While most people were grilling and enjoying the 80 degree weather this Memorial Day Weekend, I hit the streets again with my running partner, Ali, to run in the Boston Run To Remember Half Marathon. What I really do enjoy about this race is that it honors Massachusetts Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty by celebrating their lives and giving back to the community. If that’s not enough to keep you going to the finish line, I’m not sure what else is!
The race starts at 7:00 am, just enough time for the weather to remain fairly cool before the summer-like temperatures start to creep in. Sunday morning was really chilly, about 43 degrees around 6:00 am, which made us both keep our zip-ups on before race time. After parking, finding a suitable bathroom (avoiding porta-potties is key), and renting a locker for our post-race junk, we had about 10 minutes before the race began. We both could not believe how much time had gone by and realized we were a bit too casual with our arrival time. Before we knew it, we were in a cluster of people and had little time to stretch and mentally prepare.
Due to the large crowd and I mean, about 10,000 people strong, we were forced in the 11:00 min/mile section which for us, was not ideal. A lot of times when you are in those areas, you are surrounded by slower runners and even walkers and you end up getting held up for at least the first few miles of the race. This year, they ended up doing two different wave starts which was something new. We were able to be up in the front of the starting line which was the second wave. I almost wanted to take a photo because it felt like this would be the only time in any race that I would be ahead of the pack 🙂
Finally, they let us go after about 10 additional minutes of standing around and we were off over the bridge towards the New England Aquarium. The first few miles felt really good and easy for the most part as it usually takes me a mile or two to feel settled. Ali and I were able to continue chatting and try to think of anything that we remembered from last year. Unfortunately we could only recall bits and pieces because honestly, runs make you black out! One thing I did remember from last year was the lining of the police cars along the course and there they were again to cheer us on. It is amazing to be able to give them a high-five and thank them for their service while they are thanking us for running. What a great way to actually honor Memorial Day!
Things weren’t always so happy and go-lucky after the mid-point of the race. Around Mile 7/8, my legs started to get really tight, specifically my hamstrings. I never felt this tightness before in any type of run and it significantly slowed me down for the rest of the race. There are a few bridges and inclines that we encountered on the course, so I did not find those so welcoming but I stuck it out and continued on.
I would have to say, along with other runners on the course, as well as Ali, that Mile 11 to Mile 12 was about the hardest part of the race, mentally. It seemed to be the longest stretch of the course and it felt like it would never come. I even came to the point of stopping to stretch (something I never do) because my legs were not having any more of this long mile to nowhere nonsense. Ali was great as well and knew I was feeling some pain, so she stopped with me for a quick stretch and we were off again.
We FINALLY turned on Seaport Boulevard and could hear the crowds begin to perk up. Since the race is in the middle of Downtown Boston early in the morning, you don’t see too many spectators so it’s a nice little pick-me-up to get you to the finish line. Up the incline, over the bridge we went and set our sights on the finish line that seemed to not exist. In this moment, all I could think about was that soft blue carpet inside the World Trade Center and how desperately I wanted to lay down and collapse on it.
After a sprint from both of us (where the heck did that come from?) we made it to the end and were both eager to seek out that blue carpet. This race was harder for me this year and I’m not even sure why. Was it the temperature? Maybe the lack of stretching or hydrating before the race started. It could be a number of things but it definitely taught me that race prep is most important. We finished just over 2 hours which was about the same time we finished last year. I was a bit disappointed that I was unable to beat that time because I felt so confident in my training that I could do it! All in all, I was happy that we finished and that I could spend the next 30 minutes sprawled out on that carpet!
What did get me through this race was a number of things but three really stick out. 1.) James Wilson’s 123 Grow program really helped me build up muscle this winter and feel strong throughout my training and the race. 2) The Greater Boston Running Company/Club-this was my first experience with a running club and I really enjoyed it. The variation of training was excellent and our leader, Trish, was a valuable resource in motivating and getting us through our runs. 3.) Ali. Yup, that’s right. Ali with a period after her name. She was the driving force behind me doing this Half Marathon again and I could not have done it without her. It’s great to accomplish something like a Half Marathon but you feel such greater success completing it with someone you cherish so much as a friend. We went through training together, venting, sharing bathroom stories, and planning our race day without any hesitation or argument. I cannot wait for our next running adventure…maybe and just maybe….it will be the Boston Marathon 2016!
I’ll be resting my legs until then!