Oh.My.Gosh. Marathon #3 is in the books, and state #4 has been checked off. I’m still on a high from Marathon Monday.
First, a quick recap of my final week (18) of training:
Sunday – 8 mi around DC with Sammy. It was a gorgeous day, perfect time to go see all the cherry blossoms 🙂 We had no idea what our pace was since my GPS watch wouldn’t connect. Sammy used an app on her phone to track the mileage, but with all the weaving around people and stops we had to make, we couldn’t get an accurate pace.
Monday – 6 mi @ 8:34 + 1 hr yoga. It’s been forever since I’ve run before work and I really missed it! I’m hoping to make it a more regular thing this summer.
Tuesday – 6 mi @ 8:34
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – 1 mi @ 8:34 + plank + 5.1 mi @ 8:34 with run club
Friday – 5 mi @ 8:49
Saturday – After multiple flight delays and finally being switched to another plane, I landed in Boston shortly after 1. My brother met me at the airport, we dropped off my stuff at the apartment he was renting with his wife for the weekend, then headed downtown for lunch with my parents, then the expo!
After buying ALL THINGS BOSTON, my brother (T), SIL (S) and I headed back to the North End. T joined me for 3 cool and windy miles through town and along the waterfront at an 8:57 pace.
That night I had a silly pre-race dream as usual:
Sunday morning, we headed downtown again for brunch with my parents (I had the best pancakes ever), then we checked out the Boston Commons where I’d be catching the bus on Monday morning.
I picked up a cheap orange hat, and socks to act as mittens for Monday morning, grabbed a sandwich from Subway for dinner later that evening, and headed back to the apartment to relax. I napped, read, and spent a lot of time trying to contain my jitters. I was pretty frustrated that the weather was supposed to suck.
While I really wanted to enjoy Boston more than anything, I had trained hard for a PR and had a fantastic 18 week cycle. I told myself I’d assess the weather in the morning, and just see what happened. But going to sleep that night, I was feeling anxious and hopeless about a PR.
Monday morning I was up at 6:30 to get ready. I ate oatmeal & almond butter, packed up my drop bag, then headed for the Boston Commons. My brother was nice enough to ride the metro with me and walk me to the Commons since I knew that would make it less stressful for me. My mom met me at the commons & grabbed my drop bag so I could just shower at my parent’s hotel after the race. Somehow she had found gloves for sale somewhere and gave them to me so I wouldn’t have to use the socks. I was sooo thankful for this when I reached the Athlete’s Village.
I didn’t expect the bus ride to Hopkinton to be so long, but I was glad to have someone to talk to to keep my mind off my own nerves. I don’t remember his name, but we chatted about past marathons, our goals for the day, and his travel plans with his son in Europe this summer.
Once we were off the bus, I immediately hit up the port-a-potty lines, then headed for the tent to stay as warm as I could. I had my race outfit on, a pair of old capri sweatpants, an old sweatshirt, my ugly orange hat, my mom’s gloves, and I’d wrapped the socks around my neck like a scarf. I was freezing. Time passed pretty quickly – I ate a Cliff Bar, swallowed my first salt cap, then headed to the start line with all the other blue bibs. It was a long walk, and pretty much the entire way there was lined with garbage bag to collect everyone’s throwaway clothes. I took off my sweatpants and sock/scarf mere steps from my corral, then slipped in with all the other runners.
I was still going out with the goal of a PR, but I planned to take the first half slightly slower than MGP (7:49) to be conservative. As I stood on the starting line, I thought back to when Katie ran her OTQ in terrible race conditions. So I wasn’t giving up on the idea of a PR yet. The difficult course ahead worried me, but I know once I crossed the starting line, the nerves would immediately settle as I focused on hitting pace.
Soon, it was 10:50 and we were off (into the rain)! It was the best start I’ve ever experienced. I wasn’t weaving around people since they were all around my pace, and though it was incredibly croweded, no one was running into each other or stepping on their toes. If only every race could start out so well!
The first 10 miles flew by. I was happy to focus on my pace and hear all the spectators instead of standing still & stressing over my race as I’d done for the past 24 hours. I peeled off my sweatshirt a couple miles in, but kept my hat & gloves on. I hit the 5k mark in 24:26 (7:51 pace).
I took my first GU 6 miles in and crossed the 10k in 48:45 (7:50 pace). I took my gloves off around 7.5ish miles in and hit 15k in 1:13:22 (7:52 pace).
I took my second GU at 12 miles. It was nearly impossible to unzip my shorts pocket, so I slipped out my salt cap to take at the half marathon mark since I didn’t think I’d be able to fumble with the zipper again. My fingers were so cold and numb! I knew keeping the gloves on wouldn’t have helped though since they were cotton and had soaked up all the rain. 20k – 1:38:06 (7:53 pace).
I took my second salt cap at the half marathon mark (in 1:43:31, 7:53 pace) and started mentally preparing myself for the hard part. I knew the course was mostly downhill (some rolling) for the first 16 miles, then came the uphills from 17-21. I had a few easy miles left before I really had to focus. 25k – 2:02:41 (7:53 pace)
Shortly before the 18th mile marker, I tried and majorly failed at unzipping the back pocket of my shorts. My last 2 GUs were in there, but my fingers were useless! I had two quick thoughts – run up to a spectator and ask them to unzip the back pocket of my shorts (awkward), or forgo fuel for the rest of the race and try to take in as many calories from the Gatorade stops as possible.
