This I Why I Run (Boston): Natascha Martens

This I Why I Run (Boston): Natascha Martens

My First Boston

"Those fortunate enough to make it to the Start Line of the Boston Marathon often have a unique story filled with twists and turns. I am no exception. My story includes two babies and a broken knee, but most of all, it includes coffee - lots and lots of coffee!

It all began when I made the genius decision to try to qualify for Boston 2018 after having my second baby. This meant I would be training in the Texas summer heat while working full time, nursing a baby, chasing a toddler, and let's throw in some business travel to the mix for good measure. How hard could it be, right?! And yet, against all odds and thanks to a wonderful coach @thelongruncoaching, I managed to qualify (!), but alas, my happiness would be short-lived. When registration opened, I missed the cut-off by a few seconds... and then broke my knee (yes, you read that right - cracked the bone) a month before the race. Luckily, I was given a second chance with a corporate entry this year and suddenly, I had a new path to Boston. My knee had mostly healed, but I was on a tight training schedule of only 6 weeks. My good luck continued and I found an amazing running local running group, Gilbert's Gazelles, and began grudgingly waking up at 4:30AM to run with their Boston sub-group. Getting up that early was pure torture, necessitating the consumption of copious amounts of coffee, but the Gazelles are a tough bunch and their confidence and grit started to rub off on me so that by the time April came around, I felt ready.

The week before the race was a blur of packing, re-packing, shopping, checking the weather forecast, and shopping some more to ensure I had running clothes for pretty much every possible race day temperature/condition. My suitcase could fit a small elephant, and not only did I pack my own coffee beans - but best BELIEVE I even packed my own coffeemaker! Alas, despite the best made plans, my knee started acting up out of the blue (possibly attributable to "maranoia") and my childcare ended up falling through two days before I was supposed to leave, requiring my in-laws to book a last-minute flight from MI to save the day (THANK YOU mom & dad! I love you!).

Everything ended up working out until the morning of the race, when I woke up before my alarm and opened the blinds to see sheets of rain pouring down Boston Harbor. Thunder rumbled in the distance as I brewed my first cup of coffee and braced myself for what was to come. The weather gods must have been feeling particularly volatile that day because we ended up having a trail mix of seasons: mild temperatures and thunderstorms before the start, hazy humidity for the first part of the race, followed by bright sunshine and high temperatures (someone described it perfectly as feeling like "steamed broccoli" as the sun cooked us from above and steam rose up from the pavement), then more overcast humidity followed by gale force winds and freezing rain.

I was perfectly on pace until near mile 15, when I had my first ever leg cramp on my left quad. After six marathons, countless halfs, and dozens of long runs, I have never in my life had a cramp - but that was Boston, a day of firsts! I thought back to the leg cramp pills included in my race packet which I had casually tossed in the trash the day before thinking "Nope, don't need those!" The inaugural Leg Cramp from Hell lasted for the rest of the race and I rode the struggle bus until the end. Still, I was so proud to finish and so grateful for the experience. I am really looking forward to running the Tunnel Marathon in September as my "redemption race" and shooting for another BQ with what I'm hoping will be a wider cushion this time.

Boston is a race unlike any other - the crowd support, the amazing volunteers, the runners who are all so grateful and excited to be there - it all adds up to an unforgettable experience.

No matter that road gets you there, and what happens in Boston, it's the only race I can think of where most runners would agree: even if it sucks, it will be AWESOME!

See you in the tunnel!"