I chose to run Baystate Marathon this year for 2 reasons. I knew I was running Twin Cities Marathon October 4th and with Baystate being 2 weeks later, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally join the Marathon Maniacs. My second reason for running was I convinced my sister to run Baystate as her first marathon.
I knew my sister could run a marathon after she completed her first marathon back in March. Since I convinced her to run the marathon, I promised I would run with her. Yes, I would have loved to try for Boston again, but I knew with the nagging foot pain I had from Twin Cities, that Boston wouldn't happen anyways.
We didn't go to the Expo for Baystate, instead we just picked up our packet from the running store that was a sponsor of the race, Marx Running & Fitness. Marx is where I buy my shoes, I highly recommend that store to anyone who lives west of Boston. My sister loaded up on Baystate gear so I joked that she was committed, she had to cross that finish line.
I was really relaxed leading up to the marathon. I got some shorter recovery training runs in during the week. My feet were a little sore, but nothing I couldn't tolerate.
Race morning was a typical race morning. I had to force my bagel down as I wasn't hungry at all. I chose to drink a soda instead of just water before the race because that is what I did for every marathon except this past Twin Cities. I am sure that is not what caused my side cramp, but you can bet I will go back to what has worked. My sister picked me up at 6:15 and we drove to Lowell, Massachusetts, which is about 20 minutes from my house. We were able to sit in the Tsongas Arena before the race, so we were able to have normal toilets and sit on a warm dry floor. My sister was really nervous to the point where she almost started crying when it was time to go outside. I was pretty relaxed and ready to have fun.
The starting line was pretty chaotic. This is historically a very fast race so the front of the pack was full of people. We just walked to the back of the starting coral and stood next to a building so that we could avoid the wind. The temperature was around 40 and the wind was just starting to pick up. The forecast said that the Nor'easter was to come in at around 10am. With a start time of 8am, I figured we could get halfway through the marathon before we froze. It started to drizzle about 5 minutes before the start, fun. The start was just a countdown of 3,2,1....and we were off.
The race was easily divided into a few parts so that is how I will divide the race report. Miles 1-3 went by pretty quickly but they were packed. There was a half marathon that started alongside the full marathon and we were all on one road. I told my sister no weaving so we just took it easy those first 3 miles. Mile one was 10:15 and 2 and 3 were around 10:00 pace. Her goal was to finish....I knew we would slow down at the end of the race and she was comfortable with that pace so we were going to see how long we could go that pace. I warmed up a little at this point so I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist. We saw our husbands and my brother at mile 3 which is where the half marathon turned and we were headed straight for our first loop.
Mile 3...Looking good and way too happy.
Miles 3-13 were very fun. It started raining harder so the rain jacket went back on. For the most part the whole race was pretty flat with a few rolling hills, it was a very easy course. The water stops were all put on by local high schools and they were awesome. Some stops the kids were in costumes and they were all so enthusiastic. For sitting outside in 40 degree weather in the rain, they were amazing. We walked through all the water stops so that I could make sure Kelli was getting all her necessary fluids. She was also taking gels at every 5 miles, I was taking gels at the first stop after each 5th mile. Mile 8 went over a footbridge of a huge bridge. This was not my favorite part of the race at all. First of all, I am so afraid of bridges, so running over a big one by foot is not fun. This bridge was fairly slippery, narrow, and moving. I ran pretty quickly over the thing as I was quite scared. It was even worse knowing that I would be going over that bridge again in another 10 miles, yuck. Miles 8-13 were very boring and easy. We kept knocking off the miles and passing a few people here and there. We were still maintaining a 10:00 pace and having a good time. Approaching mile 13 we ran over another bridge. This time we didn't have to go over the footbridge, so I wasn't quite as scared. On the other side of the bridge we saw our cheering section which now included one of my sisters.
Mile 13...Still having fun.
