Boston, MA 2016
Five years ago I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time, this past Monday (18 of April 2016) I ran it again as my 5th marathon. I qualified 6 years ago with my first marathon in Portland, Oregon and this time I qualified from my dream marathon, NYC Marathon in 2014.
Boston is a very special race, not just because you have to qualify with time to run, not just because it is one of the oldest marathons in the world, not just because history has been made here in the sport of running (this year was the 50th anniversary of women being allowed to run, Bobbi Gibb started our history) but really it is the energy that this city and runners brings to the race.
It is seriously something special to experience. I remember my first time running very clearly, I remember the energy I felt as soon as I arrived to the city with all the fast runners like myself and all the would be spectators who also celebrate the race as if it was one of the top sports in the world. This energy is something else, everyone is friendly, everyone is happy, everyone is excited, everyone is fast and everyone seriously lives this race in some form.
This time was no different, the energy was there for sure. This time though the experience was extra special because I am not living in the US nor did not train in the US but rather I live and trained internationally. Boston is a very international race and the energy this time started a long time ago as I met others who were also headed to Boston to run or teammates who would train with me. It is one thing to live in the country and another to live abroad and still find a bunch of runners training and going to run Boston, this takes the race to a whole new level.
As the days got closer you could feel the energy strongly, just the evening before at the doctors office I met someone who was going also, in fact who would even be on the same plane in the morning, how crazy! Stepping on the plane I was greeted by a runner who read my shirt and said ¨I think we are going to the same thing¨, I quickly replied ¨indeed we are¨. The plane ride itself was out of this world as almost the whole plane was filled with runners headed to Boston from all of Latin America, including people in Bogota and Panama who I had met before, from Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala and who knows where else. You couldn´t sleep on this plane because all those around you were runners talking about the race, pace, route, food, etc.
This energy only increases on Marathon Monday, the whole route is lined with family, friends, locals, etc who go crazy all day long cheering on runners, giving high fives, giving fruit, ice, water, etc. Not to mention all the volunteers who help and even cheer you along with smiles even if they have been in the sun (this time) or rain or cold all day long. Not only is it the spectators that are special but the traditions along the course (I´ll leave those to you to find out when you run).
Anywhere on the course if you take a high-five it gives you energy, you feel like you are floating, it is simply the coolest feeling. My first year I remember well those high fives, I took them rounding through the last mile and all I remember is floating and an absurd amount of energy, this time I took some high fives farther out and I still had the same levitating feeling as my first time.
Boston, is simply an amazing place to race.
This time training was really tough for me with work, I swear I don´t know how I even managed it but I did. There were plenty of days I just didn´t make it to trainings or that I had to do them late at night. I made it though…all the way to the Taper week, then got really sick and couldn´t sleep, I tried everything but couldn´t kick the cold and ended up running with it. This was the first marathon training that I really just wanted it all to be over with, and i was seriously the happiest runner after the last long run. The months of hard work and hard training had caught up with me and my body and mind knew it.
Really, the last month of training all I wanted was my mom, I was extremely excited she was coming and I could be with her…I tell you for me this is not a common feeling. I was just really tired and worn out and needing the support and love only your mom gives. The trip was extremely short, too short, it was 5 days (2 of which were flying), I was sick and 1 day I was running 42km…so I returned to Bogota unrested and still sick.
Even though short and even with mom´s flight delayed we shared moments together. The best by far being during the race. Five years ago she was also in Boston cheering, I had asked her to be farther out on the course, she went with my cousin and they had a great time, I saw them that time and it was perfect timing, they gave me the energy I needed. This time I didn´t really have a place mapped out for cheers and she wanted a different spot. A friend´s suggestion put her on the last mile and I spotted her. She sported my colorful jacket and a surprise sign, very easily recognizable. As soon as I spotted her I ran right over and hugged her then off I went.
