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The Boston Marathon- Part Two: Race Report!

The Boston Marathon- Part Two: Race Report!
The Boston Marathon- Part Two: Race Report!

Monday, April 15th was a day I experienced just about every emotion that is humanly possible.  When it began I felt the way I feel most other marathon mornings but this time it was even more special.  I was about to run the Boston Marathon and I had been dreaming of running this race for years.   The day was full of potential.  Sure, I was anxious and nervous but overall I was very excited.

Pre-race jitters
Let’s do this!

We left our apartment in Cambridge around 6 am and stopped off at Starbucks for a coffee and oatmeal to go before heading over to the Boston Commons area where all the runners were meeting to get on buses which would take us to Hopkinton.

Kem snapped this one of us as we left. Time to run a marathon!
Thousands of runners getting on buses to Hopkinton
On the bus

It’s about an hour ride from Boston to Hopkinton which is the start of the Boston Marathon.  (Boston is a point to point marathon meaning we start in one town and run 26.2 miles in one direction until we reach the finish.)

For the next hour and a half we hung out in Athlete’s Village while we anxiously waited for our wave to be called to the start.

 

I thought I would get bored waiting there but it seemed that the time flew by rather quickly.  I also ran into some running friends-  Carissa from Sole Sisters and Devon from Cross Training.

Me, Carissa & Devon

 

Writing our names on our arms
Love this sign!

By the time we snapped some pictures and waited in line for the port-a-potties twice it was time to head over to gear check.

I made it over to the starting line for my wave and corral with about 5 minutes to spare.  I was alone and ready to focus.  I’ve never been surrounded by that many other runners and I did not see anyone I knew.  But that was okay with me. It was game time and I needed to focus for the next 3 hours.  My basic pacing plan was to run just at a sub 7 minute pace so I could shoot for a 3:05 finish time.

Source

Miles 1-5 
(7:09, 6:53, 7:00, 6:48, 7:00)
To be honest this was a little slower than I was hoping to start out but there were SO MANY runners.  For the first few miles I really had to focus on finding enough room and finding my rhythm.  The first time I heard a “Go Tia!” in mile one I looked over to see who was cheering for me that I knew.  I quickly remembered that my name was on my tank and it made me smile.  From then on I heard more people shouting “Go Tia!” than I have ever heard before in my life.  Putting my name on my shirt was the best race attire decision EVER.

Miles 6-10
(6:46, 6:50, 6:56, 6:46, 6:52)
For some reason this patch was the hardest mentally.  I had found my groove but knew I still had a long way to go.  My body felt fine but I had to convince myself that this pace would still feel easy in another one to two hours.  Around mile 6 some guy came up beside me and commented on the pace.  He asked me what time I was hoping to get.  I really wasn’t in the mood for small talk but I didn’t want to be rude so I quickly told him “3:05.” Then he made some remark about it being good I was going out so conservative and this pace was a bit slow to hit that so I must be saving it for later.  The way he worded it sounded like he thought I was going way too slow to hit that time.  I just nodded and kept running, leaving him behind.  Not that it mattered what a total stranger thought of my pace but it was just the fuel I needed to pick it up and get into gear.

Miles 11-15
(6:56, 6:49, 6:52, 6:52, 6:57)
These are always my favorite miles in a marathon.  At this point in the game I’m in a solid running groove and it’s early enough that I am not that tired.  I was feeling good! It also helped that we ran through Wellesley and I experienced the screaming girls at Wellesley.  I’ve heard that many will stop to kiss or get their picture made with a Wellesley girl but I really didn’t see anyone stopping with the runners I was pacing with.  I actually moved to the left so I could focus more and left the screaming Wellesley girls to all the guys.  I felt like I was running with all men but every once in a while I would come upon another woman.

Source

Miles 16-20
(6:51, 7:03, 7:04, 7:00, 6:59)
Mile 16 is the start of the Newton hills.  I felt really prepared for this section of the course.  I kept telling myself that if I could handle the Little Rock Marathon then I could easily handle Boston.  I found myself passing more and more men- especially on the uphills.  This was a huge confidence booster.  When I saw my time on mile 20 (6:59)  I knew I was still in good shape going into the final mile of Heartbreak Hill.  After mile 21 the worst is over.

