Race recaps are always so long – sorry in advance!
Saturday morning I got up and had my normal breakfast of 6 egg whites scrambled with spinach, ezekiel bread with Nuttzo & a banana. John & I drove to the expo in Folsom shortly after.
We met up with my parents and cruised around the vendors. I snacked on a peanut butter Clif Bar and drank a bottle of water. We listened to the pacers talk about strategy for the race the next day. The weather was supposed to be light rain with a tail wind. Instead of being pessimistic, the pacers were quite optimistic about the weather helping the runners, which was nice. I had tried not to feel an impending sense of doom about the possibility of rain. Hearing their attitude was so helpful.
The four of us then headed to get lunch at a sandwich place. I got a medium sized sandwich on a whole wheat sub with provolone cheese and roasted turkey. I also had a bag of baked potato chips and another big bottle of water. After lunch we went back to our hotel. I went shopping with my parents while John went to the gym and we met back up at the hotel before dinner. I had another peanut butter Clif bar & bottle of water somewhere between lunch and dinner.
We had dinner at Maggiano’s about a half hour away from the hotel. The restaurant had partnered up with race for a discount, so there were a lot of runners there. I like to eat dinner early the night before a race – and that must be common. When we arrived at 5:15pm, it was packed with people talking running and passing Garmin watches around the tables. I got spaghetti and meatballs, my usual.
It was such a FUN dinner with my mom, dad & John. We laughed a lot and went home with SO much leftover food. I was so glad they were all there. It really took my mind off the race and I loved their company. I feel so lucky to have had them all there. I left dinner feeling giddy and just so happy.
When we got back to the hotel room, I had a Nuun tablet – watermelon is my favorite – before bed.
The buses were set to pick us up from the hotel at 5:15, so I set my alarm for 4:30. I woke up at 2 and 3am…not surprising given my nerves! I woke up again before my alarm at 4:20 and decided to go ahead and get up. I immediately began trembling uncontrollably. Forcing myself to go through my usual routine, I had another watermelon Nuun and a banana. I also had my pre workout cocktail of Amino energy & Beet Elite. After stretching and putting on my race outfit, I headed down to the lobby after saying goodbye to John. (Side note – I COVERED my feet in body glide. So glad I did.) Before getting to the lobby, I knew I had to stop the trembling and pull it together to see my parents – another reason I’m so grateful they were there.
I put on my throw away fleece, mittens and scarf. As I mentioned in my packing list post, I packed a backpack to give to my folks when they met me in the lobby. I also brought another banana and a space blanket with me on the bus. I listened to everyone chat about time goals and food. The girl next to me was about my age. It was her first marathon as well, so we shared the same nerves in that way.
The buses took us to the start line by 5:45. So we had an hour and 15 minutes to race start. I went to a coffee shop across the street where a lot of runners where standing and bought a big bottle of water. I ate half the other banana and my Jelly Belly sport beans.
I met a lady in line for the bathroom and asked her if she had run the CIM before. She said yes, she had run it twice and trained for it three times. The last time she had trained for it, her husband had passed away about 4 weeks before the race, and she felt her place was with her family. She said she knew both her husband and son were with her today. She turned and showed me the tattoo of her son on her shoulder blade, a very young man, who had passed away recently as well. WHOMP. That brought reality crashing down around me. As bad I as I wanted my race to go well, this woman was a pillar of absolute strength. Her gratitude for being there and well enough to race was the check I needed to not take myself so seriously. We didn’t exchange names, but I sure hope she had a great race.
About 9 bathroom trips later, I had finished the water and headed to the start line at 6:30. I did some dynamic stretches and skipping, and unwrapped my space blanket to stay warm. Pretty soon the 3:30 pacers showed up. It was my plan to stick with them as long as possible, even though I did buy a pace band for 3:30. You can get them at the website here.
Lots of other people crowded around the 3:30 pace team. Clark and Jennifer were our pacers, and everyone went around and introduced themselves. Everyone had run between 2 and 12 marathons, and they were all gunning for Boston. When I said it was my first marathon, that my BQ time would be 3:35, but I was going to shoot for 3:30, they all looked at me like I had about 3 heads. My heart felt like it dropped into my stomach. Why did I say anything? Why did I even sign up? This was an absolutely insane idea.
