Boston Marathon Recap Part 2

After my bus arrived in Hopkinton, I realized an earlier start meant that I could ditch any additional food and just get going. Crossing the open starting line was much different than waiting for your wave in a corral.  I felt all the emotions and couldn’t believe that this was actually happening! I quickly zoned in and reviewed my plan of attack:

  • First 5k, “laughably slow”. The goal was to make the difference between the first mile and last significant.
  • Miles 4-13, make it to 13 feeling fresh, thinking, “controlled aggression”.
  • Miles 14-16, either bumping things up a bit or sitting pretty.
  • Miles 16-21 the 4 Newton Hills, time to get the party started!! Effort level 7/8 out of 10. I was thankful my coach had outlined expectations for each of the 4 hills.
  • Miles 21-26.2: run with heart.

I was thankful that there was a nice chill in the air at the start. The day ultimately turned into a warm one but proved to be nicer than training in the summer heat!

I managed to comply with the first 5k plan and I think it set me up for later success. Before long we approached the roaring crowds in Natick center. The amount of energy from the crowds there was unreal and it was fun to see my cousin! I generally followed the race plan for the next bucket of miles but turned up the speed a bit when I approached the Wellesley College scream tunnel. Some runner next to me shouted “Some things never change” and I reflected on that happily for a bit.

My pockets were lined with 4 Honeystinger gels and I held a plastic baggie of two bags of Honeystinger chews combined. I went through the chews first, without any real rhyme or reason but knew I needed to get through the entire baggie (320 calories) within the first 1.5 hours. I am working towards 200 calories/hour!

After seeing my parents, Mark, and my friend Luke at mile 14, and Amber at mile 15, the course takes a sharp downhill before the first set of 4 Newton hills at mile 16. I was feeling GOOD at this point! I was carrying my Jaybird headphones until then. During a downhill, I found an opportunity to put my headphones in, and turned on the music lightly. From mile 16 through 21 (the hills), I blasted my favorite tunes to help distract me.

My mantra for the Newton hills was “forward is a pace”. I walked part of the second hill which was as coach Mary describes, “just annoying”.  Even so, after cresting the 3rd hill I was mentally thinking/hoping it was heartbreak but it most certainly wasn’t. My effort was 8/10 but I kept chugging.

The last five or six miles of the race were a complete blur with some surprising small hills. I fed off the crowds but really it was all mental and just thinking, “one step in front of the other”, “I belong”, “every second counts in a BQ cutoff”, and “how many times have you run 4 miles…you got this”. One thing my coach wrote to me just before race day REALLY cycled through my thoughts throughout the race: “Might as well go for it, you know?!? You’ve worked WAY too hard not to.” The final miles were still a blur until I turned left from Hereford to Boylston with the finish line then visible. I will never forget running by my family at mile 26 and crossing the finish line feeling PROUD. Proud for my body and proud to have contributed to the MGH team.

I was grateful for being in Boston, thankful that the race was happening after a long pandemic, SO appreciative of the incredible support of donors to my fundraiser contributing to nearly $10,000 raised, grateful for my family, friends, and legs that could carry me this far. I’m still in shock at my finish time, one that I positive split by 32 seconds (this dream outcome has never happened!!). When I first ran a marathon in January 2011, I never knew what was possible. It took me 24 marathons to PR and I’m finally starting to believe that the world is my oyster.

Thank you for reading this far! I HOPE my time gets me in to Boston 2022 (BQ-6:44), but we won’t find out until after registration in mid-November. The good thing is my time qualifies me for 2023 and hopefully by then the cutoff times won’t be as severe as these pandemic years. If I don’t get into Boston next spring, I’ll find another marathon before I start training for NYC 2022. I just can’t get enough and am so thankful for the adventure that running has brought. Stay tuned for more training updates and race recaps to come!

Boston Marathon Recap Part 1

On Monday, October 11th I ran the 125th Boston Marathon. It was the race of my life so far, and I am still processing the day. I usually have the “what race is next?” mentality but 11 days later I’m still overwhelmed with positive emotions. I’m so thankful for everyone who contributed to my fundraising effort and all the other physical and emotional support.  

The race outcome was everything I dreamed of…I finished in 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 16 seconds. That’s a personal record overall, and I did it on the hardest marathon course I’ve ever run! Here’s the backstory (Part 1) before I get into the race (my next post – Part 2).

Marathon Training

This was my second marathon after taking a several year break from running races while having two kids. When the pandemic hit and I was able to start jogging again after having my second, running quickly became my treasured escape each day. I slowly built back my mileage over time and hired a coach to help add structure to my running. The daily routine enabled me to build a base that I had lost after those years. When new years struck, I added running a marathon in 2021 to my list of goals and I started to ramp up my training. You can read more about my marathon at the end of April, but the race and experience with friends was so memorable!

After the Wasatch Marathon, I took off a couple of weeks from any serious running before easing back into the routine with 5 months to go until race day. I had been accepted on the Mass General Pediatric Cancer marathon team and was elated to support this cause!

Boston training consisted of the following long runs: four 15ish milers, one 16 miler, 17 miler, 19 miler, and two 20 milers. Three of these long runs were incorporated into a race: Falmouth Road Race (7 miles), 3 Beach Half, and Black Cat 20. Otherwise, I kept my long runs easy. I averaged 40-45 mile weeks with one week peaking at 61 miles because that week I did two long runs.

Consistent, longer daily runs (about an hour a day) were the center of my training. I also incorporated some speedwork (mile repeats at marathon pace or below, 800m repeats), but nothing too crazy. I also made sure to include hills in every run. Compared to Boston where I would run around the river, it’s been easier to find hills here in the suburbs and I think that has helped!

Apart from the training, I focused heavily on the “extra things” that help me such as getting as much sleep as possible (ie- lights out just after the kids went to bed), stretching, foam rolling, throughout the days, eating and hydrating plenty, cutting back on alcohol, etc. My husband bought a massage gun that I stole. It was easier to do a lot of these things with a mostly remote work schedule and with little kids!

Marathon Weekend

After months of the training grind, marathon weekend was finally here!! Mark and I went into Boston on Friday to get my bib. The expo was very dialed down compared to other years, but it was fun to be back. Getting my bib felt a bit surreal, like this celebration was actually happening after a very long and difficult pandemic. But the spirit of Boston was alive again! It was also fun to run into a running friend who was in Boston for one day only to get her bib. She flew back to Chicago Friday night, ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and then returned to Boston Sunday evening for a back-to-back race weekend. Amazing!!

Marathon Monday

Honestly, I have never been truly nervous at the start of a race before. Up until now, I have run most races without a LOT of training or mental prep, and just had fun. Marathon Monday’s race day nerves caught me a little off guard! Mark dropped me off at the shuttle in Hopkinton and I was able to start earlier than expected. I was so thankful to go this route- especially given some of the hiccups with some buses getting lost to the start! Before leaving the house, I had a big bowl of oatmeal and banana, coffee, and an entire Nalgene of water (thanks to Lisa & Julie for race morning tips!). Race start wouldn’t be for a few hours, but I always abide by the “stop drinking with one hour to go except for sips of water” rule. Given Boston’s later start, I brought a peanut butter & banana sandwich and a couple of honeystinger waffles.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Boston Marathon Recap in the next post :)