Hi, ShokzSquad! ShokzStar Alissa Kolarik here, taking over the blog today to tell you about my experience running the Boston Marathon.
When a race day starts with rain that’s blowing sideways, soaking you to your core before you even get on the bus to the start, you know it’s going to be an interesting one. My Boston Marathon this year both started and ended with tears, and while that sounds like a sad story, I promise you it’s not.
We left our hotel at 7:00 am to catch a 7:20 am bus to Hopkinton. At this time, there were thunderstorms with crazy gusts of wind, so I sadly opted not to bring my AfterShokz because my phone isn’t waterproof and I wouldn’t have been able to listen to music. That was mistake #1. Mistake #2 was not wearing waterproof pants. The rain soaked me, and the old PJ pants I had on were not ideal for the conditions. At one point I started crying in frustration – I’ve waited two years for this race, is this how things are going to go down?
I made it through security in the rain and got onto the bus. A wonderful woman named Liz sat down next to me, and we chatted the entire way to Hopkinton, which made what felt like the world’s longest bus ride feel a whole lot shorter. I realized mid bus ride that I had forgotten my bodyglide, thankfully Liz had some, and she let me borrow it when we got to Athlete’s Village.
It had stopped raining by the time we got to Hopkinton, which was wonderful but also left the area around the porta potties a muddy mess. Thankfully I had worn a pair of old shoes I intended to donate, so my race shoes didn’t get muddy. We hung out there for a little bit, and before we knew it, our Wave was called to walk to the start. We walked about a half-mile down the road, to a CVS that was staged as a hangout for the starting area, and then we were able to get into our corrals.
I stood in the corral nervous – this was my first Boston, and I had no idea what to expect. Someone started chatting with me, and it made this time go by quickly. She told me what to expect in the first few miles, and put my mind at ease. We were getting ready to run Boston! Nothing else mattered and the day was bound to be incredible.
We started moving forward, I got my Garmin ready, and we were off, running through Hopkinton on our way to Boston. Miles 1-6 are a blur – I hit the 10k mark and knew my friends were notified as to where I was. Miles 6-8 were good too, but I started to feel the effects of the day’s humidity and began to slow down. My goal pace was a 7:15, but I only hit that a couple of times before mile 8. Mile 8 was a 7:49, mile 9 was a 7:46, mile 10 was a 7:51, mile 11 was an 8:45, I tried to keep it together for mile 12 and got it back down to a 7:58, but by mile 13 I was walk-jogging. What was wrong with me? This was Boston – a race for serious runners; I shouldn’t be walking.
I heard my name and my friend Margaret came up next to me. She asked if I was okay and I nodded. I couldn't talk – I was so frustrated and couldn't understand what was happening. She said she was having a bad day too and that she would stay with me if I wanted and we could finish the race together. She got me to the next water stop where we dumped multiple cups of water on my head, which got me moving again. I was overheated. On a day that was supposed to be rainy and cold, it was sunny and miserably hot, and I didn't keep myself cool enough by hydrating and dumping water on myself, so my body was freaking out.
From mile 13 on, we stuck together – we talked, I cried, we walked the hills. At one point another runner named Jess joined our little group, and we picked random points to run and walk to. We were all much faster runners than what our performance was indicating, but that day at Boston just wasn't our day. We all became okay with that and made our way along the course. (insert picture of the three of us)
We got close to Heartbreak Hill, and Margaret asked us what we wanted to do. We decided we were going to walk it. We walked up, much to the spectators' dismay, and ran the downhill. From there we could feel how close we were getting. At mile 24, we saw the Oiselle cowbell corner and ran through that high-fiving and waving. That perked us up, and we were ready to get through those last 2.2 miles. (insert cowbell corner picture)
Next up was that famous Citgo sign. It was a beautiful sight – we were almost there! We ran as much as we could and decided once we hit Boston proper we were going to keep running.
Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston, and the finish line was right there. We ran through it holding hands. We made it, together. A personal worst for me in 3:47:18, but it didn't matter. I finished the Boston Marathon with help from one person I knew from the internet and another we met along the course.
I told myself during the race that I was never coming back to Boston, but looking back on it now I'm definitely going back. Boston was such a huge goal – it was an honor to be there, and I missed out on some of the fun because I was beating myself up about not hitting pace.
You learn from every race, and I certainly learned a lot from this one. I need to be in the moment more, enjoy the now, and be more present, regardless of how I'm feeling about my performance. Next time I'll get it right.