PC: Tommy Martino

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Trisha in Wonderland - Boston Marathon 2014

Its been a week and a half since I raced at the 118th Boston Marathon. This time was a far cry from my running of the 108th a decade earlier. My experience was charmed in 2014 mostly because I was able to run with the elite women's start, 28 minutes ahead of the other 35,000 participants. I was bib number 41 in the open women's division selected to run in this group (there were also a dozen masters women too.) 

I finished 38th female in 2:46:28.

Back by popular demand (you know who you are), I am interviewing myself for my Boston 2014 recap with the most common questions I've received over the past week. 

Were you feelin’ the love before you left?
Oh my gosh, YES! I can’t put into words the effect all the emails, texts, cards, fb messages, hugs and hi-fives meant to me over the few weeks leading up to the marathon and of course after my return. Although this was my 25th race at this distance, it was by far the most significant and important for reasons other than me running. But, being that I was able to start with the elite women in World Majors, this was a big deal to me. So THANK YOU to all my Missoula running friends and of course to my family near and far. It makes me choke up thinking about all the well wishes. Even the local paper hyped me up. 

I received this picture on Sunday before the race from the Missoula Marathon training group I help out with. It made me blubber like a baby! I LOVE helping out with the class and meeting all the new, excited and ambitious runners. Watching them improve and find a bit of joy with their new goals reminds me of how great running is for the soul. I feel so lucky to be a part of their journey to the finish line.

How was Boston? 
This is a pretty generic question, but I've been asked it 204 times since I've been back. A few words come to mind: Inspiring. Epic. Courageous. Crowded. Proud. Organized. Meb. Boston Strong. Loud. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this race about a 30. What they were able to do in the way of hosting almost a third more runners and a significant increase in spectators was beyond incredible. On the Sunday before the race, I attended an elite technical meeting. The best part of the 40 minute briefing was listening to Dave McGillivray speak. You could see the effect of the 2013 race in his face and demeanor. He told us things were different this year. Not worse in any way, just different. The race has changed. Sporting events have forever changed. He said there will be 3,500 security personnel this year (cops, military, security, etc), double from 2013. Almost the entire course is barricaded. And there's dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs everywhere. No one is allowed in the finish area without a badge. He assured everyone would be safe. And it was. Incredibly safe, but no one seemed scared on April 21 and no one acted any different. It was still Boston after all. The greatest marathon on the planet. 
                                         B  O  S  T  O  N  !
This town, I mean, this town! Wow. So welcoming. This town LOVES their sporting events. I was listening to a gal from NYC talk about how in New York, people live a block from the marathon course and won’t come out and watch or cheer. They just go about their day, feeling inconvenienced if they can’t cross the street.  In Boston, not so much. Bostonian's live for Patriots day (I mean it is genius that they get the day off.) The families, the crowds, the energy - it’s a marriage of insanity and chaos at its finest. The spectators of Boston own this race. I heard a statistic that 1 million people were out to watch that fine Monday - that’s 38,000+ people per mile. Beyond being supportive on race day, most everyone we interacted with were gracious and excited about the weekend’s events. They were happy we were there! I really appreciated that and can say for certain I don’t feel this wanted in too many places.

My mom and I at the finish line a few days before I would run. You see that mass of people? It was like this all weekend - packed!

Expo madness! Kath lasted all of by 7 minutes after this picture was taken. The expo was too crowded to enjoy. I guess that's what I get for going Saturday at noon.

This old lady jabbed me with her elbow to get ahead of me in line. It was every runner for them selves at the expo. I visited a few booth, but then couldn't take it any more.
I got my bib! I was just a number... Hopefully someday my dream of having my name on a bib will come true. #1-37 had their names on their bib.

Did you meet Shalane?
The Boston Marathon does a really good job of keeping the John Hancock Elite separate from the BAA elite athletes. And well they should. The JH Elite are the contenders, for women at least a sub 2:30. These are the pros; this is their job. They are here to work to make money. They have coaches, trainers, sponsors and an entourage who travels with them. They have to do press conferences, make appearance for sponsors then bust out a ridiculously fast race to make some money. I can only fathom the pressure. I saw Shalane once. I was coming down the stairs to get some nasty Dunkin Donuts coffee (what is the deal with DD?) a few hours before the start, and Shalane was headed up. She was alone and a part of me wanted to say something stupid like I was meeting my favorite pop star. Things like 'I love you!' and 'I'm rooting for you today!' or the ever popular 'You inspire me!' sat at the tip of my tongue. I fought back the enormous urge to be that person.... So I just smiled while inside I was thinking 'OMG, OMG I just saw Shalane Flanagan!!!' 

