Finally – I made it into the Boston Marathon! I was beyond excited when I received my official race packet. I decided that for this race, I wasn’t going to worry about time. I wanted to really be in the moment and enjoy the race. I planned on high-fiving bystanders and vowed to smile for every picture op.
We decided to drive to Boston and stopped just shy of Boston and did an overnight next to Yale. This impromptu stop was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I especially enjoyed my run Sunday morning around Yale’s campus for an easy 4 miles.
When we got to the race expo in Boston I knew this race was different. EVERYONE looked like a pro runner. Now usually, if you are a Boston bound runner, you will be in the top 5% at a local race. In Boston, my bib number was in the 8,000s. That meant there were 8,000 people who were going to finish well before my 3:30 pace time. This was a serious runner’s only event.
I was worried that I would wear myself out, so we only spent two hours exploring before meeting my dad at a hotel just outside of the city near his office (he had a business trip planned the same week).
That morning, dad and I drove the 15 minute drive back to the city and I had major pre-run jitters. He could only drop me off a mile from the bus pick up so I jogged a good mile warm up to get there. I was literally shaking with nerves as I stood in line for the bus – which was literally an elementary school bus – when a kind group of veteran Boston runners sidled up and told me I was going to be just fine. They paired me up with another newbie and we became fast friends on the 45 minute bus ride 26 miles away from the city in what felt like the middle of nowhere.
TIP: If you are running this race – DON’T drink a whole bottle of water on the bus! You are going to have another hour or so at the race start and there are plenty of bathrooms, but EVERYONE has to go right after the longest bus ride ever and they will take your race bib if you try to go in the woods – yikes!
So my new best friend, who I will call G, was a real runner. Now, I am okay, but I do defy odds a bit with a more gymnastic like build than runner, but G, she was a college level cross country coach without an ounce of fat on her body. She asked if I wanted to run with her and I was like ‘heck yes!’
The hour in the waiting area near the start went by in a blur, then it was time to start. Did I mention these are serious runners? Starting Boston is unlike any race start I have ever experienced. Everyone in your 200 – 300 pace corral has a qualifying time within seconds of yours AND you are running down hill for the first few miles so it is like running with a herd. I don’t really even remember the first 8 miles other than I felt like I was being carried by a force outside of me with this herd like running.
Finally, around mile 10 the herd started to break up a bit. Part of this is that the 2012 race was SO hot that they decided to put water stops at EVERY mile. This created bottle necks when people stopped to get water. I only hydrate every four miles during a race with an ounce or two of water so I just tried to slide through the middle of the bottle necks.
Somehow, the Sweetheart mile, where an all girls school lines up and offers free hugs and kisses came up fast. Dad and Hubby were at this point to cheer me on and I was truly having a blast.
Around mile 19 G started to hit a wall. Like I said, she was a real runner and qualified for Boston AT HER FIRST MARATHON. So, being this was only her second marathon distance it was normal to start shutting down around 20 miles. I promised we would finish together and we cheered each other through mile 20, which is all up hill, and once we rounded mile 21 we were in the city and could taste the end.
Finishing happened fast at about 3:29, and G hiked it over to the medical tent, with a promise that we would connect on Facebook (which we did). I walked the half mile to the waiting section for my last name…and waited….and waited. Where were Dad and Hubby? Don’t they know I am done? They have my phone too so I have no way to contact them.
Thirty minutes later, right before real panic sets in, they find me and we hop onto a train to get to Dad’s car. About 4 miles out, still on the train, we hear a huge POP. Everyone on the train is thinking the sound system blew a speaker.
We get in the car and I get a call from my boss (?). He sounds really concerned and immediately asks if I am ok – I start to rattle on about the race and he says – there was a bomb.
I really couldn’t process – what? We turn on the radio, and hear more about the tragic end to this iconic race. I was literally heartbroken as we went back to our hotel and I recovered from the race. My phone was ringing constantly with concerned friends and family – this is not how I thought this day was going to end.
I am so grateful that my dad and hubby found me, just 10 minutes before they were waiting at the finish line for me. We are very lucky that only our feelings were hurt that day as it could have been far worse. My friend G turned out okay as well.
Despite the tragedy of this day – Boston was by far my favorite race. The crowd is beyond supportive, the atmosphere makes you feel like an Olympic runner, and running a point-to-point race is so much fun.