Monday, May 1, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017: Race Recap

The past two weeks have gone by like the speed of light. 
Everything is so fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. Crossing the finish line, calling my coach, feeling the medal being placed around my neck, the whisper of the heat wrap being draped around my body. Taking in every sound, every moment of the Boston Marathon.
There was one point where we were asked to loudly cheer for the spectators crowded along the outside of the barriors. I opened my mouth and cheered enthuasicastically for them. I felt so honored to be among all of those great athletes, and for the people that took their day to cheer for us. It was a really intense moment of gratitude.

2nd Boston Marathon in the books!

Boston Marathon weekend is such a whirl of fun excitement, and there is so much to talk about.
I'm going to focus right now on April 17th - race day. I went to sleep pretty early the night before and slept like a total champ two nights before, so I felt ready to get up and seize the day on Monday morning. Alarm rang at 5 am (which is really 2 am LA time - ouch) and I slowly got out of bed at 5:30. Flat Nat was ready to go, so I got dressed quickly, started hydrating, went to the bathroom (there is always that feeling of saying a forlorn goodbye to the beautiful hotel bathroom, knowing it's all porta potties until mid afternoon) and then Jerold and I headed down to breakfast.

My Mom traveled with us again this year and as always I am so thankful for her. I had so many thoughts about bringing the kids again this year. Of course I love having them with me, but it also would have been easy to fly in for a couple of days, race and go home. Easter fell so late this year and I really couldn't bear the thought of leaving my kids for Easter. Jerold and I left them during Halloween in 2015 when we went to NYC to watch the marathon (I won a trip and how could we turn down such a fun opportunity?). I know it's only Halloween, but I was so sad to miss being with them and I thought to myself, I absolutely will not leave them for Easter if I can possibly help it. Anyway, Josh my ten year old, had his heart set on coming with me and that really sealed the deal.

My three rays of sunshine

Back to my Mom for a moment. She is such a gem and I couldn't believe that she arranged to travel with us again this year. I love having these memories with her and the power of family is unbelieveable. Also, it is so nice to have an even ratio - three adults to three kiddos. Each of us got to wander off alone without kids at some point during the weekend, which is a pretty nice bonus.
I loved the fact that Jerold was able to travel with me to the bus drop off that morning. We had a leisure breakfast together (I had a bagel with almond butter and an egg, a gatorade electrolyte mix that I put in water, followed by more water. It was already getting warm outside.) He always has such motivational things to say before a goal race. There really isn't anything sweet and loving about it. It's just - go kick ass. You trained for this, you are capable - push through the pain and go get it.

He's more than a husband. He's my best friend and he takes zero crap from me. "Just do the work." It's really amazing to think about how many pre-race moments we've experienced together so far. Sign made by the loving friends in our town!

By the time I got on the bus to go to Hopkington, I didn't need the throwaway clothes I brought along. It was already super hot and everyone was talking about the heat. The bus ride is always relaxing, fun and a pretty long ride to arrive at athlete's village. Last year, I sat next to a girl and we chatted the entire time. This year, I put in my hotel throwaway headphones, listened to music and ate a Picky Bar.

Arrived at athlete's village and it was like a complete repeat of last year. I had to PEE so badly. I mean, I didn't think I would be able to walk off the bus. My bladder was physically hurting and I was bummed, because I wanted to take in the atmosphere, not worry about if I would make it to the porta potty. Next, the coolest thing happened. Anoush recognized me and introduced herself (if you don't know who she is go check her Insta page. BTW, she is total hero of this marathon.)! I was so happy to connect with her and her friend and we all admitted that we needed to find a bathroom like right now. Anoush and I both were in the predicament that we were so close to not making it and we tried to escape to the woods - no such luck. Security is super tight and although I was happy to feel safe, I needed to pee desperately. We finally found the shortest line we could find and I debated on begging someone at the front to let me go, but I knew everyone would hate me, so I had to ride it out. Let's just say, this is how you get to know someone. There was no polite conversation, I started singing some ridiculous song and Anoush and I were both were blurting out whatever, so our bladders wouldn't burst. I can't believe we didn't get a picture together!

