Oldie: Boston Marathon 2005

(I’m filling out an interview for a friend who asks about qualifying for the Boston Marathon and Boston itself. I dug up these very old TRs on Portland 2004, where I qualified, and Boston 2005, a memorable race. This flashback post is for her and possibly her readers, and for you if you feel like laughing about my first marathon. Boy was I giddy! Coincidentally, Boston was this morning.)

Boston Marathon 2005

Well, it’s three days past and already I’m starting to forget. Actually, I honestly don’t remember as much as I did in Portland — maybe I really was so delirious as I felt :p — but as promised, here’s the best TR I could pull out.

Quick stats

seed/bib       12121
finish time    3:40:01
overall pace   8:24
place          6729/18319     36.7%
gender         1346/6977      19.2%

SPLIT     TIME       PACE for that 5k segment
5k        0:25:39    8:15
10k       0:51:43    8:23
15k       1:17:33    8:18
20k       1:43:14    8:15
half      1:48:45    8:18
25k       2:08:59    8:17
30k       2:35:45    8:40
35k       3:01:19    8:13
40k       3:28:44    8:49
finish    3:40:01    8:38 (last 2.1km)

Summary  (originally titled “quick” but I couldn’t cut it down :p):

I finished in 3:40:01, collapsing. It was a hard, intense, unbelievable race. The course was difficult, and I got hit by the downhills. It was about 70 degrees, but the course felt hotter with no shade and the asphalt. And I was just so nervous. I had heard so much about the course, heartbreak hill, the downhills, that I sort of flipped out and got ultra paranoid. I ended up stopping too often to splash water on my face and body to cool down and hydrate (unfortunately, I was so nervous that I did it with gatorade too…eww sticky).

As you can see, I was never near my 8min pace goal; in fact, I sort of gave up early on in the race and decided to stick to a conservative pace. I was doubting that I’d even finish! In retrospect, that wasn’t the best attitude, but hopefully I’ll learn from this experience (and I did qualify again, so… ). I just didn’t feel the 8min. pace, with my stomach and legs so nervous, the heat and having to pull aside for water, having to wade and pass through the crowd the whole way (which ate time), and the dreaded hills.

The crowd is a whole another experience. They were fantastic, crazy, LOUD! ALL 26.2 miles were lined with spectators, in most areas, 5-6 rows deep, and towards the end, in huge masses — but there was not a single empty space in the sidelines the entire way. And It was GREAT cheering — as Ben put it, it was as if each runner was the friend they had been waiting and waiting to see. So they went ballistic every time, and for all 20000 runners! They played music, danced, gave out oranges, water, popsicles, body gel, sponges, towel wipes, sprayed us down with hoses, begged for high fives, and were constantly yelling. You have to wonder how their lungs kept up. I got suckered it into the beginning — and probably wasted a lot of energy with the crowd — but I definitely needed and used the vibe at the finish.

All in all, I had an AWESOME time. I do wish I had run it faster from the start; physically, I know I had more in me, but mentally, I chickened out. Still, the course was challenging and fun, and I could not believe the energy level and the sheer number of people. It was such a memorable experience and I know I gave it my all (my quads can speak for that now). I’m only a 2nd-time marathoner, but I get the feeling that no other one is like this, with the level of excitement, rush, challenge, and pride. I am proud that I finished, and I passed 6000 people along the way!

Thank you SOOOOO much for all the cheers, good luck texts, and congrats. It really is amazing to have so much support. Most of you know I’m a basket case when it comes to mental, so again, I wonder if I can do this on my own. As I stepped on each 5k marker mat, I thought of you all checking up on me, and honestly, I was half sad to disappoint. I knew I wasn’t going to hit my 3:30 goal but you could still be hoping…and then you could feel it–and my pain–as the times slowly got slower, and as my predicted time inched out… So thanks gang, next time I’ll pull through for ya 🙂

Highlights I remember:

Meeting up with Linden, Jen, and Tara at Penang for some delish roti on Saturday, then pumping to Chariots of Fire.

The pre-race day, Sunday, was so stressful. If anyone knows Boston, the one thing you’re not supposed to do there is drive, let alone on Marathon weekend. But somehow we ended up on the finish street, in bumper traffic, had a fender bender, and drove a half hour around Little Italy for parking. Oof, I needed a nap that afternoon.

My parents, Ben, and I were like kids on the first day of school, as we got picked up by a yellow school bus to the start.