The 2016 Boston Marathon was a tough year to run, not just the course that is tough but this day among the many normally cold days in Boston was gonna be hot. At the start it was 77 degrees and about halfway the temperature drastically dropped 10 degrees giving many runners a nice hit to their muscles…mine at least were pretty sore the last half and obviously they got worse the closer I got…in addition early on the side of my left knee started to bug me. It didn´t go away and the last half I had to slow down a bit and began throwing water on my left knee as if it were ice at each mile. With my knee like this and the thighs increasingly becoming sore I was really unsure I was even gonna finish. My knee worried me since I had no clue what was going on…still hurts today…but I kept going thinking of 2 things, I had to make it to mom at least running by her and smiling no matter what and that I had to finish no matter what.
Maybe a year ago I read about a non-profit that you can donate your race medals to and they would send them to others who can´t run, are sick and see them as an amazing act of kindness and motivation (medals4mettle). I thought it was kind of an interesting idea but didn´t really think much of it then. While training for Boston this idea came back but in a different way and I decided I wouldn´t keep my medal and that I would instead give it to someone who needs it more. That person is Kathy M., a family friend who was at my first marathon and who had cheered me on that day some 6 years ago. The expression on her face when she cheered me on that day remains. She wasn´t able to make my first Boston and I would have loved for to have been there and be part of its energy, the same energy she showed during my first marathon. Turns out time changes things, duh..late last year she was diagnosed with Cancer. I decided during my training for Boston that I would be running the marathon for her, although she would have no clue until after the race. So during the race, as I was in pain and unsure what the outcome would be, I kept this promise in mind and Kathy in my thoughts. The last 10km I pushed toward the finish…because now the race was not mine, I had someone else who needed me to finish…and just like that we have a new marathoner.
Thanks for keeping me going Kathy, please enjoy your medal, and I hope it keeps you positive during this time.
Differences I noticed running my 2nd Boston:
Every marathon is different, this was my first time running the same marathon and it was still very different.
A – This time Boston was like going to my second home since I had lived there for a couple of years, I have memories running there, not just from the marathon and I now know more about each city on the course having visiting most while living there, so it was more special to be ¨home¨.
B – The race had energy but running for the second time and sick it felt like it had less. Now that I knew the traditions, I laughed less and I couldn´t yell with them.
C – This time I started Corral 1, feet from the start line and had ton of space to run unlike the last time where I only remember running over the start among many other feet and then not having any space for miles. (same wave as last time just faster race times)
D – Last time I met Latins at the athletes village but this time I met people from the US and Canada…does this mean something?
E – First time being sick for a race 😦 The first 10 miles I was coughing a lot and spitting up flem….still maintaining pace but it was not easy, I´m sure I wasted energy and was dehydrating faster just with my cough which was present the whole race, though not as frequent in the later parts.
F – I trained at high altitude instead of lower elevations which was very confusing when it came to determining what my pace would be at sea-level. It is nice to know that it is the same but just much easier to breath and less energy consuming… well not so much with a cold (but imagining a cold and training at sea-level…that has got to be aweful.
G – There is a whole lot more security on the course and at the finish. The whole course was lined with soldiers and then to get to the Family Meet Up after you had to go through a security checkpoint and lines were long…
H – First time stopping to hug someone, although it was quick, normally I am really set on a goal time and speed right past but not this time, as mom says, I swooped in quickly like a swan and off I went.
I – This time I ran a good portion of the race with a girl from Utah, but I lost her the last 8km…from what it looks like she finished 10 minutes later…although I waited for her, I never saw her at the finishline among the many runners finishing. It was nice, we had kept each other company and helped each other keep going.
J – This time I finished much slower than I trained for, slower than I normally run, slower than my 1st Boston, and it was my 2nd slowest marathon. Finish time was 3:24:26…and yes this still qualifies me for Boston by 10 minutes. None of what I write here about time matters to me nor does it make me mad. I am simple happy to call myself and Kathy a finisher of the 2016 Boston Marathon.
K – Am I happy with my time, yes.
Am I happy I ran Boston again, sure.
Would I race it again, we´ll see how I feel in 4 years.
P.S. Looking at my training journal my knee was apparently bugging me weeks prior but it seemed to go away and I never looked into it. It is much better today (4 may) but I am not able to run yet.