Wednesday, April 18, 2012

B.A.A. and People of Boston: I LOVE YOU My Boston Race Recap

In 1906 the Boston marathon was referred to as "The Inferno" when it rose to 97 degrees during the race.  In 1976, it was called "The Run for the Hoses" when temperatures were 100 at the start and residents took garden hoses out to the streets to cool down the runners.  In 1982, it was a slighter cooler mid-70s with a blazing sun, named appropriately, "The Duel in the Sun".

I am not sure if the 2012 Boston Marathon will earn a special nickname, but it will be a very memorable one for me.

I qualified for Boston the past few marathons I have ran, but didn't fully understand what the big deal is about this race.  I respected the tradition of the race, being the longest running marathon.  I loved that the past running greats participated in this race.  I love that, in 1967, Katherine Switzer secretly entered the race, was confronted by the race director on the course, and still completed the race.
An her ovaries didn't even fall out!
I loved reading about this race, tracking the elites on race day, and reading about all these legends that choose to run Boston.  But I didn't totally understand why the race itself was so fun, and how those spectators can really be so amazing.  I run for myself.  I am competitive enough to push when no one is around.  I don't need any help during a marathon!
That was before I ran a marathon where the temperatures reached 89 degrees on a course with little shade.

I woke up before my alarm Monday morning, around 5:30.  I slept very well, but was feeling very nervous.  I was most nervous about racing in the heat, with all the heat warnings I was very paranoid I would hurt myself or not finish the race.  The B.A.A. sent out many e-mails warning us to be very, very careful.  It was hard to stop wondering if I made the right choice to run.

I got dressed, making sure to cover myself in tons of sunscreen.  I am pasty white (when I don't use self-tanner) and I burn very easily.  Many sunscreens have failed my skin or made my face so greasy my eyes stung, but this is my absolute favorite:

Neutrogena UltraSheer, the UltraSheer means you have absolutely no greasiness!
Going for the half-naked look
Getting to the start was kind of an adventure.  Our hotel convienently offered a $10 shuttle ride to the Hopkington State Park.  From there, we took another shuttle closer to the start.  From there, we walked for ten minutes or so to the Athlete's Village.  It was a nice warmup and I got to talk to some other runners.  Of course, I chose to wear an all gray North Hills sweatsuit so I could just throw it away and avoid checking a bag.  I kinda looked like I was trying to be a thug and everyone else had on bright, drywicking spandex.  Maybe that's why I sat by myself for the next couple hours!

I waited around a long time in athletes village, but it was a cool place to be.  Something really random and hilarious happene a little bit before my wave and corral was called to go to walk to the start.  The Peru Master's racing team asked me to get in a picture with their captain.  I thought he meant take their picture.  No, he wanted a picture with me.  I am not sure who they are, but they were so funny and sweet, who knows - maybe they are secret runningwithcorgs readers.

The walk to the start was not fun, neither was waiting the fiften minutes in wave 1, corral 8 before the race.  I broke a sweat walking slowly to the start.  We were all very close together and the sun was directly overhead, not a cloud or tree in sight.  At the start, we were packed in even closer, and there was no breeze at all.  I was sweating at this point, and I wasn't even moving.  I wasn't feeling very excited or encouraged anymore.  Right before I crossed the start line, they told us it was 80 degrees.

The first two miles were filled with anxiety.  There was little shade, and not many spectators yet.  They didn't have the first water station until around mile 2, due to congestion when you start.  We were also very close together, since everyone in my corral ran about the same qualifying time.  Very little breathing room, and I felt very warm already.  It was hard to see because I had no sunglasses on and the sun was so bright.

Mile 1: 7:30 Mile 2: 7:47

Right after mile 2 was the first glorious water station.  It was super crowded with runners and there were cups everywhere.  Usually during a race I run right by and scoop up a cup of water easily.  That was  not going to happen during this race.  I figured the trade off for slowing down a few seconds each stop was better than getting heatstroke and carted off.

I drank Gatorade at every other stop to get electrolytes on this hot day, something I usually don't do, but it worked very well.  I did not get an upset stomach.  I sipped water at every stop, and dumped the rest on my head, neck, and chest.

After stopping at mile 2 for water, I soon was getting thirsty already.  That's when we started to approach all the crowds in Framingham.  I quickly began to feel that I might be okay during the race.  There were enthusiastic fans EVERYWHERE.  Not only were they cheering, but they had garden hoses on to cool us off, they had orange slices, cups of ice, cold towels, baby pools to soak in, popsicles, candy and snacks, kids with waterguns, sponges soaked in cold water....this amazing support continued the entire race.  Never have I ever seen spectators so willing to help you.  They were there to work and help us get through the race and I really don't know if I could have survived the day without all the extra help.  I ran through every hose and sprinkler on my side of the street.  The B.A.A. set up many of their own misting stations, and many fire hydrants were opened for the day.  I ran through every one of those. I took in water and splashed it on my body at least every half mile.  I took a gel every 6 miles, taking a half of a gel at mile 24.  And my secret weapon?  The ice the ladies were handing out went directly in my sports bra. This helped keep my body temperature from rising.  They thought it was so funny when I stuck them right down my shirt, too.  A lot of people cheered, actually.

