The 2012 Boston Marathon is for sure the most challenging thing I’ve ever done and it turned out to be one of the hottest race days in history! The marathon course runs from Hopkinton west of Boston to the city’s downtown. Organizers said the highest temperature recorded Monday during the marathon was 89 degrees in Framingham at 12:30 p.m.”It was direct sun the whole way.” That was higher than the previous record of 84 in 2003.
Splashing water from everywhere
The B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Association) considered canceling the race due to the extreme heat and the risks that running 26.2 miles on one of the most challenging courses in the world would bring. They sent out multiple emails weather advisories to runners and they were all quiet serious!
- The weather conditions will involve an increased element of risk to all participants due to the heat. Only the fittest runners should consider participating.
- We are now making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit, you should NOT run this race.
- Inexperienced marathoners should not run.
- Those who have only trained in a cooler climate should also not run.
- Those who decide to run should take significant precautions. Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration. Take frequent walk breaks. This is not a day to run a personal best. Speed can kill.
- For the overwhelming major of those who have entered, you should adopt the attitude that “THIS IS NOT A RACE.”
And if that wasn’t scary enough, they offered a deferment to all the race entrants, allowing them to defer until the 2013 Boston Marathon. 26,716 runners registered for the marathon, versus 22,426 who actually started the race. 4,290 people decided not to run, and 4,290 is the number of people that had the chance to defer but in reality only 427 runners are actually eligible to defer to the 2013 Boston Marathon as they pick up their bibs and din’t start the 2012 race.
So, despite forecasts of temperatures in the high 80s, it never crossed my mind to skip the 2012 Boston Marathon. Like almost everyone else who took to the course Monday, I embraced the challenge with equal parts anxiety, uncertainty, and runners’ humor. No way, I would give up on this! I am definitely not a quitter and after all the hard training I was determined to go out there and give the best I could under whatever circumstances I would encounter.
On Monday morning Dustin dropped me off at the entrance of Hopkinton State Park where I caught the bus to the Athlete Village. (about 5 minutes drive). It was really fun to drive on the Boston Marathon course so early in the morning and seeing the towns getting ready for the big event. Plus it was so much easier than taking the bus from downtown, and it gave me extra time to have breakfast and get ready.
Natick Is All In
I met up with Gina, grabbed a shady spot and waited to be called to walk to our corrals. At 9:45am we headed to our corrals. It was already over 80 degrees and we were sweating and hot standing exposed in the sun. I left Gina at corral number 7, gave her a big good luck hug and walked to my corral. I was in corral 3 and it took me few minutes to cross the finish line when the gun went off at 10:20am.
Me, Fred and Gina at the Village
Even with all the BAA advisories and news stories, the reality of running a marathon in extreme heat is hard to appreciate until you actually do it. We crossed the starting line into the great unknown. People were asking me what my strategy was for this race and I honestly didn’t have one but just listen to my body. As Simonetta Piergentili advised, I was planning on drinking water and gatorade at the water stations and to pour water on myself regularly to stay cool (without wetting my shoes). Although I ran the first miles pretty fast and it felt easy, I could already sense the effect the heat would have and realized right away how hard this was going to be. There was not a cloud in the sky, no wind, and nothing but sun beating down onto thousands of runners crammed onto a tiny road. The first water stop at mile 2 was a disaster. There were so many people trying to get water that I missed my chance, and by then I was already thirsty. I usually don’t drink much water during races. But here it was totally different! In fact, it was when I saw a kid handing out a water bottle that I decided to take advantage of those kind of opportunities. So, I grabbed the water bottle and carried it with me to drink until it was gone. The fans along the streets were amazing providing water bottles, ice, popsicles and spraying runners with hoses, the whole day was an amazing team effort.
Thank You Spectators!
By the time I was at the 10K mark (Framingham) the course became really familiar and I knew that Dustin was going to be at our house (mile 10) to hand me water and a bag of ice. I was so looking forward to just see his face, I knew it would have helped me to keep moving. I felt a tingling pressure and extra fluid on my left middle toe and knew that I just got a black toenail. It was a little painful, but I forgot all about it very soon afterwards as other sort of pains were emerging. I’ve never suffered from legs cramps, and yesterday was a first time for me! I started to feel my left leg (at the knee) getting very tight, like someone was squeezing it really hard…very hard to explain. Yes, my leg wanted to cramp, and I was only at mile six! That terrible feeling came and go throughout the race, but even though it slowed me down during the last part of the race my legs never really gave up on me. I took 6 salt pills throughout the race and I think that helped me replacing my electrolytes that I was loosing sweating and drinking! I was also very discipline on fueling my body and keep the glycogen up and took a gel every 6 miles or so and that definitely helped keeping my energy up.