What famous runners did you meet/see?
After getting off the buss at the church, I was tipped off by my bus-mate to go upstairs out of the gymnasium because it was warmer. She was right. I found a music room with chairs and claimed my spot. The room was soon filled by some pretty cool peeps! Legend and hero Joan Benoit Samuelson was debating over what shoes to wear. Mary Whittenberg, ever the race director, was asking if any runners wanted some water.  Easy on the eyes sitting right across from me was Nick Archinaga and Brett Gotcher (speed goggles maybe?) Don't tell Andh - ha! Former Romanian national runner Adriana Nelson was cracking jokes next to me with her husband and other Romanian masters runners. And a pack of speedy gals from the NYAC were trying to figure out how to get the giant bib number to fit on a tiny sports bra. I spied Desi while I was warming up on the 200M driveway that's open for warm-ups. As much as I love Shalane, I think I like the less exposed (now) Linden even more. I was rooting for her too. Not only does she rock the singlet and loose shorts (no booty shorts and bra for her!) but she's overcome a HUGE injury over the past few years and just missed the Boston victory in 2011. Right before the start, I quickly hit the bathroom one more time. The bathroom was busy, so I started a line. Soon I found myself next to Dibaba, Deba and Jeptoo. ...strangely enough, they stood in that order too. I was acutely aware that my 5' 5" frame was massive. Big white girl in the house! Those ladies are slight. Holy cow. I was in the presence of greatness. 

What was it like running in the elite field?
Imagine getting back stage passes to your favorite band, then getting to meet the band, then getting to party with the band. Pretty cool, right? Beyond words. You know your fiends are standing in line outside the hotel to get a glimpse of the band, maybe a high five...  while you just rubbed shoulders with the lead singer and grabbed a beverage at the same time as the drummer. 

In the morning, while the masses were piling onto school buses next to the Boston Common, I walked across the street from our hotel to the Copley Plaza Hotel to board a motor coach with the other BAA elites. The JH elites met elsewhere. When it was time to go, police escorts drove us through town to meet up with the JH elites bus. After that our caravan of about 6 motor coaches made it's way to Hopkinton. We had police motorcycles buzzing around us and we were flanked by blacked-out Suburbans. Motorcycle cops drove ahead and blocked the on ramps before we drove by so we had a clear and uninhabited freeway ride in the center lane to the First Korean Presbyterian Church. Now THAT was cool. And I could tell everyone around me thought so too. I tried to take some pictures of this... but they didn't turn out too well. 

Do you see me? Green Hammer visor, green top. 

Beyond just getting to hob-nob with the best, I was treated to a wide open route to Boston. I didn't have to fight for water at the aid stations or worry about getting stepped on. I was also able to give hi-fives and thumbs up the some of the most inspirational runners at Boston. Rick & Dick HoytJuli Windsor and countless other amputees, blind or special athletes. But after mile 13, I ran alone. Being the only one on the course, I knew all the cheers from spectators were for me which was pretty cool - thank you ladies of Wellesley! However, this was a both a blessing and a curse. I wasn't pressured by other runners to move faster. I don't have too much of a problem running alone - I do must of my speed work alone and many easy miles too. But when racing, having others to push with always helps. Especially though the hills of Newton. It was too easy to slow down. 

Although, on the flip side, I had the BEST seat in the house to see Meb in the lead. It was magical!! I was climbing Heart Break Hill (very slowly might I add) and a bicycle pulled up next to me. She tried to tell me something three times. The cheering was so deafening, I couldn't hear her. On the final try, she said to stay right, the men's lead pack was on its way. I knew this would be good show. A few police motorcycles buzzed up the hill, followed by the clock truck; the press trucks followed then some more cops on motorcycles and bicycles were in pursuit. Then Meb. 'Holy shit I thought, he going for it!' The crowd was going nuts for the American. I couldn't help but clap and scream (while trying to run) at Meb as he went flying by me at the crest of the hill. I counted to see how far back the chase pack was. Then I knew I needed to refocus and race! That's what I was there to do. So my final 5 miles were better than 21. I knew I would be on Boyleston soon. 

