My Boston Marathon Experience

Where do I begin, it all seems like a dream.

Coming into my 2nd Boston Marathon, I really wanted to redeem myself from my first go-around back in 2014. I was 19 at the time, and was very injured, to the point where I couldn’t lift up my left leg. I had injured my hip and strained my quad pretty badly. So here I was, hoping for not only a Boston PR, but also a BQ (re qualifying) marathon time. I did get the first! (Barely)

The Expo

We, my loving & supportive parents and I, arrived Saturday morning and had lots of time to enjoy the city before the race. After checking into the hotel, our first stop was the Boston Marathon Expo. It was packed with athletes and family members. The way we were directed around the building was similar to a roller coaster line- always moving, but zig- zaging in small spaces to fit everyone in.

Once I picked up my bib number, it all started to sink in and feel real. I was about to run the race I had been training so hard for in two short days.

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After that, we headed down to a huge room with TONS of vendors. I picked up my Boston Marathon swag and started to stop by the free food and drink samples – gotta love free food! I heard over the intercom that Katherine Switzer was meeting people by the Adidas apparel, so I quickly found my dad and ran over there.

It was such an honor to meet the first woman to ever run the Boston marathon 50 years ago! She actually ran this year with her charity and wore the legendary bib number 261. Katherine is 70 but doesn’t look it; hopefully this whole running thing will do the same for me, because I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon (or ever).

Katherine signed my bib and gave me a hug wishing me luck. Just that minute of time was so very special. I am so glad I was at the right place at the right time to meet her!

Hours later, we left the expo in search of food. The fish in Boston was some of the best we had ever had- no surprise that it’s better than Ohio’s fish.

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Before heading back to the hotel, I wanted to check out the finish line and head down Boylston Street.

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Someone yelled “you’re going the wrong way!” lol

A journalism student saw me wearing my Boston marathon jacket and taking obnoxious pictures, and asked to feature me in her article. She took pictures of me and asked me questions about the race. Unfortunately, I don’t know where the article went or what it was called, but I felt famous for a second (haha).

Easter Sunday

Early the next morning I ran a couple shake out miles with my dad before we headed to Easter Sunday mass. My legs felt heavy, my breathing much heavier than normal for that easy of a pace for me, and my heart rate was high. That day was a high of 86 degrees and the sun was hot. I knew I needed to hydrate a lot, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

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We spent Easter with my family who lives in New England. It was great seeing everyone and meeting my baby cousin for the first time. After spending hours there, I started to get very anxious for the next day. We drove back to the hotel from their home in Connecticut, which with traffic took 1.5 hours- this didn’t help with my nerves.

Once we got back to the hotel I laid out my gear, drank water and powerade, stretched, and rolled out my muscles. I tried to go to bed early, but my race anxiety kept me awake for longer than my usual (once I hit the pillow, I’m out).

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Patriot’s Day

I woke up nearly shaking and my heart rate was way high for me, my usual 50-60 heart rate was almost double at 100 bpms. I always get excited and nervous before races, I think it’s because I care so much?  But this race, I unintentionally put loads of pressure on myself. I thought it would be a great idea to tell everyone on social media and those close to me to track me and give out my bib number, but honestly, it made me even more nervous.

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Shout out to my cute and very supportive parents, I wouldn’t have made it to Boston without them. ❤

Athlete’s Village

In athletes village, which is a few acres of grass with tents and food while we all wait until we walk to the start line. I had about 2 hours until my start at that point, so I waited in line for porta potties, drank water, and ate bananas.

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I felt the hot sun blazing on my back and knew this wasn’t going to be the goal race I had hoped for. I lathered up on sunscreen, drank lots of water- what I thought would be good enough for me, and met up with my running friends. I had a good time just watching all the athletes gather around, but waiting in the village for a couple hours in the sun I think hurt my performance.

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When it was about 9:45 a.m., my wave was called to walk to the start line, which is about another mile. I walked at least 3 miles before the start! All the walking plus the time of day and hot sun makes it extremely difficult to do well in this race. I started the race around 10:30am, a pretty late race time from the 7am starts I am used to.

Miles 1-4:

The race is downhill at the start (and for the next 6 miles), which is good and bad. I didn’t want to go too fast down the hills and set myself up for failure, but I also didn’t want to hold back. The course is packed with runners for at least the first couple miles. It’s super difficult to weave in and out of people in the beginning of the race.

I  thought I’d keep the 7:35-7:45 for the entire race, but that changed pretty quickly. As I ran down the hills I felt strong, going the pace I planned to keep the whole race, but it didn’t last long. Slowly I felt depleted, I was getting very overheated.

