It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

I ran the Boston Marathon today. I did not re-qualify for the marathon next year, not even close. I’ll try and keep this shorter than a novel, but it’s so hard to describe the Boston Marathon in few words.  To sum it up in one word: Epic.

The bus pickup.

The bus pickup.

I was ready to run this morning. I was very well hydrated, I ate my cheeseburger in the middle of the night, I got up early to eat again, and I had everything ready to go.  I went to Boston Common early so I could hit the can before bus loading, and I was very glad I did. They loaded TONS of busses at the same time, so you had to wait until they were all ready to head to Hopkinton before your bus could leave.  It took a while. Then there was traffic on the way to Hopkinton. Then there were enormous lines to the jons when you got to athlete’s village.

So many people at athlete's village

So many people at athlete’s village

Then I noticed how freaking warm it was. I was worried, but I couldn’t do anything to change that part of it, so I just did what I could. I sat around, talked to some of my fellow blogger ladies (who are awesome by the way), saw a few other ladies from my Wilmington running group, and then headed to the can one more time. Thank goodness there wasn’t a line because we had FIVE minutes until start. Yikes!

I walked toward the start line. It took a little while, and I missed my corral because I was in the bathroom. Doesn’t matter, time starts when you cross the line, so I was fine. There were SO MANY PEOPLE!!! The start line was crazy. I cheered and went on my merry way. It was go time.

The first few miles are down hill. I stayed at my 8:30ish pace, but I had several red rover lines to get around. It was pretty annoying since you’re just humming along nicely and BAM, there’s a row of 10 minute mile people. I only tripped one guy.  Oops. He didn’t fall though, and I said sorry and he berated me for being in a hurry. Whatevs. It was go time!

I was a little slow on my goal pace, but I planned that, and was proud of myself for keeping the time I planned. For once. I picked it up on the straightaways and let the gravity pull me on the smaller hills in those miles, and I slowly gained about a minute leeway from my time cushion by the half marathon point, so I was thrilled. I knew the real race started near the 16 mile mark, and I knew it was going to be hard, but I was ready.  My legs felt strong, my breath felt slow and even, and I wasn’t hungry (one of my fears because of late start).  I felt like I was going to have an amazing race.

I had very, very chapped lips the entire time so thankfully I had my chapstick. (I just realized while writing this it’s because I was out in the sun so long and I’m not used to it.)  I ended up going with the Vaseline that was on sticks for us since I didn’t have to dig into my little chapstick/phone/gum keeper. I had iPod issues too. For some reason, all the songs started repeating themselves, so I stopped it and plugged my earphones into my phone, after dialing up my playlist and turning the volume down from the eardrum breaker volume it was on from this morning. All while staying at pace.

I was happy! It was the Boston Marathon! It wasn’t raining. I felt great. The crowds were epic. Just epic. I don’t have anything to compare them to, so if you haven’t experienced Boston crowds, there’s no way you can truly understand what they’re like. Pretty much the entire way. I clapped hands, I blew kisses to the Wellesley girls. I read that you can hear them from quite a distance, and I wasn’t expecting them before the 1/2 mark, but I knew it was those girls when I heard the noise. Amazing!

At the half point, I was on pace and had a minute or two extra built up. I had a sore IT band on my right leg that had never been an issue. My toe on that foot hurt too, and I figured it was just from the downhills. Oh well, I was kicking some Boston Marathon butt! I was so ready to push through all of that.

Then at mile 15.5ish, we went down.  I had looked at the course map a lot and knew there was a long up hill after that. I was ready and tackled it at a good pace. Then I slowed a little at the top so I could catch my breath. I knew that I could handle the hills after that one. I was ready to go!

Mile 16 was good. Mile 17 was good. Mile 18, I was on pace to BQ by five minutes. At least. I knew there were hills coming, but then I knew there were downhills and really awesome crowds to come.

THEN. IT. HAPPENED.  All of a sudden somewhere in mile 19, I felt dizzy. Whew. Keep going, keep going. Dizzy. Nauseated. A little more dizzy. WTF. It was sunny and warm for what I was used to. But I didn’t feel hot. I felt fine.  But evidently I wasn’t. I had to stop and walk. Ewwww, now it was getting worse. I walked a bit and started running again. There goes my time cushion. Shit.