Miles 21-25
(7:21, 6:55, 7:06, 6:58, 6:55)
Mile 21 was my slowest mile.  There are three major hills in Boston and this mile contains “Heartbreak Hill” which many consider the hardest part of the course.  I actually thought the second hill (mile 19) was harder but this mile was my slowest so I’m guessing heartbreak hill had something to do with that.  Still, very doable and nothing compared to climbing Kavanaugh Blvd. during mile 15 of LRM.  After reaching the top of Heartbreak I heard the loudest cheering and screaming ever.  Hello Boston College!! This was my favorite mile of the entire race! It did not feel like mile 22 at all- instead I felt like I was floating on air.  I continued to remind myself that I was feeling good.  I started to believe that it might actually be possible not to hit a wall during a marathon.  Typically I struggle in the last 5-10K of a marathon but in Boston I felt strong and confident.  I told myself I was going to run my best time ever and I still felt great.  When I saw the Citgo sign I knew I was almost home.

Miles 26- 26.46
7:07, 2:55 (6:23 avg.)
For the first time the entire race I actually felt ready to be done running during mile 26.  Suddenly it hit me how tired I was.  I knew I had pushed myself to my potential and at this point I was hanging on by total willpower.  The crowds continued to scream my name and it carried me through during this final stretch.  After my watch beeped 26 I knew I had to give it everything I had.  Once I made the left turn onto Boylston St. I saw the clock in the distance and I knew that if I sprinted as hard as I could I might make it in under 3:04.  A 3:03:xx just sounded better than 3:04 so I started kicking as hard as I could.  My quads were burning but I was almost done.  When I crossed the line I knew I had made it!

Official time- 3:03:51 (7:01 min. pace)

Garmin mileage- 26.45 (6:57 min. pace)  This is my first time to average under 7 minute pace (on my watch) during a marathon.  Next time I would love to average sub 7 on the official time.

Checkpoint times:

 

 

5k
10k
15k
20k
Half
25k
30k
35k
40k
0:21:56
0:43:26
1:04:53
1:26:23
1:31:03
1:47:56
2:10:00
2:32:17
2:54:12
Finish:
Pace
Proj. Time
Offl. Time
Overall
Gender
Division
0:07:01
3:03:51
3:03:51
2678
192
168

Am I sad I did not break 3 hours?  Absolutely not! While going sub 3 is definitely a big dream of mine I knew going into this race that I wasn’t ready for that yet.  I did not want to try to pace for a sub 3 because I knew it would be spreading myself too thin.  I will break 3 hours when the time is right. (And hopefully that will be my next marathon!)

After crossing the finish line I was rushed through a long finish line and it was around this time I received some water, goody bag and my gear check bag.  I quickly pulled out my phone to call John.  He had been tracking me all morning and I wanted to hear his voice before I did anything else.

Then I headed over to the family meeting area and I saw my parents and sister.  It was so good to see some familiar faces!

My parents and my sister

 

Tricky & I
Me with my dad

 

Tish ran a huge PR too- 3:33 finish time!! Way to go Tish!
Girls trip group pic!
Photo taken just minutes before the bombs went off…

The Boston Marathon was the best race I have ever run.  No doubt about it! The course, the fans, the entire atmosphere was amazing.  Tish had run her best marathon ever and had PR’d by over 4 minutes.  We were both so happy!  Tish and I were together celebrating with our friends and my family when we heard the bombs go off.  We were just a few blocks over in the front of the family meeting area. next to baggage check. Within the next 30 minutes we all learned of the bombings and our time to celebrate was immediately put to a stop.  We could not celebrate our PR’s when so many were not able to finish and so many were injured- and a few even dead.  Our happiness had been replaced with fear.  Our main concern was getting to safety.

I have run in a countless number of races during in my time as a runner. For many of them I have received a medal after crossing the finish line.   I can tell you right now that no other finisher’s medal means more to me than the one that was given to me at the finish line of the Boston Marathon 2013.  In a race that 23,336 runners were able to start only 75% percent were able to finish.  There were 5,756 runners who were unable to cross the finish line.  This opportunity was ripped away from them.

Boston Finisher 2013
Source

We saw many other runners on the plane flight back from Boston to Dallas.  The first question we would ask each other was not- “What was your time?” or even “How did it go?”  The main question that everyone asked was “Were you able to finish?”

When I look at my medal the first thing that comes to mind is not my finish time or the course.  The first thing I think of is that God spared my life and I was able to live another day.  Who could have predicted such an event?  There are so many “what ifs” that I really just can’t even go there.  Here is what I know- I am alive. I am healthy. I am thankful. 

Thank you to the many who were praying on my behalf as well as for the thousands of others who were in Boston on Monday.  Since returning home I have felt truly loved.  Continued prayers for all those involved in the Boston Marathon bombings. Hopefully we can begin the healing process.

44 Comments

  1. This was an exciting race report! It is amazing how crowd support can really make a race: in Boston it is unreal. You ran a smart race and stunning pace, I bet you were running with all guys, speedy lady!!

  2. It sounds like the actual marathon bit went great. In fact, as I was reading along I forgot about what happened afterwards. It was just another race report. Then the reality of the finish line hit again.

