Today in Boston, the sun in shining and my legs are screaming. Oh what a difference 24 hours makes. Here is part 2 of my marathon recap. You can read part 1 here.
At the starting line, there was a sign to my hometown. Made me smile despite the nerves. I was in a corral that I knew was too fast for me. My goal was a sub 4 hour marathon but I was with runners aiming for a 3:30. I was going to drop back a wave but after looking at the forecast decided to just hang by the back of my corral. The first 6 miles were downhill and I had actually not trained on them. I started running at an 8:30 minute mile, 30 seconds faster than my trainer told me to run the first 10. She said, “If you run the first mile fast, don’t worry but don’t run the first 10 too fast or else you will pay!”
It was really hard to let everyone blow by me. Mentally, it sucked. I just tried to stay out of everyone’s way on the side. I put my poncho around my waist at mile 1 hoping that the rain would hold off. It didn’t. It started to rain around mile two. I don’t remember when it stopped but I remember being thankful for my poncho and how surprised I was that it wasn’t a problem wearing while I ran. I was surprised there were not more people cheering on the course. In Chicago, every street corner was packed and I had heard nothing but maybe NYC beats the Boston crowd. It was definitely the rain that kept people from cheering but that made me appreciate the people who did come out so much more! They were amazing. I spotted one of my High School track coaches which made me emotional because I haven’t seen her maybe in over 10 years and it just reminded me how this is my hometown race. I have always been a runner and this was such a once in a lifetime experience – my first Boston Marathon.
I passed by the Dairy Queen I used to go to after track practice in High School. Then the Italian restaurant La Cantina that I loved growing up. It was literally memory lane the first half. I would have moments of “Oh my gosh. I’m running THE Boston Marathon. How is this real?” and would start to get emotional – which would screw up my breathing… great!
My goal from my trainer was to run between 8:56-9:14 minute miles for the first 10 and I did a pretty good job at keeping it up. It wasn’t hard to maintain and my legs felt great thanks to my adidas Ultra Boost sneakers.
Once I got to Wellesley, I picked up my pace… or attempted to. Jess (my trainer) told me to run between 8:36 and 8:56 for the next 10 miles. This was when I had to start playing mental games. I wanted to go slower, but I wanted to break 4 hours so badly, I didn’t allow myself. My heart rate was pretty high for the entire race but I didn’t check it once which is why I think I was so miserable. I felt borderline like I could have thrown up at any given time. My feet were starting to feel really heavy from all the rain. My legs were cold and wet. My right hamstring was the most bothersome body part which was surprising since it never bothered me during training.
Half Way There
When I crossed the half marathon point at 1:57 I knew I was on track to meet my goal but that I couldn’t slow down. These three minutes would haunt me the next 2 hours. Roomie and his sister were meeting me at mile 17 with dry sneakers and that kind of gave me a push. My trainer suggested it if I could and I loved the suggestion but was nervous the pit stop would derail my goal.
When I spotted roomie, I was kind of a bitch. I was cold, wet and unhappy. He hadn’t untied my shoes and was standing away from the guard rail taking pictures which was sweet but I wanted my shoes, lol! I said, “Thank you, i love you, I’m sorry for being bitchy,” and ran away which is when he took this great picture. At this point, I knew I would finish and was praying I could hit sub 4 but honestly didn’t think I would. Right after this picture is when you turn onto Comm Ave for the amazing hills.
These hills were mine to conquer though. This was the part of the course I trained on for 3 months! Jess told me not to look at my watch which was hard.
The pit stop looks like it cost me a minute but I don’t regret it one bit. The dry sneakers were waterproof so I knew my feet would be dry for the last 10 miles. On the hills, I repeated “Pain in temporary, glory is forever” maybe a thousand times in my head. I thought about my grandfather who was an Olympic track coach at the ’64 Summer Games in Japan and a BAA marathon official back in the day for 30 years (which I didn’t know until this week). I also remembered how many of you I told I wanted to break 4 hours and how if I made it in under 4 hours, I wouldn’t have to run another marathon. I wanted to stop and walk, which I did for most of the water stations when I realized I hadn’t had to pee once. I was nervous that I might be getting dehydrated fearing cramps.
