Update: Five days before I ran the Boston Marathon, I learned I was having a Chemical Pregnancy (early miscarriage). I hadn’t shared this with the world when this post was originally published, but you can read about it here.
On April 18, 2016, I ran the Boston Marathon. But before I tell you about the race, you should check out my road to Boston here.
Monday morning came early and I was so exhausted after sight-seeing by foot and bike for two days straight. My legs were already sore but I made the most of this vacation! I have no regrets. I saw and did everything I wanted to. Day 1, we ran and walked 18 miles and day 2, we biked close to the same. I had the best time hanging out with Andrew and we both needed to just get away and explore together.
Before the race, I met up with Ruel in the Boston Common and we hopped on a yellow school bus for a ride out of town. I am so grateful to have experienced this with her. I have run and trained with her for over two years now. I cheered her on when she ran the 2015 Boston Marathon and she was there when I qualified for Boston at the Dallas Marathon. She’s added so much joy to running and life.
We hung out at the Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton until our race started and ran into our Waco friend, Nancy Goodnight. She’s the race director of our local Waco Marathon – Miracle Match Marathon – that you should come check out! Read about it here. If you think Heartbreak Hill at mile 20 is tough, try climbing over 100 steep stairs at mile 24.
We had a group of runners from Korea take a picture with us. I thought they wanted us to take their picture, but they actually wanted a picture with us. I think they thought we were Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg or something.
And I met Katie (@katiesfitscript) and briefly bumped into Bethany (@babfitrunlife). When instagram world becomes reality…
As our wave was called to the start line, I had to tell Ruel goodbye. I made the long walk to the start alone and already wanted to be at the finish line with Andrew and friends. Honestly, running 26.2 miles was the last thing I wanted to do when I woke up that morning. But that was kind of the whole point of this vacation.
Standing in the corral, I started thinking about the race ahead of me. This was it. This was the Boston Marathon. And I felt so out of place. I know I qualified and deserved to be there, but I still remember myself as the slower runner who didn’t have a shot at ever making it to Boston. I was surrounded by super fit and fast athletes. It was a bit surreal.
The start of the race is very downhill. I mean, you just keep running down, forever. And then you go up a little bit, but right back down. By mile 2, it was already fairly warm and I remembered thinking the heat and sun may make for an interesting day.
I was smart about the aid stations and fueling – taking in water and Gatorade, and dumping water on my head. I ate 3 gu’s during the race, some oranges, and those little ice pops in the long clear plastic. Do you remember those? They tasted magical! I am sure if I ate one today, it just wouldn’t be the same.
Before I knew it, I was approaching mile 10. The first miles went by fairly slow. I think I had so much anticipation for Heartbreak Hill and the finish that it felt forever away. I ran into a couple of people I knew on the course (from instagram and real life), which helped move things along.
Newton was the cutest town and I wished I would have gone to explore it while we were there. Next time, it’s definitely on the list! Heatbreak Hill confused me. I guess I envisioned this huge sign welcoming us to our doom, but there were just some steady inclines and one really long incline and then it was over. The crowds lining the hill just pushed you on up. I focused on my high-fives as I climbed to the top. I am not saying it was easy, but I just kind of got lost in the moment. The adrenaline from the crowds are indescribable.
The hills were finished and I was on the home stretch to Boston. I figured I would have walked by this point, but hadn’t. I headed into the final miles still feeling great with no cramping. I was surprised and so thankful. I kept doing mental checks and asked myself “are you having fun?” I was! I was having a blast!
Four miles from the finish, I burst into tears. Too early, I know… The crowd started chanting “Boston, Boston, Boston”. I just lost it. I mean, I was running the Boston Marathon. I thought back on the races where I tried to qualify but missed it and then to the races where I finally qualified. I think struggling to qualify made this race even more meaningful for me.
I pulled myself together and headed towards my finish – into the wind. The cups that littered the ground were now little tornadoes at my feet. But fortunately it cooled off the closer we got to downtown and our finish line.
I made it to the Citgo sign and pulled out my phone for pictures.
One Mile To Go.
Then Laura ran up to me and I couldn’t hear half of the words she said because the crowds were so loud and I have hearing loss in one ear (I bet you didn’t know that). Anyways, she was an angel and gave me that push to the finish. We turned RIGHT ON HEREFORD and then LEFT ON BOYLSTON. I kept saying that in my head, right on Hereford – left on Boylston, and out flowed the happy tears…
I was sobbing running down Boylston street. Everyone was cheering for me (and the hundreds of other runners around me) but they were cheering loud, and in my head it was for me. And I could see the Boston Marathon finish line. And I worked my tail off to qualify and get here. And it all lead to this moment. I crossed the finish line and I was a Boston Marathon finisher.
I immediately received a text from Andrew. “3:41. Solid. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.” He has a way with words, doesn’t he?! I feel like that text should come with a fist bump. “3:41. Solid” *fist bump*
I made my way through the crowds to get my medal, bag of food, and to the family meeting area to give Andrew a fist bump. I’m joking. I hugged him. And then sat on a curb for about 20 minutes. We just sat and talked about the race, surrounded by a million people. I just soaked in the moment.
And then I made a questionable decision to get on a bike. Our hotel was 2 miles away and that Stuffed vegan vanilla cream cheese French toast with strawberry drizzle from Veggie Galaxy was 3 miles away. Either way, I needed to move in one of those directions. So I opted for a bike and french toast. Andrew called it a recovery ride – I don’t know that I would agree.
After my french toast celebration meal, we hopped back on the bike to head 2 miles down the road to the hotel, but we ran into all the barricades of the race. There was no crossing by bike. So we walked the 2 miles to our hotel, cheered on some runners, dodged the crowds leaving Fenway Park, and stopped for some Ben & Jerry’s vegan Peanut Butter and Cookie ice cream.
Finally back in the hotel, I crashed and watched the news coverage of the race – and ate my ice cream.
I don’t think I could have had a better day. Well, I suppose if I magically ran a sub 3-hour marathon that would have topped it, but let’s be real here. I finished feeling amazing, healthy, not injured, not sick, and had the most incredible vacation with Andrew.
Coming back to reality is hard. Dishes, laundry, work. And the close of this chapter is something to get used to. I have looked forward to the Boston Marathon for 17 months now and it’s bittersweet that it has come and gone. But the memories will last a lifetime and I know I will be back.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who tracked me, cheered me on, or shouted my name on the course! It has made this experience even more sweet.