In 2015 I ran my first Boston Marathon. I thought it could potentially be my only one (not because I didn’t think I’d qualify again but just life can make it difficult to travel cross country for a marathon). That year was difficult, rainy and stormy, but I managed, somehow, to get a 6 minute PR. Since then I skipped the LA marathon (too hot when 14 weeks preggo), finished my PhD, had my daughter, and returned to the marathon in at the Santa Rosa Marathon, finishing with a very similar time to my first BQ (SF 2014). After that race the hubs asked asked if I wanted to go back to Boston… I did.
In the 12 weeks leading up to Marathon Monday, I had truly my best training cycle. Except a little cold and a slight tweak in back that took off a couple extra running days, I felt fit and strong. I easily hit my workouts, even in sometimes stormy (for California) days. I can honestly say that I loved this training cycle. I was confident and probably in the best shape of my life. So I made some lofty goals for myself and believed they might actually be in reach.
About two weeks or so I started checking out early predictions for the weather in Boston come Patriot’s Day. They were calling for cooler temps and rain. I could do that, I did it in 2015. And I’d much rather have that than heat. But as we got closer the predictions looked less promising, more and more rain, colder temps, and strong headwinds. For a few days I was disheartened, I knew my chances of hitting my marathon goal were dwindling. But then I decided to have an attitude check. I was going to run my third marathon in less-than-ideal rainstorm conditions (CIM 2012 and Boston 2015 being 1 and 2, respectively) and I was going to be back in Boston. You can’t change the weather but I could change my attitude. So I decided to still try for my original goal but be happy with whatever happened (even if it meant quitting early for coffee… only kinda kidding).
The Sunday before the race was especially cold. We celebrated Connie’s birthday with a super easy shakeout in the low 30s. This somehow made the only mildly warmer temps on Monday seem much warmer. My legs felt fresh and I was ready. Despite plans to explore some of the city with the kids, we decided to hang back at our AirBnB.
Sunday night I could not sleep. I wasn’t nervous but the wind outside was howling. Our daughter woke up several times. I was relieved when it was finally time to get up and get going. Connie and I took an Uber to the Commons around 6am. I parted ways with her (she had a speedy red bib!) and headed toward Katie’s hotel room. Katie was in Wave 2 and I was in Wave 3 but after seeing the conditions, she decided to run with me (yay!). After what seemed like forever wondering around in the rain finding the gear check and back to the busses, we were finally on our way to Hopkinton.
Athlete’s Village was a huge mess – the rain had really destroyed the field. When I ran in 2015, it didn’t really start raining until I started running but this year it had already been raining all night. Katie and I didn’t even bother to go into the village. Instead, we put on glide (to the best we could with our cold hands) and started toward the corrals, with a bathroom stop along the way. Once we got settled into the corral, we convinced ourselves to finally take off our sweatpants (which were soaked) and found some hand warmers someone had left to the side. Then the announcer told us he had good news, “Snow is no longer predicted for Boston.” What?! This was a possibility? But we did see snow plows outside Katie’s hotel…
Finally we started and it actually felt great to be running. I had kept my sweatshirt and trash bag on, hoping to keep the rain off my skin for just a little longer. (For the race I wore long socks, shorts, two singlets, gloves (that didn’t last long), and at the last minute opted for my running Rabbit raincoat.) Then we saw the 1km sign and thought it said 1 mile – we were so excited and so wrong! Ha! I would say the happiness of finally running only lasted a little while.
The race seemed to go like this: Bearable rain, noticing the water flowing down the street, rain turn into sheets and pelting, and then crazy wind. Over and over again. The spectators made it more bearable. Katie and I checked in with each other repeatedly. My legs felt awesome – nothing else did. But despite a quick trip to the bathroom in the first miles, we were keeping a steady pace. Around upper 7s… I had a very real fear that I would burn out early fighting the storm, so I tried to keep it conservative. I regret this.
I remember having a hard time on the Newton hills in 2015. But this time I barely noticed them – guessing the rain. I was still believing my lying watch that told me I had splits of 7:15 and 6:54 in this stretch. Hahahahaha. I tried to fix the watch issue by resetting the laps but didn’t really do any good with that attempt.
After getting through Heartbreak Hill my stomach was really starting to bother me… of course because I hadn’t fueled much. I had to run to the bathroom. This took an insane amount of time dealing with frozen hands and very wet shorts. I’m pretty sure minus this I would have had a small PR but oh well.
I knew I only had about 4 miles left and that the hubs and little could be anywhere along the course cheering. I don’t remember when my watch died but I really had no idea of my pace at this point and just focused on finishing. It seems I slowed down considerably here too. But can you blame me, I had been running in awful conditions for 3+ hours.
I saw the Citgo sign. One mile left. Then Hereford. Turn right. So close. Boylston. Turn left. I saw the finish line. And then I heard the hubs yell my name. I was so happy. I waved and kept on pushing to the finish, tears coming down my face. Boston just makes you feel all the things.
After a bit of chaos I finally reconnected with the hubs, little, Connie, and her fam. I changed into my dry clothes and we began our trek to the AirBnB (two rides on the T, to the car, and then a Lyft ride for Connie and I).
After the race, I was really just happy that I finished. I wanted a better finishing time (official 3:30:02) but I was content with it. I was also exhausted and likely had a fever. Fast forward to a couple days after we were back home and I lost that good attitude. I was really disappointed and sad. I was frustrated. I started running again really quickly because I felt good… I had so much still left in my legs. I was angry. Not at the weather but at myself for not pushing, fighting for those goals more. I almost jumped into another marathon (thanks friends, coach, and hubs for talking me through that).
Honestly, I’m still sad. I love the Boston experience. I want to go back. But I feel like 2018 could have been a different experience. I hope that at some point I’ll be more proud of getting through what really was a crazy day (Katie and I joked at the beginning that it would be impossible for anyone who wasn’t there to understand). But I also learned a very real lesson: I don’t want to leave anything on the table anymore. I tend to play it safe when racing. This is going to be a hard thing for me to overcome. And my next couple of races will be about this… learning to throw down and fight for those goals.