“Don’t do anything stupid,” my husband told me some 3495809 times leading up to our Boston trip.
My mom jumped on the caution bandwagon immediately after we broke the news of the pregnancy to her in early March. She told me about a million times the week before Boston to “be careful” when running. She also reminded me every day, including while driving us to the airport on Saturday morning, that I shouldn’t push myself to finish the marathon and that I might do well to not run it at all. Despite all the warnings and the forecast for Marathon Monday – heavy rain and forceful gusts of wind promised – I never entertained not running Boston.
I turned 30 on the day before, known now as One Boston Day in remembrance of the victims and heroes of the 2013 marathon bombings. In the morning, Meg and I walked from our families’ shared airbnb in Somerville to Flour on Mass Ave to meet Shiloh from Arete Sacramento and my friend Grace for a 3.0 shakeout run. We cruised around and through MIT’s campus, and ended at Flour again. To my delight, they surprised me with a candle on a sticky bun (actually, Meg blew the surprise, but it was still mostly a surprise). After breakfast I headed to the expo to grab my bib, say hello to fellow marathoner friends Danh and Lucas, and then to the Mandarin Oriental for an annual birthday massage.
That night, I struggled to hold down my pasta & pizza dinner, and lost that battle repeatedly. By 8pm, the rain had blown in, with strong gusts shrieking against the windows of our airbnb. This woke the children up a couple of times in the middle of the night, which woke me a couple of times. I was up for good by 5 and out the door not much later with Meg, feeling groggy and heavy. Since I never sleep well before marathons, this was pretty much the usual.
The bus ride was the bus ride, but much damper than other years I’ve run Boston, namely 2015. I noticed some snow still on the ground as we approached Hopkinton (there were some snow flurries the day before) and outside the big Athlete’s Village tents set up in Hopkinton High School. I carefully traversed the muddy slush that was the field to claim a spot of ground inside the tent, shielded from the wind and rain. As I slowly ate my second breakfast, I watched the sides of the tents being whipped up by the wind, and tried not to think about how cold I already felt.
9:50am couldn’t have come quickly enough, since I just wanted to run to get out of the cold. I swapped my running shoes and discarded the pair that I had used to wade through slush and mud, and walk/jogged from Athlete’s Village to my wave to warm up. Despite changing into dry shoes, those were soon soaked from freezing puddles, and I could not feel my toes by the time I got into my wave. I didn’t take off my two sweatshirts and sweatpants until the very last couple of minutes before the start, so as to stay as warm as possible. I elected, just while in the tent, to put a long sleeve underneath the Arete singlet for some warmth but not a jacket, because I didn’t feel confident I’d like the drag from a jacket in that wind.
I was soaked through by the second mile, but at least I was no longer cold. Even though I was completely wet, the shirt and singlet were at least warmed by my body heat, but also kept me from overheating – something that happens more now that I’m expecting. The feeling came back to my feet. I squeezed rainwater at fairly regular intervals from my sleeves that I had wrapped around my hands. This kept the feeling in my fingers.
Thanks to the baby starting to crowd the bladder, I stopped to pee every couple of miles, but maintained a pretty even pace mostly in the low 7s the first half of the marathon. There were a few miles that dipped sub-7 in the first 10k, and I started pulling back a bit immediately after I saw the split, knowing that my husband would be watching and I really didn’t want him to worry. I told myself to coast, and focused on smiling for the next 3-ish hours. As always, I enjoyed the Wellesley Scream Tunnel – sound not at all damped by the nasty weather – , and Oiselle’s cowbell corner, where I saw some friendly and familiar faces.
I slowed in the second half of the marathon not because the hills hurt or felt hard, but to maintain my heart rate at sub-170bpm, which normally feels high, but at that point of the pregnancy had become my barometer for whether or not I took it easy enough. My legs and feet felt fine, if red from the pounding wind and rain, and I continued to smile and wave at the spectators who were so game for showing up for the runners.
As I passed the Citgo sign, I started to pick the pace up again a bit, buoyed by the crowds and the memories of passing that sign in other years. That last mile always feels short because there’s so much energy to take in from the crowd. I continued to accelerate, up that last little bit of uphill on Hereford to the left on Boylston, and crossed the finish in 3:14:08.
I went straight through the chute to get to the gear check tents, and that’s when the cold and wet of my clothes caught up with me. After ten minutes of not moving, I began to fear for how the cold might affect the baby. I nervously explained to other teeth-chattering runners that I was pregnant and needed to grab my things and get to medical, and the [mostly] men immediately parted for me, while gallantly screaming at each other to “move for the pregnant lady”. Ah, chivalry. A volunteer handed my things over and then a medical volunteer wheeled me in a wheelchair to the medical tent near the family meeting area.
It was a good thing I got to the tent when I did, since my body temp was definitely hovering around hypothermia territory. The medical staff stripped off my wet things, and helped me put my dry things on, burrito-ed me with warm cloth and mylar blankets, and gave me a steaming hot broth to bring my temperature up. My temp was back to normal and I was reunited with my soggy husband and dry, sleeping son, and Meg and her family within an hour.
Despite the nasty weather and what has been less-than awesome first few months of pregnancy with major fatigue and nausea issues, I had really wanted to “BQ like a man” at Boston 2018 with the men’s standard of at least a 3:05 or faster, and come back in 2019 with a red bib a second year in a row. I wrestled with a lot of mixed emotions about my body not being just mine anymore leading up to Marathon Monday and after, and even now. After years of running, I know my stubborn self and the Boston course well enough now that if it was just about where my fitness was at, that 3:05 could have happened. However, the weather made me more cautious than I would have been had it not been a gnarly storm of a day, and that’s a very, very good thing after 1.5 months of begrudging hindsight and more not-fun pregnancy symptoms.
TLDR version: It was wet and cold, but Baby #2 got its own BQ and medal, which was really the whole point of seeing this run through anyway. (Well, that, and I still kind of want to join the Boston Marathon Quarter Century Club.) I’ll be back in Athlete’s Village and with a breast pump next year.