For years, even before I ever ran my first Boston marathon in 2015, I became completely infatuated with this race. I don't know if I can actually pinpoint it to an exact day or timeframe that this happened, but I know its been in my heart and on my mind for a really long time. The words Marathon Monday or even Patriots Day means something and gets me all excited and ramped up like a teenage girl screaming over the latest boyband. I'm sure that my path to this was led by the discovery and fascination with marathon runner Ryan Hall which took me into the deep depths of marathon running. Prior to that I really was a solid 5k person in terms of my own running and really only paid attention to track & field since I had run that in high school myself. I did also run cross country in high school, but for some reason, I didn't have any exposure to the larger scope of this field other than what I ran in my high school years.
It would personally take me into my late 30s, now mid 40s before I would run the Boston marathon. What's great about this race is that each runner has a unique and personal story that leads them to this time in their lives. No matter what that journey looks like it's often viewed as a success and triumph in every way. It's not exclusive to Boston, but often it is seen as the mecca of marathon running. Anyway....I'll stop being all philosophical and give you my account & thoughts of my running of this year's Boston Marathon.
We arrived in Boston 3 days before the actual race. By then we were pretty vacationed out and had done A LOT of sightseeing. While we did some looking around I really just wanted to focus on everything surrounding the race. Some of that was easy to combine, while other things just went undone/unseen. The expo takes a big amount of time and I went through just about every inch of that place. There were things to buy and just neat things to look at. Its even just fun & fascinating to be surrounded by so many like minded people. I like to people watch too! I'm pretty sure I went by every booth more than once and just took it all in.
It paid off when suddenly I saw someone standing by the Alta booth. No big fanfare or attraction, but a person that I knew and immediately began fangirling over. I tried my best to keep cool, but deep down I was having a major OMG moment. My kids looked at me like I had just grown a third head and they were confused by my complete state of freaking out. It was none other than Kara Goucher!! I swear if you don't know who that is then don't ask me....just google it and impress me with such knowledge. I'm kidding....I will tell you all about her once I stop giving you the ¨are you crazy¨ look. Who doesn't know who Kara Goucher is?!?!?! Ok, turns out a lot of people don't. But in the world of Carmen Peterson she is amazingly everything. One of my idols and role models that I completely respect and look up to.
The next day we went back down to the expo to give it a final walk through and then around the finish line area. There I was minding my own business when a crowd caught my eye and I look over and see 2 ladies taking pictures and signing autographs. I once again went in to fan girl mode and took off to join the mob of people to vye for their attention. My boyfriend is knowledgeable enough to know who I was freaking out about, but my kids and my dad were left clueless as I completely abandoned them in this pursuit. This time it was Des Linden & Molly Seidel that I spotted. If you know anything about me personally you know that if I fan about something then I fan hard. If you could choose a word to best describe me then PASSIONATE might be a very top contender. It's pretty easy to keep cool & collected about any of my passions when I'm going about my daily life, but when face to face with it I just go all in and let it explode out of me in every way possible. It paid off and I was able to snag autographs and pictures with both ladies.
Right as I walked away I turned around and saw a very familiar face.
Now in the midst of a city with hundreds of thousands of people, not to mention the additional 30 some thousand of runners from all over the world to turn around and completely unplanned see someone you have known for 30+ years is, to me, a God thing. I knew Dave was a runner & was wanting to get to Boston, but had not spoken to him in 10 months to know that he was going to be there to run as well. What a fun moment to pause & chat with him and connect.
Sunday was a big rest day for me. We found a church to attend since it was Easter Sunday, but other than that I had one thing I wanted to accomplish: the start line in Hopkinton. On race day the place is packed, not only with runners, but media, press, etc. So going in advance is more ideal to grab those iconic pictures and better scope out the place. This also frees one up to really just focus on the race come Monday morning.
Like any race I've ever done I did not sleep very well the night before. Aside from dealing with the sickies during the week, which was mostly gone, I was feeling very good and confident about how my run in Boston was going to go. Even though I wouldn't start running until almost 11 a.m. I still had to be downtown to catch my bus by 8 a.m. Since we had stayed outside of the city I had to be driven in and dropped off as close as I could to Boston Commons where the buses wait to transport us out to the start line.
