Monday, April 16, 2012

116th Boston Marathon (Troy & Robin)

April 16, 2012 – Boston, MA
Robin & Troy: 3:37:21
Robin 574th W18-39; Troy 669th M40-44
Carrie Chavez, Diane Perun, Karen Messersmith, Laurie Abrams, Tom Harper
[Troy] I was here 16 years ago with my training partners, Dick Kirkpatrick and Clint Gaver. Now it’s very special as I’m here with Robin, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary by running this prestigious race together! The race organization is top notch. The expo was great, volunteers are everywhere helping and the whole town is supportive and excited about the race. It is surely the “Superbowl” of running.
We’re at the FCA Chapel Service.  It’s the day before and this is definitely the highlight leading up to the race.  There’s about 50 people here in attendance at the Marriott. Robin is opening by speaking about FCA Endurance. Now I share my testimony about how I was an obsessed triathlete before putting Christ at the center of it all, and how I saw so many blessings as a result, including the opportunity of the kidney donation. Now we listen as the regional FCA lead, Fouad, who organized this all, gives a great sermon and reminds us, as we’re pushing up Heartbreak Hill tomorrow, to remember that Christ first conquered it all when He carried the cross up Calvary hill and had His heart broke for all of us so we wouldn’t suffer as He did. This is most important for us to remember tomorrow.
2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 004It’s race morning. Amazingly, while in line for one of the 500 busses transporting us to Hopkinton, we bump into Isabelle. We had met her and her husband last night at the pasta feed. The chance encounter with friends would recur throughout the day. After an hour trip to the start, everyone was thinking, “wow, this is a long way”. 8am and the temperature is heating up fast. The race director had sent out warnings to all the runners to opt-out or re-plan for a slower pace. Today is going to be one of the hottest races ever. Robin and I are fortunate to have our Hawaii Ironman experiences to draw on and, even though we haven’t had heat to train in lately, we know what to expect. We 2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 011plan on starting out with our planned pace and there adjusting for 7 min slower (3:30) if the heat really does make it difficult.
After a nap in the race village, we prepare to head for the start area. Amidst 20,000 others, we bump 2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 012into Michelle from the FCA Chapel Service yesterday! What a great encounter! We pray for our races and the opportunities the Lord will give us to be a light to others. We jog the .7 mi to the corral staging area and immediately feel the growing intensity of the heat. It’s over 80 degrees, no breeze, and bright sun. It feels like Hawaii all right. We’re drinking a lot of water. Runners are looking for shade.
The elites and the first wave start. We take our place in the 2nd corral of the 2nd wave. It’s really exciting now. Robin and I pray. We’re running the whole thing together, but each of us wonders if we’ll hold the other one back.
2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 018Go! Can’t believe it, we’re running the Boston Marathon together…it’s surreal! Spectators are everywhere, even in this rural starting mile. It’s a descent right off the bat and we’re amazed at the long sea of runners ahead of us… and that’s only 1 corral, a thousand runners! To think there are 8 corrals behind us and then another 9 behind them. We’re trying to run relaxed and easy at an average 7:40 pace. We’ll drink at every station. Mile 1 doesn’t have one. We’re already hot by mile 2 and very glad to get water. I down a whole cup and we both pour a cup or more on our head.
2012-04-18 001 2012-04-16 021 - CopyIt’s a beautiful day. The crowds and townsfolk are amazing. The kids have their hands out for high-fives and it reminds us of Anna and Ariel. Everyone is cheering. It makes you smile so much. And you could give high-fives all the way to Boston, but we also know we have to conserve energy. We know hydration & fueling & comfortable pace are critical today. The race director has placed large road signs saying “HOT, HOT, HOT. DRINK LOTS. SLOW THE PACE”.  We are feeling pretty good at the moment and we wonder when that’s going to change.
At 5K (3.1mi) we are at 7:41 pace.
At 10K (6.2mi) we are at 7:42 pace.
120316_bostonmarathon_soares2At around 10 miles, our pace is slowing a little to 7:44. My knees are hurting. Robin’s hamstrings are tightening. We’ve been drinking and dousing and every station. I’ve already peed 4 times! Robin hasn’t, despite the good hydrating. We stop with the Gatorade every other mile as both of our stomachs now don’t feel good. We don’t have our drink of choice, Heed or Perpetuem, so we have to be careful with the sugary Gatorade.
I’m so impressed with the race organization. The aid stations are staggered. First on the right, then 100 yds later, on the left. It eliminates the bottleneck and gives a chance for hitting 2 stations each mile. We just hit the left ones at first. Sometimes Robin goes first, sometimes me. We stay close together so when we splash ourselves we get both of us. The stations look well stocked and we pray that those in the back get all the water they need as well. The townsfolk and firefighters have chipped in hoses, mist tents, and are handing out ice…we so appreciate their big hearts for us!  I’m feeling the heat the most in my legs.  We take every opportunity possible to get wet. Even ice in our hats. All tricks learned from Hawaii Ironman. And we look for shade from the buildings or trees.. something not available in Hawaii.
We just passed through the Wellsly Women’s College with thousands of women cheering loud enough to hear them a ½ mile away. They all had signs, many saying, “Kiss Me..” for all sorts of funny reasons. I wasn’t about to kiss any of them, my greatest supportive woman is running by my side.

