Boston Marathon Recap and NYC Marathon Training

When I first started running marathons, I never would have dreamed of being able to recap my Boston Marathon experience while also prepping for the NYC marathon in the same year. How lucky am I?! My Boston 2022 review is long overdue, in part because shortly after the race my family packed up and headed out west to Denver for the month of May, followed by a busy summer here in New England. I am also belatedly recapping Boston because while it was a special and memorable day in many ways, it wasn’t the race I had been hoping for. It was nothing like the 2021 fall Boston where my training came alive on the course.

I started training for Boston a few weeks after I ran the Philadelphia marathon last fall. My body felt fine going from one training cycle to another, but I think I was a little burned out mentally. But I was grateful to be training for the iconic Boston. Training included several races, two of which were getaways with Mark sans kiddos- the Fort Lauderdale half in February and the NYC half in March.

I also ran the Hyannis half at the end of February with Beth and Angela and ran a 1:39 in cold and windy conditions. In early April, I ran a local 10k (Cohasset Road Race), but my legs felt heavy.

In retrospect, doubts about running a PR in Boston started to creep in around then. I made some mistakes on marathon Monday, which I ultimately ran in 3:45.

  1. Overhydrating with water & not enough electrolytes/salt. In the week leading up race day, I drank a LOT of water without balancing the intake with sodium and other electrolytes. This was such a rookie mistake, and one I hope to never make again, but I paid for this electrolyte imbalance on race day with cramps that developed early in the race and never went away. Since that day I have been much more in tune to sodium/electrolyte intake and haven’t had any cramps in any run since, even during the hottest days. My go-to’s are scratch hydration, nuun prime, and salt tablets.
  2. Another rookie mistake, but I realized early in the race that my new shoes were causing problems. I had purchased some new Nike shoes leading up to race day and tested them out in 3 runs before, but for some reason they bothered me on race day. They felt very tight and I wasn’t able to loosen them appropriately during the race (I stopped a few times to untie/re-tie, it did nothing). It was hard to steer my thoughts away from this issue for some reason. I know I will be much more cognizant about wearing appropriate, well-tested shoes at races!

I think those were the biggest issues I had. But I also think that I should have dialed back more during taper for fresher legs, added in more strength training and hill work, and figured out a better pre-race eating plan for a late race start at 10:50am. Plus working on my mental game for the next race wouldn’t hurt either.

It is hard to complain about running a race like Boston but I definitely needed a break afterwards. Even though- seeing my friends all along the course from the beginning to the end (shoutouts to Amber, Lori, Ann, Luke, my parents, Beth, Ted, Mark and kids, and others…plus the amazing training partners/loved ones who followed me from afar!), made this race one of the highlights of my year!!!

That brings me to my next adventure, training for the NYC marathon. This race has been a BIG bucket list item for me. I’ve wanted to run for 10 years and finally got in!! I am running with my sister Beth which has made training and race day planning SO fun! I also started a local run club — shoutout to @harborrunclub! — in June and have met a lot of awesome new running friends. We meet every Sunday and that is often one of the highlights of my week!  Stay tuned for a separate post on that! This training cycle has been filled with so much joy and I am feeling strong these days. Since Boston, I have run several FUN races including the Denver half, the Covered Bridges half in Vermont, and the Hingham Road race.

I have several more races coming up during training too. I’m excited to tackle the next 11 weeks and I hope to have an amazing first NYC marathon experience. Thanks for following along – however sporadic my updates are!

Are you training for a fall race?! Hope it’s going well :)

Anyone run NYC before?! Please share you favorite memory or a running tip!

Philly Marathon and Winter Training

Today was the first time in a week where I felt a flicker of spring. We were blanketed by a blizzard last weekend but perhaps it’s the sun setting after 5:00 PM or the slightly above-freezing temperatures that is starting to make a difference. But because of that snowstorm, I’ve been relegated to running inside on the treadmill. But I am dreaming of getting outside soon. Binging The OC (yes the TV show from 15 years ago) has almost made me believe I am running along Newport Beach.

Looking backwards though, Boston 2021 is an experience I won’t soon forget. Six weeks after that special weekend, I ran my 3rd Philly marathon on November 21st after claiming a late entry.

Here’s a little race recap:

I didn’t do much training in between Boston and Philly and used my base to get me to the finish line. Initially the plan was to take the race very easy, and I followed the plan until about Mile 16 when I realized I had already passed the “big hill” of the new course and still felt good. This came after an earlier boost when I stopped at the 10k point to hug Mark and the kids. After this hillier section, I turned on my music and focused for the last 10 miles. The Manayunk section around mile 20 also gave me a great push. I’m not sure if it was the initial low expectations or the perfect weather (42, sunny, no wind), but I felt great until about mile 25 where the course turns to an uphill finish. I worked through that last mile and crossed the finish line in 3:31. I was so happy, a feeling that can be fleeting these days. For the first time, I felt fitness come together.

After soaking in the spirit at the finish line, I walked back to our rental in Rittenhouse Square and hugged Mark and the kids.

I had missed these “runcations” since having kids and with the pandemic. I didn’t realize that the world was about to shut down again so I’m thankful to have had that special weekend away.

Looking forwards again, I’m in full Boston Marathon training mode these days as the race is about 2.5 months away! Something recently clicked in terms of motivation. I think it just took a bit of time to recover from my back-to-back marathons last fall. I have signed up for some other races to get me through the next wave of Boston training, including the Martha’s Vineyard relay race and Hyannis Half marathon. The big race I’m signed up for is NYC half in March. Depending how the next few weeks of training go, I’d love to aim for a half marathon PR there.

The biggest addition and positive change to my training recently are the amazing running friends I have found in my small town! They’ve really helped me get out there during the cold wintery days.

**11ish more** weeks to go ’till the big marathon and I hope to keep you more up to date on training! Thanks for following along :)

What are you currently training for?!

How are you handling winter running?

Boston Marathon Recap Part 2

If you missed it- check out my recap Part 1! 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 :)