The Thrill of the Boston Marathon

On Monday, I ran my first Boston marathon. This hometown race has been a lifelong goal of mine, and as I toed the line on the warm mid-morning day, I felt nothing but grateful for being there at that moment.

An announcer called over the loud speaker, “This is not the start of a long run in the middle of February. This is what you’ve been training for, your prize!” I quickly reflected on the Sunday when I ran 16 miles inside on a track because it was -9 degrees without wind-chill in Boston. I also visualized the months of training that were now behind me, predominantly focused on training for my goal race of Phoenix in February. I smiled at the experience of training for these races, and acknowledged that regardless of Boston’s outcome, the last few months had surprisingly been fun. I also developed an acceptance of being uncomfortable, which is an essential element of marathon training. Over time, I even started to treasure the discomfort; it continued to inspire and push me through each workout and this adaptability carried over in other areas of life.

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The marathon itself is a bit of a blur, but here are some highlights:

  • The Wellesley College scream tunnel is a real thing. Given the heat of the marathon (it was about 70 degrees at the start) and my already-fatigued legs, I turned my music on as a “prize” at about the 10k distance. As we approached the 12-mile mark, I could hear the roar of the girls from a half mile away. Although I did not lean in for a kiss, the noise did give me that extra push I needed as I approached the half-way point. Apart from Wellesley, there were other supportive (and unexpected!) crowds along the way in the towns of Ashland, Framingham and Natick. The BC area at mile 22 was also going crazy. The encouragement the runners received from these spectators is unmatched by any other marathon!
  • Seeing so many familiar faces along the course was incredible. I missed my cousin in Natick, but then was greeted by several of my best friends at a point in the marathon where I needed it most—heartbreak hill, at mile 21.5. I cannot stop thinking about the moment I noticed one of their signs (how could I miss the bright pink sign with JANE written all over it?!) and then spotted the entire group. That section of the race was filled with so much joy that carried me through to 26.2. I reached other great friends (including Mark) at each mile until the finish, and this alone made the race so special to me.

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  • It is known that turning right on Hereford Street from Commonwealth Ave, and then left on Boylston in the final half mile of Boston is the best experience in marathon running. I can attest to this now. Approaching the finish line with the surrounding walls of lively spectators is something I will never forget.

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  • Last but certainly not least, my sister jumped in at mile 16 and ran the rest of the race with me. She offered me water, moral support, and entertainment, and I could not have pushed through the second half of the race without her. I will always be grateful for the time we had on the course together. Thank you sister!!!

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This marathon was not my fastest or strongest I have run. Several factors contributed to my slower finish than I had hoped (30 minutes to be exact!), including:

  • As I mentioned above, marathon Monday was a warm day, about 70 degrees at the start. I felt the heat early on and did not quite recover from it, even when approaching the Newton/Brookline sections, which welcomed a cooler ocean breeze. Training for the marathon throughout the Boston winter months in tights and a jacket did not adequately prepare me for the heat of the day. This is a known challenge of the Boston marathon, and I understand that I am not the only one that faced this issue!
  • Even though I tapered for Boston, my legs felt fatigued from the start. I think this had to do with inadequate rest after Phoenix marathon which was 6 weeks prior, as well as the cumulative fatigue of running marathons in both September and October of last year. The opportunity to run Boston happened after I made those other marathon plans, and was the icing on the cake in this marathon training cycle. The lesson was learned and I will be taking at least two months off from serious running before I tackle my next goal race this fall.
  • I felt numbness and burning in my feet from the 5k mark onward, which was a bit upsetting! I think this was due to my shoes being too tight, but I had tied the laces the same width for many previous training runs. My feet may have swollen due to the heat of the day, but I am not sure. I will test them out when I start running again in a few weeks, and will most likely get larger shoes. I don’t think that this is anything serious, but something to look in to, as it did set me back in this race.

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Early on in the race, I knew that it was not going to be my day to PR. Usually when my mind wanders that way, especially so early on in the race, I fill my head with motivating running mantras and other tips and tricks to push me through. But this time, I let go of all goals and the noise in my head that rang with disappointment, and ran my own race. Instead, I focused on the roars from the sidelines—those of my wonderful friends and family as well as all of the other incredible spectators along the course. That united passion from the sidelines is what makes Boston a truly amazing marathon experience. If I had equated my finish time to my race day, it would diminish the spirit and blissful memories of the day.

