A Week Later

It’s been a week since I crossed the finish line on Boylston. It seems like it’s already been a million years. I’m not sore anymore and am proudly sporting my Boston Marathon gear. I’ve been working on my race recap for days now but it’s just not ready. I feel like I’m not quite getting it. The words aren’t flowing just yet. They will come and so will my recap.

In the past week I’ve let myself recover. I’ve done little activity save for my run Saturday morning with my friends. My legs are no longer sore and the only physical evidence of the marathon are the crazy tan lines I got from my taped shoulder.

To be honest, I’m feeling a bit of post-race blues. With no marathons on my calendar, and no possibility for qualifying again, I’m a bit sad. I need this break from marathons, but it’s hard. I accomplished my ultimate marathon goal. Now what? Will I ever be able to qualify again and run the race in Boston I’d like? Will I ever get to feel that excitement and energy that made that right on Hereford, left on Boylston so incredible?

I registered for a September half marathon. That will give me a few months to relax before I train for that. I just have to make myself actually train for a half with the same enthusiasm I have for marathon training. I’ve also starting looking at races for next spring and fall, even considering entering the lottery for London. I might just for fun to see if I get in. I mean, that would be so fun! Other than that I’m looking for local races, one spring and one fall. We’ll see what happens.

How do you get over the post-race blues?

Boston Marathon Training {Week 14}

Peak.Week.

What a week it has been. Mileage is all down hill from here to race day. I’ve been feeling more anxious about race day this week. I don’t think it is so much the distance, but the race itself. It’s the Boston Marathon. A marathon that is for many, like myself, the holy grail of marathons.

It was fitting that this week, as my anxiety levels started rising that this picture popped up on my Facebook memories.

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Exactly five years ago last week, on a work trip to Boston, I took advantage of my opportunity to visit the marathon finish line. I had my coworker take my picture to show that yes, I had been to the finish line of one of, if not the most, prestigious marathons in the country.

Back then I was a 5:07 marathoner who had not gotten through a race without crying because I was tired and questioning my sanity. I had an eight month old and honestly didn’t know if I would do another marathon. I NEVER thought I would be fast enough to qualify for Boston. That was my moment to ‘cross’ the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Fast forward to today, now I have two kids and am just 20 days away from running the race I never thought I’d be fast enough to earn a spot in. I still cry occasionally at races, but they’re usually tears of joy as I cross the finish line. While I want to take a little break from the marathon distance after Boston, I know I’ll run another one.

The tears I shed as I crossed the finish line at Lake Wobegon, after smashing my qualifying time, almost seem like a dream. Did it really happen? Did I really qualify last May? Can I really run that fast again?

It really happened. I really did. I really can (I hope). I have worked hard. I worked hard to get back into running after having Ella and ran my first sub-5 hour marathon. I worked hard to get back into running after having Anderson and ran my first sub-4 hour marathon. I’ve worked hard to take off nearly an hour and 40 minutes off my marathon time to run my first sub-3:30 marathon. I’ve worked hard to qualify.

I worked hard. I earned my spot. I deserve to be there among some of the fastest marathoners in the world.

Now I just have to get through taper.

Monday – 9 miles w/7 at tempo
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Orangetheory (3.68 miles)
Thursday – 6×1200 @ 6:40 min/mile w/2 mile WU and CD
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 22 mile long run
Sunday – Walk

What’s Next?

I no longer want to crawl up and down the stairs. In fact, I’m itching to do more than just go for a walk. Not running feels so boring. I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Since the marathon I’ve done nothing. I’ve walked up to 2.5 miles at a time, spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling. Oh and eating. I’ve been so hungry. My friends have been kind enough to bring me all sorts of treats from quiche to cupcakes, booze to gelato. Needless to say, my body has had plenty of calories to help it recover.

I am planning a very easy, no time, distance, or pace goal run Saturday morning with Amy. I’m looking forward to a chance to hear in more detail how the race went for her, other than the obvious setting of her new personal record. I’m also really looking forward to my first Orangetheory class in three weeks on Monday.

Looking forward to this summer and fall, I have a few things on my calendar. First up, the Rock N’Roll Chicago half marathon in mid-July. While I’m going to keep my fitness up, I’m not sure how much I will actually train for this race. We will see how Orangetheory goes on Monday before I decided whether or not I want to jump back into speed work so soon after a marathon. I’m more just looking forward to that being my first girls weekend away since before kids. It could also be the first training weekend for Indianapolis (see below).

In late August I have our local Esprit de She 5k. It will be my first 5k since the Bolt for the Heart on Thanksgiving. It’s always a fun night, but now that they moved it up to August, it could be a really hot one! They also dropped the 10k distance after the course measurement fiasco. Hopefully this year the course will not be a quarter mile short.