Treated like a queen! Some great perks to being in the elite women's start - 
1) I was able to take a bag to the start. 
2) When I crossed the finish line, I was escorted to a special tent where I was brought above mentioned bag. 
3) I was treated to a post-race rub down by masseur Chuck. He was is from the NW too! 

Did you poop you pants?
We've all seen this photo. My co-workers seem to think this common stance at races, so that's subsequently the number one question when I return from a race. (Thankfully it doesn't happen, but I would secretly be excited if it did... To someone else of course...) For this race the gut was good. I was able to eat 4 Hammer Gels along the course. I was also able to take in a lot of water and course electrolytes. Bib numbers 1-40 were able to have bottles, so I just missed out on having my own bottles every 5k. It was fine though, one less thing to worry about and there was aid on both sides of the road every mile. So I was certainly never wanting or without! 

Were you happy with your time?
I was gunning for a PR and a trials time and I came up short. I didn't run the smartest race, but at the same time, I went for it and based on my training I don't think I was too reckless in my first half pace. (Half split was 1:19:47) Overall, it's my second fastest marathon ever. I ran hard. Sure I'm disappointed, but I know I'm stronger and faster than the last time I raced. The clock might not have reflected it and a piece of my soul was left in Newton, but I'm pleased with how I felt completing this tough course. One thing I've been working with my coach on over the last 6 months is my form. Now we aren't talking form when I do 800s on the track or strides to warm up, although that's important, don't get me wrong. We are talking form when the rest of you is shut down and your mind is negative and numb. Mile 23 form. In the past, I lean back, cock my head to the side and flail my arms a bit. Not efficient in any way! In Boston, even though my turnover wasn't what I wanted in the last few miles, I still held form and focused. That's a big step for me. 

Even though I may have been sad about falling short of my goals, I was over the moon for Kath who CRUSHED her PR and ran an amazing race. Kath worked her arse off this winter. She moved away in January and as much as I hate to admit, (because I do wished she still lived nearby) Boston looks good on her!  She's not only running well, but professional is rocking too! She's pretty much winning at life. I am so proud to call her my friend! I'm not sure how many glasses of sangria were consumed before this picture was taken... But dammit we were celebrating! 

Pam and I having some post race day beves! 

What's next?
Since I've crossed the finish line, I've probably consumed 5 (who am I kidding, probably 7) bottles of red wine and sustained myself off of Cadbury Eggs and reduced fat potato chips (this way I can eat twice as many). I took five days off of running and I've gained 3 lbs. I'm feeling pretty gross, so its time and I want to start moving again. I have a trail race in 2 weeks that I'm amped for.. one of my favorites. There is fall marathon planning to do, but I think this summer is going to fun one! There will be some shorter races and some long miles logged in the MT sun capped off with a Hood to Coast weekend with a fabulous team of fast MT women. 

Some other pics from my trip to Boston - Enjoy!

Celebrity sighting! Ms. Massachusetts on Boyleston St! I think she was 8 feet tall and I'm not 100% sure which pageant she is in affiliation with, but her crown looked legit! 

The Dear Boston exhibit at the public library was somber and heart-wrenching. 

Boston Duck tour for some super-tourists! We followed this up with a few glasses of vino on the 52nd floor of the Prudential building.

Our awesome home base. The Lenox is a boutique style hotel practically on the finish line. The staff was so awesome! Every night they brought us a treat like a running shoe shaped cookies and Easter candy on Easter. When I walked in after finishing they all applauded me! Every runner was given the star treatment. They even gave me a Sam Adams when I was done! 

My supportive co-workers decorated my cube for my return. Be sure to note the picture on the 'G'. 


  1. Trisha! This post brought tears to my eyes. Your journey is really lovely and empowering to follow. You have such a great heart and sense of humor - and as you make these leaps and bounds in athletic accomplishment you remain humble and true to form as a wonderful woman. I hope you forever continue to enjoy these triumphs, relish and learn from the disappointments and let us tag along to hear all about them!!

  2. I love reading your posts. They are so inspirational and real. I did have to laugh about your comment of Ms. Mass's crown being legit. I could totally see you studying it.