A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bahston Re-Cap Part 2

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Because I have so much to share with you, I thought it would be best to divide my re-cap into a couple posts. You can read Part 1 here. Keep reading for Part 2!



I think the best way to tackle Part 2 of my re-cap is by breaking the race down into different topics. My head is all over the place, and I don’t think I am a good enough writer to tell the race story from beginning to end without it being a jumbled up mess. Therefore, I think it’s best to just take it in sections and go from there.


Race Goals:

I basically had 3 goals for the race:


1.    Not get injured.
2.    HAVE A BLAST!
3.    Take lots of pictures.

Yes, all of those goals were met!


The Weather:

I love running in the warm weather, but it was pretty warm for us on Monday! The race course is barely shaded at all, so we were in the sun practically the whole time. I believe the weather was in the low to mid 60s with lots of sunshine. I forgot to put on sunscreen, so I ended up getting a pretty silly sunburn…



My Boston Strong sunburn!

Because of the heat, I was sure to hydrate early and continuously throughout the entire race. I had a headache almost the whole time even though I took Tylenol and kept drinking. I think it was the heat.


The Course:

I’ll start out telling you a little bit about the Boston Marathon course. It is actually a race TO Boston. It starts in a little town called Hopkinton. Along the way, you pass through many small New England towns including Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Newton, Brookline, and finally the finish line in Boston.

The course also takes you through two colleges- Wellesley and Boston College. Wellesley is around the halfway mark. All the girls come out and create a “scream tunnel” which ends up being almost a mile long. You can hear the Wellesley girls half a mile before you even get to them. The students at Boston College are very animated (aka drunk) and also cheer the whole time.


The Wellesley Gals


All of the Wellesley signs were versions of "Kiss Me, I'm ________"
(Fill in the blank with anything...)

Much of the course is downhill, except for the five Newton hills that occur between miles 16-21. The Newton Hills end with the last and longest- Heartbreak Hill. (I got to see my hunny and my cousin at the top of Heartbreak Hill! It was a great pick me up!) After Heartbreak, it is a downhill shot into Boston. The course ends with a right onto Hereford (uphill) and a left onto Boylston. You take a straight shot down Boylston to the finish line.



Cute signs welcomed us to each town.



A runner's view of the course!


A runner's view of the course!


My Run

My Plan:

Due to my knee surgery and not being able to do thorough training for the race (and not wanting to get re-injured during the race!), my plan was to run for 20 minutes and then walk for 5 minutes. I would do this until Mile 20, and if I felt good, I would run the rest of the way. I wanted to keep my running at high 8 minute miles (I am not in the condition to run any faster than that for a marathon length course at this point) so that with the walking breaks, my overall pace would even out to being in the high 9 minute miles. With bathroom breaks, picture breaks, and some slowing down for hills, I figured that would put me at the finish line in less than four and a half hours.

What I actually did:

Well, I had the best intentions to stick with my plan. The problem was, I’d get to the end of my 20 minutes of running and it would be time for my walk break... but I’d be entering one of the town squares where there were thousands of cheering fans singing Sweet Caroline. THERE IS NO WAY I COULD WALK THROUGH THAT!!!! So I skipped/shortened some of my walk breaks during the first 2/3 of the race. Also, as far as keeping my pace in the high 8s… it didn’t always happen. Again, when there are thousands of screaming fans, it’s almost impossible to NOT speed up. So I was basically running Fartleks for the first ½ of the race. Not a smart strategy, but hey, I was having fun!

Oh, I ran up ALL THE HILLS. Walk break or not, as a Central Pennsylvanian, I felt like it was my duty to conquer every hill on the course with gusto!

The Consequences:

Luckily, the only consequence I had for not keeping with my original running plan was that my muscles started to hurt around Mile 11. I know, that is super early to start feeling the pain, but I was not trained to be running the pace I was doing, so it started to wear on me! I started out averaging about 9 minute miles (due to walk breaks) and by the end of the course I was doing 9:45 minute miles. It’s still not bad at all but had I been more conservative, I could have probably finished just a few minutes faster and without all the soreness. But again, it was exhilarating to fly through the areas with lots of spectators with my arms in the air… Who gets to do that? It was worth the eventual pain.


