So, I ran the Boston Marathon. On April 18th. A month ago. I've never been quick to recap my races here. This one asked for even more time as I think, deep down, I didn't really want to get back to it... until now. It's time to tell you about this race which kept its promises on one thing at least: running Boston is an unforgettable adventure.
Before the words, the video. I wanted you to follow this adventure as much as possible. For that, I shot (or, more often, the playboy shot) my Boston Marathon adventure. I had envisioned this video way more exciting, cheerful and fun. It is was it is. I didn't fake anything. That's the true experience I had in Boston.
And now, here is the full story.
THE FULL STORY
If you're following me on Instagram (if not, it's here: marjolainerapog), you already know this race has been really tough for me. My hardest race experience so far, no less. And even after 3 weeks, no, I did not forget and, yes, it is the #1.
BUT... I can now feel a bit of pride. It was not the case, just after the race. I ran Boston. I finished my 2nd marathon. It was hard. But that's the way it goes. I still gave all I got on race day. Remorse maybe, but no regrets anymore.
Before the marathon
Qualifying for Boston, registering, getting accepted, all of that is already a victory in itself. Then, here come the logistics: travel, hotel. And let's not forget about the training among it all.
My training has been a bit of a roller coaster. Times where I were full in, and others where I'd lost focus. Long runs as a breeze, and long runs where, from mile 1, I knew I was not into it and would never get there. All of that without being able to find a satisfactory explanation.
I have no idea if you felt it on social media, but, one week before the marathon, everything went down the drain. Huge fatigue. All of a sudden. I was feeling weak, so weak that, at some points, I felt like I was on the verge of fainting. And with that, the excitement of running Boston left me.
Panic attack, obviously. We could not cancel the whole thing! The playboy and I were supposed to leave for the USA on the Thursday. It was the weekend before. As I am not a super zen, super confident person, my relatives tried to convince me that it was just my head playing tricks.
Alright. Fine! Breathe in. Breathe out. On top of that, I was in the bad time of the month. Sorry for the personal details but, personally, it affects me a lot. For days before my periods, I am tired, I sleep poorly and I feel really bad. And, yes, a week before the marathon, I was in the middle of this. I know it affects me, but, this time, it was really stronger than usual.
On the Tuesday morning, last "long run" before the marathon, I was curled up in my bed, crying and telling the playboy I could not go, I felt too weak, and that I had no idea how I would be able to run a marathon in less than a week!
I thought about a virus. I thought about overtraining (but I had not trained harder than for my triathlon, for example). I thought about my training being too long (but I always train on long periods and I like it this way). I thought about a deficiency in vitamins or something like that. It was too late for a checkup. So the playboy bought a cocktails of vitamins for me.
At the end, I ran all my last workouts. My periods arrived (don't thank be for telling you, it's a pleasure to keep you informed). And I convinced myself that, from now on, everything would be ok. As usual.
We took a plane on Thursday, April 14th. We landed in NYC where we spent a night. On Friday morning, I went for a shake out run in Central Park. It felt relieved as I had good sensations on this run. Despite everything, I was still feeling tired. But how could I be sure about the source of this fatigue, knowing that, now, the jetlag was playing a part too?
And on Friday afternoon, we took a train to Boston.
We had rented an apartment in Boston, a bit away from downtown. I wanted to be able to manage what I would be eating, the days before the marathon. We ended up in a quite old and not so well soundproofed building. In spite of wearing earplugs, I was not sleeping well and not so much.
Fatigue, jetlag, lack of sleep, stress. I was so so away from the mental and physical state I thought I would be before THE Boston Marathon. Deep down, I had lost the desire to run it. I was waiting for one thing: for it to get it done. But I did not want to admit it to myself. And I did not want to believe it. Because, running Boston is not something everyone can do! I know that. And I was so happy and excited about it when I registered for it. The registration fees, the plane tickets, the apartment rental, the days taken, the playboy who had followed along without a complaint. All of it, just FOR ME. And I had lost the desire to run.
