Thursday, April 21, 2016

Full Race Report: The 120th Boston Marathon

In the days leading up to our departure for Boston, I was so so excited.  People at work threw me a party.  People sent me cards, emails, texts.  My daughter's teacher sent me a post-it noted of well wishes when my daughter told her she was excited about going to Boston because "my mom is running and I will get snacks."

Pre-Race Day
We arrived in Boston late Thursday afternoon.  My husband and two children (ages 5 and 2) were accompanying me.  I knew that this meant that I would not be able to lounge around in the days leading up to the race, however, I haven't really lounged around before any training runs and I really wanted to share the experience with them.

We walked a short way to Trader Joe's upon arriving at our hotel to get breakfast food and snacks.  On the way back, my son fell out of the stroller and instantly had two fat lips and a bloody nose.  He was gushing blood from his face and all over me.  I share this because this was the only moment when I thought perhaps it was a mistake to bring everyone.  Luckily, we all recovered, ordered room service for dinner and went to bed.

In the days leading up to the marathon, we did a lot of exploring.  I took frequent sitting breaks and even got to take a long nap on Saturday and Sunday.  I slept really well Friday and Saturday nights and I carried around a water bottle to keep hydrated.

AND.  

I wore running shoes the entire trip.  Fashionista Amy did not travel to Boston :)

During the days leading up to the race, I felt excited with a splash of nerves.  Nothing crazy.  One of the Boston Globe articles recapping the race mentioned how, since the bombing, the whole city has rallied around the marathon and we definitely felt that.  Boston is truly a magical place to be in the days surrounding the marathon, and I relished being a part of it.  

We had a great time going to the marathon expo and the pre-race dinner.  Luckily we did not have to wait very long for the dinner and it was bottomless food.  We went back to the hotel after the dinner and I started sorting out all of my stuff for the race.  We had gotten some warm weather advisory emails from the race director so I made the decision to wear a 3/4 bra top for race day since I had not done ANY warm weather training save for the week that I ran in Florida.  The only thing I wasn't sure about wearing was my calf compression sleeves.  I did ALL of my long runs wearing them with the exception of my last 15 miler, and my legs could tell the difference.  I didn't know if they would make me hot, though.  I packed them in my bag.

I set out all my stuff for the race the night before and climbed into bed around 9 PM.  I slept well until about 1 AM.  And then it was off and on until 5 AM when my alarm went off on Race Day.

Race Day
When I woke up that morning, I was so calm and excited.  I got dressed and pinned on my bib.  I wanted to french braid my hair to keep it all out of my face but I couldn't get it to work so just did two regular braids.  My stuff was already packed so I left my hotel room at 5:20 AM.

We stayed in Cambridge and our hotel had a coach bus to take all the runners to Boston Common to board the busses to Hopkington.  I bought a small coffee to take on the bus with me and filled up my hand held water bottle with Nuun.  The hotel offered bananas and granola bars as well.

When I got to Boston Common, I had to walk to the gear check area.  I had my gallon ziplock with nuun tablets, my calf sleeves, two picky bars, my aquaphor, my sunglasses, my chapstick, and my hand held waterbottle.  The air was cool but I was comfortable in a pair of windpants, and wind jacket that I had rescued from our Goodwill pile.  I went to the bathroom and then I waited for my training partner, B, another Oiselle woman from Wisconsin, L, and two other Oiselle women we were going to ride buses with.  I ate my banana.

The bus ride to Hopkington was fun.  The previous time that I ran Boston, I went with a training group and we had our own coach bus to the start so I hadn't done the BAA school buses before.  We got to the Athlete's village and immediately found a spot in the shade to stretch out.  I hit the bathroom again and then grabbed a plain bagel and another banana.  I had finished my 16 oz bottle of Nuun on the bus ride and then started drinking the water bottles they had available for us in the Village.  I was SO THIRSTY.  

It started to get HOT in the village.  People were all talking about how warm it was and I felt like this was no big deal.  Yes, it was hot but we couldn't change it - we would be fine.  I was really loving all of the camaraderie of the runners in the village, especially when we would see other Oiselle women (easily identifiable by our jerseys!).  There was an instant bond being part of the Volee that was truly amazing.  I received and gave hugs to complete strangers.  Posed for pics with them - later to be seen on Instagram.  LOVED it.  

I used the bathroom one more time and then had to get to the start corral.  I had discarded all of my clothes already and was sitting in my race shorts and bra for a while.  I slathered on some more sunscreen on my shoulders and lubed all around my bra top.  I pulled on my calf sleeves and started walking.  I didn't know anyone who was in my start corral so I didn't talk to anyone.  Even though I had gone to the bathroom 3 times, I felt like I had to go again.  I didn't have time to go again and chalked it up to nerves so I stayed in my corral.  I was already pretty warm and still really thirsty.  Despite this, I was set to go.  Excited!

