten extra rice and fewer vegetables that day…and honestly, should have been eating like that leading into the race since the day I landed in Boston. But I wasn’t familiar with a proper carb load until much later. I now know for later. Soon after dinner and some foam rolling…it was time to rest because the next morning was RACE DAY!!
My alarm went off at 6 am because that gave me a little over 2 hours before I had to get on the bus to head to Hopkinton. I drank a Maurten 320 at the hotel room while I got ready for race day. My roommate finished up her signs and pinned my bib on. Since I was in the Wave 3, my buses weren’t going to depart until 8:15 am. I used the bathroom a lot because I hate port-a-potties…but knew I’d have to use one at Athlete’s Village anyway. I had tried, tirelessly, to find people to ride the bus with, but never could nail down plans as others were in different waves or had other transportation.
Cathy, Heather and I made the walk over to Boston Common, expecting the buses to be loading up like they were back in 2015…but they were actually on the OPPOSITE side of Boston Common…and we figured that out by following all the other runners. Because when in doubt…
I stood outside of the security checkpoint for a few minutes to snag some photos, but it was getting close to 8 am…so I knew I’d have to go through. I lifted my trash bag and my throwaway items to show my bib and I was allowed to pass through. A girl behind me had a hydration pack and realized it was on the prohibited items list just as she was about to go through. I don’t know what happened after that…I was in and moving toward the buses.
Except they were still loading up Wave 2 (the white bibs). So, instead, I found a little curb on a corner and took a seat to stay off my feet. And that’s when my friend, Stephanie, who I met WHILE running the Monumental Marathon that qualified us for this race, found me! In this sea of people…she spotted my famous pigtails.
So, I now had a friend to ride the bus for an hour with…which was nice. She had a friend that she met at the Air BnB (I think) where they were staying. We took over the back of the bus and were able to chat and chill and get our nerves down together. The bus ride seemed so much longer than I remembered from 2015…but, honestly, there isn’t a lot I remember about that year. When we got there, we started to scout out where we could get a non-busy port-a-potty…and we spotted one across the road, but the volunteers wouldn’t let us go over there to them…so into Athlete’s Village we went.
On the way to the entrance, I was spotted by another BibRave Pro, and she took a selfie with me before hurrying on back ahead. My little group got into the village and spotted a parking lot that was lined with port-a-potties that had relatively short lines. We got into one and would hold each other’s gear while we cycled through. It was a nice arrangement. Then we settled down on the pavement to fuel (I won’t do overnight oats again as they were getting to the point where they were out of the fridge for enough time…but I ate them and hoped for the best), put on sunscreen (I had done this at the hotel…I now know to reapply), and ditch our throwaway clothes (I realize we could have kept these on longer…but didn’t remember that…so…we ditched them earlier than we needed to, but it was fine).
Stephanie and I were in the same corral, so we headed that way and decided to take advantage of one more bathroom break before getting settled into the corrals. We then got to our corral and waited for the start. We enjoyed seeing the people who lived along the start area out there day drinking and cheering all the runners on. Our wave was finally set off and we walked with the corral to the start line…and then we were off.
I thought like I was starting pretty chill. The start is always crowded and often means that there is weaving and dodging so as not to get kicked or pushed. My first mile was actually slower than it felt, especially being mostly downhill (let’s face it….it’s all rolling). My pace did pick up as runners…kind of…stretched out. Honestly, it was crowded and stayed crowded, but I felt like I had a little more space to move. I was so happy to be back on the course. Even when I had to go uphill before hitting the Newton Hills. I tried not to focus too much on my watch. The Boston Marathon was going to be run for fun…as I had an actual goal race later in the year. So, every mile ticked off and I didn’t look at my watch too much, but realize now I should have because apparently I was on PR pace for the first half. HA!
Okay…I know that Boston is a net downhill and the Newton Hills are the famous hills (Heartbreak Hill for sure) are where you hear about the hills…but there are rolling hills throughout the first half of the race. I remember at one point, maybe around Mile 10, a woman in the crowd yelled, “WELCOME BACK TO THE APRIL BOSTON MARATHON!” It made me smile. I didn’t have the chance to do the fall Boston as I didn’t have a big buffer and didn’t sign up for the virtual, for many reasons, only to find out that virtual runners did get to go and run it in person if they had qualified…but whatever. It wasn’t meant to be in 2021 for me. That was a hard pill to swallow, I admit, and I avoided social media that day in October for my own mental health, but I was proud of my friends who did complete it. I digress…
I kept a pretty spicy (for me during a marathon) pace through the first half…but I could tell I was definitely running outside of my current ability at that time. I still felt good though…and I even felt a bit of a boost as I ran past my coach at Mile 14. She sent out a cheer in my direction and I flashed her a heart symbol with my hands (honestly, we started working together in early December…so she was a big help in getting me to this point). And on I went.
