Finishing the Boston Marathon 2013

Hi Everyone. I am home safely from Boston.  I will write more about my full experience and the entire weekend later but I at least wanted to comment on the day yesterday.

The morning started for me at 4:25 a.m. I had everything layed out the night before so I didn't  have to scramble during the morning.  I had my normal peanutbutter and bagel and of course a cup of cofee for breakfast.  I was staying at the Copely Plaza Hotel and had to walk just a few blocks to the Colonnade Hotel to meet the bus that would later take us to Hopkinton to the start. Once inside the Hotel, they did have a breakfast laid out for the runners. Shortly after that, our bus arrived.  We were lucky enough to have a charter bus with a bathroom on board.  While on the bus I met several runners from Canada whom were very nice. They had run Boston before, so they were giving me some pointers!   
Boston Marathon
Breakfast set up at the Colonnade hotel while waiting for the charter bus to Hopkinton.


The bus parked right in front of our corral and we were able to hang out on the bus until our corral started.  While we were waiting, there were lines of tables loaded with, waters, Gatorades, Vasaline, sunscreen, chapstick, coffee, snacks, and anything else a runner might need.  So far, I thought this was really well organized.  We were right were we needed to be by 8:30 a.m  and my corral didn't even start till 10:40 a.m.  I wasn't checking a bag, so I didn't have to go to bag drop off ( this was key: After the race I was so grateful I decided not to check a bag).

Time spent with the fellow racers went so fast and soon it was time for my corral to start.  Disney was my first marathon and I didn't know what to expect,  I just wanted to do it to see if I could and I did. So I tried the Shamrock next to see if  I could beat my WDW time, and I did.  So when it came time for Boston, I was just grateful to be here and wasn't worrying about time.  I really wasn't nervous. I didn't work myself up like I do on most races. I knew I wasn't going for a PR, I knew the hills would be challenging, and I knew I already completed two marathons and did well, I just wanted to take in the entire atmosphere.  Taking all this into consideration, my expected time was around 4:30.  Under normal circumstances I could do a full marathon under 4 hours, but I wanted to give myself much leeway on this race because of the intensity of the course!

The day before, I was invited to take a tour of the course, but I declined.  My friend however, did take the tour. After speaking to him afterwards, he said he was now nervous because he knows what to expect.  I am the kind of runner who likes the unknown.  If I actually see the challenges ahead of me (all the hills) I may get anxiety about it ( hello heartbreak hill, I did not want to see you prior to my race!).
Our starting corral

Boston Marathon
The pack of elite runner including Goucher and Flanagan: photo from my friend.

corral placement
In corral waiting to start.

Of course it was very crowded at the startline. I had to weave in and out of a lot of people because the road was narrow. One bit of advice that EVERYONE says is to not start out too fast because you will regret it once you get to the hills.  So I basically took it easy for the first half. I did stop at mile 8 to take my longsleeve shirt off because I was getting too warm. Unlike Disney, there was not a mile marker at every mile, ( at least I did not see one) but there was a water station at every mile after mile 2.  I was carrying my own water bottle so I didn't have to stop at the stations.  However, I was going through my own water pretty quickly so a lovely volunteer filled my personal bottle as I ran by. 

The first ten miles were very motivating. Normally I tend to be in my own little zone when I run and don't interact with the spectators, but this run was different. I had never seen so many spectators before. Little kids would be cheering us on and holding out their hands for high fives.  It actually motivated me more as I slapped their hands as I ran by!  Other spectators would give us candy, ice-pops, oranges, and even the college students were handing out beer!  ( none for me thanks, but I did have some gummie bears and Swedish fish)  I recently read a post somewhere about how we've become a society that is so consumed with being sanitary and safe, always carrying our anti-bac with us, but yet when it comes to running, we will take food from strangers that other people have touched without thinking twice!  Isn't this true!  I guess at mile 15 it doesn't matter if someone else had their hand in the gummie bear bowl before you!
Also the signs were motivating as well.  Of course you see those typical race signs that say "Run Like You Stole Something", "You're Almost There", but the best one I saw was "You've Trained Longer Than Kim Kardashian's Marriage"! 

