My whole family and I arrived in Boston Friday morning, 3 days before the marathon, after an all-night flight. We headed to the expo for packet pick-up right away before the tiredness of being up most of the night set in. We enjoyed the expo awhile, got an early dinner, and it was back to our hotel for an early bedtime!
Saturday morning was still hard for everyone to get up, but we had plans to go to the shakeout run hosted by Shalane Flanagan at 8am. We arrived and waited, and then listened to some question and answer from her and then headed out for a run! I mostly ran with my oldest daughter because I was supposed to be doing a couple of goal marathon pace miles with a warm-up and cool-down. We got a little lost from the group, but finished about 6 miles and made it back. I was starting to have a weird feeling in the front of my left foot, but it didn't seem like too big of a deal, so I just ignored it. When we got back to Heartbreak Running Store, my kids said Shalane Flanagan was inside! I've been waiting to meet her and get a picture for as long as I can remember, I was so happy to finally get the chance!
We spent the rest of Saturday sight-seeing and walking around Boston and then found the BEST little Italian restaurant for dinner! If you're in Boston, you have to eat at D'Parma - homemade tortellini, ravioli, and lots of other good food! On Saturday evening my left foot was getting swollen on top and very tender to walk on. I even texted coach Chad to see if I should skip the 4 mile run I had planned for Sunday in hopes that it would get better for Monday. I had been icing it all afternoon and staying off of it as much as I could. We woke up late on Sunday and went out around the hotel neighborhood, and my foot just felt worse with each step, so my son, Jack, insisted I go back. I tried to do some short bursts of goal marathon pace in the parking lot, but it wasn't feeling very great and I was getting worried now. My family and I did some more sight-seeing while I worried about my foot and tried to stay off of it most of Sunday. By nighttime, I was getting quite nervous about what I would be able to do on a swollen foot and knew my goal of trying for a PR was probably not going to happen. I was even wondering if I'd have to stop at some point because of it, but knew I had to try. I set out my race gear, my shoes, my food, my energy gels, and went to sleep hoping for a miracle when I woke up.
Monday morning came and I was up around 4:30 to drink coffee, get dressed, and get ready to catch the shuttle to the start at 6am. It was only about a half mile walk, but even that felt horrible on my still swollen foot. My friend, Angie's husband came that morning and taped it up with KT tape (thank you, Scott), so I was hopeful and just trying to stay positive. We arrived at the Athletes Village and just walked around a bit and waited for our start a couple of hours away still. It was noticeably warm, we didn't really need warm-up clothes. We wrote our names in marker on our arms, one of the best ideas! I was in Wave #2, one ahead of Angie, so around 10:00am we said goodbye, and goodluck, and I headed to the start! I was just telling myself to "run and have fun, don't think about your foot."
It's so very exciting walking to the start, the music is playing, the neighbors all cheer, the announcers are talking on the loudspeakers! I waited in my corral #7, and before I knew it I was across the starting mats and running downhill towards Boston! My foot hurt pretty bad on these downhills, I just told myself, "just run, don't look at your pace, just have fun!" I talked to a few other runners around me and just ran. My watch was beeping pretty consistently around 9:00 min/mile for at least the first 12-13 miles, I was really trying to just run comfortably, but stay strong, and enjoy all this cheering and course lined with spectators shouting and cheering, "go Mel!" After the first 4-5 miles my foot was not really painful anymore, but I could feel it. I just tried to keep my 9:00 minute pace, which felt pretty good, considering I had done most of my long runs closer to an 8:00min/mile pace. I continued to take my energy chews where I had practiced taking them during long runs and drink water even though I wasn't feeling thirsty. I knew I'd regret it later if I didn't hydrate. As I approached the halfway mark, just under 2 hours, I could hear the screams that come from the Wellesley college girls that come out. I find it pretty amusing to watch all that, but I stay to the left out of the way of the kissing signs. :)
My quads were starting to get tired, and it was beginning to take a bit more effort to keep my pace, but I was still managing close to a 9:15-9:45 pace through the hills that come from miles 15-21. I was so happy to feel strong on the hills and particularly enjoyed "Heartbreak Hill" at mile 21. I cannot even count how many times I heard, "go Mel, go Fleet Feet," and it always gave me a smile and a boost to keep going! It was getting warm, but I still felt good, I ran under a spray hose, grabbed a bag of ice to eat as I ran, and just enjoyed it. When my legs wanted to walk, I decided I'd drink a Gatorade at each water station (which I NEVER do), the sweet taste of it was just the little boost I needed at every mile to keep going. I felt awesome going up the hills because it felt better on my foot, and just kept moving.
As I came into downtown Boston the crowds get even deeper and louder and it's almost impossible to want to quit. I remembered that in 2015 miles 22-25 were quite a blur because I was SO dizzy and had to walk and try to recover, and this time I just really enjoyed all the cheering and screaming and energy from the spectators. They make you truly feel like you have to keep going! I noticed a few people getting help from medical and not looking too great, and that made me be even more appreciative of how I was able to keep running and not focus on the fact that I wasn't even close to my goal time. I saw the Citgo sign up ahead and remembered that it was a mile from there, so I tried to just run strong, my legs were so tired. I don't like to text while running, but I texted my daughter "25" so they would know I was close. I turned right onto Hereford, crowds cheering, and left onto Boylston, cheering so loud it was hard to not be excited! I was scanning the front row for my kids, I didn't want to miss them! Then I spotted my son, Jack, on the right. I bolted across the street and gave him a high-five then ran towards the finish just up ahead. Official finish time was 4:11, my second WORST marathon time ever, out of 19 marathons, but I was so happy to have just finished the Boston Marathon and had so much fun!
My legs were really tired and I didn't want to untie my shoe and look at my foot, it was starting to ache just walking around on it. I got my medal, heat blanket, some water, took some pictures, and then found my family. We walked very slowly back to our hotel, got some dinner and just relaxed!
I put in a lot of work for this marathon (up to 80 miles/week), and although it may have been easy to be disappointed that I was about 40 minutes slower than my goal time I just changed my mindset to be thankful that I was running THE BOSTON MARATHON! God has a reason for this and I know He was watching over me that day. I'm blessed to be able to run, I'm happy that I had fun, I'm so glad my kids came and saw it all, and I recovered really quickly since I wasn't able to race it! I know my day will come when everything comes together and I'll get that PR I trained for!
Update on foot: I didn't even try to run for 4 days after, only iced it and took ibuprofen. The swelling was way up for those days, but has gone down significantly since then. I still have no idea what happened, my doctor cancelled my appointment I had Monday to get it checked out because he was sick. I've been able to run on it and I'm looking forward to Big Sur Marathon on April 30, to complete the Boston to Big Sur challenge!
"But those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31