Boston Marathon Part Two {Race Recap}

Even though I set three alarms, I was up well before any of them went off. I was up at 6:15 am, ready to go. I got dressed and just sat around. I ate a single piece of toast while I packed up my other two pieces to eat on the bus ride to Hopkinton. I was abnormally calm considering I was able to leave to run the marathon I’ve worked towards for years. I said goodbye to Josh and went to get on the buses at Boston Common. Looking at the weather, I knew that I wasn’t going to get to run in my optimal conditions. Luckily I had already told myself, this is about the experience, not setting a new PR.

I was able to get on a bus right away which was great. The bus ride was long and hot. So warm that I took off my sweatshirt immediately upon sitting down. I definitely wasn’t going to need it. I choked down my toast as I talked to a guy from LA who had qualified in Chicago, the same year I ran it sick. The ride was about an hour long. When we arrived in Hopkinton, we walked about a quarter mile to the athlete’s village.

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The village was buzzing with runners. I dropped off my sweatshirt in the donation bags, got in line for a porta potty and waited. As soon as I had my turn, I grabbed a bottle of water and got right back in line. I was in the village about 90 minutes before being called to start walking to the start line. I finished my water and headed out. I wished I’d grabbed one more bottle for the walk.

It was almost a mile walk to the start line. Along the way, spectators were offering sunscreen, Vaseline, shots of whiskey and beer. As we got closer, my nerves turned to excitement until I realized I only had about eight minutes to get to my corral. I lead a group of five others through the crowd to get up to our spots in the first corral. I made it with four minutes to spare. Phew. I was sweating already.

After a few announcements, we were sent on our way. I crossed the start line of the Boston Marathon with a gigantic grin on my face. I probably looked ridiculous. I teared up again as I looked around me. I told myself, do not go out too fast. Let people pass you. My goal was to run the first 4-6 miles at an easy pace. I didn’t want to burn myself out on the downhills. I settled in checking my watch every once in a while to make sure I was in the 8:15-8:20 range. I was taking in the spectators and the people running with me. While the first few miles are mainly downhill, there are a few rolling hills. The first 5k flew by. I felt pretty good but I was hot already. There was no shade and the sun was almost directly overhead.

5k split: 25:55 (8:20 min/mile)

Between the 5k and 10k points, I decided I should grab a cup of water from every water stop. While I had water with me, I needed that for my gels and it was pretty warm already. This lead to some congestion and bumped elbows. Just past the six mile marker, the Sixth Mile Experience was bumping. The crowd was amazing, their was music and people on loud speakers. They were so into it and I loved it!

10k split: 51:54 (8:21 min/mile)

With the first six miles under my belt, I started to speed up a little bit. I was finally warmed up and ready to start making up some time before the Newton hills hit. I knew that I was no longer going to speed up substantially because my body was just not responding well to the heat, but I was going to knock a few seconds off. There were some little rolling hills that reminded me of some of the trails I had run during training. I knew once we hit Natick that Wellesley was the next township we would run through. I was looking forward to seeing some fellow Support the Girls affiliates who found out I was running and made a sign to cheer me on.

15k split: 1:17:22 (8:18 min/mile)

Honestly the only thing I remember here is how cute Natick was. I focused on reading signs the spectators were holding. Same favorites included: “Hold onto your uterus!” and “If Trump can try to run the country. You can run this marathon.”

20k split: 1:43:31 (8:19 min/mile)

I was entering Wellesley and getting closer to the “Scream Tunnel.” I was also trying to figure out what I needed to do in order to cool off. I was already drinking one cup of water and dumping some over my head and running through any sprinkler that was on. I was slowing my pace to compensate for the heat, but I was still struggling to bring down my body temperature. I decided I’d try to make it a few more miles before I started walking through water stops if I hadn’t cooled down a bit.

Half split: 1:49:14 (8:19 min/mile)

Just past the half, I was running by hundreds of Wellesley ladies holding their Kiss Me signs. The signs with all the reasons why to kiss them were hilarious. Kiss me…I have no ties to Russia, Kiss me…I’m not a Patriots Fan, etc.

And then I saw my Support the Girls cheer squad with their amazing sign!

I was so excited for their support. It made me perk back up and keep working towards the finish line.

25k split: 2:10:35 (8:24 min/mile)

By mile 16 I was walking through all the water stops. I had stopped sweating which really freaked me out. Training through the winter in Minnesota had not prepared me for 70+ degree weather and direct sun. I knew that I had to do what I had to do to safely get to the finish line. There were medical tents at every mile and each one I passed was full of runners. I tried to just focus on keeping my legs moving and looking forward to seeing my cheer squad in the next few miles. A spectator was handing out ice. I was so excited. I grabbed a handful and put it down my bra. I held onto an ice cube in each hand until they melted. It really helped temporarily. We made our biggest turn thus far on the course at the Newton Fire Station a slight breeze started blowing across me. It felt so good!