I tried to keep my composure, telling myself it was just a weird way to react to stress. Still, I never had this "butterflies in the belly" feeling, never felt the usual pre-race excitement. Every time I spotted a runner (and, not surprisingly, there were A LOT of runners), I felt a knot in my stomach. What was I doing here? Was I legitimate here? Why was I not happy being here? How could I not feel the desire to run the Boston Marathon?
I can't tell if I expressed all of that so clearly to the the playboy, at the moment. I'm not sure as, even for me, it was not that clear. I wanted to believe it would click at one point. I wanted to believe everything was just in my head.
And, aside from these doubts, I was still feeling not that good physically. Sudden tiredness during the day, cottonlike legs, racing heart. All of that was also just in my head or due to the built-up tiredness?
On the Saturday, we went to bib pick-up. It stressed me out. But it helped me getting into the race vibe a bit. I got my bib, my T-shirt. I saw my name, on the wall, among all the other runners' names. The playboy, him, was excited about it all (I'm not sure if he was being enthusiastic in an attempt to cheer me up). I fell into the marketing trap of the marathon and bought some merchandise with the "Boston Marathon 2016" stamp. I wanted to have something to remind me of this marathon, something I could be proud of. I desperately wanted to play along.
We spent a bit of time strolling the expo. I was feeling a bit better and, suddenly, huge fatigue. I tried to convince myself it was only due to the crowd, the heat, the lunchtime approaching. But my anxiety level jumped. We had lunch then, to relax, we walked around Boston.
Beauty of the social media, I had the chance to meet with Greg (@gregknottlemond), with whom I had exchanged, via Instagram and emails. It was his 2nd Boston Marathon and he had given me advice about how the race would be like. His good mood, his enthusiasm and his kindness lifted my spirits.
The day before the marathon
Saturday night, it was party time in the building where we were staying. No need for me to tell you I did not sleep better than the days before. We went for a walk on Harvard and MIT campuses, just to think about something else and be outside. But I was definitely not into it. I didn't dare telling the playboy I was still feeling bad. Because, really, would it be possible all of that was only in my head? We came back to the apartment early in the afternoon. I tried to nap, something I never do. Every opportunity to get some sleep was an opportunity I should get. With nights of 3-4 hours of sleep for a week, I could not feel ok anyway.
Then, it was time to prepare my stuff for the marathon. Breakfast to take in the bus and to carry in a transparent plastic bag (security requirements). My running fuel. My running clothes. My clothes to wait in Hopkinton. The race map (uphills, downhills / where and for how long).
The playboy cooked pasta for me, just as usual. And I went to bed, setting the alarm clock at 5am. I was calm because, at that point, I only wanted to get to it.
I woke up just before the alarm clock. Just as it happens to me so often before a race. Calm and quiet. I was not excited but relieved it was FINALLY time to run this marathon.
The Boston Marathon obviously comes with huge logistics. The route is not a loop. The BAA organizes bus rides for the runners to go to the start. The buses depart from downtown Boston, not too far from the finish line. Depending on your start wave (calculated upon your qualification time), a time is advised to load the buses.
I was in wave 2. I had to take the bus between 6:45 and 7:20, for a 10:25 start time. I know, it makes for a long waiting time.
So, I had a light breakfast. I had planned to take food with me to eat, 3 hours before my start time, in the bus. We got ready quickly. The playboy took the subway with me to get to the bus loading zone, even if he was not allowed to use the buses (they are for runners only) and, so, would have to stay in Boston.
In the subway, no surprise, I spotted lots of runners. I also saw "normal" people ready to start their usual day and sending us good vibes with a smile. Once out in the street, a woman even spoke to me just to wish me luck. (I love that kind of nice gesture that American people do so easily. I'm not saying it would never happen in France, but it's way more unlikely.)
We reached Boston Commons (bus loading zone) and realized how big is the Boston Marathon machine. It was an infinite line of buses. And not any type of buses... the yellow school buses! (I'm French and, for us, the yellow bus is like an American myth.) Impressive.
6:45, wave 2 runners have been called to start loading the buses. We published a photo on Instagram, just to say hi. Later, I read a comment saying: "You don't look confident". Spot-on comment. I was NOT confident at all. I was just following what I was supposed to do.
