Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Boston Marathon

On Friday evening, my parents and I flew out from Pittsburgh to Boston for the 2010 Boston Marathon. I was happy to be able to make the trip out knowing I would be able to start the race because just 7 weeks ago I sprained my ankle really badly! It was a stupid mistake, but hindsight is 20/20 right?

My ankle swelled up like a balloon and ended up getting black and blue all the way up to my calf. I iced it religiously for weeks and just waited. I swam a few times at the Medina Rec Center to keep some fitness up. After 3 weeks of rest, I was able to jog a couple miles slowly. My ankle felt great, but my calf and leg got pretty tight and sore quickly, not to mention I felt totally out of breath.

Flash forward 2 weeks to the marathon and I was actually back on the trails able to run a few longer runs over 10 miles. At this point, I felt pretty confident I would be able to toe the line in Hopkinton.

We landed in Boston around 8 o'clock or so. We booked a few nights at the same hotel we stayed at last time. After dropping our luggage off, we quickly got back on the subway and headed to the North End to each get a cannoli we'd been craving at Mike's Pastry shop. The best cannolis I've ever had!

On Saturday, we stopped by the expo to pick up my number and walk around. The Boston Marathon has a great expo with tons of giveaways, promotions and famous runners signing autographs. I was able to get my picture with Khalid Khannouchi, the current American marathon record holder. On Sunday, we walked some on the Freedom Trail and then took the subway out to Harvard. Sunday evening, we met some friends at the North End for some pasta.

The weather was miserable with rain both Saturday and Sunday, but we still enjoyed ourselves! All I cared about was that the forecast for race day held - partly cloudy, high 55, low 45.

I didn't get much sleep the night before the race, but that's always common. We headed down to the Boston Commons at 6 to catch a bus to the start line in Hopkinton. I love the buzz and anticipation of all the runners down there. Some running it for the first time and others seasoned veterans.

I sat next to this guy from Long Island, NY and talked to him for most the ride down. We shared stories about past races, future goals, and strategy for today. This is one of my favorite parts of Boston is being able to meet so many different people.

We arrived at Athlete's Village 2 hours before the race. I found a comfy spot in the grass and hung out. I was smart this year and brought a tarp to sit on, as well as warm clothes and some food.

Before I knew it, we were headed down to the start line which is about a mile away. Of course I had to take a leak from all the nerves and excitement. I looked for somewhere hidden in the woods or behind a dumpster since most the johns had big lines, but scratched that idea when I saw a cop writing up a runner for going in the woods...haha busted! As I was waiting in line, the national anthem played and a couple fighter jets flew overhead. The guy behind me was from Canada, but sang our anthem with more enthusiasm than most Americans do.

I quickly ran over to the 4th starting corral and within about 10 minutes the gun was off! This year it only took 2 or 3 minutes to actually cross the start line. The beginning of the race is downhill, so you really have to watch how fast you go. After about 7 or 8 miles, I got talking to this guy and he said we were running 3:15 finishing pace. Way faster than I wanted to go, so I backed it down a lot. My plan was to enjoy the race and finish somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45.

During the first 11 miles, I had to use a restroom to go #2 two times! Other than that, the race went pretty smoothly. The highlight of the race is always Wellesley College, an all-girl's school at mile 12. You can hear the cheering from half a mile back and the girls line up for kisses. I got a few then pressed on.

My legs had started feeling tired early around mile 7, but they never got to terribly bad for the entire race. After Wellesley College, I ran with this guy who had a "Wellesely Alumni" shirt on. I had a blast pumping up the crowd with him and giving high fives to the spectators. This kept me going faster than I would've by myself for about 4 miles.

Around mile 16/17, the Newton hills begin. My first time at Boston in 2008, these hills killed me. This time I took it easier up them and felt stronger. I didn't have to walk at all and passed a bunch of people. Before I knew it, I had crested the infamous Heartbreak Hill at mile 20. It seemed like nothing this year!

The last stretch of the race is very enjoyable, downhill and tons of drunk college kids going crazy. This year, I made sure to yell and high five them as much as possible. It's amazing how loud they get when they see someone who is feeling good this late in the race, or at least acting like it :)

Fenway soon came up and I knew there was about a mile left till the finish. The crowds really thicken up, especially with the Red Sox game going on. As I turned the corner onto Boylston St, I got the same feeling I got in 2008...goosebumps, a couple watery eyes and a realization of how awesome this race is.

I finished in 3:45:15.

I will most likely do this race again sometime in the future, but would also like to try out other marathons and races. I feel so thankful to be able to take part in such a great event, especially this year when even making the finish line was a big question mark.

To view all my pictures from the race, click here.

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