Passport to Race: The 2009 Boston Marathon

Cathy running the 2007 Richmond Marathon

Cathy running the 2007 Richmond Marathon

Your Name: Cathy Polishuk

Name of Race: Boston Marathon

Place: Boston

Tourist or Local? Definitely a tourist. I’ve never been to Boston which made driving downtown with closed roads difficult. Note for anyone who decides to drive into the city for packet pick-up – bring a map!!

Distance: marathon

Date you raced: 4/20/09

Number of times you’ve run this race: First time!

Number of runners in race: 28 thousand and change – I’m not sure how many started, but about 22 thousand finished


I met 30 of my fellow Richmond runners at 7:30AM on Monday after getting lost on the way to meet them. The directions from MapQuest were terrible! So of course, I started off the morning with tears imagining that I would miss the race because I did not have a contingency plan for getting to the start. My boyfriend and I stopped for directions… The first lady Mike asked did not speak English. I then made him cross the road to ask a man that was running towards us who refused to help us. I was upset and imaging that all Bostonians were like this man but was soon proven wrong after we met someone who gave us great directions in addition to all the wonderful people along the marathon route.

I boarded the bus and we made it to Hopkington State Park where we walked up to the runners village and dropped our bags. We did not get there early enough to get the free B.A.A. gloves they were giving out, but we did take lots of pictures. The photographers were amazing! I made the mistake of not bringing any throw away clothes, so I hung around in my running gear for a couple hours – note to self: Bring old clothes to wear – they donate them after you throw them away.

I was in Wave 2 (of 2) and from there they put you in corrals of 1,000 people each. They started us at 10:30 which is the latest race I’ve started by more than 2 hours. This late start time will play a role in some lessons I learned later in the day…The beginning of the course was a nice easy downhill and the spectators were great. I was feeling positive and excited to finally be running Boston. Within the first 8 miles, I saw a girl cop a squat for the first time in my life. I’ve heard about it, but never seen it. Right there on the side of the road! Then we approached Wellesley and the boys slowly made their way to the right side of the road where the girls would be. And you may have heard rumors about those girls and I think they are all true. Yes, you can literally hear them from a mile away. Yes, a ton of them had “Kiss Me” signs and yes, it was a truly amazing feeling to run through all that noise. It gave me a taste of what it feels like to be a super star athlete. I have to admit I got a little teary. That’s embarassing…

The next portion of the race is a blur of screaming faces yelling out my name (which I had written on my shirt – smart move:) ). Then came the Newton Hills – a series of “rolling” hills that precede Heartbreak. First of all, I wasn’t exactly sure where Heartbreak was (another smart move on my part in retrospect) because I kept thinking, “was that Heartbreak? That wasn’t so bad.” And then I knew when I hit it. I barely made it up that road. But up ahead I saw a man walking and then the crowd began chanting, “run, run, run, run” until he did and I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to walk!

I was still feeling great – even smiling and high fiving little kids. I passed a guy who yelled out, “Go Cathy – you’re not even sweating”. He jinxed me. Remember that late start – well the only meal I had eaten that day was around 6:30AM and we were running through lunch time. All the Gatorade and gels on a relatively empty stomach did not go over so well. At 23, I started feeling sick, but I was surrounded by people. So, I started walking until I felt better, then ran until I felt sick, etc. This went on until 25 when we went under an overpass. Open grass! For the first time ever during a race, I got sick. But then, amazingly, I felt great. Puke and rally! I ran into downtown Boston with a smile on my face and crossed the line in 3:54:46. Certainly not my best time, but still an accomplishment.

After turning in my chip, I received my beautiful finisher’s medal, a much needed mylar blanket and a bag of food – very smart – how many times have you had to try to carry a bagel, a banana, powerade and whatever else you can get your hands on? It’s not easy. The bag was a miracle.

My recommendations for those who will run Boston:

Bring throw away clothes and a rain poncho

Keep eating as close to the race as you can get

Wear sunscreen (seriously – don’t forget)

Train on those hills and don’t be too scared of Heartbreak – the crowd will pull you up it

Soak up the noise of the fans and high five a few kids



Cathy runs and dances in Richmond, VA.  This was her first Boston Marathon, but third sixth marathon.


5 Responses to “Passport to Race: The 2009 Boston Marathon”

  1. 1 racesinplaces May 15, 2009 at 8:47 AM

    Congratulations Cathy! We are so proud of you!

  2. 2 Chris Pollock May 15, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    great to hear about it Cathy, beautifully written piece as well.

    Looking forward to seeing you run off into the distance when training team starts again!

  3. 3 thekimrunner May 15, 2009 at 7:32 PM

    Hey Cathy! I was in Boston too, but I was on the side of Boyleston just before the finish cheering you all on!! My best friend ran Boston the first time this year. She was also not afan of the late start. I wonder if she’s the girl you saw copping a squat, because she is known for it. My husband runs with her, and about died the first time she did it during the Myrtle Beach Marathon. Congratulations on a good run on a tough course on a windy April Monday!

  4. 4 chris June 12, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    Congrats on running boston. Hope to get there someday

  5. 5 peter July 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

    Nice write up, it made me relive running it all over again. I brought cut fruit I had purchased to the runners village, but when I opened it, it was rotten so I ran hungry, fueled by the bananas & bagels thay had in the village. Boston was hard, your time was very good especially with the issues you had.

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