Boston – the worlds oldest annual marathon and ranked as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. Well under the required qualifying time with my first marathon in Victoria 2009 in 3hrs 16mins, I figured I really should check out this out so I registered for Boston 2011. Selling out in less than 8hours (27,000 runners) showed me just how popular this race was and I’d often heard of many people running their marathons in a goal time set “in order to qualify for Boston”
Lots of my running buddies told me just how amazing Boston was and said to make sure I enjoyed the experience. How could I not – amazing atmosphere pre-race, checking out the Finish Line painted on the road, visiting the Expo which was extremely busy and buzzing with an great energy as runners collected their race pack and bought the “compulsory” Boston marathon jacket. I did consider the jacket but settled on a great long sleeved top instead which I knew would get much more wear – it is my new favourite top.
It was so exciting to be among so many runners and was really looking forward to race day and being part of this great experience. I went for a 6k run along the Charles River from Harvard on Saturday morning – it was super windy, (as it quite often is in Boston) and just a little worrying that we might have that to contend with on race day so fingers crossed for a change in direction or a drop in the wind.
Met up with some other runners from my club, Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club (VFAC) for dinner on Saturday night which was fun as we discussed race strategy, pacing and what times we might hope for if all went well on race day. As well as, of course having lots of lovely food – one of my many joys of running is the fact that I can eat lots as I love my food! The chocolate brownie cake with ice-cream was especially yummy!
A 40 min or so bus ride took us to the small town of Hopkinton and the Athletes Village. It was pretty cold in the morning but as far as race day conditions go – they were perfect and we even had a tailwind (apparently not too common in Boston). A blanket to keep me warm whilst waiting for thanks to tips about pre-race from a friend who’d race the year before about making sure you keep warm whilst waiting.
My first race in the Team Kintec shirt so hoping to perform well. Super exciting to get into the starting corral along with other runners who you know have run a similar time and I felt great waiting to start the race and really thought I might have a good race.
I was exactly on pace for the first half of my marathon reaching the halfway point at 1.36.10 and really enjoyed the race so far. The crowds were amazing – there are over 400,000 people who come out to cheer along the route of the Boston Marathon. It actually felt pretty warm out there although I think it was only about 14C. I’d heard all about the Wellesley College girls but not sure anything could have prepared me for the amount of noise they actually did make!
However, I was starting to slow down after the halfway point although still felt relatively good until about 25k/15 miles where I definitely started to struggle a little. I don’t blame the hills at all – they really aren’t bad, I just didn’t have the energy to keep up my pace. But the crowds keep you going as well as the little voice in your head as you recall all of the great encouragement and advice given by many friends (many of whom have already run Boston). I confess the last 3 miles were extremely tough and yes, I wanted to walk but the finish line was in sight so somehow you just keep it going. It was great to have so many people cheering as you approach the final stages into the city and come around that final bend to see the finishing clock and finally run over that line!
The Barringer (New Balance 890) performed excellently for the race – it is a great marathon shoe – ideal for training and racing (pretty light at 7.65oz). So light, very comfortable but still supportive – all round a great shoe for me.
I managed to finish in 3.25.26 which is still a pretty respectable time and finished in the top 10% of women and 27% overall. Maybe I went out a little faster than I was actually capable of right now in my training but I figure you have to give it a shot or you will just never know. Well, that’s Boston done anyway and people are right – it is an amazing experience so if you get the chance or want to set yourself a new goal to qualify it will be worth the work.
As always it was great to celebrate the race with some fellow runners and a few beers in the very busy bars of Boston that evening.
It was amazing to hear that Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest marathon ever that day in 2:03:02 – just unbelievable. It doesn’t count as a world record but incredible running.