A group of 19 marathoners from K2J Fitness along with friends, family and 5k runners headed down once again this year for the Boston Marathon. For the first time in a number of years all of us had run the race before. This may be due in part to the fact that it was the toughest year ever for getting into the race. Back in the good old days all you had to do to get in was make the time standard, the race did not even fill up until January or February. This year you had to be 2 minutes 28 seconds under the standard to get in! The field was faster as well. The cut off for the first wave this year was 3:09:49 last year it was 3:10:59. Meaning 8,000 non-elite runners had qualifying times of 3:09:49 or less.
We had a weird winter. It started late and ended late. Not good when you are driving 7 ½ hours. mostly south, to run a marathon. The weather in Boston on marathon weekend can do anything. In 2012 it was 31C and in 2007 it was so cold and wet the course was flooded in places and they almost called the race off. Last year it was cold, wet and pretty miserable. In the days leading up to this year’s race the weather obsession began. Anytime two or more runners were in one place the weather became the one and only topic of conversation. Race day temperature predictions ranged from 15C to 22C over the course of the week and there was a range of 2 or 3 degrees Celsius depending on which weather app you were using. We chose the one that gave us the answer we wanted to hear and if we did not like any of them we just told ourselves you can’t trust weather apps anyway. By Sunday the prediction was 17C with a moderate head wind, too hot when it’s your first run of the year in shorts but not too bad.
There were three runners in our group who made the first wave and they wanted to be on the first set of buses to Hopkinton (as Boston is a point to point race they provide school buses to take all the runners from Boston Common to the start). As a show of solidarity and because we knew were not going to get any sleep anyway, most of us who were in the second wave agreed to leave then too. At 5:30am we gathered in the lobby of the Boston Park Plaza dressed in old throw away clothes from the Salvation Army. We were not alone other runners were gathered wearing everything from paper hazmat suits to the $110 US Boston Marathon Celebration jackets (very odd because you can’t check anything at the start after 2013 so they would either have to leave the jacket behind for charity or run back to Boston wearing it – not going to happen in 20C).
We walked through the streets of Boston to the bus pick-up spot only to get there too early so we had to wait for the first busses to go.
We actually got on to the 7th bus to leave Boston Common and it passed two other busses on the way to Hopkinton. So we were 5th! Not that we are competitive or anything!
As always the bus ride to Hopkinton felt really long. We just told ourselves running back would be shorter. We were not the first runners into the village but we were among the first 100. On my first of many trips to the port-o-potty I was actually the first person to use it! I even got to break the seal on the toilet paper roll!
We set up in what has become our usual spot. As the morning progressed the port-o-potty lines got longer and longer. Last year we discovered that the lines in the corners move much faster than any of the other lines it was true again this year and I was highly amused to discover that a run club from Seattle had discovered the same thing. They even published a diagram! But don’t tell anyone because we don’t want word to spread too far!
As the start got nearer the temperature got higher and by the time I was on my way to the start corals I was felling warm. I actually took water from a volunteer handing it out on the way to start. Something I would never do normally. It was not very hot but it was over 20C which was warmer than I wanted. The gun went off and off we went. The first mile is downhill and everyone including me goes out too fast. There is no water stop until mile two and when we got there I was thirsty and feeling the heat. One of the great things about Boston is the water stops every mile on both sides of the road with lots of Gatorade and water. I actually think there was more water added this year. I drank Gatorade and poured two cups of water all over myself (very important to pour water not Gatorade on yourself trust me on this I have done it the wrong way around). When I hit the water stop at mile three I was still hot and thirsty so I slowed it down a bit. It was obvious it was not Boston PB kind of weather but I was still feeling pretty good about beating last year’s time!
The plus side to the warmer day was that the crowds were huge. I don’t think there was a single stretch along the whole 26.2 miles that did not have spectators on it. If you wanted to you could have high fived cute kids all the way to Boylston. I gave up high fiving kids a long time ago it’s a nice idea but it uses up way too much energy! Several people told me they used high five power for a boost when their energy was getting low.
I was drinking Gatorade and drowning myself with multiple cups of water at every aid station but I was still feeling the heat. At around 16K there was a spectator giving out bags of ice. I actually went back to get one. There was a guy behind me who took one too. He was sharing his. Calling out to other runners and offering them ice. Not me, I took the whole bag of ice and stuck in down my sports bra! (there are some advantages to being a girl). I left it there until I crossed the finish line.
I hit the halfway point in 1:37:22 which was OK. I know the course and myself well enough to know that means sub 3:20 on a good day but at least sub 3:25 unless things go really bad in the second half, which can happen, and has happened, particularly in Boston. By this point the headwind had really started to pick up. I am not sure it was that or the bag of ice in my bra but I was not feeling the heat as much. Which was good because I still had the Newton hills to run through. After having run the course a dozen times you would think I would be able to count the Newton Hills. I can’t, I was convinced we were done when we had one left but I made it up the last one. The crowd on heartbreak hill were great and there was a fantastic drum band at the bottom. I lost some time on the hills (I don’t run uphill well) but for the first time ever I did not feel like complete hell coming out of them. The last 5 miles of the course is really not that tough but the preceding 21 miles can make it a real slog! For once it was not for me but I saw a whole lot of pain in that last 5 miles.
Having said that I was very happy to see the finish line. In part because even after having run it 12 times it is still really cool to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon but mostly because when you cross the finish line you get to STOP running! I finished in 3:17:48 which was good enough for 12th in W50-54. Much better than last year. A big congratulations to all the other K2J runners. Training for and going to Boston is way more fun with friends like them and a special congratulations to Krissie Wilson who got the only PB of the weekend running the 5K!