Well, my fears about having to run my very first half marathon in the rain were warranted – it was basically a tropical storm all day yesterday in Boston.
I woke up at 5am, walked Rags, had coffee and some peanut butter on toast, and waited 30 seconds too long to request an Uber – the price shot up from $16 to $33 when I confirmed my brother was ready to leave. Oh well… Our driver dropped us off right near the Mile 9/11 markers, and it was a short walk to the start area. We went straight to the portapotties and picked up our t-shirts, and by then we were officially soaked. I actually debated keeping on my layers for the race but knew I’d warm up.
My dad met us while we were hovering under a tree trying to stay dry. We each went to the portapotties again, and then checked our bags around 7:40am. My dad, bless his heart, asked me if my knee was going to hold up. I love the guy, but definitely not something you want to hear before you’re about to go run 13.1 miles. I had to shake it off, though.
Once we checked bags, I lost track of my brother. My dad walked with me to corrals, which backed up into the portapotties line. I REALLY needed to go again but the gun was going off in 7 minutes and the lines were at least 30 people deep. I danced around trying to hold it, and some girls were joking about finding a bush. I peered behind the line of portapotties and realized people were going back there. That was the best call I made all day. I hugged a tree and felt 1000x better after peeing in a crowd of others doing the same. I did climb through some prickers, and didn’t notice the blood dripping down my leg until I handed my dad my raincoat and got to the starting line. Totally worth it!
I had checked my layers with my gear, so I was down to shorts, a short sleeve tech shirt, my knee high compression socks, and a green Jimmy Fund cap to keep the rain out of my eyes. Definitely a good call, because I heard girls complaining that they wished they had worn hats. I wasn’t cold once I got going, but there were a couple of times that the wind blew hard and I wished I had a warmer layer. My hands were like prunes within a mile or 2.
The first mile is mostly downhill, but then you head uphill. As I’m going uphill around 1.5 miles in, I can feel a guy on my left and he says, “How’s it going?” Dude, wtf? Trying to run a race here. I have limited peripheral vision in my hat, so he kinda waves at me and says, “Hi!” and it is then I realize it’s my brother. He’s a lot faster than me, so I was confused. Turns out he waited for the portapotties and was late getting across the starting line. Sucker! That was the last I saw of him. There are a few places where the course loops, so I looked for him but never saw him.
It was around Mile 2 when I noticed my hamstring pain. There were 2 times on the course where the pain was momentarily so severe that it took my breath away, but otherwise it was mostly a nagging, achy pain. Other than that, I felt really good until Mile 11. More on that later.
I had brought 2 Gu with me, but I was dragging at the start line after not having eaten for 2+ hours, so I ended up having one there. I kind of forgot about the other one (shoved in my sports bra because I didn’t wear a belt or armband, knowing my phone would get too wet) and it wasn’t until we got to the Mile 6 where they were handing out Clif energy gels that I decided to take one and eat my Gu, saving the Clif for later if I needed it – not knowing how it would taste. The first station was for vanilla, no caffeine. The second was berry, with caffeine (I took that one). I thought the guy at the third station said, “Vodka.” I said out loud, “Vodka?!” and the girl running next to me was like, “Yeah, I wish! That’ll be at the finish line.” That was the only time I talked to anyone else running. It turns out the guy said, “Mocha.”
They had told us there would be water at all the even miles, but at some point it switched the odd miles because there was water at Miles 9/11 (same location – one of the loops). Up until then, I had been walking through the water stations, around 45 seconds each time, so I estimate that I walked for about 7 minutes total – I had to walk twice during the last 2 miles.
Around Mile 7, I saw a girl with a sign that said, “I like your pace!” In my mind, I laughed but I probably just made a weird face. We made eye contact, and she said, “You got this, Kelly! Looking good, girl!” There were SO many people on the course cheering for us. I can only imagine what it would’ve been like had it not been tropical storm conditions. But she was the first one (who I heard) who used my name and I loved it.
I had told my dad about the Mile 9/11 loop so I was thinking I’d see him there. Once I saw the Mile 8 sign, I kept telling myself it was only another mile till I saw my dad. I needed something to look forward to, so I was taking it mile by mile. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Or, we didn’t see each other. Mile 10 was ROUGH. It was all uphill, and you’re watching everyone who is faster than you pass by going downhill. The path was also narrow and very uneven, and they actually forced us onto the grass-turned-mud at one point because the path was completely flooded. So not fun. I didn’t think of it at the time, but by then I was running the furthest/longest I ever had! I decided I needed that Clif energy gel but A. it was gross and B. I was starting to lose my mind a little, and forgot you really need to chase those things with water in order to get them down. I took maybe 1/4 of it and decided it wasn’t worth it. I threw it into a nearby trash can and was a little disappointed that no one cheered for the fact that I made the shot from about 6 feet away.
At the loop near Mile 5.5 and the loop at Mile 10, I saw the 2:15 pacer not too far in front of me. That was my goal time, but I saw the 2:30 pacer not too far behind me, so I knew I was somewhere in the middle and was totally OK with that. Right at Mile 11, I heard, “Good job, Squirt!” (my childhood nickname, for being a little squirt vs. an appropriately sized child). I had already passed him, so I turned around and waved to my dad with both hands. A few steps later, I must’ve been smiling because at least 4 different people were cheering my name and yelling for me. I tried to thank all of them but by the third “Thank you!” I was out of words, and just yelled, “Wooooo!” like a fool with my hands in the air. I should add that I waved or smiled every time I saw a camera, too! Can’t wait to see those photos.
