The Boston Marathon 2016 – Race Recap: Part 3 – The Race

We walked and we walked and we walked all the way to the start line. As we did, we passed the entrance that I used two years ago. Hence, there was no walking then. But it was really OK. It didn’t bother me at all. I just took it all in and it gave me some time to get collected. I took the time to thank any volunteer within ear shot. Honestly, none of these races could happen without them.

I also couldn’t help but notice what the other runners were wearing. I saw a lot of black and I saw a lot of long sleeves and tights, and I couldn’t fathom how they were going to run a marathon in them. I mean, it was warm. I was even starting to sweat it a little. I hoped I had made the right clothing decision and that I put on enough Vaseline. My first mission on the course would be to find the Vaseline ladies.

Just then, we were halted and the announcer said we were 30 seconds out from the gun. I started my Runmeter app, and tucked my phone into it’s home for the next 26.2 miles. I donned my earphones, although I had nothing playing except Runmeter. And, I set Runmeter to update me every mile rather than every half mile. For some reason, I decided this would make the run go quicker. I also added my heart rate. This way, I would get the current time, my pace, the distance I ran, how long I’ve been running, and my heart rate spoken in my ear every mile…plus all the great Facebook wall posts from my friends and family.

Off went the gun. Oh my goodness…we’re off and running!

The familiarity of it all freaked me out a little. Even the weather was similar to 2014. I immediately began to think of ways I could make the 26 miles not seem like 26 miles. I knew I would look for my VRF David at the 10K mark. This gave me something to look forward to. Then I thought, once I see David, I’ll just need 3 more of what I just ran before I was approaching the finish line. No problem…

I remembered the article I read online by Dick Beardsley regarding the Boston Marathon and how important it is not to burn out your quads on the downhills at the start. “Keep your pace!” he said.

So, I kept my pace.

Downhill we went.

When I ran Boston two years ago, I did a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ to the crowds. I think that may have worn me out quite a bit. I didn’t want to cheat the crowds, however, so I continued with my arm waving self, and thanked those who called out my name. Yeah, I had my name visible on my bib and let me tell you…it made ALL the difference. Hearing my name called always gave me the most amazing surge of energy. And it made me smile! I was just having a blast.

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Somewhere in the first few miles, there were all these business men dressed in shirts and ties. They were lined up like the girls at Wellesley. I have to figure out who they were. But I high fived all of them! It had to have been pretty uncomfortable standing out there cheering us on with those warm temperatures.

Then a very handsome Asian man approached me to tell me “You very strong woman. You finish well. I know it!” Ha ha! Made my day!

As the 10K mark approached, I noticed that I felt pretty dang good. My leg was holding up, and I was doing all nasal breathing…BUT…my heart rate was elevated. I didn’t like that, so I tried to turn it down a notch. It had to have been the warmth. It was rather warm early on the course. I’d have to pay attention to it as we went along.

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I decided I’d better stay hydrated as well. Although I had brought my own fluids, neither bottle had just water, so at every other water station, I grabbed a plain old H2O. I would slow to a walk to get the cup and swoosh and spit the first mouthful, and then sip the next. I also sipped my own concoction in between water stops.

Just as we came up a short hill, I spotted my friend David on the left hand side. I’m not sure that he recognized me at first, or else I spotted him before he spotted me. But I had to go over there and hug him. Here is a guy battling cancer, fighting for his life, and running his heart out. He is an inspiration, a warrior, a hero, and a pretty damn nice guy. I didn’t want to let him go. He told me “I don’t want to ruin your time…get going!” I thanked him…wished him well…and ran off. It was the best marathon hug ever. And it rejuvenated me.

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I settled in nicely after that. And I was due for a fueling. It was near mile 8 and I decided the next water stop, I’d take my first hour dose. I had to stop and put my cup down so I could get my pill box out. I took my time, and was sure to swallow well, and get a good swig of water before continuing on.

