Posts Tagged With: running boston

The Boston Marathon Race Recap

“Reluctantly crouched, at the starting line, engines pumping, and thumping in time. The green light flashes, the flags go up, churning, and burning, they yearn for the cup…..”

The race began. I started my music, my garmin, and we plunged down the first hill. I remember thinking how lucky I was to be in this crowd, how amazing it was, the spectators cheering, the residents along the course with their tents set up, serving oranges and coffee and water and handing out paper towels and holding jars of Vaseline out, holding signs, yelling and cheering, getting us runners whatever we needed. It was that way for miles and miles. These people are AMAZING.

It didn’t seem nearly as crowded and full of spectators as the race was in 2014. But the road was full. I had to concentrate on the people running slower than I was, the red rover lines of friends chatting it up (it’s cool, if you were behind me and in the corral that corresponded to your pace, but that’s another subject), the crevices in the road, and honestly, I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to race the race and absorb the energy and the beauty of the course.

I don’t think I looked at the distance reading on my garmin more than about three times the entire race, but I did look at pace, especially in the first several miles. “Don’t be American Pharoah” was what I was thinking. Don’t mess this up. You know not to take off too fast. My breathing was even and came easy. My legs felt good. I didn’t feel hungry nor over full. Things were in equilibrium, at least that’s what I thought at the time.

By mile two, I got worried. Sweat was dripping off my elbows, and it didn’t feel as if the humidity lifted, like it was supposed to. It wasn’t HOT hot, but it was WARM, probably mid to upper 60’s (perfect for spectators, too warm for runners). That worried me, and I made sure I started drinking. The small bottle I had in my hand held 5 ounces and you drank from it by biting down on the mouth. Wow, that was convenient. I liked that one.

The song “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” came on my iPod, I sang along…. “…we fight and we argue, you’ll still love me blind. If we DON’T FUCK THIS WHOLE THING UP, guaranteed, I can blow your mind…”

I would listen to this song while running long and at home, and I just didn’t want to fuck this race up. I knew I had to be smart.  My husband said “FOLLOW YOUR PLAN” about a hundred zillion times before I left on the bus, and his words rang through my mind. I couldn’t fuck it up, I couldn’t embarrass myself again, I couldn’t come home as upset and sad and angry as I did the last time. I was there for redemption, and it would be mine.

The miles ticked by, and at mile 5, I still felt good. I wasn’t sweating as heavily as I was before (evidently, the humidity did lift right about that time), and it was time to take my first Gu. Instead of throwing the hand held bottle out, I decided to fill it up with Gatorade and drink some water from the aid stations. It was easy, convenient, and I could easily measure how much I was drinking. The only issue was that, since I was holding it, it was really warm. Yuck. But whatever, it’s a race, so I just went on.

In 2014, I remembered a row of people bouncing on trampolines. I had told several people about it, and was hoping it wasn’t some crazy mirage or I was just crazy. I can’t remember what mile it was, but I again, saw a row of mini trampolines along the road with little kids just bouncing away. YES. I remembered correctly. I had to laugh when I saw it, the oddity of a row of trampolines along a race course. Only in Boston.

We passed through the small towns, one by one, and I was having a good time. I sang along to Sweet Caroline, I high-fived so many kids, and I remembered to absorb all I could. But I didn’t feel good. My breathing felt fine, thankfully, but my legs didn’t feel fresh, or at least as fresh as I thought they should be. In my course studying, it says that if I’m still not fresh at this point, I need to regroup and consider slowing down, since the hardest part was still ahead. Because I’m stubborn and didn’t want to, I didn’t slow down. I was scared that my race was going to be derailed already, but I knew I was willing to fight for it and that slowing down wasn’t going to fit into my agenda. The words “The hard is what makes it great” rang through my head. Yes, the hard IS what makes this great.  I could see the wind was blowing by the flags and the water cups zipping across the road, but I definitely didn’t feel any breeze on my face, so I figured we had a nice tail wind. Thankfully.

