Wednesday, April 22, 2015


So I did it! The weather was terrible. Miserable actually and it looked like Mother Nature was going to ruin everything but it went pretty well. It was hard fought. I couldn’t run my 3:15 but I did manage 3:16:11 which is a 3 minute PR! This entry will get long because I’m into the minutia of running and racing so bear with me...or don’t. I’ve already told you the ending anyway.

Let me start with week 12. The plan was 32 miles. Monday I did 5 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The weather was terrible with rain most of the day. It started after my morning run which I managed in 8:30 pace. I was not so lucky in the afternoon. I hit the treadmill and did 8:10 pace. My legs were finally starting to shake out. I went to the gym for some yoga but the instructor couldn’t make it so a Piyo instructor taught the class instead. I should have walked out but I felt rude so I stayed. I’m an idiot. I got absolutely no stretching out of it and she had us do a bunch of squats and lunges. I don’t know if my gym has the worst Piyo instructors in the world or if it just isn’t a workout I enjoy but I HATE it and it is the worst thing I could possibly do on a marathon week. I was sore the next day. WHY DID I DO THIS!?!? Commence freaking out. I got up early again on Tuesday for 5 miles. My legs hurt so bad I couldn’t sit or stand without pain. The run sucked and was 8:29 pace. I went to yoga that night hoping to shake everything out but it just isn’t the same. I did get a good stretch though. My legs felt even worse on Wednesday. This was the dress rehearsal run. I’d had a lot of drama with what I was going to wear. I need to carry 4 Gu packets with me so either my shorts, top or some combination of the two has to support this. I also want whatever I wear to be flattering and functional. This is impossible for some reason. I do have an Asics top that is very functional but it looks terrible on me so I try to avoid it. I ordered several different shorts and tops trying to find something but most of it didn’t work. None of the tops worked at all and the final option arrived the day before the dress rehearsal run. I loved it. It looked good, was really supportive and it had large pockets in the back for all my Gu. This meant I could wear whatever shorts I wanted since all my Gu would be in the singlet. Unfortunately, when I ran in it, it rode up. I also didn’t like the feel of the material when it got sweaty. At that point, I was so frustrated that I just gave up and went with the old Asics top. The run itself went well except my legs still hurt. The two miles that were supposed to be at marathon pace were run in 7:20 and the overall run was 7:45 pace. Legs hurt but seem to still work. On Thursday I did 5 at 7:56 pace wearing the Asics top just to make sure it really did work. It did. Legs still felt terrible but running didn’t seem to be a problem. I kept telling Brian how sore I was and that I didn’t know what to do and he kept telling me the race wasn’t until Monday so it would be fine. I woke up just as sore on Friday. I also started looking at Boston weather forecasts. The temps looked ideal but it was supposed to rain. I actually don’t really mind the rain but it was saying the wind would be up to 20 mph from the East. That was very bad. Boston is a point to point course that runs pretty much West to East. I tried not to worry about it but I did. The Friday run was 4 miles in 8:11 and my legs did seem to feel better. I got packed and ready to go. 

Our flight left at 6 am on Saturday morning. We loaded up the car the night before, woke up at 4 am, got ready and were in the car by 4:30. Not bad considering that included dressing and loading up a 3 and 5 year old. The flights went pretty well with both kids and we ended up in Boston in the early afternoon. We took the T to the hotel, got checked in and set out for the expo. I wanted to get my bib and be done with everything so Sunday could be all resting up and relaxing. Our good travel behavior with the kids ran out on the way to the expo and Darwin melted down pretty bad. I didn’t even actually go to the expo. I just went to bib pick up and got out of there. The forecast got worse and worse every hour I looked at it. It was calling for 38 mph gusts! Brian assured me that this is measured at the airport which is right on the water so it would probably be better the further inland I was. I hoped he was right. The hourly forecasts said it would be in the 40s and raining but it would feel like the low 30s. That didn’t sound fun but I wasn’t worried about that. I ran 2 miles on Sunday morning. It was 50 degrees and windy. I ran from Cambridge across the Charles to Boston and back. I felt great! Even taking it easy, the first mile was pretty quick and I had to really hold back on the 2nd one. The soreness was finally gone. The overall pace was 7:56. I relaxed the rest of the day and even got a nap. The Boston Athletic Association sent out a warning email about the weather and suggested dressing warmly. Honestly, if you are wet, what does it matter? I had a sleeveless singlet and short shorts. I did bring gloves and I had a pair of sleeves so I figured I’d wear those. I didn’t have any pants to wear to the athletes village so I did go buy a cheap pair of those. I actually slept well but Darwin got in our bed around 5 am and I never got back to sleep. I got dressed and checked the weather. Yep. Still terrible. I wasn’t sure what to do goal wise. I knew that 3:15 probably wasn’t going to happen but I couldn’t give up all hope. I decided to go ahead and see how it felt at the race and just go from there. I had a pace bracelet for 3:15 and figured I could just add 5 or 10 seconds to each mile as needed. I like the bracelet because I try to run with an even effort meaning that each mile may be a different pace depending upon the topography of the race. has a huge database of marathon course elevation profiles and you can generate your custom bracelet based on your pacing strategy and goal. This way the bracelet doesn’t just help me keep pace, it lets me know when the hills are coming. I figured that would be handy even if I couldn’t keep up with goal pace so I took it. 

