Well, I changed my mind about writing an RR, after my wise friend Waterskimmer wrote me something special. Thank you, Teresa.
So here is my race report:
Samuel Eliot Morison, a Bostonian historian and educator, wrote: "Dream dreams. Then write them. Aye, but live them first".
On April 15th 2013, I lived my dream. A dream which I will dream for years to come. A dream which I want to write down now, for myself, and in memory of those who can no longer dream.
I arrived in Boston on Saturday, late afternoon. I was accompanied by my sister-in-law, Heather. She was such a great companion to me throughout our entire stay. I cannot thank her enough. Heather, you are the best and I love you!
The next day, we were at the expo early. There, I met with T.O., whom some of you know well from the golden days of RW. T.O. and I go way back. He was even there with me when I ran my first race ever, a HM, in 2008. It was fun meeting him once again.
We toured the expo, then went for lunch, took some pictures and walked to where we would meet the next morning, for the bus trip to Hopkinton. I was nervous, but not as much as I thought I would be. I'm slowly becoming an old pro, I believe.
The morning of the race, we had to wait longer than expected before boarding a shuttle. But everything was so well organized, really flawless. It was a perfect looking day for running. I had only slept 3 or 4 hours, but I felt in fine form. My pre-race routine went well, as usual, and around 9 am, T.O. and I were sitting at the athletes village, waiting for our wave (#2) to start. While waiting, I had a chance encounter with runwell3, a forumite here. He was so nice and somehow it made the whole experience even better for me. Meeting him was like a symbol of the strong bond that exists between all runners. Thank you, runwell3, for introducing yourself to me.
After doing so many marathons in the span of 11 months (6), and at my venerable age (47), I have come to expect that my PRs can only be small ones from now on, and I'm quite alright with that. Every minute gained brings me joy. My last PR of 3:32 was from last November, on an easy course which I ran stupidly (I ran the first half way too fast, then ran 3 miles downhill at close to 10k pace. Then I finished walking most of the last two miles, like a stupid zombie). This time, I wanted to run smart and on a better training cycle. But I knew that the course was more difficult than the Hamilton course of November. My three time trials during training were indicating one 3:22 finish time (10 miles in 1:12:02) and two 3:24 finish times (2x10ks in about 43:30). But I figured that with the hills, and the fact that my body is now worn out from the multi-marathons this year, it'd be more realistic to just aim for a sub-3:30. I chose 3:28 as my goal.
I trained for this race like I trained for all my previous races. Mostly on my TM, which I have come to trust more than I trust my own mother. To anyone who doubts that TM training is as efficient as road training, I will say this: I've raced in winds, below freezing temps, near 80F temps, in heavy rains and on very hilly courses. I've BQed in all of those races, and I've BQed every 2 months in the last 2 years without any injuries. Find me a road runner here on this forum who can claim that... I'm not saying that TM training is for anyone, no. I'm definitely crazy for doing it and it's boring as hell for most and I must be mentally insane for liking it. But to me, it's like meditation, or like I'm doing yoga... What I'm really saying here is that it's possible to use the machine and simulate the course you will be racing on. I've done it more than once. But, yes... it's boring and my garage offers the ugliest view ever. So don't try to do what I do, unless you suffer from insanity.
I also added more miles and more hill work this time around. Speedwork was the same as what I'm used to. I ran countless LRs (including a full marathon in hills, 13 weeks ago, which I used as a training run), and I did an 18 and a 20 miler at 7:54 pace, my GMP, on flat terrain. So I knew that I had the sub-3:30 in me. I just didn't know if I'd be able to pace myself correctly for the Boston course. A very tricky course. This is where T.O. made all the difference for me. He paced us beautifully, always yelling at me to slow down in the first half. I'm very grateful to him.
MY FANTASTIC PACER
While waiting in line for a porta-potty, T.O. asked me what my goal time was. I told him 3:28. T.O. is a fast runner, but due to work and family obligations, he was unable to put in the necessary miles for this training cycle and he felt that a BQ was out of reach for him this time around. He knew that he still had speed in him (after a great 30k race he did back in March), but his endurance was lacking (he peaked around 35-40 miles only, I believe). So he kindly offered to pace me. Knowing him, I knew how smart a racer he is and this was a great opportunity for me to race in a proper way, something I had never done in the past. Still, I had never run with anyone before, let alone race... The idea has always sort of repulsed me, even (I'm an old nag who can't stand people with funny gates, people who make strange sounds when breathing, people who sing or hum... I'm just a regular intolerant witch, as you can see...). Also, part of me was thinking: "What if I can't keep up with him and I have to tell him to slow down at some point? How truly embarrassing that would be..." I was a little scared. But my desire to do well in this race was greater than my fears and I took the chance and agreed to let him pace me. Best decision I've ever made in my racing career.
