The day was predicted to be one of those days you dread as a runner: temperatures mid 40’s, winds up to 20 mph, and rain. It’s a race day when you think to yourself, “I signed up for this so I’ll run it and be all the stronger for it.”
The plan was to work hard at controlling my pace through those initial 8 miles. In my four previous Boston Marathons, I’ve just let myself go because those are some fast first miles and the body feels so good. All the surging up and down the rolling hills will bite you come the famous Newton hills which is why I was planning on doing things differently. From 9 to 16 miles, the plan was to latch on to some runners going slightly faster than my planned pace. Miles 16 through 21, don’t worry about pace, just be strong up the hills – KEEP RUNNING! The final 5 miles are a decline with only a couple of small poppers so I hoped to have something left for surging to the finish and let the crowd push me. That was the goal, wind or no wind, rain or no rain. Stay focused on my body (breath, relaxation, form, etc.) and don’t get distracted.
Another goal for this marathon was to take in more fuel early in the race. More pre race carbohydrates as well as more gels along the way.
The Day Began…
Ted was up at 5 am preparing for his bike ride along the course. He had to get off the course before all the road closures at 8 am. He left the room at 6. I was up at 5:30 to move around and eat my first carb snack of the day. Left the room at 7 am for Boston Commons to catch the bus, It was a long ride, but we finally arrived when a fellow runner said “I’ll take your photo if you’ll take mine.” The first of many pleasantries exchanged on this dreary day.
It hadn’t started raining, just a little misty at this point. I headed for the first tent where space to sit was sparse and decided on the porto potty line instead. After that was taken care of, I found a small space where I put an old heat sheet from Chicago down to sit.
After Wave 1 was called, tent space opened up a little bit.
As time approached to begin the trek to the starting line, I took off a pullover shirt. I hadn’t noticed when I grabbed it from home but it was the shirt from the very first 5K I ever ran in 2007. At that point in life, I thought marathons were only for professional runners. I remember being so nervous Ted had to run it with me. I ended up coming in third and that was it. I was hooked and wanted more.
From Athletes Village the announcer directed us into lines based on starting corrals within Wave 3, before finally being released to walk the .7 miles to the start. It was easier this year getting to my corral. Previous years had me sprinting to make it before the gun went off.
I refused to ditch my warm clothing until 2 minutes before starting because it began to rain.
And They’re Off!….
The first miles were tough as I tried to keep my pace under control. It’s a long descent away from the starting line before the course begins to roll. I wanted to stay in the range of 8:50 to 8:30. The miles sped away and it made me think of the months preparing for this day then, in a flash, it’s over. The initial miles, although the body and legs feel good, are toughest as I wonder what motivates me to keep doing marathons. Once the halfway point is reached, the reality of finishing sets in and the finish line doesn’t seem so unattainable.
Course status on this challenging day: Many runners held onto their garbage bags as they ran. In fact there were some who had light weight bags on even later in the race and all the way to the finish. It was better to be safe due to the conditions because you can always shed the bag or clothing but you can’t put it on if you’re under dressed.
As we came to mile 8 1/2 to 9, this was when I wanted to find a group running around my pace or slightly faster. I was still at 8:30 pace every time I checked the Garmin. It was comfortable but I was working so didn’t think speeding up at this point was wise. Pace held at about 8:30, 8:35.
The girls at Wellesley were out in spite of the cold, wind and rain. It was a scream tunnel! As I mentioned, my biggest goal on this day was to be able to run up those Newton hills – No Walking Aloud! We were at the 15 mile point and I thought I’m ready – Bring It On! Then my stomach began rolling. Oh no. It will pass and luckily it did.
The strategy as I went into the hills was to stay in the middle of the pack. If you’re in the middle, the people around you keep running. If you get to the side, you’ll see people walking and that seems to be an excuse to walk. The first hill at mile 16 is the longest, not the steepest but it’s a boring hill, not many spectators to push you up it. The second hill, at around the 17 mile point, meets the runner as the course turns at the Firehouse. It seems long and steep but really it’s just steep and relatively short. The third hill, somewhere around 18 3/4 to 19, is the one everyone thinks is Heart Break. In fact, you hear first timers asking “Is this it? Is this Heart Break?” No, it’s simply the 2nd hill after the turn at the Firehouse. It’s tough because of where it falls but it’s short. At the 20 mile point, is the one everyone has waited for. It’s Heart Break Hill. I kept my head up to use oxygen more efficiently, slowed my pace to keep an even effort and made it up that hill.
