I did it! My first Boston Marathon is in the books.
We lucked out on the weather. It was cool and cloudy with an increasing headwind the closer we got to Boston but no rain. Other than the wind it was perfect running weather. We spent the time before the race at a house right near the start in Hopkinton so we were warm and had a bathroom all to ourselves. A definite perk.
I was in the second-to-last corral so when I lined up I not only couldn't see the start but I had no idea where it was. We were looking up hill along Route 135 at the thousands of people in front of us. The announcer finally declared the start of the heat and the crowd began to move forward. Slowly. All told it took 11 minutes just to get to the start line. We inched our way forward, up the hill until all of a sudden, we were off!
I quickly settled into a rhythm and was able to hit my pace even though I had thousands of people to get past and spent a significant amount of time on the sidewalks and roadside. The first few miles I just concentrated on pacing myself and taking it all in. All I could think of was that I was finally doing it, make sure to enjoy!
The first ten miles went great, right on pace. Unfortunately I totally forgot about all of the GNRC members and family that were volunteering at mile 8 and I blew by and didn't notice them until after I had grabbed a cup of Gatorade and caught a glimpse of a club jacket. Mile 10 at Natick center I found the family and made a quick stop to give the kids a hug. So far the race was going great.
Just after Natick I came across a couple of barefoot runners. Crazy.
Around the 20K mark came Wellesley College. I could hear the screams long before I could even see the girls. What a great stretch of road that was. I would have no problem doing a little loop and getting to run through them again. Hundreds of young co-eds screaming, high-fiving, and begging the runners for kisses. To be a young single man again, ah. That stretch made it all worthwhile.
Half way mark and I was close to pace for a 3:30:00, just slightly behind. Everything was still great, a little pain in the right calf muscle but otherwise on target.
Then came the hills. That put a dent in my pace but nothing too serious. Hills aren't too bad, you just have to power through them and expect to lose a little time. By the time Heartbreak Hill loomed in front of me I was starting to feel drained. The infamous hills had taken a toll on my energy levels.
At some point I just happened to be on the right side of the road as I ran by Claudia. All of a sudden she was running beside me for a bit and then just as fast I was off on my own again. Weird how those things work.
After Boston College the real race began. It was all downhill, 5 miles and a nearly 250 foot elevation change. The media may talk on and on about Heartbreak Hill but the runners always talk about the downhills. And now I know why. They really chewed up my legs and left me hurting. I have never had an issue with my quads, that is until I entered Cleveland Circle. By this point the legs were all but done; my calves were screaming and my quads were threatening to seize up at any moment. Turning onto Beacon street the race really began.
At this point all I could do was try to hang on to a decent pace and hope that my legs didn't seize. Around mile 23 the right one did. Luckily it was a mild cramp and I only had to stop for a few seconds. From there to the end it was touch and go whether it would happen again. My pace had slackened about 30 seconds from where I had hoped but I just didn't care.
It was almost an entirely mental race at this point. Every muscle in my body was screaming at me to stop and walk. It would be so much nicer if I just walk for awhile. Go on, just rest for awhile.
All I could do was plant one foot in front of the other. Just one more step. Then another. And another.
Kenmore Square and the screaming masses was suddenly all around me. Last I'd heard the Sox were up 12-1. Keep running. One mile to go read the sign painted on the road. One mile, eight and a half minutes. Keep running.
I headed into the underpass under Mass Ave. Suddenly my vision dimmed, I felt faint. WTF? That's never happened before. And then it was gone, back to focusing on running. Right on Hereford. There's Boylston, almost there.
Finally, the last turn onto Boylston. There's the finish, way, way, way down there. Keep running. Thousands of fans lining the street cheering us on but I could barely hear them. All of my focus was on finishing, and not seizing up my legs and looking like an idiot in front of the world.
Then I crossed the finish line. The painted blue and yellow finish line that I had seen and crossed over countless times before. But this time was so different. I was an official runner, one of a select few given the honor of crossing that line on that day. I had made it. The training, the anxiety, the pain; it was all worth it. My watch read 3:35:03, a new PR by over 5 minutes.
Slowly I walked away from the finish, glowing in my performance and what I had just done. As I made my way along it then hit me, OW! My legs freakin hurt! Ow, ow, ow. I limped to the chip removal area where a helpful young lady untied my shoe, removed my chip, retied my shoe, and placed a medal over my neck saving me the sure embarrassment of bending over and finding that I couldn't get back up. God bless her.
I hobbled over to the family meeting area wrapped in my mylar blanket clutching my food and water (why did they skimp on this part? a bottle of water, a bagel, and some chips? seriously? no Gatorade? no other food? c'mon now) I stood at the family meeting area with legs becoming increasingly sore and slowly freezing in the (I swear) sub-zero temperatures I was finally rescued by my knight-in-shining-armor, Tim, and his big yellow jacket. It could have been a pink frilly smock as far as I was concerned.
The race was done. I had a medal. I am an official Boston Marathon finisher.
And at that moment all I could think of was "I hope the legs heal quick so I can start training for Mt. Washington." Running is a disease with a 76,000 step program as its only cure. (average steps for a marathon)
Now, the important numbers.
Time of start: 10:41 AM
Time of finish: 2:16 PM
Number of marathons completed: 2
Hours gone without having to pee: 9
Calories burned: 3393
Gu packets consumed: 6
Days until the 114th Boston Marathon: 364