Boston '11 in the books. For those of you who don't want to read the whole story, here are the details.
3:47:39 which is 8:41 pace. Good enough to requalify but a good 10 minutes off my A goal. I think this was somewhere around my D goal. However, I am not (really) disappointed. While people were saying weather conditions for the day were once in a life time kind of conditions, I don't think those people actually run. Perhaps it was perfect for folks up in wave 1, but us mere mortals back in waves 2 (20 minutes after wave 1) and 3 (40 minutes after wave 1) it was a tad warm. While there was a tail wind, the sun was also out in full force turning people into crusty, salting looking pretzel like beings.
Anyway, on to the race.
After last year's race, I could have left well enough alone. I had such an awesome time. I PRed, met a lot of great people and it was really memorable. I wanted to come back, however, because most the girls I actually train with were planning on running this year. I wanted to run with them. While the whole crew didn't make it, the Rachels did (Rock and Rayk). We had someone of a loose plan to run together. My goal was under 3:38 which is the qualifying time for the NYC Marathon. I don't have any intentions of running NYC this year and have already qualified with a half, I just set this as a goal. My pal Barb joined in for the fun.
At the starting area, we couldn't find Rayk so Barb, Rock and myself headed over to the corrals. It was brisk at the start, some gusting wind but not cold.
We lined up and the wait wasn't very long, before we knew it we were heading down hill towards Boston.
Part of what makes Boston tough is while it has a net elevation loss, most of that is in the first half. It is mostly down hill until mile 16 where the Newton HIlls start, culminating with Heartbreak hill which is around mile 20. If you run that first half too fast, which is easy to do, you will have more than a broken heart at mile 20. (elevation chart)
I started off feeling pretty good but not OH MY GOD THIS IS GOING TO BE MY DAY. We were steadily ticking off the miles and came through the first 5k in 26:21, 8:28 pace. A little slower than target but I'd rather have a slow start.
At mile 5, I checked in with Barb, she said she was a little tired. Not a good sign at mile 5.
The thing about running races together for me is there has to be a commitment...to leave each other. I want to know going into it everyone is going to be ok with that because when the time comes, it's hard. Doing the leaving and being left and I've done both. By mile 6, Barb had faded behind Rock and I and I took my first gel.
10k time 51:49 8:21 pace. We had taken back some time but we were still a little behind pace.
I was still feeling good. The sun was strong for sure. This tail wind everyone talked about I really only noticed when a wave of rogue empty cups would swarm us from behind.
We hit the 15k mark (1:17:36 8:19 pace) picking up a bit more time. I remember 15k because they have a big crew of photographers taking official race photos hanging over the course. We were also going to see Rock's mom, stepdad, and girlfriend at mile 10. Knowing where people are going to be really helps. Sure enough, mile 10, there they were.
Coming up on mile 11, we found Rayk. She said everything hurt and she didn't think she'd stay with us. At mile 11, we saw another cheer squad: Sandi, Rayk's girlfriend and a bunch of our other NYC running girls (sorry girls, I can't remember everyone who was there, I just remember Sandi in that Gay Vest). I think Rayk was with us for about a mile.
Next up: Wellesley. Which means the Wellesley Scream tunnel. Which means hundreds of girls screaming holding signs of every variety saying KISS ME. There are so many cool traditions about Boston that I love. Clearly, this one is close to the top. Not just because of the invitation to kiss college aged girls (no really) but because for a half mile leading up to the fray, you can hear them screaming. Long before you can see them. And it's awesome. It just before half way and it's such a motivator. As Rock and I ran through, I spotted a "kiss me I'm a vegetarian" sign and went over and happily obliged.
Shortly after, we hit the half way point (1:49:03 8:19 pace) Still holding on right around pace.
It was now noon and the sun was high in the sky and after this point, I would begin to slow down. Interestingly, it was subtle. Last year I remember struggling at the start of the hills but seeing friends cheering and it gave me a boost. I was hoping for the same. I knew we were going to see Rock's people again so I was looking forward to that. Around mile 16 we did. We knew we were falling off the sub 3:38 goal so we went to plan B sub 3:40. That would still be good enough for a PR for me and also requalify me for next year.
25k 2:09:49 8:21 pace, still not bad.
And now ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the Newton HIlls. Please leave your quads at the mile 16 marker, they will be returned to you at the finish line the form of hamburger. While none of these hills are terribly hard, string them all together this late in a marathon and you've got some pain coming your way.