Waiting in line to go to the bathroom, I met Pamela Reed, the winner of the Death Valley Ultra. She is NOT human. She was chatting it up with us, not even sweaty or fatigued looking. But she had run London’s marathon yesterday (yes, the day before…that took me awhile to register), then ran 2 miles to the catch a plane to Boston, had JUST finished running Boston backwards (again, I had to think about this) to meet us at the start and turn around and run it again. My mouth was hanging wide open. The woman next in line for the porter potty joked how she hoped her butt genes would rub off on to her :p

I thought the start was a pretty funny sight: 20000 runners were herded into corrals lined with white fences, just standing and waiting. I was in corral 12 and it took me about 11min. walking, packed together, to get to the start. People behind me supposedly took as long as 25min!

We passed the start (I didn’t see my parents, there were so many it was too hard to make out faces) and I was nervous! I held back and my 5k split was no where near to 8min. pace. But I was already dehydrated and felt that was an ominous sign, so I decided to just play conservative. I was totally sucked into the crowd though, giving hi fives, eating oranges, weaving back and forth to capture everything. Then I realized that was a lot of extra energy, so I calmed down some.

The next few miles, it was purely a mental game for me. I kept feeling too hot and pulled aside for water, which was not the quickest task with hundreds of others people having the same idea. And I could not stop doubting that I’d be able to finish. I’m not sure why I was so nervous or built up so much pressure.

My race, just like in Portland, was miles 11-20. I was loving running, the way my body felt when I ran, the race, and the crowd. Still, in the back of my head, there was that paranoia of going out too fast then not finishing, so I held back and kept drinking. Miles where I had the courage to skip the water station were right on race pace, but I didn’t do this too often.

At the half way marker, I could hear the screams at least a 1/4 mile back…I was approaching the shrieking tunnels (feels like something out of Princess Bride). The Wesleyan girls were UNBELIEVABLE. You cannot imagine how loud they were cheering. And they went even more crazy when a woman ran by. I was almost deafened by the screaming, but it was so exciting! I got such an adrenaline rush and my heart was pounding as I ran through their town and knew I was half way done.

Then I remember noticing the chrono clock read 2:10…which meant some super fast Kenyan (Ethiopian in this case!) was done. Ugh, disgusting.

As I approached the hills, I got paranoid and actually stopped and walked to drink in preparation (you can see my 30k split is slower). But at heartbreak hill (35K marker), I felt GREAT…so great that I sprinted up it (which probably caused me to crash on the downhill after). I passed so many people, weaving, and my mile split was 8:13, which was faster than some of my flats! I also got fired up because that was when Ben found me and jumped in. I had expected him around mile 17 but he and my parents had their own stress getting around the crowd.

Just after heartbreak hill, at Boston College, I saw first my mommy: jumping up and down and cheering. She was adorable! Ben never imagined she had so much ups :p Then I caught my daddy by surprise, and I remember him yelling “Go Annie, go get them!”. That was one of the sweetest parts in the race for me, and I ran the only sub 8-minute mile in my race.

Around mile 23, I hit the bad place. My quads started to give out, and I noticed everything else: the chafing, my toes, the heat. I was giving up. I even told Ben to shut up… I didn’t want to hear nice words or that I was doing great, because I wasn’t! I even stopped to get Gatorade when really, I should have just pushed through it. I wish Ben would have yelled at me and told me to suck it up :p

I actually don’t remember finishing. That last stretch on Bolyston seemed like an eternity. I feel like it all happened in slow-mo. I remember hearing cheers on the side, telling me not to give up though I really wanted to. I looked around for my parents in the crowd but couldn’t make out a face. Before going to the side to let me finish alone, Ben urged me one last time. So I gave one last “sprint” (turns out it wasn’t quite fast, but I was pushing as hard as I could!) and those last few seconds are a blur. I know I basically collapsed as soon as I crossed the finish and stopped moving.

Post Mort em

I want to run another one! But not yet. I first want to get faster, practice racing, and train drinking (same issue as in Portland). I’m in better shape than when I finished Portland — no crutches and no stomach issues — so I feel slightly more confident. But time for a break from marathons… I’m going to go for a swim and maybe try a tri in July (wow, what a rhyme!).



  1. […] Marathon and Boston itself. I dug up these very old TRs on Portland 2004, where I qualified, and Boston 2005, a memorable race. This flashback post is for her and possibly her readers, and for you if you feel […]

  2. reading these makes me emotional! i can almost feel the excitement just from reading your words! so, when’s your next marathon? 🙂

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