The plan was to meet Mario at the corner of Beacon and Charles at 5:55 AM. Busses board at 6:00 and I am habitually early for everything. Fortunately for me, Sharon’s home is close to that location, so I could get up, dress, eat something, and easily walk to the corner. My race gear included from top down:
For Lucas Headsweats hat
Goodr sunglasses (rain shields)
Jen’s fancy pink Buff
Rabbit Singlet customized with Running Dad and For Lucas Logos
Gloves – 2 pair
SpiBelt with fuel – dates stuffed with peanut butter, Pickle Juice Shot, Sport Beans
Altra Escalante Racers – Boston Edition
I covered all this up with some throw-away sweats and grabbed my clear bag with trash bags, snacks, heat shield, and essentials for athletes village. Off to the corner I went to wait for Mario. I waited. No Mario. 6:15 rolled around and I decided I am a horrible friend, but I am outta here. I boarded the bus and took off for Hopkinton.
Once in athletes village, I found a spot under the tent furthest away from the busses and set up camp to meet our crew since we had predetermined this to be the meeting point. It had been raining all night and morning. Top say it was muddy is an understatement. It was a mess. I put bags over my shoes and treaded through the muck and mud, laid down a trash bag, wrapped up in a heat shield blanket and waited. And waited. Finally Becky sloshed her way through the mud to join me. Then Tom, a friend from the Outer Banks who I have raced with before joined us. Still no Mario. I was feeling guilty for not waiting, imagining him standing on the corner waiting for me in the rain. What a horrible friend I am. Then I hear Becky say, “There’s Mario!”. I looked to my left and outside of our tent was Mario wrapped up in his heat shield, looking like a baked potato with legs. Turns out, he thought I said 6:55. Whew! I am not a horrible friend! I did not strand him on the corner. And he had less time to have to wait in the rain and cold. Win! I could tell he was cold though. Being Guatamalen, he is more attuned to heat than cold. There was an announcement for wave one to start heading to the start. Mario and I were in the same corral, so we headed out together, wishing Becky luck as she waited for wave two to be called. Here we go. Almost race time!
Mario and I settled into our corral with enough time to do some running around in circles to loosen up and try to stay warm. I planned to keep my sweats on until the last minute. Also in our corral was local runner, Courtney. She was shooting for sub 3 hour as well. We all chatted and made friends with the runners around us. The Elite Women and wheeled racers had already started and we got the announcement that the rest of the field would start in one minute. I shed my sweats and braced again the chill. It was cold, but I knew once I started moving, I would be fine.
And we were off! Mario and I planned to stick together since our goals were similar. It continued to rain and the wind buffeted us from the front, slowing us a bit and making us work a little harder. We settled into a comfortable pace and tick off the miles. At mile 11, Mario needed a bathroom stop. I expected him to jump off, take care of business and then come storming back up to catch me. I continued on, getting a big rush from passing through Wellsley and high-fiving every screaming college girl I could get a soggy gloved hand on. They were loud! I think the nasty elements just ramped up their enthusiasm and they shared that energy with the runners. I know my pace picked up after passing through the scream tunnel.
I continued a steady pace, nearing what I knew would be the make or break point in the race – Heartbreak Hill. It broke me last year. I had been reduced to a fast walk up those hills. This year, I was feeling much better and my pace dropped, but I was still running at a good pace. Midway up, I planned to take out some of my food to eat. Unfortunately, my hands being cold and covered up by 2 pair of soggy gloves made it next to impossible to get the fuel out of my belt. The only thing I could fish out was the pack of Sport beans. I had wanted another few peanut butter stuffed dates. They had given me a nice boost at the hour mark of the race. I managed to rip the top off the beans, but could not get the top to open. I kept an eye on the spectators, looking for someone who looked like they had enough finger dexterity to help me out. I found my target, made my way over and asked a young lady to assist. She tried her best but struggled as well. It seemed like forever. I figured Mario probably caught and passed me by this point. Finally her friend grabbed the pack and ripped it open. My hero! Back on track I downed a few beans and got the boost I needed. Up and over Heartbreak I went. Only 6 miles to go and I was feeling like a million bucks. Not super fast, but not on the pain train. Still on pace for a BQ. I locked in, put a smile on my face and surged through the puddles. Right on Herford, left on Boylston and down the home stretch. I spotted Jen in the crowd, waved and picked up my pace for the last bit of my fourth Boston finish. I crossed the line at 3:11:29. A BQ time!
I made my way through the finish chute, grabbing my medal, space blanket, and food. I had told Jen, Sharon and Mario that we would all meet at the George Washington statue in Boston Common. I got there first and was still feeling warm from my run. I had not felt cold during the race at all. I dug into my food bag, finding chips and energy bars to eat. Then my temperature started to drop. Brrrr. I stood there huddled alone until Jen and Sharon came around the corner. I asked about Mario and how Becky was doing since Jen had everyone on her tracking app. Mario had just finished and Becky was on track with a good pace. I could not stand there shivering any longer and once again, I abandoned Mario. His niece was going to meet him, though, and Sharon waited a while after Jen and I headed back to get me in the shower. So I am not a horrible friend even though I felt quite guilty leaving. Again.
After I was showered and feeling human again, I checked on my friends. Mario found his niece and Becky had finished and found her family. Our plan was to all get together for a celebratory beer, but the shuffle to get warm again made it impossible to meet up afterwards. Jen, Sharon and I went to a nearby pub, medal around my neck, and grabbed a beer and wings. Perfect. Another Boston in the books.
I am so glad I get these opportunities to share these experiences with my family and friends. The Boston Marathon truly is a treasure for the running community. Even if you do not run fast enough to qualify, or have no real desire to run a marathon, you owe it to yourself to take in the city during Boston Marathon weekend. You will leave with a renewed passion for running and proud to be part of the running movement.