Then I saw the Cliff Gel stations! I’d never used Cliff Gels before, but at that moment, I figured risking an upset stomach with something new was better than hitting a wall due to lack of fuel. So I snatched 2 gels, and took one of them right away. 30k – 2:27:17 (7:54 pace)
Around the 19th mile, I felt the familiar tiredness in my legs that I’d experienced late in my training cycle. I just smiled because I knew I could run on tired legs. Aside from that, I felt pretty great.
I considered ditching my hat, but worried that when I crested Heartbreak Hill the headwinds would make me colder. So the wet hat stayed on my head. At the very least, my ears were still warm.
The hills weren’t all that bad. I think partially because I knew shortly after the 21st mile, the rest of the race was downhill. Also, anyone who has raced in Baltimore knows the dreaded Druid Hills. Heartbreak felt like nothing compared to my experience in Baltimores. 35k – 2:51:51 (7:54 pace)
I was beginning to feel pain in my quads though. Finally the 16 miles of downhill running was catching up to me. It was no longer tired legs, but quads that felt like they’d been beaten with a hammer prior to my race. In addition to that, the wind was head-on now rather than a cross-wind. And it was strong. I reminded myself to embrace the hurt and that I knew I could run through pain. While the wind kind of sucked, it didn’t make me that much more cold, and I was relieved I only had to deal with it over the last 5 miles rather than throughout the entire race. The end of a marathon wasn’t supposed to feel good, but I still felt loads better than I had at the end of the Baltimore Marathon where I BQ’ed.
I stopped looking at my watch as much as I had earlier in the race, and just focused on each mile one at a time. I was able to keep my pace up though my legs were aching beyond belief. The spectators were awesome. The entire race I’d only heard the best support ever. No one said “you’re almost there!” or “just x many miles to go!”. I particularly remember hearing “go orange hat!”, “you trained for this!” and “don’t let Heartbreak Hill break you! It’s the last one!” I soaked up the cheers and started thinking of the finish line and how badly I wanted to PR, how close I was.
At the 24 mile marked, I took the second Cliff Gel I’d picked up earlier and crossed the 40k in 3:15:59 (7:53 pace). Before I knew it, I’d passed the 25th mile marker, taken off my hat, and was turning right onto Hereford, then left on Boylston.
The cheers where unbelievable. My quads were screaming at me, but I was overjoyed to see the finish line and was blinking back tears of happiness. I knew my family was somewhere on the sidelines cheering for me, though I couldn’t pick them out.
Apparently my brother spent too much time calculating my splits and trying to figure out when he should be ready to take a picture, so by the time my mom spotted me it was a little too late. My SIL got a couple shots on her phone, and my brother got a great one of me from behind, lol.
I crossed the finish line in disbelief and completely choked up.
3:26:06 (7:52 pace)
Once again, I confirmed how terrible I am at running tangents when I saw my watch displayed a distance of 26.83 miles.
Age Group (18-39): 1463/6011
I was glad that my back wasn’t hurting like it had at the end of, and after the Baltimore Marathon, but my legs were trashed. The volunteers were beyond amazing. Upon handing you anything, they offered to open it (bottles, bananas, Cliff bars, etc.). Someone wrapped me up in a poncho, another draped the medal around my neck, and all the while, they were congratulating you.
I was so so cold and the walk to the family meet up area felt like it was a mile away. On the way there a couple volunteers offered to wrap foil blankets around my legs, but I just wanted to see my family. Finally, one girl made me stop and just said “I have to put this on you. It’s too cold out for you not to have your legs covered.” I just stood there on wobbly legs with a crazy smile on my face and chattering teeth while she chatted to me about my shoes, that she loves too, and tied a foil blanket around my waist to cover most of my legs.
I continued on and nearly burst into tears when one volunteer asked what I was looking for when I just stopped in confusion. I was just so happy, but so cold. I felt like I couldn’t control myself. I managed to stutter out “Family area…F”, and she pointed me to the right sign.
I saw my mom, T & S walking towards me and instantly started yelling at them. I hugged my mom and gushed to them about how happy I was. Did they see me?! They assured me they did, and had been yelling for me, but obviously I didn’t hear them over everyone else.
I unwrapped the poncho for a quick medal picture before saying goodbye to T & S for a few hours.
I slowly trailed mom back to her hotel room. She had a few good laughs when I repeatedly had to ask her to slow down. Once I was back in her room I scanned through texts from my coworkers, who’d been tracking me, as well as a few other friends.
Sammy even snagged a picture of me crossing the finish line 🙂
I relaxed with my parents for a few hours before meeting T & S again for a celebratory dinner with everyone at The Cheesecake Factory. Where I had the biggest piece of fudge cake in my life. It was delicious.
The Boston experience was better than I could’ve possibly imagined. This marathon is so well run, everyone in Boston, from strangers on the street to volunteers to spectators treated out-of-towners with such respect. The rest of the day on Monday while I had my medal on, countless people congratulated me and I couldn’t help but wonder don’t they get tired of telling thousands of people congratulations?
Biggest thank yous ever to my family, fellow bloggers, IG and twitter friends, and of course IRL friends 🙂 Your support, texts, tweets, Facebook shoutouts, tidbits of advice – they were what I thought about during the race. Each time I crossed a timing mat, I thought of all the people tracking me and how I wanted them to see that I was running strong. It truly made me so happy to get so many well wishes, and congratulations before and after the race. To be called an inspiration by multiple people is the most flattering compliment ever, and one I won’t forget. I’m so thankful for my family and my runner family – without them my training cycle and race weekend wouldn’t have been nearly so special ❤