On Monday, April 16, 2018 I woke up at 4:30am and realized my phone had not been charging. 7% battery. I had plugged it in, but something about it had not been working. I fixed it and slept fitfully until my alarm went off, making sure it was charging every so often.
When I got up and looked outside. It didn’t seem to be pouring rain, nor were the trees sideways in 30 MPH gusts of wind. I had hoped the storm would blow itself out overnight and be calm in the morning. However, I knew that was not the case and the storm was only getting started.
Before walking to the buses I had oatmeal with ½ scoop protein powder, banana, blueberries, blackberries and peanut butter. Our hotel did not have a microwave available, so I used the coffee pot to heat up some water for the oatmeal.
It even felt cold in our hotel room, let alone outside. I stuck my head out on the porch of our hotel room and could see my breath. In that moment I decided to switch from a tank and sleeves under my jacket to a long sleeved shirt. I knew most of my friends were planning on JUST a tank and sleeves. And maybe they are faster than me so they are generating more heat OR SOMETHING, but I am person that is always cold – even sitting around the house in my sweats and sweatshirt, I’m cold. So I decided to wear the Lane 5 shorts from Tracksmith – I would have normally worn my go to Speed shorts from Lululemon, but the looser fit + the rain meant sagging and more chafing. Plus, the Lane 5 shorts from Tracksmith only have one tiny pocket, but that was ok because I would be wearing the Asics’ Storm Shelter jacket as my top layer, and it has tons of pockets. I also wore long compression socks, ankle socks over the top of those that were thick and warm, a long sleeve quarter zip tucked into my shorts so the heat would not escape, a headband, a hat, and 2 pairs of gloves. By far the most important part of my outfit was the Zealios anti-chafe cream. Running creates heat, and heat + moisture creates chafing. Ow. It was a delicate balance to strike between wearing enough clothing to stay warm, and also knowing that anything you were wearing would eventually soak through, and then it would be touching you, relentlessly, for the next few hours. I was not keen on turning into a big wet sponge.
I knew staying as dry as possible prior to starting the race would be important. I didn’t want to start the race soaking wet and demoralized. Over my race outfit I added a big sweatshirt (I put it directly on over my rain coat), sweatpants, and a poncho. On my feet I had a pair of Zoom Fly tennis shoes that needed to be donated badly. I carried a towel, umbrella and a new pair of dry shoes that I would change into before my wave start. I popped some run gum in my mouth. I only like coffee a very specific way, and tend to get an upset stomach if its not ‘that way’ – so the gum was perfect when the line to Starbucks was far too long. The last thing I did was reapply more Zealios.
Once at Athlete’s Village I used the bathrooms, and at 9:00am I ate a bagel with peanut butter. More bathroom trips and I took off the sweatshirt, put the poncho back on, left my sweatpants on, and changed my shoes. As I walked to my wave start, I noticed all the various ways everyone was trying to keep their feet dry until the last possible second. The field of that high school had to be carnage after we left. So muddy and so many dropped clothes, shoes, umbrellas, and yoga mats, all soaked. I waited until the last second to pull off my sweatpants and add them to a pile of clothes.
As we started towards the corral, I figured I would power on my Jaybird X3 headphones and get my playlist going. They have 8 hours of battery life, so it wouldn’t have been a problem. My phone was being kept safe in a plastic bag inside my coat and it was quite a production to get it out after taking off 2 pairs of gloves. I powered on the headphones and they cheerfully announced “battery 40%” – WHAT? The same thing that happened to my phone must have happened to these. So I quickly turned them off to conserve the battery.
I was SO excited getting into our wave to start. It was raining steadily and still shockingly cold. I have never experienced that. All winter long in CA, when it had rained, it would warm up to 55-60 degrees. So I was anxious to get moving and get warm. As we lined the up, there were a few less homeowners lining the streets of Hopkinton, but not that many less. They waved and shouted, offered hot drinks and cold beers, and even tubs of Vaseline.
I turned on my Jaybirds once more, which now cheerfully announced “battery 20%.” I decided it would be worse to try to take them off when they died and stop the music on my phone in the plastic bag. That said, I have never done even a single training run without my headphones. I knew the crowds would help me though, so I didn’t let it worry me. I decided I’d take the opportunity to really run by feel and soak up every second. I turned off auto-lap on my watch, so I could see my true mile splits as well.
Right before the gun went off, the skies really opened up. I was in corral 2 of wave 3 and you could feel just how serious the wind was going to be. Even with the wind in our faces, the atmosphere still crackled with excitement. The gun went off and everyone moved forward. As I started to run and place my feet on the pavement, I could feel the blood rushing into my toes and they started to tingle. That feeling continued until about mile 5.