There was so much happiness in fulfilling this goal of mine- such is the spirit of human nature. I just can’t wait to run this race again!!

What has been the highlight of YOUR week? Your running career?

What is the top race on your bucket list?

Any favorite fall races? I am actually signed up for a couple of fall races and am deciding which one to run as a goal race!

Anyone else feel a bit down after a marathon? What is one thing you do to remedy this? I typically sign up for another race—which I know is sometimes absurd!

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95 thoughts on “The Thrill of the Boston Marathon

  1. Congratulations! It sounds like it was an amazing experience. My friend also ran Boston and so I was tracking her online and getting text message updates. I also had the live stream going (I swear I was actually doing work at my job haha). It was really inspiring and I’ve decided that I want to qualify for Boston myself. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I’m hopeful just a couple years. We’ll see!

    I’ve been a bit down after a marathon too, a little burnt out too. I ended up taking 2 months off after one and then just set some goals and got back on track. I love doing races so I’m like you…I’m always on the lookout and signing up which keeps me excited and ready to hit the road. Congrats again!

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  2. awesome! Congrats on finally getting to run boston! Seems like everyone dealt with the heat this year. Post marathon blues is a thing. I usually try to focus on time spent with family & friends & going out on a few late night dates since marathon training prevents a lot of that from happening.

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  3. Congratulations on Boston and I’m glad you had a FUN time. From what I saw and read this race would be about fun and not speed, anyway, especially in that weather. The pics turned out great as well.

    As far as post-race blues go, I have had that often. Each race recovery has been different… I was actually very depressed after one half I ran. It’s like you’ve put so much into training for that one day and after, it is done and you have to figure out what to do with yourself. Take a few weeks off structured running, treat yourself to a massage/pedi/spa day, and relax a bit. And with the heat maybe do some shorter stuff in a few weeks (I find that signing up for something helps… hehe).

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  4. Congratulations Jane! Way to push through on such a tough day! So glad to see that you enjoyed the experience! Yes, I definitely feel a bit down after a marathon. My recent marathon did not go as well as I hoped due to tough weather conditions- wind/rain which made this one a bit tougher. Following a marathon, I immediately register for another race (shorter distance) or already have something lined up to keep me from getting down. Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment! Have a great weekend! ☺

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    1. I am sorry that your last race didn’t go as well as you would have liked. You are such an inspiration- I LOVE following your blog and Instagram profile! Keep it up girl, I’m looking forward to following you as you tackle your next goal!

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  5. I love this post! Your Boston experience and the things you observed matched what happened to me almost identically in many ways, so I’m really glad that you wrote a couple of the experiences that I did NOT mention in my own blog but also experienced on race morning. The announcement of this not being a Saturday morning run in February, hearing the Wellesley scream tunnel from a half-mile away (that was my exact calculation, too, and what I told my family after the race), the relief of the sea breeze kicking in once we reached Newton, the support of the crowds, and finishing a half-hour slower than hoped (I have enough friends who reported the same that I feel zero shame over my sluggish finish at all).

    And, above all, the joy of experiencing this and the honor and privilege of getting the chance to participate in such a world-class event. Congratulations to you, fellow Boston marathoner. What a great experience this was.

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    1. Thank you so much for your note and CONGRATS again to you!! I am starting to get antsy and eager to train again. The past week off has been so nice, but now that the weather is nicer up here in Boston, I am ready to start over again! What’s next in your marathon journey? Boston 2017?!

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      1. Oh wow, I don’t know what’s next. Boston is but a blip on my radar screen since it’s a year away. I’d thought I would only do it once, but it was such an amazing experience that I’d love to get back there. At the moment I’m looking for a fall marathon to put on my schedule. I’d been thinking of maybe running the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, but now some friends of mine signed up to run the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, so I’m considering that as well. Plus I’ll be running in the Chicago Ragnar Relay about six weeks from now for sure.

        What’s next for you? Besides marriage, of course, which is the greatest marathon of them all…

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  6. Congratulations on Boston! My sister’s boyfriend also completed his first Boston on Monday, and he also talked about the Wellesley tunnel and the girls giving kisses.

