26.2 Miles of Cold and Rain: Boston Marathon Recap
This was the 122nd Boston Marathon. They hold it every year on Patriots Day, which commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the American Revolutionary War in Massachusetts. You can count on it! What you can’t count on is the weather. Boston is notorious for having unpredictable weather that can range from very warm and dry to cold or wet. This year, Boston threw everything it had at us.
We arrived at the athletes’ village to find the fields filled with mud. It was 38 degrees. And the rain! It would not stop. We huddled as best as we could under one of the tents. Since I’d been advised to bring a couple of things with me, I had on my drop clothes and a poncho, which were keeping me somewhat dry. At least I wasn’t freezing. I wish I could have said the same about my feet. My shoes and socks were soaked and already thick with mud. Luckily, I had been forewarned to bring my good shoes and socks in a sealed bag. It’s nice to have mentors who have been here multiple times.
It was time to move to the start corrals. I was starting in 3-2, meaning third wave, second corral. I took off my drop clothes, but kept on one more layer than originally planned, along with the rain jacket I was hoping to do with out. No such luck. I had changed my shoes as we waited to leave athletes’ village. Relaxed, I avoided thinking about the miles ahead of me and instead focused on some of my training runs. Snow, rain, and bitter cold? Yeah, I could do this. I arrived in my start corral 50 seconds before the gun, and off I went.
Usually, the first mile is all about getting your feet warmed up and flexible. Without those dry shoes, this would have been the toughest part of the race. Instead, it was the wind and rain blowing right in your face. The winds were 10-15 miles per hour with gusts of up to 40, which made the race more like 26 miles of uphill running. At this point, the race becomes personal. You are still surrounded by other runners suffering alongside you, but the effort is individual. It was all up to me to finish this race.
The miles ticked by. It only took three or four miles for the rain to work its way in, fully soaking my clothing. The extra clothes and water felt like they added seven or eight pounds to my racing weight. I was lucky to have my best friend and my daughter waiting for me between mile 14 and 15. A quick hug from each, and I was off to run the Newton Hills and to climb Heartbreak Hill.
I ran them all, every step. This was my first time to run not only the hills, but literally every step of the marathon. I cleared the hill and started the down to the finish. My quads were aching from the effort and from the cold. I could see the Citgo sign and knew I was nearing the finish. Over the bridge, then through the underpass. I could see everyone turning right. “Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.” I was going to finish. I made the left. The finish line looked so far away! I kept going, my legs on autopilot. I crossed that famous line painted across the street. I actually had to think about walking.
I was excited, but I also started to shiver immediately. I wasn’t sure which I wanted more— the medal or the heat wrap. Okay, it was the medal, but hand over that silver cape! The excitement continued. The finish chute went on forever. Finally, I got to the meeting area and found my support people who helped me get back to the hotel. Nothing better than staying a block from the finish line!
There were many firsts in this race for me. First race without calf cramps. First race that I ran every inch from the start to the finish. I ran a good marathon. I didn’t requalify, but I’m still happy to have even finished under the conditions we faced.
I’ll race again. I will qualify again.