At 20K (12.4mi) we are at 7:47 pace.
At the ½ way point it seems like a very long run already and the pain is building. Can we get an even split the next half? The people are incredible. Even standing out here in the hot sun.. for hours. Lot’s of college students. Kids holding oranges, water, licorice. Frat houses offering beer. I see a runner accept the offer and they cheer wildly. Someone even built a Fenway Park replica…cool!
120316_bostonmarathon_soares815 Miles we are around 7:50 pace.  We’ve been looking forward to this… our lunch date. A Hammer Gel for each of us. And we’ll try to continue this every 2 or 3 miles. We’re both hurting pretty good already. My knees and now my IT Band. I’m concerned that I’ll come up lame and not be able to finish with Robin. I pray that Robin’s pain subsides even if mine doesn’t. But I know she’d rather stay back with me than finish alone so I pray that we can both stay strong.
We’ve been remembering God and turning our thoughts to Him periodically. It’s easy to want to just focus on the ground and ignore the world and even God. But I know He’s brought comfort and success before in these difficult times, so we must keep focusing on Him. We also set our sights on seeing Karl at mile 17.5. He’s an old family friend of Robin’s and had us over for dinner 2 nights ago. If we see him, it’ll be such a boost for both of us.
Mile 17. We recognize the area as we turn on Commonwealth. Karl had driven us on this series of hills, including Heartbreak, and we’re so glad he did. We’ve been anticipating and preparing for the challenge. Actually, with Robin’s sore hamstrings and my hurting IT band, we actually dread the downhills and look forward to the uphills. Robin’s strong on the ups and I pump my arms to stay with her. It makes the time go by faster having a periodic challenge, rather than trudging along a never-ending straight-away. We start looking for Karl. There’s crowds of people on both sides. “Team Soares!” “Karl!” There he is. He used the MyAthlete tracker and nailed the timing, starting his video at the perfect time. It’s his birthday today also. It was great to see him.. and we would have liked to stop.. but there’s work ahead as we climb the first tough hill.

At 30K (18.6mi) we are at 7:57 pace.
Mile 19. I just want to hit 20. I’ll feel like we can make it if we’re not walking at 20. Robin 120316_bostonmarathon_soares5emphatically says, “We’re not walking”. That’s pretty brave knowing how much her legs hurt. But for now it’s good having these ups and downs, it’s a task:  work the ups and take it easy on the downs. Usually the strategy is the opposite, but legs hurt too much to “work the downs”.
Heartbreak Hill. Mile 20.5. I love watching Robin hit the hill. I think it takes her back to her High School XC days. Her coach always emphasized the hill, all the way over the top. I’ve never seen Robin shy away from a climb. She inspires me to keep up with her. I have to, because I’m the encourager, telling her she can make it to the end, so I can’t drop back. I’m the faster runner normally, so I’m technically the pacer for us. If I’m hurting this much, I know Robin is hurting more. We need each other right now. I encourage us to smile to help our outlook. And we do indeed recall from yesterday that Jesus climbed the ultimate “Heartbreak Hill” for all of us.
Mile 21 we are now around 8:06 pace. We’ve made it past the hills. And being beyond the wall we know we’ll make it, just don’t know what it’ll look like. We know these are the ugly miles. The long straightaways are discouraging. Yet, the crowds are yelling longer. I wish I could enjoy it more, but it’s hard even to turn and look at all the encouraging faces. After Mile 20, we’re seeing more and more 1st wave runners walking. But now as we pass Mile 22 and are slowing down a lot, we’re also seeing a lot of runners passing us. We’re impressed with how well they paced themselves so that they can finish strong now. We have steadily slowed down, but we’re not going to crack. We’ll be running all the way to the line.
I’m telling us to run for landmarks. A light, a cooling tent. Every step, every block gets us closer. The miles drag out. The scenery is a blur. I don’t see the people even.. except for every time I hear a “Go Team Endurance!” and then I’m reminded of my family in Christ all around me and I turn to give them a thumbs up or a “God Bless!” There have been many recognizing FCA and cheering for us. There have also been a few with encouraging scripture on signs. We know it’s all God’s way of encouraging us.
Mile 24. These miles are so hard. We see the giant “Citgo” sign in the distance marking downtown Boston. I want to see our hotel at Mass Ave. It will mean a turn soon onto the famous Boylston Ave stretch for the finish.
120316_bostonmarathon_soares_finish3Mile 25 we are at 8:13 pace. Robin is grimacing but also trying to smile, practically with tears in her eyes because each step hurts. I’m trying to help by getting us water & Gatorade and picking the next landmark.. it helps me forget about my pain. Finally, I see our hotel ahead. But this also means the tunnel… we drop down (ouch!) and then climb up, turn right, and are now on Boylston! It’s only 1/2mi but looks SO far away. We run and run and it’s not getting closer. The crowds on both sides of the road are going crazy. For a runner, it’s both the worst and the greatest feeling in the world. We’re over our 3:30 goal, and now realize we’re also over Robin’s 3:35 qualifying time. “Team Soares!” Right before the finish we see Cheryl from our Auburn track group cheering us in. Great timing. And now we’re there, finally, at the finish of the Boston Marathon!
We did it. So many things could have gone wrong that didn’t. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to finish together in a good time. Right now we can barely walk and it’s starting to feel worse than running. But we’re done. My IT band had been threatening but then subsided. I believe God made it possible. We’d soon learn how bad it got for so many, and more and more we appreciate what God allowed us to do, because it was never a guarantee and we definitely don’t deserve it.
120316_bostonmarathon_soares_postfinishphoto 2
Go Diane, Carrie & Laurie!
Go Tom & Karen!

Name Age Group Place Time
Troy Soares M40-44 669 3:37:21
Robin Soares W18-39 574 3:37:21
Diane Perun W40-44 288 3:54:02
Carrie Chavez W40-44 362 3:57:41
Laurie Abrams W45-49 215 3:58:20
Tom Harper M60-64 231 4:23:20
Karen Messersmith W45-49 949 4:40:31