Let's go to Hopkinton
From there, I had to say goodbye to the playboy. He would stay in Boston. I would go run this marathon. Gear check and waiting line. A runner coming from nowhere started speaking to me. I love the fact American people are so easy going and not afraid to talk and be proud of what they do... but, I like that when it's done nicely. This one, well, he was the "show off" type. Big time. I dislike that kind of people. I think he just started with: "Boston Marathon is actually flat". Just so you know, road runners are afraid of the Boston Marathon because of its supposed hilly course (and, now, I can confirm you it's true). Polite smile... and he carried on: "I AM from Vermont, you know". Great! Your life is fantastic! Do you want me to congratulate you for that? No, I didn't say that. I remained courteous. And then I had to pass my runner exam: How many Boston marathons? How many marathons? Best time? Honestly, it's been a little victory for me when I managed to take the wind out of his sails with my answer (I only had run one marathon before Boston). Take that, mister show off from Vermont!
I was not in the mood for talking and even less for feinting admiration to a stranger. I managed to get rid of him by choosing a different line to load the bus.
And then, here I was, in a yellow school bus! At least, the Boston Marathon helped me fulfilling a dream. I took place next to the window. I hoped for a nice and quiet bus buddy. And, actually, the bus left with no one next to me. It was a relief. I didn't want to do small talk and I didn't want to have to pretend to be excited, the way I should have been before running the Boston Marathon.
We left Boston behind us. It took us around 50 minutes to reach Hopkinton. I was calm and focused. This marathon was going to happen. Period. I ate the breakfast I brought with me, as planned. I thought about the playboy who certainly was back to the apartment now and getting ready for a run. I tried to evaluate my real fitness level. I convinced myself I was feeling better. YES, you ARE feeling better. For sure! And I played my own cheerleader to try to get into the game. Come on, I was going to run the Boston Marathon!
Once in Hopkinton, I discovered the Athlete's Village: 2 big sports fields surrounded by portapotties and tents in the middle. Underneath the tents, volunteers were serving water, Gatorade, tea and coffee. I walked around just to keep me busy. It was not as cold as it was in Boston, but the grounds were wet. I found a place to sit down on the concrete, in the sun. And I waited.
What was happening in my head? Not so much. I was looking around and just waiting. Goal: just do as planned and go with the flow. One step at a time. Drink the tea I brought with me in a small plastic bottle. Use the bathroom to try preventing from being annoyed by that on the course. Go get water to fill up the water bottle of my running belt. Eat a cereal bar, 1 hour before the start. If I was able to follow the planned steps, everything would be alright. Right?
At first, I was seating in the sun. It was getting hotter and hotter. I quickly took my sweatpants off. I found a new spot, in the shade, to make sure I would not overheat before the marathon. I took care of my running fuel (almond paste, energy chews, sugar cubes) placing it in the pocket of my running belt. And then, I just waited for 9:40, time they asked the wave 2 runners to move towards the corrals.
Standing up. Finding a trash bin. Joining the flood of people walking towards the corrals. Taking off my hoodie. Giving my throwaway clothes to the charities. Moving forwards, little by little.
Corrals 1 to 4, on the right. Corrals 5 to 8, on the left. Corral 6 for me, I enter the gates on the left.
According to the given information, there's a 0.7 mile walk to get to the corrals. It's a weird atmosphere. We walk in residential streets. The sidewalks are lined up with gates. It's quiet. The front yards are all neat and perfect, sometimes there's even a sign to cheer us up. Except from runners and volunteers, there's nobody outside, or at least nearly anybody. There's a family, in their front yard, applauding us.
And we reach the corrals. Each runner enters his assigned corral after a check from a volunteer. A simple rope marks out the different corrals. Nice surprise, we are not packed at all. I start the satellites search on my watch.
Once again, everything is quiet and calm. In the distance, I can hear the voice of a speaker. But no huge enthusiasm or joy effusion as I expected coming from the Americans. We slightly hear the speaker cheering up the runners of the last corrals of wave 1 who are crossing the starting line.
I'm stretching out. It's more an automatism than anything else. It's too late for that now, but the idea of a warm up didn't even come to my mind. I saved all my strength for the battle. I regularly switch to the time on my watch. I'm trying to memorize the first ups and downs of the course looking at my "course mapping" I wrote in the inside of my right wrist.
