18 Apr Finishing a marathon is such sweet pain – Part 2. Road to Boston
There is only thing sweeter than starting a marathon…it is the blissful pain of completing it! Crossing the finish line brings on bliss that is almost masochistic. It has been 42.2km of pleasure and pain. A microcosm of life’s journey experienced in an intense few hours.
Where body and mind constantly fight with each other for supremacy, unless an ability to surrender to the moment and each footstep has been cultivated, then the journey becomes one of a spiritual nature and the 42.2km has become the possible road to enlightenment.
I managed to settle my foot injuries two to three weeks out from the marathon but knowing Boston has a lot of downhill stretches I knew I was going in a little under done. I was never aiming for a PB in Boston but I was hoping for my average time around 4 hrs. But I did not factor in the weather.
Before leaving Australia I was constantly checking the weather forecast for the race. As Boston had snow until about two weeks out I was fearful of running in snow and extreme cold….extreme cold for an Aussie anyway…and when I left on Friday the 14 th the projected temperature was 18 degrees….which was quite good..possibly slightly warm….so I packed one warm day running kit.
Patriot’s Day, April 17, was 23 degrees and sunny! Very hot to run in direct sunlight and the marathon is run in the middle of the day.
I knew before I started that it was too hot to try to run fast…I learned that lesson in similar conditions in Copenhagen last year. Heat is not the friend of a marathon runner…..
The day before the race I took a bus tour out to the start in a lovely little town called Hopkinton and the bus tour drove the course and gave us tips, given by a local who had run the course over 20 times and many great stories to tell. He also warned to go slow for the first half of the race because of all the downhills….the course starts with a long downhill stretch…tempting to fly down but it bites you later when you wear out the quad muscles trying to control the downhill….downhill is more taxing on muscles and breaks them down more as it is eccentric exercise.
The race is very well organised. But I did not start until almost 11 am and the temperature was already at its highest. I ran within myself, thinking if I ran slow now maybe I would have enough energy left in the tank to speed up at the 32 km mark. I refused to look at my Garmin as I did not want my ego taking control and tricking me into trying to go faster earlier to attempt to run a better time. I allowed my body to do its job with no pressure. I also tried my best to use my meditation principles…I stayed in the moment by enjoying the scenery, the crowds and reminding myself that this is where I want to be.
The downhills did not seem too bad at the time but by the halfway mark I could already feel my quadriceps grumbling…this was not a great sign as I can normally run 21 km easy…I knew the downhills were having an impact. I wasn’t surprised the downhills were affecting me as I was nit able to run downhills for a few weeks while my foot was injured. Thankfully the foot was holding up during the marathon…
The crowds were amazing and helpful and I loved some of the signs…
There were so many people running that you never ran alone but as the race wore on and my quads began hurting it seemed sometimes as if I was out there all alone…it is a fact you run the race on your own…no matter how many people are around you. I focused on mantra, from the half way point onwards, which I repeated ad naseum in my mind until the end. As the legs tired I could focus less and less on the crowd. I was using my mantra and focusing on one step at a time.
I managed my food and water well. I ate my supplies just before and after half way and this gave me an energy boost and the confidence in my body to know I could run the whole way.
The hills were quite mild but there continued to be more downhills…I knew my quads were just holding on. I ran up the hills strong but by the 32 km mark even though I stuck faithfully to my plan I knew there was no last 10 km increase in speed as happened in Melbourne last October. I just had to hang on and put one foot in front of the other until the end. I could not even sprint the last 200m to the finish…my body felt good but my quads were thashed.
I did savour my finish….I was proud to have qualified and proud to have completed the course…this marathon was supersweet to complete….mostly because I had actually managed to get to the start when it seemed a long shot for a while and also because this race is such a big deal in the marathon world. Just watching the other participants in the days before the race I could tell everyone was way more than excited to be there and so many wore their Boston marathon shirts everywhere, before the race even began…cute…I took a photo in my shirt but kept it locked in my suitcase for wearing back home 😄😄😄😇🤓. Also I could tell the other runners were the best of the best from around the world and I have never seen so many superfit looking people in the one place.
The Boston marathon is a very well organised event. I would run it again, if I ever managed to qualify again. But next time I would train for the downhills much much much more…if my body allowed😎.
I am proof that you can start running at any age and do not require a biomechanically blessed body, because I sure don’t have one…running is natural – it is the first activity we learn right after walking…cheap and can help you to realise you can be more and do more than you ever dreamed possible….I never thought I could run, let alone a marathon..now I have completed 10 official marathons….Hopefully with more to come! God and my body willing!