The other day, I ran two marathons (and, yes, I do realize how ridiculous that sounds). The Double Boston, the Boston Double, Boston Squared, whatever you want to call it, I ran the Boston Marathon course. Twice. It was windy and rainy, and hypothermia was a serious concern. It was by far the worst weather — and most fun — I’ve ever had during a race.
Less than a week before Marathon Monday, I was reading an article about runners who run from the finish line on Boylston to the start line in Hopkinton, only to turn around and run back with the rest of the field. My first thought was, “I want to do that.” I texted Sam who said, “Sure, we can do that in a few years.” HA. Oh Sam, you are too funny. “No. I mean Monday.” And, as good husbands do, he indulged me in my crazy. Over the next few days, we talked weather, nutrition, hydration, clothes, timing, and pacing. And then at dinner with (ultra-runner) friends, we discussed it all over again.
At 5am on Marathon Monday, we took the obligatory photo of the finish line on Boylston and did something weird — we turned FROM Boylston TO Hereford.
The sun wouldn’t rise for at least another hour, and as a, ahem, rather high strung individual, I wasn’t concerned about being physically able to run 52.4 miles, but was so afraid that we’d lose the course (keep in mind that I’ve run this race 10 times), end up somewhere in suburban Massachusetts, and be forced to call an Uber so that I could get to the start line, where I’d arrive late and miss the wave 1 start. Of course, none of that happened. Instead, we had a great run with a few other Double Boston-ers, one of whom was the inspiration behind my attempt.
At around our 14th mile, we met up with ultra-crewer extraordinaire Surjeet, who offered words of encouragement and gave me a MUCH appreciated heat blanket (Jeet, if you’re reading this, I was SO jealous of your jacket. It looked warm. And dry).
Sam peeled off after 20 miles to catch the commuter rail back to Boston (haha, imagine spending your Monday morning commute sitting next to a soaking wet dude in spandex!), and I continued on with new friend, ultra-marathon badass, and Double Boston veteran, Greg. We waved hello to visibly confused security staff, laughed at the endless “you’re going the wrong way!” heckling, and were cheered on by water station volunteers. It felt like we had the entire course to ourselves, because, we LITERALLY had the course to ourselves.
Phew, 9:05am, and we made it to the start line! Success! I was soaked from some gross combination of rain and sweat, and had nothing to do but stand around in the rain, giving me ample time to freak out about hypothermia and my SECOND marathon of the day. I spent a few minutes hanging out in an undiscovered-to-the-runners porta potty, where I listened to the rain pelting the plastic roof and tried to figure out how long I could stay in there before some anxious-to-poop runner knocked on the door. I eventually left my porta potty paradise and stood around shivering. I bought two hot chocolates for the sole purpose of warming my hands. I started marching in place, trying to stay warm and conserve energy at the same time (note: as a scientist, I recognize that this may be physically impossible). FINALLY, it was time to get in the corrals. The gun went off, and my second marathon of the day was officially underway.
It took about 50 feet for me to come to the harsh realization that running an uphill marathon and then shivering for 55 minutes do terrible things to your body. My abs ached, my toes were numb, and my hands looked like they belonged to a dead person. Umm, this might get ugly. At about 5km, I thought of walking into a medical tent and ending the day, but I figured the fastest way back to Boston was probably on foot rather than in a sweeper van. So, I kept on. I eventually warmed up and started enjoying the run back to Boylston. I soaked in the crowd (no pun intended) and couldn’t stop smiling. These people were fucking nuts. In a good way. There were thousands of spectators standing in the pouring rain, freezing their tushies off, cheering like mad. They were wearing everything from ski pants to garbage bags. They were hanging over metal gates, leaning out windows, sitting under beach umbrellas, and huddling under blankets. The biker bar in Ashland was still rocking and Wellesley was still loud AF. Little kids still stuck their hands out for high fives and families still handed out oranges and bananas. Many of the signs disintegrated but one that lasted read, “We’re strangers, but I’m so proud of you.” Aaand, commence tears.
I got passed by Meb. I saw Surjeet at mile 12 (I guess it was really mile 38? Best not to think about it). I thanked as many people as I could, I braced for the hills when we got to the Newton Firehouse, and fantasized about what I’d eat post race (cheeseburgers and strawberry milkshake. Note: I don’t eat red meat and I don’t like strawberry shakes).
And then, at mile 19, the tears came on strong: I heard that Des Linden won. DES! YOU GUYS. Des. Won. Boston. I saw Sam at mile 25.5, and knew it was almost over. I did it. Right on Hereford, left on Boylston. Two Boston marathons in under 8 hours.
I did the post marathon shuffle back to the hotel, where the staff stood in the lobby and cheered for every. single. runner. coming through the doors. Oh, Boston. You get me every time.
Thank you Boston. Thank you Sam. Thank you Surjeet and Chris. Thank you Greg. Thank you to all the volunteers, staff, and spectators. Thank you to everyone who stood outside in the freezing rain and wind, just to keep us going. Together forward.