Fueling One complete. Nearly a third of the way though. Feeling good. Warm, but good. I remembered this part of the route from last time. I kind of played the road from left to right, not being able to decide which to focus on.

Soon after, the first of the Vaseline ladies were on the course. But I ran right passed them. There was a line…to get Vaseline. Ugh…I just kept on. But I did catch a guy handing out wet paper towels. And I happily grabbed one of those. I wiped down my face, and the back of my neck. Then I crumpled it up and held on to it right down to the end. In fact, you can even see it in the race photos. Any chance I had, for the rest of the race, I re-wet it using a cup of water from a water stop.  It became my best friend.

Before I knew it, we could hear the Wellesley College girls. It was unmistakable, like a roar a mile away building ever so quickly. I don’t remember this roar the first time I ran…maybe the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. But you couldn’t miss it this time. I had to say it out loud the the girl running next to me. “Oh my God…can you hear them?” “Oh, yeah!” she answered.

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And here we were…in Wellesley. “Halfway achieved,” my Runmeter announced to me.

I have to admit, I stopped and kissed two girls…on the cheek. When in Rome, right?

Next up, Dee. My old and dear Scrap Girls friend Dee said she’d be here after mile 22. I had something else to look forward too. Like I said, this makes the time fly.

But before I even came close, I saw a Selden Hills tank! OMG, Selden Hills, New York is where my sister runs occasionally. The 10k course is more than killer. It is unlike anything I ever ran. The Selden Hills Warriors are an awesome bunch, and they are like my running friends from far away.

seldenhills

As I passed I yelled “Hey, Selden Hills! I’m Theresa from Minnesota!” He yelled back, “Hey THERESA! I have your CHARMS ON!” OMG, then I knew it was Christopher who had just placed an order before I left for Boston. It was WAY cool to see him! “Go on, keep running!” he said. And so I did.

Soon it was the 16 mile mark, and time for me to refuel. I did so at the next water stop. I removed the caffeine pill. I decided my heart rate was high enough, and my energy wasn’t lacking yet. I could save it for the last hour if I needed it.

I stopped and took the pills, and a big swig of water and my hydration, too. Then I got a second cup and re-wet my paper towel.

heartbreak-hill

Off again…Time to tackle Heartbreak Hill.

But like 2014, I think it is the hill BEFORE Heartbreak that is the heartbreak. Boy, I slowed my pace down, rather unintentionally. But I went with it. If my body said “Slow down,” I slowed it down. I was taking no chances. I took the opportunity to turn my head to the ground and give my neck a break. I had my head held high for much of the race, waving and high fiving the crowd, and saying “Thank you!” to those who yelled out my name. And there was a lot of that!

I wish I could remember when my VRF Lisa yelled to me from behind. It was somewhere around here. We did a running hug and exchanged some dialog, mainly about how we were feeling. I told her I felt like if I could just hold on to what I had right there, I’d be fine. She basically said the same. I wished her luck, and continued on. I didn’t run into her again, but Lisa is a beast. I’m sure she finished strong!

heartbreak over

Heartbreak hill. Yeah. A little easier than the previous hill, but again, I took the opportunity to rest my neck. Once I spotted the crest from the top of my gaze, I lifted it up and got back to work, waving to, and thanking the crowd. I knew now that Dee wasn’t far off. And suddenly I couldn’t remember which side of the road she said she’d be on.

The crowds were thick here, and it was nearly impossible for me to pick out any one person. Miles 20, 21, and 22 passed and I began to fear I had missed Dee entirely. I know I was still smiling, because I could hear them in the crowd. “Look at her! She is still smiling! Go, Theresa!”

Just as I thought about taking my 3rd hour set of fuels, I spotted her…right hand side…in a rather uncrowded area. Thankfully, I was able to cross the street and give her that hug! It was SO great to see another familiar face. And I almost cried! But I don’t think I had any tears in me. Instead, it was another PUSH forward, and I felt like I had this in the bag. And I had a feeling that I was going to hit my time goal.

