I woke up at 5 on race morning and hopped in the shower. The weather forecast of incredible heat helped calm my nerves as all time goals were thrown out the window. I was able to eat my normal breakfast and left about 6:15 to head to our run club bus.
Ready to leave my house.
I boarded the bus with a few girls I knew from training and another runner Michelle, who I had been chatting with. Michelle's PR was only 2 minutes faster than mine and had the weather been nicer would have been looking for a similar goal time, so we talked about maybe running together. The bus ride to Hopkinton was uneventful and we pulled into Athlete's Village around 7:30. The first thing I noticed upon exiting the bus was the bright sun and lack of clouds in the sky.
GLRR Pre-Boston Picture--Runners and Volunteers
After sitting around for only a few minutes I talked Michelle into looking for my sister so that we could get out of the sun. My sister was working a VIP area inside one of the gyms. I had volunteered in the same area two years ago and I knew we would be able to find a place to sit and stretch out of the heat. We walked through Athlete's Village to find the gym and went into the VIP area. With two hours to go until the marathon, we were so thankful to get to sit and relax.
So happy to see my sister before the race.
With less than an hour to go until the start we decided to make our way toward the corals. The walk was much shorter than I anticipated, Disney's walk to the corals is much longer. The walk was very exciting as I knew the race was about to start, but it also made me nervous. I was breaking a sweat walking, what was going to happen running for 4 hours in this heat? They weren't letting wave 2 people into the corals yet so we found a spot to sit in in the shade of a truck along with many other people trying to avoid the sun. As soon as wave 1 took off we got up to head to the coral and there were people everywhere. This was actually one of my least favorite parts of Boston. You have 20 minutes in between each wave and they have to somehow get 9000 people into the corals on a narrow road.
I was in coral 6 and there was so much room in there. We only waited about 5-10 minutes and we were off. As soon as they let us go, I squealed "I am running the Boston Marathon!" It took us a few minutes to reach the starting line but once we did we were immediately able to start running and hit our planned pace. This is where I really screwed up for the day. The night before, I promised my husband I would run by my heart rate. That morning, I decided I wanted to try for 8:30's at first and slow down when I needed to. As you will see, in my mile by mile recap, that planned pace was not slow enough for the day.
Just past the start line you head into a bunch of downhills. People lined the streets cheering for us. I seriously felt like the town had come out for a parade and we were their entertainment. It was truly something I won't forget. I waved to people, I cheered, I smiled. There were very few places on the course that there were not people cheering for us which made the experience that much more exciting.
As much as the crowd was exciting, I began to focus on the race and what was happening with my body. When you look at the course profile, you see a lot of downhills in the beginning of the race, but as I learned during training, there is quite a bit of inclines as well. It was on the inclines that I really noticed my body wasn't performing the way I wanted it to. Miles 1-3 I was able to maintain around an 8:30 pace, but it didn't feel good. At Disney, my legs felt fresh and my 7:50 pace felt effortless. Running 8:30's in nearly 80 degree temperatures made my heart rate take off and my legs felt like lead. This was a bad sign at mile 3.
This race can basically be divided into two parts. The first 14 miles and then holding on for dear life in the final 12 miles. Below are my splits for miles 1-14. I obviously ignored my race plan in those first miles and watched my heart rate sky rocket. I can tell you based on my recent heart rate training I have been doing that my heart rate only reaches 180 when I am doing intervals at a 6:45 pace. The fact that my average heart rate going 8:30ish pace was 180 means my body was working way too hard. I can tell you mentally what was going on in my head......This pace doesn't feel great, oh shoot my heart is beating way too fast, but I don't want to slow down yet, I know this is going to hurt me but I know I am going to slow down anyways........Bad, bad, bad Robin. This is how Robin of the past used to race. I was not using my brain out there but rather was running by what I wanted.
So while everything going on in my head wasn't smart, I had a blast those first 14 miles. I grabbed ice from the spectators and stuffed it in my bra. I high-fived kids. I saw my husband at mile 10.5 and gave him a big kiss.
One of the many spray tunnels they had set up for us out there.
