Thursday, April 21, 2016

BOSTON MARATHON! The longest, wordiest blog post EVER.

As usual, after the months of training and anticipation the actual marathon weekend was over in a snap. SO FAST. I've needed a couple of days to process and to attempt to come up with intelligent thoughts about my experience (don't get your hopes up.)
(and, as usual it has taken me days and days to pull this together. if I had begun to contemplate good writing it would have taken years so, there's that.)


It's interesting, over time how I have changed my view on what makes for a successful race day. It used to be ALL about hitting the goal pace, come hell or high water or sickness.
.....that was then.....
I had a couple of goals for this race.
1: A solid training cycle (DONE- best in years)
2: Weather permitting, a 3:30 (or, 3:31:30 since I refuse not to stop for 90 seconds in Newton.)
3: Be smart not dumb and run a well paced, healthy, successful race
Bottom line, it takes a bit of fortitude to make it to the start of Boston.
I know how to screw it up! I wasn't really feeling like doing that again.

Honestly. just getting here is amazing. Finishing is even better though!
I think anyone who follows the weather notice the warming trend and, while not terribly concerned I knew I had to adjust my goal time and so I did. I had a solid plan and was quite determined to stick to it! I know how it feels to go out "comfortably" in Boston just to find yourself dead on the street 15 miles later and it sucks, SUCKS. Not doing that again!
I also know that the best laid plans do not always work. The marathon is a sneaky beast who can mess up your day in any number of ways.
So basically I was like, whatever! I'm going to shoot for a 3:40 and hope for the best in the end.

Eric and I drove back to Mass on Sunday evening and had a really nice family dinner with a great collection of Aunts. Uncles and cousins. We had great food and fun, always a great way to kick off a marathon!

I awoke to some very nice race day weather and went through my normal routine of getting my food together, having a coffee, slapping on the first layer of body glide and sunscreen and praying to the GI gods to limit my porta potty time.

Eric dropped me off close to the Common just after 7:00 and the temps were already climbing. Before I even got on a bus I dropped off my most outer layers and drank most of a bottle of water. I was hoping to make friends with my bus buddy but not only did she speak zero English but then she fell asleep. GAHD.

Everyone is already overdressed
I hopped out of the bus in Hopkinton and it was 7,000 degrees so I tossed all my extra layers and prepared for a beach day.

THEN the fun part of the day began. I found my FRIENDS!

Danielle's FIRST BOSTON!!!
Danielle and I spent two hours in various porta potty lines. SO. Much. TIME. We figured out many of the world's greatest mysteries like how to use snapchat filters to make bathroom selfies more fun, and why one has little fatty armpit bits that stick out and get sunburned. (I think without them you wouldn't have a good wingspan.... who knows...)
We also snacked, drank a shit ton of water and found more friends!

Leslie is tall. I stood close because she casts a tall shadow. #stayingcool
Basically, whenever I saw people I knew, it was a photo op. You must take advantage of seeing ALL the people, and on such a nice day there is no excuse not to pull out the phone and take pics and snaps to your hearts content.

Friends. Crows. TWINS.
Athlete's village was MOST enjoyable this year and the quality of the company and weather had a lot to do with it. I was also feeling 100% not stressed out because I had a plan and it felt solid. A lot can happen in 26 miles but I felt like I could avoid many disasters by playing it safe/smart. Maybe..

After watching wave one and two run away (into the pre-long-walk corral area) it was finally our time. Other than the sunscreen walking off on us, leaving us to potentially get horrific scalp sunburns and head cancer we all were as ready as we could be. (and I was basically double fisting water and gatorade on the walk to the start.)

And a long walk to a long run begins.....
All my extra hydration, of course, meant one more disgusting porta potty and ONE MORE amazing pic!

YAY!! SO EXCITED!! And a random photo bomb.
Right at 10:50 the gun went off and obviously, I was not in my corral. There is no need to rush these things. You always get in.

The gun went off. I'm out HERE.
Per the norm the first mile was very much downhill and exciting, so many runners and happy spectators and general excitement. I put my handbrake on HARD so HARD and it was really difficult, I'm not going to lie. I was all rested up and ready to fly but I was not going to pull shit in mile 1 that would haunt me at mile 20. UGH boring adult choices.

I realized early on that it wasn't going to be a great day for steady, sensible tangents. I was trying to run in the shade as much as I could and I also picked up drinks at 22 water stops. Yes, 22 of them. I REFUSE to get dehydrated, damnit!

You got used to running on cups. Lots of cups.
So yeah, I moseyed along for the first 10k and hit it in 51:59, an 8:21 pace.
It merits mention that I did have my watch on but set on watch mode, I still do not feel any reason to look at my watch while running. At all, ever. It can't tell me anything that I don't already know.

The first 6 miles of the course were noticeably and remarkably hot. I was prepared for this and expected it to be 70 from Hopkinton to Wellesley, mid 60's into Newton and then cooling off to about 58 coming into Boston.
This was all completely factual.
What I wasn't expecting was the fierce headwind that picked up around the 10k mark. It didn't take me long to be very, very thankful for this wind! Yeah, it was kind of a bitch to run into but it was nice and cool and it dried off some of my nasty sweat. I was very #thankful!

The pesky Natick hill was still there but I was busy thinking about other things (who knows what) so it wasn't much bother this year. There were a lot of people, some bouncing on trampolines which I found very entertaining.
Of course, not long after Natick comes Wellesely which is a lovely distraction and is something that I think I enjoyed more this year. Maybe I have started to get used to VERY LOUD WOMEN!

The first of many screaming ladies.

