After a great night’s sleep, I woke up on race morning ready to go! Dedicating this race to a recently passed friend helped me to really focus, and make sure I had everything I needed for the severe weather conditions that were forecasted. And severe conditions they were! I had pre-ordered breakfast the night before, for delivery in the morning, to fuel my body and to avoid the stress of trying to get something in the downstairs hotel lobby. After eating and getting ready, my sister and I worked on applying the special memorial bibs onto my clothing and just reminiscing and talking about our friend that I was honoring and running for.
We headed down to catch the hotel shuttle that would take me to Boston Commons, to board the marathon shuttles for athlete’s village. As we stood waiting on the hotel shuttle, we got a first-hand glimpse of the weather. The rain and wind were heavy and I started thinking to myself that I sure was glad I brought an extra pair of shoes, socks, trash bags, space/heat blankets, and throw away layers.
When the shuttle arrived, I was first in line, and they sat me in the front seat. We drove out and all I could see were Bostonians on the street walking to work and umbrellas turning inside out from the wind. I felt a lump in my throat at this point. This is probably going to be the worse conditions you have ever run in. Oh my!! When we got to Boston Commons, it was pouring. I practically ran to the bus to avoid getting drenched. As we boarded the buses we were just so glad to be out of the elements…for a little while at least.
As we left for athlete’s village, the windows in the bus fogged up so badly from all the wet runners that the driver had to constantly wipe her windshield with a cloth, just to be able to see outside. Nobody seemed to mind the long bus ride, I think we were all happy just to be out of the elements for the time being.
As we pulled up to athlete’s village, I could see that things were going to be interesting. There was mud everywhere!! I mean everywhere! I took one look down to the bathrooms (porta potties) and realized that in order to use the bathroom, I would have to trudge through thick, treacherous mud. Thank goodness I brought an extra pair of socks and shoes because I was going to need them to switch into before start time. Once I finally got to the bathroom everything inside was caked in mud. Once I got through that mess, I decided to wait under the tent in an attempt to avoid the worst of the elements. That was even worse. Runners were actually sitting in piles of mud along with their blowup floats, space blankets, ponchos…you name it and it was being used as a protective barrier between them and the mud.
Not too long after my wave was called, I walked up and out to the corrals. On my way to the corrals I knew that my shoes and socks needed to be changed and I would have to ditch some of my extra layers. With about five minutes before my corral was supposed to start, I grabbed a space next to the fence to make the switch. My hands were shaking so badly, that it took me longer than I anticipated to make the change, and I had to rush to the corral. But I got it done – I was supposed to start in corral one, but I had only enough time to run up to corral three. I thought, “At this point…whatever, given these conditions.”
And then we were off! As we started it continued to pour buckets of rain, but it felt like no matter how miserable this could be, it was Boston and we were in this together. The first couple of miles felt good; I was just trying to get my pace in check around all the other runners and assess whether my gear was going to last and keep me warm.
As this was my third Boston, I started to remember what to look for at each mile. Places to look for funny and supporting spectators having a good old time drinking and barbecuing. The smell of the food was making my taste buds water. Part of me wished I could veer off course and ask for a burger or hotdog. Maybe I was so cold that anything warm seemed like heaven, but this was Boston and I was feeling good, so unless I needed to stop, I wasn’t going to. I’ve been known to try and bank time early in the race if I’m feeling it as to not feel so terrible if I start to slow towards the end…which usually happens.
I kept telling myself that I’m going to run a smart race. I’ll grab bottled water from a spectator right before I’m supposed to take my GU every 45 minutes, so I could avoid the aide stations unless I desperately need it. I’ll run down the middle, between the aide stations on either side, to avoid getting tripped up by cups or runners. And that’s what I did. There were plenty of spectators handing out bottled water. It was working time wise so I stuck to it.
But my gloves…oh my gloves! It was raining so hard that my gloves were just soaking up all the water and I just kept making a fist to drain them out. I thought about tossing them off to the side but wet gloves were a better choice than no gloves at all. I also wore a buff around my neck that kept my neck and face warm at certain times in athlete’s village and throughout the run. AT&T had given it to me for free at the expo. What a difference that made. I might just make that a cold temp run staple for my gear. I also wore a visor which shielded the pelting rain from my face. Sometimes it was raining so hard that looking down was a heck of a lot better than up. Most of the run, I was just thinking about how lucky I was to be running this course again and that I was dedicating it to my high school buddy whom passed in February. Whenever I had to dig deep because of cold or being tired of being wet, that’s what kept pushing me. The mighty rain dance.
