Boston marathon race report
by Maya Borthwick
5.40 am - I wake up before my alarm goes off, excited, race day is finally here. I jump out of bed and look out the window. The weather and what it’s going to do on race day has been a hot topic, with predictions for rain, thunderstorms and wind. It’s raining outside and windy but no thunderstorms yet, phew!
Andrew and I jog slowly over the bridge to the Boston Common where the buses collect runners to take them out to the start line. We’re almost there when the rain starts, then the thunder. The rain is torrential and I’m grateful for the rain poncho that I bought from 7/11. It’s not fancy but it’s keeping me dry. I meet Juny and her friend and say goodbye to Andrew. We stand in the line for the bus and we’re on in a matter of minutes.
45 mins later we arrive at the athletes village in Hopkinton. The rain has stopped. We file into the village. The rain has turned the ground into a bog and there’s no choice but to walk through the mud. In parts I can barely lift my feet up due to the suction from the squelchy mud underneath, thankfully I’ve brought a change of shoes with me and they’re dry. A quick pit stop and then we line up for the corrals, the time here goes more quickly than I expected.
I line up two rows from the front. I figure this is far enough back to stop me getting carried away with the enthusiastic runners at the start. We wait at the start line for around 20 minutes and then the count down begins. 3,2,1 and we’re off. The first km is a steep downhill, I feel like I’m holding back but as I hit the 1 km mark I look at my watch, 3.52 whoops! I slow a bit to what feels to me like around 4.15 pace but every time I look at my watch it says I’m doing low 4min kms. I go through 5km in 20.25. Uh oh! I hope that the fast start won’t come back to bite me later on.
Even though it seems like we’re in the country, people line the streets the whole way. There are blokes drinking beers and cheering us and kids are everywhere, putting their hands out for high fives. I try to high five a few but it’s hard to do this and to keep momentum. I hit 10 kms in 41 mins- still too fast but I’m feeling good.
The next 10 kms goes quickly although it flattens out a bit here. I take this as a good sign as in previous marathons even the first half has seemed long. I go through half way in 1.28.30, still well on target for a sub 3 hour race. Just before we reach the half way mark we hit the Wellesley college scream tunnel. It’s fantastic, it seems like every girl in the college has turned up to cheer us on. They’re waving placards, asking for kisses...hopefully they get a few.
At 27 kms we hit the Newton hills, 4 hills in succession, covering 7kms. I realise now that I’ve gone out too hard. The hills seem like they go forever and the downhill seems brief. The last hill, Heartbreak Hill, is between 33 and 34 km and by now I’m cooked, my legs are shattered and it’s also starting to get hot on course, there’s no shade to speak of. I crest the hill and look at my watch, uh oh, 5.19 pace, I need to make up time now. I lean down the hill and cover the next km in 4.16 but I can’t keep it up. I’m still on track for a PB though.
The next 6kms are so hard, it’s still not flat, a bit of downhill is followed by more uphill. I try to pick up my legs and go faster, I’m thinking about the race pace tempos I did in the park after 20kms but my legs won’t cooperate. I think about everyone tracking me at home and how they’d be seeing me slow, I manage a few faster kms. We’re right into Boston now and the crowds are huge. People are cheering and calling out my name, stay strong Maya, looking good. Except I know that I’m not. I set myself a goal of keeping under 5 min kms. In the last 2kms my quads start cramping and I walk a bit. Finally I come into Boylston Street and I can see the finish line. I try and pick it up again for the finish, I can still get a PB. I cross the line and stop my watch. 3.08.16.
The Boston marathon was a truly amazing race, great atmosphere, huge buzz and the most challenging course I've run to date. I’m now looking forward to ticking off the other world marathon majors.