Anyway, after all that running through 70 degree headwind and after consuming approximately 12 cups of gatorade and at least as many of water I came to the half in 1:48:42 (slight increase of pace here to 8:17)

Yes, I am predictable. No matter what race I'm running there is always a bit of time around mile 14-16 or so that I get a bit like, ughhhh I make baaaad choices whyyyyy do I run??? The mopey time was brief and I was thankful for that because nobody likes a whiner. I had a couple extra snacks around this time and planned things to do (text my Dad to tell him when I got to mile 17, then see my Dad at 18.5 then make it over the hill, then see more interesting things, take some snaps, etc, etc.)

Just running along taking all the snaps.
Indeed at mile 17 I texted my Dad that I was on my way. Then I had to run over the stupid overpass that goes over 128 and there was a green Hulk right there that I really didn't care for. He was like, a badly timed Hulk. Nope.

Finally! I got to mile 18.5 and was so excited to see my Dad and Aunt and Uncle that somehow I did not notice the literal carnage happening all around. Apparently people were being hauled off by the ambulance full after succumbing to cramps and there were stretchers and what not everywhere.
Marathon tunnel vision at its finest.
Anyway, I enjoyed my 93 second pit stop and got re-sunscreened, got a bag of cheezits, took a selfie, forced everyone to hug my sweaty body and then I ran away, whoooooo!!!

 Right after that was the 30K which I hit in 2:35:49, right back on my 8:21 pace.

After the lengthy 93 second rest stop, clearly I was rejuvenated and prepared to tackle the hilliest part of the race. It was hilly, as usual but I chugged along. I was glad that it was somewhat cooler. I was GLAD that I had strictly monitored my pace in the beginning because I was still moving forward in a reasonable way and I was EXTRA glad that I had cheez-its because they are really tasty.

At the 35K I was at 3:02:15 and the hills hadn't hurt me much because I was still at an 8:22 pace.

Weirdly, with 5ish miles to go my left ankle and foot began to feel all broken. This was strange and prompted a lengthy converstion between myself and my ankle. This is the kind of crap that can only happen after one has been running for a long time.
Me: WTF ankle, this is not something normal for us
Ankle: What do you mean? This is my thing. This is what I do.
Me: SINCE. WHEN? I use you daily.
Ankle: Well. I'm broken. So kindly fuck off.

I ignored it because, seriously. That didn't mean that it went away though and I was honestly most uncomfortable for the last miles of the race. But who isn't.

Around this time I heard a voice calling my name (it was other Sarah) but I couldn't find her! She did get a pic though.
Right around then I ran through the 40K, at 3:27:56, yep, an 8:21 pace.

See me on the left? Looking right like "I hear my nameeee!"

I'd like to say that my last couple miles were a snap because of my logical pace. I certainly was not completely depleted but I was tired. Boston has a way of making you feel very unfit, I always question people who say it is an "easy" course. In what world?? I have yet to finish Boston feeling fresh as a daisy- if anyone has, please let me know what you eat for breakfast because I want some.
I did a lot of looking and listening during the last two miles. I never take running Boston for granted and you never know how many times you are going to make that turn from Hereford onto Boylston.
I really tried to take it all in, and it was amazing.
But I was also damn tired and just wanted to be DONE already so I hustle-gimped thru the finish,
In 3:39:13. DUH, an 8:21 pace.

Right away I felt fine. Body, fine. Stupid ankle, fine. I was pleased because I thought I might have to swing through medical for some ice and I was glad that I didn't and could simply make my way through the masses.

SO crowded.
I saw a glorious big dog and basically freaked out, as one does.

Gotta add cute frames to 170 pound dog pictures.

Shockingly, I didn't cry at all or even have a particularly emotional run. I expect this was because due to the tough conditions I really put the lock down on the feelings, in order to save my energy to make it to the finish.
I did, however enjoy my race very much. Coming in slightly below my Plan B pace, only 9 minutes over my "ideal day" Plan A pace was nice and I was really happy.

Mostly, I was happy that I felt great. No puking!

I found Eric and then quickly found my family for a nice chat and race recap. It's always fun to see people at the finish and I was coherent enough to enjoy hanging out.

Post race with my wonderful husband!
I was SUPER happy that all of my running friends (Danielle, Jamie and Leslie to be specific here) finished strong races on a hot day. We were all basically within minutes of each other which is awesome. A good day for all of us Crow Maine girls!

Eric and I wrapped up the day with a burger and beer in an Irish pub. Being able to go out and about almost normally was a nice change from last year when it was too much of a monsoon to do anything!

A 26.2 Brew!
I was a bit sore but overall feeling good. I know that I can run a faster time but I was very content with my execution and enjoyment of most parts of the race. Boston is always going to be a favorite of mine, thus far I haven't seen anything that matches the excitement and crowd support and overall feeling of this race.
Is it wrong to say I'm already looking forward to next year? :-)



  1. I loved every word of this recap. Congratulations!

  2. Congrats. It is always a great feeling to create and execute a successful race day plan. Nice, accurate adjustment to your goal time.

  3. Congrats! I read every single word of your article! While I have not run for a couple of years (due to arrival of a baby), I wanted to pick it up again! it is the first time I am reading your post - when I am looking for "mid-aged woman runner" online LOL - Just hit 40 recently:)


  4. Awesome! I've had that same type of race experience at Boston and I've had a hard time trying to get back to that type of marathoning again. But, boy, I was REALLY jealous of you guys this year. I'm going to have to find a way to get there in 2018.

  5. Sara you continue to amaze me with your running and awesome attitude. Congratulations!