Friday, April 23, 2010

It Was All Worth It! – Maureen

YAY, I did it!!!! I can now say that I ran (and finished!) the Boston Marathon!!! The whole day was amazing and was one of the best experiences ever. It was also one of the toughest things I've ever mentally and physically put myself through but I can honestly say it was all worth it.

I started getting a sore throat the Saturday before the marathon... oh no! There was absolutely no way sickness was going to keep me from running so I did everything I could to prevent it from getting worse. I still wasn't 100% the day of but felt much better. I had trouble getting to bed early enough Sunday night but managed to get in about 7 hours of sleep. Annie and I made arrangements to meet at the bus pickup along the Common at 7:00 am Monday morning. I was glad we decided to take the bus to Hopkinton instead of being dropped off.... it was all part of the experience! I had a lot of nervous excitement running through me so it was nice to have someone else from Newton-Wellesley to talk to on the ride down. We thought we'd have so much time to spare at Athlete's Village but time flew by pretty fast. We hit the porto-potties, ate our bagels, met up with some of the other runners at the Newton-Wellesley tent, I got "GO MOE" written on my arms, we shed our layers of clothing and we were off to the start!

Even though I trained with an iPod, I decided not to run the marathon with one so that I could feed off the crowds (and, of course, I also fed off my packet of jelly bellies!). I decided I wanted to make a concerted effort to notice each mile marker sign, as well as whenever we would enter a new town. I am very familiar with the entire route and I kept thinking how crazy it was that I was actually running it! The first 5 miles or so felt pretty good. I was consciously trying to keep an even, steady pace and not go too fast. I saw family around mile 5 in Ashland with their Go Moe and Newton-Wellesley signs (also where my uncle jumped in to keep me company) and it was exciting to see them. Soon after, I ran past my first college apartment in Framingham (quite a different scene from the Marathon Day parties we used to throw!) and saw friends on the balcony of La Cantina restaurant with more "Go Moe" signs! Around mile 6, my left knee started talking to me so I popped a few Advil and tried to focus on other body parts that were NOT bothering me. "Focus on the glutes" became the mantra I would continuously repeat for the duration of the marathon.

There were parts of the route in Natick and Wellesley that were very quiet because there weren't many spectators, making it easier to notice the aches and pains that were starting to sink in. My pace stayed pretty even though.... I know this because I broke down my splits at each 5K mark after I got my results (and just saw that Sabrina calculated hers as well, love it!). I also know exactly where my pace started to significantly slow... those Newton hills! BUT, before I made it there I was anxiously waiting to run by Newton-Wellesley. I knew my brother and sister-in-law would be there, along with my close friend Kendra (who was waiting to run the last 9.2 miles with me), and familiar faces of the Hospital! I stopped quickly for a few pics and continued running.

I was now on the part of the route that I had actually trained on a few times, which I was happy I did because I liked knowing when to expect with the hills... however I had never run them 18 miles into a run! I didn't think they were so bad during training but I was singing a different tune on Monday. However, it was about this point that I realized I had yet to stop and walk, something I thought for sure I'd have to because of my knee and hip. There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking during a marathon but now that I was only 8 miles away from the finish, I wanted so bad to finish having run the whole thing. My legs felt like lead going up each of the three hills but there was no way I was going to stop running. It was also from this point on that the crowds were extremely helpful in getting me to put one foot in front of the other. One memorable part of the route was at the top of Heartbreak Hill... there was a band playing, signs that read "You made it to the top of Heartbreak!" and people yelling words of encouragement... what a sigh of relief that part was over!

It was somewhere between the top of Heartbreak and the turn onto Beacon Street that Kendra started to play a game with me... it all started when we noticed a girl ahead of us running in a tutu. Kendra yelled out, "Moe! She's running in a tutu!! You're not gonna let a girl in a tutu beat you in a race... are you??" Motivation at its finest. The fire was lit and we breezed past her. Kendra continued to find people for me to pick off one by one, including blue-fanny-pack-guy, the girl wearing head-to-toe black ("Her pace is good... but yours is better!!"), and others. It was a great distraction from my achy joints.

I saw a few more friends at various points on Beacon Street, which helped keep me going, but my hip, knee and pinky toes were starting to give me more and more discomfort with each mile. The last two to three miles took every ounce of mental strength I had to keep going and not stop. My uncle wished me luck with about a mile to go and went ahead of us, and Kendra and I proceeded to run the longest mile I have ever run in my life. Although I was still aware of the crowds, I was no longer high-fiving people and taking it all in... I had to put all my efforts into just crossing the finish line. And I did! 4 hours, 29 minutes, and 29 seconds after starting. Talk about a sense of accomplishment! I was definitely feeling a little loopy once I finished though. I didn't need medical attention and I don't think I was dehydrated, but it took about a half hour before I stopped feeling weird. I knew not to sit down right away so I kept walking, got my medal and some vitamin water, met my friends and family and celebrated! I started craving an ice cold beer (this is when I realized I was myself again) so we all went and grabbed lunch together on Newbury Street. It was a perfect way to end the perfect Marathon Monday!

Although it took me a few days to walk down stairs without looking ridiculous (and whatever virus I started to get prior to Monday has progressively worsened since then), overall I feel great for having run my first marathon. And though it won't be anytime soon, I would absolutely do another one to try and better my time... especially now that I know what I need to do to minimize/eliminate the injuries I had during training. I want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who encouraged me and wished me well throughout this experience. And of course, thank you to Newton-Wellesley for giving me this opportunity!

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