Friday, April 24, 2015

Boston 2015 Race Recap

When people asked how Boston went my answer went something like this:

"It was so fun and it was the easiest marathon yet! I got done and wanted to keep running!" That basically sums up the experience without going into the details that I have below. 

Throwing out all race goals was the best thing I could have done, but looking back makes me a tiny bit bummed knowing that I was only 4 seconds off my PR with a 3:13:46. I trained all winter for 7:00 minute miles and I was hitting all of my workouts. I just happened to decide not to work going into this race so that I could fully enjoy it. I don't love marathons (just the training), so all I wanted to do was be in this one for the experience, a goal that was easily achieved. 

Anyway, here's how the WHOLE day went down! Get ready, because it's going to be long. 

Race Morning: 
I was super pumped all weekend. For the first time ever I didn't care about the weather forecast. Normally I am the biggest baby when it comes to weather and should have freaked at the thought of rain, headwinds, and 40-something temps. But I knew that Monday's weather would be way better than my winter training or the time I ran the Vermont City Marathon two years ago, and that it wouldn't come close to the freezing cold 10 miler I did at the start of March this year. 

Tom and I got up at 5:00 and I loved having him to get ready with. Normally it's only one of us racing (ok, usually me), so this was a new experience. I had my regular breakfast of toast and peanut butter and a cup of coffee and was ready in no time.

We ventured out of the hotel, me looking like a bum, but a warm one at that! After a quick uber ride we were at the bus loading zone, which was the most organized I've ever seen it. We checked in our bags and boarded the bus together. I was smarter this year and didn't drink any water on the bus ride knowing how bad I suffered in last year's ride.

Last photo before saying goodbye to my phone. 

Marathon Village: 
We were at Marathon Village on the earlier side since Tom was in the first wave. That meant that for the first time ever I was able to find a seat under the tent, a spot needed because it started raining as soon as we got there. We got warm coffee and tea, ate some bagel, Fig Newmans, and pretzels, and stayed warm and dry. Food rarely affects my stomach. What does affect me is being hungry. I had to make sure I was satisfied in the morning with easy foods that would keep me fueled. They did just the trick!

Tom's wave was called 40 minutes before mine. I was so excited for him and also bummed that I wasn't going to be able to cheer him on during the race. I wanted so badly to see him race.

It wasn't long before I had to go to the start myself. On the way I finished eating my Honey Stinger chews which I became addicted to before all of my tempo and strength workouts this spring. Go with what works, right?

The Start: 
Another first this year: Getting to the start with more than 2 minutes to spare. As I got to my corral Sweet Caroline started playing for the crowd. That song has sentimental meaning to me, being the song that my mom, my bro, and I always sang in the car growing up. I couldn't help but feel like my mom was with me at that moment cheering me on. I knew it was going to be a good race.

Another note: I left my Garmin in DC on purpose. I'm done with my Garmin being off and not getting exact mile splits. It was relieving to have my old watch with me, which would force me to take my own splits. 

Miles 1-4
7:47, 7:20, 7:17, 7:11

A two year old hamstring injury was starting to nag me in the two weeks leading up to the race. I think a massage triggered it. I only felt it for the first mile and never again. Perhaps it just needed to be warmed up or the slower paced miles cause it to be more aggravated.

The first mile was too slow for me and I knew it from the start. Last year's Boston time put me in corral 4 and I had trained much faster all spring. Instead of freaking out, I went with the slower pace and high-fived a ton of kids for the first few minutes. Why not, right?! 

While my 7:47 first mile was not the 7:15 that I had hoped for I knew that it only meant for a stronger finish. It was about time that I went out conservative at Boston!

The next few miles flew by. I was happy with the splits I was getting: they felt effortless.

Miles 5-8
7:25, 7:10, 7:17, 7:24

Somewhere at this point we heard Sweet Caroline play twice in two different spots. By the second time all of the spectators and runners began to sing along. That was pretty special and probably one of my favorite memories of the race. 

Maybe I was making it up, but there seemed to be fewer spectators than last year. I don't blame them one bit if it really was true. It was nasty out there. It rained on and off throughout the race. I didn't wear a hat, unsure of how the strong the headwind would be, so I got all of the water in my eyes. When the rain really came down there were times I had trouble seeing. Thankfully I was reminded of a particular run during one storm this winter where I had to stop every mile or so to get the ice off my eyelashes because my eyelids were becoming frozen shut. The rain was nothing compared to that cold and snow so I was on cloud 9. 

