Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 116th Boston Marathon: Recap

I know I was very public about this yesterday, but I’m going to voice this one more time. Boston, I love you.

This may ramble on, and I don't apologize if it does.

packet pickup!

When I started receiving more heat warning emails from the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A) on Saturday morning, urging runners to reconsider racing, I knew that goals 1-3 that I shared with you on Friday were out the window. As many of you may have heard, the B.A.A gave all runners the option to defer to running the 2013 race instead, due to heat. From what I understand, only around 400 runners ended up deferring. 

As I approached the starting line at 10:20 AM yesterday morning, I had no idea what to expect. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, temperatures were rapidly approaching 80 degrees, and I was already sweating. I hadn’t even started running yet. I knew I had to be smart, and for the first race of my life I couldn’t push my limits. Because as the B.A.A eloquently phrased it in their warning emails, “Speed kills.”

Yet, as I've said in the past, I don’t like doing things without a goal in mind. So as I started off the first few miles holding a sub-8 and knowing it wasn’t going to last, I started to reformulate my plan.

My #1 goal was to finish. From the 10k marker and on, runners were dropping like flies. Seeing runner after runner on stretchers on the side of the course, or suddenly stopping in the middle of the road with dazed looks in their eyes was enough to instill a large amount of fear in me. A fear that kept me drinking either water or Gatorade about every half mile, and snatching about every orange slice I saw being offered from fans. According to the Washington Post, about 2100 runners were treated at some point for heat related injuries. From what I saw, that seems about right.

Goal #2 was simple: keep running. I didn't want to walk. I realized about halfway through it was unreasonable to set a pace goal, as I was only getting slower. So I simply said to myself ‘Just keep swimming.’  Paces dropped super low, at one point to low 9 min. miles at both the infamous Heartbreak Hill and mile 25. But I never stopped. And I’m so proud to be able to say that. 

About 1 mile out from the finish, I formed my final goal. I glanced at my sweaty watch and realized I could reasonably stay within the 3:30’s. So as I turned the final corner and the finish line was finally in sight, I hauled ass (which to fans probably looked like a half limp/half skip) to make it under that banner with 40 seconds to spare. An official email from the B.A.A confirmed the below stats this afternoon.

Kaitlyn M. Comiskey
Net Time3:39:20
In Gender818/8966
In Division653/4580

Hugging it out with the sis

The crowd, the city, the people, the drunken students; they made that race. Literally EVERY curbside of EVERY mile of the course was lined with people. Cheering me on like I was their hero. Saying the nicest things in the world, although they had no idea who I was. I took off my headphones and gave them to Andrew at the 10k mark, realizing about 2 miles in that it wasn’t the music I wanted to listen to, it was the people. I had my name written on my arm (as many runners did) so that fans could cheer me on by name; it was probably one of the best decisions I made all day. One woman screamed from her driveway (most likely intoxicated) “I am SO proud of you and I don’t even know you!” I also had the blessing of passing Team Hoyt on the course; a father who has pushed his son in his wheelchair in over 1,000 different races across the country. If you haven't heard of them, check them out here.

Even at the end, even at mile 22 when I started the steep decline from heartbreak hill, I couldn’t help but smile at the drunken students yelling hilarious encouragement. Signs simply reading “You are f*cking awesome” gave me chills in the midst of the 85 degree heat. There wasn’t even a need for water stands, as every other driveway and corner had local residents handing out their own water cups, lemonade, Gatorade. Orange slices, popsicles, salt, bags of of ice. Wet sponges, towels, and sprinklers were in no shortage, and many residents even had their hoses dragged down to the streets. Kids stood with spray bottles and handfuls of candy. Students offered beer, free kisses, and high fives. Local authorities of several towns opened up the fire hydrants, and the spouting ice cold water was more than welcomed. Two fire departments also set up cooling/misting tents on the side of the course, and many runners took advantage of the short detour to run through and cool off, including myself. Cars laid on their horns from the interstates below as we ran over bridges, and local bands set up outside of bars and restaurant to provide us with uplifting jams.

Handing off the headphones.

It was beautiful. Even with temperatures pushing 90 degrees on parts of the course, it was the most amazing experience I’ve had. Tears welled up in my eyes several times as I plugged along; they actually are again as I write this. In short, this race taught me an amazing lesson. It isn’t always about the PR. As much as I was ready to do it, and go balls to the wall, running can’t always be about that. It was all about the experience. A race that’s older than any living person in this country, and a city that embraces its history wholeheartedly. I felt so loved, all 26.2 of those miles. From start to finish, THOUSANDS of volunteers were present to make it possible, and thousands of fans to make it epic.

How am I today? I’m sore. But I’m happy. My feet hurt, and I’m contributing that to running in pretty soggy shoes the last 10 miles of the race. I made a point to zigzag across the course to run through just about any hose/sprinkler that I saw. I don’t know if I would have finished without them, but with the advantage came some seriously wet shoes/socks.

Let me wrap this lengthy piece up with a gigantic thank you. Not only to all of my friends and family who sent the texts, voicemails, facebook/twitter messages, and emails, but to my boyfriend, sister, and wonderful friend who made the trek out to Boston to see their crazy girlfriend/sister/friend run 26.2. They were wonderfully devoted fans, and popped up 3 times along the course to offer encouragement; an impressive feat in itself on a straight line course, having to use an unfamiliar train system to get from point to point.

Meg and Me :)
Lastly, I have to thank Boston. Thanks for putting out so much love yesterday. As a heavily accented Boston dude at Fenway said to me on Sunday after spotting my orange Boston jacket, “You’re a f*cking stud. I can’t even drive in a cah that fah.” Just like Colorado, I can officially say; Boston, you have stolen a piece of my heart.


  1. Whoa! We did have eerily similar experiences and finish times! We must have been very close to each other throughout the race. I'm glad you had a good experience and finished safely - and on a day that's not 89 degrees, I think you'll run a wicked fast marathon. I'd say sub 3:20. Recover well!

  2. thats really nice that you made a runner friend! but with a bod like that, i mean..how could you not hahah. I love you so much. god you kill me. every thing that comes out of your mouth i want to zip it in a bag and keep it forever. and ever. i have to stop reading your blog because you are seriously too much. too great. so glad to konw you. honored. in love with you. sorry andrew..a smart kid once told me"boyfriends are just speedbumps" hehehe


Leave me some love!