I had two options for the start of my Marathon Monday – get on the VIP bus which would entail getting to the VIP area before 6am or jump on the standard buses with the other runner around 9.30. I am so glad I opted for the regular runners bus (it’s about a 50 min drive from Boston Common to Hopkinton) – not only did I get 2 extra hours sleep, and Pret porridge but I met the loveliest girl, Addie, who I sat with on the bus and hung out with until we got into our corrals. I really helped ease my nerves having someone to chat with, and hang out with in the line for the porta-loos.
On that note – I cannot believe how clean and well stocked all the porta-loos were, or how short the queues were. The London Marathon could learn a thing or two about Boston!
My wave wasn’t until 11.15am and the temperature was already rising – 22*C. I had factor 50 all over, was using an instant ice pack to cool down and made the decision to keep my hat on during the race – something I’m also glad about. For those asking about my outfit – I wore Adidas Ultra Boost trainers, 2XU compression socks, Lululemon Sole Training shorts, Adidas tank and Triumph Triaction Extreme Light bra.
You’re only allowed to bring a really small zip lock bag to the Athlete’s Village – it was quite annoying having to carry it.
About 4 minutes, after the wave 4 gun went off, corral 5 crossed the start line. It isn’t the big fan fair that London and New York have so I actually missed the moment we started, and didn’t start my watch in time.
As I was starting in the last wave, corral 5 of 8, with all the charity runners, I was told that the first few miles might be a little slow due to the combination of paces and number of runners. I ended up running along the side of the road to avoid the chaos – mile 1 8.28.
My coach Mary wanted me to take the first few miles easy, especially given the heat. It was supposed to be all downhill (although there were more uphills than I was expecting!) Mile 2- 8.28, Mile 3- 8.22
By this point I was already 0.2 off in terms of mileage and I realised I had to stick to the straight line. I was also taking Mary’s advice to grab two cups of water at each of the aid stations; one to drink (I hate cups) and one to pour over my head. I proceeded to do that at all of the stations along the route, including throwing some of those cups directly into my face. Having trained throughout winter I was not prepared to be running in 23 degree heat and in direct sunshine for 99% of the race.
We were running through really cute towns along the way with people out spectating in their gardens – the atmosphere was amazing! I can see why people love running the Boston Marathon.
At this stage in a marathon it should be ‘clouds’ (Mary’s words, not mine), and it wasn’t clouds. The heat was already sucking my energy, so I started fueling early. I hadn’t been able to find Huma in Boston (seriously, I tried 5 shops & the expo!) and had opted for my old fave Salted Caramel Gu).
Miles 4- 7; 8.11, 8.39, 8.22, 8.30
It turned from downhill and mostly flattened out by this point, but again it wasn’t as flat (or for that matter as downhill) as I was expecting, even having watched the course video at the expo. I knew I needed to adjust further to get through the next 18 or so miles. Honestly they passed in a bit of a blur of water stations and heat. My face is bright red in all my photos!
Miles 8 – 13; 8.35, 8.34, 845, 8,51, 8.36
and then I realised I needed to pee. With the timings so tight for a PB, I made a decision…
I peed my pants/shorts.
I’m not proud of it, well actually I am. I managed to keep an 8.45 pace while peeing – then grabbed two cups of water to throw over myself. I know it’s gross but given my finishing time and how close to the wire it was, I don’t regret it.
13.1 in 1.53.12 (only slightly behind my goal pace)
The Wellesley college girls were exactly the boost I needed – they famously hold up signs saying ‘Kiss me…’
My next goal was to spot Zoe who apparently was somewhere between miles 15-17, and that definitely kept me trying to stay on pace. It was so nice to have someone to look for in the crowds, especially as things were getting hillier (and slower).
I then put my head down, headphones in and tried to focus on my form. Heading into Newton, I knew the hills were coming and that my pace was going to reflect the inclines. They were tough (and it felt like there were far more than the major 3 you can see on the course profile), and I wanted to walk so badly – I actually just wanted to start walking and never start running again. However, I just focused on running up those hills, no matter how slow I was moving. My quads were already trashed.
Miles 14-21 8.57, 9.03, 8.32, 9.37,9.41, 9.14, 9.48, 10.32 (Heartbreak Hill). I knew/thought the hills would be over after Heartbreak. It was so steep, and long and mean to put it around mile 21. I also started to walk through the water stations to take in as much water as possible without spilling half of the cup.
‘It’s all downhill to Boston’
Not true. There are two smallish hills – an overpass and an underpass to contend with before you reach the finish. They felt like mountains and it was all I could do to keep my pace under 10 min miles. I kept to the centre of the roads and just tried to keep trucking along. I knew that my PB goal was long gone and that it was going to be really tight to run under 4 hours. I had to keep pressing forwards.
Miles 22-26 – 9.39, 10.06, 9.31, 9.57, 9.40
Turning right on Hereford, then left on Boylston, I knew the iconic finish line was near and that Zoe was in the stands. And that I didn’t have long to make it that 800m. So I gave it everything I had left, ignoring the pain in my legs.
Final stretch – 7.26 pace. I wanted to finish strong and to make sure I earned that sub 4 as it was pretty much the only thing that kept me trucking forward. I didn’t want a repeat of Chicago a few years ago.
I couldn’t decide whether to cry with happiness. with pride for pushing myself to a sub 4 finish, or with disappointment because I missed my PB goal. Ultimately, I’m really proud of myself for pushing, listening to my body and racing sensibly.
After finishing I felt OK for a little while, then started to feel really sick and like I needed to use the loo very, very badly. (TMI but I only just made it into a porta-loo). I then went to meet Zoe at Shake Shack for fries and a Diet Coke – and had to text her to hurry up as I was nauseous and needed the loo again. And again on the way back to the hotel. My stomach is very very unhappy – thank goodness I took some Imodium before the race otherwise who knows whether I would have met my ‘don’t shit yourself goal’ during the Boston marathon!
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