As soon as I came down from the high of people cheering for me personally, I realized my left ankle was hurting VERY badly. It was high ankle pain on the outside, and oddly reminiscent of when I tore a bunch of ligaments in that same ankle in 2008 and reinjured it last year, resulting in several weeks of PT leading up to the 2015 B.A.A. 5K. I was trying not to focus on the pain, but it was searing. Every step hurt, but walking didn’t help so I just kept moving and focused on finishing. By now we were running through the actual Franklin Park Zoo. I noticed one llama or something but otherwise, my head was down as it unfortunately was for a lot of the race – I was trying to keep the rain out of my eyes and watch for puddles. It’s a shame, because the course is the most beautiful route you could run in Boston, all along the Emerald Necklace. Note to self: run part or all of it again some time, in nice weather.
When I saw the Mile 12 sign, I wanted to puke. How were there still another 1.1 miles to go? The pain was now all I could think about. I wanted to walk but I also just wanted to get it over with. I went from having an absolute blast for Miles 1-11 to wanting to stop altogether. The final 0.2 miles are inside White Stadium, around the track. I wanted to sprint, but I physically could not. My watch said my time was 2:22:32 but I would later find out my official time was 2:25:20. Not sure how my watch was 3 minutes off, but whatever. I ran straight across the finish line and to the medical tent, where I was told there was no ice. No ice at a medical tent? OK… Instead I limped to get my medal and found out they had run out of the foil warming blankets. OK… Strike 2 for the B.A.A.
I kept limping to the food tent, where I grabbed a burger. I was hungry the whole race, and kept dreaming about that burger. It looked totally disgusting but I did not care. I held onto it while I grabbed my gear and tried to put on a dry layer, but it was wet within seconds. I met my dad just outside gear check where he handed me my soaking wet raincoat, but I felt so good to be shielded from the downpour. I proceeded to drop my burger on the ground and was so sad that I ALMOST picked it up and ate it (like, the patty fell off the bun into the mud) but decided against it. We met up with my brother who was in an obvious state of extreme pain. We limped to where my dad had parked his truck, about a mile away. It felt like 23 miles.
Once in the truck, I drank the water I had grabbed and ate my cute little mini Clif Builder’s Bar – I eat a full-size one pretty much daily – while we drove with the heat on full blast. I was shivering but too sore to put my pants on over my wet shorts. The ride felt like it took forever, and my dad just wanted to get back home to Western Mass so he dropped us off at the front door. It took me a few extra seconds to get upstairs to our third floor apartment but it took my brother a few extra minutes. I jumped right into a steaming hot shower and dried my hair immediately to try and warm up. All the while, I was icing my ankle with a bag of frozen peas and an ace bandage to keep it in place while I stood.
I made myself a gin cocktail and debated taking a nap, but I was ravenous. I had some of my homemade version of the Blue Apron warm Brussels sprout and potato salad to hold me over, and then we drove (yes, drove 1 mile) to Publick House for a combination celebratory/belated birthday lunch courtesy of my brother. I noticed 2 runners in their free t-shirts from the race, so we clearly weren’t the only ones celebrating. I downed 3 beers and almost finished my whole burger. While at lunch, I got an email letting me know that my mom had ordered me an e-gift card to Marathon Sports and it was ready! We were literally 4 doors down from Marathon, so I stopped in on the way back to the car and purchased my brand new running shoes – the Mizuno Wave Rider 20s!
I treated myself to some Cookie Monster ice cream (cookie dough and Oreo mixed together – heavenly!) from White Mountain Creamery on the way home, and made another cocktail but fell asleep before drinking it. I woke up 3 hours later, dazed and confused because it was 7pm but felt like 5am. It was still pouring, but Rags had only been out for a quick pee before lunch and needed a walk, so we went. We took the shortest loop possible – a 0.35 walk around the block – and it took more than 10 minutes because I was limping so badly. Rags, who seems to be fully recovered from his 3 seizures last week and fully adjusted to his new regimen of anti-seizure meds and cardiac meds, even stopped and looked at me a few times as if to say, “Seriously?” Poor guy was soaked from what should’ve been a 4-minute walk.
My plan was to go right back to bed, but then I remembered the debate was on, so I stayed up for that. I iced my ankle on and off, and iced my knee/hamstring every other time I did that. Unfortunately I woke up this morning still in a world of pain. Actually my whole body hurts, but in one of those good “you worked out like a beast yesterday” ways. But my knee/hamstring is pretty sore, and my ankle is excruciating. It’s kinda funny that I have a 1:30pm orthopedic appointment for my knee/hamstring, but we’re probably going to focus on my ankle as that’s clearly a more acute issue. It honestly feels like a high ankle sprain – I know them all too well – so I’m trying to keep weight off it as much as I can.
All in all, I had a really great day yesterday. Sure, it would’ve been nice for the weather to cooperate. I mean, what are the odds that the most it’s rained in 6 months happens on the day of my first half marathon?! And yeah, not having to deal with pain would’ve helped. But overall, I trained hard and was so excited for this race, and I am really proud of myself. I’ve got just over 6 months to get into shape for the 2017 Boston Marathon, but right now, I’m going to take some time off from running – whether doctor-mandated or not.