I chatted with an older man at one point, and by older I mean, I hope I can still run a little bit when I'm his age. He was awesome! He first wanted to know if I was warm because he still hadn't gotten rid of his sweatshirt. Then he was a hoot telling me that he only races summer races in shorts, no shirt, and that he had done a trail race in VT last year. This opened up opportunity to chat and run with a nearby "Oiselle" runner that may not actually be with the "flock" but had the name on her singlet. We stayed together or within site of each other for most of the race. I actually began to really like the people I was running with, getting inspired by how strong they all looked. 

Isn't it crazy 1) what thoughts you have in your head during a marathon and 2) how motivational little things can be in races? I always say this after coming back from race weekend: Being around runners is like being in Heaven. We get each other and we support each other, even when we don't mean to or plan to. 

Gosh - I just love this sport!
Miles 9-12
7:15, 7:24, 7:24, 7:15

When I got to mile 16 and suddenly realized that there were only 10 miles left - or less than 1 hour and 20 minutes, party poppers and fireworks began to go off in my head. I just knew I wasn't going to bonk. I hadn't felt that good in a race ever before. I didn't have to force myself to play mind tricks, they came naturally. I just didn't feel tired at any moment and tried to keep my splits somewhat even. 

Miles 13-16
7:23, 7:19, 7:26, 7:22

I decided to do what I had never done in a race before: use a port-a-potty. I had to go pee ever since the gun went off but held it. When I made the decision to go at mile 15 I was on the lookout for a bathroom for two miles. When I got to one, however, it was full. Dang! I wasn't going to wait, so I jumped back in the race.

Time cost in doing this: probably 5 seconds: there goes my PR that I didn't know I could get! In the words of Homer Simpson: "Do'H!"

The good news: I forgot I had to pee when the rain really started falling again in miles 18 and 19.

While it probably cost me my PR, it did give me a pretty cool opportunity to meet up with another runner who's blog I've been reading and Instagram I've been following for a few years.

At some point I was behind a man wearing a Saucony jacket. I had seen the female version of the jacket before on Michele's blog this winter. I began thinking about her at that moment and when the man moved out of my way for just a second I was able to get a view of the people in front of him. 

Do you know who was right in front of him?!

Michele! I wasn't believing my eyes and I sped up to her to see if I my eyes were playing tricks on me. When I heard someone in the crowd shout her name I made contact with her to give her a thumbs up, saying she looked great (cause she totally did!)

After a hill and a few turns she caught up to me again - she was good at running tangents.

I had followed her training all winter and knew that she was doing awesome! She said she wasn't looking at her watch, but she didn't need to. When you run with your heart you always have a good race. It turns out that she finished the day with a 6 minute PR!!

Miles 17-20
7:31, 7:33, 7:21, 7:34

These hills. Piece. Of. Cake. 

Every time I got to a hill I envisioned myself on Mass Ave down here in DC. I did all of my speed and tempo workouts on that street and if you haven't seen it, it has quite a few (potentially) killer hills. I designed my training with hills on purpose. I wanted to eat Boston's hills for lunch on Monday. 

Guys, it worked. By killing myself for months I breezed through the marathon's hills. They were easy! I felt like I had won the Golden Wonka Ticket every time I started running one of the hills. The training paid off. It was the best feeling ever.

Miles 21-25
7:50, 7:17, 7:28, 7:10, 7:23

Last year I gave Tom a 5 minute sch-peal about the Citgo sign and my dislike for it when it appears, knowing that I still have 1-2 miles to go before the finish. Last year I saw it and had no emotions which was progress. This year when it appeared I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe that the race was coming to an end. I felt so good. There still hadn't been a moment when I was tired. If I thought that my legs were beginning to get tired I was instantly reminded that they were nothing like they felt on my 10 mile tempo during the 66 mile week I put in back in March. They were doing great. I was doing great. I wasn't even cold with all of the rain!

