The morning of the Boston Marathon started out wonderfully. I slept pretty well the night before, woke up, and was able to eat a rice cake with peanut butter before leaving the hotel. I arrived in downtown Boston at 6:30 am (right on time) and enjoyed a sunny but chilly hour long wait for a shuttle bus.
I enjoyed chatting with a few other runners while waiting and then used my time on the bus to warm up, eat a granola bar, and appreciate the moment: I was finally going to run the Boston Marathon!
When we arrived at Athlete’s Village, I was surprised how far away from the actual village my bus parked. I think we ended up walking about a half a mile to the runners area where I then stood in line for 30 minutes for a porta potty. Things were really in my favor at this point. I was feeling good, had no stomach troubles, and was just excited to run.
After using the porta potty, I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and then walked over to the gear check to give them my bag. At this point, I had about 40 minutes until my wave started at 10:20 so I decided to walk the 0.7 miles to the start and watch the first wave go off.
I found another group of porta potties and made sure to go again (I learned my lesson at Disney) and then took off my throwaway clothes and gave them to the clothes donation volunteers. I made sure my music was working, put on my arm band, and before I knew it, I was walking toward my corral and we were off!
My plan was to start off slower but I knew it would be difficult. Boston is a downhill course with rolling hills and it can be really hard to take the first half easy. I also wanted to be careful not to brake too much on the hills because I’d heard that could kill your quads. When we first started running the course was congested (it was the entire race) but it was congested in a different way. I’ve never been surrounded by so many fast people before and I was inspired rather than frustrated. I kept what felt like an easy pace on the hills and tried not to get caught up in what other people were doing and run my own race. My first 10 miles were all sub-7:40 and right on track.
Around mile 11, my knee started to bug me. I knew I was coming up to the Wellesley Scream Tunnel which would give me a mental/emotional push but I couldn’t get past the fact that the back of my knee was popping (I had an ACL repair in high school so I’m super in tune with any knee troubles). I stopped a few times in the next few miles to stretch and push the back (it felt good) but the popping wouldn’t stop. I started to slow down a little bit and ran a few 7:42′s while considering what my best options were.
At mile 15, I found a first aid tent and decided to stop. I was nervous that if I continued on I would blow out my knee and be out for months. I also figured that I wasn’t going to win the race (:P) so it didn’t make sense to risk injury. The first aid tent wasn’t allowed to tape my knee because they didn’t have a PT on site (why??) but they were able to wrap my knee with an ace bandage and send me on my way. The bandage helped a lot (no more popping!) but after a mile and a half, it started to come unraveled and I had to stop at another first aid tent and ask them to re-tape my knee. The second tent used a different kind of bandage that made my foot fall asleep so another mile later, I stopped on the side lines and tried to fix it myself. Fortunately, a wonderful spectator had duct tape and helped me tape the ace bandage in place. I had no more trouble after that.
I’m not sure if it was all of the starting and stopping, the hills that I flew through (I was not hill trained at all), or the ace bandage on my knee throwing off my gait but my calves and hamstrings cramped the rest of the race and I could not get into a rhythm. I had a few random “quick” miles but the rest were done at shuffle pace with a few walking and stretching breaks. It sucked and I was upset BUT I used the time to appreciate the crowds, chat with other runners, and enjoy the race. Despite being in pain and missing my goal time, I had fun.
I obviously have a lot to reflect on with this race including: What went wrong? How can I prevent this from happening again? Why have I run my two slowest marathons this year when I’ve been in my best running shape? But, honestly, I think that sometimes you just can’t control what happens. I’ve had no knee pain whatsoever during training, so how could I have predicted it happening during the race? Plus, look at this elevation chart from my Garmin, there are no flat parts whatsoever….
Hmmm seems like the official elevation chart is a little smoothed over . In all honesty though, I’m not sure how I could have trained for that type of course in Chicago.
I finished the race and debated going to the medical tent near the finish line but the large amount of runners in the area made me want to get my medal, my bag, and get out of there. I was waiting for my family in the family meeting area when I heard the two loud booms. I’m not going to go into too much more detail because it’s been documented in so many other places and because my emotions and my story are personal but the ten minutes following, until I found my family, were probably the scariest ten minutes of my life. Fortunately, we were all okay (my thoughts are with those who were not) and able to get back to our hotel eventually so I could take a hot shower (amazing), have a glass of wine (doubly amazing), and stretch out my tight hamstrings and quads.
Have you ever run Boston? Ever experienced a random injury during a race?