Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap

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I flew into Boston the Wednesday night before race day with my husband, kids, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law. We spent Thursday through Saturday doing some slow-paced sightseeing and then I spent Sunday sitting around watching movies and resting up.

On Monday morning, my husband took the T with me to the start line and stayed with me while I got oriented, checked my gear, and found the busses.

We said goodbye and then I was on my own with 30,000 other excited Boston runners. We were all already drenched, but the mood was positive. The most common expression was “this will be a great one to look back on.” The forecast called for rain all day and a constant headwind of 25 mph.

My original time goal was to finish under 3:35, my secondary, to set a PR (under 3:39:55) but with the weather I decided to focus on my third goal: to run a smart and grateful race. I wanted to pace as evenly as possible (not too fast on the downhill and not too slow on the uphill) so that I had enough energy to soak up this amazing experience and be constantly aware of what a privilege I had to be here.

Athlete’s village looked like the apocalypse. Everyone was huddled in tents, sitting on cardboard and trying to keep as warm as possible. I had time to go to the porta potty, eat the pb&j sandwich I’d brought, and down a complimentary cup of coffee before my wave was called and it was time to head up to the start line.

The walk to the start line is surprisingly long and I wished I’d dropped my extra sweatshirt and garbage bag later than I did. My teeth were chattering and I was shaking from the cold as I waited. I started my music playlist and jogged in place to try to warm up.

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START

Then we’re off! I’m grinning like an idiot. I feel like I could start crying at any minute. I am running the actual Boston Marathon!

I’ve never run a marathon this big and my first impression is that I have no idea how anyone goes out too fast. It’s so crowded! I try to run my own pace without swerving too much around other people, but also staying as much in the middle of the road as possible to let other’s take the brunt of the wind. It’s a struggle I’ll deal with the entire race.

5k split – 25:26, pace 8:11/mile

My headphones quit on me around mile 6 so I take them off and tucked them in my bra strap. I spent he rest of the race listening to the crowds of hero spectators cheering us on.

10k split – 25:05, pace 8:05 min/mile

My mantra for the first 16 miles of the race is”cruise.” I made a deal with myself that I was going run comfortably fast until the Newton hills and that’s when I’d start working. I had no expectation that I’d actually be comfortable, but that’s what I’m going to tell myself.

15k split – 25:11, pace 8:06 min/mile

A wardrobe malfunction that I know is going to cause serious chaffing if left unchecked has me veering off to the porta potties, but I fix it without actually going inside one and head back out on the course.

20k split – 25:28, pace 8:12 min/mile

The Wellesley girls! Those champions are out and screaming their heads off. Even in these conditions I can hear them at least a quarter mile in the distance. The runner next to me says “here they come” and I agree. “So it’s true!”

I don’t stop to kiss one, but I do kiss the sock on my hand and give a few high fives.

Right before the halfway point I see a sign saying DESI WON! I’m freaking out. I’m so happy for her!!

HALF – 1:46:41 – average pace so far 8:09

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I spend the next couple of miles psyching myself up. The infamous Newton hills are coming and this is where I really get to put my training to the test.

25k split – 25:22, pace 8:10 min/mile

Somewhere in these hills I’m going to see my husband and kids. I’m not sure where, but I’ve been looking forward to this the whole time. I need to see them. I focus on the crowd and I’m surprised when the first hill passes by pretty easily.

At least, I think that’s the first hill. I’m trying to count the hills but it’s hard to tell where one stops and the next one starts.

Finally, right before 30k, I see them! I yell out “That’s my family!” to warn the other runners and swerve over to the side of the road. I give my husband a kiss and high five the kids. Later, Russell will comment that I could’ve finished faster if I hadn’t slowed down here, but I tell him I was here to have the best race possible, and seeing them is a big part of what makes it the best.

30k split – 25:38, pace 8:15 min/mile

Here comes Heartbreak Hill. There really is a guy offering beer at the bottom of it. I’m in a lot of pain by now, but I know if I can power up this one I’ll be in the homestretch. My split from mile 20-21 is 9:10, and this ends up being the slowest 5k of the race overall.