I looked forward to Heartbreak Hill because I knew Lucie would be there. I didn’t see her but she saw me and took this great picture! I’m so glad I wrote Sarah on my shirt because I probably wouldn’t have smiled the entire race if I hadn’t. Runners kept telling me they wished their name was Sarah because so many people cheered for me. I think this was because I a) looked like I wanted to kill myself or b) was the only person with my name on my shirt nearby. A few people shouted for “Sarah Fit” which I loved!
Once I got to the top, I knew the rest of the course would be packed with cheering fans and the energy of the crowd would help carry me to the finish line. It also helped that there were tons of runners around me at the this point to help keep my pace up. I ditched the poncho and tried to pick up my pace. I had 60 minutes to run 6.2 miles.
Cue the mind games again
This marathon was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had to repeat these mantras to keep going. “Pain in temporary. Glory is forever.” “I can do this.” “Keep going.” “Suck it up bitch.” “You’ve got this.” “You ARE a runner.”
I saw a tent for the Krystal Campbell foundation which helped me find new strength inside. Krystal was my age when she passed away at the finish line bombings two years ago. That terrorist act was what made me want to run the marathon so badly. Thinking of all the bombing victims gave me new motivation to finish strong.
I didn’t believe I could break 4 hours until I had just 3 miles to go. I started to get emotional and then would have to pull myself together. It was a brutal 3 hour and 30 minutes and I knew I could stick it out the final 30. Failure at this point was not an option.
I pushed it the final mile knowing how close I was to my time. I spotted Roomie and his family again at the corner of Hereford and Boylston. I kind of blacked out on the last straight away. I heard some one say, “That’s Sarah Fit” and then I just took off. I didn’t look at my watch but I knew I was close. My mom, her husband and my sister were in the stands on the right and I tried to find them but saw the clock and got nervous my watch was off and sprinted to the finish line ignoring any photos potentially being taken by professionals or loved ones. Pavement Runner snapped this one though!
I’m prepared for a terrible photo to come from that last sprint but whatever… I taught to sprint through the finish line. My official time was 3:57:04. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I got super emotional and started crying. I just couldn’t believe I did it. My hard work for over 3 months paid off. That accomplishment will forever be with me. No one can take it away and for that, as miserable as it was, the training and the race were worth it. I can say for the rest of my life, I ran a sub-4 hour marathon! F*ck yeah. And that’s how I really feel.
I PR’ed by more than 20 minutes most importantly. In Chicago, I kind of just went out and had fun. In Boston, I was all business.
About 50 yards past the finish line, I was escorted over to the VIP tent where I got a space sheet, my medal and signed up for a massage. I drank tons of water finally. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have to pee once on the course seeing as I went 5 times before.
This was the best part of my day. Lying on the bed and getting a nice little massage.
I met my family for lunch afterwards at the University Club were I got to shower and get warm. I ate a delicious turkey club with sweet potato fries and a beer. My friend Rebecca also got me this cookie from the South End Buttery which was so freaking good I might have to go get another one today. I oddly wasn’t that hungry but forced myself to eat.
It really wasn’t an enjoyable run. I was miserable probably 85% of the time. I think had I been in a corral with people who were trying to run my pace would have been helpful. I was running by myself for a large part of the middle course. There weren’t many runners around me because I was at the back of wave 2, waiting for the runners of wave 3 to catch up. The wind sucked. The rain did too. The temperature didn’t bother me too much running. I would have liked to have ditched my jacket but was fine running with it on besides ruining my outfit.
