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.