I made sure to keep drinking. I slowed down at aid stations to refill my hand held bottle, and I never used the one clipped to my shorts. It could be hard to clip back on, and I didn’t want to distract myself enough to mess with it. I did end up throwing it to the side eventually. At one point between miles 5 and 10, I got nauseated and felt full. I thought that maybe I’d had too much fluid, so I backed off a little for a few miles.

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I don’t know where this was taken, but I was on a mission. “Ain’t got time for pictures.” Lol. 

A good sign was that I needed to pee. I stopped in my qualifying marathon, so I wasn’t afraid of taking the time, as long as I found one that didn’t have a line. In about another mile, I found an open one and quickly did my thing.

Soon after, it was time for the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. This is all it’s cracked up to be. I had requested a Team BlueLine sign and I knew it was made, so I aimed to the right side of the road so I could hopefully find it. It felt like a mile of girls screaming to me, many holding signs to “Kiss me” for various reasons. I sort of wanted to take part in the tradition, but I wanted to run more, so I didn’t kiss anyone. I saw one sign that said, “Fuck Me”, which surprised me and made me laugh. Alrighty then. Way to put it out there.

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The TBL Sign, thanks to the Wellesley Girls

We had another few miles of rolling hills, and I knew the course would turn, then go down hill, then the real test would begin. There is a hill at mile 16, but this one doesn’t seem like much to me. Not sure why, maybe it’s because you’ve just gone down a hill. Then there’s a set of three of hills, starting around mile 17.5, the first being the longest (almost half a mile) and most gradual. The cue this is going to happen is that you make a turn on the course. I was desperately trying to remember the course from the last time I was there, but it seemed different this time.  I wasn’t 100% sure where I was, even though I had studied. I think I over-thought the entire thing, haha, no surprise to those who know me. My legs were not feeling worse than they were before, and I was definitely on pace for my goal, with almost a minute to spare. I was feeling good, followed my nutrition and hydration plan, and was ready to face Newton.

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They take your picture BEFORE the hills. It’s like they want to catch you before you start walking or something… 

When we started up the first long hill, I shortened my stride and concentrated on the road in front of me. The song “Til I Collapse” came on, and I tried to absorb that feeling. I passed a lot of people, which made me smile, and when I reached the top, I was damn proud of myself. One down, three and change to go. I’d lost some time, but I wasn’t worried and I was still on pace. I knew that last time at this point in the race, I felt good too, but I knew I had armored myself to prevent anything bad from happening. It’s a marathon though, and you just never know what can happen. Don’t get cocky. THAT is something I truly believe. But at that point in time, I was racing well, and I felt good.

Just after mile 19, there was a steeper, yet shorter hill. Again, I wasn’t 100% sure this was actually “the second” in the set of three, but I powered through with little change in pace. We were rewarded by a nice long stretch of downhill running.

Then, this is funny, I started going up and up. I took my iPod off and backed it up to “Til I Collapse”. I thought it looked like Boston College, and I thought it was Heartbreak Hill, but I wasn’t sure if this was it or the hill BEFORE the hill. Last time, it was SWARMED with people yelling and screaming, sidewalk chalk messaging us to “Break This Hill”, and when we curved around a little, I was expecting to see a big blow up thing saying we had beat the hill or some message that this was actually Heartbreak. I almost asked someone if it was, but honestly, I didn’t want to spend the energy, and I didn’t want to sound stupid. When we came to the top, I saw a sign that indicated that yes, you were done with Heartbreak Hill. I almost started crying from joy. I made it. And I didn’t even know for sure THAT was the hill. Ignorance is bliss, I guess! I saw a girl holding a sign that said, “You made this hill your bitch!”. I fiercely pointed at her and said, “YES!!! YES!!!!” She smiled and well, so did I. I made it. I freaking made it up the hardest section of this race, and I was getting redemption. It was happening. I was doing it. I was about 90 seconds off my goal pace of 3:45.

After Heartbreak ends at mile 21, you descend. Five “measly” little miles left (we all know these miles feel more like ten), and a lot of it was down hill. I let the wind and gravity take me. I felt amazing. What happened? Why did I feel so good?