I rode the bus to Hopkinton with a girl I met from my suburb named Whitney. She was 2 corrals back from me. We didn’t even know each other when we signed up for Boston but I looked her up when I saw her on the entry list. She lives a little over a mile from me and we were able to do several training runs together. I was so glad to be able to ride to Hopkinton with her because that is a long ride to take alone when you are all keyed up with nerves.
Whitney and I freezing in the athletes village.

It started raining on the ride but stopped before we got there. The athletes village was freezing. We stood in the porta potty line forever and then found a little comfort in one of the tents. It was still cold but the wind was blocked. Before long, my corral got called and I was out of there. I kept my extra clothes on until just before I got in the corral. I took my pants off but kept my fleece hoodie. Once the corral was loaded we had a little under 10 minutes to wait. About then, the rain started. I couldn’t feel my feet at all. I considered starting the race in my fleece but when they moved us up to the start mat, I took it off. The rain on my bare neck and shoulders was torture. The gun went off and we started. Boston plummets downhill hard in the first 2 miles and is a net downhill until about mile 16. I had to really hold back to stay on pace. Besides being cold, I felt ok. The rain stopped or at least slowed down at some point and I felt ok around 5k. I was right on pace and felt relaxed. The rain started again and was sometimes just drizzle and sometimes a downpour. The wind was present and unpleasant but it was not the wall I had feared. At 10k, I was still easily on pace but I was getting colder. I’ve never had that happen in a race before. My teeth were chattering and I was uncomfortable. I was fine through 15k but I had some trouble opening the Gu packet at mile 10.
Still feeling ok at 15k.
With a lot of effort, I got it open with my teeth but I still had trouble actually squeezing it into my mouth. I was so cold that my hands weren’t working and even my forearms felt weak and useless. So useless I didn’t have the strength to squeeze a Gu packet. Before my mile 15 Gu, I was still on pace. My quads hurt and were stiff but I couldn’t tell if it was because of effort or cold. I saw a medical tent at some point and actually thought about quitting. I figured they had blankets and could get me to the finish line. I started fantasizing about warm baths and coffee. From mile 14 to 15 I squeezed my hands open and closed trying to warm them back up. I had done this on training runs in the past and it worked. No such luck today. I did manage to get the Gu open but I couldn’t get it into my mouth. Some of it went in, some of it went down my chin and a lot of it just stayed in the package. I got some water and decided I would try to make up for it by taking the packet offered at mile 17 by the volunteers. I had a similar experience there and got part of the Gu down my throat but it was not worth the trouble. At that point I was well into the Newton hills. Around mile 15, my arms started shaking so hard that I really couldn’t read my pace band anymore. I was on pace to that point and I knew mile 16 was supposed to be fast and then the climbs were slower. After Heartbreak HIll, I was supposed to drop down in the 7:15ish range. I didn’t take the bracelet off but I quit looking at it. No more Gu and no more pacing. I wasn’t giving up though because I was still doing good. I hurt so bad but it had little to do with the actual running. I did slow down for the hills but they weren’t that bad. I did feel myself tightening up though. I just really hoped that I wouldn’t cramp up in the downhill after Newton. There was one of the downhill sections between the Newton hills that was supposed to be quick but I didn’t really speed up for it. When Heartbreak came, I ran right up it and my time for that mile was 7:40 which was actually quicker than my pace band intended. I was able to speed up after that but not to the degree I had planned. At that point, I was overtaking people from the wave in front of me. Lots of people. Sometimes it was fun but other times it was obnoxious. On the hills, people would just start walking right in front of you and you’d have to dodge them. Same thing once I was in Boston. I almost plowed right into a couple of people because they abruptly stopped. Sometime around mile 20, I botched a water grab so bad that it went all over me and the volunteer. My dexterity was a joke at that point so I gave up water too. I put my head down and just ran for the finish line. The crowds were great despite the weather but I had my head down and was just thinking about running. The wind did start to suck and I had to reach up and tighten my hat because it almost blew off my head a couple of times. It also tore into you like a dagger. I already felt like I couldn’t get any colder and the wind made me feel like I was going to freeze solid. Before I knew it though, I was at the Citgo sign with 1 mile to go. The last mile in Boston flies by. Even in 2008 when I completely fell apart, that mile was over before I could blink. This time when I turned onto Boylston, the finish didn’t seem a lifetime away. It also wasn’t as crowded. I had a clear path and I could run. I could also see the 26 mile marker. I completely missed it in 2008. I ran for it and then ran to the line. The fact that it wasn’t my ideal goal was not even on my mind. That weather sucked, the course is hard regardless of conditions and it is freakin Boston! 