RACE Report: Boston Marathon 2015

Four years ago, I never thought I would be writing this race report today. At that time, the thought of running a 10k under an hour seemed like an impossible feat, let alone running a marathon (42.2k).

Qualifying for Boston seemed like a distant dream because I’m required to run a sub 3:35 marathon (averaging less than 50 min per 10k).

Say what?! A marathon?? Under 3:35??

In all honesty, I didn’t think that running more than one block was possible for me without experiencing some sort of foot, knee, or hip pain.

At the time when Boston was just a dream, I couldn’t afford services like physiotherapy, massage and chiropractor, which made it even more impossible for me to even think of doing a marathon, let alone qualify for Boston.

With no other options, I took matters into my own hands. So, I studied… I researched and took personal training courses that would help me reach my goals.

I knew that if I can go from one block to running the Boston Marathon, then that means I can overcome just about any barrier to fitness (and so can everyone else).

Maybe there are no barriers to fitness? I didn’t know at the time. Maybe the only barriers to fitness are those that we create ourselves.

The only two things I knew were: I really wanted to run Boston and I knew how to design a safe and effective program in order to be able to do so. So, that’s exactly what I did.

In October of 2012, I finished my first marathon in a time of 3:27:48, which is more than 5 minutes faster than what was required for Boston. At that point, I knew that my training program works and that all I had to do was perfect it for the future.

Oh, and the sub-1 hour 10k? I was able to beat it earlier that year, in April of 2012, running the TC10k in 43:xx.

I went on to run 4 more marathons, qualifying for Boston each time. My fastest marathon is 3:18.

Finally, I was able to go to Boston this year and had an unforgettable experience, especially because my mom joined me for the trip. We left Victoria Friday night and arrived in Boston on Saturday morning.

There was enough time to do everything I needed to do to prepare for the big race on Monday.

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Above: My friends from Breathe Athletic set me up with an awesome outfit for the race. Super comfortable. Love it!

I must say, I have never seen so many people at a race expo. It was HUGE!

The number pickup was very well-organized. I thought that I would have to wait in line for over an hour to get my number. Instead, the whole process only took about 10 minutes.

Security was tight.

On Saturday and Sunday, the weather in Boston was pretty good. I heard rumors that it would be cold, windy and rainy on race day but didn’t want to believe it.

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Above: My favorite pre-race meal 🙂

I was looking forward to finishing the race and then spending the day walking around the city and shopping with my mom.

The morning of the race, I woke up ready to go. I made some new friends on the shuttle from the hotel, which made the trip to the athlete’s village very enjoyable.

Then, we arrived at the athlete’s village and had to wait about 2 hours before we could go to the start. The weather was definitely colder than the last two days.

The more we waited in the athlete’s village, the colder it got. Then, suddenly, there were a few little drops of rain.

Finally, it was my turn to go to the start line along with thousands of others in Wave 2. We walked quite a while before getting to the start line.

There were so many people! When the race started, I was part of a huge crowd of runners. There was not a lot of room to pass people (not that we worry about it at the start). I ended up being in the centre of the road. You can’t run the tangents in a big race like that.

It was windy and raining a little bit. Since I was in a big crowd, I couldn’t feel much of the wind in the first 5k.

I just maintained a comfortable pace for the first 5k. Went through the 5k checkpoint in 23:11. It definitely was mostly downhill.

At the 10k checkpoint, my time was 45:20. That’s when I realized that, 4 years ago, I only dreamed of the day when I can run 10k in 45 minutes. Four years ago, running a 10k in 45 minutes seemed impossible, as I even struggled to do that distance in an hour.

To be able to run a 10k in 45 minutes as part of a marathon and be excited about the next 32k was nothing short of a miracle when I look back on my struggles as a beginner runner.

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Above: Crossing the 15k checkpoint. Clearly, I’m still having tons of fun and have the energy to wave at the photographers 🙂

I thought about all the things and all the challenges that have led me to where I was that day. Running the Boston Marathon. Then, the next thing I knew, I was at the 15k checkpoint in 1:07:47.

I continued thinking about all sorts of different stuff and then suddenly I found myself at the 20k checkpoint…1:30:26. Then I remembered, the first time I attempted to run 10k with my Garmin after I felt recovered from my injury, I did it in 1:30.

To be able to double the distance and run 20k in that same amount of time was also another one of my miracles that I’m proud of.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up a little over 4 years ago when I took 1:30 to run 10k.

Then, I was at halfway in 1:35:23. I was still feeling comfortable. I remembered how my first half marathon was 2:12 and I didn’t think it was possible for me to break 2 hours in a half marathon.

But, there I was, halfway through the Boston Marathon in 1:35 (about a month after I ran my fastest ever half marathon in 1:28). There were great crowds at the halfway point.

Right then, I felt that the wind was starting to pick up quite a bit and the rain got worse. By the time I got to 25k, I was really getting worried about the weather. My body was still feeling good but I admit that I was getting colder.

I got to the 30k checkpoint in 2:17:25 and then I noticed that we were entering Newtown, which, of course, can only mean one thing: Heartbreak Hill is coming.

The race definitely thinned out by then. Some people increased their pace significantly while a lot of people really slowed down. The drop in temperature was what I noticed most.

I was trying to take my gel before coming up Heartbreak Hill, but unfortunately my hands were too cold to open the package. So I put it in my sports bra and thought I would try it later.

By the time I got to the 35k checkpoint, I was definitely feeling more tired. I was really glad that I had less than 10k left to go, but somehow it still felt like the finish line was a long way away.

I started to slow down significantly at the 40k mark. It’s one of those times where you either speed up and finish the last 2k really fast or you barely drag your legs. It was that moment where my 4:40 kms turned into 7 min kms.

A combination of the cold, wind and rain made the last 2k extremely difficult. That last turn onto Boyston street was one of the highlights of the race. There were even more people cheering!

The closer we got to the finish line, the more people were cheering. I was seriously considering walking the last km, but seeing and hearing all the spectators kept me going.

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I was so excited to cross the finish line, even though I was cold and soaked. My time was 3:23, which is my 2nd best time of all time.

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Above: This story has a happy ending…

From not being able to run one block, to crossing the finish line of the world’s most famous marathon, the Boston Marathon. Yes, everything is possible.

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Above: this beauty is now a part of my collection 🙂

Despite the bad weather, I still had fun and I will always treasure the experience that I had running my first Boston. The next time I come to Boston, I plan to have a faster time because I now know the course and what to expect.

If you have any questions about qualifying for Boston, don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂

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