 

The last time, I was suffering tremendously at this point, so I don’t remember any of the course. I don’t remember the crowds, thick against the barriers, yelling at us, cheering us, the people on the T, looking and cheering. I don’t remember any of it. At some point, you see the Citgo sign, then it disappears behind the trees. I knew Citgo was a LONG ways away, and I giggled, as I had felt the four days we were there, the sign was stalking me. From our hotel, from our seats in Fenway, from everywhere, staring at me to come get it.

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Citgo is following me. 

My pace quickened to about 8:10’s or so, and I felt amazing. I mean, I felt like I was on the last miles of a difficult marathon, but I was running the fastest miles of the race. I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed my necklace, which is my late grandmother’s, the grandma who started me running in the first place, and I held it, looking up and telling her and my other grandma in heaven, “Look, I’m doing it! Thank you!”. I thought about all the people who had wished me well, and I felt them lift me up. I felt my family there, knowing they were tracking me, knowing I was having a good race. I couldn’t believe I missed so much experience last time. It was so amazing, the crowds, the city, the support.

Yes, I’d picked up the pace, but I wasn’t making up the few minutes I lost in Newton as I was hoping.  I struggled with wanting to get a BQ and also knowing I had gotten what I came for: A successful finish to a hard race on a hot day. I knew I had that, so I decided with three or four miles to go, to stop looking at the time, pay no attention to my pace bracelet, and run the thing. Just finish. Finish strong. I didn’t want the lack of a BQ to be disappointing, but I didn’t want to ruin the experience of joy in “just” running it. I didn’t look at my watch again until I crossed the finish line.

But there was race to run, and I couldn’t blow up. I wasn’t going to hold back, but I wasn’t going to be stupid either.  I was covered in salt, so I kept taking my Base salt at this point, and I was thirsty. I threw my hand held away, and relied on the aid stations, taking a Gatorade and water each mile, sometimes stopping to avoid extra air. I had NEVER drank so much in a race before.

When the Citgo sign reappeared and the mile markers ticked up, I was trying to find where I was in the city. I was lost. I had no idea where my husband and kids would be, so I remembered thinking it was kind of dumb that we didn’t even plan at all where I could look for them. I wondered who won the races, did Galen or Jared, did Des finally get her victory? I felt sorry for myself that I had missed so much three years prior. NOW I get it. NOW I get why this race is the best in the world. This. It was right in front of me, and I was doing it.

Then with just over a mile to go, you go up a bridge overpass, which wasn’t pleasant, but I expected it, and I knew it was the last hill, besides the slight incline of Hereford. I ended up looking towards the right, and freakin’-A, there was my family. I cannot ever explain how I felt when I saw them, except for pure joy. I jumped when I saw them, galloping towards them with my arms swinging out, yelling at them in excitement, never had felt that feeling of pure exhaustion and pure energy and pure joy at the same time.

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I am literally jumping for joy to see my family. 

After I passed them, our road went under another road, and I felt like I had wings. Then I saw the turn. I had missed it last time. There was the right turn on Hereford. I choked up. I was almost done. Good God, I was almost done. The crowds were so loud, so I took my ear buds out and shoved them down my shirt. I wanted to HEAR and experience everything. It was like nothing else. Then left on Boylston. The finish line was within sight, but it was not as close as what you’d want, haha.

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I looked around, I thought about 2013 and what that must have been like, and I felt protected and thankful. I crossed over the first mat and heard my name being called, and then I crossed the finish line of the 2017 Boston Marathon. A few seconds later, I looked down at my watch and saw “3:44:??”. Oh my gawd, holy shit, I did it. I freaking pulled out a BQ. I qualified for Boston at Boston.

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I don’t know why people bite their medals but I didn’t care, I was just happy. 

I did it.  I got my redemption.

Boston Marathon 2017: 3:44:32

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Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Boston Marathon Race Recap Part Uno

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.

NUTRITION:

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.

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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.

HYDRATION:

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:

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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.

RACE STRATEGY:

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.

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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.

Renee and I at the bus loading area

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.

Categories: being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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