They say the third times a charm. If that is true this was going to be my year at the 120th running of the Boston Marathon. After achieving a PB in the fall and getting engaged, I was riding high when training began in January. Everything had gone as planned this winter but I could always hear that voice in my ear reminding me that this was not any other marathon. I was running the Boston Marathon where many hearts have been broken along the course, including mine.
Race morning came and the first sign the day may not go as planned
was when I walked outside to a surprisingly warm morning. I loaded the bus and got to the school grounds which were already filled with sleeping bodies taking up prime real estate on the grass. There was no need for throw away clothes this year as I shed layer upon layer rather quickly. The temperatures were skyrocketing and by the 10am start it had already reached close to 20 degrees (or it felt like it to me). The time to line up in the corrals came so quickly I almost didn’t have time for my final bathroom break. I think everyone in Wave 1 felt the same way. I slathered on some sun screen and made the mile walk to the start line. I was ready to go!
After the gun went off, my excitement lasted oh, about 10 minutes and a few km’s in I knew it was not going to be a PB day. I couldn’t shake off this feeling of heaviness in my legs. At this point my experience on the course came into play as I knew that if my marathon pace was not feeling easy I had to dial it back. At the 10k mark I could really feel the heat and dry air. I continued to struggle to the half way point, at which time I was getting dizzy with every step. I was not having any luck getting fuel in me and I thought for sure if this kept up I would have to drop out (and never hear the end of it!). Finally the dizziness passed as the wind picked up. Even thought we were hit with a headwind it probably is what cooled me down and got me through the next section, the infamous Newton Hills . I knew I had to stay smooth from 25-34k and to run by heart rate if I had a shot at salvaging this race. I crested Heartbreak hill in decent shape and started to pick it back up to race pace, something I had achieved sparingly along the way. There was still a lot of work to do and those last 4 miles were quite a grind. I noticed the crowds of support getting louder and louder the closer I got to the city. It was hard for me to enjoy it and this was the point where I had to implement my process goals coach Stan always talks about; calm my breathing and put one foot in front of the other. The “one mile left” mark came and went and it felt like another 15 minutes before I turned turned right on Hereford and finally left onto Boylston St. For the first time in the race I was able to smile, tear up a bit and take it all in. I fought till the end on one of the toughest physically, mentally and technically challenging courses out there.
I couldn’t have been more proud of myself crossing that finish line knowing on this day I was a lot stronger mentally compared to a year ago. The biggest lesson learned from my 7th marathon is that not every race will give you the numbers you want to see on your watch but there will be other goals you will achieve along the way that are just as, if not more important. Hell, it would have been nice to see those numbers though! To finish off, I wanted to add that I am so honoured to be a part of such a wonderful and supportive team of coaches, runners and more importantly amazing friends. You all know who you are. I hope we have an even bigger group going next year. Yes I said next year already……I am such a runner……