THE GREATEST MARATHON EVER, THE BOSTON MARATHON
Right from the start, I felt like I was about to embark in a wonderful, exciting journey. I know it sounds corny, but it's what it felt like for me. It was magical. For a runner, to run Boston is a joyful thing, whatever your goal is. I could have very well chosen to run it as a victory lap, like Brad did. I considered it, even. It would have made sense. But I felt that I had made such good progress in my running in the last few months that I didn't want to waste that. I had to try for a PR. Still, I can fully understand why someone would just want to run it for fun. The crowd and the atmosphere are so festive!
The first few miles were extremely stressful for me because I was trying to stay by T.O.'s side while fighting the dense crowd of runners. I can't believe the number of times I elbowed someone or ran on people's heels. I got yelled at so many times! I really felt terrible about it. Plus, I have a terrible sense of distance, so that didn't help me. T.O. was trying hard to get us out of the slower running mass and after 4 or 5 miles, things calmed down a little for us. We started running what seemed to me very stable, even splits, although I wasn't really paying attention, I was just following T.O. It felt great for me to not have to constantly worry about my pace.
There was so much to look at! T.O. would point to things he remembered from his first Boston race and it was cool to understand them as I was seeing them. We would also comment on legs and other body parts around us which we liked or liked less. I felt a real complicity with my pacer, like we were brother and sister at that moment. I think being comfortable with him was very important for me, otherwise it would have been an added stress, since I can be extremely shy at times. When we got to the Wellesley college girls, I told T.O. to go get his kisses and that I'd slow down a bit to let him catch up with me after. He happily went. I saw a girl with a "Kiss me, I'm 19" sign and thought to myself "Now why would someone rather kiss a 19 yo girl, instead of running 26.2 miles with a 47 yo woman???" LOL... After his round of kisses, T.O. was back by my side and we continued on our journey. There were many people waving Canadian flags and each time we'd encounter them, we'd start screaming and waving our arms like idiots. You gotta love loud and idiotic Canadians.
When we got to the hills, T.O. reminded me that racing in the hills was not a good idea. I don't know why, but my instincts are always to try to pass as many people as I can while running up. Like a suicidal wish I have... Anyway, we made it through the hills and they were not as bad as legend has them. Unfortunately, after the 4th hill, T.O. announced that he had started cramping up in the legs (he is prone to that). he told me to go ahead without him. I felt terrible and I hesitated. But I knew that he had been running a slower pace for him just to help me PR and if I slowed down now, then his help would have been all for nothing... So I said ok and regretfully continued on my own. That was at mile 21. I ran downhill a few miles after Heartbreak Hill, then I hit flat terrain in the last couple of miles. The feeling of elation I had at that moment is indescribable. When I saw the CITGO sign, I was so happy... I knew the race was mine. The crowd was wild with encouragements and it helped me focus on what I wanted to be a perfect finish. No walking, no slowing down (although I did slow down, but for me, it was minimal. I usually have very crappy endings).
Throughout the race, I felt great. I never felt like I was struggling, except maybe in the last 2 miles where I had to rely more on mental power to push my legs. Also in some of the hills, not the first one (which felt like pff... that's a hill?) and the last one (which was like "I'm done with hills after this, which means I'm freakin' home soon, yeepee!!!!"), although it was my slowest (but mentally, I still felt strong). It was the second one (was it long or what?) and the third one that sort of turn me off. Sort of a lot.
As I was running the final 100 meters, the cheers were incredible. When I think now that Kristle, Martin and Lingzi were maybe cheering for me, it hurts. But I think that if we continue celebrating life through running and cheering at races, then we are celebrating these three people and honoring them.
I crossed the finish line with my eyes glued on the clock. I could hardly believe the numbers I saw there. But at the same time, I believed it, because I knew that I had it in me since the beginning. It's not often that I believe in myself in this manner. It's something precious to me.
MY AWESOME PACES!!!!!!
Mile 1, 8:03 (Hard to navigate between thousands of runners)
Mile 2, 7:46
Mile 3, 7:40
Mile 4, 7:41
Mile 5, 7:44
Mile 6, 7:37 (48:41 at 10k)
Mile 7, 7:42
Mile 8, 7:40
Mile 9, 7:38 (1:12:41 at 15k)
Mile 10, 7:47
Mile 11, 7:47
Mile 12, 7:33
Mile 13, 7:43 (1:42:04 at half point)
Mile 14, 7:38
Mile 15, 7:51
Mile 16, 7:33
Mile 17, 7:55 (Hill #1?)
