I spent the entire day on Sunday waiting for the time to go by. Oh, and also nursing a head cold/allergy type thing. I tried hard to carbo load, but since I did not work out I was not hungry. I ended up having a turkey sandwich for dinner. Off to bed at 10pm, along with "Once a runner". Eleven pm goes by and I am still reading. My husband is already asleep - he knows he has a tough day ahead, full charge of an active 3 y old, and support for me. At eleven thirty I turn the light off, knowing I will not sleep. I toss and turn, maybe sleep a bit. It's 4 am and I am wide awake, happy to hear my son yelling "I want to go to mommy and daddy's bed". This gives me an excuse to get out of bed and get him into ours. I fall asleep deeply at 4:30, and then I hear my husband's voice "Hon, it's time".
It's 6:30, time for the show to start. I get ready, I eat my oatmeal, I drink my coffee. I put my pace tat on. At 7:30 we are off the door, and go pick Sue C up. Chris drives us to exit 21B in Hopkinton, and then we hop on a bus. It's 8:47 and we are at Athletes Village. Not taking the 6:15 MGH bus was such a great idea! We have to pee really badly, and the porta potties have long lines. We head to the bushes and join several other runners. Off we go, when a policemen approaches us asking for our numbers. We innocently tell him the numbers, and then he tells us : "You are going to be penalized for indecent exposure". Are you kidding me. I find another policemen and ask him what is going to happen. He says he does not know. OK, they only wanted to scare us. I hope.
We go through the athlete's village and get to the MGH tent. Heated tent. We end up spending our time sitting in line for the porta potties. I know it's anxiety, but hey, the music in the tent is too loud. I pee at least 5 times. At 9:45 we go to meet Sue M and Andy. At 10 we start moving toward the finish line. I need to pee again. Into the bushes, along with other runners. Back to the start line. we start walking. And we walk, and walk, and walk, up hill. Holy cow! We are at the end, about 1 mile from the start line. This is going to make for some sloooooooooooooow miles. But, the view is beautiful. Helicopters are cruising the sky. Looking down from the top of the hill, I see masses of runners all the way down. I feel inspired and energized. I want to run!
10:30 OFF WE GO.
I ditch my clothes. I feel excited. Sue C, Sue M and Andy are close by. The plan is to run together the first few miles, and maybe more. My plan is to be on pace (8:35) by mile 6, keep up that pace up to the hills, maintain the pace on the uphill and speed up on the downhill. Speed up even more after mile 22. Hmm, it did not work out quite like this.
We are moving slowly, and end up zig zagging a lot to pass runners. My R shin hurts. Weird! Then I look at the road, it is tilted to the R. The course starts with a downhill, pretty steep. I tell myself to take short and soft steps, to save my quads. Then I see hills. Hills? Aren't the first few miles supposed to be downhill? By mile 3 I get on pace, 8:35. But, at mile 3 my Garmin shows 3.2. I check my pace tat, and I am behind. I know that this will be at least a 26.5 marathon. Need to pick up the pace.
Pain is gone. I pick up the pace. I feel great, but I know this does not mean anything at this point. I take my first gel at mile 5. I feel it immediately. I am on pace, on the "new pace", that is 8:29. OK, lets enjoy the race. I hi five all the kids, I listen to the blasting music. I see the woman with the sign: "My kenyan legs are broken". I still have to zig zag a lot to pass people. I am also learning that I need to run in the middle of the road, so that I don't interfere with the runners who stop to take water on the sides of the road.
Uneventful. I feel great. I take another GU at mile 10. I am starting to worry I feel too good. Should I go faster? The crowds are yelling and yelling. I want to go faster, but I manage to keep myself on pace. "This is your first marathon".
Entering Wellesley. Both sides are 4-5 people thick. I get to see the hamburger guy runner, and also the 2 chubby guys in speedos. I feel great. I am on pace. I am smiling and taking it all in. I take my second GU. I know I am approaching Wellesly because I hear the screams. they are getting louder and louder. This was my favorite part of the race. Those women are amazing. They get your attention. They call your name. They scream. They are passionate about cheering you on. It's their mission to get you moving faster. They kiss lots of guys, including one of the chubby ones in speedos. I need to tell this to Chris, maybe he'll consider running
I start speeding up, pace is now 8:29 or so, then 8:27. I check my pace tat at all mile marks. I am doing well. I feel great. A bit nauseous, but still great. Those Wellesley girls energized me. Or maybe the gel I took at mile 15. We pass a steep downhill and then a long uphill. I knew about these and worked hard to save my quads on the steep downhill by taking short steps and not braking hard. I feel great. My pace is not affected by the hills. I am running out of Nuun and water, but I know Chris is going to be at mile 18. At mile 15 my Garmin shows .4 mile extra. I feel too good to worry about this now. "Just stay on pace, check the pacetat, and you are going to be fine. Don't go faster than you need to."