Luckily, I didn’t have too much time to dwell on that, because it was time to start. I immediately started feeling the jostling around me and focused on not tripping by staring at the ground. The next time I looked up, the pacers were gone. No where to be seen. I frantically looked around and found them after about 1/2 a mile. Once I got settled with the group, I focused on bringing my heart rate and breathing down. I had tossed my fleece and scarf before the start line, but still had the mittens on. It was raining big, fat, crocodile tear rain drops, but the air was warm. By mile 3, my shoes had water swishing in them. The mittens were helpful in wiping water off my watch and face.
My parent’s course map and sign!
If there were aid stations before the first four miles, I sure didn’t see them. I was trying not to lose the pacers again and not trip on all the churning feet around me. I drank at mile 4, which is what i also did on my long runs, so I felt ok about that. I took my first gel at mile 5 even though I wasn’t hungry. Sea salt chocolate flavor. I knew my parents were going to be at mile 7, so I was starting to get excited for that. I had glued myself to Pacer Jennifer’s right elbow. My mom had gotten balloons the night before so I could find them. BEST IDEA EVER! I spotted them right away at mile 7 and it was a huge boost!
I knew both my mom and dad had seen me, and that made me so happy! They supported me throughout training and prep as if my race was just as important as the elite runners gunning for the Olympics. I felt like I could run another thousand miles. Our next plan was for them to meet me at the half marathon mark. So I settled in for the next few miles. I drank at every aid station I saw, and ate a package of black cherry chews at mile 10. Still glued to Pacer Jennifer’s right elbow, the 13.1 mile mark was approaching. I took out my headphones and asked if she would please raise her 3:30 sign up when she saw the pink balloons. I explained that my mom and dad were watching me and they really wanted to see me. She said, “absolutely!!” It was so much fun to see their faces light up and shout to each other as we ran by.
At the half marathon mark, the plan was for Pacer Jennifer to take off for a 3:27 marathon time for those that were feeling good, and Pacer Clark would keep consistent with 3:30. Even though I felt really good, I decided to stay with Pacer Clark. From my long runs, I knew that mile 20 would be a challenge, and it was, after all, my first marathon! I kept drinking at each aid station and took a third gel at mile 15. Salted Caramel. I was feeling really good. Nothing hurt, and the small hills from the beginning of the course had given me some energy to spare. I saw someone holding at sign at mile 17 that said “only 9 miles to dry socks!” and a small part of me died HAHA! My socks WERE really wet. Everything was really wet.
Right about then, I realized that I was not crazy for trying to get a 3:30 at my first marathon. I picked that time goal for a reason. That reason being my training. I let my training dictate my goal, and I could achieve it. I let that take away any remnants of doubt left from the morning. I reminded myself to stay focused, and stay in the mile I was running, and this could actually happen.
As mile 19 approached, I could feel my energy getting low. The weight of the next 7 miles was starting to hit me. I decided to take my next gel at mile 19.5, instead of waiting for mile 20. I was worried that if I waited too long, I would get too far past the point of being able to get calories and carbs into my body to help me. However, the smell and taste of the candy flavored gels was really bad at this point. I took it one big gulp and drank as soon as I could find the next aid station. The sweet gooey texture were so gross…but – mind over matter. The carbs and sugar were way more important than taste at that point. I was supposed to see my parents at mile 20, but I didn’t catch sight of the pink balloons, so I figured they had headed to the finish line.
At mile 21, there were a few guys getting sick in the bushes. That seriously almost did me in. I was feeling so sugared out from the gus that I thought I might do the same.
I had glued myself to Pacer Clark’s elbow by now. Nothing was going to shake me from Pacer Clark. We got to mile 22, and a big sign announced we had reached the CIM’s final four!! Oh my god. FOUR MILES?!? That felt so far. I wished John was there to run home with me.
I forced myself to take half a gu at mile 23. My low back was really hurting. Things were hurting that have never hurt before. I was now looking at Pacer Clark’s back instead of his profile. He seemed like he was getting farther away. His hat was backwards now, and he was waving his 3:30 sign less and less. I stared at the 3:30 on his back and was determined it would not get out of my sight.
