Sunday night before the race, we had gone for the pre-race dinner at City Hall, and then settled back into the hotel for the night. Greg organized details for internet so he could faithfully follow the Canucks game that was on at 10:30 that night, complete with headphones. We had a great night sleep on the Saturday night, so I was mentally prepared that my pre-race sleep was going to be crap. And yes, it was. I think it was 1am when I finally fell asleep. However, I managed to meet my goal, which was to ensure that I at least got more sleep than the number of hours that I would be running. Mission accomplished.
I was starting to get hot at this point, as the temperature for the day was quickly rising. The forecast had called for a high of 17C, so I wore my short sleeved IMC shirt, and my coolwings, so that I could pour water on myself to keep cool. I was really trying to be conservative with my pacing, and make sure to not get overheated during the race, and be consistent in my caloric intake.
I continued on my journey to Boston and had to really try to keep focus on pace while watching the sights around me. One of my favourite moments, was running by some fitness facility. They had organized about 20 small trampolines, and each trampoline had a little kid bouncing on it, holding up signs. There were little kids handing out licorice, orange slices, little glasses of water, or wet paper towels. There were kids lined up along the sidewalk, all hoping for a high five from the marathoners. It was so awesome to see how people went all out for this race.
Around mile 13 is when I hit Wellesley College. In fact, I was greeted with a large adidas sign aptly stating, "Wellesley with Screams." Wellesley College is an all-girls school located beside the course who get right into the spirit of the marathon. I was greeted with the "Kiss me!" signs that they are famous for. I believe for nearly half a mile, all I saw were signs saying: "Kiss me, I'm available! or Kiss me, I'm from Connecticut! or Kiss me, I'm bicurious!" or whatever else. It was hysterical some of the things that I saw. I didn't feel inclined to kiss anyone, however, I leapt at the chance when a girl held the sign: "High Fives for Canadians!" So I did, and then gave her a hug, I was so excited to see. There were a lot of signs for Canadians along the course, so it was great when they saw me in all of my IronMan Canada gear, as they went nuts with cheers.
I felt great physically, despite the concerns I had before the race with the periformis. Luckily, it decided to behave. The only concern was that I didn't feel like I had the necessary zip in the legs to push me hard that day. I was also hot, so I had to slow down at aid stations and grab water to pour over my arms or dump down the back of my shirt. I also started to notice an irritation in the back of my throat. I realized later in the race that I figured out it was the PowerGels Double Lattes that were the cause. So I kept drinking a glass of water to help alleviate the irritation.
The miles kept rolling along, and the smile persisted on my face. It was so much fun to see all the happenings. At mile 20 through 21 is when you take on the challenge of Heartbreak Hill. I am glad that Greg and I visited it on Saturday to get a feel of the hill, and concluded that it was really no different than running up part of the UBC hill or Highland Boulevard in North Van. Besides, it was only about 700m of hill before the descent towards Boston. I was so stoked going up Heartbreak, that when I got about 3/4 up, I let out a huge holler, and then said to the closest spectators. "I came here to take on Heartbreak, and I KILLED it!!!" It was a huge push to get up that hill and take on the last 10km of the race. I felt awesome!
The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger as I got closer to the end. By the time I hit Fenway, the crowds were seriously 12 people deep. I was shocked to see Greg again as promised at mile 23. He was screaming and cheering and it was great to see him, as I had just started having a side stitch. Seeing him put me immediately back in game mode and pushed on to the end.
The final couple of miles were almost a blur. I remember looking at my garmin at 40km, and thinking to myself, "Holy cow, realistically, I have only 10 more minutes of this!" I didn't know whether to push it to finish earlier, or slow down to take it all in. I decided to push as I realized that a girl who had started right before me was just ahead of me by 10 feet. I decided to make her my goal to beat so that I knew I pushed it. The plan worked, as I kept up and went for it for the final stretches of the race.
I crossed the line at 3:50:31. This was my fourth-fastest race, but I think it will be one of my most memorable ones. I shuffled through to grab my heatsheet and finally collect my long-awaited medal. I actually cried when I received the medal.
What I took from this experience was that this WAS the destination, and all races up to this were the journey. It's been full-circle for me to get to this point. When I first decided to try and qualify back in October 2008, my whole world was tilted when my Dad died on August 13th, 2008. I really struggled through the grief, and running helped me deal with the pain. And then I missed qualifying by 46 seconds.
The second thing that made this so special for me, was the fact that I trained for and qualified for Boston with my injured hip. I am on a waitlist for surgery, but was still able to overcome the issues with pain and stress to keep up the running and persist. So this was gratifying.
I decided to dedicate my race to my Dad and asked him to help me through the race. He looked after me to make sure that I could push through the pain and enjoy the experience. So thanks Dad.
And of course, I totally dedicate this race to my dear husband, Greg. You have been my rock, my confidant and my number one fan. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have you by my side.
For the next while, I am going to focus on biking and swimming, as my next goal is the Oliver Half IronMan in June and then maybe the Scotiabank half marathon. However, in the meantime, I am going to enjoy recovery and feel proud of what I have done. And it feels alright.