    I have the Hermes 10 miler on Saturday which is a popular local race in Cleveland. My goal is just to complete it after being diagnosed with chronic exertion compartment syndrome. Having a pain free race would be lovely.

    And I have felt somewhat down after completing marathons or triathlons. It’s can be addicting.

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  7. Congratulations again! Happy for you to have run a dream race and happy to hear it went so well (even when it didn’t).

    Take your time and enjoy the moment, which is what it sounds like you did during the run as well. Good for you and we’ll see you back on the trail soon enough.

    After a race? I like to have a root beer.

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  8. Congrats on finishing Boston and having fun while doing it! That’s so fun that you got to run with your sister. That’s a memory to treasure, I’m sure.

    I’m still debating whether to race in the fall, but my fiance thinks I should. I have a shortlist of races that include: Baltimore, Indianapolis Monumental, Richmond and the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. What are you registered for? I just want something flat and ideally cool temps!

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    1. Interesting that you mention the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. It has a reputation for being a fast course, and I was looking at it last night when trying to decide on a fall race. It’s only about a two-hour drive from where I live in the Chicago area, so that’s a bonus (looking for something local).

      Milwaukee is also an underrated city – it can be a fun place to spend a weekend – and Wisconsinites are super friendly.

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      1. Yes! I was looking at the results from last year and I was impressed by the number of super speedy runners for a relatively small race. My dad lives in Naperville, so part of the motivation for running that race would be to spend some time with him and give him a chance to cheer :)

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        1. Oh, cool! I live in North Aurora, which is just 15-20 minutes up the road from Naperville. We are practically neighbors with your dad. I frequently travel to places where family live to run as well. It’s an excellent excuse for a visit, and we mutually enjoy it that they get to watch the race.

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    2. Thank you so much!!! How are you feeling now, over a week post-race?! I am signed up for Wineglass and Marine Corps marathons. Need to choose one of those as my “goal” race. Seeing now that you and Statomattic have chatted about Lakefront marathon in Milwaukee. Sounds like such a fast and fun race!! Would be a nice race-cation for me. Thanks for the ideas!!!

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  9. I am very proud of you for enduring the heat and tough conditions!! This is what marathon running is all about…going out there, enjoying the ride…and fighting adversity! It is very similar to living life. You rocked it girl! Continue to celebrate running BOSTON!!

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  10. Congrats! Such an amazing thing to have run Boston, and I loved reading your review and could feel your high from this experience. So special for you since it’s also your hometown! Love that despite some unfortunate obstacles and tough conditions, you have such a positive reflection on it and kept yourself strong. GREAT JOB, you inspiring lady!

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  11. Congrats on getting it done in rough conditions! It sounds like it was an incredible experience. Boston is definitely on my bucket list… maybe someday I’ll get to experience some of the awesome things you wrote about here for myself :)

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  12. Awesome!! Great job. Your post brought back such happy memories for me! Although it was cold and rainy last year, so a different kind of uncomfortable. But who cares?? And who cares about your time! You did it!

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  13. Congrats on your Boston finish! It was definitely a rough day, but it sounds like you made the best of it!! I typically fend off post-marathon blues by signing up for a “for fun” race 2-3 weeks after or having my sights set on something else. Last fall I didn’t have any races after my goal marathon but I was going home for Christmas a few weeks after, so that kept the blues at bay. This year, I’m doing a social event 5k 2 weeks after so I have something running related but low-key to look forward to. The post-26.2 blue are super real though. Don’t let ’em get you! :)

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    1. Thank you for the advice! I do have some races this fall, but will have to look into some earlier ones. The thing is, I feel too sore these days (still!) to complete anything fast. I guess that running for fun would be the way to go. Good luck to you!!

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  14. Yay!!! I was there and while I didn’t see you, I was definitely cheering you on in spirit.
    It was HOT. I was at mile 17 and when I got there I realized just how warm it was.
    My sister and everyone else I know who ran struggled for just that reason.
    That said, Boston is an amazing place that weekend and if I were to ever run a marathon I would want it to be Boston because it’s just that great. Congrats on a huge accomplishment!

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    1. Awesome!!! Mile 17 was when it really turned HOT, right before the hills! I am sure you provided runners with incredible motivation at that point in the race!!! You should totally run Boston one day– it will be one of the most memorable days of your life!!!!