The gun went off and I started my watch a few steps ahead of the actual start line.  It was SO crowded, which I anticipated, but I was having trouble getting into stride.  I approached mile 1 in 8:00 which was right where I wanted to be.  It didn't feel smooth but I wasn't worried because it often takes me a good 5 miles to find my stride and settle in.  I was HOT though and already through about half of my nuun that I brought along.  This was unusual for me.  I typically don't start drinking anything until about an hour into a long run.  

I grabbed a cup of water from the aid station and tossed it over my head.  FELT SO GOOD.  Mile 2 was 8:01.  Still on plan, but still felt off.   Grabbed more water for my head.

Mile 3 was more of the same - 7:54 pace and more water for my head.  At this point, my water bottle was empty, so I grabbed a cup of water and poured it into my water bottle as I was running.  It was time to start speeding up, per my plan.  

Miles 4 and 5 were 7:34 and 7:49.  I was through that in about 39:40 something which was slower than the 39 minute time my coach gave me.  Time to do first full body scan.  I didn't feel right.  I was so hot, thirsty and just could not get my legs to feel natural running.  I had a headache. Still, I felt like I would settle in.  I still was grabbing water at every mile marker to throw on my head and trying to dump some in my water bottle.  I think the slowing and speeding for the water tables took a toll.

Miles 6 through 10 were a bit of a blur.  I just tried to keep my pace constant around a 7:30.  There was absolutely no shade on the course for the first half and I was feeling it.  I took a Gu around Mile 6, which was what I had trained for.  My mile splits were 7:42, 7:40, 7:39, 7:43, 7:35.  This was slower than I should have been, but I wasn't worried because these seemed like training run splits.  However, during my training runs, these splits felt easy.  They definitely felt more "medium effort" at this point.  My leg turnover was just not happening in a nice fluid way.  I still was not panicked - I felt like I could make this all up and it would be fine.  

I still had to pee.

Miles 11 was a beast.  7:53.  Yikes.  I recall getting excited because I love the Wellesley scream tunnel and the Oiselle Cowbell Corner was going to be shortly after that.  I was fired up through the scream tunnel - loving the signs and the screams.  I stayed to the left of the girls so I didn't do any high fives or kisses.  The Oiselle Corner was fun.  Mile 12 was a 7:32 followed by a 7:39 mile 13. OK.  HERE WE GO.  My half split was 1:41 something.  I had printed out a 3:15 pace band at the Asics tent at the expo which had displayed what my half split should have been - 1:36:41 - for my goal pace.  So I was five minutes slower than on pace.  I still was not concerned - thinking that I was going to be fine and could make that up.  I am the queen of the strong finish, right?!

Ok.  Prepare for some TMI.  Between miles 13 and 14, the pantiliner that I was wearing was bunching up, likely from all the water I was dumping over my head.  I had forgotten to rip it out at my last bathroom stop before the race.  It was so freaking annoying.  I kept trying to stick my hand down my pants to fix it and it wasn't working.  I also still had to pee so I made the decision to duck into a porta potty at mile 14.  My mile 14 split was 7:42 and I peed all over myself but felt better.  I got back on the course.  My mile 15 split was 8:13.  

At this point, a little doubt kicked in.  I could not believe that I still had 11 miles to run feeling like I did.  I took a deep breath and just told myself - get to Dave and Marybeth (friends of mine on the course who were going to be in Newton).  This worked for a bit - mile 16 was 7:27.  And then it didn't.  Mile 17 was 7:53 and mile 18 was 8:15.  My legs hurt, I was so hot.  I stopped and walked.  At that very moment I heard my name and saw Dave and Marybeth.  I ran over to them and gave them a hug and told them to text my husband that I would see him a little later than planned.  (He was at mile 25).  I started running again when I literally ran into my training partner, B. She was also struggling.  We talked each other through it....maybe said that the race was bullshit...but that we wanted our medals.  