The Spectators:

The spectators at the Boston Marathon are no joke. They gave the runners the energy and confidence we needed to make it to the finish line. They really made us feel like ROCK STARS. There were so many creative signs (stay tuned for a post about that!), music, dancing, costumes, and words of encouragement. Many of them were thanking us, the runners, for supporting Boston. I felt like I needed to thank them. I have run several marathons and nothing compares to the support from the crowds at Boston. They don’t just sit there. They get into it. I know some of them were working as hard as we were!



My #1 fans- Alex and Paul!


Many of them hold their hands out for high fives and I am usually happy to oblige. Most of the time, the people who wanted high fives were kids or drunk college students. Around Mile 7, a little boy told me, “You can still win!” in a tiny earnest voice. I looked at his mom and we both started laughing. I told him he was my favorite!

Spectators pretty much lined the whole course, but when you would get to one of the many town squares along the run, it was like a HUGE PARTY. Everyone gathered to cheer and play music. There were jug bands, a Neil Diamond impersonator, a guy playing a baritone saxophone, and lots of stereos pumping out tunes.

There were A LOT of hilarious signs, which I will write more about in an upcoming post, but here are a few laughs for you now…





My friend Becky and her son Kyle cheered me on!
I missed them on the course but I FELT their energy!



A taste of the crowd frenzy! How could one walk through this!?



Random kids on trampolines watching the race.



Look! I saw Big Bird at Mile 16!


Bathroom Stops:

Due to all the hydrating, I had to pee a lot! I was a lady and went in the port ‘o johns twice, but I did stop in the woods two times as well. I had to make sure there weren’t any police officers around when I did that, which was sort of hard because there were officers everywhere.


Safety:

I felt very safe on the course. I mentioned in Part 1 that there were state police, military police, and many other officials at the Athletes’ Village. They were also all along the course. I felt very thankful for their presence!



Keeping us safe.


The Volunteers:

The BAA had so many volunteers along the course. There were 24 water/Gatorade stops, and each stop had at least 30 volunteers. They were ready with whatever we needed. They not only provided us with hydration, but smiles and cheers. The volunteers were AMAZING and we could not have had a good run without them.


The volunteers at this water stop were singing and dancing!


Getting Closer To Boston:

As the course brought us closer to Boston, the crowds just did not stop. From Mile 20 until the end, it was just people as far as the eye could see cheering us on. Seeing the city and the famous Citgo sign was major motivation to power through the last miles. I really needed it at this point. I was hot, salty, and my quads hated me. Strangely, my knee felt very strong. Thank you, bionic knee!


By now, we could smell the finish line.




The famous Citgo sign.


The Finish Line:

Needless to say, seeing the finish line was very emotional. As soon as I turned onto Hereford Street, I kicked it into gear to get up that hill. My quads had been screaming at me for the last 10 miles, but suddenly, the thought of the finish line and the energy from the crowd made all of the hurt go away. When I turned onto Boylston, I started flying. I was running a 7 minute mile pace down the home stretch. I finished with my arms in the air and a smile on my face. In fact, most of the race I just could not stop smiling.

Here is what it looks like when you turn onto Boylston street and head to the finish... This is something many runners dream about doing!





SUCCESS:

As soon as we crossed the finish line, we were showered with congratulations from race volunteers. I was awarded my medal and a foil jacket was wrapped around me to keep warm. Volunteers loaded us up with bags of food and drink to refuel. Medics were on standby to help anyone in need of it. A friendly police officer pointed me in the direction of the nearest T Station and I hobbled onto the train, headed for my cousin’s place to shower before and 8 hour drive home.








Like I said before, I am so honored to have been healthy enough to take part in this momentous race. I am so lucky I could do something I loved for 26.2 miles. One of the announcers described it this way: “It’s like a 26.2 mile standing ovation.” He hit the nail on the head. The support from the volunteers and the crowd was amazing. Also, I felt the support from my friends and family even though they weren’t there. When I got home to Pennsylvania at 1:30am on Tuesday morning, I had 77 Facebook messages of support! I read them all before I finally went to bed at 3:00 am.