Back on New Years Day, I registered for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November. Originally I did so because it was 50% off and it was to be my Boston qualifier back-up plan. Luckily I don’t need my backup plan. I’m not make a decision just yet, but I’m considering dropping down to the half. It’s about 23 weeks before Boston. That means I’d have about 6-7 weeks ‘off’ before training for Boston would start. That’s really not much time between training cycles. I have two fears, first that I’ll get injured, two, I’ll be so burned out that my training for Boston will suck. We will see how I am feeling in a few months. I could always start training for it and if I feel like it’s going to be too much, back off. Regardless I’ll do the race at some distance.

That will take me until the end of the year. There will likely be a turkey trot or another small race thrown in there for fun, but I don’t like racing too much. It’s expensive and hard on my body. More running for fun. That’s just what I need.

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon {Race Recap}

You are strong, you are ready, you are going to do this. Trust your training.

Over the 26.2 miles of the marathon, I repeated this to myself over and over again. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget it. I needed my head to be in the game. I needed to focus on the race and not be distracted by negativity or doubt.

I’m going to pause here and preemptively apologize for the length of this post and hello unflattering pictures. Obviously I have not learned how to be photogenic during races. Maybe the professional pictures will be awesome. Anyway, I honestly still feel like I may have dreamed it all and the race is still to come.

Pre-Race

I woke up before dawn after a restless night of sleep. I quickly grabbed my pre-race food and went to the breakfast area of the hotel. I sat listening to the wind outside and watching the sunrise as I ate three pieces of almond butter and jam toast. I returned to the room, did my usual routine and after checking the hourly weather forecast, decided capris, a tank top, long sleeved hooded shirt and my wind breaker with an ear warmer and gloves would be a good idea. Once dressed I met Amy and her husband for a ride to the buses.

LWTM bus

I was strangely calm as we boarded the bus and even as we made our way into the high school where we stayed warm before the race started. It was great, bathrooms, music, water and coffee. We were able to easily find our friend Megan for a quick picture before we were all lead outside for the start.

Pre-Race LWTM

My game plan was to stick with the 3:30 pacer until the half way point. I had Josh’s voice in my head telling me that I could easily run an 8 min/mile pace. After the half point, I would assess how I was feeling and decide how to proceed. I easily found my pacer Don and told him I was going to do my best to stick with him. I didn’t realize that it was a gun start, not a chip start until he told me. We were outside maybe two minutes before the bell sounded and we were off. I made sure I got across that starting line quick.

The Race

We had a few little curves before we actually made it onto the trail. It was a cold first mile with a nasty headwind and temperatures in the 30s. I was glad I opted for my capris rather than shorts and compression socks. Once we were on the trail, the wind became a more of a side wind and we had a little bit of insulation from the trees after a long open patch. The first 5k flew by and I was just so thankful that I wasn’t having to do any weaving or worry about working tangents.

I chatted a little bit with the Don (pacer) and a few of the people around me. I was surprised and a little leary about my ability to maintain the pep in my step. I tried to just enjoy the moment. I looked around at the scenery and read every single motivational sign put along the trail by the race volunteers. It was a really nice touch.

I took my first gel a little early, just after the 10k mark. I had finished breakfast at about 4:45 am, so I was starting to get hungry. Though I was extremely careful about I ate all week, I was fearful of GDF (gel digestive failure), but the gel went down just fine. Our pace group started getting smaller. Some people sped up and other dropped back.  I was feeling amazing. The weather, though windy at times, was actually pretty ideal. It was a beautiful sunny morning and cold but not so much so that I was shivering.

The next several miles are a little bit of a blur. I knew the only real ‘hill’ was coming up and that some time after the turn I should see my family. As we curved around with the trail, I looked forward to that turn and didn’t even notice the hill. Around mile 11, I decided it was time to lose my jacket. I had thought ahead and put my arm band with my phone under it so I only fumbled slightly as I tried to pull it off and tie it around my waist without dropping it or tripping myself.

After the turn I knew it was pretty much a straight shot to the finish line. I took my second gel around mile 12.5. We cruised past the half way point at 1:45 on the dot. I had just set a new half marathon personal record by a minute and a half. Woohoo! More exciting to me at that point was that I was still with the 3:30 pacer and continuing to feel good except for some grumbling in my stomach. Up until that point, I had seen one porta-potty. With the stomach threatening to act up, I started looking around for a place to peel off the trail into the trees. I starting thinking, oh shit, I may have to actually relieve myself just off the trail where lots of runners will likely catch a glimpse. I drank some more water and kept moving trying to think of anything else.