35k split – 26:40, pace 8:34 min/mile

I stop for a few seconds to fish my last gu out of my flip belt which I’m having trouble finding the opening to. I figure stopping for a bit is smarter than being distracted and tripping on another runner.

My mother-in-law and her mom are waiting for me around mile 22 because it’s right outside where we rented an apartment for our stay in Boston. They wave and cheer for me from the far side of the street. Gloria (grandmother-in-law) once jumped into the Boston marathon in the 50s and made it about 3 blocks before being pulled off the course by police. This is her first trip back to Boston since then. Seeing them at this point gives me extra motivation to keep pushing.

40k split – 25:46, pace 8:18 min/mile

The last few miles are a mental game as well as a physical one. The headwinds going into Boston are worse than they’ve been the entire race and I’m so tired. Three more miles is close, but it’s still 25-ish minutes away. I struggle so much at the end of marathons but I’m determined to finish as strong as I can.

Then the Citgo sign appears.

Then there’s a mark on the road saying one mile to go.

Right on Hereford. Left on Boyleston.

The finish line is ahead and I think I’m going to cry. I’m so happy and proud of myself. I’ve run the freaking Boston Marathon!

FINISH – 3:36:11, overall pace 8:15 min/mile

It feels like it takes forever to get my checked gear, find my family, and then finally take the T all the way back to our Boston College apartment, but the shower is the best I’ve ever had.

This was a truly incredible experience and I feel really lucky to have had it. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the volunteers and spectators that came out to support all of the runners and even more so for my family members who came with me and my family and friends who supported me from wherever they were.

The most amazing thing about this experience is the feeling of being part of something historic and big and truly wholesome. Maybe it’s still the runner’s high, but days later I still just feel so positive about the strength of large groups of people rooting for each other to succeed.

I don’t know if I’ll be back next year, but this is a race I’ll definitely try to get to again.

 

Boston Marathon Training: Week 17

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I didn’t take any pictures this week (bad blogger) so here’s another one from the 5 mile race I did a week ago! This might be the first race picture I’ve ever had where it looks like I’m actually running.

Weekly Mileage: 31.25

Taper week 2! One more week until the Boston Marathon. I loved having 3 rest days this week. It turned out to be especially helpful as my team at work is coming up to a deadline and the hours are getting more unpredictable and longer. Despite work stress, I feel pretty relaxed about the race. Probably because it still doesn’t totally feel real.

When I was training to BQ I was constantly freaked out about my plan and my performance. I had nightmares about the race where the course had been changed or now it was an obstacle course, or something totally out of my control was going on.

This cycle, I’ve thought of as two phases. Phase 1 has been the training. I was curious to see if I could take on an aggressive (for me) training plan. Turns out I could. The marathon itself was always present as the end goal, but a big part of my daily workouts was just seeing if I could accomplish that workout.

The marathon itself is Phase 2. I’d really like to PR at Boston, but there’s a lot out of my control (weather, gut issues, nerves, being in a new place) so it’s hard to say what will happen. I don’t know if I’ll ever run the Boston Marathon again so my biggest goal is to soak it in and be grateful that I get to be part of something so special. And to finish strong. That would be nice. I tend to pace really poorly and struggle at the end  of races.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 7 miles with 5×100 sprints

This run felt hard even though the pace was really conservative. I should’ve known better because my Tuesday runs often feel difficult, but I had it in my head that now that I’m in taper these things should be easy. Hahaha. Running is hard.

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 8 miles with 3×1 mile at 5k race pace

I crushed this run. I did my miles at a 7:08 pace (8.4 on the treadmill). I tried to play mind games on myself by telling myself it wouldn’t feel hard until .75 mile and then when I got there I just had .25 to go so may as well finish it.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 4 miles easy

I was supposed to do this run Friday and it was supposed to be 5 miles with sprints, but things didn’t work out on Friday. Saturday we were in a hotel 250 miles away from home for one of my kids’ band performances so I didn’t feel like running outside by myself in a strange place.