2014 Boston Marathon FINISHER!

My quads and glutes were really sore after the race- especially on the drive home. (That 8 hour drive was NOT fun!) Tuesday and Wednesday my quads were screaming at me. It's a good kind of hurt. It's MARATHON hurt! My knee is fine. My IT band is fine. I haven't even iced. I don't know what is going on. The magical marathon fairies must have been looking down on me because it just doesn't make sense that my knee held up and is STILL holding up!

I am sure I have forgotten to write about many things... but hopefully this re-cap has given you an idea of what it is like to run Boston. And if you ran it before, hopefully it brought back fond memories for you!

If this post is giving you the itch to run your first marathon, I have two words for you- DO IT. No, it is not easy. If it were easy, it wouldn't be so special. It is an experience you will treasure forever. 

If you are a runner dreaming of qualifying for Boston, I have two words for you- DO IT. It comes easily for some runners but not others. I remember training my BUTT off to make the qualifying time. If you want it, don't let anything hold you back. I think sometimes we label ourselves or put ourselves in a box for no reason. We never consider that WE could be one of those people. But why not!? WHY NOT YOU? I thought I would never qualify for Boston and look, I got to run it twice. And the only reason is because I didn't hold myself back. There were no excuses- all things are possible if you do the work.




38 comments:

  1. Once again, hearing about you running Boston brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for inspiring me! I have yet to sign up for my very first marathon but I am investigating which one to run... I said my goal was to do one before I turn 50 and I have about 14 months or so to do it! So proud of you! You are an inspiration!

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    1. I am so excited for you to do your first race!!! Which ones are you thinking about?

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    2. There is one in Clearwater in January... it is fairly close to where we live, within an hour and I think I definitely want my first (probably only) to be close to home...

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  2. CONGRATS!!!! Megan!! !! You look amazing in your blaze orange jacket!! Perfect for running in Central PA!

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    1. Right! I will not be mistaken for Bambi in THAT!

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  3. So proud of you Meg! Yay for your knee holding up for all 26.2 miles! As you know, my sister ran it last year and she says that the Boston course has the best spectators EVER! I never had a desire to live in New England but from you described, a small part of me wished I went to to college there so I could be a part of that fun crowd every year ( sober of course)! I can't believe you got up and went to work the next day. This week must have been exhausting for you. You deserve some down time and a big bowl of ice cream!

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    1. I haven't had a bowl of ice cream yet but I'm slowly and surely catching up on sleep! :)

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  4. Great race recap, I get emotional reading/hearing about this year's marathon. Only one thing left to do, experience it myself. A future goal.

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  5. Well I wrote a big long comment but it didn't publish! GRRRR! So congratulations..so proud of you! And the coat looks great! :)

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    1. I am sorry my blog ate your comment! :( Do you think something is wrong with my blog that I need to fix???? Thanks for the kind words! I LOVE MY JACKET i'm so glad I got it. :)

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  6. Awesome, awesome race recap! That little boy who said you could still win sounds adorable! :)

    Ouch to the sunburn, but it sounds like it was totally worth it for a great race! I love seeing the pictures of all the spectators out there. I have yet to run a race where people are lining the streets, although at the Disney race there were a lot of spectators leading up to the finish line which was cool. Would love to experience that for an entire race!

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    1. It is definitely an amazing experience. I've run marathons where there have been points where I looked around and was like "Hmmmm... I'm the only one here..." lol

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  7. So much fun to see all the pics from actually running the course! I feel like I'm on it :) and I'm in love with that orange jacket, I like it better than the blue ones of the past!

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    1. Good! That was my goal, I wanted to give people a taste of what it was like to run it. I too like the orange jacket! A lot of people poo pooed it but I already have a blue one. I need orange!

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  8. I LOVE your pictures! They are so beautiful. And that jacket looks phenomenal on you. I'm so, so, so glad you got it!!

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    1. Thank you Rachel I am glad I got it too!!!!

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  9. I've NEVER run a race with tons of spectators. I bet that seriously changes everything about it. I would like to qualify, but I AM a slow runner. After my first marathon in November, I'll see how I feel.

    Congrats again!! I love this recap. I'm favoriting it! You are amazing!!! You came through soo much to run this race and you really owned it!

