Marathon racing is a game. It’s a game you need to play right to get the result you want. Nutrition, hydration, race strategy, and training are what I consider to be the most important players in the game, and they all need to play together nicely for a successful race. I’ve learned, via many many many mistakes, that a precise plan can really help me focus on exactly what I’m doing and when, and help me to avoid some pretty big mistakes.
I typically start carb loading three days before my endurance events. I don’t necessarily eat more, although sometimes I feel like all I ever do for that week leading up to a race is stuff my face.
The night before racing, I eat a huge juicy chicken sandwich, with mushrooms and a fried egg on top, if the restaurant cooperates, which ours in Boston did not. It was plain-o boring. I also had a baked potato, just because I had already had some fries earlier in the day, and I didn’t want grease overload and have to toot all my way from Hopkinton to Boston. Because the race started at almost 11 am for my wave, I ate four full meals on Sunday, the last being at 10 pm. I woke up at 5:30 am on Monday to eat oatmeal, then at 6:30, three pieces of bread with peanut butter, my traditional pre-long run meal. Then I spaced out my eating to have something small every hour until GO TIME.
The weather forecast kept getting warmer as marathon day approached, and I was nervous about it, but I raced well three years ago when it was sunny, dry, and in the low 70’s, until I became dehydrated. I knew I could do it, and I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew I was sure going to give it my full effort and attention. I thought that for everything that had ever gone wrong in my races, it was due to poor hydration, so I had to get this one right.
On Sunday, I drank a little bit more than normal amount of water, but I added Nuun to the mix, as I did not want to flush out my electrolytes. I am also addicted to hearts of palm and olives, so I had some of those, just for the salt content, and well, because:
On race morning, I didn’t drink too much more than I normally do either.
The plan I came up with was to be sure to get about 16 oz per hour of fluids. I knew I was going to start the race well hydrated, so I wasn’t planning to get anything from the aid stations until mile 3 or 4, plus I decided to carry Base Performance Rocket Fuel with me, which is a mix of an energy powder, aminos, and salt. I had a 6 oz bottle hooked to my shorts, and added two 5 oz hand-held bottles, something I had never done, but felt important. I was going to drink the Rocket Fuel until the first hour, then alternate between water and Gatorade, getting at least two ounces of fluid in per mile, which would give me the total amount I thought I needed. I was also planning to have a lick of Base Salt every two miles.
Leading up to the race, I studied the course, with my coach and on my own, and I read the mile by mile course information, something I had found three years ago and was extremely helpful. I’d done the course before and knew most people leave the start like American Pharoah coming out of the gate.
It’s really hard not to, considering you go down hill for a few miles. I knew I needed to really watch my pace here and not go crazy. My goals was to run a 3:44:59 race, so I had a 3:44 pace bracelet on, and I wanted to keep right at an 8:30 minute mile. I didn’t want to go slower down the first hills because, well, might as well let the momentum take me using a 9:00 minute mile effort. I needed to shorten my stride on the downs and ups to help save my quads, and well, I needed to not be a baby when it came to the set of hills in Newton. I knew when they were coming and about how big they were, and I was not intimidated by them. So overall, I wanted to keep a pretty steady pace through the entire race, but hopefully not slowing down at the end.
I felt like I was going into the race well prepared and ready to rock. I was concerned about my various injuries that had popped up and caused my training to not go as well as I wanted, but I knew I was going to run a marathon and I knew I could do it well.
About 45 minutes before my wave could load the bus to Hopkinton, my husband and I got an Uber to the common to meet a fellow training buddy, Renee. We chatted nervously as we made our way to the bus, and soon, we were on our way out of town. Seeing all those busses leaving town in their orderly fashion is an emotional experience. So many hopes, dreams, expectations, excitement, probably some dread in there too. I’m so glad I was able to sit with Renee on our long ride and talk to help distract me, probably us both, about the day. Bus after bus after bus……
It hadn’t quite hit me that I was going to run a marathon that day, but I was surprisingly calm.
When we got off the bus in Hopkinton, it was cooler than in Boston. All I had extra was a short-sleeved t-shirt, and I’m glad I had it. We entered the athlete’s village and found our way to the bathrooms. In 2014, I totally missed the call to my wave. I didn’t want to go to the part of the village “down the hill”, so we stayed at the top by the school. I still couldn’t hear anything and I was annoyed that I didn’t know who was supposed to be going where and when. All I knew is that I did NOT want to be late, dammit!
Renee and I decided to get closer to the speaker so we could hear what was going on, when we happened upon a group of runners from our home town, who were probably 30 feet from where we were. Yay!!! Thankfully, Amanda knew what was going on, and I realized I had only five minutes to go until we needed to leave the village and head to the start line, 40 minutes before our wave was to start. Hmmm, a few more nerves kicked in, so I got my crap together and ready to go.
Near the start line area, there’s a huge port-a-jon village, so I got the rest of my stuff ready there. I forgot to pack the Body Glide and forgot to glide the inside of my arms, so I ended up using Chapstick as a replacement. Hint: it worked. I took my last bit of fuel, drank my last bit of water, got my gum in, tied and re-tied my shoes and then re-tied them again, to make them juuuuuust right. Our corral and wave was called, and it was time to line up. I was supposed to meet another Team BlueLine runner, but I could not, for the life of me, find any busses where they were. Bummer.
One thing I noticed was that it was friggin hot. I didn’t feel a wind, a breeze, or a fart. It was warm. Oh man.
I decided to leave one of my small hand-held water bottles at the start area, then strategically packed two Base salt tubes on me, Chapstick, my one clip-on bottle, one hand-held bottle, and two gu’s, all with NOT using a fuel belt of any kind. Pretty impressive, don’t you say?
I was in the same corral as Amanda, so we walked our way to the start, where they really wanted us crammed in like itty bitty sardines. I noticed, again, how warm it was. And it felt humid. The eight minute wait went by fast, and we were on our way.
My Boston Marathon adventure began.