I cannot remember being more excited for a race than I was during the many weeks preceding the Boston Marathon. I trained for it, thought about it, talked about it, read about it, and was genuinely excited for it!
I don’t know if all that pre-race excitement resulted in me feeling burnt out on race day or if it was the emotional, stressful trip that surrounded the race or maybe I’m just really done with marathons. Or maybe it was some unfortunate combination…
It was a mistake to surround my Boston Marathon trip with helping my grandmother pack up her house before and after the race. My grandparents lived in that house for about 50 years…well longer than I have been alive. So you can imagine the memories, mementos, and heirlooms that accumulated during those 50 amazing years. My grandfather passed away a couple of years ago so grandma decided she needed a change of scenery. Can’t blame her there…so many memories in that house!
But being immersed in that emotionally charged house for a week before heading to Boston did take its toll. Once we arrived in Boston I no longer felt the excitement. My head was definitely not in race mode. If you can believe it, I didn’t even look around the expo – picked up my number, bag, and shirt then headed out.
On race morning, I was lucky to get the last seat in our hotel’s free shuttle to the marathon buses at Boston Common. It took at least five rotations of buses before I was on my way to Hopkinton. Once I arrived at athlete’s village, I spent my time in the port-o-potty line then did a quick warm up, dropped my bag at the baggage bus, then started the walk to the starting line. I initially thought I would jog but the crowd did not allow for that. Once I arrived at the start and was able to get in my assigned corral, it was just minutes until the starting gun.
The race started on time and all I could think about was how crowded it was. After a couple miles of weaving in and out of people, I was hoping it would thin out a little so I could settle into a pace. But that didn’t happen. I kept checking my Garmin as I weaved around people and felt pretty good, pretty confident about my pace. I felt comfortable right around my goal pace.
When I reached about halfway, still very close to goal pace, still feeling quite good, I did step back (not literally) and kind of look around to take it all in. I thought about my friend and fellow coach at MHS Dave who told me to have fun. So I made sure to smile for at least one of the photographers. The problem was, I felt bad because I know Boston is an amazing experience – just to be there, especially based on how difficult it is to get there now with registration filling up in 8 hours. I knew others around me were having the time of their lives. Why wasn’t I?
Regardless, I stayed on pace right until we reached Newton where I decided to attack the hills since I felt so good! Combine that little error with running the first half maybe a little too fast considering it was a lot of downhill. Once I reached mile 22 I was hurting. Those last four miles were painful and all I could think about was stopping. I was struggling to move my legs and my pace really slowed. I just wanted it to be over! But, I have to admit that once I made that left turn onto Boylston Street I did feel the excitement and was able to pick up the pace slightly all the way to the finish.
My goal, based on recent half marathons and other races, was 3:20 to 3:30. I finished in 3:31.
After the finish line I made my way through the water, Gatorade, food, Mylar blankets, finisher medals, then found my baggage bus, and finally found Phil at the family meeting area, all I could say was “I don’t ever want to do this again.” I spent the rest of the day in bed. I honestly cannot remember my legs hurting as much as they did that entire afternoon and evening. I have completed 14 marathons and some were painful, but none like this. Maybe I have spent too many years away from the New England hills of my youth. My best option for hill training in Florida was the Ringling Bridge. It’s not like when you live in a hilly area and your quads get used to the ups and downs on a regular basis.
After two days in Boston it was back to grandma’s house for more packing then we headed home. On the plane, I told Phil that I wanted to find a flat, fast marathon in Florida to see what I can really do. How quickly we runners forget the pain of that last marathon and look to the next one.
So many people congratulated me and asked me how Boston was. I felt bad and a little guilty that I did not share the excitement of the other 2011 Boston Marathoners I knew. Now I know to never again combine an emotionally charged family event with a race!
While Boston 2011 did feel like a bust for me, I would like to try it again in a couple of years when I have a few more recent marathons under my belt and I can make the marathon trip all about the marathon and just stay in Boston.