The first few miles were an amazing cacophony of footfalls and cowbells. Everyone tried to bunch up and shield the wind, but it wasn’t much help. I had left my poncho on and was happy I got to stay a bit drier for now, though it was weird running in a poncho.
I had trained to run a 3:20 marathon, but my coach and I had previously discussed that I would need to run by effort first. Meaning that I needed to let the mile splits come second to my perceived feelings. My coach and I had decided it would be smart to run holding back until mile 16, push through the hills to mile 21, and then hammer home with anything I had left, if there was anything. I knew that meant letting go of my 3:20 with the wind, and I was ok with it. I respect the distance.
I ran the first mile a bit slow, 8:32, while I regained some feeling in my feet and legs. There is also a sneaky hill in the first mile that no one seems to talk about. Everyone says the first 16 miles are all downhill. Which really isn’t true. While is is more downhill than up, there are little rollers. But that first hill in mile 1 freaked me out last year. This year I was ready for it.
My fueling and hydration plan were pretty simple: finish and toss my handheld water bottled filled with watermelon Nuun by mile 6-8, gels of some kind every 5 miles, and drink water at every aid station unless I really didn’t want it.
Miles 2 – 5 were 7:51/7:57/7:44/8:04. During these miles I worked hard to establish a rhythm, slow my breath down, and keep myself relaxed. At mile 4.3 I knew I needed to prep one of my gels. I had originally wanted to go with the order of: Huma gel, ½ Gu Chomps package, Sports beans, Huma gel, ½ Gu Chomps package because I tend to get an aversion to the texture of gels by the end of a race. But I realized that 35 degrees was freezing the beans and the chomps, and making them harder to chew (which is already hard to do when running). So I decided to have the beans first. I had pre-opened everything, but it still took me to the 5thmile marker to get them open and any in my mouth. They were frozen together in a little blob & I had 2 pairs of gloves on, so not the best combination.
Miles 6 – 10 were 7:53/7:54/8:49/7:19/7:56. You can see where the hill was here – I held back going up it and let gravity do the work on the way down. In retrospect, I probably could have pushed more on the downhill portions. I had practiced a lot and feel I can say I am a respectable downhill runner. I just hadn’t practiced anything in THIS type of weather. Ever. I can do cold. I can do wet. Wind, wet & cold was an unknown. Luckily, the crowds were still lining the roads. At mile 7 there was a man singing “Sweet Caroline” which I loved. At mile 10 I had the first serving of the pack of Gu Chomps. I still had not finished my handheld so worked hard to do that by mile 10. I saw my friend Lani somewhere in this section too. I told her she looked strong and she could do this. I know how hard she’s worked. She gave me some words of encouragement as well and we lost each other in the mix.
Miles 11 – 15 were 8:08/8:00/7:57/7:58/8:33. I finally tossed the handheld at the beginning of mile 11. I chatted with an older gentleman briefly through mile 11. He was from Tucson, and that was very funny in the moment. Surely had had trained through winter, but winter in Tucson is like 65 degrees. I was glad to hear my breathing wasn’t too labored when talking, but I definitely couldn’t keep talking. At mile 12.3 I heard a noise far in the distance. I turned to the woman next to me and said, “I think that is the Wellesley women…?” Mile 13, the scream tunnel, was my favorite of the first half the race. They are just SO loud. I don’t know how they do it. Youth and maybe a little alcohol, I suppose. It is deafening in the best possible way. I held out my hand and high fived every one. Once we were past them I focused on getting water at the aid stations and finishing the rest of the pack of Gu Chomps.
Miles 16 – 20 were 7:59/8:36/8:27/8:16/8:34. I knew the Newton hills were coming here. I think mile 16 – 17 felt harder than Heartbreak, although my paces would tell you otherwise. The crowds here though…unbelievable. Just as soaked and cold as the runners, and screaming for every one of us. I was looking for the How Was Your Run Today podcast party, but somehow missed them. I tell myself that mile 20 is halfway, so I continued to do that here – the work was only getting started. Last year, I walked up part of Heartbreak Hill, and I was mad about that. This year I was no where near close to walking, stopping, or breaking stride. Going up Heartbreak, every time I felt myself lose focus, or start to slow down, I’d find someone in the crowd who was just cheering like crazy and make eye contact with them. It really does help! As I crested Heartbreak I gritted my teeth and gulped down my Huma Gel as fast as I could. I love the taste, but like I said, that texture is so hard for me at the end of a race.
