“Limitations only exist if you let them”
I GET to write this blog post. Being able to type this title was something that I wasn’t sure I would get the opportunity to do. Not only do I get to type those words but I get to post a finish line picture! My heart is so full and I feel so blessed. I not only ran the Boston Marathon but I felt GOOD. If you were to tell me back in January or even the day before the race that the only real pain I would feel in the Boston Marathon was a scorching sun burn on my back..I would have laughed in your face. This does not mean I am free from all labrum issues but this goes to show that my dreams will not be crushed from it.
The emotions during marathon weekend were a snapshot of the emotions throughout this entire training cycle. A nonstop rotation between moments of extreme excitement and moments of fear. Up until race day, my hip was tight and tender and there were moments my knee ached. I’ve done enough marathons to know that taper pains are a real thing and they are SO mental but I still can’t seem to use this knowledge to keep me sane and panic-free.
My mom and I drove into Boston Saturday morning to pick up our bibs and do all the expo things…aka…spend lots of money and rationalize the purchases by saying IT’S THE BOSTON MARATHON. We met up with Bethany and I was finally able to meet the lovely Sarah (@lesky27). I can see why Bethany and her became instant running buddies and great friends, she is so sweet and upbeat. Just one of those people that can lift your spirits without even trying! After a lovely day in Boston, we headed home only to be hit with a friendly reminder that marathon hydration and traffic are the WORST combination.
Easter Sunday was pretty low key. Shakeout run, foam rolled, stretched, laid in the 80 degree weather for just enough time to bronze my skin so it wouldn’t blind all the spectators 😉 We had a nice pasta dinner at my parent’s house and then relaxed for the remaining of the night.
Just like last year, there is a local bus that departs at 6am and shuttles all the local runners to Hopkinton and then picks us up in Boston. It was already in the 60s when heading to the bus at 530am so I knew we were in for a hot day. I wouldn’t say I love running in the heat but I am a warm weather person and would MUCH rather heat over cold and rain so the temps didn’t concern me much. My mind was fixated on that super tight hip that kept messing with my confidence. When I reached Hopkinton, I wandered around the athletes village soaking everything in and eventually found Bethany, Katie and Sarah who helped ease my nerves. Our squad grew when we ran into a few other Instagram friends!
I will recap the race by sections but to be honest, this race was so consistent. When I think back, I just see myself chipping away at the miles. Not pushing, not holding back, but just relaxed, consistent…and burning the entire time.
Miles 1-9: Truly unforgettable because Katie, Sarah, Bethany, Kristen (@mamabear_runs_marathons) and I ran in a pack. The power of a running pack or even with a running buddy during a marathon is indescribable. Looking in front and to the sides and seeing 4 strong women, all whom arrived in Boston with different training, setbacks and goals but running strong and consistent is an amazing feeling. It makes you want to fight for them and not for yourself. Running is an individual sport but if you let it become a team sport, it can be so inspiring and a fun experience. I didn’t anticipate our squad of 5 to stay together for the entire race but I knew I was going to do everything I physically could to keep cruising with them.
Mile 10-13: Bethany, Sarah and Katie may have a different take on what happened at this point (haha sorry!) but I will tell my viewpoint. One of my best friend’s sister said she would be cheering close to Natick center which is around mile 10 so apparently after a water stop I started getting excited to see a familiar face in the crowd and sped up because when I turned around, I could only see Kristen. So here I am on the course, trying to look side to side to spot my friend but then whipping around to find the other girls all while trying to actually run a decent pace and breathe. I tried to slow a bit but didn’t want to slow too much because this was the time to clock some decent miles before the hills hit and the pace would DEFINITELY slow.
Mile 14 – I WAS THE HAPPIEST PERSON WHEN I FELT BETHANY AND SARAH ON MY LEFT SHOULDER!!!! Yes!! This was all I wanted. I didn’t want to pull a last year Boston when I took off on them and that same guilt was starting to surface so seeing them put me at ease……and then Bethany had to tie her shoe!! haha. Those dang Adidas Boost shoelaces.