3:16 is a 3 minute PR so I smashed my secondary goal of setting a personal best. They hadn’t switched to clock over from the 2nd wave yet so it said 3:40 something. When I stopped running, my legs tightened up so hard that I had a weird floating sensation. I felt very bad and I had a pretty long walk to get to the T. I was cold. Like I want to just scream cold. My teeth chattered so hard that my jaw got sore. They gave us our medal first and we had to walk what seemed like eternity to get a blanket. The blankets were nice. They had armholes, a hood and they velcroed shut. A volunteer very carefully helped me into mine and I love her for that. They handed us food. I was not hungry but knew I had a good trek back to the hotel and should eat something. Once again, my hands failed me. I couldn’t even peel a banana. I should have asked for help but I didn’t have the energy. The people in front of me were moving so slow and I felt like I would never get out of there. Once I hit Boston Common, a lot of people went into the park. I didn’t check any gear so I stayed on the sidewalk and made a beeline for the T. The wind ripped into me and I did my best to hold the blanket down over my legs. I saw the green line stop but didn’t see the first red line stop. I need the 2nd red line stop. I had a panicky moment where I thought I went the wrong way but I saw it on the other side of the street. My T pass was zipped into a pocket in the back of my singlet in a ziplock bag so it wouldn’t get wet. I kept wondering how I was going to get it out with my hands being worthless and all. I decided not to worry about it until I got down into the stop and out of the wind. I actually didn’t have much trouble going down the stairs. It didn’t feel good but I made it. A Boston police officer let me in without my card. I guess the T was free to marathoners. That was so great! I didn’t have to fumble with the card. I worried that in my post marathon fog, I would get confused about which line to take but I easily found my way to the outbound red line platform and the train mercifully arrived less than a minute after I did. Once I got on the T and sat down, I felt so much better. I was warm and I could rest. I only had 2 stops until our hotel and the stop was right in the courtyard of our hotel so I only had to walk a few feet to the elevator. I never got my room key out. It was in the ziplock baggie with my T card. I knocked on the door and Brian answered right away. I immediately cried a few tears in the most pathetic way and said something about how much that hurt. I got into the bath immediately and Brian, after giving me a hug and making fun of my stupid looking, yet functional race blanket asked what he could get me from Starbucks. I love him. I got in the bath and life got like 1000 time better almost instantly. With dry clothes and coffee, I felt like I would after any marathon except that my skin hurt. Everything felt sort of wind burned yet it didn’t actually appear to be chapped at all. I had so many messages of support and praise from friends, relatives and e-friends that it took a long time to get through them all. I felt really loved! I was also happy to see that I was my state’s top finishing female! Both of the local running stores back home had given me shout outs on their Facebook pages so that was cool. People I didn’t even know had liked and commented on the status updates! Nearly all of my local running friends PRed or ran right at PR pace. My friend Whitney had a 5 minute PR for a 3:29! In that weather and on such a punishing course, that is really something. I know how easy it is to have a bad race in Boston so it is amazing that at least one of us didn’t have a bad day. I’m still a little bitter about the weather but mostly because it ruined a lot of the experience for me. My overall feeling about the race is still negative but I’m hoping that will fade with time. Boston is magical and I had my head down willing myself to finish for a lot of that. There were a few moments out there that I did smile and think to myself how great it was to be there. I LOVE the Boston crowd. Love them. Thankfully, while my head was down and I was missing the sights, I could still hear. From Heartbreak all the way to Boylston, the crowds were insane. They were good before that too but it really got rowdy in Boston. I feel sore but not nearly as bad as I did in 2008. I’ve been up and down and in the car a lot today (the day after) and I’m getting around pretty well. I’ll try to run tomorrow and I’ll let you know how that goes. TIme to regroup and come up with a new focus and goal. I’ll let the dust settle on this one first though.
Me, Leo & the medal.

P.S. Brian, who actually wrote down “not run a marathon in 2015” as one of his goals this year, got bitten by the Boston bug and wants to go again! We may be back sooner rather than later. I feel done here though. I had a bad race and now a good one. I think doing it again would be pushing my luck. I will never say never though.


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