Miles 5-6:

It was very hot and the humidity was HIGH. When I saw my parents at mile 5, I stopped and told them that I didn’t know if I could continue running safely. RED FLAG- One, I never stop in races, and two- I run at least 5 miles a day and have never felt like this. I didn’t know what to do, I knew I couldn’t keep my goal pace, so I decided to seek medical help. Around mile 6, I could barely keep a good pace and was forced to slow down. I was seeing black spots, felt extremely dizzy, breathing very heavy, my legs were cramping, & I don’t think I was even sweating (not good).

Mile 7:

At Mile 7, I stopped at the medical tent for around 15-20 minutes, but it felt like forever for me because I knew my time was going down the drain. (Those who were tracking me must have been concerned how my pace went from a 7:45 average to a 12 minute mile for the 15 K check point).

After re hydrating, ice cold towels, laying me down & elevating my feet, they cleared my vital signs (which went from a heart rate in the 180’s and a 90/55 blood pressure back to a normal range). The medical professionals took a picture of my bib number (not really sure as to why) and told me to stop at every medical tent or just take the bus back to the finish. I thanked them and all the volunteers for their help, but I knew I was not stopping. I was not going to quit and take a bus! I came all the way to Boston to run the race, and I am so glad that I was capable of finishing!

Mile 8-9:

It took all I had to keep running, but once I ran through every sprinkler and dumped countless water cups all over my body, I felt strong. I didn’t stop running or walk once after that med tent, thank goodness. I stopped at every single water station, alternated drinking water and Gatorade and then I would grab a second water cup to pour all over my body. Every time I’d pour a cup of water all over me, I would cool off and feel stronger.

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Miles 10-13

The heat was still there, but I wasn’t going to allow it to stop me. After stopping at the medical tent, I decided to enjoy the race and really soak in all this historic course and city has to offer. The Boston Marathon is incredibly special. There are always people along the sidelines of the course, shoulder to shoulder screaming, encouraging, high- fiving, and handing out food to both the strong and struggling athletes. Simply amazing, there is absolutely NOTHING like it.

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Miles 14-16:

At mile 14, the course runs through Wellesley. The college girls from Wellesley all stand out with signs that say “Kiss Me” and there are, believe it or not, people that go over there and kiss them. Haha I know this sounds super awkward, but you just have to go along with it.

I thought about my goal to experience the whole race so I thought why not.  I stopped and kissed a girl on the cheek. It’s tradition and just adds to the fun loving nature of the race.

After Wellesley, the first of the large hills began. These hills range from miles 15 to 21. Honestly, the whole course to me seemed like I was always running hills- either up or down, and very little flat road.

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Miles 17-20:

During the race, especially this part, I just went by effort and rarely looked at my watch. When I would look at my Garmin, I was happy with my time and proud of how strong I was holding up. I was averaging 8:20 miles for the hills, while still enjoying myself.  I wasn’t mad about it.

Around mile 18-20 is when I normally “hit the wall” when running marathons. Yes, I did feel fatigued and my legs were screaming at me, but I didn’t feel horrible. I kept taking Gatorade, water, and my gummies and powered through the hills. I told myself “I can do this,” something I truly did not think was possibly 5-7 miles into the race.

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Miles 21-24

These are some of the hardest miles. Almost there, but not quite yet. Heartbreak Hill is always a doozey. Hard, but doable. Countless runners on either sides of me were walking up this very large hill, but I wouldn’t let myself. I was capable of pushing through this challenging feat and the crowd was so supportive. Signs everywhere with funny jokes and inspirational quotes to get me up this hill.

After heartbreak hill it was all down hill from here. At least that’s what I thought.

Miles 25-26

The infamous Citgo sign light up at the bottom of the hill At mile 25. I could feel my face light up as well. I was almost to the finish! My quads and hips were not too happy with me, but what do you I expect, I had 25 plus miles under my belt for the day.

Everyone has good days and bad days. I actually think a lot of people had a bad running day on Patriot’s day due to the heat, but a good day because of the people- both the kind and inspirational athletes, as well as the supportive crowd.

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When I turned the corner from Hereford to Boylston street, I almost started to cry tears of Joy. This moment is so surreal. I crossed the finish line proudly.

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People often ask me what I think about all 26.2 miles- the truth is, for me it is all a big prayer- thanking God for the ability to run the race + asking for strength to persevere when it gets tough, taking in everything from the race and feeding off the crowds energy. Personally, the amount of joy I get from running marathons is why I do it. I know I am crazy, but I love this stuff. This is what I live for. I can’t wait to absolutely crush the next race I set out for!

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