Of course, at this point in the race, many participants start dropping like flies. The best thing about being fat adapted is you always have your wits about you. Cardiovascularly, I felt amazing. My mind was right on track with what I was ready to accomplish. My legs? Another story. My new mindset from here on out was “Just one more lap around Cleary Lake.”

Cleary Lake is a park where I run here in Minnesota. It is 3.4 miles around the lake. When I do my long training runs, I do them there because I always have access to my car and a restroom with every loop. So, I thought of Cleary Lake. “Oh my God, I got this! Just one more loop around Cleary Lake.”

I fueled at that next water stop after I hugged Dee. Again, I stopped and got those pills down…finished off one bottle of my hydration and started the second. This would be the final stop I’d make. And I was still on schedule.

Soon, it was mile 24…and the crowds! Oh, I was getting so close. I was still waving and high fiving anytime I picked up speed going down hill. There are lots of little ups and downs at this point and I milked it with everything I had.

Where was the tunnel? Somewhere I missed the tunnel? Or maybe I didn’t get to it yet. I had to think it was the latter, because my brain was so alive. I could hear and see everything and everybody! They were still calling out my name, and every time I raised my hands, the crowd cheered and yelled! It was amazing…just like 2014. I sucked it all in and it gave me goosebumps and the adrenaline I needed to finish strong.

The bridge. Where was the damn bridge? This was the most brutal part of the final stretch. I remembered it like it was yesterday. Grandma’s Marathon has a similar one in Duluth. I just wanted it done.

Aha! Found it. I shortened my stride and shuffled up and over.

I heard them yell “ONE MILE TO GO! You GOT this!”

Fenway…Kenmore Square…almost…almost…

Suddenly, I saw the underpass. We were there in an instant but it was quiet this time…no echoing screams. These people were serious. Me? Not so much. I passed quite a few runners in these last few miles. As they slowed down, I sped up. I really felt amazing. I knew, however, that the moment I stopped, it would be brutal. But I tried not to think about it at this point.

I passed even more runners in this final stretch, just before making that last turn onto Boylston Street. OMG…is that the finish? Why, yes…time to pour it on, Theresa!

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I tucked the paper towel into my bra, put my hands in the air, and went for it! Seriously, it was amazing! There was the finish, blazing in the sunshine. I could see where they wanted corral 2 to finish to my left and corral 3 to finish to my right. This time, I went the right way. The clock said 3:45. I could see that. Even that number made me happy. I was home!

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And this photo JUST appeared on Instagram. It is the only one I can find of me crossing the finish line…

I wanted to get down and kiss the finish line, like I’ve seen so many others do. But I was afraid I’d get run over. It was crowded at the finish. And right behind me, they were bringing out the wheelchair and the golf cart. I knew there was an emergency behind me. I didn’t want to get in the way. So, I just went on.

The rest? Well, as they say…went by the book.  I turned off my Garmin and my phone and tucked it back in it’s pocket. I put my earbuds in my bra, too, so I wouldn’t lose them. Then I went through the motions…

BMmedal

Medal…water…photos…blanket…food…and I was still on my feet and walking. It was going to be all right. The procession must have taken 15 minutes in total. Then I remembered my husband. I checked my phone and my text messages. I already had a message from him. “Nice going! I will see you right at the exit gate on Botson,” he meant Boylston. I had to clarify where he was before going on. Somehow, I couldn’t find the photographers with the backdrops. My guess is they were on the side streets. Dang…right now I was moving forward through the bag check area with the other finishers. Some of the volunteers were applauding us. It was sooooooo sweet. I thanked them profusely and kept walking. There was a crowd at the gate at the end of the road. There I heard my husband call me out! He held up his phone and I assumed he was taking some kind of video. Yup, he was.

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We met up and exited the crowd. I was never so happy to see him.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

Go back to Part 2.

 

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