Time seemed to go by fairly fast. I was just in the mindset of hurry and get the heck out of the elements. As I approached the half way mark and Wellesley scream tunnel, there was a sense of calmness. I’ve reached the half way mark and I’m still doing okay in these elements. That gave me hope and I knew the next thing that I needed to think about was getting through the Newton Hills, Heartbreak hill, and a possible wall. I love hearing and seeing all the girls because they are so loud, supportive, and you know you’ve made it halfway and everything else is that much closer to the finish.
I started to think about not letting my mind wander too much, and just think about the task at hand. We were all suffering out here and whenever a squall would hit us, I would just laugh out loud and tell myself it’s okay. You are being tested on this one and you are going to kick its butt. After all, nothing and I mean nothing, was going to stop me from finishing this race. I ran this very same course last year at 6 ½ months pregnant in the heat and if I can do that, I can do anything. As the Newton Hills started, my mindset was “don’t walk.” In the past, I have walked some of the hills and have always regretted it. So, no matter how slow I went up, I never walked. Heartbreak hill was the very same thing. I never walked this whole marathon and maybe stopped at one aide station. That was a huge goal of mine and I had conquered it. Try to not stop at the aide stations if you have our own fuel. This is a secret of mine. Carry your own fuel as much as you can. It saves you time…sometimes that time is so precious that it ends up qualifying you.
As I got closer to the finish line, the weather seemed to get worse. More wind and heavier wind had my body in some deep coldness. I just kept laughing to myself that of course mother nature is going to pour it on as I am more tired and towards the end. Bring it Bitch!! I’m not backing down!!
Seeing the Citgo sign is the best. You know you are close and just hold on…you are almost there and that much closer to crossing the finish line and getting out of this weather. Hot bath, glass of wine, and warm clothes was on my mind. The crowds got heavier and heavier and I just kept watching the blue lines in the road and told myself you are almost there. That left on Boylston never felt so good but you still have a little bit to go until you reach the finish. You can see it but you’re not there yet. Just keep moving and kick it in gear. If you have anything left, now is the time to give what you got. I remember feeling sick to my stomach though. Almost like I was going to toss my cookies but I just told myself to keep it together and not puke before the finish, puke after if you have to.
I threw my hands in the air for #11, crossed that finish line, and cried like a baby. Yes, I did it!! With a level one stress fracture to my post tib diagnosed in Sept. 2017 to running New York last November to coming home and working my butt off to do anything and everything to get me rehabbed and ready for Boston had come to fruition. All my hard work had paid off and we did it!! I had such a sense of achievement and a feeling that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. I was so happy to be able to honor my friend, make my family proud, and finish my 3rd Boston Marathon. Woot!! My 3rd Boston Marathon never sounded so good.
I made my way straight to water, heat blanket, food, and out. I was freezing and started to peel off the wet layers. My legs were cramping a bit and my hands were shaking. I knew I needed to get dry and warm quick. As I tried to find out where my sister and niece were to pick me up, I made my way to a warming bus that the marathon had supplied to the runners. Thank goodness for these buses. I got on and after a few minutes, my hands stopped shaking so I could properly use my phone. I eventually met up with my family and headed back to the hotel for all the above that I had been thinking of. Warm bath, tea, wine, clothes, and learned that an American woman had won. Des Linden won?? Yes!! Made finishing that much sweeter.
We went out to dinner that night and all the other marathoners were wiped out just like me. You could see it in their eyes. We had all just accomplished something that will forever be remembered as suffer fest 2018. If you can finish a marathon in those conditions, that is a badge like no other. As the days have passed, I have read and heard so many stories of runners having hypothermia and having to seek medical attention, some runners going back to finish after they warmed back up, and the struggles that were very real and raw. I ended up finishing at 3:55:13which is my second fastest Boston Marathon time. Woot, I’ll take it considering all the obstacles that were stacked against me. And for the record, I think I had a form of hypothermia by the time my sister rescued me. Shaking hands, not thinking clearly, ended up on the opposite end of my rescue pick up. In the end, have a backup, backup, backup plan for pickup especially in conditions like these. I walked away from the marathon on foot, hypothermic, and trying to find my ride. Not a smart plan even if it was planned out. Plan for the worse so you know where to go even if you aren’t thinking fully. Because after a very wet, cold, hypothermic marathon…you aren’t thinking…you are just trying to stay warm and alive…
I love numbers so here goes: my placement was overall 14,712 out of 26,948, gender: 5467 out of 12,063, and division: 974 out of 1813 and there were 14 female runners aged 40 from Washington State and I placed 9th out of the 14. Wow!! Not bad considering my longest training run for this cycle due to injury was 10 ½ miles. I’ll take it!! Here’s to a speedy recovery to all and stories for years. Cheers for living through the one and only Boston of all Boston monsoons…hopefully!!!