Sunday morning we went to the expo to pick up my number and wander around the booths a bit. It was a packed house, so I grabbed my number and jetted (CKH, you should have seen all of the "jackets!").
The finish line was right down the street from the expo, so we wandered down and imagined Kara and me neck and neck in a sprint to the finish.
This area looked a tad different the next day after 26.2 miles
Sunday was the longest day in history, we wandered around Harvard, spent some time in bookstores (because that's what they do at Harvard) and then when the clock hit 5pm, we grabbed an early dinner and headed back to the hotel. Since I didn't do any pre planning for this trip, all of the Italian restaurants we called for reservations were all booked. So, we went with the next best thing...Wagamama, an Asian noodle house. I figured that noodles are noodles regardless of ethnicity. After dinner I got my bag situated for the race and headed to bed.
The next morning I had to catch the marathon bus to the starting line around 6:30am. After standing in line for 45 min, I finally got on the bus for the hour and 15 min. ride to Hopkinton. The athlete village near the starting line was teeming with nervous runners. It was so windy and cold that I stole a trash bag from a garbage can and laid inside of it for about an hour, just passing the time until my 10:20 start. When our wave was finally called to start lining up, I ditched my garbage bag, throwaway clothes (minus gloves and arm warmers) and lined up with everyone else.
I hadn't done a lot of research about the course, other than checking out the map in the guidebook we got in our expo bags (notice a theme of unpreparedness here?), so I knew enough to know that the first 4-5 miles were primarily downhill.
I kept telling myself to start slowly and not get caught up with the people blowing by me on the downhills. I was going to be smart enough to save my quads for the hills later in the race. Haha, I was so smart the day before, but didn't follow any of it on race day. I started pretty fast out of the gate, first mile 7:32, second mile 7:40, third 7:37...eeek...this is gonna hurt later! I tried to reign myself in, and did for a few miles, but by mile 8 my quads were getting really tight. Luckily, right past mile 8 I saw Doug and Jenny (did I mention she took the day off work to cheer me on? And she made t-shirts for she and the Doug man?! Rockstar friend!!) so I pretended everything was going great while I tossed them my gloves and arm warmers.
Me on the right, fishing for my gloves and arm warmers stuffed down my shorts. Check out the sea of people behind!
After I saw those guys I tried slowing down to see if I would feel better, but my quads still hurt, so I tried speeding up and my quads hurt doing that too. I figured that if they were going to hurt either way, I might as well push it and just try to finish sooner. It's weird because this is the second marathon in a row that I've hit the wall really early on, like mile 10-12. In my head I'm saying, how on earth are you going to go another 13 miles if you feel like this already. At that point, I made a conscious effort to shut off my mind, enjoy my surroundings, pump the music up and eat and drink as much as possible for the next half of the race. I thought there might be a possibility that my quads would blow up on me and start cramping, but I decided to push it until that happened. After this point, I had a lot of fun! The crowds were awesome, the girls of Wellesley were as crazy as I had heard and there were kegs lining the course for much of the way. The course was pretty tough, it seemed that we were always going up or downhill.
I saw Doug and Jenny again around mile 16 and by that time I was in great spirits. This was a pretty good hill that we crested right here, in fact, I thought it was a lot tougher than the famed Heartbreak Hill.
The miles from 16-20 ticked by really quickly. I was high-fiving kids on the side, chatting with the runners around me and taking in the sights. One thing I did know about this race was that Heartbreak Hill was at mile 20.5 and was supposed to be killer. When we came to Heartbreak, I didn't even realize we were on "the hill" until at the top of it, there was a banner that said something like "You conquered the Heartbreak." I guess after all of the hills before this one, it just didn't feel that bad. What did feel bad was the mile or so of downhill that followed it. On tired, cramping quads, downhill is not exactly easy or fun.
Around mile 24 I started looking at my watch quite frequently. I was getting to the tired point, but knew that I was running really well and would most definitely break my 3:39 time from NYC. I actually thought it might be possible to break 3:30, so I started pushing the pace pretty hard telling myself that I could do anything hard for 15 min. My 24th mile was a 7:30 and my 25th mile was a 7:24 and 26th was a 6:30 (which I've never come close to running before, let alone at the end of a race)! I gave it all I had for the last push to the finish line and ended up clocking in at 3:31:50! I had an 8 minute PR!! I was obviously pooped, but felt better than I had at the end of any race.
After the race, I got my blanket, my medal and my bag and went to find Jenny and Doug, my awesome cheerleaders. Check out those fancy t-shirts!
What a fun day! I remember a few times in my diving career when there would be a day when I didn't miss a dive, I was just in "the zone." That's exactly how this race felt. As nervous as I was that my body would let me down, it didn't, it got stronger when I needed it to. Now if I could figure out a way to bottle up this feeling and sell it, I would.
Thanks to all of you for your good luck wishes before and congratulations after...it really carried me through:)