RECAP: Boston Marathon 2017

by: Kelly Leighton
April 19, 2017

I honestly meant it when I said I didn’t have any time goals for the Boston Marathon.

But enjoy it, I did not. Spoiler Alert: I finished, but it wasn’t pretty.

Let’s rewind. On Sunday night, Tim, my husband, who has been with me for seven of eight of my marathons, told me he had never seen me so calm the night before a race. I was in a really good place mentally, I was excited to be in Boston, and I was excited to be running the marathon.


I slept like the dead that night, which is unusual for me before a race. I was up at 5:30, on the shuttle by 6:30, and meeting my friends Amanda and Rory at Boston Commons to board the bus by 7. Unfortunately, our bus driver decided to take an alternate route to Athletes’ Village, which led to a pretty long bus ride and some pretty high nerves.

We arrived in Hopkinton a bit after 8 and killed time laying around and getting in the porta potty lines. I was able to meet up with Veronica, Jersey Mike’s sister, who was running the race in honor of her brother for the┬áLeukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was her first marathon, and I am so proud of her for all she accomplished.

After parting ways, I realized just how hot it was. The tent I had been lounging under had been blocking much of the heat. The sun was beating down and the sky was cloudless, but last year, I persevered in the heat! I had nothing to worry about!

The joke was sure on me. For the majority of my marathons -excluding one where I was severely anemic and the one where I had a mental breakdown– I ran around 3:30, slightly below or above. So I went out around that pace.

By the 5K, I was completely drenched in sweat and knew it was going to be a long day. I hit the 10K, and had an eerily similar thought to the 2014 Boston Marathon. “How on earth am I going to make it 20 more miles?” I kept slowing down, trying to cool off.

I soldiered on, but I was hurting. I felt so hot, and the sweat was pouring off of my body. I took my first walk break around the seventh mile, and from then on, it was me vs. this course.

At mile 10, I realized I was no longer sweating, my skin was dry as a bone, and I had goosebumps. I also started dealing with bouts of dizziness and nausea. As much as I was struggling physically, I was still doing OK mentally. I knew it was going to be a long day on the course, but I knew I would finish.

For a while, my mantra was “sub-4!” but that went out the window around Heartbreak Hill. In good news, I made so many friends during my walk breaks. I wasn’t the only one hurting.

Around mile 23, I finally saw Tim and some friends, and they gave me a little boost (and a sip of hard cider, because, whatever at that point), and my parents caught me at mile 25, but I missed them. My mom later said they saw people collapsing left and right near their spot.

I tried so hard to run the last 2 miles, but my legs and stomach were cramping up, and I was still battling dizziness and nausea, so I did what I could. I made sure to run the last stretch down Boylston, finally crossing the finish line in 4:14, second-slowest marathon, only to the time I had virtually no iron in my body.

Once I crossed the finish line and got my medal, I spent some quality time in the medical tent, where I threw up twice. I told them I was just trying to get my money’s worth from the race entry fee. I had to wait for a cot, so I knew I wasn’t the only one hurting.

It’s hard to not be disappointed. I didn’t have a stellar training cycle, but I got the mileage in, and my last 20-miler felt really solid. While I truly didn’t have a time goal, I know I am in better shape than 4:14, and I am disappointed I didn’t even get to enjoy it because I felt so terrible. This wasn’t an enjoyable victory lap, it was a death march.

This may have been my last Boston Marathon, who knows? And I know I am fortunate enough to have three Boston Marathons under my belt. At the end of the day, it’s just running. I still woke up on Tuesday, and as far as I know, all of my friends are still my friends and my family still loves me, and the world is still turning.

That medal and jacket were definitely earned. I remember in 2014, I felt embarrassed to wear my jacket and official shirt, as if my disappointing time didn’t deserve it. Monday wasn’t a good day for me, but it was a day I crossed a finish line and earned it.

Categories: Running

One thought on “RECAP: Boston Marathon 2017

  1. @TwinsRun on said:

    Congratulations on finishing.

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