Friday, April 24, 2009

Boston….Because I Can

There were posters all over town stating "Boston...Because I can" and that is so fitting. I did it for the fact that I never thought I'd make it, and for those that may never...Boston. The Mecca. The Super Bowl. The one every runner wants to run. The one that to some is only a dream, and to others a complete surprise (seriously, first marathon 4:48, no CLUE of my potential). No matter what though, if you are involved in running, and particularly in marathoning, you know the significance of Boston. It is THE ONE. But does it live up to the hype? I’d say above and beyond. It was…Boston.


I could write about the whole trip, and maybe I will at another time, but for now, it’s about the race. I managed to get to bed around 9:30/10, I had my alarm set for 5:15, (even with a later start than normal, you have to bus out to the site and busses stop at 7:30 or so and I didn’t want to be rushed) but I was up, dressed, tucking things into my drop bag, debating over wearing Garmin (which I opted to leave behind and just go with my Timex Ironman that I could do my own splits on), and grabbed a little breakfast at the hotel to haul with me by around 5:45…I had woken up twice, but was wide awake before the alarm. I hugged mom and dad goodbye and headed out to catch the train with someone else that lives near the hotel. We took it to the buses and hit the first real experience of the day. Mobs of people all lining up to get on school buses, with their drop bags, running clothes, volunteers in their bright yellow jackets…it was so exciting. The volunteers there were fabulous, friendly, telling you congratulations, directing everyone efficiently onto the buses. Probably 15 minutes wait and we were on the bus taking us out to Hopkinton. It takes about 45 minutes with the traffic and longer route they have to take and by the time we got there it was definitely time for a port-a-potty stop…that took at least 20 minutes, maybe more, and all the lines were LONG. After the bathroom, I saw a couple of friends I was planning to try to get lined up with in our corals but never managed to find (they had gone to a potty line and were heading to corals after that). Decided to relax and sit for a while…then the announcer pointed out the F14s (I think) that were out in the sky, waiting for the other planes to clear out before they did a fly by, something like 100 meters off the ground (at least according to the announcer). This signaled the start for Wave 1, which was at 10. Once the race was off Wave 2 was set to line up. I took a picture of a sign that made me teary eyed, and everything about the day was starting to hit me…I never broke into a full cry, but teared up quite a few times. One more potty stop and got into my coral just before the start gun went off. And next thing I knew we were off…I was running the Boston Marathon.


There is a steep drop coming out of Hopkinton, but honestly it didn’t feel as bad as I had been warned it was, and there are some uphills too, so it’s not just a tearing down of the quads. You run through 8 towns on the way back to Boston and the people lining the downtown areas of each of those towns was incredible, not to mention the people lined up most of the stretches of the road between those towns. I saw Santa around mile 7 (no, I wasn’t hallucinating, see picture) and I saw Elvis around mile 8 or 9 (no, again, wasn’t hallucinating!). I walked through some water stops so as to get gel in me and enough water to wash it down. I did Boston different from other marathons. I went back to gels, which I haven’t used in a while because I really can’t stand them, but I didn’t want to wear race ready shorts and that’s the only way I can carry my beans, shot blocks, etc. I had bought a spibelt so I could carry my camera, and it held my gels, 2 of them at least, and I got a Powergel at mile 17, and a friend was going to be at mile 20 (asked him to have either a gel or Swedish fish)…so between all that I decided it was enough since I wasn’t going for time anyway…

Now the race definitely isn’t easy. Everyone knows that. But honestly, I didn’t think it was THAT hard either. Granted, my time isn’t great, 4:14:20, while not my slowest, was not my fastest either…but I experienced it. I slapped hands. I smiled at people yelling “go Irish” (my shirt was from a 100% Irish race I had done), I hurt a bit…my feet were sore at some points, my glute/hip/pelvis was acting up some…but I continued on…soaking it in. And considering my lack of training (one and only 20 miler was 6 weeks prior to Boston), the time I took taking pictures, talking to my friend, hugging my parents, time actually wasn’t that bad.


