A few days now sit between me and the Boston Marathon. A couple of beers, sleeps, sneezes, and a tub or two of sherbert later, I am now ready to talk about it.

Long story short, the race this past Monday was not what I hoped it would be. I fell short of my goals. And yeah, that kind of sucks. If I stop to think about it for too long–if I stop and really dwell on the steps I took throughout the race–then I am left feeling a bit….despondent.

BUT, in a way, I am glad that my race turned into sour grapes. Just like my performance at Grandma’s in Duluth just last year, it forced me to grit my teeth and flat out respect the 26.2 miles. And all the crazy, unpredictable elements that come along with it.

Here’s what happened. I flew in from Minneapolis to Logan Airport and stayed with my sister and her hubby in Cambridge. Nothing fancy, so I was surfing on the couch. No biggie, really. That is until my best friend and boyfriend flew in on Sunday! Night before the race, I was on a deflating-fast air mattress with my guy and pushing my girl Diane over on the couch to scrunch up next to her. Not ideal, but an adventure nonetheless.

To help relieve any potential GI issues, I packed a nerdy little lunch box filled with familiar pre-race foods. (Yep, TSA pulled me aside for that one, no surprise!) Carbo loading up on Yams and other veggies, light amounts of chicken and RX Bars to keep my body happy. I went with the regular old oatmeal and almond milk on raceday morning with a small cup of coffee.  I made the mistake of accidentally leaving behind my banana in Cambridge (!!) and bringing along  a lone applesauce to ingest in the 2 hours of down time before my race start.

And then, there was the shameful shoe decision. I was caught in a difficult place with choosing what to lace up in for Boston. I had my Saucony Triumphs that I trained in all season. And then I had my Nike Pegasus that I had only put about 30 miles on. The Triumphs? Worn down. The Pegs? Not quite broken in to my liking. My decision? The Triumphs. Yeah, definitely not a triumphant selection.

Boston Start .jpg

All was good to start out. There was the easy-out-of-the-gate start, regardless of the hype and the downhills. 7:45 pace for the first few miles. Then, slowly I picked up my pace, feeling the groove as I made my way toward the halfway point. 1:38. Perfection. Ready to start the pick up. My head was in it. The sun was tough and shining bright, but I was hydrating, I was feeling good, and I was ready to lay the smack down.

It all changed at mile 17. Right before the mile marker, I had to stop quickly at a porta-potty. I was on pace for a 3:16, which would have been an incredible PR and ultimately the time I had trained toward. But I let myself get hyped about stopping and I overshot my pace to make up for time, ultimately pooping me out. I hit the hills in Newton and right there, my psyche was shot. My feet were screaming from my shoe choice, my energy was worn down from the sun and the surge, and I allowed myself to mentally check out.

At that point, my new goal was to get my miles in under 9:00 pace and finish with SOME sort of PR. (My time from Chicago Marathon was a 3:25:35.) I barely could take in the excitement, thrills, screams, drunken camaraderie on the sidelines as I focused solely on getting one foot down in front of the other and carry my body to the finishline.

As I hit the mile to go, the CITGO sign towering over us, I have never felt happier to hit the final section of a race– and I had never felt more like a plodder. My feet plunked down with each step I took, my arches burning and the soles screaming to be released from the pain.

Boston Final Mile.jpg

And then, there it was: The right on Hereford, Left on Boylston. My people on the slight incline of Hereford, erupting as they lunged toward me, screamed my name. I started to cry. The emotion of the race, the journey, the disappointed and the sheer happiness that it was all over. It consumed me. As I ran the blocks down Boylston and the finishline edged closer, opened up wide like a massive bear hug ready to engulf me, I couldn’t help but audibly gasp and choke on the tears starting to fall.

3:24:34. A one minute PR. I did it. With all the issues, the hiccups, the heat, the hills, the porta-potty poos, I did it. I ran a PR and I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.

Usually after a race, I take the medal from the volunteers and place it over my own head. I never quite feel as though it was an accomplishment enough to receive the “royal treatment” of having a medal placed over my head and onto my chest. But there, in Boston, I bowed my head, allowed the volunteer to slip the blue and yellow unicorn over my sweat-drenched and salt-caked head, and choked out a tearful “thank you” to his “Congratulations.”

So yes, I fell short of my goal. My training was tough and I knew I was ready for a crazy PR. But, the day didn’t call for that. Instead, the day called for something a little deeper, a little longer-lasting. My Boston Marathon Monday called for a series of lessons that I will carry along to all my races to come.

Boston. She turned me into a more-qualified marathoner. And for that, I am grateful.

Thanks for the love. Run with your heart, xo Babs

Boston Medal.jpg

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