30k split: 2:39:40 (8:33 min/mile)-18.6 miles

I’d just passed the 30k mark when Josh called to tell me that they were at mile 19. I was ready to see them. I was almost to the base of Heartbreak Hill when I heard them cheering. I was so excited to see them and just felt so lucky as I ran toward a dozen people schlepping all around the Boston metro area to cheer for me. I was soaking wet after running through water spraying from one of the fire hydrants the fire department had opened.

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Then I did something I’ve never done in a marathon, I stopped and talked to them. I drank some amazing ice cold water and started running again.

Then it was time for Heartbreak Hill. I was so happy when I saw a sign that said “This is the top of Heartbreak Hill.” I knew the biggest hill was now behind me. I also knew that there was another hill right after Heartbreak, regardless of what a few signs said. It was no big deal, though I’m glad I knew it was there and didn’t take me by surprise.

35k split: 3:09:05 (8:41 min/mile)- 21.7 miles

Heartbreak Hill was behind me. I could walk back to Boston under the 6 hour limit if I really needed to. This thought totally crossed my mind as I poured another cup on water over my head and took another gel. I was wishing I had brought some salt tabs with me because I think it may have helped me replace all the salt I had been sweating. Something I needed to think about for warmer races.

I started looking for the Citgo sign. I knew I was going to be able to catch a glimpse of it. That was my sign that I was going to finish this thing. I was almost to Boston! A head wind started picking up as some clouds started moving in. I was so thankful for a bit of shade and even for the head wind because I needed some cool air.

40k split: 3:37:28 (8:44 min/mile)-24.85

Seriously, a foot cramp. Yes, I got a crazy cramp in my left foot. Out of all the aches I worried about, I never thought I’d have a foot cramp. I walked up the final hill just past mile 25 while trying to stretch it out. Once I had that worked out, I started running again. The crowds were amazing. They were helping carry me through. All the sudden I saw the Hereford street sign. I was almost there! I made my right on Hereford, ran the short block up to Boylston, Left on Boylston and I could see the finish line. The streets were PACKED with people cheering. I did everything I could to pick up the pace. I was smiling from ear to ear. I tried to sprint and as I really started pumping my arms, I heard these guys yelling out, go orange shirt go!

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I raised my arms as I ran across the finish line. I had done it. I’d finished the Boston Marathon. I’d achieved a goal I’d been chasing for years. I’d qualified for Boston, trained hard and taken my victory lap. My friend Ashley captured me on video crossing. So cool.

Finish: 3:50:10 (8:47 min/mile)

I didn’t even know what my official time was until almost a week later. I stopped looking at my watch somewhere around mile 18. I pushed stop and save before I even glanced at the screen. I still haven’t looked at my mile splits. I knew I was not going to be as exciting after performing well under my ability. Anyway, once I crossed the finish line, I saw my family. The tears started flowing especially when Ella told me that she was proud of me. I hugged everyone then turned to get my medal.

Lucky for me, my family brought me a change of clothes. I popped over to the changing area and got into dry clothes. After changing, we took a few more pictures before I decided I was ready to head home.

I walked the two miles back to the North End. It actually felt really good. I think it helped delay the onset of post-marathon soreness. First stop, Mike’s Pastry.

A sweet reward, for a hard earned race.

 

Training in Review & Goals

It’s that time again to look back at my training and share my goals for Boston.

This training cycle I pushed myself a bit more with both mileage and speed. While I kept my base training plan, I added an additional warm-up/cool down mile to my interval workouts and tempo runs. I reviewed and speed up slightly my various paces to reflect my last marathon and half marathons. These paces got HARD. I typically stayed at the lower to middle end of my pace ranges, though at times, I was able to speed up to the higher end.

The additional mileage added up to just over one hundred more miles run, than when I trained for Lake Wobegon. I planned to add a slow recovery runs on Sundays, but the way my schedule worked out, Mondays were a speed workout day, so I kept my Sunday rest day. I also didn’t want to overdue my mileage increase.

My average weekly mileage is still what many marathoners, would consider low, peaking at about 45 mpw. It has worked for me, so while I was willing to increase it slightly, there was no way I was going to up it to 60-80 mpw. I frankly don’t have the time to do so. Nor do I think my body would respond well to it.

Here’s the breakdown:

Total Miles Run: 574.18 miles
Average Weekly Mileage: 36 miles
Highest Weekly Mileage: 44.44 miles
Number of Tempo Runs: 15
Number of Interval Runs: 15
Fastest Interval Pace: 5:05 min/mile (Orangetheory), 6:07 min/mile (400 m)
Number of Long Runs: 16
Average Long Run Distance: 15.9 miles
Number of Orangetheory Workouts: 15

So how am I feeling now? Other than the usual taper exhaustion, I’m pretty good. I feel random aches in pains, such as stiffness in the big toe on my right foot and a little ache under my left knee. Oh and I caused a strain/spasm in my trapezius muscle on my left side when I napped too long on my arm last Saturday. Obviously it was really tight and that was just the cherry on top. It’s been so sore and stiff, I haven’t been able to turn my head to the right or sleep. On Tuesday, I went to see a physical therapist who adjusted me, gave me a painful massage and acupuncture. 