10:20, the speaker informs us it's almost time for wave 2. I'm not scared. I'm not excited. I'm waiting for the start. I'm not thinking about anything or anyone in particular.
They get rid of the ropes between the corrals. We start getting closer and closer to each others while moving forwards. They did not play the American anthem. I did not hear any official start. We start running. I'm looking for the start line. I'm totally surprised by this start without any buzz.
Where's the line? Did we already cross it? No, it's just there, between the 2 poles. Start time. Now, the only goal is: crossing the finish line.
The start is downhill. Obviously, it's fast. We are close to each other. It's normal. Actually, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I'm staying on the left side of the road, on the side. I'm handling the start pretty well. I had been warned about it and advised to avoid zigzaging to try to reach my pace, on the first 1-2 miles. I'm staying where I am and, actually, I don't need to pass people. My pace is right.
I'm running. Fast. It's freaking me out a bit. My legs are fresh. It's the start of the marathon and it's downhill, on top of that. Everything is fine.
It's downhill, but there are uphill portions too. Yes, the downhill portions are longer than the uphill ones, but there's almost no flat. I did not imagined it that way. And, the route is not straight at all.
The sun is beating hard. My cheeks are on fire. I'm HOT. I look at my watch: I did not reach 5K. Panic alert. I have to regulate my body temperature AT ALL COSTS. My strategy was supposed to be avoiding the first aid stations in order not to loose time and just use my water bottle. At that point, I take the decision to use every opportunity I have to get water to pour it on my head and face. It becomes my obsession.
Once the buzzing of the start faded, the pace I'm holding gets to my head again... and worries me. OK, on an usual race day, I would not have doubted. But I have been so tired for the last week. Am I heading straight to disaster? Will I exhaust myself and not be able to finish?
There's a girl next to me for some time. She passes me, I pass her and she comes back. And again and again. And yet I don't change my pace. At least, I don't think so. It questions me. And I notice her heavy breathing behind me. It makes me realize that my breathing is under control. It calms me down and I decide that, as long as my heart is not racing, I can carry on like that.
We mostly run in residential streets. Families are outside on their front yard, enjoying the sun (even doing BBQ sometimes), or on the sidewalk, to cheer or to offer us water or ice. I take everything I can. One ice cube in the bra. One in my hand. I rub it on my face, my neck and my shoulders and then, bam, in my mouth (writing that I realize it's actually totally gross... but, well, for the ones who never ran a marathon, you have to know any idea of dignity or manners disappear at times like this).
We reached the 5K mark. I can't remember if it's a live updated point on the marathon website. So, I just focus on the 10K. This one, FOR SURE, will be updated online. When I cross the 10K mark, I think about the playboy. Now, he knows: I did start the marathon and I ran 10 kilometers. That's it, at least. I think about my sister, in France, hoping she would have found a way to get updates on my progress (it was not explained so well, before the race, and we were not sure she would be able to follow live). I also notice my time (45 min) and I tell myself it's too fast. I am doubting myself again but it's done and, anyway, I had planned not to slow me down on the downhill portions. And I think: "You did a quarter of it..." Well, #1, it's not totally true, and #2, thinking this way is not the optimal state of mind to run a marathon. Unfortunately, it was my way of thinking, on marathon day.
I'm not hungry, far from it, but I know I need energy. On my long runs, I got used to eat around mile 7-8. I eat one, then two almond pastes. I try to convince myself that's what will give me the energy needed to complete the marathon.
I'm counting down the miles. I'm waiting for the half marathon. I'm not swaying but I can't say I'm enjoying myself. I feel like I'm totally missing out. I'm scared. I'm unsettled. I'm constantly checking my breathing, my heart rate. I make sure to notice every single emergency tent signaled on the course. I told the playboy that if my status was not updated anymore, he would have to look for me at the emergency tents. I know he didn't really take me seriously, but, for me, it's totally true. I don't know if I will finish this marathon.