Nerves and excitement were definitely setting in, but that's about expected with any race I do. Once I was off the bus I milled around the Athleteś Village waiting for my start time. In true mom & coach fashion I was also still fielding phone calls and getting things taken care of before I got to the start line. It always seems like there is plenty of time before the start, but then all of a sudden youŕe in a coral and off you go!
The start crowd is amazing. I've done A LOT of racing in my years, but there is nothing like Boston. I took off moving along the best I could. The weather was amazingly wonderful! The sun was shining bright and the temps were mild in the mid 50s.
I was moving along at a comfortable pace (8:15ish) all the way through the 10k point. This pace is not all out too hard for me, but not taking it easy either. I was completely content to keep this pace the whole way. It wouldn't give me a PR, but still a good decent race. Suddenly I rolled my ankle really hard. I didn't fall, but I had a good stumble and pain shot through my foot. I came to a limping walk and could barely keep going. Rule number 1 for me when I get hurt is to keep moving if possible. The last thing I want is my foot to swell up and get tight. So I walked the best I could even though I was limping horribly. The thoughts shot through my head: this is it.... I'm done....I can't keep going.....this hurts REALLY BAD. But we all know I'm a fighter and just as quickly as those thoughts came I also pushed back and thought: NO! I DID NOT come all this way just to quit! I don't care if I have to walk this entire race....I WILL FINISH! So I kept moving. It was a lot slower and it hurt, but I kept pushing forward.
I had a childhood friend waiting for me at mile 10 and that was definitely a highlight to look forward to seeing her.
I kept moving through the miles. Some were good and a few times I gained momentum and I was able to pick up the pace. Others were absolutely awful and I wondered how I was ever going to finish. They talk about hitting the wall. I've had that happen in other marathons, but usually only once around miles 18-20. This time though I hit several walls. I have never taken so many walk breaks ever in all of my marathons. It was honestly kind of awful. But I. Kept. Going.
The whole time I was worried about my ankle rolling again. So I kept my stride small and my feet closer to the ground to minimize any possibility. This particularly made tackling the hills very challenging.
Through all the miles I stayed determined to take it all in, have fun & mentally note all of the memories. I allowed myself to soak in the sights and sounds along the way.
There seemed to be a lot of screaming and pointing when I was running with this particular runner. I had no clue who it was, but he certainly seemed to be attracting a lot of attention. So I got in front of him and snapped a few shots with him. Later I found out that it was Matt James from the Bachelor.
I also realized later that I saw & ran past Shalane Flanagan. She was running as a guide to a impaired runner and I remember when I saw them I noted their cute matching outfits. Beyond that I didn't pay too close attention to the pair. Only to realize later who it was. Even though I didn't get a picture with her it still made me fangirl even after the fact that I was able to see her up close & in action.
The miles slowly ticked on. I kept playing the mental game of trying to figure out if I just ran this pace then I'd finish with a certain time. Of course as time went on that kept changing and I kept getting slower. My son called me from back home in Illinois at mile 16 and gave me nice words of love, support & encouragement.
At some point I had to accept that I was not going to finish under 4 hours. I had previously been guilty of saying that if I ever ran a 4+ hour marathon then I clearly failed at my racing endeavor and would be so embarrassed at such a time. Ha, well I guess I had to eat those words. I'll admit I did feel like a failure. I had to fight against the mental thoughts of I suck. How can I even be proud of this? and so on.
Coming up on mile 24 I finally was able to see my family. Seeing the look on their faces, their joy and excitement to see me in the crowd made it worth every hard miserable step I had to take to get there. They didn't care if I was running with the elite pack of dead last they were there proud of me and I could feel that as I approached them. I have the great ability of despite being horribly miserable I perk up, have fun & make it a celebration. Probably a surge of adrenaline, either way, I was just as excited to see them too!
In my final miles I finally accepted that I wasn't going to get a sub 4 hour marathon. Well, I kind of had to since the clock was saying otherwise, no matter how much I didn't like it. It took a lot of mental back and forth, but I focused on the good. I focused on all the people that I knew loved and supported me every step of the way, I focused on continuing to take in each and every moment. The sights, the sounds, the feelings.
As soon as I finished I was brought to tears. Despite not having the race I wanted I was very proud of myself and kept thinking ¨I did it! I did it!¨ I honestly don't know if this will be my last Boston....my track record isn't too great here, or if I'll come back....I mean three times a charm!!