Ouch! The stiffness is much better, but after my easy 30 minute run on Wednesday night, it seized right up again and was really painful. I had one last appointment on Thursday which definitely left me with some nasty bruises. Hopefully it will be all squared away by race day. I need the power in my arms to use when my legs get tired.

Now onto goals. Are ready? You won’t believe me…

I don’t have any.

I suppose that’s not entirely true. My goal is to take in the experience. Take in the crowds and the course. Enjoy my victory lap that I worked so hard to take. I want to run a smart race. Start slow and not be defeated by the Newton hills. Seriously, that is it.

I’d be lying if I did say I’m really nervous. Part of it is because it’s the freaking Boston Marathon. Another part is that I have a lot of eyes watching/tracking me. The support is amazing, but also totally nerve wracking. All I can do now is trust my training, hydrate, eat right and rest. So that’s what I’m doing.

WIAW: Boston Marathon Week Edition 

My sensitive stomach when running has been a source on issues for a few years now. After experimenting with the low FODMAP diet, I’ve found what I need to avoid in order to try to prevent any GI issues during the race. Basically that means anything that tastes really good, is out. No onions, garlic, avocado, apples, pistachios, peanut butter, etc. Oh and no wheat or dairy. While I’m not a celiac, it does cause some digestive issues. I only care before a race, otherwise, give me all.the.bread.

Last May when I ran the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon, I had no stomach issues and had plenty of energy. I attribute a lot of this to my bland diet and an appropriate amount of carbs the week prior. I’m basically copying it this week. Without further adieu, here’s what a typical day of eating during marathon week looks like.

Breakfast: Two Gluten-Free Blueberry Waffles with a banana and some raspberries with a glass of water.

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AM Snack: Doesn’t really count as a snack, but to up my carbs I need sports drinks. Mid-morning I drank this G2. Regular Gatorade obvious has more sugar, but I just cannot handle how syrupy it is.

Lunch: Turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread with carrots and gluten-free pretzels and a big glass of water.

Afternoon Snack: I crack open a Smart Water while I snack on two graham crackers with almond butter. I spent the rest of the night sipping on that bottle of water. While I need to hydrate, I don’t need to overdo it.

Dinner: Shredded BBQ chicken sandwich with steamed green beans and roasted sweet potatoes with another glass of water.

Dessert: I gave up sweets for Lent, as I do every year. While that would be an easy way to get carbs, it’s not an option. Dessert was a package of instant steel cut oats with cranberries and blueberries. I didn’t take a picture because they exploded all over the microwave and it was a mess. At least I got to eat 3/4 of it.

These meals put me at about 225-250g/carbs. Come Friday and Saturday, my carb intake goal is around 400-500g. That is a ton of carbs. I love carbs, but I just can’t eat that many. To get them, I’ll probably grab a few Vitamin Waters to drink as well. I also try to make sure I get some form of protein in most meals and a vegetable.

What’s your key to race success?

Boston Marathon Training {Weeks 15 & 16}

Taper, taper, taper. I was ready for taper this cycle. While I’ve typically struggled with the decrease in activity, I’ve really taken to it this time around. It could be because of burn out, but maybe it’s also because my mileage hasn’t decreased as drastically as it has in the past.

My first week was spent in Indiana with my mom and stepdad. The trip was originally going to be spent taking care of my mom, but since she is part of the fewest and luckiest group of patients to have a fungal infection rather than lung cancer, we got to do fun things. This included the children’s museum, seeing Beauty and the Beast and taking Josh to his first Orangetheory class. I felt so good at that class that I had to run at a 9.8-10 during each push to try to get into the orange zone. The rest of the week my schedule was totally off, as we’re my sleep and diet, which is never good.

Week 15:

Monday – Rest
Tuesday – Orangetheory (2.02 miles)
Wednesday – 6 miles w/4 at tempo
Thursday – Rest
Friday – 7×800 @ 6:35 min/mile + 2 mile WU/CD
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – 15 mile run

This second week of taper has been full of crazies. Is my big toe stiff? Does my knee really hurt? Am I really going to be able to manage the distance again? What’s the weather going to be like? Gah, I’ve gained weight, that will cost me four minutes. Can I lose it before the race? Probably not a good idea to cut that many calories right now. Shit.

Things like that. Also thrown in there have been dreams that we have a spring snow storm and all flights out of MSP are cancelled, thus preventing me from even making it to Boston. Hopefully the crazies will subside this week while I rest, relax and carb load. Eight days left! AHHHH.

Week 16:

Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 10 miles w/8 at Tempo
Wednesday – Orangetheory (3.45 miles)
Thursday – Rest
Friday – 3×1600 @ 7:03 min/mile + 1 mile Warm-up/Cool down
Saturday – 9.61 miles (We underestimated our loop. Close enough to the 10 I needed.)
Sunday – Rest

 

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