22 April 2008


i worked for a year and a half for this one race and how did i finish? with my arms in the arm oh-so-weakly, to stumble, drink water, and later, on the pavement, to cry.

marathons are such a crapshoot. you can wake up and not feel 100%--you never know what will happen. the weather could suck. you could have your foot stomped on by a large man on the subway. i felt great--the first ten miles were lovely. i was enjoying running (though i did a 6:57 for the first mile!!) and chatting with a very fascinating woman about eating habits and nutrition and how much we loved running. she dropped off around mile 11 to go to the port-a-pottie and i picked up the pace a notch, feeling good. i started feeling a little queasy but forced a gel down and drank more. it was hot. it was sunny. i was in boston.

the wellesley girls were all that i was promised, and more. i heard the screams from down the road. i ignored the advice and slapped the hands of all the girls, blowing kisses. they gave me so much energy. i loved them. i wanted to kiss all of them (their signs invited me to do so, but i was afraid if i stopped, i would never start again!). i ran.

and then the nausea really hit. hard. i stumbled. i stopped at one point by an water station, telling myself aloud, "i'm not going to throw up" - and much to my amusement, several spectators took a step back. i continued running. run. run. slower. don't stop.

it was hard to run, feeling like crap. i won't lie - it was one of the hardest races i've done. then the hills came. "just let this race be over. i hate it, i just want to be done. i want to lie down on the pavement," i thought many times.

mile 16, i began scanning for boston bill. i almost gave up hope when i saw him right before mile 17! he cheered me up with a giant hug and i ran. i felt like crap but i ran. i took to the hills...literally. the hills at boston are 17-21. i can't remember them all too well now (yesterday is a giant blur) but there were hills. cheering people. i was searching for pretzels, to calm the queasiness. stopped at an aid station to take an endurolyte. felt like crap. kept running. ugh. running. running.

mile 21, the top of heartbreak. "i actually don't feel so bad." i ran, but without any nourishment (read: energy gels), i was weak. i tried to push myself, but it was impossible. i sucked on oranges from spectators, took water, probably drank too much but it was sunny. i was hot, thirsty. i ran. i ran slower, yes, but i ran. i would not stop. i ran. i ran.

boston college. someone who broke my heart, the second person i ever loved, went here. (so did boston bill, who did not break my heart but was the highlight of my marathon.) i LOVE boston college. the students were AMAZING--cheering, screaming, i think, louder than the wellesley girls. they were amazing, out of control, put a smile on my face. "PRETTY IN PINK," the crowd kept screaming. i loved it. i love running. marathons. run. run. running.

the end felt like forever. "only mile 22?" "maybe i passed mile 23 sign and didn't notice...no, of course not." hills. ugh. crowds screaming while i wanted to die. legs. hurt. feet. hurt. ow. ow. so. tired.

ran. ran. the final stretch. so happy. screaming crowds. arms in the air. yes. i did it. okay, maybe 20 minutes slower than what i had hoped, but i finished. i finished with arms in the air.

finish. get water. medal--i earned it! get food bag (dark chocolate? cookies? bagel? i LOVE the boston marathon!), get pick-up bag. cry. cry a lot. cry, with face in hands, while sitting on pavement. cry. nice people. cry more. meet boston bill, who cheers me up. meet friends--cara, who didn't run as well as she hoped (but did not train as hard as she possibly could have due to illness and work) and mark (who ran 11 min slower than his best)--everyone was bummed but we cheered each other up--we'll try harder next time. we always do.

but in the meantime? we'll run. run. run. keep running. run.


Andrew said...

Congratulations, Cheryl! What an amazing experience-achievement. You must feel great about this.

Mark said...

I loved this post. You said what I want to say about a lot of runs. SOMETIMES I JUST SUCK!!! hahahaha And of course those days I don't feel like blogging, either. I still think it's awesome you've run Boston so no matter what you were there and you rock.

And by the way at the last NYC Marathon, you know how it comes off the V-N bridge at the start and feeds into Brooklyn as bottlenecks? Well, right there someone from behind clipped my foot and I did a full front somersault on the street, popped up and wiped off the pebbles that were stuck into my hands, and I wasn't trampled so that was good. And then I saw the guy holding the sign that said FAILURE IS NOT A FUCKING OPTION and at that point I knew that no matter how much I sucked today I was going to make it and enjoy it!