if you want the short and the dirty, here it is: i finished the 2016 boston marathon in 4:44:25, PRing by almost 40 minutes. i got a moderate sunburn, and i had the best day ever.
if you'd like the long version, keep reading.
race morning, the forecast shifted down to the high 60s and still sunny. while it wasn't ideal, i figured i'd take it. i suited up, ate some peanut butter toast, and worked my way down to the boston common to catch a bus to hopkinton. it felt oddly familiar, and still so exciting.
by the time i got to hopkinton, i had about 90 minutes to kill before my corral went off, so i bopped around athlete's village. i stayed in the shade as much as possible, i stretched, i ate more peanut butter toast. and then it was 11:15, and i was in a corral, and the gun was going off, and there i was at the start line.
i had initially been shooting for a 4:30:00, but as i stood in the heat and started running, i realized it'd probably be smarter to go out a lot more conservatively. my first few miles hovered around 10:30, and i was pretty happy. i stopped every mile for a cup of water or gatorade to make sure i didn't get dehydrated and overheated like i did in 2014. since i can't actually run and drink a cup of water at the same time, i walked through every water stop. i poured water all over my head and neck whenever i felt like i was frying like an egg. i figured i'd slow down significantly throughout the race. that was generally my m.o. in marathons.
and yet, as i entered the half marathon, i was still holding steady right around 10:30-10:40. my hips started aching but nothing too crazy. i knew hills were coming up, so i wasn't holding my breath for any miracles. i started seeing more and more runners dip off into medical tents. i saw people strapped to stretchers. i kept putting one foot in front of the other. i figured as long as i finished with a 4 in front of my time, i'd be happy.
i ran up all the newton hills. and while my pace dipped a bit, i made up for the time on downhills and straightaways. i saw friends. people yelled my name. they said it looked like i just started running. someone told me i looked really good (thanks!). i ran and i ran and i ran.
as i crested the top of heartbreak hill, i realized the end was in sight. i only had 5 more miles. and then it was all over again. it makes me really emotional to think about the amount of time i put into training for the marathon and how quickly it ends. it makes me sad, happy, overwhelmed. it makes me feel a lot. and i started feeling them. so i cried a little.
i kept running. i held steady at 10:40-10:50 minute miles. i kept running. through cleveland circle, where i saw all kinds of friends and got all kinds of hugs. through washington square, where i saw more friends and got more hugs. through coolidge corner where i high-fived and fist-bumped a whole mess of people. i kept running through audobon circle, where i smiled and smiled and smiled.
kenmore was a wash of emotions and people yelling and screaming, all of whom pushed me onward onward. here's the crazy thing about the marathon: the last mile goes by in a blink of an eye. i was turning right on hereford and then i saw boylston. i full on ugly cried.
i turned left onto boylston and broke into as much of a sprint as i could muster. according to several friends who saw me, i pranced. and as i approached the finish line, i cried even harder.
when i stopped my watch, i could barely believe it. not only did my time start with a 4, it was only 14 minutes over my goal. i didn't feel too dehydrated, my legs didn't feel too terrible. i felt on top of the world.
i'm back on the road again. i have three races slated for june, and i've never been in better shape.
thanks for joining me on all these crazy journeys. thanks for supporting my fundraising. thanks for all the love and hugs and texts and emails and high-fives. running boston is a special, special experience. and i'm so so glad i've gotten to do it so many times.
last monday was the best day, and i'm so glad it happened.