Honestly, I felt really good up until the first of the Newton Hills kicked in around Mile 17. My quads honestly felt so wrecked at this point from the downhills that the uphills were just not feeling good. And so…I opted to change over to a walk on the uphills and run on the downhills method. I was a little mad that I had to take the walks, but aside from sore quads…I felt strong and capable…so I kept going.
Heartbreak Hill was my slowest mile…because it was where I had to do the most walking. At the top there is a banner that tells the runners they conquered Heartbreak Hill. From here, we go back to a more downhill than up course…and I was okay with that, but my legs were sore…and now walk breaks were happening at the water stops along the way…if not at other points. I wasn’t mad though…I was proud of myself for continuing on.
I was moving forward, and the crowds were carrying me. I was trying to make sure I was drinking water at the water stops, and except for my quads screaming at me…I felt good. I knew that I had already achieved my goal…and that was to do better than I did in 2015. It was such a blessing to see the famous Citgo sign because now I knew I was close. Just over a mile to go.
The emotions really kicked in when I made the right onto Hereford. I made the climb up that hill, feeling a wave of emotions, because I knew that the finish line was around the corner (and down the road quite a way). I smiled. I cried. I turned left onto Boylston. My legs were so sore, but I pushed. I heard Cathy and Heather screaming at me from their spot on the sideline as I ran past them. I couldn’t take my eyes off that finish line.
Crossing that finish line was emotional. I did it. I ran through, stopping my watch after I was past the photographers. I started to tear up more. I had done something that I had dreamed about doing for 7 years. I was able to run the Boston Marathon on MY TERMS. No injury dictated how I ran this time. I got to run it the best I could on the day. And I was proud of that.
I collected my medal from a volunteer. I had wanted to find a certain one who was from the HardCORE group for Peloton, but I was so done at that point. I got wrapped in Mylar and started to walk through the finish line area to make my way through to get to the reunion area to meet my friends. Soon after taking a photo with my medal with one of the photographers…I stepped past and felt really light headed. I made my way over to one of the barriers and leaned against it.
BOOM. Immediately I had medical volunteers at my side asking me what was wrong. I told them I felt light headed and one put a wheelchair behind me and the other picked me up and legit settled me into it. Then I was wheeled over to the medical tent.
The people who took care of me at the medical tent were so nice. They transferred me from the wheelchair to a little cot and wrapped me up in Mylar to get me warm. They asked me my name and confirmed that I was 41 years old. One said, “Is that why you’re dressed like Rainbow Brite.” HAHA!! They did attempt to call my roommate on both her phone and mine, but since she didn’t recognize the number, she didn’t answer (D’OH!). They said they needed me to eat something and offered me broth (not vegetarian) and chips (not gluten free)…so they settled on a banana. I did slowly manage to eat it. And after that and some water, they did have me get up and walk around. I felt much better…so they put me back in the wheelchair and discharged me.
Finally, I got to go out to the reunion area where Heather and Cathy were eagerly waiting for me. I apologized and told them I had been in medical and we all hugged and started to walk back to the hotel. This meant we also forgot to take a bunch of photos of me with my medal, but just as we neared the hotel door, Heather remembered (bless her!). So we snapped a few photos of me on the sidewalks of downtown Boston.
After that, I went upstairs to shower and to put my legs up. We had a dinner reservation that night at Davio’s with Lydia, a childhood friend of mine and Heather’s. I wasn’t really ready to eat, but I knew I needed to, so per the usual, I just ate what I felt my stomach could handle at that time. I even split dessert. I was celebrating!!
Next time the goal is to finish without the need of the medical tent at the end.
So…my official finishing time at the 2022 Boston Marathon was 3:47:03. I am ECSTATIC! It took YEARS to get back here and won’t take any of that for granted. Not one bit. I was 14808/24834 finishers overall. I was the 4980/10572 woman to cross the finish line. And, I was 942/1637 in my age division. Finishing and smiling the entire way was my goal for this Boston Marathon redo…and I definitely succeeded in that. So much fun. And, major props to the medical volunteers who were wonderful and took very good care of me while I was in their care. I already can’t wait to do it again next year…which…I have could use my Monumental Marathon time for again so I’m already accepted. So…let’s go have some fun again next year, yes?