Around 5:30pm, my friend and fellow RW Loopster, Brad Angle (aka Bangle) rolled in from CA. He would also be running the marathon so he was staying with us for the weekend. I had stayed at Brad's house in 2016 for the LA marathon so I was happy to repay the favor. We caught up over dinner and then turned in pretty early, me because I was racing the next day and, well, because I always do, Brad because he was wiped out from traveling and needed to recharge. I'm not sure if it was nerves, excitement or both but Saturday morning I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:00am. I rolled out of bed, made some coffee and sat outside for a bit as it was another gorgeous day. The BAA5K would be starting at 9:30am, so our plan was to take off at 7:30 sharp. Why so early, you ask? Last year I did not leave enough time and forgot my bib which resulted in a disastrous race start so I was not going to be making this mistake again. Brad opted to come with me as he wanted to watch the race, meet up with friends and hang in Boston and we also picked up Kirsten, my teammate and partner in crime, who would also be running. We made it into the city easily, parked in a garage and headed over to the Boston Common to stretch and chill for a while.
Around 8:30, Kirsten and I left for our warmup. By the time we got back, the crowd had quadrupled and the temp felt like it has increased by at least 10 degrees. The whole scene was kind of nuts. We shed all of our layers and checked our bags at the gear tent. Each year there are about 10,000 runners who do this race so we made our way over to the start pretty early in order to find a good spot and do some final stretching. Kirsten was recovering from walking pneumonia so her plan was just to relax and enjoy the scene. I, on the other hand, was eager to bust a move and see what I could do and despite the fact that I'm in the middle of training for a May marathon, my coach told me to go for it and see what the marathon legs have in them. So we said our goodbyes and made our way to our separate pace corrals.
As you may know from past race reviews, I loathe the 5K simply because I'm not built for speed and thus the pain of sprinting 3.1 miles is borderline unbearable. But, I do them anyway because they're great workouts for marathon training and it's always good to get outside of my comfort zone once in a while. This particular course is super fast as it's simply down and back on the streets of Boston with one minor dip under a bridge and then back up. The downside, however, is that with a crowd this big, it's tough to find a groove during the first mile with all the darting and dodging that has to be done. Because of that you never really know what to expect but if things go well, a PR is definitely in the cards. The gun went off and the elites were on their way but the rest of us slowly shuffled to the start as we were packed like sardines on Charles Street and would remain so until we crossed the line and spread out onto Boylston Street.
I immediately carved a spot out for myself on the left side of the road and tried to settle in as best I could. My goal was to run somewhere between a 6:00-6:15 pace so I worked to get there and tried not to stress about all the people I was bumping into and knocking elbows with. I crossed the first mile in 6:05, so right on target. I was nervous as I could already feel the pain in my chest from working so hard but I told myself to chill out, that it was only 2 more miles and that I could suck it up for 2 miles if I ran 20+ on a regular basis. I continued on, checking my watch once in a while and watching as the elite runners came at us in the other direction. I laughed a little as I thought about the speed at which they were running. Totally mind blowing. Mile two was a 6:03. I was pumped. But also really, really hurting and a little panicked because I had another mile to go in this state.
The above photo (taken by Brad) pretty much sums it all up. I was on the pain train. Big time. The 3rd mile is on the actual marathon course, so that's pretty inspiring and as you head toward the final push the crowds increase tenfold so whatever doubt I was feeling was overshadowed by the fans who were pulling me along at this point. I turned the corner for the final .1 and saw all of my Oiselle teammates, which was a huge boost. You can't put a price on that kind of support. I had stopped looking at my watch for this last stretch so I didn't know where I stood. Based on how I felt, I figured I'd dropped my pace, but I didn't want to know. I just threw down all I had for the final push to the finish. I kind of fumbled with my watch before I stopped it, but it said 19:08, so I was pleased. It wasn't a PR, (sub 19:05) but it was pretty damn close and given that I'd logged two 80 mile weeks before this race, I was happy to take it.
