By: Meaghan Murray
Where do I begin? I guess I’ll start with my arrival in Boston. I waited until the last minute to head into town (Sunday afternoon). This meant I went straight to the Expo from the airport. Pro tip: DON’T do that. There are 30,000 people running this event and they come with an entourage. Add a suitcase and you’re guaranteed to hate yourself and everyone around you. After I picked up my bib and met up with my parents it was off to Milford, MA: 10 minutes south of the start line. That drive seemed long.
We checked-in to the Fairfield Inn and got settled before heading out to dinner. We decided on the Prezo Grille & Bar… along with the rest of town. We were given a 2 hour wait or the first-come, first-serve bar area. We walked to the back of the bar as a table was getting up. Yep. The timing was unreal. Dinner was excellent.
Race morning was an experience. Shuttles, corrals, a late start… it was all new territory for me. Athlete’s Village is an overwhelming sea of anxiety and bananas. Luckily, I knew a few teammates and friends running the race who I was able to meet up with. At this point you’re just waiting for your wave and corral to be announced. And then you walk… the start line is a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile away. It was freezing cold and a bit windy, so walking was better than standing still. Once you make it to your corral, you’re allotted another 15 minutes of waiting. People start taking off layers, plugging in headphones and doing typical pre-race stretches. Then the countdown begins and before you have time to think… gunfire.
I’m sure you’ve heard the start of the Boston marathon is all downhill. Let me just say it is NOT all downhill. It’s some slight uphills, some flat and some downhills. It’s fun. You’re with a group of jacked up people all happy to be racing and the initial miles come easy… as easy as miles are in the wind and rain.
After the first 5 miles the group starts to widen out. You have more road to yourself and it’s easy to get into a comfortable pace. It’s a scenic route, yet the crowd makes you feel like you’re in the heart of a city. The spectators are loud and encouraging. I kept thinking how awesome it was to have that many people out in the cold, rain. That was motivation enough to make it through the first 10 miles.
Right around mile 12 you pass the infamous Wellesley College. I was told these girls were loud. I had no idea. Coming up a slight hill on mile 11 you start to hear a hum. As you get closer that hum turns into a roar of girls screaming their hearts out, complete with “kiss me” signs. It’s impossible not to smile as you run by. They were great.
And then they arrive: the Newton hills. Miles 15 through 20 were a lot of up and down. I had been mentally prepping for these the entire race so when they showed up, I was ready. These miles will test you, but it’s the 1/2 mile uphill just after mile 20 that really gets you… Heartbreak Hill. It’s not the steepest hill in the world, but at that moment, it feels like it. There are two amazing things that happen on this hill: the crowds get you over and the mental strength kicks in. It’s all smooth sailing from here.
The last miles of the race were my favorite (mainly because they were the last miles…). It’s all flat and downhill. The flat is actually preferable over the downhill in these miles. Your quads are feeling it. The crowds are especially awesome through the last leg. Everyone knows you’ve conquered the hills and you’re heading to the finish. The conviction in their cheers gives you confidence to keep moving as fast as you possibly can.
The final mile is one that I will never forget. (Full disclosure: most of my marathon finishes I’ve been on the verge of collapsing and/or blacked out.) As you close in on the last half mile, an overwhelming sense of excitement hits you. I get chills just thinking about it. Then you turn left on Boylston Street and what you’ve been anticipating all day is right in front of you: the finish line. The crowds are louder than they’ve been all day and there’s nothing left to do but run as hard as you can until you’ve passed that archway at 26.2.
I finished the marathon with a time of 3:19:19. I missed my PR by 24 seconds but I couldn’t be happier. It’s the best race (mile splits) I’ve had and my favorite course to-date. I have to give a huge thanks to my coach, Caleb, for all the weekly training plans. Another huge thanks to my friends and family for the support; especially my mom and dad who stood by me through all 26.2. I’d be lost without them.
Race Day Weather: 40-45 degrees, 10-20mph winds, rain.
Race Day Attire:
Race Day Nutrition: Tailwind. Nothing but Tailwind.
Post Race Day musts: hit up Mike’s Pastries for a cannoli!