I'm now heading to the famous Wellesley College, also known as "scream tunnel". And, yes, I can actually hear the students' screams, way before seeing them. Once there, the girls on the sidewalk are going crazy. They are aligned, on 400m, with signs offering kisses. It's just hysterical and, honestly, I prefer staying on the other side of the road.
I reach the half way mark, just before 1:36... In my head, I'm torn. On one side, I think: "Alright, it's faster than on your long runs but it was downhill, plus, it's a race. Everything's good!". On the other side, it's: "No, wait, it's not good at all. It would be normal if you would have been feeling your best, as planned, before this marathon. And it was not the case! You won't make it to the end..."
From the beginning, we pass residential areas and little towns. I know troubles are coming, from mile 16, where hills will start. I'm getting ready for them.
During all the race, I thought step by step. That's what made me keep going. One step at a time. One after the other:
- the 10K
- then, the half marathon
- then, reaching mile 16, start of the Newton hills
- then, Heartbreak Hill, from mile 20 to mile 21, the most difficult hill on the course, but also, the end of the Newton hills
- then, reaching mile 23 from where I would place myself on the right side of the road to look for the playboy in the crowd
- finally, the finish line
The half marathon is done, just try to regroup your thoughts. My energy is in freefall. I would have been ok to stop here. But I'm not running a half marathon. I'm running a marathon. And, on top of that, what I just did was the easy part. My fear is to save my energy as much as I can. I can feel I already use too much of it.
Just calming down. Trying to build up my strength, before the hills. The idea of eating another almond paste is not appealing at all. So, I switch to energy chews. 1, 2, 3. It's not much, but it's something at least.
I already drank a full bottle and stopped to refill it at a water station. I drink the last drops remaining in my bottle to be able to refill it again, adding Nuun this time. It's hot. I drank. Still, I don't feel the need to pee. I also noticed the white marks of salt, in the inside of my elbows. I have to get salt and electrolytes in. I prep my bottle with half a Nuun tablet and, at an aid station, I stop to add water.
Ok, it's good. It will do the trick. For sure. I wait to calm down, to get back into my rhythm, and I manage to take a few sips. I'm ready to attack the hills.
Let me tell you, no need to warn us for the hills. We can totally see them by ourselves. Actually, it's quite impressive. You have a wall of runners, in front of you. Literally. I don't feel that much packed (and we are not), but when I see this wall, in front of me, I become aware of the huge number of runners.
I start the hills. I try to keep a clear mind. My goal is to go slow on the hills and to push a bit after each hill. I use my homemade course map written on my arm to know about the length of the hill and the distance I have, afterwards, to recover. It's even more helpful the road is windy so I can't see too far away.
One hill, 2 hills. One less, one step closer to Heartbreak Hill, one step closer to the finish line. I end up totally enduring it and not controlling anything.
Finally, Heartbreak Hill is in front of me. I'm on the left side of the road but, on the other side, I can see they set up a "tunnel/tent/showers" (is there an actual word for that?). Alright, yes it asks for an additional effort, but you have to go through it. It will be a great boost.
And then I go for Heartbreak Hill. I don't know if this hill is REALLY especially hard. Guys, I have no idea. I climb. It's hard. I want to be done with it. That's it. I'm slow, that's for sure. I'm not the only one but there also are runners who manage it really well. They run as good as gazelles. I would love to be like them!
And, well, as we say, every hill has an end, so I get to the top of it. It's supposed to be downhill after that. It's supposed to be. Personally, I don't feel it that way. I can only tell that my big ideas about going slow on the hills then use the downhill to push may be great ideas... in theory. For now, I just try to collect my thoughts and save the small amount of energy I have left. I didn't drink or eat anything since mile 16, before the hills. I'm at mile 21. I have 5 miles left. It's long... No, no, no! That's nothing. 5 miles is not even the length of your shortest casual run.
Just focus on the next step: seeing the playboy, after mile 23. Before then, just run as fast as I can.
I always run on the left side of the road. I don't know why. It's always been like that. So my "treat" will be to go to the right side (where the playboy will be), but I'll allow that only once I'll reach mile 23. Every goal/reward is good to take on a marathon.
