Monday, April 25, 2011

My First Race – Jacqui

It is hard to believe that a few days ago I ran 26.2 miles. I am thrilled to have been able to take part in the Boston Marathon. It was really amazing to see firsthand the corrals of 30,000 people preparing to run, the Hopkinton forest bathroom breakers, the Wellesley College screamers, the challenges of Heartbreak Hill, the Boston College drinkers, the Citgo sign hill and of course the FINISH line. It was very uplifting to see my family spread out along the course. They greeted me with signs, cow bells and cheers, which helped to carry me forward. I was surprised to see energetic and supportive spectators continuously along the road throughout the whole race. I was very entertained by the signs and clothing of spectators and runners alike. Very early on in the race – way back in Ashland or Hopkinton – someone had set up a town line sign for Brookline. For most of the run, I paced behind someone in a hot pink tutu. I kept crossing paths with a woman in a leopard dress, and I even saw a pair of people dressed as a “hamburger and fries.” I saw President Lincoln run by me in a full long-sleeve suit and wondered how he would fare in that outfit, seeing that I was struggling while in comfortable running gear.

Despite the numerous warnings to watch the pace early on in the race, I ran 10-minute miles for the first 15K. Although I knew I was running faster than my training (12-minute miles), I was not sure if the fast pace was due to the expected “30 to 90 second faster race day pace” or the much-dreaded “going too fast and will burn out soon” theory. Right around 13 miles I suddenly learned the answer: I was going too fast. I also realized that I was a little dehydrated as I hadn’t increased my water intake to account for the warmer weather. I drank water and Gatorade, ate a few oranges and walked for two to three minutes every mile instead of my usual one-minute walk. I did this over the next few miles and felt much better by mile 17. I am so grateful to those souls that handed out the orange slices that helped to revitalize me. Although I had made a recovery, I wasn’t sure how tenuous it was, so I decided to walk the three big hills. I was disappointed by this concession as I had trained the last 14 weeks running these hills and thought I was ready to take them on, but the last thing I wanted to do was not finish the race.

Then at the top of Heartbreak Hill, my uncle joined me for the last five miles. After the demoralizing hills, it was such a wonderful site to see him with a fresh face eager for the run together. We finished out the race together enjoying the sites and sounds of the Boston Marathon. Although my overall pace ended up being slower than my goal of 12-minute miles, I was able to finish the race strong. Since I have never done any running race before, I am proud to walk away from the Boston Marathon with a finish time of 5:32 – and of course a really cool medal!

Actually, I am walking away from this experience with a whole lot more than that. I exceeded my fundraising goal for the NWH Cancer Center. I learned that my friends, family and co-workers are an incredibly supportive group of people. I learned that one of my great strengths as well as one of my great weaknesses is that I always try to get more out of any given situation. I learned that my dog, Rowen, loves to run. And did I mention that I got a really cool medal?

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