Here it is! Amy’s Boston Marathon Interview! You may remember her previous interviews about BQ’ing in the Chicago Marathon HERE and HERE. It’s nice to bring her experience full circle and share Boston with all of you!
It’s a longer post, but it reads better as a whole interview rather than trying to split it into two posts. So sit back, enjoy, and it’ totally worth reading to the end!
I debated about asking her to do the interview/posting about Boston. I know that this years marathon is about so much more than running. However, I’m not willing to let the bombing take away from the fact that Amy, and others, worked hard to get there and were able to cross the finish line.
Amy and her husband, BJ, at the finish.
You worked so hard to get to Boston what thoughts were going through your head as you traveled there, and while you were waiting in the corral to start?
Standing in line to board the plane Saturday morning at SeaTac was a wonderful feeling. Although I’ve been running marathons since 2008, I never once imagined I would be running the Boston Marathon in 2013.. never, ever, ever. I remember streaming the marathon on my computer last year watching the runners and thinking how unbelievable it was; never did I think I could be one of the runners. Even as I ran Chicago last year, I thought if I qualified, I would run in 2014… in a way, I think it took some of the pressure off as I didn’t have “Boston” hanging over me for a year and a half.
Heading into the Expo on Sunday and receiving my bib number was a surreal experience – I couldn’t hide the tears and I felt proud of myself. My pride turned into humility as I saw all of the runners who are in incredible shape and look fast.
As I was waiting for my corral to pass the start line, I just kept telling myself to enjoy the experience – enjoy the moment. The month before the race I had been sick twice (fevers, flu, cold, laryngitis) so mentally I was a little worried and I had missed out on some workouts, but never a long run. I didn’t care what my time was, just as long as I finished and felt good! It was weird going into a race, not knowing what I should pace myself at and honestly, not knowing a time in which I would like to cross the finish line.
Chicago had a few bumps with your shoe and falling, anything like that with Boston?
Boston was smooth – I was paranoid a few times of people being too close behind me, but my shoes stayed on and I stayed on my feet. The only little hiccup was that I was wearing sunglasses and at about mile 14 as I was drinking Gatorade it splashed on my glasses – I took them off and tried to wipe them off, but my lens popped out. Luckily, I was able to push it back in while running.
Your splits were pure perfection, how close an eye were you keeping on your watch, or are you able to tell by how you feel?
As I said, going into the marathon, I didn’t have a pace I wanted to keep. I hadn’t been feeling 100% leading up to the race and my shin had been bothering me a lot so I was just going to take it easy.
Also, I had been told multiple times from people to relax the first half, don’t go out too fast as you will pay for it later. The first 7 miles, people were passing me left and right and I thought to myself, “I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing… people are passing me, but I will finish strong.”
I glanced at my watch some, but really just ran based on how I felt. Once I hit mile 12 and the adrenaline was going, I wanted to start pushing my pace a bit. Also, at mile 12.78 I saw the real life heroes, Rick and Dick Hoyt. Seeing them just moved me to tears and I felt their energy radiate into my body.
I tend to conserve too much energy which is evident once I looked at my Garmin after the race. I have always started races out slow and finish with a faster time, however, when I looked at my Garmin and saw that my first couple miles were over 8:30 and my last 10 miles were almost all under 8 minute miles, there is a little problem with that. However, I love marathons and I always feel good afterwards which means something to me – I want to continue to enjoy the experience, competitiveness can damper accomplishments.
Can you share with us what the race felt like? It’s practically a national holiday for Boston and the whole city turns out…can you feel that energy along the course…what was crowd support like?
The race was out of this world. I ran Chicago in October which is a big race, but nothing compared to Boston. There were definitely more people on the streets in Chicago, however, Boston is more intimate. While running Boston, you feel like people are cheering only for you. I was surprised at how narrow the streets are on the course of Boston because Chicago is run on 5 lane highways.
The kids who line the street with their hands out wanting high 5s and the kids who are handing out sponges, bananas and oranges really do make the race. I tried to high 5 as many kiddos as I could… you can tell that The Boston Marathon is a tradition for them, just like a holiday.
It was fun running pass houses where there were huge parties going on, it reminded me a bit of Greek Row. The weather was perfect which I think helped also.
As you run from Hopkinton into Boston the crowds start to thicken as you get closer into the city which is a neat sign that the finish line isn’t too far away.
Heartbreak hill is legendary in the marathon world. Were you thinking about that leading up to it, and how bad was it?
