After placing my old maternity leggings in the clothing donation pile, I trotted across the starting line on October 11th, 2021. It had been just over 900 days since the last Boston Marathon.
The 125th Boston Marathon was electrified with community spirit and support. I ran through the Wellesley scream tunnel, waved at Mandalorian and Grogu, clapped for kids on trampolines, and saw the CITGO sign rise up from the concrete like a (fossil fuel-worshipping) desert oasis.
Training went well. My husband, Josh, created a training schedule that included a lot of longer workouts (2×4 miles at marathon pace; 2×3 miles at half marathon pace; mile repeats at half marathon pace). I maxed out at 50 weekly miles in the end of August. I did 3 20-mile runs + a handful of 18s and 16s. I had no injuries and no major interruptions to the schedule, which is so rare.
The only hiccups were a few bad asthma days, one of which caused me to cut a workout short in September. This gardener actually hoped for a frost (to kill the ragweed) before the marathon. Alas, ’twas not meant to be. (My dahlias are thankful.)
Compared to my only other marathon in 2019, I was running regular runs slower and the workouts faster. What would that mean on race day? I hoped to build to a PR.
What’s that, you say? A race day high temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit with over 80% humidity?
Spoiler Alert: I did not PR.
After running conservatively in my first marathon, I tried a quicker start on this one. My overall goal pace was 7:45. I gave myself permission to go out in the 7:30s. The first 5K averaged 7:46. The 10K averaged 7:35. Boston’s first 10 miles are mostly downhill, which sounds great. However, the “braking” can wreck one’s quads. During training, I practiced running up and down hills with a short and quick step. I muttered “short and quick” during the race.
But my legs never felt zippy on Marathon Monday. It may have been my late start (10:30am), attempts to push the pace early, the heat/humidity, or all the standing in lines for gear check, bathrooms, busses, etc. About halfway through, I even willed my brain not to think about my legs. They almost felt numb, like my arms were keeping pace for the rest of me and my legs were just following along.
That all sounds bad, but I truly did enjoy and soak in the experience. I also got a huge boost seeing friends and family out on the course. Thank you, everyone!
The last 3 miles were not something I’d like to live again. I did my best Roy Kent impression, grunting and cursing. Despite carrying an inhaler in a sock sewn to my shorts (note to self: invest in shorts with pockets), my breathing wasn’t good. I felt dizzy. I kept telling myself to be careful not to trip or push too hard and pass out. Avoid the DNF.
I turned on Hereford, passed my cheering friends on the Boylston corner, and left all I had on the course. The chip time said 3:30:45 (averaging 8:03/mile). I’ll take it.
My time is another BQ (Boston qualifier). Will I run it again? Maybe.
For now, I’m excited to cheer for my kids at their sporting events and spend more time with my still-blooming dahlias.