The forecast called for a low of 38 degrees and a high of 68 degrees. I stepped outside my hotel room onto the patio before we left the room and it sure didn't feel like 38 degreees does in Chicago! Peter then informed me that this 50 minute ride to the start was all uphill and it would be significantly colder at the top. Ah! I hadn't thought of that! I put sweatpants on over my shorts and a heavy flanned on over my throw-away t-shirt. Yep, I was now nice and toasty!
We arrived at the start and it was pitch black outside. The only light came from the headlights of the dozens of buses carting the runners to the start. After using the porta-potties, we jumped back on our bus to keep warm until the start. I tried keeping my mind off what we were about to attempt.
Time lapsed very quickly and before I had too much time to get nervous, it was less than 30 minutes to go before the start. I peeled off my wonderfully warm fleece and sweatpants and stuffed them into my gear check bag. I pulled on my throw-away gloves and positioned my wind-stopper headband to make sure my ears were completely covered. One more stop in the porta-potty line and it was time for a quick warm up. No, I've never "warmed up" before a marathon before, but one of the other women I went with wanted to do it. So we did. I stopped quickly to re-adjust my right sock. A few steps and I stopped again to re-adjust my timing chip that seemed to be making an annoying "click" sound with every footfall.
The participants in the marathon was only around 1500 so we lined up what seemed to be very close to the start line. It felt like we were in the middle of the desert (wait, we WERE in the middle of the desert!). It was beginning to get light outside and you could see just how desolate the area was. The Star Spangled Banner was played and within the blink of an eye, we were off!
Mile 1: Pretty much UP hill (what!!?!?). Passed more people than we expected, I mean, we
Mile 2: Enjoying the scenery. Headband comes off...ALREADY! Still don't think it was 38 degrees out. Split faster than mile 1.
Mile 3: Some downhill, passed a house or two. Felt like we were "out at the ranch". This split was MUCH TOO FAST! Must slow down!!
Mile 4: Feeling comfortable. No one talking. Had a gel and did enough talking for all the runners around me. Feeling very good. Split right on.
Mile 5: Seems to be gradual downhill now. Split a little too fast.
Mile 6: Stomach cramping a little. Have to pee. Afraid to stop because it would put me behind schedule. Split a bit slow.
Mile 7: Met up with Theresa - local who has run this marathon several times. Brags on how many times she has done Boston. Split a little fast (blame this on Theresa).
Mile 8: Cramping went away. Still have to pee. Theresa said you should plan to run the first half of this race faster because the first half of the course is decidedly easier than the second half. Curse Theresa. Split a little slow.
Mile 10: Still feeling the continual, gradual downhill. Perfect running temperature! Very windy the last few miles, but it wasn't a cold wind. Wished it was a tailwind. Split was right on.
Mile 11: Losing one of my running partners. This was not the plan. Doesn't feel good to push on without her, but the goal still awaits. Split much too slow. Another few of these will kill any chance I have of making it.
Mile 12: Theresa re-joins us after her potty stop. She's loud with her big pack of energy sources (Jolly Ranchers, Gummy Bears, Peppermints, Gels and whatever else she packed in her Ziploc baggie). Split a little fast, nothing to get excited about.
Mile 13: Felt like it took too long to get to this, the halfway point. Lost my other running partner. I never imagined we'd all break off so early on. My plan was that we would run together as long as we could, but it would at least be until 20. Mentally tough to know I would be doing the rest alone. Theresa still kept pace. Quads starting to hurt already. Split just a few seconds fast.
Mile 14: Valerie joins Theresa and I. She tells me she dis IMAZ earlier this year, her first IM, in 12:13. DAMN! Split too fast. Blame Valerie for this one.
Mile 15: Quads continue to talk to me. "REFOCUS, " I thought. That pain isn't going to go away. Focus on the postive. Breathing is easy and relaxed. Split almost right on.
Mile 16: Valerie is gone. Theresa breathing too heavy at this stage. Lose Theresa at next water stop. Split too fast.
Mile 17: My legs really feeling heavy. Breathing still relaxed. This MUST be the difficulty they talk about when you run this much downhill! Split almost right on.
Mile 18: Meet Chris from Seattle when he kept tailgating too close. Said he was shooting for a 3:30. "Dude, you're not even withing striking distance," I thought. Split too fast. Had to get away from Chris.
Mile 19: Just 7 more miles. My quads are aching. I try to keep my mind off the pain. Scenery continues to be beautiful. Split too slow.
Mile 20: Sweet. Only a 10K left. This is where the race starts. I've got this. Split too fast - dangerously too fast. DON'T SCREW IT UP NOW I screamed to myself silently.
Mile 21: Jockeyed with a skinny chick. Skinny chick drops me at next water station. Split a little fast.
Mile 22: Got hit twice by same girl at water station. She didn't like when I stopped in front of her, yet she stops in front of me without warning and I ran right into her. Vow to beat her. Split too fast.
Mile 23: Quads are now KILLING ME. Calves are hurting. Both legs feel like they're cramping. Forgot salt tablets. Split too slow.
Mile 24: Thought I was at Mile 25. HUGE crushing mental blow. Legs very, very heavy.
Split even slower.
Mile 25: Feet starting to turn funny as I ran. Both legs cramping. More pain in both legs than I've ever had. 'm too close, I can't let it go now. Cannot stop at water station - too painful to start running again. Start hard uphill. Split almost a full minute slower.
Mile 26: I beg Steve from Albequerque to help me finish. I'm starting to feel like I can't go on and at the same time, I'm choking up at the thought of reaching my goal. Split close to a minute and a half too slow.
Last .2: Course flattens out. Legs are in intense pain. I can see the finish line. Steve cheers me on. His dreams of qualifying for Boston today would not be fulfulled. The spectators line both sides of the finish. I'm not fighting with my legs not to collapse on me. I was falling apart. Split - ah, who the heck knows what the last .2 should have been???
I did it. I qualified for the Boston Marathon.