I felt more and more encouraged by the mile.  Bikers drinking beer cheering us on, girls outside Irish bars dancing on picnic tables, college kids offering you beer....what a party! It made me want to run faster!
random picture of the elite women!

I had mile 10 to look forward to in Natick, where my family planned on watching me.  The next miles I focused on staying relaxed and keeping wet and well hydrated.  They went by pretty quickly, especially since I was focusing on dousing myself with every liquid I got my hands on.  It was a little discouraging to see people starting to get sick, pull off to the side, or begin walking slowly at only mile 3, though.  It was hard not to wonder if you would be next.  I kinda felt like it was the Hunger Games, without the murder and mean competitors.

Mile 3: 7:50 Mile 4: 7:36 Mile 5: 7:50 Mile 6: 7:39 Mile 7: 7:46 Mile 8: 7:39 Mile 9: 7:37 Mile 10:7:41

At this point, I got to see my family and give them the thumbs up.  I told them earlier if I got overheated and felt like I needed to drop out, I would go with them here.  I screamed hi to them and told them I could do this and I would see them at the finish.
saying hi
Jordan made this sign to let me know that the kennel reported Penny and Bruno were doing great!

At this point, I was fully committed to finish the race and was feeling pretty great.  However, I still had 16 miles left.  I decided to keep my effort level the same until I got through the Newton hills and Heartbreak Hill. I had no idea how bad those would be, so I wanted to make sure I had enough in the tank to get up them!
Mile 11: 7:49 Mile 12: 7:36 Mile 13: 7:49  HalfMarathon: 1:41:23 (Here I told myself I would be pretty happy if I ran the next half at the same pace, a 3:22:46 would be a good time for the conditions)

Mile 14: 7:35 Mile 15: 7:40 Mile 16: 7:25
 The hills started around here.  Hopefully I don't sound like a jerk saying this, but I enjoyed them because my poor quads had a break.  I kept a steady pace up the hills and there was a lot of crowd support.  I remember thinking the first hill was kinda rough but the rest flew by, since there were some nice downhills thrown in there.  Plus, there were thousands of spectators telling you how awesome you looked as you went up.  I couldn't believe the hill I just went up was Heartbreak Hill, I actually had to ask the guy next to me.  I think training in Pittsburgh makes these hills a piece of cake!

Mile 17: 7:46 Mile 18: 7:56 Mile 19: 7:30 Mile 20: 7:45 Mile 21: 7:54 
Finishing the hills and arriving into the masses at Boston College was my favorite part of the race.  I high fived so many college boys here and was rewarded with extra cheering.  They were insane.  They were fun and probably drunk, but actually knew what things we wanted to hear when we ran by: You've got this Pink! You don't even look tired!  You own this race!  7149, I love you!.  Go Little Blondie!  This crowd kicked off the best 5 miles of a race ever.
All through Brookline, massive crowds were going totally crazy for us.  There were also some very nice downhills in this section!  I had no choice but to smile and enjoy the moment.  My legs were totally short but it was easy to pick up the pace, the energy of the crowd truly pulled me through and I finally understood why Boston is so amazing.

Mile 22: 7:14 Mile 23: 7:23 Mile 24: 7:13 Mile 25: 7:35 Mile 26: 7:22
Making the left onto Boylston Street was another memorable experience.  A lot of times a long straight away at the end of the race makes me discouraged, but I was able to look at the crowds 10 deep lining the long straight away, take it in that I was indeed finishing my first Boston Marathon in these yucky conditions, and treat it as my victory lap, speeding up with a kick but with a smile on my face!
Last .2: ran at 6:14 pace
Finish Time: 3:20:23
Overall: 1,860 out of 21,554
Women: 167/8,966 

Although this was far off my PR of 3:13:42, I never felt more happy with a race when I crossed that finish line. I wasn't sure that I was going to finish that day, and to negative split over that last half really made me proud of the way I ran the race.
I was spent after that race and was bummed to have to walk what felt like another marathon to get food, medal, and to the family meet up area.  But I was on my runner's high so it was all good.
Some pictures after the race with my family:  Thanks for watching!!!

Thanks, paparazzi


#1 Husband

Brother, Mom, Me, Dad

Running Buddies!
After this, we had to walk to the train and take a 30 min ride to our car.  My parents picked us up from the car and drove to the hotel.  I changed at the hotel and drove with Jordan to the rental car place.  We took a shuttle to the airport.  We got through security and I finally got to sit down.  What a hassle!  But everything we went through over the weekend was worth it, to finish the Boston Marathon strong and be part of such a crazy race.  It lived up to the hype to me, and again, I don't think I could have finished the race without the fabulous support from the B.A.A. and the awesome spectators.
ecstatic I had a seat on the subway!

Thanks for all the cheering and message of support from everyone, you guys are awesome!!!


  1. Caitlin, Thanks for a great story! Aunt Joanne is right I'd submit it. So proud of you - Aunt Mary Anne and I followed you on the internet during the race. It's nice to get more of the details.

    1. Thanks so much! It was such a fun experience I had to write all about it.

  2. So Impressed! That is a crazy fast time regardless and then add in the I had many many friends run and by reading your blog I'm thinking "This girl is super tough! She looks like she's not even sweating!" Congrats! Love those shorts too by the way.

    1. Thanks, girl! I'm glad you posted - your blog is awesome! I hope to break 3 hours someday, so I will be following you so I can learn your secrets :)