The one word I would use to describe this year’s race is EPIC. If you have 5 minutes, here are the other words that I would use to describe my experience. =)
Leading up to the Boston Marathon, people asked me if I was going to race Boston. I told them that it would depend on the weather. Once the weather forecast was 100% rain, I decided that I was not going to race for a PR, but I would try to match my course PR (3:31:16) or run a course PR. I trained really well this winter with only one injury (sprained ankle that did not happen while I was running!) and I have run in rainy and windy conditions before so I thought my goal was realistic.
I decided to stick with my race outfit of singlet, arm sleeves, running skirt, hat, earband, and gloves. I added a shower cap, latex gloves, and a clear poncho to my outfit for the rain. Someone suggested wearing throw away sneakers to the start, so that I could start the race in relatively dry sneakers. My sister gave me the best throw away clothes including a one-sie that covered my feet. Now my socks would also stay dry pre-race! I was actually more worried about my spectators than about myself. It was going to be a miserable day for spectators and I did not want anyone to get sick.
My friend and former Back on my Feet teammate, Andrea, invited me to hang out with her team (Team with a Vision) so I would have shelter from the storm pre-race. As I walked through Athlete’s Village and saw the mud pit surrounding the tents, I was so grateful that Andrea offered me refuge. At Andrea’s refuge, I was able to get ready for the race and hear the start of the mobility impaired and women’s races. The rain kept coming down harder, but the weather did not bring down my spirits. I was running my 12th Boston Marathon and a monsoon was not going to stop me. I love this race!
At 10AM, I took took off my one-sie, changed into my dry sneakers, wrapped them in plastic bags, and headed out to the starting corrals. I had 3 layers on top of my singlet that I slowly took off in my corral as it got closer to 10:25AM. Once I was down to my singlet and clear poncho, we started moving up closer to the start line. I noticed that a runner dropped a glove and I quickly picked it up and chased after him. I did not want him to start the race with only 1 glove! I felt good about my good deed before the start, but my smile quickly went away as another runner looked at my race outfit and said to me “You’re going to be cold in that.” Instead of telling him to “F*%! off”, I said “I will be fine and I will run faster to warm up if I get cold.” Fellow runners, do not say negative things to other runners RIGHT before the start of ANY race. Be supportive of each other, especially when weather conditions are less than ideal.
The race announcer found Meb in the first corral of my wave and it got me excited to know that Meb was actually running in the same wave as me! It was the coolest thing! As I stood waiting for the gun to go off, I noticed that my sneakers were already getting wet. I had to mentally prepare myself for 26.2 miles with wet feet! My feet were soaking wet by the 3KM sign and runners were trying to avoid the big puddles, but there was no point. I just ran right through them.
The last time it rained on Patriot’s Day was in 2015. I remember being so cold that my bladder shrunk and I had to pee for many miles, but could not find an open porto potty. I learned that it was very difficult to make yourself pee while running so when I stopped to see my family at mile 18, I was able to start peeing and continue peeing as I ran. I hoped that I would never have to pee on myself again, but then we had a monsoon on Monday….
The rain and wind really did not bother me, but it affected my bladder and I had to pee by mile 8. My clothes were still dry because of my poncho and I really did not want to pee on myself again! I stopped at a porto potty at mile 9 and felt amazing afterwards. I thought that was the end of it, but I was wrong. By mile 13, I had to pee again. My clothes were wet by then so I did not have a problem peeing on myself as the rain would wash it away. Why waste time going to the porto potty?! The problem was that I still could not start peeing while I was running! This is a skill that I do not wish to learn! Luckily, I had many friends along the way and each time I stopped to give them a hug or say hi, I was able to start peeing before running away. Some I told, some I did not! =)
I knew after my first pee break at the porto potty that I was not going to run my goal of a course PR, so I just made the most out of my experience. I debated throughout the race about taking my poncho off or leaving it on. Every time I wanted to take it off, it rained harder, so I ended up leaving it on as it offered some protection from the elements and it was clear so my bib was visible to everyone.
One of the best parts of the race was when I got to mile 17 and saw my New York Flyers teammates! Andrew was there waiting to run a few miles with me. As we left the cheer station, Andrew told me that Desi won the marathon!! It was just the boost that I needed to get me up the hills.
Andrew ran me to mile 19 where we saw our friend Greg. After a quick chat, I headed up Heartbreak Hill solo. I managed to roll my bad ankle in a crack in the road at the bottom of the hill. Serious. A few expletives later, I gathered myself and slowly ran up Heartbreak Hill. My poor ankle was going to hate me later.
After making it up Heartbreak Hill, several things pulled me to the finish line. Seeing my good friend Caren at the end of the Haunted Mile, seeing Kurt (a BOMF teammate) on Beacon Street at mile 24, and seeing the Dana Farber cheer section at Mile 25. I gave hugs to all of them and then powered my way to the finish line.
I would not have made it to the finish line without the support from everyone. The volunteers were amazing and they deserve a medal for being out there longer than most of the runners! Thank you for volunteering!!
This makes 5 years in a row of bad weather at the Boston Marathon. 2014: hot. 2015: rain & cold. 2016 & 2017: hot. 2018: torrential downpour. Next year, I am sure it will snow. Bring it on!
Number of registrants: 29,978
Number of starters: 26,948 (3,030 did not start)
Number of finishers: 25,746 (95.5%) <-drop from last year’s 97% finish rate
Men’s Champion: Yuki Kawauchi 2:15:58
Women’s Champion: Desiree Linden 2:39:54
Men’s Wheelchair Champion: Marcel Hug 1:46:26
Women’s Wheelchair Champion: Tatyana McFadden 2:04:39
Things that might have helped/worked better for those conditions:
- dishwashing gloves duct taped to my arm to create a seal so my hands stayed dry
- GU that was taped to my body and not in a pocket so it would be easier to access
- life preserver =)