In spite of all of my begging to the skies above, it still rained on marathon Monday. I know, right?
I was a little concerned. I’d never run 26 miles before, and I’d definitely never ran 26 miles in the rain. Would I chafe? Slip? Freeze? Not finish? Who knows, but there was no way I wasn’t going to try to run Boston just because it was raining. I suited up with my best rain jacket, and threw on a pair of sweatpants and and old sweatshirt of my dad’s to keep me warm near the start.
It was so wet, I can’t even tell you. Water was streaming down the street. People had duct tape on their shoes, nitrile gloves on their hands, and a variety of plastic bags on their bodies. It wasn’t just wet, it was cold, which can be a dangerous and miserable combo. And that was just at the starting line.
When I got dropped off in Hopkinton, I wound up walking towards the start line, instead of the athlete’s village area, but I don’t think that mattered. The wave before me was starting, so I tried to stay out of the way. In what seemed like moments later, I heard an announcer over the loudspeaker say something along the lines of “Since weather is terrible, we’re gonna go ahead and start wave 4 early, so wave 4 come on down”.
As a part of wave 4, I came on down as requested, and waited to be sorted into the corrals. I kept moving forward with this big group of people, and next thing I knew, I had already crossed the start line without even realizing it. Well, time to get running, then.
The first 4th of Boston is pretty much downhill, which is a fair amount of eccentric work for your quads. I’ve been told it’s easy to run too fast and wind up regretting it, so I tried to stay slower than normal. I feel like that was a good plan, and I’d recommend it to future Boston runners.
Everything for me started out pretty great, the rain was light, and I was actually getting a little warm in my dad’s old sweatshirt that I decided I couldn’t discard before the start. I knew of 2 people who told me they’d be along the course at about mile 10, then another at the half. I told myself that I’d leave my sweatshirt with one of these people when I saw them.
I never saw either of the people I was looking for, so I kept the sweatshirt. This wound up being a good thing, since the rain and the cold seemed to increase with each passing mile. It was about at the halfway mark that I had no choice but to embrace the suck, as the suck was fully embracing me. I started to feel very cold and wet, and I got a terrible cramp in my side. I had to walk for a short time as I worked out the cramp, feeling a little embarrassed because I didn’t see anyone else walking.
Even in the rain and the cold, there were still fans out there, cheering on the runners, singing, and handing out twizzlers and oranges. I never understood how that could affect the runners, but after having experienced it, I want to tell you it means a lot. I don’t know if I can tell you how much more it meant that you were there in the cold and the wet cheering for people you haven’t and may never meet. Thank you.
It was about this time that I decided that I would start taking water from the volunteers; and I was happy to have an excuse to take a small walk break at the water stations. this is another group of people that I have to say thank you to. I don’t know how long you guys were out there, also in the cold and the wet, passing out water, cleaning up our tossed cups, and generally being kind and sincere. All I know is that I really cherished your being there. Thank you.
In between water breaks, I tried to plug along as best I could. I think it was mile 18 that things started getting harder for me, since I’d never run more than 18 miles before. We all have that inner demon voice that we can chose to ignore or listen to, but man, mine is really smart and enticing, you guys. It started saying “We could stop now”, to which I replied, “It’s just 8 more miles, I can run 8 miles”. Then it said “It’s so cold and so wet out, if you stopped, no one would judge you, everyone would understand”. Well shoot, you got me there.
But the thing is, this may be my only chance to run Boston. This whole thing was meant to be. I would never had said yes if I’d been asked before, but when I was offered the invitational entry after my dad died, I said yes before I even had time to process it. It was such a huge gift I was given to be able to experience this race, even if it wasn’t a beautiful day, even if I was soaked and freezing. To not finish would be an insult to that gift I was given. There’s a metaphor to be had there, probably, and I wish I could embrace days more like I was able to embrace the race experience at that point. I didn’t get to chose that there was a monsoon, but I accepted the gift of this race entry, and it would be an insult to the gift and all my training to not finish. I didn’t have to finish fast, but I had to finish.
I didn’t have any more inner demon battles after that point, but it was kind of a blur until one man yelled “One mile to go!” and that was one of the best things I’ve ever heard in my life.
When I took the right in Hereford, I could see such a screaming crowd of people along Boylston street, it was overwhelming. I knew my mom was there, and I’m so sorry mom, I looked for you, but I was so exhausted and there was so many people that I couldn’t see you. It means a lot that you were there.
Once on Boylston, I could see the bright lights of the finish. I knew I had to keep running until I hit the finish, because darn it, a LOT of people were watching. It was so overwhelming to cross the finish, I couldn’t help but start sobbing. I put in so much mental, physical, and emotional work into this, and it felt like such a triumph.
I’m not going to say that it would have been easy to run this on a beautiful day, in perfect weather; and I’m definitely not here to judge anyone who was unable to finish, because the hypothermia was real. I’m going to say that in a weird way, I’m pleased the weather was obscenely terrible, because it allowed me to show that I could fight harder and persevere in those conditions. My time wasn’t as fast as I would have liked, but I earned the crap out of it.
Thank you to everyone who made this day possible for me. It was one of the most beautiful and best days of my life.