On my window
In Natick I saw my girlie Zoey, who run with me for few second, but her excitement and energy gave me that extra push. I saw Christina, this lady that we met at the park on Saturday night, who said she would pray for me. ( I think those prayers worked! Thanks Christina). Few more ladies yelled out my names, but I honestly couldn’t recognize them as they were wearing glasses and hats. Right before getting to our house I passed Erin Henderson
, the woman that was on Runner’s World this month and that coach Rick introduced to me at the Expo on Saturday. She trained to ran a sub 3:15 but when I passed her at mile 10, I saw in her face that she was struggling with the heat.
Getting to Mile 10
While I was approaching our house I saw Laura and Bob in the distance. It was so great to see them smiling and applauding, and it was really helpful to quickly cross my hubby compassionate look as I was flying by grabbing the water and the ice he had ready for me. His plan of being at our house and drive to downtown right afterwards to see me at the finish line was the best thing he could have done for me, especially in the weather condition like yesterday.
Pouring water that my love gave me
At that point the race became a survival race. It was surreal. Each one of us out there running was just trying to take care of themselves to get to the finish as alive as possible. I’ve never seen anything like that! The “loneliness of the long-distance runner.” is so true, as we all agree that long-distance running is an individual sport, but Monday, as heat humbled even the best marathoners, we were all in this together – the runners, the spectators, the water stop volunteers, the firemen with misting tents and sprinklers attached to hydrants – and we were all going to push through to the finish. I focused a lot on finding hoses, sprinklers, and spraying hydrants. I would like to thank the Natick and Newton fire departments for their misting tents. Around Wellesley I saw Marisa and that was a nice surprise!
A runner goes through the misting tent in Newton
At mile 16, Amanda and David there were supposed to be there with ice and water but it was so crowded there that I missed them=( It was time to turn right on Comm Ave and climb the 3 miles long Newton Hills. When I was reaching the top of Heartbreak Hill, Julie from the lululemon gang yelled my name and her smile made me push even harder. The greatest thing was seeing my old gang from Ciclismo Classico, Christy, MJ, Marc and Lauren that besides being very careful not to miss me (which is really easy considering that I am small and it’s a big marathon) they had a water bottle ready for me. You guys have no idea how much I needed that. I felt that in Newton it was harder to find people that were handling water bottle and that literally saved me!
Ciclismo Encouragement Words
After I crested the hill and the crowd shouted, “It’s all downhill from here,’’ I knew the final 5 miles would be the toughest. My quads started to tighten again on the downhill toward Cleveland Circle. I thought of 5-mile training runs and how relatively short the distance is, how those are the easiest of runs. Not in this case! The crowd in these stretch was extremely loud (Boston College kids) and there were people shouting out my number or saying” Pink bra girl you look strong!”.
When I was entering Brookline I was again focusing on finding water. Not so much luck in that stretch though. Here I saw Natalie, Gregg and Diandra and Nicole from the Pru. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many runners, much faster and experience than I was walking or cramping! It was scary, I was afraid my legs would give up on me and I would find myself in the same boat as they were. I kept searching out any water source. I was so thirsty that I was praying for a water station to appear and it was right before getting to Fenway Park that I saw one in the distance. Even this time I almost missed it because of so many people around but I smartened up and actually went back, got gatorade and water, poured it into my mouth and kept moving. I had few more miles to go and all I kept telling to myself was the word FIGHTER. You are a fighter! I was definitely fighting against my legs that felt like they wanted to cramp up on me and they were slowing me down. Right before turning right on Hereford I hear my lovely ladies Aimee and Leah calling out my name. Their beautiful smiles and the amazing sign that they made for me help me fight the pain even more. At that point I knew I was going to see my hubby!
Aimee and Leah Sign
Here I was again ( it felt like I was watching a video of last year recap…very bizarre) taking the left on Boylston trying to find my hubby and here he was again waving his yellow flag with a very proud look on his face. I’ve never been happier to see a finish line. In so many ways the 2012 Boston Marathon was a special sight. This time though I didn’t sprint down to the finish line as from experience I knew it was not as close as it looked! When I crossed the finish line I had no idea how long it took me but I was really happy I made it!
Final Stretch blowing a kiss to Dustin
After the runners cross the finish line it takes awhile before they can get to the buses to pick up their bags. We keep walking getting water and recovery drinks from the volunteer, the silver ‘blankets‘ (not sure we really needed them), snacks, photos and finally the medal. The idea of having runner walking for that long stretch is to keep the legs moving to avoid cramps. By my surprise one of the volunteer recognize me from my blog. At the moment I was really shocked and I was trying to keep moving and didn’t really get the chance to ask him his name. But whoever you are, you made my day and thank you so much for all the help!
