Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Boston Race Recap (and a bunch of other random crap)

 It'll be interesting to see how much caffeine I have to consume to make it through today.  You would think that the night after a marathon one would sleep like the dead.  For the second year in a row I had a crazy bad night post race.  Last year I blamed it on the horrible events of the day but maybe it's just my body's way of punishing me for putting it through such shenanigans.  I tossed and turned and looked at my watch for most of the night.  My legs hurt, my tummy hurt, my feet hurt.  By the time 4:07 rolled around I was relieved to put the night behind me and roll out of bed (and I do literally mean roll).  
It was a very fun few days. I flew in on Saturday night and camped out with my friend and neighbor Molly and her BFF Nikki, who I now also consider a friend!  On Sunday morning Nikki went for an easy 2 miles with me and then we grabbed some breakfast from Dunkin Donuts. After showers we headed from the plush luxury of their hotel to the modest Inn at Longwood where my crew was staying. I dropped off my bag and we grabbed the T to the expo.  It was crazy, crowded and fun.  I was so grateful to have them along for company and they also acted as my personal body guards lest anyone should be intimidated by my obvious speediness and pull a Tonya Harding on me.  Alas it was unnecessary, but I think that's due in large part to their intimidation factor.  And the bacon song,  more on that later. 
We found a place to eat lunch and I enjoyed a Sam Adams 26.2 brew.  It was yummy and perfect to go along with my Thai noodle salad.  From there we soon parted ways- me to head back to the hotel to rest and them to a tour at Fenway (fun!!).
I got to the room and found that I had missed my roomie Sarah, so I rested for a bit until I heard Jen's sultry voice making its way down the hall.  It was so good to see their faces.  A short bit later we met up for dinner at the hotel and I was reunited with Ashley and Brett, and Jen's other half, Greg.  Yay!  All we were missing was Tegan who was staying with her bro in Cambridge. 
Race morning started early! Sarah's alarm went off at 5:15. I laid around until 5:45 and then started getting myself together.  Us anal marathoners lay out every last thing the night before so it was pretty easy to get dressed.  Then I shoved everything I needed into the kangaroo pocket of my sweatshirt and headed out looking like someone heading into their second trimester.  We met up and walked to the T.  This was the point where Sarah put a $20 into the machine, purchased her $5 ticket and then got $15 dollars in coins back.   I almost hurt myself laughing.   And I have a new favorite "curse" word.  "Nooooooooooo mother crapper."  Gold.  If you are wondering why this was a problem you've probably never run 26 miles.  Suffice it to say on race day you don't need any extra weight.
We made it to Boston Commons and the well oiled machine that is the Boston Marathon kicked into gear.  After an embarrassing port-o-potty incident (and for someone with IBS to say that .... It takes a lot - I'll be happy to fill you in if you are dying to know) we hopped in line for the buses and were soon on our way to Hopkinton.  It is not a short bus ride.  And it crossed my mind more than once that they were going to make me run all the way back.  
Athletes Village was nuts.  It seemed so much busier and crowded than last year, which I guess makes sense given how many more runners they had. How many more was it, you ask? I don't know.  Google it.  Let me know. 
No exaggeration, we spent the majority of our time in line for the potties.  After that we grabbed a patch of grass and finished up with the important stuff - lube, sunblock and writing our names on our arms with sharpies.  Before I knew it they were calling my corral and so Tegan and I stripped off our sweats, threw them in the donation bags and headed for the start. It's over a half mile to the start so you have lots of time to get more nervous.  You walk past the houses along the street in Hopkinton- some houses have free beer, another had a tent with sharpies, lube, sunblock, rubber bands, safety pins all for free.  People are awesome in Boston!
l got to my corral with about 2 minutes to spare. Time for a selfie and then the gun went off.  At that point I realized I'd forgotten to double knot my shoes.  Too late but thankfully it wasn't an issue.  I'm running in Brooks Glycerins right now and I don't know if I love them but at least they stay tied. 
The start of Boston is downhill and it's hard not to fly and then set a fast pace as a result.  Smart marathoners know this.  Yesterday I was not smart.  I went out fast.  Somewhere around last years pace, but I'm not in last year's shape.  