Miles 21 – 25 were 8:48/8:02/8:12/8:11/8:28. After mile 21, I saw my split and knew I needed to pick it up and run it home. I did a quick 1 minute surge of speed. Sarah had me practice this in my long runs and something about it helps me reset even though it is really hard to do when you are tired. Mile 22 felt great. I looked for my friend Marissa at mile 24, but missed her too. At mile 25 I saw the Citgo sign! There is also a freeway overpass that feels like Mount Kilimanjaro. I tried to pick off as many people as I could running up and over it. As I passed the Buckminster, I looked for friends I thought were standing there. No sign of them. As I kept pushing, I started passing people. I made eye contact with a police officer standing by the barricades and he said, “you go girl! Go get ‘em! Boston strong!!” As I couldn’t feasibly burst into tears there, I did what he said. I WENT. As hard as my little legs would let me. I flung off my gloves and took off my hood. My hands were a weird color and texture, which I decided to compartmentalize, ignore, and not freak out about right that second.
The more I passed people, the more the crowd would freak out, and that was FUN and very motivating.
You thought Desi Linden was the only one that won last Monday 🙂
Mile 26.2 (I forgot to hit lap running down Boylston, do you blame me?) was 9:19, so an average pace of 8:42. Directly before you turn right on Hereford, there is a small dip on the road that is roughly the same feeling as climbing Everest. Turning right onto Hereford and then left onto Boylston was everything. Last year I was disappointed in my race by this point and so beaten down. This year I was hurting, but happy. I ran down Boylston and pumped my arm. It was either run or let my emotions overtake me, so I ran. I saw that the wave 2 clock still showed under 3:35, which would be a Boston Qualifying time AT BOSTON. So I ran as hard as I could over the start line, completely forgetting to put up my hands while crossing.
While the last 6 miles of a marathon are painful, stopping is far worse. I realized suddenly just how cold and wet I was, and how my neck had been chafing against my jacket probably the whole race. Someone had once told me not to leave the finish line area too quickly, and I have followed that advice both years. I got out of the way, turned around and looked up at the massive arches I had just run under. The fanfare and screaming down Boylston. A volunteer asked me if I had my phone. I pulled it out of the plastic and gave it to her. She snapped my photo and we hugged. I do feel bad about that – she probably didn’t want a hug from a soggy, sweaty person.
I heard my mom and ran (shuffled) over to her to get a hug. The best! Then shuffled off to get my medal. I got mine from a woman named Charlotte, who gave me a big bear hug while I cried. Then was wrapped in the most awesome heat sheet I’ve ever seen. I called my Dad and read congratulatory texts from John, and texted him back to let him know I was doing good. The mile long walk out of the finish line area did feel quite long. Luckily, my mom and I had talked about how the check bag area really wasn’t much closer than our hotel, so I should just go straight to the hotel to get dry. Then I took the hottest shower I’ve ever taken, followed by celebratory food and beer.
My neck was so chafed from my jacket that it looked like I was in a losing battle with my curling iron & I think I may have pinched a nerve in my left foot, but really that is all the worse for the wear that I was post race besides the residual soreness. As I mentioned before, your bib numbers are in order of the speed you ran to qualify. I outran my bib number by 9,000 people, so I am overall really and truly happy with the outcome in some very tough conditions. I think that until I run a PR from my first marathon (anything under 3:29:52) I will be the tiniest bit unsatisfied. There are a lot of people who ran that did not start, did not finish, or somewhere in between, so believe me when I say that I am grateful for every moment of my 3:33:36. I also know that it is ok to want more. To be inspired to dig a little deeper and see what I find.
On Monday, April 16th, 2018 I ran a 20 minute course PR on a course that left me pretty disappointed last year. I reclaimed that confidence and ran the most consistent marathon I have yet in “literally the worst crap Mother Nature could throw at you” (Coach Sarah’s words), shows me how far I have come in a year. It was worth every bit of the very very hard work I put in to get there.
Post race requirement.
And of course a 26.2 brew.
I have an app on my phone that tracks my drives for work. It picked up my run as a drive – which I am weirdly proud of because I never stopped, walked or truly slowed down much once! This may be weird to say because of my 6 marathons, 3 of them have been faster than this one – but this is the first marathon in which I never stopped, walked or even broke stride. In the last 6 miles I always have those moments of panic where I think I just have to stop and drink a FULL cup of water, or something like that. It was nice to stay so mentally strong and steady this time.
I thought this was interesting info:
And my final stats!