Me (not looking so good) & the LOML(looking pretty good)
It was finally time to go meet my love! I couldn’t wait to see him! Dianna and Sam got to the family area first and shortly after Laura, Bob and Dustin arrived. It was so great to hug my hubby and all of them. I cannot say enough of how much I appreciate all your support! You guys are amazing and I am so lucky to have you in my life!
Di & I. She bought me a chocolate croissant=)
After that it was time to go to the amazing lululemon
after party at Exhale SPA
and mostly go hug my favorite girl Fabiana! She was telling me how an elite runner that was at the spa earlier told her that he has done 38 marathon and this is by far the hardest he’s ever done, the heat made him run 10 minutes slower than his best time. At the SPA I had the chance to shower and get a facial while Dustin and the family were hanging at the party drinking and mingling. All the runners that I ran into, had also a slower time than they would usual do and some people I knew unfortunately had to drop out.
Me, my awesome manager Jess, my lovely Fabs and sweet love lulu regional manager Karissa!
Laura & I
Bob & I
The Boston Magazine write a very interesting article about running in the heat.
Physiologist and running guru Jack Daniels once wrote in his seminal runner’s handbook, Daniels’ Running Formula, that “the exercising human body is far better designed to handle cold than it is to deal with heat. For a runner, particularly a distance runner, heat is enemy number one.” Nowhere was this more evident than at Monday’s Boston Marathon, when temperatures skyrocketed up to the high 80s. The event kicked off early with a cautious women’s elite group running at training pace — afraid to tempt Hephaestus. The men followed only slightly less gingerly. Despite the caution of professionals and mortals alike, crestfallen runners quickly lined the side of the course. The defending champion and the most dominant runner of 2011, Geoffrey Mutai, stepped aside for medical assistance upon reaching the hills, while the women’s 2011 champion, Caroline Kilel, met a similar fate as she failed to make the finish line. The ultimate winners, Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop, were able to claim the champions’ laurel wreaths, but they did so with two of the slowest times in years. Running in heat is hard. According to a studypublished by the B.A.A.‘s Matt Ely and his colleagues at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Natick, marathoners slow by more than four percent at temperatures similar to those experienced on Monday. It doesn’t matter how well-trained the athlete might be: as the body heats up, blood is diverted to the skin, leaving less of it available for transporting oxygen to the muscles. Sweating only adds to these issues. True, it’s our body’s natural adaptation for keeping cool in hot weather, but it makes staying hydrated even more essential. Significant drops in performance occur when you lose more than two percent of your body weight through sweat — and remember, it’s not only water that needs to be replenished, but also salts and sugars. Runners can do this with sports drinks, gels, or candies — some resort to drinking pickle juice for the salt, but this is probably excessive. Heavy sweating can also further reduce circulating blood volume, which puts an excess stress on the heart leading to higher perceived effort. It’s also critical for anyone planning to run a warm marathon to practice drinking while running in practice. As we saw, even many of the top athletes at the Boston Marathon struggled with cramping as they tried to drink more water on the go than they were accustomed to. That said, although the heat humbled even the best athletes, more than 20,000 runners were still able to complete the 26.2 miles in these grueling conditions.
Now, they asked me what were the emotional moments of this experience. There were many, the fact that in a way I felt I was fighting to survive, seeing my hubby and all my loved one on the course cheering for me and doing everything they could do to help me out. No words can describe the appreciation and love I have for you all! Thanks so much to all of you who sent text, messages, etc. of support and encouragement. They all mean a great deal to me. Also, there are two important words I need to say to everyone who handed me water, ice, popsicle, wet napkins, or sprayed me with a hose from the Boston Marathon sidelines.
I don’t know who you are, but on my hottest marathon to date, you saved me. I got really emotional and had to fight tears when I was running by all of you amazing people that were just there for US. I want to hug every volunteer and everyone who were on the course because I don’t think any of us would be making it this far without the extra water stops, the hoses, and the popsicles. I have absolutely no idea how I or any of the others managed to cross the finish line in such ridiculous heat, other than with regular hydration, and a great crowd!
To celebrate Dustin, Laura,Bob, Fabiana, Sam, Dianna, Amanda and David went to Viva to eat Mexican food!
Women 18-39 Age Group Place: 329 out of 4580 ( 7% of overall in my age group)
Women Overall place: 397 out of 8966 (4.4% of overall women)
Overall place: 3011 out of 21,554
Average Pace: : 7:59