Miles 26 and 0.2
 7:13, 1:35

I like to dedicate miles throughout my race to particular people in my life. I don't think about it, they just come to me. On Monday I was having so much fun that no 'dedication miles' came until the last mile. At that moment I began to think about two of my student athletes in particular (L and S). That last mile was dedicated to those two girls, who inspire me beyond belief. Crazy - I know, but they have left an impression on me through their dedication to their school work and their athletics.  They are XC and distance runners that take any challenge they're given and go for it. Having run so many races, I was super happy to run that last mile in my head for them. 

When I turned that second to last quarter I started smiling. I always remember my first Boston, coming onto that corner thinking, "This. Is. Awe. Some!" I ran the rest of the race with a smile on my face. Hearing the crowd during that final stretch is always one of the best feelings.

Final: 3:13:46
Overall: 5490/26610
Gender: 604/12022
Division: 523/6011

I hadn't been cold at any point during the race but the second I stopped running my body began to shiver uncontrollably. I sped-walked out of the finish area. Yes. Sped-walked. I debated about running because my legs felt totally fine. In fact, immediately after crossing the finish line I crashed into a man who clearly had worked himself to the finish and was going too slow for me.

The photo doesn't capture the shivering going on

For a moment I had the crazy thought of "Oh! So this is why some people do ultra marathons? Maybe I should try an ultra if I can still walk fine after the last 26 miles."

The wind was pretty strong at the finishing area. I got my food, medal, and poncho as quick as I could and headed back to the bag drop off. Tom met me along the way and we taxied back to the hotel to shower. Our hotel, the Residence Inn at Seaport, was so accommodating, and let us shower in our room with a late checkout. I really don't know how I would have been able to warm up otherwise.

Tom's Race: 
Tom will probably tell you that I talked him into running this race after he declared he would only run one marathon. It may not be entirely true, as he had to sign himself up, but he did SO AWESOME for his second marathon ever.

He finished in 2:44 with an 8 minute PR on a much tougher course than his first race! He was also 467th out of 26,610 finishers.

Maybe some day he'll post his own marathon recap on here (*hinthintcoughcoughyesTomIknowyouarereadingthis*)

Other Thoughts and Notes
We got to meet up with a few friends over the weekend and a few others that we did not see did reach out to tell us that they would be cheering for us along the course. To be honest, I feared that they would totally miss us and that it wouldn't have been worth it for them to be out there. 

That wasn't the case! I saw EVERY ONE of the people that told us they would be out there! Anna, Nate, Shelby, Will, Katie, Carrie, Glynna, Kelly, and Austin! They were awesome cheerers, made awesome signs (with wicked cool puns), and braved the cold and rain to come out to support us. That meant a lot in those moments.

The Nuun tent was also along one of the hills and were so energizing when I went by. I met the CEO this weekend at the meet-up event and I recognized him out there, cheering us on for that hill. I don't remember the hill at all, only the Nuun tent's enthusiasm. 

Favorite Signs:
"Your gym teacher would be proud!" Actually, my middle school gym teacher would be proud! She was a runner herself.

bottom: Taken from Katie's Instagram

"There is no Walken" with a photo of Christopher Walkens' head in the middle. 

College Kids: 
When you're in a bad mood they can either re-energize you or make you hate life knowing they're out there drinking beer and having a good time while you're suffering. This time I thought they were hilarious and loved going by them. They were SO LOUD and so into it, especially after Heartbreak. That energy gets you going for the finish!

I had a Honey Stinger gel at miles 6, 12, 18, and 22. I almost didn't take the last one. Once I was able to get my claw-hands to open each gel they went down SUPER easy. There was no after taste and I didn't scrape my mouth on the packaging like I always did with Gu. They are easily my favorite race gels and had zero effect on my stomach.

Now What? 
So Boston is over. Five months of serious training and plenty more days of pondering and planning. I love this city every year. No matter how the race turns out, the people are awesome.

The excitement is over but there are plenty of other goals to go after. Tom and I are in Vermont for our next race, each running a half of the Vermont City Marathon. Once I can start moving my legs quickly again (maybe today or tomorrow) I'll begin a reverse taper and jump into the tail end of the Hansons Half Marathon training plan for the next month. 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to you and Tom on an awesome race!! You two are incredible. I love reading your recaps - they make me want to run allll the races!
    I'm still a little bummed I'm not running Vermont City as I'll be on vacation in Bar Harbor. Maybe next year!