Look at all the people behind me! Yet I never felt crowded.
At around the halfway point you heard a roar up ahead of you and I knew we were entering Wellesley College. I could not believe you could hear the crowds for at least a 1/2 mile before you saw them. The girls were lining the street with signs asking for kisses. The men were kissing them and they were screaming. AND, I wiped out. In front of hundreds of screaming girls I fell on both knees and one hand. My hand was bleeding and I refused to look at my knee. When I fell the crowd gasped. I immediately popped back up and they cheered. Embarrassing, yes. Did it phase me? Not really.
Less than a mile later, I could no longer convince my body that it was having too much fun to slow down so the walking began. My legs were exhausted and I could not cool down. There was NO way I wasn't finishing this race so I figured I was going to walk and get my heart rate back to a normal range so that I wouldn't overheat. And so began the longest 10 miles EVER. But, luckily, I wasn't alone. Everyone around me was walking. I was seeing red bibs with low numbers next to me. I was not the only one who ran too fast for the conditions and now was suffering. But we were all working together to get to that finish line safely.
Going up Heartbreak Hill, I really can't tell you much about because I zoned out. I was tired and just wanted to get it over with. My running form was suffering immensely from being tired so I decided to walk on the downhills since I was heal striking and didn't want to get shin splints from this mess of a race. At around mile 18.5, I saw a familiar face and I literally wanted to cry. I gave Steph the biggest hug and told her how miserable I was. She of course pumped me up and told me how amazing I was doing and I decided to chat for a bit just to calm myself down. At this point I knew I was halfway up Heartbreak and I just need to keep pushing.
Run, walk, run walk......At around mile 20, I realized I was probably overheating. Every time I got sprayed by a hose, I felt like I was going into shock and someone was punching me in the chest. It was the scariest feeling. I needed the water to cool me down but it hurt too much to take advantage of it. I decided no more hoses and to just drink as much water and gatorade and walk even more to avoid getting hotter.
Just after peaking Heartbreak, at mile 21, we entered Boston College and my FAVORITE part of the race. This makes me laugh because I hurt so much, but it was SOOOO fun. The college kids were out partying and screaming and it was just what I needed at that point. Suddenly, I was running a sub-9 minute mile pace and hitting every hand that I could. The kids were encouraging me and loved seeing someone benefit from their cheers. And just as fast as the adrenaline to run through there hit, it left when my calf started cramping up.
Oh yes, my favorite calf problem. Each marathon, my calf cramps have progressively gotten better. I always get them but they have been coming in later in the race. At Disney, I didn't feel them until mile 25.5. My calves cramp so badly, that I have to walk because I feel like I am going to fall over. Run, walk, run walk. I knew I had no other choice. This is what the second half of my race looked like....
You have to love seeing my crazy splits. Entering Boston, my adrenaline started coming back. I saw the Citgo sign up ahead and I knew I was almost there. Getting to the Citgo sign took a lot of effort but I kept pushing forward. When I finally reached the Citgo sign, the celebration began as you can see by my splits. I took off!
I may or may not have been the crazy girl whooping it up for the final 1.5 miles. I cheered, I screamed, I ran fast. I was almost done with the Boston Marathon and I was going to finish strong. My calves were still cramping, but I didn't care. I was not walking it in. Turning on to Hereford was another favorite part of the race. Even today, I feel like that final half mile was a dream. I saw Boylston Street up ahead and I yelled even louder. I was finishing! Next was my turn on to Boylston. Wait a second! Why was that finish line so darn far away?!!! Oh well, I guess it was more time to celebrate and hope that I wasn't going to fall from my calves seizing. I yelled, I cheered, I ran to that finish line.
Five years, I had been waiting for that moment. I was so proud of myself. This race wasn't about running fast and hitting a time. The race was as hard as my journey to get here. I proved to myself once again how strong I was. It wasn't easy to get to this point in my life, but I am here. That was the hardest finish line to get to, but I crossed it. I finished in 4:29, my 4th slowest marathon, 17th marathon in 5 years. I am a Boston Marathoner!!!!!