At mile 25, I poured a whole cup of water on my soaking wet head. I have no idea why I did this. I wasn’t hot, I was already wet…?!?!?! A lady with a yellow beanie pulled up next to me and said, “are you about done?” For some reason, this lit a fire under me. I said, “No way! We are gonna get to Boston! C’mon!” And she said ok – so off we ran.
I must have passed (or come close to) Pacer Clark in that last mile, but I didn’t notice. Yellow Beanie and I ran down the last stretch. I craned my neck to look for the sharp turn before finish line. All I wanted to see were my mom, dad and John. I just wanted them to take me home. I wanted Bennie The Dog. I wanted Boston. I wanted a Diet Coke. As I went through the last stretch to the finish line, I saw them all. It made me so happy to see their faces! I stomped over the timing mat to the finish line and screamed that I had made it to Boston. Then promptly dissolved into tears.
I hugged yellow beanie lady and kept crying. As I got my medal, crying, the volunteer giving it to me stopped me to hug me. Stopping that forward motion, I almost fell. I told the volunteer I needed to go to the medical tent. Then I thought I would get sick. Thankfully, John jumped the fence and grabbed me. BLESS HIM.
Pacer Clark walked up next and asked if I had gotten a PR. I said “that was my first marathon, remember!” He said he was so happy for me. I couldn’t believe it had actually happened.
My friends Tiff & Tam came to surprise me at the finish line. Seeing their faces was SO AMAZING!! I am so lucky to call them my friends. They took time out of their weekend to come see me, and it meant so much. Naturally the “Tears of Joy” started back up again, not that they had really stopped a whole lot.
I have to mention that at this point I thought I had run a 3:31. Which I was thrilled with. 3:31 was definitely enough to get me to Boston. I had aimed for a 3:30, and my watch did show a 3:29, but who was I to argue with the gun time? All the texts showed gun time of 3:31. WELL that was a total newbie mistake! In all my excitement and crying, I just totally forgot that gun time does not equal CHIP TIME and chip time is the time you actually ran! I figured it out the next day that I had run a perfect 3:29:52, right on time for my pacing band. And that is why Pacer Clark had run in very close to me. Omg how embarrassing haha! But I’ll take a little embarrassment and a 3:29 ANY DAY!
I took a quick shower, and we all went for pizza. Getting my hair out of the braid was maybe harder than running the marathon. HAHA. I used two bottles of the hotel’s conditioner and detangler. I love this brand for shampoo & detangler.
I couldn’t wait to get home to get Bennie The Dog! So we headed back home after pizza and more hugs.
I used the KatiesFitscript marathon hybrid training plan. It was great because it incorporated lifting and running, which I had already built a good base of doing. Plus she has been helping me with my nutrition. The accountant in me is always overly conservative with my caloric intake at these events, so it was helpful to have someone giving specific help on how and what to eat MORE of. I did tweak her plan to add in a second 20 miler since I was going for such a lofty goal with my first ever marathon. With a final chip time of 3:29:52, I’d say it all worked pretty well! I am still in shock and just so grateful.
I have to also shout out to my bestie Kindal, who had just run an amazing qualifying race a couple weeks before me. Having just gone through the whole thing, her support was so so helpful!!
Things I would like to try for next time:
- Practice eating a bigger pre long run breakfast. The whole training cycle, I just had a banana and gu packet or jelly beans before long runs. I would like to practice with bagels or oatmeal in the future. Race day morning I did not want to try anything new, but I also felt like one banana wasn’t going to cut it. Having a banana and a half with the jelly beans worked ok , but it would have been smart to practice with something more solid.
- Running flat for long stretches. As crazy as it sounds, it was tough running the flats after all the hills. You kind of lose your help from gravity on the down hills. My training run did imitate this fairly well, but I think I could have increased my endurance by running longer on the flat after all the hills.
- Deadlift and squat heavier weight for stronger hips and glutes.
All in all, I could not have asked for a better weekend! I am so lucky to have such amazing family, boyfriend and friends. I love them all so much!
With love & Boston 2017,