I made my way over to the green to meet up with friends from the both the Loop and Oiselle. Actually, I bee-lined it straight straight to coffee truck that was parked on the green (yes, coffee truck) which was offering up free vanilla iced coffee....what??? Over the next hour or so, tons of friends and teammates rolled in and we all caught up or, in some cases, met for the first time, and traded race and life stories. This is the part of racing that I truly love the most. Makes the pain all worthwhile in the end.
Top photo: w/ RW Loopsters Brad and Erin
Bottom photos: Left w/ Nicole and right w/ Pamela, both Oiselle birds
Group Photo #1
Group photo #2
(I told you there were a lot of us)
I am so blessed to have such an amazing run-family, if you will. People from several groups, of all ages and from all walks of the earth who share my passion for running among other things. It's undeniably one of the main reasons I continue to compete at this point in my life. I get excited to connect with these folks whenever it's possible. I get strength from it in so many ways. It's just....well, it's hard to put it into words, but hopefully you get a sense of what I mean. After goodbyes and a cool down, Kirsten and I made our way over to the expo to grab our bibs for the marathon. She, too, would be running as a guide for Team With A Vision, so we had the same agenda. After waiting in line for about an hour we finally got our race packets and then cruised through the expo to pick up some goodies and say hi to friends at a few different booths. We didn't last long as our exhaustion was kicking in big time. Around 3:00pm we finally headed home for some rest and a shower. About 17 minutes of rest, actually, as I turned around at 4:00 and headed back into the city to work at the Skechers booth for a couple hours. Oh well, life's short, I can rest when I'm old. Quick side note here, in the short time that I was home I got a text from my friend Tim who asked if I was happy that I'd run a 19:02 or sad that I hadn't broken 19 minutes, something I've been trying to do for a while now. I laughed as I'd had no idea that I'd been that close and while it was a bit of a bummer to have been 2 seconds off....could I have eeked it out if I'd just looked at my watch???... I was thrilled with both the final time and my place, 3rd Master (40+). The news gave me an unexpected boost of energy, so that was nice, too. Around 6:00pm I met up with friends, teammates and my sister-in-law, Locky, who was in town from NYC to run the marathon, at B. Good for dinner. I was running on fumes at this point so after a quick bite, some more stories and laughs and, of course, yet another team photo, I took off with Locky who was staying with me for the night.
B. Good Team Dinner
I haven't hit the pillow that hard in a really long time. Rack-out city. I needed a full 8 hours to re-plenish and re-energize in time to do it all over again this next day. Fortunately, I remembered to get up at 4:30am to make sure and get the Easter baskets taken care of before my kiddos woke up. That would have been really bad. My girls get up early so by the time the baskets were found and opened and our neighborhood egg hunt was underway I was off to the city again for a team shakeout run and breakfast meetup. Another big group of us met at the Thinking Cup, got an easy run in together and then grabbed some coffee and hung out for a bit. It was easily 75 degrees outside by 11:00am, which was a bit daunting for those of us who would be running the next day. But we just soaked up the sun and each other for the time being and tried not to think about it.
Sunday shakeout and coffee
w/ Oiselle teammates & friends
If you're wondering why I made an effort to go to every single one of these events it's because being from the Boston area, I'm the one who organized them and I needed/wanted to be the point person at each one. Not that I minded, I love hanging with this crew and that I get to see a variety of gals from all over the country at these big, local events. It's a warm, loving, welcoming group so it's always a pleasure to motivate for them. A couple hours after this meetup I headed back home to prep for a poster-making session. We had over 150 women running the marathon from Oiselle and wanted to have signs for the cowbell corner that would be happening the next day. I'm not artistic, so I made a sign with all 152 names on it. I was pretty proud of that.
w/ Lesko, Cecil, Feather & Clover
We crafted, ate, talked, ate more and finally finished around 5:00pm. And that was it from my end. The next day I'd be running the marathon so I was officially off duty. I put my feet up, grabbed my book and chilled out for the rest of the afternoon. I was in bed before 9:00 in preparation for game day. I tried to calm my nerves and rest my bones but it wasn't easy as the craziness of the past few days was still stirring in me. I also couldn't believe that I'd be running the marathon with Joyce in a matter of hours. Holy. Moly. I willed the sleep to come and eventually, finally, thankfully.... I was out.
To be continued....
Listen to this:
Alright Now by Cash + David