    1. Yes, totally a night and day difference of emotions. Still makes me sick to my stomach to think about that afternoon. Hopefully we can find peace and get stronger from this!

  3. It was wonderful to read your recap and hear about your VICTORIOUS race. It was NOT my day out on the course. Not sure what went wrong but that’s okay. I think it’s a good lesson in racing to know that sometimes everything doesn’t come together for a strong race. Your first couple of miles are interesting. From where I started mile one was an 7:58 pace due to the crowds. It pays to be towards the front of the pack. I love that you were racing with mostly men. It shows what a strong runner you are. Nice job getting lots of photos. The ones from the finish line are especially great. I think my fav. is the one with your dad. I hope your heart is continuing to mend. I know it’s been a slow process here. Thanks for highlighting the positive of that day.

    1. Yes, those first miles are CROWDED!! I now see why you must line up with people around your pace and even then it feels too slow!

      I think I like that one with my dad best too! He rarely gets to see me race anymore (he lives in PA) so I love it when he does. reminds me of my high school days!

  4. Tia, this reace recap was amazing and the outcome shows what a strong runner you are! From the perspective of someone who does not carry out a well-paced marathon, I love reading your race recaps. You have such talent in keeping strong at the end. I liked seeing how you strong and consistent training comes together for a great race like this! I feel like if I ever run Boston I will know a lot about it thanks to all of the details of your race reports. And the hint about putting your name on your arm and shirt is a good one. Crowd support helps me along a lot, so I think I will try that too. Finally, I am glad you shared a little about the people who did not get to finish the race. I felt so bad for them too. I know it makes it hard to really feel like you can celebrate your time and your experience, but I hope you will still take the time to enjoy what you’ve done. I am so thankful you are okay, because when people asked me if I knew any runners up there, my thoughts went first to my local friends and then to you! I know you are so thankful you are okay and are back safe with your family!

    1. Thanks Katie! First of all- you should DEFINITELY run Boston!! Best race ever.

      I really have not had the best finishes in marathons but I was able to stay on pace this time. I’m sure the crowd support had a lot to do with that.

      Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! I was trying to think of everyone I knew out there and hoped they made it out before it got started. SO, so sad. It feels very good to be home.

  5. I loved reading your race recap so much. I loved seeing those 6:40’s. I wish it could have ended there. I wish you wouldn’t have to go into the tragedy. I’m so happy and proud of you, Tia! You are such an inspiration to me in many more ways than running. Keep that beautiful smoke and spirit forever.

    1. Thanks!And it’s totally the other way around- you are crushing it with weights and your eating clean. I admire your dedication so much! Whatever happens at your upcoming competition you are a WINNER to me!!

    2. Beautiful SMILE (not smoke) goodness and how about I tell you a few more times! 🙂 My phone must have been playing tricks on me. Sorry about that!
      So much love for you, Tia!

  6. Congrats on a well run race! I also ran Boston, at a much slower pace than you, but felt that I ran smart, followed my plan, and ended up with a negative split, which was what I wanted. Like you said, so many people didn’t get to finish the race and so I feel very fortunate that I did, and fortunate that I wasn’t hurt and none of my friends or their families were either. I think this is the one time I’ll be glad my family stayed home. Looking forward to 2014.

  7. CONGRATULATIONS, Tia, on an amazing race! Wow. You are such a STRONG runner and such a huge inspiration to the rest of us. Thanks for sharing all the good parts of the weekend before the tragedy struck. I loved all your pictures, especially the one with your dad. He looks so proud!

    What is next for you? Do you have another marathon on your schedule? And will you be back for Boston 2014? After the race, I said that was my first and last Boston marathon. Now that the dust has settled, I can’t wait to be back next year.

    Oh, and I was running near Tish for a few miles, I think. She must have been right behind me because I kept hearing “Go Tish!!!” So glad you both had great races. xo

    1. Thanks! It was so nice having my parents and sister there at the end. My dad used to come to all my races growing up and I love that he made it to my first Boston!

      I am the same as you on 2014!! 🙂

      I told Tish what you said and she thought that was so funny. I keep trying to talk her into starting her own running blog. She has the best experiences!

  8. You were SO fun to track on race day!! I really had no idea what you were up to with your race goal, but i figured that you were full of excitement and on the course of your dreams!! I was cheering virtually for you as you hit each mark on the course with that red-hot pace.
    The photos really depict the experience…Boston, Hopkington, the fun atmosphere. I am glad you put your name on your shirt and can relate to the feeling of having thousands cheer on your huge PR. I put my name on in 2011 as well, but everyone said it wrong or stumbled over it. haha.