Anyway, finally got through that and it was time to walk to the corrals. I was able to relax a bit and enjoyed chatting with my new friends. We stopped one last time at the porta potties and then it was GO time. I had zero time to run a 5 minute warm up, but I did make time for my dynamic stretches and got to meet a few people along the way (thank you to the two ladies who came up to say hello!). There is something about 70 degrees in Boston, that feels distinctly different than 70 degrees in LA. The air feels different somehow (probably due to humidity and lack of ocean breeze) and I could feel the heat burning down on us. In those moments before the start, I didn't think about it - I just knew in the back of my mind I needed to take advantage of ice along the way, hydrate and run smart.

This was the sweet pic Jerold sent before the start!!

Let's talk about my fuel for a moment. I digest GU really well and it gives me such a burst of energy when my body starts to get tired or my legs become heavy. I had been practicing my long runs with a Spibelt and felt confident that it would be good for race day. Between the back zipper pocket in my shorts (Huge thank you to Lululemon LA for sending me the sweet "LA special edition" speed shorts to race in! The speed shorts are what I run in, so it was an easy decision) and the Spibelt, I would carry six GU with me. Yep, six - actually I had seven as I took one as I was walking to the start, another stragety I had practiced.

Mile one: 7:30. The race plan was simple and I knew I needed to follow it carefully. Don't go out too fast, ease into it. The race was crowded, but I was able to navigate through the crowds easier this year (and I also moved up a wave so I think that helped.). I followed a group of runners who were on the same pace and we sailed right through.

Miles two - five: 7:23, 7:26, 7:13, 7:25. A little bit of GI stress. For some reason my stomach felt really full at the start and I was a tad worried about it, but tried to block it out. I mean, what was I going to do? The food I consumed flashed in my head. Did I eat too much? Drink too much? I have practiced this! So, I am running along with a full stomach and kept postive by thinking everything would move around and work itself out. Consequently, I was supposed to take a GU at mile four and I just couldn't do it. I decided to wait just a bit until my stomach hopefully settled.

Miles: six - ten: 7:11, 7:13, 7:29, 7:26, 7:24. Crap. Am I seriously having major GI distress during a goal race? Tell me this isn't happening. Still blocking it out, but I hate the feeling of taking a breath and you just feel full and gross. I took the GU slowly anyway at mile six. I knew I couldn't afford not to and didn't want to get into even more trouble later. I kept thinking, just get to the half way mark. Just make it to 13.1

My phone was turned off during the race, but I saw this later. xo

Miles: eleven - fifteen: 7:32, 7:22, 7:32, 7:36, 7:46. Got through the half in 1:37, which was totally in the 1:36/1:37 range where coach wanted me to be. Okay cool. 1:37 - not great, but not too bad. The longer we were running, the hotter it was getting, but I knew everyone was going through the same thing and I just needed to keep going. When I passed through the half mark, I knew Jerold would be tracking me, I knew my coach was watching and I was thinking: "I'm okay, guys! I'm making it." Although I knew the hard part was yet to come and I was bracing for the hills. My stomach was better by this point and I considered that such a win. I conquered that hiccup, I can do this. It's hot, but I'm not done - keep pushing, you've got some serious work to get through.

Miles: sixteen - twenty one: 7:25, 7:59, 8:00, 8:05, 8:11, 8:44.
Gulp. This is always such an eye opener. You try and stay positive, try and frantically do the math and determine if there is any way you can salvage this. Dog gone it! I am so hot right now - is this Heartbreak Hill? I can't remember from last year... No, this isn't it. Just try and enjoy the crowds. I have run so many hills in prep for this - just keep pushing.  I didn't look at my watch until I saw the sign that you've reached the top of Heartbreak. 8:44. UGH. 
Now I knew I had to suck that up and give it whatever I had left. I was stuffing ice in my bra whenever I could, grabbing the cold, wet towels they were handing out (thank you!) and I was beginning to mutter to myself. I know I was a sight at that point and I probably looked half crazy, but I had to keep pushing.

Miles twenty two - twenty six.two: 7:52, 8:33, 8:11, 8:17, 7:53
Mile twenty two always gives some relief with that wonderful downhill and then reality sets back in - I still have to run a 5K. I love Boston, but I just wanted it to be over at that point. I felt guilty for thinking that, but my legs felt a bit beat up, the heat was a factor and I was really tired. 8:33 and then I shook it off. No, you will not go down, get it together. FINISH THIS STRONG. Give it everything you have left. No regrets. I knew the time goal was out the window (sub 3:15 at the very least. 3:10 on a great day. I know I am capable of that), but I wanted to finish strong. By the time the last mile rolled around, I knew that I could do anything for one last mile. I raised my finger and keep talking to myself "One mile. One last mile. FINISH THIS."