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  15. What an amazing experience–congrats again! My next half marathon is towards the end of May, which can be a tricky month weather-wise on the East Coast as well. I can either have 50’s at the start time of the race, or 60’s-70’s. I decided last week I’m not going to stress about it and just have fun and enjoy myself, just like you did in Boston!

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  16. Congratulations on your accomplishment!! I keep feeling moments of inspiration to run the marathon but then think about all of the training that goes in to it! (I ran the Maine Marathon in 2010 and didn’t really take the training seriously – oops!) But seeing recaps like yours makes me more and more inclined! :-)

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  17. Congratulations on finishing Boston. Despite the fact that you did not PR, you did cross that finish line, which is always my goal. Glad to experience it through your eyes, it might be one race I can’t qualify for. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  18. Congrats and what a wonderful review. Sometimes they get too lengthy and my eyes start to hurt. But I LOVED everything you shared and think those signs from your friends are about the sweetest things ever. And don’t you look fantastic in that jacket?!

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  19. Congratulations on finishing the marathon! My friend also had a bad day and ended about 2 hours slower than she usually does (!!!) Her heartrate skyrocketed at the starting line :-( She pushed on a finished even though she was demoralized. I think that’s what Boston is all about :-)
    I was inspired by you runners this week, and I had my longest run for my training cycle this week. It was also the longest I’ve ever run in my life! 24.28 miles! I now believe I can finish a marathon :-)

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  20. Congratulations Jane! That is amazing! What a great day regardless of all the little things that didn’t go off perfectly! Yes, post-race sadness… it’s a real thing… even if you’re signed up for other races in the future. Enjoy what you did because you are a rock star! Well done!!

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  21. I loved your recap and seeing the photos that mirrored everything I felt and saw on the course. Congrats on your first Boston! (For me it will likely be my first and last — definitely one to savor!)

    I often feel some letdown after a marathon but this time I’m already signed up to run a half marathon with my husband and 14-year-old at the beginning of June so I have that to give me some focus and joy. I look forward to seeing what you have coming next!

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  22. Congratulations on finishing the Boston marathon. It’s so good to hear I wasn’t the only one affected by the heat! I had an amazing experience as well – glad you did too :)

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  23. Congratulations Jane!! I know how much you have been looking forward to this and so glad it met all your expectations, even if the time wasn’t quite what you wanted. But, it’s a tough course (from what i’ve heard and read) and it was hot and that makes a huge difference. You did the right thing by just letting go and enjoying the “prize!” Bucket list for me, well Boston but my BQ time is ridiculous and I’m not even close right now, but I’ll never say never – one year, I’m going to devote a dedicated training cycle to a favorable qualifying race and do all I can to get there! Congratulations again and a super race summary!!

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    1. Thank you so much!! Running a BQ is so tough but I know you can do it. You’ve been training so much and I think if you pick the right marathon as you said (not Honolulu!! Fun but too hot and hilly! :)) and give yourself a solid chunk of time for training specifically for that course– you can do it. I think your 50 states goal is incredible as well!! Thanks again for your note and have a great run today!

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  24. I think you read my blog . . as you can tell I had a nearly identical story with the heat and early fatigue. It was a very common story for the day. I have a lot of work to do to try to get back there again but sure hope to. Great job on your first Boston as well!

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  25. Congrats, Boston Marathon finisher! Your experience sounds awfully familiar (except for the numbness & burning in your feet, though that happened to me when I tied my shoes too tight in Berlin) — for some reason I also left my running mojo at home last Monday. Boston is a deceptively tricky course, and the first time in particular it’s all about the experience, not the time. And now that you have the all-important wisdom of a first-time finisher to learn from, you’ll approach next year’s race wiser & more well-rested. And speaking of well-rested (or not), I recommend Big Sur and the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge as the perfect follow-up 6 days later!

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  26. What an incredible accomplishment!!!! Congrats! I am no where NEAR as fast as you, but I also had the burning and numbness/pain issue my last race-I hope to hear if you solve the issue and what you did to solve it! :)

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  27. Jane, it’s great that you’re able to reflect on your marathons – so you can learn from your mistakes and have even better races next time. It’s great to see someone who accepts those bad days and doesn’t blame themselves. We all have our days sometimes. But regardless, running 26.2 miles is not an easy feat! Congrats!

    xoxo,
    Stephanie

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