The start of the hills. Really? What have we run so far? I did not see any flats on this course, only rolling hills. I still feel great. I am starting to feel my quads, but nothing concerning. I am nauseous, but nothing too bad. The crowds are screaming. "We know how to do hills". I am feeling the headwind more and more. I feel I have to push more to keep up the pace. I start looking for Chris at mile 17.5. By mile 18.5 I start thinking I might not see him. The crowds are 4-5 people thick on both sides. I am disappointed, but switch to problem solving mode. I pick up a few water cups and start drinking, but it's hard since I don't want to stop. I grab more water cups and I pour them into my water bottle. I know I have some Nuun with me, so I can chew on that if I have to, later on. And then I see Chris, along with some friends, Petru and my mom in law. I run by, pick up the electrolyte bottle, give him the empty bottle, and surge ahead. I am afraid to stop. As I run away, I start feeling guilty for not stopping or thanking them. Later on my mom in law told me I looked determined. My quads are starting to hurt more and more. Hmm, I've run these hills before, what's up with the pain? All is manageable, though. "You can do this". I don't want another GU but I force myself to eat it. I am so glad I have my electrolytes with me, because I am feeling lightheaded. Pace is 8:26.
More ups and downs. I am not even counting the hills. I am hurting badly. With every step, sharp knives are carving into my quads. I worry about cramping, even though I have never cramped before. Heartbreak Hill is approaching. I hear the crowds yelling a warning. Then I look up and see masses of runners up and up into the horizon. My quads are screaming. I put my head down and start counting "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10', and again, and again. I am fine cardiovascularly, but my legs are becoming very weak. "You'll feel better after the hills". I slow down to 8:27. I am on pace for a sub 3:45. "You are not going slower than this. You are going to keep up this pace. Just keep your head down, and plug along. You can do this.". At mile 22 there is a bit of downhill, but then another hill. "How come I did not see this before? I've run the last 20 miles of the course 2 times". I hurt so bad that I am considering stopping. I know I will not, but it is comforting to thing about taking the T, or stopping for a minute. I keep drinking the Nuun, but I am lightheaded. My laces come undone and I need to fix them. Not the stop I was hoping for. I lean down, and I get dizzy. My hands are shaking. "You need to lace them well, so that you won't need to stop again". I do that. With shaking hands. And blurred vision. Off I go. I feel awful.
More ups and downs. Hills are v small but they seem so big. I check my mileage at mile 23, and it looks like I will be running.5 m more. "It's OK, you can do it". The crowds are starting to bother me. They seem so loud. I can't make out what they are saying, I only hear noise. I want quiet. I don't want to see more uphills. I put my head down and count. This seems to work well. I keep checking my Garmin for pace. I am on pace. "Only 3 more miles, that is less than 27 minutes. Only 2 more miles, that is less than 18 minutes. Only 1 mile, you can do it. You have 10 minutes to make it. You can do it". I take the R on Hereford. It's on an uphill. My legs are like rubber. I turn L on Boylston. I see the finish line and it seems so far away. I try to speed up and I am not sure if I am actually moving faster. My legs are done. everything is foggy. I decide to put my head down again and count. I start looking up only when I am a few feet away from the finish. I try to speed again. I cross the finish line. I did it. Garmin shows 8:27 pace for 26.7m, time 3:44. I don't feel the emotion I anticipated. I am glad to be done. I am hungry. I eat 1 bagel and 1 Powerbar Recovery bar in the 15 minutes I have to walk to pick up my medal. There are lots of wheelchairs and medical tents, and people looking very bad. I start feeling great. I limp a bit, and try to stretch. I put my medal on. It feels great.
I walk to Prudential to meet my friends and Chris at Fitcorp. I take my Asics off and discover that all but one toe have bloody blisters. I send Chris to buy me flip flops. He comes back with these soft BAA superexpensive flip flops. Hey, i deserve them. People make comments about my toes, but I don't really care. They don't hurt. But my quads do! My friend Sue C shows up and she does not look good. We go to the medical area and they take care of her. I show the doctor my toes and ask him if he's seen anything this bad: "Sure", but his face says otherwise. He gives me band aids to wrap my toes. I think everyone is grateful for that. Sue M shows up later, after a visit to the medical tent. Andy showed up earlier, not looking good. Everyone did great and PRed, though. We end up having a little party in the food room. No room in the car and Chris has to take the train home. He left 2 hours before we did, and we got home at the same time. He is the most supportive husband!
** Pictures are part 2 coming soon!
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