Mile 18, 8:06 (Hill #2?)
Mile 19, 7:52
Mile 20, 8:03 (Hill #3?)
Mile 21, 8:20 (Hill #4)
Mile 22, 7:57
Mile 23, 7:55
Mile 24, 8:08
Mile 25, 8:08 (3:16:20 at 40k)
Mile 26, 8:22 (here, I had brief thoughts of taking some walking steps, which I am guilty of doing often in my marathons at that mile. But the spectators would have none of it and I am grateful to them for pushing me this way. Thank you, crazy and loud people! )
Last .49, 3:38 (7:25 mpm)
Total: 26.49 miles, 7:51 mpm average. Finish time: 3:27:45
Ranking: 96th out 1567 women aged 45-49 who finished the race. Top 6%
BQ-27 minutes. Good for first day registration into the 2014 Boston Marathon. And you bet I'll be there.
BQ #11 out of 11 marathons in three years, since I started racing. This was my 6th marathon in the last 11 months. I still feel strong and ready to continue training. Although at times, in between races, I feel mentally drained. But race day always quickly erases all mental fatigue that has accumulated in me.
My plans for the near future: I still have another marathon at the end of May, my 7th in 12 months. It will be my return to Ottawa, where I ran my first ever marathon in May of 2010. It is also the site of the stroke I had in May of 2009. To try explaining to you just how grateful I am to be able to do this today is almost impossible. Ottawa won't be a PR attempt, just a long run where I will savor each mile, one at a time. My victory lap, so to speak. In the fall, I plan on another PR. And maybe another one in 2014. But after that... I don't know. This hobby of ours is so darn time consuming. But it's fun, isn't it?
Well, that's it! And yes, I feel so much better now. :-)
Thank you, Boston. Thank you, America. Thank you, friends.
And to those who suffered a loss, I am so sorry for you. I will never forget why you were there and what happened to you.
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
18 marathons, 18 BQs since 2010
Are we there yet?
Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for writing this.
2017 Goals: for races not to be exercises in futility
Lily, a beautiful dream, I got pretty emotional reading it. You ran an amazing race and had an even more amazing experience.
I hope everyone else writes their RR's as well, because for a minute it almost takes us there.
What a wonderful report. I am very happy that you chose to write it and I have the privilege of reading it. I may never run more than a half marathon, but reports like this have me dreaming of running 26.2 someday. Thank you for giving me something to dream about. I will be spectating at the 2014 Boston Marathon and I will cheer loudly for you!
Great race report, glad you had fantastic time, race and BQ on top of that.
Ron's PRs 5K 24:14 (12/07/2013); Half Marathon 1:53:33 (5/26/2013)
Run to live; live to run
What an amazing race and great report. I don't comment on many RR. I love to read yours. So well done.
What a great report, and a great race! Congrats on the awesome PR! I'm glad that you decided to write this, I think you're absolutely right that we need to keep celebrating and cheering, and most importantly, keep running.
My running blog
Goals | sub-18 5k | sub-3 marathon
uʍop ǝpᴉsdn sǝʇᴉɹʍ ʇI
What a joy to read. Thank you, Lily, you made my day. great splits, as well!
Feets don't fail me now
Lilly, I know that was extremely personal for you but I think you should submit it to Runners World. Beautifully written and so many emotions came through and it is so sincere. Congrats on a great race and thank you for that RR.
Julie, you have such wonderful writing skills. Thank you so much for sharing this experience. I will never qualify for Boston, and really have no desire to at this point, but I will be signing up for my first full soon. Who knows, I might be in Boston cheering for you and others though. Congrats on the PR, you are such an inspiration.
Ball of Fury
Wonderful RR and just a fantastic race! Thank you for sharing!
PRs: 5K 22:59, 10K 46:54,HM: 1:51:15
Great report, thanks for writing it. Congrats on an amazing race and a PR in Boston.
I'm so glad you decided to post your RR. Congratulations on running such a fine race!
The obstacle is the path. - Zen proverb
As usual an interesting and informative RR from you!
Superb race, that photo of you coming around the corner is phenomenal!!
And to share the day with a very special pacer is wonderful!
Now you know why spectating in 2010 while hubby ran Boston is the reason I started running
fulls after 10 years of half's and never caring about running a full marathon. There is something
undeniably inspiring and special about Boston that is hard to describe unless you have been
Going forward it will be even more so.
On shin transplant list
What a great read. You are awesome. That is all.