Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boston Marathon Recap

Doug and I headed up to Boston on Saturday afternoon to arrive in time for dinner. As I noted a while ago in my blog, life and work have been crazy lately so when we finally got in our car to head up to Boston I finally started getting really excited for the race. When we got to Boston, we checked into our hotel and met up with our friends Nate and Jenny who were nice enough to drive over from NH to meet us for a fun dinner out in Cambridge.

Sunday morning we went to the expo to pick up my number and wander around the booths a bit. It was a packed house, so I grabbed my number and jetted (CKH, you should have seen all of the "jackets!").

The finish line was right down the street from the expo, so we wandered down and imagined Kara and me neck and neck in a sprint to the finish.

This area looked a tad different the next day after 26.2 miles

Sunday was the longest day in history, we wandered around Harvard, spent some time in bookstores (because that's what they do at Harvard) and then when the clock hit 5pm, we grabbed an early dinner and headed back to the hotel. Since I didn't do any pre planning for this trip, all of the Italian restaurants we called for reservations were all booked. So, we went with the next best thing...Wagamama, an Asian noodle house. I figured that noodles are noodles regardless of ethnicity. After dinner I got my bag situated for the race and headed to bed.

The next morning I had to catch the marathon bus to the starting line around 6:30am. After standing in line for 45 min, I finally got on the bus for the hour and 15 min. ride to Hopkinton. The athlete village near the starting line was teeming with nervous runners. It was so windy and cold that I stole a trash bag from a garbage can and laid inside of it for about an hour, just passing the time until my 10:20 start. When our wave was finally called to start lining up, I ditched my garbage bag, throwaway clothes (minus gloves and arm warmers) and lined up with everyone else.

I hadn't done a lot of research about the course, other than checking out the map in the guidebook we got in our expo bags (notice a theme of unpreparedness here?), so I knew enough to know that the first 4-5 miles were primarily downhill.

I kept telling myself to start slowly and not get caught up with the people blowing by me on the downhills. I was going to be smart enough to save my quads for the hills later in the race. Haha, I was so smart the day before, but didn't follow any of it on race day. I started pretty fast out of the gate, first mile 7:32, second mile 7:40, third 7:37...eeek...this is gonna hurt later! I tried to reign myself in, and did for a few miles, but by mile 8 my quads were getting really tight. Luckily, right past mile 8 I saw Doug and Jenny (did I mention she took the day off work to cheer me on? And she made t-shirts for she and the Doug man?! Rockstar friend!!) so I pretended everything was going great while I tossed them my gloves and arm warmers.

Me on the right, fishing for my gloves and arm warmers stuffed down my shorts. Check out the sea of people behind!

After I saw those guys I tried slowing down to see if I would feel better, but my quads still hurt, so I tried speeding up and my quads hurt doing that too. I figured that if they were going to hurt either way, I might as well push it and just try to finish sooner. It's weird because this is the second marathon in a row that I've hit the wall really early on, like mile 10-12. In my head I'm saying, how on earth are you going to go another 13 miles if you feel like this already. At that point, I made a conscious effort to shut off my mind, enjoy my surroundings, pump the music up and eat and drink as much as possible for the next half of the race. I thought there might be a possibility that my quads would blow up on me and start cramping, but I decided to push it until that happened. After this point, I had a lot of fun! The crowds were awesome, the girls of Wellesley were as crazy as I had heard and there were kegs lining the course for much of the way. The course was pretty tough, it seemed that we were always going up or downhill.

I saw Doug and Jenny again around mile 16 and by that time I was in great spirits. This was a pretty good hill that we crested right here, in fact, I thought it was a lot tougher than the famed Heartbreak Hill.

The miles from 16-20 ticked by really quickly. I was high-fiving kids on the side, chatting with the runners around me and taking in the sights. One thing I did know about this race was that Heartbreak Hill was at mile 20.5 and was supposed to be killer. When we came to Heartbreak, I didn't even realize we were on "the hill" until at the top of it, there was a banner that said something like "You conquered the Heartbreak." I guess after all of the hills before this one, it just didn't feel that bad. What did feel bad was the mile or so of downhill that followed it. On tired, cramping quads, downhill is not exactly easy or fun.

Around mile 24 I started looking at my watch quite frequently. I was getting to the tired point, but knew that I was running really well and would most definitely break my 3:39 time from NYC. I actually thought it might be possible to break 3:30, so I started pushing the pace pretty hard telling myself that I could do anything hard for 15 min. My 24th mile was a 7:30 and my 25th mile was a 7:24 and 26th was a 6:30 (which I've never come close to running before, let alone at the end of a race)! I gave it all I had for the last push to the finish line and ended up clocking in at 3:31:50! I had an 8 minute PR!! I was obviously pooped, but felt better than I had at the end of any race.

After the race, I got my blanket, my medal and my bag and went to find Jenny and Doug, my awesome cheerleaders. Check out those fancy t-shirts!

What a fun day! I remember a few times in my diving career when there would be a day when I didn't miss a dive, I was just in "the zone." That's exactly how this race felt. As nervous as I was that my body would let me down, it didn't, it got stronger when I needed it to. Now if I could figure out a way to bottle up this feeling and sell it, I would.

Thanks to all of you for your good luck wishes before and congratulations after...it really carried me through:)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Marathon?

The Boston Marathon is in T minus 5 days and I haven't done one lick of "homework." I haven't made dinner reservations for the night before, so we'll probably be making spaghetti-o's in our hotel because all of the Italian places will be packed. I suppose I should figure out how to get from our hotel to the starting line - kind of important. And, Doug is coming, but who knows where he is going to be on the course with my food.

Sure, I've done the long runs and put in some good mileage, but I don't feel anywhere near ready...particularly in the mental arena. It wasn't until the other day one of my friends asked what my Gold, Silver and Bronze goals are for the race, that I figured I should probably
look at the course map and come up with a few acceptable goals.

In an effort to make my self accountable and not be tempted to sand bag the whole race, here is what I'm shooting for:

A goal = 3:35:00 - I qualified in 3:39:52 to get into Boston, so knocking a few minutes off would be cool
B goal = 3:40:00 - This would be my 2nd fastest time and I'd be more than ok with it
C goal = 3:50:00 - Still respectable in my book
Major goal = Finish - No matter how many marathons I've done, or ever do, this will still be my major goal. Each race is so different and some days it's hard to muster the energy for 26.2. miles, so finishing is still a big accomplishment. (It's also a good cop-out if I have a really crappy day:)

My sweet friends at my Tuesday night running club gave me some good luck charms last night. I think it was the kick in the butt I needed to start getting excited and getting prepped for Monday!!

P.S. Jen-a P...can't wait to see you in Beantown! You're cheering will get me through!

Friday, April 1, 2011


My treadmill is going way too fast and I feel like I'm about to fall off. Work is crazy and is only getting started for the season, the Boston Marathon is just under 2 weeks away (and I'm not feeling ready) and I haven't seen my husband in what feels like a month - his treadmill may be going even faster than mine. I keep looking for a light at the end of the tunnel and am not sure I can see even a glimpse of it.

When things get this busy everything suffers. My training has suffered because I'm not getting enough sleep and trying to cram runs in where I can. My poor friends haven't gotten calls back from me in ages, sorry girls:) My cooking is pretty non-existent, if it's not a kitchen sink salad, it's cereal or chocolate.

I know, cue the Waaaaam-bulance. Hopefully a weekend with the husband and dogs (and a CATS win!!) is just what I need. If not, I'm going to need all of you to move next door so I can come cry on your couch:)