Rock and I were still together, though she lingered a little longer at family visit #2. I was hoping she was up for what was coming. At mile 17, I knew we were off pace. I took my pace band off and threw it. It was just going to drive me nuts. We were still on for plan B. About a mile later, Rock started drifting a few steps behind me. I turned my head and gave her some encouragement. Somewhere in mile 18 I think she said something to me and she faded back. That kinda sucked. I was hoping we would finish together. For about the next mile, I'd quickly look back to see if she was coming back to me.
30k 2:37:38 8:27 pace. Yup, giving time back to the hills.
Mile 19, ah what a sight for sore eyes. A bunch of Front Runner boys cheering like madmen when they saw me. So helpful. Zander, a marathon maniac (make that lunatic) excitedly jumped in with me for a few steps to make sure I was ok. About a minute later, my friend Susan jumped out of the crowd and ran me up the hill in mile 19, telling me how the boys we knew in the race were doing and updating me on the texting marathon she and Loren were having. At this point I was glad someone was talking to me but I don't remember saying much back.
I knew after I crested that hill I had a small break before it came.
The one this race is known for.
Ok, I'm being dramatic, I don't think Heartbreak Hill is that bad. It's not easy, it's just late in the race and seems endless. One good thing about it is it goes right through Boston College and the kids come out in force. Last year I could smell the beer. This year it was such a nice day, the crowds were huge and loud and really really helpful. THUMP THUMP THUMP was written on the road every few yards followed by a huge broken heart. At this point, I started singing the Mumford and Sons song this post is named for. Don't ask why. I have no idea, it was just going over and over in my head.
Steady steady up the hill. This is the last real hill on the course. I just had to get up this and then it would be downhill. At this point, however, my legs are shreaded and the downhill doesn't help much. I think somewhere in here I moved on to my C goal. Sub 3:45.
My friend Nolan got this shot of me at the top of Heartbreak. I got seriously ugly race face going on.
I asked her where this was and she told me "Mile 21, about 25 feet after you reach the top of heartbreak hill and realize your quads are somewhere back on mile 16. If had you looked good there, you weren't running fast enough..."
35k 3:06:16 8:33 pace
Hello D goal which was under 3:50 and would requalify me for next year. I have less than 5 miles to go now. I'm really gritting my teeth and digging deep. The crowd is just amazing. There are days when such a swarm of loud people can be maddening. This isn't one of them. I am totally feeding off their energy and using it to push myself to the finish. I take my 4th and finally gel.
Somewhere close to 24 miles, I see the girls cheering again. I think that's where it was. Really, I'm in brain blur mode. I'd look at my watch thinking several minutes had gone by and it was usually about 40 seconds.
40k 3:35:07 8:39 pace.
I am holding on, that sub 3:50 is within reach unless something serious happens. Never rule that out, there were people down and out in the last mile.
Leading up to mile 25, there is a sneaky overpass. You wouldn't think it's much until you have to run it at mile 25. The first year I came to Boston to cheer, I stood there for hours watching so I am very aware of that little hill. The nice this is I know shortly after, I will see the sign for ONE MILE TO GO.
The crowd noise is still carrying me.
In the distance I see this very tall thin woman I've seen at several races in the past and I make passing her my goal. This late in the race, it's the little things. I am so happy when I pass her.
Soon, this will all be over.
There is a running joke about the straightaway nature of Boston's course, that there are really only 2 turns and they're in the last half mile.
Right on Hereford, the left on Boylston.
Hitting Hereford, you're so close.
Hitting Boylston, you can see the finish. But man, it seems so far away.
I see the 26 mile mark painted on the street and dig dig dig for that finish line.
3:47:39 8:41 pace. Good enough to come back next year. Which I am not planning on doing, but nice to run the time.
I wander through the finish area, get wrapped in foil like a baked potato, get my medal, get my clothes so I can get out of these shoes. Call Loren, call my mom, look at all the text messages that have blown up my phone through out the day. Thanks everyone!
I make my way over to the family greeting area where I find Rock's posse. A few minutes later she joins me, having finished her first Boston.
Here are the results for my cast of characters:
So a tough day out there for the Rachels. But hey, first time, it's not an easy course! And Barb with a lovely comeback!
I am so thrilled to have finished another Boston, While I didn't hit my time goal, I ran the best I could on the day and you can't ask for more than that.
Oh yea, we also raised $5341 for the Trevor Project, passing the $5000 goal. A huge thank you for everyone who donated! And a huge thank you for everyone's support during this training cycle.