Chasing a Dream

Chasing a Dream
John and I with our LP finishers medals

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Boston Experience

There were 26,000 stories on the race course in Boston on Monday, April 19th. From people who had worked REALLY hard just to qualify, to the winner of the men's race who ran a 4:46 mile pace on average for 26.2 miles. There were blind runners, who ran with guides and 'charity' runners who had earned their way into the race by raising thousands of dollars for a charity. For me it was an experience I will never forget. I may run Boston again next year, but I will never run my FIRST Boston marathon race again. It was an AMAZING experience.

We left Ohio right after school on Friday, stopped in Syracuse for the night. Saturday morning Lizzie and I did a 3 miler outside in the drizzling rain in Syracuse. We then made our way to Boston and went straight to the race Expo.

I LOVED the race expo. We got our bibs, and shirts and went straight for the apparel section where I bought my 'celebration' jacket, hat, coffee mug, and black zip up hoodie. There is SO much to see at the expo. Lots of food give-aways, Nike, Reebok, Saucony and others have large booths. Garmin, The Stick, Compression socks.....the list goes on and on......I also bought a necklace with 'Boston 2010' charm and a unicorn charm (the mascot of the marathon).

Here we are at the expo at a picture op.

We then went to mass in a little chapel in the expo center and had dinner at PF Chang's.

The next morning we had a little time to relax at the hotel, and then I met Michelle for lunch at a Vegan restaurant near Harvard Square.  Michelle lives in Boston and I have been 'internet' friends with her for about three years, but had never met her.  We connected on the P90X forums, and she also does triathlons so we have a lot in common.  It was awesome to finally meet her, and we had a LONG lunch catching up on so many things.

Of course, on Sunday I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible, but ended up walking WAY too many miles.  John and I went back to the expo later in the afternoon, and then we walked to the 'T' to go to the athletes pasta dinner, etc...

It is amazing how many athletes you see around town in the days before the race.  They are everywhere.  In every store you go in, and in every restaurant you go to.  The town of Boston seemed so welcoming to all the visitors in town.  For most runners, it seemed they had a whole entourage of friends and family that were there to cheer them on. 

We got our bags ready, bibs pinned on, chips on the shoes, some food packed up and a blanket to sit on in "Athletes Village" the next morning, and tried to get to bed early.

Monday morning before heading out.

Monday morning we got up a little after 5am.  Dressed, ate a little and then walked about 1/2 mile to Boston Commons to catch the school busses to Hopkinton around 6:30.  They have a great set up there to get thousands of athletes out of town pretty quickly.

We arrived at the Athletes Village in Hopkinton about 45minutes-1 hour later.  There is music playing, huge tents with bagels, gatorade, water, bananas, and coffee. Also some other tents with Powerbars.  And HUNDREDS of porta-potties.  Even so, the lines for the potties were constantly pretty long.  We sat around and relaxed and talked to quite a few of the thousands of runners there waiting for the start.  They called for the first wave of runners at about 9:15.  You take all your stuff (extra clothes) and put it in your bag with a bib number sticker on it (provided at the pick up on Saturday) and you take it to the school bus with your bib number marked on the window.  After you are done racing you go to that bus and pick it up.  It is a pretty nifty set up.

John's wave started at 10am, with F-15s flying over head about 10 minutes before hand.  My wave started at 10:30.  It was about 0.7 mile walk to the starting corrals from the village and I talked with quite a few interesting women. 

The weather was perfect!!  about 50 degrees and sunny at the start.  I felt very relaxed and excited.

I just wanted to ENJOY the experience and not push the pace too hard.  I wanted to look around at the crowds cheering, high five the little kids and smile the whole way.  I feel like I accomplished that.  I really could not get a smile off my face.  As the race started, I could not believe the crowds that lined both sides of the road almost the entire way.  There were parties in lawns along the way.  Little kids high fiving, and passing out licorice pieces or orange slices.  Music playing everywhere.  I heard one little kids say to his mom around mile 3, "Mom, there must be a MILLION runners that have gone by."  I couldn't help but laugh out loud.

The infamous girls at Wellsley college at about halfway were cheering LOUDLY.  Many of them held up signs that said, "KISS ME".  and I guess many of the men take advantage of that :)

The students at Boston College near mile 20 were even more boisterous.  I felt like the famous Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 was really not too bad.  What really surprised me was how much my QUADs hurt going down hills in the last few miles.  The race goes down a total of about 400 feet from beginning to end, which seems like it would make it easy, hurt.

The last few miles as we come into Boston, the crowds were even more amazing.  They say that there are about 500,000 people cheering along the route.  It was unbelievable!!!

I felt pretty good the entire way, didn't really look at my watch.  Used a porta-potty at mile 18, which was a relief.  The last few miles I slowed quite a bit, and my legs felt pretty heavy, but I never felt awful.   I was hoping for a 4:00-4:15 and was on pace with a 2:01 at halfway.  But ended up with a 4:17 with the potty stop and some 10:00+ miles in the last quarter of the race.  I am fine with that time.

In the last quarter mile, I caught a glimpse of Lizzie, Meg and John waving to me, with their signs saying "Go MOM"  Tears started flowing, and it wasn't the first time in the race.  There were many motivational signs throughout the race that brought tears.  After a long walk to get my medal and some water and banana, I met my family at the 'C' for Cymanski. 

This has been a dream of mine for years.  It was a dream that for many years, I really never thought would ever come true.  But I worked REALLY hard for this.   Lost some weight, ran the hard track workouts, and hill workouts and BELIEVED in myself in those last 6 really hard miles in Columbus this Fall. 

And I did it, and it was worth every bit of the hard work!!!

To end it all, we went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant in the North End.  I wore my medal, as do many other runners, and my celebration jacket.  We talked to many other runners that we saw in the subway or just on the streets about their race experience.  It is such a feeling of community in the whole city!!

John and I are both already qualified for 2011 and are hoping to go back for next years running of the Boston marathon.

Hope to get a post out soon on the next big thing...Steelhead 70.3 (half ironman) on July 31st and the training for that.

What are you working on right now?? Are there some things that you want to do, but are not sure you can do?? 


Anonymous said...

Very inspirational Barb, love it! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who blogs their races! I love writing about and sharing my experiences with others...thank you for putting this out there. I'm where you were last year...just praying I can one day be writing my blog about Boston!

Mary IronMatron said...

Congratulations! I'm glad you had a great race in our city! We love our marathon!

Anonymous said...

Barb, you rock my world! You go girlfriend! Check that off of your list and do it again for giggles! Whoot!

Anonymous said...

Yikes, I forgot to sign my last post! It's me Sharkie!

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) said...

Wow..Congrats on your race! You did awesome! I have read other people's race reports and they have all said that it was an absolutely amazing experience!

Right now I'm training for the Boulder 70.3. I'm looking forward to hearing about your training for your HIM!