It's not pretty people. It's called mile 25.

It felt like a war zone at that point, people were literally dropping like flies and medics were helping people off the road. I passed a struggling man and gently said "You can do it- one more mile". I hoped he would join me in the struggle, but everyone was in their own head at that point. 
Suddenly, I took the right on Hereford, left on Bolyson and the magic was still there. The roar of the crowd was intense and I knew I had to try and sprint down that straightaway and see my family cheering me on the in grandstands (Thank you to my friend Gina for the absolutely awesome grand stand seats for my family! They are now completely spoiled for the second year in a row. So grateful for her kindness). Where are they, where ARE they?

I see them!

The finish line is almost there, just keep sprinting. Finally, I crossed with a huge smile and sense of relief. I did it. 


I originally thought this time was a 20 second PR, but it's not a PR. It's one second slower. Too funny. My PR is 3:23:01.

So here's the deal - it's back to the drawing board. I feel energized that I am in great shape and I know I can run a fast marathon, it's just challenging to run fast on this course in THAT heat. At least for me.

Smiles of joy

It's maddening and kind of funny at the same time that this silly 3:23 time wants to stick with me. Hey, guess what? I'm ready to break up. No offense...

Pumped to recover well and start a new training cycle. SPEED. It's going to be about speed this summer and racing some shorter stuff. Then, we'll transition into another marathon training cycle for a fall TBD race. All of the hard work I have been banking for the past... three years? Yeah, I ran my first race post three babies in 2014. Of course there was a surgery and an injury sandwiched in between, but that's the way it goes. All of that hard work will come together to kick some serious butt this fall. I'm not afraid of hard work.

Coach and I talked a lot right after the race and then I found my family and I felt good! Didn't have to visit the medical tent (had to last year) and felt thankful for that. Had some stomach issues and that slowed me down when we got back to the hotel, but was finally able to meet up with my sweet friend Sandra and her family for a celebration dinner!

Can you believe I rushed out of the door without my medal?

We had such a fun evening laughing, eating and hanging out. Sandra has become a true friend and I love spending time with her! She is so positive and full of joy. It was so nice to recap the race with her and hear all about her experience. She ran such a strong race and ran away with yet another BQ! 
I finally got to meet her husband Jesse, which was great and he and Jerold got to chat for most of dinner. I think there is joint family vacation in our future.... :)

I can never eat a ton after a marathon, but I kept hydrating (I couldn't even think about beer or wine. I really wanted a glass, but my stomach wasn't having it) and was able to eat a little bit.

Well, that is a wrap on race day! I have more posts coming about our fun weekend and pre race activities.

Thank you Boston for another unforgettable marathon. It's a privilege to race in this marathon and the memories we've gathered these past two years will be forever in our hearts.

Thank you to my awesome coach for his constant guidance, advice, knowledge and friendship. I appreciate you coach!
Thank you to my loving family - I know we could have gone to Hawaii for spring break (!), but you came with me on this journey and I love each of you infinity.
Thank you to Brooks Running for the WAY cool Boston edition lobster shoes. NOTE: after a few test runs and careful consideration, I decided not to race in the shoes (Launch 4). I opted to go for what I know works for me - the Brooks Ghost 9 and I got a fresh pair the week before the race. I love that I get to hang out in my lobster shoes! 
Thank you to Pro Compression for the brand new socks that I love to run in. Thank you to Momentum jewelry for the Boston Strong bracelet!
My sweet friends gifted me with a Boston Strong footnote and homemade poster + inspiration t-shirt and brownies. 
Thanks to Lululeon LA again for the sweet shorts.

Thank you to each of you for your kind notes, e-mails, texts, and phone calls. I read every single one and it meant the world to me!!

Although I am very much a goal oriented runner (headed toward BIG future goals!), I never lose sight of the fact that the journey is just as important. I loved my training cycle and I became such a stronger, faster runner. I ran over three minutes faster on this course than I did last year, so there's that wonderful tidbit.

Each day we GET to run is a gift. 

I never take it for granted.


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