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    1. Thank you so much Ali! I am so thankful I was healthy enough to run it. :) It's okay to be a "slow" runner, but I just really want people to not hold themselves back and if they DESIRE to become faster and qualify, it is within their reach!

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  10. Okay, I'm going to reread this post a zillion times! I LOVE your race pics throughout the course! If my quads weren't destroyed I'd want to go do it all again like, Now! ;) I'm still walking sideways down stairs and I have a lobster tan. I took a pic of my nasty shoulders that I'll put in my next post....How did I forget sunblock?!?!?! I am so happy we ran this awesome run! :)

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    1. Ooh I can't wait to see your shoulders. My face is peeling today. Girl, I am WITH you on wanting to run it again. I watched the marathon on DVR on Tuesday and it made me want to run ANOTHER marathon. Which is funny because during the race my legs hurt and my back hurt and I was thinking "I'm too old for this!!"

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  11. Loved the recap, Megan! It made me sooo wish I had run again this year. Sigh. So glad your knee is better, too!!

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    1. I am sure it brought back memories! I can't beLIEVE my knee is holding up!

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  12. THIS. These recaps are my absolute favourite- you truly make it seem like I am there with you, Meg- Even though I hate running. You did good, my friend.

    PS That was me in the big bird costume.

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    1. Thanks Arman!!! :) .... and LOL!!!!

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    2. All the pictures are awesome and what a great recap! That really was crowd frenzy, how wonderful everything went :) Ouch to the sunburn! and the jacket looks amazing on you :) I am so glad your knee held up for you! I couldn't believe the pace you were running at, seriously amazing after taking a break for surgery. You really kicked butt :)

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    3. You are a sweetie pie! I am just sooooo thankful to be able to do it at WHATEVER pace and finish without being injured.

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  13. Wow congrats Meg! It looks like you had such an amazing experience and I am so glad you were healed and able to run it! That is quite the sunburn you got haha!

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    1. Thank you, Courtney! I know I can't believe I was so stupid and forgot sunscreen. I kept telling Paul, "All I NEED are my shoes, knee brace and bib. Those are the 3 important things I have to have AT ALL TIMES." Should have added sunblock to the list.... :)

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  14. Megs---Thank you for sharing your story! I am so proud of you that you made it to Boston despite your injury and surgery. I was so in the moment with reading your race recap. You really did a great job soaking in all the sights and thank you for providing the details and the photos. It made me feel like I was there. Of course the bawdy gal that I am--my favorite is the sign where the guy said he farted. Sounds like those "magical fairies" did sprinkle some magical powder on you and your knee---ahhh! See who says exercise doesn't heal everything?? Love your sunburn photo and now it is time to sport your bathing suit and cover up the running marks. Congrats again and I love your blog! Jennifer aka JK-Hell

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    1. Yay! I wanted you to feel like you were there! My students loooooooved the fart sign! They couldn't believe I showed them that! You're the best, JK-HELL!!!

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  15. Thank you for posting these! I love your recaps. They really get that fire lit in me for October and I have a feeling I'll come back here often to read them. It's been so many years since I've done a marathon that I've sort of forgotten that FEELING. The crowds and the support and the love. I know I can run well, but with that feeling all around, I run like a beast. :D Well, ok. For me. Beastly for me. So I understand getting a little off plan because of it.

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    1. Oh and you KNOW there will be crowds at MCM! :) I'm excited for you! This was my first marathon in 16 months!

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    2. I like MCM for the crowds. This will be my 4th MCM. 6th marathon. And first one in . . . 5 years. Oy. That was a LONG hiatus. :/

      The fun thing is, I think I just found a group to run with here. In NC, I got lucky and met a training partner at the VW dealership (seriously). I doubt I'll find that again accidentally, so I reached out to a chill sounding club. We'll see . . .

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    3. I hope they are at least HALF as cool as the Crispies :)

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  16. You are so inspiring! I DO want to run Boston. Maybe someday, but I am going to focus on my FIRST marathon!!!!!!!!! Maybe I will turn into a marathoner :)
    I loved reading this recap! Made me smile and cry! Just pure amazing-ness :) :)

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  17. Wow, what an amazing recap!! I would LOVE to run a marathon someday and have my mind set on 2016! Perhaps I'll work my butt off and qualify for Boston someday :)

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