"I just want to cross Boston off my list. Then I'm done."
~ me, to my husband after my 1st marathon
Let's take a step back in time, shall we? It's spring of 2007. I've just had my second daughter, Grace, back in February and slowly, but surely, I'm getting back into running. And I'm loving it. Every time I lace up and hit the road I feel free, alive, elated - all of it. I can't get enough. As summer rolls around, the idea of running Boston creeps into my head. We're living in Charlestown, just outside the city, and I've gone and watched the marathon almost every year since we'd moved to MA back in 2001. The farthest I've ever raced is a half. The thought of doubling that distance is daunting, overwhelming and scary as hell and yet I can't get it out of my head. Of course, I can't just register for Boston. I have to qualify. So, I bite the bullet and sign up for the Bay State Marathon which will take place in October. Based on the reviews, it's flat, fast and boring. But, I have a baby and a 2 year old and if I'm going to make anything happen at this point in my life, it needs to be relatively simple, so Bay State makes perfect sense. Okay, so now I'm doing this. Or, at least, I'm going to try. I start running more. Like 5-6 miles almost every day. (I know, whoa!!) Some days I even pick up the pace. Maybe I throw in a couple long-ish runs. I don't really remember. My naive, younger self just assumes if I stay in good shape and run consistently I'll be good to go come October. Silly, silly me. Finally, it's October and the race is looming. I don't taper because I don't know what it is. Not that it matters. I haven't done enough mileage to warrant a taper. Basically, I'm clueless. In some ways it's better. In some ways, not so much. The night before the race I eat some pasta because I've heard that's what people do. I get up early the next morning, drink a cup of coffee and grab a bar to eat on the road as my husband drives me out to Lowell. It's a beautiful, crisp fall morning; perfect race weather. Jeff leaves me at the arena and tells me he'll see me at the finish line. Holy shit. This this is really happening. I grab my bib and find a corner to hang out, stretch and just soak up the scene. People are eating bananas (dummies, why would they start the race with a full stomach?), filling up water bottles for their fuel belts (wow, that looks ridiculously heavy and awkward, I can't believe they're going to run with that on) and stashing their gels in their pockets (Hmm. I wonder what those small, shiny packets are that everyone seems to have). Finally, it's time to head over to the start. I walk out in my tank top (cotton) and shorts (2 sizes to big) and instantly realize why everyone is wearing a trash bag or carrying a blanket. Dammit. I'm freezing but I just play it cool because, well, what else am I going to do? Finally, the gun blows and we're off. I start my music, oh yes, always music. Though, I do think I was listening on the original iPod. Not the smallest device, but so much better than the Sony Walkman, which I'd probably just recently stopped using. I settle in to my typical pace and find a little group to run with. I start chatting with people, asking them what their pace goals are. I'm not getting much of a response and just assume my fellow runners aren't in the mood to talk. Oh well. For the first half of the race I feel awesome. The miles are flying by. I am not the least bit thirsty, so I don't take any fluids. Why slow yourself down if you don't need to? I've paired up with a gentleman who's wife or friend meets up with him every six miles or so to give him a bottle of something to pink to drink. So bizarre, I think to myself. Seems like a lot of effort. But, I guess he needs it. Thank goodness I don't. Around mile 15, my sister-in-law jumps in to run with me for the second half of the race. I throw my iPod to my husband who is standing in the crowd so I can chat with her instead, which I assume we'll be doing all the way to the finish line. And we do for a while. All things considered, it's still going pretty well. I've been comfortably holding about a 7:30 pace and haven't had any issues. Until mile 17. I start to feel a little woozy. So, I slow down a little, but I'm still able to chug along. The talking from my end has gone from complete sentences to one word answers. I hang on like this for a few more miles and then the wheels fall off. I feel weird, dazed, confused. My legs are getting really, really heavy. My feet don't want to go. I want to walk. I need to stop. My sis-in-law keeps me going. "Let's jog until the next tree and then we'll walk again" she's saying. Okay, yes. Just do what she says. One foot in front of the other. Somehow, I manage to shuffle/walk/jog through the final 10K and finally I see the stadium which is where we're finishing. Dear Lord, I never thought it would come. I have no idea what my time or pace is at this point. I've stopped looking and I don't care. I just want to be done. My legs are dead weight, but they're still going. Finally, I'm on the track and the finish line is visible. Okay, let's do this. I'm sprinting now. (not really, but I think I am) And I cross the line in 3:39:59. I need a 3:40 to qualify for Boston. Talk about cutting it close. I can't really digest this information at the moment. I'm just so freaking happy to be done. Somehow I muster up enough energy to walk (crawl) up the stadium steps to find my family. I can't drink anything but I find some M&Ms and pour them into my mouth. Guess I needed a little sugar. I'm still not talking in complete sentences and I'm chilled to the bone. My older daughter, Rosie, wants me to carry her. I try to pick her up. No dice. My husband swoops in and deals. Bless him. We make our way back to the car and eventually head home. I sit in a state of disbelief and bliss. Holy crap. I qualified for the Boston Marathon. And then...holy shit, I have to run another one??? Fast forward to this Sunday. I'll be running my 15th marathon. A lot has changed in regards to my training, my race prep and my overall knowledge about running in general. I've ramped up the mileage a bit. I got myself a coach. I bought some running clothes that fit and are moisture wicking. Even figured out the whole gel thing. But that feeling that I had in my gut when I made my way over to the line back in 2007 for the first time? That, I'm sure, will be exactly the same. Game. On.
Listen to this:
Firedbird - Galantis