I relied on my Garmin for the most part.  I was able to completed the half way point in exactly 2 hours at an average pace of 9 minute miles.  I was feeling good because I was a head of my goal time, but knew the hills were still to come!  At this time, the runners were more spread out, everyone finding their own pace and the roads were wider.  Eventhough we were spread out a little more, there were still so many people in front of me that I couldn't even see the hills until I got to them.  As I was running, there were some rolling hills that I didn't think were bad. I remember seeing the sign that said Welcome to Newton, so I assume that these were the Newton hills that everyone talked about.  It was a good thing I paced myself earlier so they weren't so bad.  After the rolling hills, I came apon a steeper hill which I assumed was the infamous Heart Break Hill.  During the climb, I kept thinking "Is this the hill everyone was talking about?"  "Was the incline going to get steeper?"  As I ran down the other side, I saw a sign that said something like THE HEART BREAK IS OVER, I knew that I've completed the dreaded Heart Break Hill.   As I passed several people who were walking up the hill, I kept thinking to myself that I was so glad I listened to my body during the first half of the race and held back a little and didn't go too fast. After conquering Heart Break Hill, I knew it was going to be mostly flat and I could pick up my pace the rest of the way.  They say that you can see the Citgo sign for several miles and that indicates that you are almost to the finish line, but don't be fooled, it is further than you think.   There was just as much crowd excitement the last several miles as there was the first several miles, if not more.  I looked at my Garmin and it said I was at 3 and a half hours at mile 23. I knew I could do a 5K in less than 30 minutes, so I thought to myself "my new goal is to break 4 hours. That 4 and a half hour goal now went out the window!  After I took that left on Boyleston street, I could see the finish line and I completely gave it all I had.  I crossed the finish line at 2:44 pm with a time of 3 hours, 58 min.   

Lacey Balliet
At finish line.

After receiving my medal, that is when I heard the first explosion.  The first thought was that it was a cannon or fireworks or something to signify the finishing of the race, but obviously I knew there were many more runners to come, so I don't know why I thought that, but at that moment that seemed to be the only logical explanation of why that noise and smoke was made. A  few seconds later there was another explosion immediately followed by the sounds of sirens. All this happened while we were in line getting medals, waters, snacks. At that time no one knew what was happening so we were told by race staff to keep moving along.   It wasn't until we were walking back to our hotel in Copely Plaza, that we were aware of the tragedy that had just happened so close to us.   I realized that I crossed the finish line at 2:44pm and the first explosion happened at 2:50.  I am so thankful that I finished with in those 6 minutes.  I kept thinking about the friends I had made on the bus that were in my same corral because their goal was to finish in 4 hours.  I don't know how to look them up, but I do hope they are safe.

Boston Marathon Medal

Like I said before, I didn't have a bag that was checked, so I was easily able to make it back to my hotel in a timely manner. I heard later that it took others a much longer time to navigate to were they needed to be and they were not able to collect their bags. Many of them were without wallets, cell phones and even car keys until this morning.  After getting back to the hotel, I turned the news on because I didn't know what was going on!  When I saw it on the news it was surreal.  I didn't realize the severity of it while I was standing there.   All I wanted to do now was go to the airport and get home!   We tried to get out of the hotel as soon as we could because we figured it would be a nightmare trying to get a cab.  Once in the lobby, the bellhop informed us that there would be no cabs running.  The roads were now shut down.  Our only option was to roll our luggage several blocks to the subway. We would then have to change trains. luckily the one we needed to get to the airport was still running, when several others were shut down.   We were lucky enough to get through Logan International before all the chaos started.  I finally arrived at my final destination late last night. It was an emotional homecoming at the airport, seeing family and people I didn't even know clapping for me and hugging me as I entered the terminal.

I do feel that I am proud of my accomplishment at Boston. However, I don't feel that it is right for me to celebrate that accomplishment while others experienced such tragedy.  Because of this, I have such mixed feelings about the Boston Marathon. I didn't quite leave with the memories I was hoping for.

One of my friends said it best " What a tragedy for many when it should have been nothing but a triumph for all!"

I will post later on the specifics of the weekend. I was invited to several pre-race parties, including one for Runners World, and  the expo was more than amazing!  Please check back.

Thanks for reading!  Lacey


  1. I am happy that you are ok :) and congrats on a great race. What happened Monday was unfair and terrible. I hope we get some answers soon!

  2. you did great Lacey, I'm so proud of you. while you didn't lv w the memories you hoped for, you left w your safety I'm so very grateful you're home & safe! love ya Lace! great job!

  3. Wow, my heart was beating so fast while I was reading this post-very intense. I am so glad you made it safe, and a huge congrats on beating that 4 hour mark!

  4. This was a lovely race report and you should celebrate your accomplishment and not let anyone's act of violence steal that from you.

  5. Wow, amazing story Lacey! You have some awesome photos of the race too. And to run a sub- 4 marathon at Boston is amazing! -C

  6. Thank you! This was definitely an experience I will never forget. ~L