THE FIRST 5K
Without much pomp and circumstance the gun goes off and we start. The first 5k is all downhill and somewhat of a blur. Within moments hundreds of runners fly by us and we do a quick glance back to confirm we are not the last ones. It is hard holding back but going out too fast at Boston is a mistake many veterans have warned us about so we do a good job reminding each other to relax and slow down because we have a long way to go. I take note of the absolutely beautiful weather and scenery. Ashland comes and goes.
After mile 4 we settle into a rhythm and decide to walk through the water stations to make sure we are hydrating well. The crowds are AMAZING and yelling my name (which I printed on my shirt) as I run by making me feel like a super star. I can’t believe how many people have come out to watch us run. We see thousands of runners ahead of us and behind us but it is not too crowded to stay together and run our pace. We enter into Framingham and see the train station. Feeling great!
Natick is next. I think it was my favorite stretch of the race. The town was really cute and the fans were great! We appreciated everybody who had their speakers out motivating us with “Eye of the Tiger” and other great music to pump us up. It is fun reading all the signs the fans have made and giving the kids high fives as I run past. The miles are going by quickly.
13.1Half way! We are getting ready to enter into the famous Wellesley Scream tunnel. And a scream tunnel it is! If you are a single guy looking for a date I suggest you train for a half marathon and just stop here. There are a lot of self proclaimed “sexually frustrated” girls with signs reading “Kiss me I am from Alaska” or “Stop running after your dream because she is standing right here”. Kudos for all you girls for coming out and screaming for so long! At this point my stomach is starting to feel a little queasy. I try to ignore it and move forward.
Newton. Home to the Newton Hills and the infamous Heartbreak Hill. This is the point in the race we have been waiting for. Five more miles to the top of heartbreak and then downhill from there. We have been slowly climbing since mile 14 but are on the look for the right hand turn at the fire station where the first of three hills officially starts. We finally see it up ahead. We make the turn onto a crowd filled street and start climbing.
My seat mate on the school bus warned me the first hill was the steepest and just to keep my eye out for the 35 MPH sign that marked the top. I actually felt pretty good going up the hill and was relieved the sign wasn’t as far as I had anticipated. It was when I started going down my stomach started to slosh and protest. Mind over matter. I ignored it and focused on the beautiful houses and cheering fans.
We run downhill for a bit and start our second acent. I don’t remember this one much as I just put my head down and focus on getting to the top. One more to go.
Heartbreak Hill! You can’t miss it because thousands of fans are screaming and holding signs telling you that you are there! At this point I am really starting to not feel good so instead of embracing the fans, I put on my ipod, focus on the road in front of me and try to convince myself once I get to the top I will feel better. Drinking a beer from a red cup the BC students were holding out was the last thing I wanted to do! I see others walking. I keep running. I get to the top and my body is not cooperating. My marathon buddy had fallen behind on the hill, but now runs by. I silently wish her luck but have no desire to try and keep up with her. My pace slows. I look down and my Garmin has stopped working. This is not going well.
MILE 22Yay! Brighton. This is where Eric is. 100 yards past the water station on the left he told me. I look ahead and am so excited to see him. I stop and give him and stinky hug and kiss. He offers me M&M’s. Pretty much the last thing I wanted. I decline, wave goodbye and keep running. Only 4 more miles. I tell myself that is nothing. I do 4 miles all the time. It will be over in a flash. Everyone is suffering right now and this is the time to dig deep. We make a left hand turn onto Comm Ave and I am hit with a cold head wind. Never mind what I was just thinking.
I loose the battle with my stomach. Luckily there is a patch of dirt uninhabited by fans that I can spew my undigested GU, water and Gatorade forever marking my territory in Brookline. I feel slightly better but am cold and dizzy. I try to run again but can’t seem to get things going. Out of nowhere a man appears, a fellow runner with an 8,000 number (meaning he is fast and was in the first wave). He comes over to me and tells me to walk and let my stomach settle and to let my body recover. “You are at the Boston Marathon and it is too beautiful of a day for you to make yourself sick these last few miles. Walk with me and we will run at 1 mile to go”.
So we walk. Fans are cheering my name and telling me I look great (umm, I don’t think so). People are yelling “Go Arizona. Bear Down Arizona” you are almost there. I give them a weak smile and wish I had the energy to tell them that 3 miles is not ALMOST there and that I want to stop now.
But my new friend starts talking to me and telling me this is his 8th Boston and he is having a really bad day and has already been out there for 4-1/2 hours. He tells me stories about his past marathons and his daughter who graduated from BU. I am so grateful for this man who walked with me those 2 miles when I was at my lowest and told stories to take my mind off my suffering and the temptation to sit down for a bit. He reminded me what I needed to remember. No one but me cares what the clock says when I cross the finish line. I am here to enjoy the day, enjoy the experience. I am at the Boston Marathon.
The Citgo sign that towers over Comm Ave is what all Boston Marathon runners are on the lookout for. You can see it for a long time, but when you actually get to it it means you only have 1 mile to go. We reach it and start running again. Ok, it’s more like shuffling, but definitely faster than walking. He only makes it a few yards but encourages me to keep going. Which somehow I do.
I know that the last .2 is the longest part of the race and I just need to put one foot in front of the other to get there. I am alternating between running and walking at this point. I make a right turn onto Hereford. It is uphill. My 8,000 number running friend goes by and I silently wish him luck. Finally, the left turn onto Boylston. I see the finish line. The crowds are going wild. Four more blocks!