So, my sister's wedding weekend was fantastic – time with family, good food, great friends, and lots of fun! Kelsey and Trey graciously let me mess up the order of the wedding toasts so that I could make my flight. Thanks to Cari for chauferring Andrew and I to the airport in record time!
The flight was right on time, the airport shuttle was quick, and we got to the hotel a bit after midnight (i.e. less than 10 hours before the run!). Thanks to Donna, Ed, and Matt for picking up my race packet for me at the Expo on Saturday and bringing it to the hotel. I got all my things together and squeezed in some five hours of shut-eye before suiting up for the run!
"Morning" came quickly (if you can call it morning when it's pitch black and slightly frigid …) and I got dressed quickly and caught the hotel shuttle bus to the subway (or metro? I never know what different cities call their commuter rail). I know you love this pic … bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to run!
The trip to the bus pickup location in Boston Common was relatively smooth, and the mood was electric. I've heard that "everyone has a story" about how they got to Boston, and this was demonstrated to me throught chats with various other runners. Some people had run x number of Boston's in a row, some had traveled from other countries, some had, like me, only arrived the night before. Before I knew it, I was out of the train and in line waiting for a bus to take me to Hopkinton.
The weather was fairly good in my opinion (and excellent in the opionon of Bostoners (Bostonians? Bostonites?) who are familiar with April weather in Boston), and so the wait for the bus was rather pleasant. However, I successfully selected the longest, slowest moving line in the tens of available lines.
Basically, the entire street lined with school buses. Each bus parking space had a few volunteers herding the runners onto a bus. After the entire street full of buses was filled, they would all pull away, and an entire new batch would come rolling up. Each parking space had a line (well, more like a hoarde) of runners waiting to board, and I didn't notice the fact that there was a hoarde cutting in front of me for about 30 minutes. When I finally realized this, it was almost 7:30 and the crowd had thinned a lot. I moved to a shorter line and eventually boarded a bus…
The bus ride to Hopkinton took almost an hour, and even when we arrived we had to wait in line to get off the bus! Finally we arrived and I got into "Athletes' Village" at about 8:45. I fueled up on a PowerBar, a bagel, a banana, some water, and some Gatorade…then "de-tanked" in a PortaPotty. One of the more impressive things about the "village" was the PORTAPOTTIES! There were so many, and yet, not enough! If I were to wager a guess, I would say there were 100 in the immediate area, which I guess is a drop in the bucket for 26,000 runners (or maybe you could say the runners put a few drops in those buckets….).
At about 9:45, the announcer called the second wave of runners to start preparing. A mad mass of people started rushing towards the school buses, which had been moved an reconfigured to accept the runners' bags of clothing and other articles to drive bck to the start line. After that chaos, I followed the human sea on a ~0.75 mile jaunt to the starting line, which was strategically situated by a parking lot full of, you guessed it, more PortaPotties! One last chamber evacuation later I made my way to the starting corral, where incidentally ther was a woman evacuating her chambers. Right. On. The. Road. I'm serious. I am not a prude nor do I often find myslef repulsed by bodily functions, but this was an extreme case. The road was divided by a cord with runners on the left and spectators/volunteers on the right. I was caught up in the excitement and hardly noticed when I walked by a woman squatting below the cord. Unsure what exactly she was doing, I stared and notice a trail of…something…running downhill. Yes, she was squatting in the middle of the road peeing. PortaPotties less than a quarter mile away. Yep.
In any case, the race commenced for the second wave of runners at 10:20 (including me, #16307), and I crossed the starting line at about 10:35. The first few miles flew by thanks to the vast number of spectators cheering on the even vast-er number of runners. The weather was fairly clear with the temperature around 50 and rising, which made it perfectly pleasant for friends, family, and fans to line the entire course and cheer their hearts out. Along the run, parents held their children who held their hands out – to be high-fived or to hand out oranges, candy, popsicles, water, pretzels, gum, etc. Every mile brought a Red Cross tent, water, Gatorade, and yes, more PortaPotties.
I went into the run with a goal of 10 minutes per mile for the whole race, which would put me at the finish line in about 20% more time than when I ran the 2010 Disney Marathon. This incorporated my run-walk approach (about 5 minutes running followed by a minute walking). I was right on target at the half marathon point, when all of a sudden it hit me – one week of restaurant food. I proceeded to grace miles 13, 17, and 22 with the, ahem, fruits of my labor. This definitely added at least 6 minutes to my time…or maybe it should have improed my time with all the dropped weight. Eww. ANYway.
The miles actually seemed to go by pretty quickly even with the slow plod I maintained. The spectators, I can't say enough, were awesome. College students were in abundance as we passed the several universites along the course. Bikers, military members, emergency personnel, police officers, and retirement home residents were all among the crowd. The girls of Wellesley were out en force, encouraging runners to "Kiss me, I'm _____" along with proclamations of "Ladies only, please" (I was to tired to partake in either proposition =D).
Heartbreak hill was definitely not easy, and I can't imagine if I had actually been running at full capacity up until that point. However, with my energy sufficiently conserved, I was able to crawl all the way up the hills at what could technically be defined as a jog. Motivatons in chalk urged runners to keep going, and I obliged.
I knew that Andrew and Donna were watching somewhere towards the end, so I started scoping the crowd for them around mile 22. I was definitely ready for the race to be OVER, especially since I was fairly certain that 5000 or so people had passed me (including some that had started running 20 minutes after I had). So, I was scoping out the crowd for familiar faces, when I found myself nearly faceplanting in the middle of the street. I kicked the raised edge of a manhole cover and was fairly close to eating gravel.
Well, I managed to keep going and finally saw them after mile 25! Yay!
This bit of encouragement propelled me through the last bit of the run. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling! I was much slower than I would have wished, but just about at the time I expected. Four hours and thirty five minutes after beginning the run, I crossed the finish line at the 115th Boston Marathon. This will definitely be an experience I remember for a long time to come!
There's quite a bit more I could say, but I'll leave it at that for now. I'll be downloding the rest of the images from here and post more in the next couple of days.
Thanks to Lauren, Cari, Kelsey, Maris, Maegen, and everyone else who ran with me and helped me train! Thanks for all the logistical help from my parents Don and Beth, Andrew, Donna, Ed, Matt, JoAnn, etc. Finally, thanks to everyone who followed my training blog. Hope you enjoyed some of the posts!