I just passed mile 22. Soon, very soon. And then, I hear a French voice shouting "allez, allez !!", on the right. It shakes me out of my (effort/focus) zone. I turn my head just in time to get a glimpse at the playboy. Fuck, he was BEFORE mile 23. So, I won't have to get to the right side of the road. And I won't have to look for him.
[Before/after noticing the playboy]
What's the next step? No more steps. Ok, well. Is it downhill or uphill? Where am I? I don't know anymore. My mapping got washed away by the sweat and the water I dropped on me. I feel lost.
I can tell that my energy is at fault. It's not a muscular problem. Yes, my legs are hurting. It's a tiny bit normal, right? But it's not what's make it so hard.
I know I should, at least, drink. But I can't. Impossible. It panics me. I don't want to faint. At this point, I don't even have enough energy left to fight at the water station to get a water cup to pour on my head. I focus all my strength towards the finish line and getting there as fast as possible. And, also, to look at my watch. I think I have never checked my watch so often before this marathon. Get assured it's not to check my time or my pace! I don't see them anymore. It's for the distance.
I'm fully aware I added distance, before the hills, while I was zigzaging from one side to the other to get water and ice. But I decide to dupe myself. I don't count the extra distance. You have 3 miles to go, not even a step further. Just think 0.1 mile after 0.1 mile and you'll get there.
There's a long avenue. Straight road. Flat? Downhill? I can't tell. I just know I hated it. And the crowd is wider and wider, on the sidewalks. It's screaming from everywhere. It's getting on my nerves. It drives me crazy. I can't stand it anymore.
There's a guy, on the sidewalk. He's not screaming. He looks at me. He doesn't say a word. He just holds out his hand, to give me strength. He understood. I manage to reach for his hand.
Other runners are struggling around me too. I see lots of runners walking. I do understand them. I don't stop because I know I would not be able to carry on. I think that if I stop, I'll fall.
And I look at my watch. Tirelessly. I prevent myself from looking at it every second. Wait for, at least, 0.5 mile! It's been 0.5 mile now, right? ... well, no... When do we arrive in Boston??
We reach a bridge. Obviously, it goes up. And we go under a road. Uphill, AGAIN. I've been warned about this one so I was waiting for it. And YES I can confirm, it's HARD.
I don't know when I saw the "1 mile to go" mark. Before the turn? After? I don't know but it was a relief. 1 mile? I'll do it.
Right turn, 90 degree, and uphill... again. Then a turn, again, on the left. FINALLY, the last avenue. Finally. I can see the archway.
I'm not there yet. It's a long avenue. I can't sprint. It's not possible. I don't care. Run. Just, run.
I cross the line. I stop my watch. No smile on my face. No joy. I'm just relieved to stop.
After the line
I feel myself staggering. There's no gate around. I head to the archway, which, strangely, is well after the finish line. I'll be able to lean on it.
And then, just as I did from the start actually, I just follow the flow. Walking in order not to fall. Staying in motion. Someone gives me a bottle of water. I drink, as a reflex. I'm cold. There are gusts of wind (I've well noticed them, after the hills). Someone puts a medal around my neck. A photographer asks me to smile for a photo. I smile. I don't even know how I managed to do this "poker face".
They give us space blankets. That's good. I'm so cold! I'm shivering. A volunteer gives me a bag with food. I just take what they give me. My head is spinning. All of a sudden, I feel sick. I think I will throw up. I spot a range of portapotties.
Before I reach them, I feel a bit better. I look for signs to go to the family meeting area. I want to get out of here. I want to meet the playboy. I feel like crying.
They use a large block of streets for the finish area. It's downtown Boston so we are surrounded by large buildings. It's a weird atmosphere, even more with the wind. In other circumstances, I would have found it pretty beautiful. I'm following the signs and I come across the finisher photo area. There are blue walls with the yellow Boston Marathon logo and this little word I should be so proud of: FINISHER. Another picture taken. Another poker face.
I know I don't have to rush as the playboy as to come back from the place I saw him on the course. But he will go fast. I want to believe it. He may even run... actually, no, he won't be able to as he is carrying our camera. Still, he will go fast and be here soon.