Miles 13-23 is when the real fun began. I swear as soon as we saw our husbands the weather took a big turn for the worst. The temperature dropped into the 30s and the rain started coming down hard. We were soaked. You could wring out my mittens they were so full of water. We made it to about mile 16.5 before we actually started slowing down. At about mile 16.5 there is a small hill that leads up to the first bridge. My sister's thighs started to get tight so we slowed down to the pace she needed. This is when she started questioning why people do this. You know the same thing we all have thought about at one point in our marathons. I was trying to maintain a positive attitude so I continued to tell her how I loved running and that this was fun to me and that it is supposed to hurt. We made it to the bridge at mile 18 and we were continuing to slow down. At this point we were pulling at 10:30 pace but decided to walk after we got over the bridge to try and give her legs a break. My feet were hurting the whole time, but I refused to stop because of me, this wasn't my marathon, I was going to get her to that finish line. We walked for about .5 miles and that seemed to help her legs a bit. Legs felt better. Our bodies were now in trouble because we were COLD! I don't think I have ever been so cold in my life. Keep in mind, I was prepared for this marathon in terms of what I wore. I wore pants, 2 shirts, a rain jacket, ear cover, and mittens. A large number of people running Baystate were not prepared for the weather. People started to drop because they were so cold. People were uncontrollably shivering and were walking off the course to quit. I was still cold and shivering with all my clothes on, but we weren't quitting. We ran/walked the next 4 miles. We ran much more than we probably would have, had the weather been warmer. I don't think we walked more than 1.25 miles of the entire marathon, something my sister should be so proud of. Surprisingly, those 4 miles went by fairly quickly even though we were freezing and our feet felt like blocks of ice. At mile 23, we saw our husbands again. THANK GOODNESS! Eric had his running gloves on and he switched out with me. Oh what a saint! I have no pictures from this point on as it was raining too hard for my husband to have the camera out. People's umbrellas were breaking because of the wind and Eric didn't want to risk ruining our new camera. I will post the official race pictures once they become available. When we came up to our husbands and stopped to get gloves, there was a bus there that opened its doors to let us in. Eric said there were bus fulls of people that had quit and were hopping on the bus. We were not quitting. We only had 3 miles left. Our average pace up to mile 20 was around 10:30 pace, so we definitely slowed down.
Miles 23-26 were a blast for me, not so much for Kelli. We left the boys and trudged on. I knew how hard those last 3 miles were for me when I ran my first marathon so I started talking. I was trying to make Kelli and the people around me laugh to lighten the situation as people were running and walking with their heads down with defeat written all over them. Kelli kind of just half laughed at me and kept up with me. My fingers felt like they were going to fall off and my feet felt like I was running with blocks of ice in my shoes, I was sooooooo cold! I am so proud of her at this point as I didn't let her slow down as much as she wanted to. I kept up an even pace even up the small hill that was right at the end. At 1 mile to go, I made her pick it up a little bit more. Her legs were dying and I was excited. I knew I would be warm in just a short time, I was squealing, literally. We ran across a bridge and I was screaming. Yes, I was a fool, but I was trying to express to my sister how exciting this moment was. The finish line was in a stadium and you kind of looped around the stadium to get in, it was very cool. You entered the stadium and did a lap around the ballpark to the finish line. The ballpark was full of huge puddles so we did some weaving around so as to not soak ourselves anymore. The whole time I kept telling Kelli that I knew she could run faster. We made it around and crossed that finish line in an official time of 4:49:14. We were done, finally!
The finish line food was pretty good and we took it downstairs to eat on some picnic tables. We were so cold that we had everyone block us off with our heat blankets so that we could change into dry clothes. I apologize to anyone who may have had to see me, but I was too cold to go and find a bathroom.
Overall, I loved this marathon! It was a boring marathon in terms of spectators but the course was so easy and the finish line was great. I really think that this is a great course to qualify for Boston on, so I may be back next year with that in mind. No matter what I will run this race again as it is practically in my back yard, and it was a blast!