    Loved that you had Tish there and that she also ran a PR 🙂
    I can’t believe how many people were unable to finish. 🙁 Do you plan to go back to Boston next year?

    I am curious as to what you have planned and how long you will recover from Boston. How are the tendons?
    No doubt in my mind that this next race will be a biggie for you! Sub 3 :))

    1. Thanks Raina! Yes, having my name on my shirt was great. I only had one mispronounce it and a few “Hey- where’s Tamarra?” (Tia & Tamarra). lol!

      My first instinct was to not go back (at least this was my thought as we were trekking 6 miles back to our apartment in Cambridge). But I am actually considering it if I can arrange it so my whole family can come. (It’s on my daughters bday next year so I would want them all there.) We’ll see!

      My first run back will be tomorrow. I have several 5K’s and 10K’s lined up over the next few months. My next marathon is not until December and hopefully I will be ready for a sub 3!! We’ll see… It’s gonna take a lot of work but I’d love to see a 2:59!!!

  9. Tia, I was so impressed with how focused you were on the course – we saw you at mile 19! You ran like a metronome, so strong! Awesome job! Huge PR on a very tough and long course. I have no doubt sub 3 is yours next time! So exciting! Recover well!

    1. Thanks AM!! It was SO good to finally meet you. I admire your good common running sense and always appreciate your comments so much! 🙂

      Boston was the first marathon I’ve run that I felt like I paced right and stayed positive. It is such an amazing race and I truly loved every single mile of it. I really can’t say that about any other marathon!

  10. Gosh, this was great to read!!! I’ve read some of your posts in the past but I’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus so hadn’t really put things together until briefly meeting you at the Expo and race and then tracking you with Ana Maria! She had mentioned you would be wearing a shirt with “TIA” on it and we noticed you right away at mile 19!!! You were the first person we were tracking to run by and SO exciting. Man, you ran an AMAZING race. I’m so impressed by both this race and all you’ve accomplished here! Spent some time reading through your past posts… Just plain INSPIRING!!

    I’m so sorry much of the excitement of this race was overshadowed….should have been a dream of day for you and many others who worked so hard for this experience. So many mixed emotions I’m processing over this day. Anger, sadness, thankfulness…

    Congratulations Tia. Hope to see you in 2014:)

    1. Thanks Jenn! I wish I would have known that was you both at mile 19. I was in the zone! I missed seeing my two friends I traveled with (mile 26) as well as my parents (mile 25) all cheering. I didn’t know what mile anyone was going to be at so I just kept running. 🙂

      I’m glad we were able to meet and look forward to seeing you at another race sometime!

    1. Thanks Morgan! In one way taking off 4 minutes (to get a 2:59) doesn’t seem that far away but when I think about the required pace it seems a lot harder. Hopefully by December I’ll be ready… 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.

  11. What a great recap! How wonderful to have the race of your dreams at the place you have been wanting to run for so long! I am so thankful for you that those memories are yours and cannot be taken away from you!

    1. Thanks Kortni!

      Yes, everything was perfect until after the race when everything went crazy. still, I try to split my Boston experience into two parts and this part was definitely wonderful!

  12. Wow! You did so great! So fun to read both of your recaps! So glad to hear you are safe and sound. When I heard the news I immediately was thinking of you! Such fun running times! Way to go-you are amazing!!

    1. Thanks Kelly! You will never believe who I saw at the finish– Erin Elliott(well, she’s married now but you know who I mean!) I had not seen her since college but she looks exactly the same. So sweet too. She was cheering on her cousin.

  13. Thanks, Tia, for sharing your journey. You gave me a rare opportunity to run along side you in a race that would be impossible for me to ever experience. I treasure your personal story and faithful tribute of God’s care.

    1. Oh thank you so much for your note! That means so much to me. I am missing my ladies class time. One more night teaching the 5 year-old class tomorrow and I will be back next week! 🙂

  14. I totally identify with much of this — great race, great feelings and then it happened.
    You ran an amazing race! Hoping one day to run a marathon as strong as that!

  15. Amazing that you make it sound easy! Not noticing you are tired until the middle of mile 26?! Well that’s just about perfect. Boston sounds like an amazing race. I want to hear more about this magic tape too.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I can’t believe I felt that way either. That has NEVER been my case in marathons before until Boston! Maybe it was that tape… 🙂

    1. Thanks Heather! Yes, the crowds are AMAZING! They truly are the life of the race. I’ve NEVER experienced anything even remotely close to this before.

  16. I’m catching up after being away all week… loved this race report. Sounds like you executed it perfectly, and I love how the stranger’s comments gave you the boost you needed to pick up the pace! You continue to amaze me with your improvement. HUGE congrats on another impressive pr!!

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