For me, the Boston Marathon is an event that has been in the making in my running mind for 2 years. The idea of trying to qualify began to burn a fire inside of me even when I was training for my first marathon during the summer of 2011. Living and working in the Boston area, it is impossible not to get sucked into the Boston Marathon excitement and enthusiasm. You tell people you are training to run a marathon, or have run one, and their immediate first question, have you run the Boston one? It is really like a right of passage around here.
As someone who is consistently driven by time goals, and measurements I was attracted to the allure of trying to go for a Boston qualifying time. It made me feel like a real athlete trying to go for a goal, other than just to finish a race. I trained hard, and I got to my BQ in Febraury 2012. That meant I would wait 14 long months to run my race, the prize for all that hard work, The Boston Marathon in 2013. Little did I know then what I would be doing is using the Boston Marathon to help me reach a new level of running and training.
By the end of the year in 2012 I had new goals in mind, I still cherished the marathon but I now began embarking on a new adventure, running ultra marathons. I completed my first 50 miler in November of 2012 and it only made me hungrier for the race I already knew I wanted, the 100 miler. So with that new goal in mind I began training in January 2013 for my very first
100 mile attempt on June 14, the Tarc 100 in Weston. I would work Boston into my training schedule. In true Colleen style, I wanted it to be epic :) So I decided I would run the Boston Marathon as a back to back long run, I completed the DRB (Don't Run Boston) 50K on the day before. Ironic, the 50k designed to be the complete opposite of the marathon, and I run both. I recapped that 50K race here.
Sunday night was interesting. I laid in bed, exhausted from a 50K in the Blue Hills, and doubting myself for the first time ever that weekend. I ran strong on Sunday and smiled every time someone told me how stupid I was to be going out to run the marathon in the morning. I said don't worry I am going to take it slow, just nice long back to back runs, nothing more. Inside I was getting annoyed, but by Sunday evening I guess I let it get to me. I turned to my partner and told him that I don't know what I was thinking and that I was not sure why I was doing this. I told him I was too tired. He agreed, he thinks I am crazy most days (although he hides it well), but he did not really listen to me much more, just encouraged me to sleep.
I woke up at 5am on Monday the 15th, with excitement in my heart and all of a sudden feeling great. I am sure that it was adrenaline and anticipation but I just felt good. I did not feel nearly as bad as I had the night before. I got suited up and got ready and began the 5 minute drive to the bus! Yep I took the bus in with my new running club here in my new home town of Nashua NH the Gate City Strders. I figured getting bussed in would be much easier, plus the bus left at 7AM leaving me extra time in the morning to rest. My Peanut went to school but she was excited to send me off in style :)
I got to Hopkinton and met up with one of the Tarc group members Liana and we hung out waiting for the race to begin! This is the beauty of Boston, you meet so many runners in the morning there before the race, it is fun. Everyone was getting ready to go and before I knew it, it was time to head to the corrals. We bumped into Robin and she and Liana headed for the speedy corral. I waited patiently in mine, knowing that today was not about anything more than one sole thing: having fun.
I look at the Boston Marathon differently than some. I look at it as a party for 26.2 miles, because in my heart that is what it is. I have raced for time and speed on multiple occasions, and I went into this race with a BQ already under my belt for 2014. So I needed to enjoy and celebrate my Boston work. And really in my mind, that is what I would recommend. It is so crowded, and so busy that to spend stress trying to go for a pr or bq just is not worth it to me. Plus, it takes some of the joy out of it. I like to be able to enjoy myself when I run a race with this much support. This is something that has come with time, I have learned I can enjoy a race and use it as a celebration.
The Boston Marathon has some of the best crowd support of any race I have ever run. There is literally people cheering along the entire 26.2 mile route. Children lined up, college students with fun signs, and just the over all support of spectators is amazing. I make it my mission to hand out as many high fives as possible, and I think I succeeded this year!
I had fun every step of the way. I will write about the back to back running mechanics of it next week, I want to just share here in this post the fun, the smiles the waves and the joy :)
I got a pat on my bum and turned around to see a smiling Sheryl Briggs :) She is a fellow Tarc member and was running happy as ever!
I then got to see the smiling Gail Martin!!! It was nice to have a familiar face along the course and I think it just kept me refreshed.
My aunt Lisa, and cousin Ryan were around mile 20 and I had a sign made just for me :) I felt special
I finished in 3:59 I was amazed. I went into this race not knowing what to expect from my legs. What really was nice was I was pleasantly surprised, my legs carried me through the entire race very well. I never hit a wall, I kept an even pace throughout the race and most important, I was able to finish with a huge smile. I had fun!!!!!
I came home and gave my Peanut the biggest hug ever. And of course she confiscated my medal :) I was more than happy to hand it over to her!