I started running again and got back on pace for a little bit, and it got worse. I had to walk again. I was evidently overheated. At that point, I knew my time was out for a BQ because I knew I’d have to run the hills and the rest of the race really fast, so I decided to have fun. I saw Heartbreak Hill.  I really wanted to run up that damn hill! I wanted to conquer it. But my body said no. I was having a good time because the crowd along Heartbreak is really good. They are just so supportive! They yell your name, they tell you all sorts of things you need to hear, they call you heroes.  The crowds are captivating. Especially right there. Oh, a beer, lemme have a drink! So I had a guy open one and let me have a few drinks and get my picture with it. I posted this on Facebook and sent one to my husband and told him I was done and the BQ wasn’t going to happen right around that time too.

See how happy I look? Yeah, the shit hadn't hit the fan yet.

See how happy I look? Yeah, the shit hadn’t hit the fan yet.

At that moment, I thought I could just jog it in and break a 4 hour marathon. I’d be super happy with that.  I tried to run more and every time I did, I got extremely nauseated and relatively dizzy. Then it got worse. I had to stop and kneel so I wouldn’t throw up. I was getting pissed by this time because I had a long ways to go. And walking would take a lot of time.

I walked and walked slowly. The miles crept by. I was in self-preservation mode. I didn’t want to pass out and not be able to finish. I had heat exhaustion, and according to the internets, and based on my symptoms, it was more about salt depletion. And it wasn’t over 70 degrees. It didn’t really make sense to me, but really, I hadn’t run a long run at that pace at that temperature for… well, years. This winter has been cold and I wasn’t used to it, and I’ve always been really sensitive to running in the warm weather. Anyway, I didn’t want to throw up. So I moved very slowly toward that finish line because I WAS going to get that damn medal. Every once in a while I had to stoop to stop the nausea. Every time I did, someone in the crowd or in the field of runners would ask me if I was ok and if I needed anything. I took popsicles, I took an ice pack, I drank a little water. I couldn’t eat though.  A few miles from the finish, one of my long run running partners came up on me and walked with me. Val. Val walked the rest of the way. She stayed with me until we got to Boylston street and we slowly jogged our way to the finish. I finished the Boston Marathon!  Val sticking with me means the world – I hope she knows that.

I walked about a hundred miles to get my MEDAL and food that I didn’t want. I chugged a bottle of water and got another. I had some Gatorade, but it hurt my stomach. I kept moving. I didn’t know where my family was so we made a plan to meet up. I lost Val….

I've never worked so hard for a medal. Any other race, I would have easily thrown in the towel for a DNF. Not the Boston Marathon.

I’ve never worked so hard for a medal. Any other race, I would have easily thrown in the towel for a DNF. Not the Boston Marathon.

I wanted to sit down but I wanted to meet up with my family. I sat down on the way to meet my family. I didn’t feel well. I sat down and met with them and drank a little more. We split so I could go meet up with Kate, one of my fellow Texas runners and friend. I had to go to the bathroom (which I thought was a good sign) and started crying because I started feeling so bad again and was just tired of not feeling well. I needed to lay down so I laid down in front of the jons where I was going to meet Kate. I needed to go to the medic. I didn’t know if something was really wrong. I didn’t want to eat. I drank some but felt like shit again.

Me getting my blood pressure taken at the medic area.

Me getting my blood pressure taken at the medic area. I’m COVERED with dried salt.

They took my blood pressure and it was low for me. It’s usually low, but 60 is not the normal lower number.  I wasn’t disoriented, just extremely nauseated and a little dizzy. So I laid there a while, they took my pressure a few more times, and then we left. I said goodbye to Kate and we headed to the hotel, which is the place I have been sitting since I got here! I finally ate a little for the first time in 12+ hours, thanks to my hubby getting it for me.

How do I feel about an epic fail marathon time? Well, I’m actually ok with it. I finished the Boston Marathon today. I was on pace for a PR and a good BQ for 19 -20 miles. I don’t believe I could or would have done anything different. I was worried about the warm and sunny weather before I started, I just didn’t know it was going to take such a toll on me. I’m not freaking out about going to get another PR/BQ as I thought I would. I’m good.  I ran the race of my life today and I feel like I worked harder than I ever have for a marathon medal. Any other race, I would have stopped for a DNF.  For THIS race, I had to finish. I needed that medal that I’ve been waiting for for over a year. And I’m so happy that I got to experience the largest Boston Marathon in history. I was chosen for this race, and I finished it. It was epic.

Now for some fun in Boston!!!!

Oh, and to everyone who has sent me texts, commented on this and/or my Facebook page (both personal and the Running Boston and Beyond), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It helped me keep going when it got questionable. It made me feel like I was a rock star. It made a difference, and I appreciate it more than I can express with a simple thank you. To all of YOU, you rock!!!!