Mile 19 was 7:49, Mile 20 was 8:34.  We felt awful.  We took a bunch of walk breaks.   Mile 21 was 9:29; Mile 22 was 9:12; Mile 23 was 8:55.  Somewhere around here, I lost B.  I was literally shuffling my feet. My back was killing me.  At mile 23, I just wanted to be done but I felt like I could finish it and keep going.  I was telling myself this is where the crowds are awesome and my family is ahead.  I'm not going to make 3:15 but maybe I can break 3:30.   Mile 24 was 8:05.  My legs and back were on fire.  I just had to get to Mile 25 to see my kids - keep running, keep running.  Mile 25 was 7:52.  I heard my husband and I just stopped.  He said - "We are at the green flag ahead!!"  I looked up and there was a green flag maybe 20 feet ahead of me.  I hobbled over to the flag where my family was!  I gave Maggie a kiss through the gate and then Will leaned over and yelled "MAMA" and gave me a hug and a kiss.  My dad said, "you are almost done" and I just said, "Easy for you to say!".  I crossed the line saying "one mile to go" and just kept repeating "right on Hereford, left on Boylston, you can do it".  

I turned left on Boylston and the finish line was SO. FAR. AWAY.  I just stopped.  I then said to myself, "What the hell are you doing?! You can't walk on Boylston."  So I kept running through to the finish.  Mile 26 was 8:18.

I crossed the finish and thought I was going to pass out.  I did NOT want to end up in the medical tent but I could not stand up straight because my lower back was so hurting.  My legs were not feeling good - I just wanted to get my calf sleeves off.  I had my medal, I had my warming blanket and I sat down to get the sleeves off.  "You can't sit here Miss.  You have to keep moving through to gear check."

I lost it.  I just started sobbing.  I'm not talking tears - I'm talking sobbing, choking.  I was in a ton of pain and I was STARVING.  This is another weird thing because I am never hungry immediately after running.  I got back up, and kept slowly moving, continuing to sob.  I shoved a banana in my mouth and started chugging some Gatorade Protein drink they gave me.  I got through to gear check, got my back, dug out my phone and called my husband, still sobbing.  He told me they were at Newbury and Exeter and that my daughter was standing in a line to go to the bathroom.  

I sat down on a sidewalk, calmed down my crying a bit, took my shoes off, the calf sleeves and put on my Birkenstocks from my gear check bag.  AHHHHHHHH.  By the time I met up with my family, I had gotten myself together and was so excited to see them.

Then it was back to find a taxi.  My two year old of course wanted me to carry him.  Nevermind my aching back, I put him on my hip and started walking to the taxi.  #MotherRunner

Post-Race
When we got back to the hotel, the hotel staff were lined up at the door with pom poms cheering for runners.  There was music playing and snacks.  My friends Dave and Marybeth and their kiddos came to the hotel to see us which was awesome.  I didn't sit down because I was afraid to.

I finally got back up to the room and took some Advil.  I took a shower which felt amazing.  My running hat was white with salt but I had no blisters or chafing.  I have some wicked sunburn on the right side of my body though.  

I donned the aqua and pink finishers jacket and my medal and we made our way to the post race party at Fenway.  I met up with B & L and we had a beer and some dinner, after meeting Desi Linden.  :)

I was excited to get to bed but I slept like crap that night.

We arrived back home in WI early Tuesday evening.  Then it was time to do laundry, unpack suitcases, get ready to return to work and school the next day.

Return Home
My quads are still destroyed, my lower back still sore.  I have been enjoying looking through pictures and reading race recaps.  I know I am not alone in having a bad race.  

SBS said, "...and most folks finish times were about 20 minutes slower than they were shooting for" in her recap.  I don't know if that is official or anything, but I like to think that is true. 

I'm still trying to get to the place where I am celebrating the great training that I had, like @NYCRunningMama who I religiously followed on Instagram, pumped up by her training.  She said, 
"Of course I am disappointed.  I didn't bust my butt for months to run 13+ minutes slower than I did in the fall."  #truth

Or the feeling of accomplishment of just getting to run the infamous Boston Marathon like @PeaceLoveMotherRunner via Instagram, "Not the race I had trained for, but crossing that [finish] line never gets old!"

All Runners should feel like Champions via The Boston Globe.

Yesterday I was so so sad that it was all over.  

Today I went to a meeting at work that closed with this quote from Teddy Roosevelt.

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

I teared up just reading it - obviously my mind still on the race and the experience.  I am feeling better, mentally and physically, and really can't wait to start running again.  Here again, this is unique.  Last spring, I was so excited to be done with training, i took a bit of a break, that ended up lasting most of the summer.  I still did runs, but nothing consistent.  I am hoping to continue my great training and hit up some great races this summer.  In the words of the Terminator,


"I'll Be Back."




1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I just found your blog from Twitter. Great recap and congrats on making it through feeling as awful as you did. I don't think any realized how much of a factor the heat would be, and it's always difficult to know how much to adjust your pace. Congratulations and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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