Training for and running this race was the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The weather I don’t think could have been worse. It was a constant struggle to get excited for my training runs where as with Chicago’s training, I looked forward to it. I wasn’t worried about the weather forecast on race day because I literally trained in it. My 20 miler was in very similar conditions. The combination of the weather and my fast corral made the race harder than it should have been but I pulled through and finished in under 4 hours. I may not be done forever, but I’m done running full marathons for at least a solid 12 months.
I know there are some of you that are/will be pissed that I got to start in a faster corral than I deserved, and I fully acknowledge that I do feel guilty/apologetic that I did get such special treatment. I was lucky that I got to start in dry weather, where the later corrals started in rain (which is why I didn’t drop back voluntarily). However, I really believe that anyone who lives in New England and trained in this winter and ran yesterday deserved to earn a medal yesterday as much as any qualifier. It was not for the faint of heart and every one that finished is one bad ass.
Stephanie Rita says
Wow you’re quick on the recaps!! Amazing, amazing job. Seriously. The weather was miserable and not only did you stick it out, you made your goal! That’s huge!! I saw you in Natick Center and it took me a second to figure out it was you, but once I did, I yelled “Sarah Fit”! Also, my husband grew up near Holliston, in Medway. Small world 😉 I’ve done two halfs and always think about doing a full, but it just scares me a lot. The training, mostly. I didn’t have fun training for both my halfs, but once the actual race was over I was so glad I did it. Anyways, AMAZING JOB!!!! :)<3 -- Stephanie
Rachel @ Lou Lou Belle says
Agreed! You are quick to recap!!! As glorious as it would feel to cross that finish line, there is no marathon in my future. To completely shut out the opportunity and option hasn’t happened for me yet. There’s other things I want accomplish first before that brutal training! Well done! And congratulations!
Katy Widrick says
HOLLISTON FOR LIFE!
You are amazing. This is the only full marathon I’d ever consider doing and seeing other people accomplish their goal, despite some enormous obstacles, is incredibly inspirational.
it’s crazy how happy and proud I am of you and I’ve never even met you haha. I’ve been following you for years and its amazing to see you complete this crazy task. A marathon would be amazing to complete. I use to run a lot in high school (but only 3-6 miles at a time) so I think that living in florida, I should definitely make it a goal in the future !
My uncle also ran in the boston marathon this year, and it was amazing tracking both of you and seeing where you guys were at.
I love love love reading your blog always, and I’m so glad you did this for yourself. I hope that the next *at least 12 months* off of long-distance runs feels great.
You have totally inspired me! I grew up on Cape Cod and have run the Falmouth Road race several times…Boston has always been on my bucket list…so excited for you!
Kristy B. says
I do not take this saying lightly, but you truly are an inspiration. I kind of blew it on my last two half marathons (wanting a sub-2 hour half), and I thought my career was over -- thought I’d never get that sub 2 -- but your recaps have honestly made me so emotional and inspired. Knowing that you pushed through being miserable to achieve that amazing goal is enough for me to want to try again.
I’m sorry you didn’t have as positive of an experience, but at least it worked out in the end! Congratz on success!
Danielle Kempe says
I was screaming your name at Mile 14. I was with the Running for Rare Diseases cheering squad (because they were running to benefit the nonprofit I work for) but I looked for other friends/bloggers I knew were running Boston to give some extra cheers as well.
Yay! Thank you Danielle 🙂 Was that near the WHole Foods? I was so excited to hear my name. I loved the Wellesley crowds but was surprised the main drag by Gap wasn’t more crowded. I remember there being standing room only as a kid! Thank you for coming out to cheer us on!
Patty @ Reach Your Peak says
Congrats!!! sub 4 is awesome! I don’t foresee that in my future anytime soon lol. My goal for this fall’s marathon is 4:30. I hope one day I can run Boston…I’m a loooong way from qualifying though 🙂 Way to rock it despite all the adverse conditions!
PS -- what are those sneakers you say are water proof??