The hotel treadmill was ancient and bad. It started counting up from the end of the workout of the person before me which was super annoying and the buttons were really hard to push and the ledge where you rest your phone was super low. These are all dumb excuses, but I wasn’t enjoying this and didn’t feel like it was necessary to torture myself so I hopped off at 4 miles.

Sunday: 12.25 miles easy

We drove home this morning and I started running about 30 minutes after we parked in the driveway. The actual forecast on the radio for today was “starts with showers and then moves on to rain for the rest of the day.” Uh….that’s just rain all day.

Fortunately I got out of the house for a dry patch. I did a couple of loops around my usual route. It felt ok, but my legs definitely feel heavy and I’m glad I didn’t have to run a marathon today.

Next week I’ll be writing to you from the actual city of Boston the day before the race. Traveling will present some unique challenges this week, and I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get in sightseeing without walking too much, but I’ll figure it out. I’m so close!

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training – Week 16

Miles this week: 41.75

First week of taper and my first race of 2018! Let me tell you, it was fantastic to not have any double digit treadmill runs this week. I’ve started obsessing about the race and watching YouTube videos about racing strategies, so I’d say everything is about normal.

Monday: Rest Day

Feeling sore from Sunday’s 20 miler. I’d hoped to make it to yoga in the middle of the work day, but got busy and couldn’t leave my desk all day. My band performed at a new venue Monday night which got a good turnout and was a ton of fun. Plus, we were done by 8 which I love for a weeknight gig.

Tuesday: 8 miles with 5×600 at 5k pace

Treadmill run felt challenging but fine. I did my 5k intervals at a 7:03 pace for .4 miles and then jogged .3 miles in between

Wednesday: Rest Day

I’d planned on a 6 mile recovery run during my lunch break, but once again, work got cray. I’d been really looking forward to this week as the week I wouldn’t have to get up extra early to get my runs in, but this day I realized that dream was dead.

Thursday: Recovery 6 miles

Got up early. Got on the treadmill. Got these miles in.

Friday: 4 miles with 6×100 springs

Got up early for this one too and I’m glad I did. I’ve decided to just hang on for the next couple of weeks and keep getting up early. I’m almost there.

Saturday: Spring Run for Fun 5 mile race +2.5 mile jogging cool down

39:07 and 2nd place overall female! It was a gorgeous day for running around in the woods. I even won a pretty sweet mug!

My training plan calls for 3 tune-up races. For the last two I’ve just done tempo runs on the treadmill because I can’t find anything close by that’s long enough and fits my schedule and also races are expensive. I felt like I should do at least one though and I’m glad I did.

Sunday: 16.25 miles

For my last outdoor long run I thought it would be fun to try a new route. Then I thought it would be fun to kind of make it up as I went. At about 6 miles I was at a dead end that looked like it had a trail at the end of it. Since Saturday’s trail run was so fun I figured why not?

When is a trail not a trail? When it looks like this.

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Shortly after I took this picture the trail completely disappeared. I thought I could see the road ahead of me so I decided to forge through and ended up tromping through a field of stinging nettle which I can still feel right now as I type this. If only I’d worn tights instead of capris. 😦

About 20 minutes after I got back on the road, the rain started coming down really hard. It was freezing and I was only about halfway done!

The podcasts on my playlist today both interviewed Alex Hutchinson who recently wrote a book about Endurance and how your mind affects your ability to perform. Great timing! This run today was definitely all about accepting the discomfort and unpredictability of the day and finding a way to enjoy it anyway.

It also inspired me to spend some time thinking about how I talk to myself about my running. I’ve got runner imposter syndrome, big time. Part of me honestly feels like my BQ is a fluke. But when I look back on the past year and a half that I’ve been training, I have to admit that I’ve worked really hard and run some fast times. I have goals for the Boston Marathon, but as far as my goals for training…I’ve pretty much nailed them. That’s not a fluke. That’s a result of deciding every day to put in the miles.

So over the next couple of weeks I’m going to work on my positivity about my running. I have a lot to be proud of even before I get to the start line on April 16th. Running really is about the journey.

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

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