Wellesley is what they claim it is. Lots of screaming girls and you can hear it for a long time before you get there. The hills start at just after 15.5 and the first one is killer…I managed to run up each one. And then I saw mile 20. A friend was going to be handing out beer with his hasher group just after mile 20…and ahead of me I could see Heartbreak…and just before that I found my friend. I took a beer. I drank the beer. I had a hug from him. I gave him a kiss on the cheek…I asked him for a piggyback ride…had one more sip and I was off…up and over the top, down and over the second top (yes, Heartbreak peaks, has a downhill and peaks again slightly) and I managed to run the whole thing. And when I came around the curve at the bottom, that starts heading you toward Beacon, I saw a sign, just after mile 21…It said “Sorry feet, time for the brain to take over”…and it did…and I was hurting, and I kind of wanted to walk, but the crowds from this point in are so packed in, and so loud, you just can’t disappoint them. A little bit past 21 you turn onto Beacon and then you see the Citgo sign, and while you can see it for a while, it actually is something to hold on to because that sign marks the 1 mile to go point…so I was pushing for it…and just after mile 24 look who I saw!


For those that can’t quite make them out, it was the Hoyts…I yelled for them. Then there is Citgo…Fenway…and more crowds…and then down an incline, down then up, and there is the turn to Hereford, and I knew I was going to see mom and dad shortly…and you make that right, and you can see one block up, Boylston…and mom and dad were right there, and mom saw me right about the time I saw them…and I headed straight to them, gave them a hug, got a picture and told them “I’m going to get my Unicorn”…and 4-5 blocks later I crossed the finish line and my Boston story was mine. Marathonfoto even caught me running to mom and dad, which I think is cool. I’m definitely heading away from the “normal” crowd and short turn they take.


Even having run Chicago, with more runners, the finish area is just packed. I don’t think anyone wants to leave, for the experience…that and you can’t get your medal till you turn in your chip, and that took some time since they chips were all laced in, who wants to lose their Boston time?


After that I went to the meet up area and waited for mom and dad and we went to have a celebratory drink…they saw my medal, but for some odd reason we never managed to get a picture taken of me with it, or the three of us at the bar having the celebratory drink. But still…A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The race…the people…the excitement…everyone there, everyone enjoying themselves…first or fortieth, I can’t imagine Boston not being a great memory each and every time. I’m qualified through 2010…I might go back…but next year…maybe I’ll be able to train harder, and honestly, I think I can beat it…and maybe even get a PR there…


10 comments:

Runner Leana said...

congratulations Danielle! It sounds like such an amazing experience!!! All of this Boston chatter makes me think I might want to try and qualify one day. Not for awhile though, since I have an Ironman I want to do first!

mg said...

Congratulations! Great report - makes me want to run it!

Annette said...

That is awesome! I am so proud of you! I'm glad you took the time to soak it in and really enjoy it. What a great memory. All that stressing you did - gone! You did it!
Great report - I could feel the emotion behind it. :) Congratulations, woman!

Firefly's Running said...

Congrads! You totally rock!

Nicole said...

I'm so jealous and amazed at you all at the same time. Congrats. You are awesome.

Dori said...

Oh, Danielle! I'm so happy that it was a good experience for you. CONGRATULATIONS! This was a great race report.

Andy said...

That is a great report! Can't blame you for wanting to go back next year.

L said...

That is so fantastic! Who wouldn't want to go back?! Or go at all, for that matter!
Congratulations, again!

Lesley

peter said...

Nice race report Danielle. It described the experience so completely. You'll go back!

Runnergurl44 - a.k.a Bunny said...

Hey Danielle. Dori had forwarded me your link about qualifying for Boston. I loved your story. I am currently trying and will prevail. I found your story very inspirational as well as your other posts. Keep up the great work. Happy trails...