First of all… Happy National Running Day! Now onto the recap…
This race was such a blast!
It could have been the perfect weather. It could have been the atmosphere. It could have just been my complete excitement for running my first Half! Whatever it was, it was AWESOME!
Runners were able to pick up their bib numbers starting on Friday night, but the event held a big expo all day on Saturday. My mom gratuitously sprung for a hotel for the three of us to crash at the night before the race. We got to Boston around 2:30pm, checked into the hotel (a few blocks away from the start) and then headed over to the expo.
When we walked in they had various vendors and the registration tables. Being a first-timer, it was a little confusing on where to go. You walked through the entrance, and then waaaay to the left were the packet pick-up tables. Everyone inside was walking around with these yellow shopping bags, so I kept wondering where they were getting them. At the packet pick-up, I was handed my packet and that was it. No instructions. I felt pretty silly, but asked the guy where I was supposed to go next (you know, get that yellow bag?). He told me that I just had to show up on race day, but – oh yeah – if I wanted my free shirt I had to head “over there.” I thanked him and tried to find where “over there” actually was.
The place (thankfully) wasn’t that big, so the three of us just wandered around the vendors. I did find the yellow bags and free cotton Run to Remember 2012 shirts. I also tried out some fancy foot inserts and checked out various athletic clothing vendors (to buy, not for free). I wanted to get an official “Boston’s Run to Remember” tech-shirt, but they didn’t have my size. I was bummed about that since this was my first Half and I wanted a good souvenir. Ah, well. We tried out some free samples of coconut water (just not my thing) and took a few more pictures before going to drop my stuff off at the hotel.
Later that day, we went out to grab an early dinner at Sal’s on the waterfront (pasta!) and then headed back to the hotel. We were all EXHAUSTED from the work week and my nerves had been in high gear all day. Basically, I was drained!
The Morning of the Race
I barely slept all night. We all woke up around 5:30am to get ready. I wanted to make sure that I ate far enough in advance to let my food settle. We brought a (rule-breaking) single burner so I could cook my scrambled egg. I was waving my hands around like a crazy person while it cooked so the smoke alarm wouldn’t go off (there wasn’t any smoke, just smelt like I was cooking something fierce). With my usual egg, I had a banana with some peanut butter and I was good to go.
When I was getting ready, I was surprisingly calm. I thought I was going to be super nervous! I just told myself that I was going to go running just like any other weekend run. Oddly enough, it really was easy as that. Plus the sunrise happened at 5:12am (my birthday!)… good sign, no?
I got changed, tied my shoes (and re-tied my shoes… oh and re-tied them again… had to get them so they weren’t too tight), grabbed my gear and we were out the door. As we were leaving, there was a woman all decked out in her running gear going INTO her hotel room with her breakfast. When I saw that woman with her breakfast plate, I realized that I was clearly ahead of schedule. I hit up the bathroom one more time in the hotel lobby (to avoid the port-o-potty situation), and then we were off.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the start, but that guy at the expo was right – show up and run. After hugging my mom and The Husband, I lined up somewhere between the 10:00 minute/mile and 10:30 minute/mile.
Someone sung the National Anthem and then the State Police had a fly-over with their helicopter and the sirens going. It was such an overwhelming feeling. My eyes actually welled up a bit. I could not believe I was about to run my first Half for such a great cause.
At 7:00am, the gun went off… and we just stood there. And stood there. I had my RunKeeper app going, and it went through one entire (awesome) song before I even started moving into a light jog. If I could change one thing about the race, that would be it. There were 6,500 runners doing the Half, so it was crazy packed!
We ran for a long time before it thinned out, close to three or four miles. It was still really fun though! This is my only “photo-while-racing” picture that I took. That’s a big step for me, but it helped out that it was so crowded because you couldn’t run very fast (i.e. – I wouldn’t drop anything trying to keep pace).
The race started out at the Seaport and went through downtown and out to Memorial Drive. There was a cone (yes, a traffic cone) to signal the turn-around, and then we went back down Memorial Drive and past the Common before heading back into the Seaport. I loved running along the Charles River and through the city streets! I love Boston!
My three favorite parts of the race:
1. When we ran through tunnels, everyone would cheer and it would echo so loudly!
2. It was an out-and-back course, so when the lead runner was coming over one of the hills, everyone started cheering for him. He was hauling ass! He smiled and thanked us as he ran by. It was so neat to see how supportive everyone was to each other.
3. Reaching the final hill and seeing the finish line. The spectators lined the streets throughout the whole run, but the final half-mile was packed. It was such an indescribable feeling hearing the crowd rooting for everyone!
(Quick story: the night before the race, my mom found me a permanent marker because I wanted to write name on my bib (I’m cool like that). When I finished the race, she asked me if anyone called out my name. Heck yeah! There was one lady that specifically said, “Great job, Sara!” So to that one lady (whoever you are), you made my day! My mom got a kick out it too.)
I took my Gu at Mile 4.5 and Mile 9. The water stations were a hott mess at the start of the race. Runners were pouring their own water because there too many to keep up. Throughout the race, it definitely got much better (those poor volunteers at the first table!). The tables were also handing out Gus and Gatorade toward the second half of the race. I stuck with my own Gu flavors since I knew that I liked them, and I sipped on Gatorade the second half when it was available. I would only take a few sips of the water/Gatorade and then pitch the rest. I didn’t want to get cramps since I normally don’t chug that much when I run.
I could not believe how well I ran, and how I great I felt the entire time. I loved every single second of it. I didn’t once feel like how I did during my 10K. Maybe it was the size of the race, or that fact that everyone was so supportive. I was in running Heaven. I was smiling the last few miles of the race – I just couldn’t help it! I even sprinted across the finish line!
I reached my goal to just finish the race, and even surprised myself with my final time. My knees even gave me a break for the day. They didn’t hurt AT ALL!
I was ushered into the Seaport where they had bananas, bagels, oranges, water and Gatorade. I grabbed some more Gatorade, found one of the volunteers handing out the medals and headed out to meet my cheering section.
It turns out they were right at the finish line gate! It was SO amazing to see my mom and The Husband. I could not stop smiling or telling them how awesome it was. I love that they were there for me. In the simplest words, having them there meant the world to me. I really can’t describe how it made me feel to be able to share that moment with them.
My mom surprised me with two shirts at the finish. She found my size in the tech shirt that I wanted! I don’t know how she does it!
My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and friend met up with us near the finish line. My mom and I headed back to the hotel so I could clean up while The Husband and crew headed to the Whiskey Priest to grab us a table on the roof deck. After consuming copious amounts of chocolate milk at the hotel (you know I’m obsessed and brought my own stash), we met up to enjoy the rest of the day and soak up sunshine.
Overall, I have to say that I am 100% hooked on running! I already signed up for the Rock ‘N Roll Half-Marathon in August (Providence), and would LOVE to run the Disney World’s Half Marathon in January. Time will tell!
Thank you again for all of your wonderful and supportive comments throughout my running journey! And to you, Mile 13.1, after some hard work, we are now very good friends. I look forward to seeing you again in a few months.