Haute Volée, Andrea Duke raced Boston yesterday, her first time stepping to the line as an elite there - an incredible accomplishment! I got to watch her from Seattle with 25 cheering fans, while Sarah Robinson and team watched live in Boston at mile 13. We are so proud of every Oiselle runner who battled the elements yesterday. Not every race goes as planned as Andrea will tell you, but every end to a race has a new start for the next big goal ahead. Continue following Andrea's journey to the 2016 Trials...it's going to be a good one.
Well, that didn't go as planned.
The months leading into Boston, training was on point, and I felt stronger than ever. Workouts made me feel like a machine, a workhorse hitting splits and paces that I only dreamed about. I had my fears, but I worked through the anxiety and strengthened my emotional fitness. The excitement for Marathon Monday was incredible.
Arriving at the Korean Church in Hopkinton was quite the experience. Sitting there among the best runners in the world was mind numbing. While I was FaceTiming with my kids, Meb walked by me. I was in the bathroom line with Desi. But I knew I earned the right to be there. I was confident. I was ready. Standing on the start line at the Boston Marathon, I soaked it up. I did my ritual “Brock Lesner” warm-up, on the verge of tears from that moment. Gun goes off and it begins.
The first six miles were a blur. I was feeling great. My watch showed that I was on target pace (which I was told was way too fast later that day), so I stuck with the pace. I was feeding off the amazing crowd, even veering off the centerline to give some high-fives to kids. That may not have been the elite thing to do, but that’s what Dre does. I saw my husband around 10k and gave the thumbs-up.
A few miles later, it all crumbled.
Mix in the wind and cold rain with stomach pains, and you’ve got my companions for the race from the 15k mark to about mile 16. I felt like my stomach blew up, and I was running as a 35 week pregnant woman. I was dry heaving and trying to hold down the water I drank. When I saw my bird family around mile 13, I got some positivity and put that smile back on my face. But then female runners started to pass me and my positivity slowly drained.
Then the hip pain arrived. And the hills. But I had trained for this and pushed hard... As hard as I could give. Friends at miles 18 and 20 gave me moments of confidence to keep going. I kept thinking about my kids and hearing them screaming “FASTER MOMMY FASTER.” I kept pushing.
Then the chest pain arrived. I’m not sure if it was because I was trying to hold back tears or if it was hearing the crowd screaming my name, but I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to stop. I wanted to quit at mile 24. I slowed down at a water stop to catch my breath and when a spectator yelled, “Head up, Duke,” I knew I had to keep going.
The last 2 miles were the hardest miles of my life. I was in so much pain but I was experiencing the most incredible two miles of any marathon. I pushed through it all, for me, my kids, my family, my coach, my friends. I knew I had to just finish. It was an ugly, ugly run but I finished.
Am I pleased with my run? No. Am I proud of my run? Yes. I overcame so many demons in those miles that would have stopped me any other day. Sure, I had significant feelings of embarrassment and failure when I walked to the elite tent, knowing I was so far off my goal. I felt like I failed my coach and myself, wasted all those weeks of training. I had no joy in my body. And when my husband hugged me at the finish, I cried. I cried hard.
Was I on my feet too much? Did I not drink enough water? Did I drink too much water? Did I eat enough? Could I have tried harder? Did I train too hard? Did I get enough sleep? Did I sleep too much? Way too many thoughts raced through my head leaving the finish line, heading back to the hotel. I could analyze the past days and weeks and months leading up to Boston until I make myself crazy, but there is no point to that. All I know is that with the day I was given, I couldn’t execute. And it hurt.
(Great shot by Kevin Morris)
But when I made it back to the hotel and started reading all the messages from friends, family and online followers, the perspective of the day came into focus. I just ran the Boston Marathon as a sponsored elite runner. My name was on my bib. I was on national TV running behind the best of the best. I heard my name screamed by hundreds of people. I ran down Boylston Street to the finish alone. As someone who came into this elite life just a year ago, those experiences are pretty damn incredible. I may not have reached my goal, but in my world, this was just one day...a day full of lessons and heartbreak, but a day full of memories.
I will move on from this and run again. I will find the fire again and push harder. Boston was a stepping-stone to the bigger goal of the Olympic Trials, and I know the coming months to that day in February will be full of ups and downs. But no one can take away the experience I had in Boston, and when my kids tell me they are proud of me, there is no way I can look to Marathon Monday as a failure.
So as Jay-Z says, “On to the next one”...