Josh called just as we closed in on the 15th mile. Knowing that it was going to be very cold for spectators, I told Josh not to worry about trying to see me prior to the half way point. I figured he must be close. He just missed me at mile 16 but I saw some friends which was exciting! It always so much fun being able to see people you know on the sides.

At this point, it was myself, Don and one other runner. Don said that if we were feeling good around mile 23-24, to speed up and leave him behind. If not, that was ok, but he wanted us to finish with him. He did not want to cross that finish line alone. I assured him I was going to do my best. He was very positive and kept telling me how strong I was looking as we chatted a bit. Right around then, a runner I had met during my last 22 mile training run, cruised up to say hi. Only at a small race like this would we have bumped into each other.

I took my third gel at mile 18. I was starting to get tired mentally but physically I was feeling strong, really strong. I knew the wall could be coming but was hoping it would be just a tiny fairy-sized (as Ella would say) wall that I would easily overcome. After all, I was strong, I was ready and I could do it. I was doing it. I saw friends again who snapped this picture. That’s my friend Megan’s brother to my left.

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Our group was down to just Don and me by mile 19. I guess it was up to me to not let him finish alone. I saw Josh and the kids at mile 20. I screamed out to them in excitement and tossed them my ear band. Don yelled to the kids, “Mommy is going to Boston!”

Jess Mile 20 LWTM

It was then that it hit me. Unless something went drastically wrong, I was going to qualify for Boston. I started calculating in my head what my time would be if I slowed to a 10 min/mile. I knew that wouldn’t happen but it’s a lot easier to do that when running that to calculate an 8:30 or 9 min/mile over 6.2 more miles.

The next two miles started to feel a little more difficult. I decided to take a fourth gel between 22 and 23. I fell back behind Don a bit but no more than a few seconds. He kept looking back for me and I’d yell I was still there. Mile 24 was my fastest mile as I tried to get back on track with Don at 7:43. With us side by side again, he told me that he wanted me to finish before him. Jokingly he said then I’d be able to say that I beat the 2011 winner.

We ran past mile 25 and slowly, a red dot appeared before us. He asked me if I saw it and said, that is Boston. Right there. I warned him that I was going to hug him at the finish line. We inched closer and closer to the finish line. He said I had lied, the first half marathon wasn’t my new PR, this half was because we were going to negative split the race. Right as I got to the last trail crossing I heard Josh cheering, Don said go, go and I did my best to sprint through the finish line.

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As I passed under the big red arch, I saw 3:29:2X on the clock. What?!

Official time: 3:29:28      Average Pace: 7:59 min/mile

Post Race

I turned around and hugged Don, thanking him for keeping me going. Keeping me steady and helping me get my first Boston qualifying time and huge new personal record. I picked up my medal and t-shirt then went towards Josh and the kids.

Ella ran up and hugged me saying she was proud of me, which of course made me start to cry. As soon as Josh hugged me I started blubbering a bit. I was in shock. I had just run, like actually ran every single step of 26.2 miles. I negative split the marathon by 32 seconds (not huge, but a negative split) and qualified for Boston with a 5+ minute cushion.

Family at the finish line LWTM

I knew Amy would be coming through the shoot soon so I hurried, well as fast as I could, back to the sidelines to cheer her in. A few minutes later I saw our friend Dawn cross and qualify for Boston. I cheered her in and then waited anxiously for Amy. When we saw her we all yelled and cheered. She came through, hands in the air, celebrating her first BQ.

 

BRF Finish Line LWTM

We celebrated a little bit before we parted ways for showers and cleaning up. A little while later I heard that my friend Megan PR’d by 25 minutes too! It was a banner day for all of us. Josh, the kids and I grabbed some lunch before heading home because I needed something other than gluten-free bread, almond butter, jam and bananas which was basically all I ate last week.

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Of course I was pretty excited to check out my Garmin stats. Thanks to my awesome pacer, I ran pretty evenly throughout the race. Only six of the 26.2 miles were at an 8:00+ min/mile pace. The slowest of which was 8:03. My fastest miles were miles 24 and 26. I guess those fast finish long runs really helped.  The first half was done in 1:45:00 and our second half was done in 1:44:28. I was 70th out of 326 finishers, 5th of 25 women in the 30-34 age group and 13th of 114 female finishers.

This was a wonderful race. I wasn’t sure if I would like such a small race, but I loved it. It made me want to find other small races to do. The volunteers were amazing, even bringing candy, pretzels and homemade treats to the water stops. The trail was beautiful and flat. This course is meant for personal bests. Everything came together for me, the weather, the course, my training and fueling. I did it and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to duplicate it again.

When we got home, I booked a hotel room stat for April 17, 2017. OMG, I’m going to Boston!