You hear about Heartbreak, I trained for Heartbreak Hill, I spent many mornings running up hills visualizing what it would feel like to top Heartbreak Hill and it was an amazing feeling. I just really started to pick up speed at about the times the set of 4 hills start. Heartbreak Hill is not a challenging hill, but it comes at mile 21 when your legs are already tired, however, The Seattle Marathon has a way worse hill at mile 21 also.
The people really help the runners top the hill and once you peak – I had just started to get my courage, determination and strength at mile 16 so I am really proud of how I ran those hills especially Heartbreak.
Your parents and hubby were there, were you able to see them as you ran past?
Unlike any other race, I didn’t know if I would see my family… however, at about mile 25.5 I saw them standing on a grassy hill as I ran past them. It was amazing to see their faces because I really felt like they were proud of me. I am sure as a spectator, it’s awesome to see people at that point in the race because there is so much emotion pouring out of them like sweat.
What went through your mind when you saw the finish and knew you were almost done, and how did it feel crossing one of the most famous finish lines in the world?
Turning right onto Hereford and then left onto Boylston was purely and utterly extraordinary. I like how Boylston is long enough (.4 miles) to really think about the journey. I kept thinking to myself of the famous and elite runners who have run down that same road… I was thinking about the early mornings, the 800s, the hill repeats, the long runs, etc. The finish line in a marathon is a metaphor for life; it is like finishing a really good book knowing there is a sequel.
How was the organization overall? From the exp, to getting to and from the race, corral set up etc?
The Expo was phenomenal, especially the Brooks quarters! I didn’t spend too much time there as I had already been on my feet and knew we were going to be walking more later on. I felt like it was tough to move as there were so many people and not enough space, Chicago definitely had a bigger floor area and it didn’t seem so packed. It was crazy to see every single vendor you can possibly think of – it’s Boston after all.
I am always amazed at how well organized races can be. I was impressed at how easy it was to get on a bus and to the Athlete’s Village, there were volunteers everywhere who were incredibly friendly, helpful and enthusiastic -the volunteers along with the spectators are the ones who make Boston what it is.
The only problem was that in the Athlete’s Village a lot of the porta-potties ran out of toilet paper early on… hello!? That can be a huge and messy problem 😉
This is what you were focused on for a long time…How do you feel after accomplishing such a huge goal, and what do you do next?
To be honest, I hadn’t been focused on this race much at all. I started training in late January, but I didn’t even know I was running Boston until last October 2012. It was a huge accomplishment to just run Boston, but I now know that I can run faster. I really think Boston was a confidence booster because I didn’t push myself that much and for how sick I was the month leading up to the race, I know I can do better when I’m healthy.
Since October, I had been spending many days thinking about Boston; the course, finishing, running with such spectacular runners, etc. I honestly feel a little down now that such an energy and attention sucking event has come and gone. I have memories and pictures to carry me.
My next running endeavor is a marathon Sunday, May 5th with my running buddy, SuLee. We are doing the Tacoma City Marathon and are excited to have fun on the course, wear matching outfits and enjoy running next to each other.
Would you run Boston again?
I will run Boston again – I have heard some people say that Boston is overrated, too much hype, etc. To me, it lived up to it all, it was awe-inspiring. I can check this race off of my bucket list of races.
Is there anything you would like to say or share in regards to the bombing? Unfortunately it is part of your Boston exp. so I wanted to give you the opportunity to say something if you would like.
I don’t mind sharing my experience with the bombings. I was unaware of what was happening during the time because I was in the subway on my way back to our hotel. I finished the race at exactly 2:00pm. By the time I was herded through the chute to get my blanket and medal and wait in line for my bags, it was 2:21. I called my husband at 2:23 to find a meeting spot. I finally met them probably around 2:35 where we took pictures, hugged, refueled a bit and then decided to head back to our hotel via the T(subway).
Once we got back to our hotel a worker told us there were explosions at the finish line. The word “surreal” has been used over and over, but honestly, I can’t think of another word.
It was devastating, heartbreaking and the marathon has lost its innocence.
Going back to “ground zero” and seeing all of the flowers, signs and love for Boston was emotional – I left a piece of my heart in that city and will forever have a soft spot for a city known for its perseverance, toughness and camaraderie.
I did learn that you don’t want to mess with runners or Bostonians – they are unbreakable.
Thank you Amy for sharing your Boston experience with us! Good luck Sunday at Tacoma City Marathon! You know you could BQ there again?! 😉
If you have any questions or comments for Amy please leave them on the blog, or email me and I will get them to her!