I found the family meeting area. It's just at a crossroad. Letters are posted on street lights. I reach the M and just stay below it. I'm waiting.
I'm still so cold. I'm shivering from head to toes. I don't know if I should sit down or not. There are so many people around. I'm not the only one in bad shape. I'm scanning the crowd to spot the playboy. I see wheelchairs carrying runners. I tell myself I could have been in one of them.
I don't feel good at all. I have episodes where I feel nauseous and episodes of uncontrollable shivers. I try to walk to feel better. At one point, I feel so bad I decide I'll ask for help if I see a volunteer around.
I'm so cold that I eventually sit down, on the sidewalk, to be able to curl up and put the blanket all around me. And I wait. And I shiver.
I've waited like that for more than an hour. FINALLY, I saw the playboy, big smile on his face, coming towards me while congratulating me. Seeing him made me give in. 2-3 tears. From relief and nerves. And the first thing I told him was: "No, that's not good at all. It was awful."
I didn't give my time. I did not give it either on Instagram, just after the race. It was on purpose as my time does not reflect the experience I lived. It would have distorted your understanding of my race. And, well, I don't think you're stupid. You would totally be able to find my time if you wanted to.
If you are following me for a while, you know time is not what dictates a race for me. It's never my first priority. First of all, on a race, I'm looking for the experience. Of course, I'm happy and proud of a good time. Obviously. But I never ran thinking: "I want to reach this time at all costs". I'm more interested in the outcome of a training cycle. I'm training for my body to get used to run faster or further. I love noticing how my body adapts and evolves. I can tell which pace is becoming more and more natural to me. And according to that, I know I'll be happy if I manage to run a race holding a specific range of paces. All of that, listening to my body and my feelings. My goal is to push my body in accordance with the work we did during the training.
For this race, for the first time, I did not listen to how I really felt. I was exhausted even before the start of the marathon. Still, I ran as I would have run if everything would have been perfect. So, yes, I pushed my limits way way further. But it was not a pleasant experience and I was not proud of how I was after the race.
Yes, I saw 3:18 on my watch, after crossing the finish line. But I didn't care. As if it didn't mean anything. I was blaming myself for not having run the race way slower to take into account my level of fatigue. As if I betrayed my body which was sending me warning signals for days.
I know everyone won't understand me or what I want to say. And you can even think I'm just plain stupid. Your call. I just want to try to explain you how I felt and my way of seeing things.
But now, with time and hindsight, I can tell running Boston and completing my 2nd marathon make me proud. It's not nothing. And, yes, with hindsight, I know I ran the race as I had to. I would not have been prouder or happier with me if I had run it slowly to preserve myself.
I still have one regret: all this training for a race I did not enjoy. I totally missed out on it. A missed rendez-vous. But, it's how it works and it's done now.
When people ask me about Boston, I'm not sure what to say. I go for the short version: it was hard. For sure, it's a hard course. But I had trained for that and I should have been able to handle it better. I also know, now, that it's been hard for everybody this year. The heat in Hopkinton after winter training. The change in temperature between Hopkinton and Boston. The gusts of wind, too.
I'm still not sure about what happened to me. Why was I so tired before the marathon? I will go for a check up, just to be safe.
I think I'm still not recovered from it. It took me 4 hours, after crossing the finish line, to be able to swallow something (liquid or food). 4 hours for nausea and shivers to stop. The days after, I could feel I had dug far away in my energy. I was not awfully sore. I mostly had to take it easy, walk slowly and stop often (grandma way as I told the playboy) while we were visiting during the vacation we took after the marathon. I was relieved to know that my love for running hasn't been altered. It's still here. I'm still running. Just for fun and the joy of it. Sometimes, I forget about Boston and I just go as if nothing happened... but my body is here to remind me. I'm getting tired more quickly.
So, even if I would have loved capitalizing on my training, I will just go easy and wait. Meanwhile, I will run whenever I want to. I will go for bike rides as it's less tiring. And I will go back to the swimming pool. That's the plan.
I will conclude with what my mother (not into sports at all) told me when I was trying to explain her why I was not happy with my race. She just said: "Testaruda", how we say where I grew up. I leave it to you to translate.
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