Mile 15-18 – I lost Bethany and Sarah and was hoping mile 14 would repeat itself and they would come up behind me and we would run step for step for the rest of the race but that never happened. womp womp. I was really starting to burn up and the sun was beaming down on me. Every water stop consisted of gatorade, water for drinking and water for my face. I had friends that were supposed to be at mile 18 so that was all I could focus on. I just needed to get to mile 18 and then I would get that surge of energy that comes when you see a familiar face in the crowds. Mile 18 finally came and I searched high and low for my friends.
Mile 19 – Hmmmm…maybe they had their mile markers mistaken and were at mile 19. Still no friends but miles move quickly when you are on the search for people in the crowds so that was a bonus.
Mile 20-22 – Oh Heartbreak Hill. You are bittersweet. You are hard but when you are over, you provide an overwhelming sense of relief and energy.
Mile 22-25 – Seriously questioning whether I am on fire at this point. The sun on my back was painfully strong. Of course I would rather a sunburn over cramped legs but darn this was going to be one nasty burn. I was beginning to fade from sheer heat exhaustion. I had to remind myself that at this point last year, I felt equally as exhausted, if not worse. This is not unfamiliar territory and it will pass. These are the moments of grit and the moments that you often can’t remember when the race is over because you were just so tired. I didn’t want to not remember these final miles. I kept reminding myself to stay alert and try to embrace everything. Don’t wish for it to be over because as soon as it is, I know I am going to wish I could relive these moments despite how painful they are.
Mile 25 – 26.2 – Just like the sign that someone was holding early on in the race..’Just keep running, just keep running’ . And then it happened….HEREFORD. I was spacing off and didn’t expect it so it was a VERY NICE surprise to say the least. This point last year was a total blur and I regret that so much. The fact that I couldn’t remember the best part of the race killed me so this time around, I promised myself to take it all in. Yes, Boylston is LONG. You see the finish and you can’t help but be like “ugh, that’s far..” but I tried my hardest to look left, look right, look up and just take it all in. To my surprise, my legs had that last bit of juice left to kick it in and finish with the biggest smile and hands in the air..exactly the way I wanted to finish.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I
ran hobbled into some Intagram friends, and then spotted Sarah and Bethany! We didn’t finish as a squad but we held strong for a while and I was just so happy to be able to re-connect…almost as if we were together the whole time. In the process of trying to locate my Dad, Sarah casually got ENGAGED!!!! I met Sarah 48 hours prior and here I am hugging her mom and screaming.
I couldn’t celebrate for too long because I had to get back to the finish line to cheer on my Mom. My dad had her splits and she was on track to finish well below what she thought she would (as always!!)
We weren’t able to catch her before the finish line but we spotted her in the finishers shoot. At this point I completely embarrassed myself by jumping on the railings and screaming “MOM”….because no one other than my mom goes by Mom, right?? We finally caught her attention meanwhile those around me are deaf…and celebrated the race with a nice long walk to bus to grab our stuff and then to my dad’s car. Nothing like a far walk to the car only to realize that we went wrong way at some point because we were standing above the car with no way to get down but retrace our steps and take a different route. Imagine having to tell 2 females who just ran a marathon that we have to turn around.. my poor dad.. but he is the best person ever and you can’t really stay mad at him for long.
We finally made it the car and I had the ride home to reflect on everything…and eat the biggest salad in an attempt to tame my stomach from all the Gatorade and GUs.
I was so relieved and just so happy. Relieved that the race I have been stressing about for months was over and a success. Happy because I fought hard and finished equally as strong as those who had great training cycles. I say that not in a bragging manner but to prove that we all have obstacles and setbacks and although they feel debilitating at the time and make you constantly question your ability to perform – come race day, it is anyone’s race. I am not going to lie, this race was in my favor seeing as I spent January doing hot yoga instead of running and in the end the ability to perform in the heat was the ultimate task. The point I am trying to make is that a setback or even multiple setbacks don’t always dictate the result of the race. There are so many factors involved. Your weakness on race day may be someone else’s strength and your strength may be someone else’s weakness. Take the cards your dealt, swallow your pride and run with your heart. Sometimes that is the best racing strategy.
Boston, you were exhilarating as always. I am beyond grateful I got to run your streets again, finish strong and healthy enough to make my way to the start line of Big Sur!