I’m back home from the Boston Marathon and what an experience. I still get goosebumps when I talk about it and I feel like I am flying high.
My Aunt and I attended the Race Expo at the John Hancock Convention Centre on Saturday morning. We arrived when it opened and there were already many inside. We went first to pick my up my race bib and once it was in my hands the marathon felt even more real. I followed suit with other runners and grabbed a photo with it.
Next, I went to pick up my race bag that had various things in it including a long sleeved Boston shirt that is blue and yellow. The Race Expo was one floor down and that was where I bought my race jacket. I was so excited to finally get it and wanted to wear it right away but for some reason, I felt I needed to run the race before I could wear it. So, I carried it around the expo with me except for when I met Kathrine Switzer.
She was signing her book Marathon Woman and would also sign your race bib if you wanted her to. I, of course, got her to sign my bib because I read her book and really loved it. Her story inspired me while I was training so meeting her was such a great opportunity for me.
The Boston Marathon takes place on the third Monday in April because it is Patriot’s Day. To stick with my routine of not sleeping for most of the week before I had a sleepless night and was awake a little before my alarm was set to go off at 4:40 am. I got up, started the coffee pot and hopped in the shower while it brewed. Shay was up and at em as well to come with me because she wanted to be part of the experience as much as she could, minus running the marathon.
We caught the bus and train from our place and went to the place where I could drop off my bag at the gear check. We then make our way to where I would catch the bus at the Boston Commons. There were school buses ready to drive us to the Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, where the race starts. On the way, I sat with a man named Tony, from Quebec who was running the Boston Marathon for his second time. He was hoping his race was going to go better than his first experience last year. I am not sure how he made out but hopefully, he had a good run.
Once I arrived in Athlete’s Village I wasn’t sure what to expect. We walked through an inflated arch that took us down a small hill towards some tents where you could get bagels, apples, bananas, water, coffee and Gatorade and there were also port-a-potties. I went to tent number three at first but the ground was damp and it felt ‘lonely’ there. I don’t really know how to explain it but it felt like I shouldn’t be at that tent. I decided to make my way to tent number two and it felt better. I grabbed a bagel and sat down next to two ladies. I was hoping to connect with them about something they were talking about and that would be my ‘in’ for making some new friends. Sure, I could have just gone with “Hi, my name is Kyla.” but that would have been too simple.
My in was when I heard them talking about how they wanted to run their race and I spoke up and said, “You just have to run your run”. They agreed and later Hayley noticed my Momentum Foot Note Shoe Charm that says “run your run.” Hayley and I chatted more and connected with a few other runners while we waited. We then made our way to the start line together as she was one corral ahead of me. We weren’t sure how things worked so it was a bit comforting going together.
The start line is 0.7 miles from the Athlete’s Village. They have the road closed off to traffic and we make our way down to the corrals. There were already some people lining the streets with flags and signs and I ended up seeing Tony again. I had been told that there wouldn’t be a long line up for the port-a-potties once I arrived near the start so I would be able to duck in one last time. I was expecting to see small lines but when I arrived there were a lot of people standing in line waiting and more making their way to them. I was about to head down when one of the volunteers said “If you start at 10:25 am you don’t have a lot of time. Keep making your way to the corral.” Since I didn’t want to be ‘late’ I didn’t go. I told myself that I could stop along the route once I saw the first port-a-potty. Well, that one came and went and I then ran for the next three hours and a bit thinking about going to pee. HA!
Once the official time started it took me a bit to get to the timing mat/start line. Once I hit the mat though I started my watch and away I went. I could see a sea of colors in front of me and it was crazy. There were so many runners and I looked forward to it thinning out. I was told that for the first 3-4km you are running with people and then it thins it. It never really thinned out and I ran with people right to the finish line.
From the start to the finish people lined the streets on both sides. It was just amazing. I have never seen anything like it and I never felt alone the entire time. There were adults and children standing with orange slices in their hands for runners to take as you went by. Later on, in other communities, there were people handing out ice chips, water, pretzel sticks, more oranges, Starbursts candy, and paper towel and Kleenex for you to wipe away sweat…or whatever. They had signs ready to cheer for their specific runner or signs for every runner. Kids and adults held out their hands for high-fives along the way and I gave many. Each time I would get goosebumps and felt an extra surge of energy in my step.
We run through Wellesley and I was told that the Wellesley girls from Wellesley College will be out in full force and to kiss them. Before I left when someone would mention the Wellesley girls I pictured the girls standing along the road in white shirts and plaid skirts. I am not sure why but that was what I thought of. When I saw the girls, that was not the case. They were dressed in everyday clothes, they were so loud and puckering up their lips for a kiss. Some signs read “If you kiss me you will win the race (maybe).” or “I’m a good kisser.” and more. It was just amazing and I smiled the entire way through.
My aunt was walking from the Boston Commons to Heartbreak Hill so she would see me at a point when she thought I would really need motivation. So, as I approached 30km I started looking for her on the right-hand side of the road. It was around the 33km mark that I saw her speaking to a man holding a laptop. Shay was trying to find out where I was in the race because she thought she had missed me. I saw her before she saw me and I started hollering at her. It took me calling her name twice before she saw me and then I was gone. I had contemplated earlier in the run about stopping to give her a hug but I knew better by the time I saw her that it wasn’t a good idea because I would have struggled to start running again.
Each time I hit a timing mat along the way I knew there were many eyes watching me. It was such great encouragement for me as I ran and I knew I had to get to the next one so I could get more ‘cheers’. For some reason, each time I ran over the mats, the fingers on my right hand went into a ‘hang ten’ shape. I don’t know why but it was something I did.
The entire run I felt pretty good. There wasn’t a time when I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to finish. I stayed hydrated along the way, I alternated Cliff Block Chews that had a shot of caffeine, with Chews that didn’t have caffeine so I could get an even mix so to speak. I did take one Chocolate Peanut Butter Gu with me that I took around 10km into the run but it tasted awful because it was so warm out. Thankfully the Chews and a couple oranges from strangers kept me going. Something I found out I don’t like when running a marathon is the smell of BBQ. As we started to come closer to the finish there was a BBQ happening and the smell was too much for me. I felt I needed to run faster to get away from it.
As I neared the end of the run I could see the Citgo sign that everyone had mentioned. You do see it for a long time but I found it wasn’t something I focused on. I was still taking in all the crowds of people and I was anxious to get to the end. The part that felt the longest was getting to the finish line. I could see it but it felt so far away. As I crossed the line I put my hands up and smiled big. I had just completed the Boston Marathon! Giddy up!
I made my way through to get water, my medal, a space blanket, food and my gear. I had a quick massage and then went to find my aunt in the family waiting area under the letter Q. We decided to pick a letter that we thought wouldn’t have many people waiting for them there. She was easy to spot and we grabbed some photos. One of the first things she said to me was “You’re walking better than your first marathon.” and I was. I felt great and really enjoyed the entire experience.
Overall this is how I placed. Not bad if I do say so myself.
Thank you to all of you who cheered for me from afar. You were with me on race day and I am lucky to have all of you in my life. I loved getting back to the apartment after the race and seeing all of your messages. They are added to my Boston Marathon memories.
I have been asked if I will go back and run Boston again and right now I am not sure. I have qualified to do so but I think I would like to go running in a new place and experience another run. I have until September to make the decision.
What would you do? Would you go back again if you had the change or run in a new location?