Now the road drops into Cleveland Circle and we cross the railroad tracks. This is where the crowd will carry you the rest of the way. Don’t look at everyone walking, just keep running. The wind picked up and offered more resistance. At mile 23, it felt as if my calves might cramp up but I couldn’t find the Endurolyte capsule in my belt. I made the only stop on the course at a water station to take a big gulp of Gatorade. All other water stations, I kept running as I took only sips of water. *I don’t like to take Gatorade with gels, it’s too much for my stomach.
Up the ramp to the 40K point and the Citgo sign with the road marked “1 mile to go”. I kept pushing around the turn at Hereford, took a tight corner at the top and desperately looked for the finish which seems to take FOREVER to get to.
Crossed the finish! I really, REALLY thought I had a good strong personal best but that wasn’t the case. It didn’t even match my race in Phoenix just 2 months ago (3:46:03). Considering the weather, I should be pleased with the results. *The news said that the elite pack were about 2 to 5 minutes slower than usual.
It was too cold and windy to stop outside for photos. In fact, as I was walking the long route from medal to heat sheet to post race nutrition, I saw a young girl shivering so badly, I put my arm around her and walked with her until I met Ted. I would never hug a stranger but running a race, you all seem to be one. There are no strangers.
It took me a couple of hours before I could get up without feeling nauseous but when I did, it was celebration time! We went out again to endure the cold rain to Little Italy and had a wonderful dinner with special drinks.
An Orange Blossom Martini. So good! My body was attracted to the orange juice more so than the drink. Odd because I don’t really like orange juice.
2nd stop was Nico’s where we had stopped last year after the race. Ted enjoyed an espresso.
Then it was back to the room by 8:30 pm. It took a while but sleep finally came, only to be woken up in the early hours by pounding rain. Hope next year brings a perfect weather weekend for running and touring Boston.
Race Summary: Temperature 45 degrees. Wind 13 – 20 mph. Rain.
What I wore: To keep warm before the start, old casual pants, long sleeve cotton T-shirt(above), a fleece zip up, a jumbo garbage bag. Also brought the heat sheet as mentioned above to sit on in Athletes Village.
What I wore for racing: Capris with long Injinji socks, a tank, and my Patagonia wind/rain proof jacket. On my head was a visor, a head band for my ears and a wool hat to prevent heat loss. Fingerless old gloves to toss. *The only part of me that got really cold were my hands. My hand were non-functional by 18 miles and cramping with cold. I never dared to toss away the gloves even though they were wet after the half.
Pre Race Fueling Strategy: 5:30 am, upon waking, a bagel with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. 8 am, a Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bar. Took half a 5 Hour Energy at 8:30 in case the caffeine was going to trigger a bathroom break, I wanted that to happen before crossing the starting line. At 9:15 am a banana and an Endurolyte Hammer Capsule. *I had one more Endurolyte to take at the half way point but forgot. When I remembered it, I couldn’t find it in my fuel belt.
Race Fuel Strategy: I decided to ingest more gels than I usually do AND to do it early in the race when my body is better able to digest the carbohydrates. At the 3 1/2 mile point, I ate 3 Clif Shot Bloks (equal to 1/2 a gel). At the 6 mile point, I had 3/4 of a Vanilla Hammer Gel. At the 9 mile point, 3 more Shot Bloks. Just before the half, I had another Vanilla Hammer Gel. At the 17 mile point, I took a Vanilla Clif Gel from the course volunteers. *That was too thick. I like the Hammer consistency better. At mile 22, I took my last gel.
Finish Time: 3:48:36, 8:44 pace.
Boston Stats: Total Runners Entered 30251. Total Finished 26610 (98%) Total Gender 13751. Total Gender Finished 12022 (97.7%) Age Group Division: Total Females Entered 1397, Total Started 1234, Total Finished 1205 (97.7%)
1. 8.52 9. 8.32 16. 8.29 21. 9.22
2. 8.32 10. 8.36 17. 8:54 22. 8.35
3. 8.30 11. 8.39 18. 9:05 23. 8.40
4. 8.18 12. 8.33 19. 8.39 24. 8.37
5. 8.40 13. 8.41 20. 8:58 25. 8.42
6. 8.23 14. 8.36 26. 8:25
7. 8.25 15. 8.40
Will I use the same strategy next year? At this point, I’ll sure try. Maybe with a little tweaking, I can nail this course.