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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!!!
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.
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!