 

 

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Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

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37 thoughts on “It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

  1. You have such a great attitude about it! Wow, do you have grit to have kept going. You should be proud. Hope you have some fun in Boston (get cannoli at Modern Bakery if you gave time!) and take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

  2. It’s great you were able to enjoy yourself, even if your race didn’t go as planned. Congratulations on finishing the BOSTON MARATHON. Amazing 🙂

  3. Great attitude about it and I agree, the crowds were EPIC!! I had a similar experience with feeling great until I hit mile 18, then it was downhill from there for me too. I am so glad you finished and are okay. Take good care of yourself!!

  4. I’ve been waiting to hear how your race went, so happy to finally see that you finished. Boston Strong is what you were yesterday!! As I read this, I found myself wishing that I had been there to offer encouragement and to help you to the finish. Relish in the fact that you qualified, and ran the most exclusive race on the planet! Such an accomplishment. Congratulations!!!

    • Thank you so much!! I had to pull from a new place to keep going, something I thought I’d have to use for my PR, not to just finish. I loved every minute of that race (good Lord there were plenty of them!). Boston Strong!

      • Sounds like you had to use every ounce of will to get you to the finish. Well done. So, as your blog title states, now you are beyond Boston, what’s next?

      • Ohhhhhh, that is a loaded question!!! I need to let my emotions settle a bit before I can answer that. BUT I can say that I’m plotting redemption.

      • Good! I was hoping you would say that. Even though I am running the All American Marathon in less than two weeks, I know that due to the nature of the course, it won’t be a BQ for me. I just plan on enjoying it, and of course, meeting Meb, at the finish festival. I plan on working on several things this Summer, and building my way up to a shot at a BQ at Big Cottonwood in September right at the Boston qualifying deadline. We’ll see.

  5. Amazing job–your dedication to finish was incredible! I also have low blood pressure and experienced the same thing at my half marathon a couple of weeks ago (65 degrees)…reading your post was like reliving the whole nightmare experience of heat stress and low blood pressure. I was so ill, so nauseous and dizzy, but determined not to quit. Every time I tried to run hard, the urge to vomit slowed me back down. It is a full body revolt, and you did an amazing job pressing through it. Congrats!

  6. Whoop Whoop!! Way to push through and mentally overcome a very challenging day!! You deserve that medal and then some!! Congrats 😉

  7. In spite of it all, you finished! That medal looks gorgeous on you! Congratulations! I’m so sorry you struggled, and that it wasn’t how you wanted it to be, but you did something great.

  8. Awesome job! You have a great attitude and I’m so glad you were able to enjoy the experience even though you weren’t feeling well. What an amazing thing to be able to say you ran the Boston Marathon!

  9. You did great under the circumstances! What happened was beyond your control and your training, and still you got through it and finished, good job!

  10. I am so bummed you didn’t have a better race but I am so glad you are able to see the forest for the trees. The race was incredible whether you BQed or not. So happy to have shared this day with you (even if we never met). BOSTON STRONG!

    • So glad you had the race of your life, Alex!! Way to go. I felt like it was almost “easy” too. Just a wonderful time and so worth everything- too bad we couldn’t meet up!

  11. Congratulations on finishing! I’m happy to hear that you finished safely. Running Boston AT ALL is a huge accomplishment and it’s amazing that you had the perseverance to push through to the finish!

  12. FWIW, I don’t think you should view this as an “epic fail marathon” (saw the tag). You qualified for, got into, and gutted out what was one of the more important marathons this country has held. 2014 Boston was an important race to run, and you did it. You showed great heart, and many worthy congrats. Great work!

    • Thank you for that. When you’re competitive, it’s a
      Very bitter pill to swallow knowing what could have been. I’m so happy I was able to experience it and absorb what is the best marathon in the world.

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  14. Congrats on finishing the Boston Marathon! You ran an incredible 19+ miles and changing your goal when you knew you weren’t feeling right was spot on. You finished! It doesn’t really matter what time you did it in. You made it there. You got to experience what was probably the most special marathon of all time, particularly the Boston Marathon of 2014 and you never gave up! I’d say that was pretty awesome. I hope I’ll get to one day experience the crowds you described. It does sound epic. xoxo

    • Thanks Jesica! I read that you are hoping to go one day (and you will) – well, the sacrifices and hard work is worth it. Took me a long time to get there, but I treasure all the steps it took and all the fun/learning experiences I had along the way.

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