Awesome job! I saw you out there right before mile 17 and you looked great. I get why you wrote the last paragraph, however I don’t think you should have to justify yourself. I get it because of the running/blogging community, but it’s your hometown race I think every runner from Boston should get the chance to run it. I think it would be great if the BAA did something like New York’s 9+1 program so that people who live in Boston could get a chance to run it without having to raise thousands and thousands of dollars. Anyways -- great job! What sneakers did you switch into that were waterproof?
Oh amazing! and I totally agree with you the 9+1 program. That would be really awesome. The shoes I wore for the second part were these adidas boost climaheat sneakers I got this winter for training in the snow. I did all but 2 of my long runs in them! They are for cold weather and I can’t find them on the website anymore. I’ve posted them on my instagram before but I just can’t find them now. I love the ultraboost and probably should have just kept them on my feet but didn’t want to regret the opportunity.
Congratulations, SarahFit! My friends and I (fellow blog followers as well) were looking for you around mile 23 but you clearly must have buzzed by us so fast!!! Don’t feel like you have to apologize for the “special treatment”…you fought hard for each and every training mile and yesterday’s 26.2!
Question…for someone who has set goals to basically finish races and never cared too much about the clock, what kind of training do you suggest if I’m looking to actually hit a specific time? (Under 2:00 hr half).
Oh bummer! I had my name on my shirt and so I had no idea if I actually knew the people yelling my name or if they just read it haha. Speed training was a big part of it. I ran 3-4x a week. One day was easy and short, one was easy and medium and one was longer. The other day was speed work. I would work on doing 400s, 800s and mile repeats. If you are not sure what these are -- I plan to do a post on how I broke 4 hours after I get back. The easy answer though is to listen to your running coach. I know HHRC and SEAC have running clubs but I felt too slow to hang with them the one run I joined the group for. Otherwise, I’ll have some better advice for ya when I get back.
I am SO proud of you, friend! You did amazing on such a tough day! Next year, we can watch and drink mimosas together.
Great job, Sarah! I’m totally inspired and I will be running my first full marathon this year -- New York City!
You are awesome! It is my ultimate goal to qualify for Boston, loved reading the recaps and you are definitely an inspiration!
Running the marathon has always been a goal of mine & I have loved following your journey of it. I was just wondering if you had any tips & tricks that got you out into the cold weather this winter to train? I am also curious as to what you listened to during your run?
Hey Sarah, I have been following you for years, and I love you and your work 🙂 Inspireing!!
Id love to know what gels or nutrition you took!
I had 3 gels -- all Clif gels and 6 clif shot blocks. I think I had a gel at mile 6, 2 blocks at 10, 2 blocks at 14, a gel at 17, 2 blocks at 20 and a gel at 23 -- i think… I can’t remember now! haha
Thank you so so much for the answer! 🙂
You have talked alot about food / bars on your channel but not that much about gels/ race day nutrition (at least I cant find it and I think I have seen all your films!)
What really is the reason you do both blocks and gels?
I am looking into start using gels, but I am afraid of tummy issues (I do everything form half mar. to ultras and feel like in the only one who is not using them)..
Do you do well with caffeine for IG issues while running?
Any favorite flavours?
Thank you again Sarah 🙂
You inspired me for sure! I am going to take baby steps. One of my fitness goals are to run 5ks without struggling. So I signed up for five 5 ks. Completed one and I have four mores to go! I will probably sign up for 10K when I am done with all of my 5k. Thanks Sarah!
Congrats Sarah!! My friends and I were cheering you on at the 40k mark! You are such an inspiration to us, and are proof that hard work and determination pay off!! 🙂
awww thank you! I wish I knew who were blog readers and who just read my name on my shirt haha. I would’ve given you guys a high five 🙂
Anne @fANNEtasticfood says
I knew you had sub 4 in you! Proud of you, my friend! Congratulations!!
Thanks for helping my confidence. Even though we only ran together a few times, it helped so much!
Thank you for the real recap! Most people gloss over how tough the training is, or how hard the actual race was. I really enjoyed hearing how you accomplished your goal, even if it wasn’t easy!