120 years ago the Boston Athletic Association, inspired by the addition of the marathon to the Olympic games, decided to celebrate their tenth anniversary by organizing a marathon. It was held on Patriots’ Day, the 3rd Monday in April, commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The inaugural race was 24.5 miles long, running from Ashland to Boston, and had only 15 participants. In 1908 the Olympic distance for the marathon changed to 26.2 miles, and soon after the Boston Marathon adopted the famous course from Hopkinton to Boston. Today Boston is the world’s oldest annual marathon. It was an honor and privilege to run the historic course alongside 30,000 other runners for the second year in a row.
If I had to choose one marathon to run for the rest of my life, it would be Boston. I hope to be in my 60s loading the bus in Boston Common talking about how much the marathon has changed over the years. Here I am at the finish line not pretending to be a tourist, but holding up 2 for my second Boston.
I want to get into the entire weekend, but first, I know whenever I read a runner blog race recap I scroll all the way to the end to see their time, THEN read the post. I’ll save you some scrolling. Official time 3.09.43. 10 minute PR. Sub-3:10 goal met on a sunny day. Thank you Michelle for pushing me to train smart and run hard. I couldn’t have done it without you. I won’t be training for another race without your support!
I had SUCH a fun time on Saturday and Sunday, a great race was the icing on the cake. Gisele and I went to Shalane’s Run Fast Eat Slow book promotion event. We went on a shake out run on the Charles River, and Bart Yasso led a Q&A with Shalane and her college roommate Elyse who is the book co-author. $30 to run with Shalane, a t-shirt, the Q&A, and get her book sent to us when it comes out in September. Totally worth it.
Trying to open my tired eyes.
This is when I awkwardly told Shalane we were in LA cheering at the Olympic Trials. It was 4AM LA time. My eyes weren’t quite open yet, but I had to snap a photo with Bart Yasso. Was tempted to say “Damn you Bart Yasso!” Bart’s a witty guy. I’m a fan.
We then hit up the expo. Lucky 11102. Here’s that nervous smile of “I hope this bib makes it to the finish with me.”And hit up the finish line for more elite runner sightings.
Hey Meb! I feel like RunSelfieRepeat.
Finding my name on the wall of entrants in roughly 10 seconds. I think it’s a record.
Stopped at EVERY massage station at the expo praying they could magically solve my glute hamstring issue. Gisele goes, “Don’t you know tightness magically disappears on race day!?” Spoiler alert, it doesn’t.
New Balance, either you have a great sales pitch or an awesome product. I’ll be trying you next time I need a new pair of shoes. North End for the last supper.
Can you guess what we eat on the days leading up to the marathon, and immediately after?
Fast forward to race day. Gisele and I met at 6:45am, and walked to Boston Common to load the busses. I needed her to keep me calm. She’s such an experienced marathoner. We’re going on a field trip! And they drop you off 26.2 miles away from Boston. The bus ride feels like forever, and you’re just thinking I have to get back on my feet!First Boston tip, leave when they call your wave. Don’t wait too long. There are bathrooms by the start, and the walk from Athletes’ Village to the starting corrals is nearly a mile. With the crowds it feels like longer. That walk is when you start freaking out and contemplate ways to get out of actually going through with the task at hand.
So the race. My dream goal was a 3:10. My “I’d be happy” goal was a 3:15. Michelle encouraged me to start at a 7:10 pace. The first three miles were so congested, it was hard to get in my groove. People were bumping into each other left and right, but around mile 4 I started to get my groove. Brent (BEST SPECTATOR EVER) took the train from Boston to Framingham and saw me at 6.6. I could sense his relief that I was OK and smiling. Spectating is stressful because you’re not in control!
Around mile 8 my glutes felt tight. I could feel my stride wasn’t great, but I just kept thinking 1 more mile. 1 more mile. I held on, and there was never any pain, just a ache and what felt like a slightly off stride. I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to finish, but I just took it a mile at a time. 8-20 were mentally tough. I wanted so badly to make it to the finish line, and I wondered what the later miles would do to me. I saw Brent at the half. Somehow he managed to catch a train to Wellesley. He said he could tell my smile was a bit more forced, but Michelle told me I shouldn’t feel great at the half if I’m setting out to PR so I didn’t panic when I was kinda tired at the half. Brent then found a prime spot at the TOP of Heartbreak Hill (turns out it is FAR more heartbreaking when you’re running 7:10s), so he saw me a grand total of 3 times! Impressive for a point-to-point course.
Another Boston course tip. Don’t look at your watch in Newton. Heartbreak is one of 4 hills in Newton. Your pace will slow down. Just don’t even look because it will discourage you. I ran a 7:27 up Heartbreak but still averaged a 7:10 pace for the entire race. Boston is a tough course. You’re up and down the whole time. It’s really hard to get in the groove.
Here I am at mile 16 starting to believe I was actually going to make it. I ran this mile in 6:59 thanks to a little downhill action.
And here I am digging like a dog. I looked at my watch and knew I could make it under 3:10 if I hustled down Boylston. My iPod died at mile 24, and that was a beautiful thing because the roar of the crowd took me home, and I could hear the announcer calling my name saying “Here comes Cristina Lowry from California!” This is embarrassing to admit, but I cried when I finished. The race officials asked if I was hurt, and I just told them I was happy. I’m not going to pretend like I felt amazing the whole way. Yesterday was hard. My hamstrings were not happy with me, and by the end I was just pumping with my arms thinking about all the people cheering for me across the country.
Goodness it was worth it. I’m a proud owner of a sub-3:10 marathon, and I didn’t do it on a flat course. I did it at crowded Boston on a sunny day and I know this isn’t the most humble thing to say, but I’m proud of myself. I have no interest in running another marathon anytime soon, but when I do I’d be happy if it was here again.
A few more Boston tips…
- Watch for the railroad tracks in Framingham. No need to trip 6 miles into the race.
- Don’t panic if you forget something on your way to Athletes’ Village. Runners are really nice, and very prepared. People were sharing food, muscle cream, sunscreen. You name it.
- You also can rely on the friendly people of Massachusetts for more fuel along the course. I stole some pretzel rods and twizzlers along the way.
- I said it before, but don’t check your watch in Newton. Not worth stressing about slowing down.
- For your final pre-race pit stop, walk to the corrals. The lines are shorter there.