I am alive but not kicking. My quads are so sore I would never be able to kick anything. I avoid the stairs and sitting down unless I can remain sitting for a long period of time. BOSTON was awesome! I loved every minute of it, except for maybe minutes 1:50 (mile 13.1) through minutes 3:47:58 (mile 26.2)! I have never run a race with so many people running and cheering. Let's start from the beginning:
Garth and I arrived in Boston on Sunday morning just as the Women's Olympic trials were ending. We saw many super lady runners proudly wearing their finishing medals throughout the day. Go Deena Kastor (she won)! We went straight to the HUGE expo to pick up my race number, chip and shirt (ahhh! I literally got the last small shirt). Garth and I were there early enough to avoid the body to body crowds that began to surround us by lunch time. It was so crowded that they had to stop letting people in until others left. The running booths were great and we got my fix of free stuff (this included plenty of "prizes" for the kids). Garth was a trooper following me around as I had to check out everything!
After the Expo, we went to our hotel (via the "T" or subway) to relax before meeting up with some of my super fast running boys for dinner. We carb loaded at Maggianos (very frustrating not being able to chow down too much). We really wanted to take a tour of the city earlier that day, but were not able to get tickets. We were bummed we missed out on seeing all the super sights of Boston (but I figured I got to see quite a few on my run).
We were lucky to have our hotel about one minute walking distance from the buses that would take the runners to the start 26.2 miles away in Hopkinton, MA. Garth walked me to my bus taking a few photos of the HUGE crowds of runners awaiting their turn to load on the buses. It was fun to chat with other runners and hear about their stories and experience.
After the long bus ride, we were taken to the "athlete's village" where we were treated to bagels, water and powerbars and of course the ever so long bathroom lines. They had jets fly over the start right before the first wave of runners started. I was in the second wave at 10:30 and started walking to the start about 10:15. The start was about a mile away and I figured I had plenty of time due to the sea of people leisurely walking to their various race corrals. As I hit the back of the corrals (26 and I was in 16...each corral had 1000 people in it), I heard the announcer say, "And were off!" I couldn't believe I had missed the start! I started high tailing it to the front of the line, up a steep hill, dodging spectators. I finally reached corral 16 and was smashed together with a sea of runners as far as the eye could see. It took at least 2 miles before I stopped getting elbowed or just about run over!
I was finally on my way! The weather was perfect...55 and sunny! Virginia has been blasted with heavy rains and I was so grateful the front stayed south of Boston. I was excited about mile 3 because one of my dear college buddies, Sara Stout Apke (who I haven't see in at least 12 years), would be cheering! I was thrilled to see a big sign with Heytar written on it through the huge crowds. I ran over and gave her a big hug and I was off. My next fan wouldn't be until mile 17 where Garth was planning on cheering me on! I had a long way to go.
The course was pretty tough with a lot of downhill (great for the heart but not so great for the quads) and some pretty nice hills spread throughout the course. The notorious "HeartBreak Hill" was actually a serious of three hills from mile 20-22. Those hills were actually a relief from the downhills...no I am lying they stunk...no hills are good in my book. The hill that bothered me the most was the surprise hill at mile 25...are you kidding? Mile 25? My quads were so spent at that point that I kept singing in my head, "Just keep running, just keep running" (from Nemo, just keep swimming...).
I was so excited to see Garth at mile 17 and gave him a kiss and whispered in his ear, "Help! Get me outta here!" But he said, off you go...and I figured I had to keep going or I wouldn't get that coveted finisher's medal.
The crowds cheering were like nothing I had ever experienced. The entire 26 miles were lined with people giving support. Donna put my name on the front of my singlet so my name was cheered over and over again throughout the race. My favorite was when I heard a Boston native yell my name, "Go Hathah!" It actually gave me some major encouragement high fiving all of the people (the kids were the best!) as I ran along the course.
I know many you kept track of my progress as I ran the race. The race had timing mats every 5k of the race, giving you all a play by play of my progress. Each time I hit one of those mats, I would get teary eyed thinking about all of you cheering me on!
The joy that filled my heart when I came around the last turn and saw the huge Boston Marathon Finish line was something I can't explain! How cool to be amongst one of the 340,000 Boston Marathon finishers over the past 112 years (can you believe only 340,000 people have run this race?)!
The marathon is an incredible experience. It tests you mentally as your body screams for you to stop. It challenges every fiber of your being as you train week after week until the final test. You never know how each race will turn out...will my body hold up, can I keep going, why am I doing this?
Even though I was a bit shy of my goal time of 3:45:59 (that is my Boston qualifying time), I was thrilled with my final time of 3:47:58. The whole training process this go round was much more difficult due to some injuries. I ran less, did zero speed workouts and therefore decided to put my best foot forward and just where it would take me. It took me to the finish...the ultimate goal!
During the race, I told myself I didn't want to do this again. Today, I feel different. I actually can't wait until next year where I plan on training harder and going for a personal record...okay I can wait. Luckily I qualified for 2009 in November at Richmond so I have the option to take on Boston again!
At the Expo with my race number.
Garth and I at the Expo.
Waiting to board the bus with thousands of other runners.
Meeting Bart Yasso (on the left). If you don't know who he is click here. He signed a copy of his new book!
Dinner with VA friends after the race...these guys ran the race in 3:09!