I knocked through the first few miles ok.  I hit the 10k mark and realized I still had to run 20 more miles.  That was not a highlight for me.  
It was hot yesterday.  I was sweating a lot and the wind was in our faces.  Not ideal. I ran with a handheld water bottle since camelbaks were verboten this year.  I has to stop about 5 times at water stations to get it filled up. 
I also had to stop twice to go to the bathroom which sucked. The first time was an emergency but all the potties were full so I had to stand there and wait while time kept on ticking.  That uber sucked.  The second time I literally was going to pee all over myself and so I had to pee in someone's front yard.  I have guilt.  
Finally I had to stop and lube again when I felt the chafe coming on around mile 18. I couldn't get over to the med tent in time but some nice spectators had some vaseline that I used.
That's another thing I have to note about Boston.   Even though there are aid stations every single mile, the fans set up their own aid stations along the whole course.  They offer oranges, bananas, watermelon, water, beer, Vaseline, tissues, feeezie pops.  And the kids! Oh my gosh you can run almost 26 miles straight giving kids high fives the whole way.  
I ran past the same biker bar as last year around mile 2. They are one of my favorite parts.  Then of course you have the girls at Wellesley between 12 and 13.  Their scream tunnel absolutely lives up to expectations. They all have signs and many are hilarious.  Most start with "kiss me I'm...." And then you fill in the blank.  I stopped and kissed a girl (on the cheek) who had a sign that said she's going into the army.  
The biggest surprise for me in the race this year was the hills. I just do not remember them being so brutal.  My consolation is that every single person I talked to afterwards echoed that same sentiment, so at least I wasn't alone in my misery.   Boston is a net downhill course which sounds all fine and dandy but is totally misleading!!  You go up, you go down, you go up, you go down.  I guess in the end you go down a bit more than you go up but that I assure you it's not enough.  So I'm running along, fighting it out and I come to Heartbreak Hill.  The most notorious part of the course.  It was so hard but I just put my head down and climbed it. I was so happy when I got to the top.  And then I saw mile marker 20.  Y'all, Heartbreak Hill hadn't happened yet.  My frigging sense of accomplishment was for nothing and I still had to get it done.  Somehow I had lost track of what mile I was on.  I'm pretty sure my second Heartbreak Hill was slower than my "first". I'm not gonna lie - I was defeated at that moment!  From that point on it was a gut check.  Literally and figuratively.  My stomach felt terrible and every time I tried to take a chew I threw up.  So for the last 6/7 miles I took nothing but water.  It slowed me down considerably but I could not stomach the thought of another gummy chew in my dry mouth.  
Last year I flew through Boston.  This year I gutted it out.  I wanted to stop and walk so badly a few times but I didn't. I kept going.  
At this point, if you are crazy enough to still be reading, you are wondering why anyone would ever run a marathon.  I was thinking the same thing.  I still don't have a good answer for you.  One neat story though - a few times in there I had to do some serious praying.  At one point I asked Him to just give me strength.  At that moment I felt the wind on my back, just for a few seconds, for the first and only time that day.  Chills!
Last year miles 23-26 flew by.  This year they did not.  It was a mental fight the whole time.  At 25.8 I ran by the spot I saw my friend Lori last year.  She and her family were deeply affected by the events of last year so I prayed for my friend and her sweet kids.
Then I turned the corner onto Boylston.  Did I think "oh my gosh I made it!"?  No!  I thought "I don't remember the finish line being that damn far".  
 But I made it down Boylston.  So many around me were walking and hobbling towards the finish.  It was so humbling.  I made it across the finish and through the pure hell that is the finish chute.  It goes on and on and all you want to do is sit down and cease to exist.  I found Nikki soon after and was able to give her a big hug.  It was so good to see a familiar face! 
Then Jen called to tell me some horrible news.  Sarah had collapsed at mile 23.  Her body temperature was 108!  To say she had a heat stroke is an understatement.  They rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance.  It's her story to tell but as she put it - those people saved her life yesterday.  Truly.  She is ok and I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude!!
The rest of the evening turned out a little different then planned but what matters is I was able to celebrate with people that mean a lot to me.  I'm so grateful for the chance I had to run Boston again this year.  Thankful for my running buddies to travel with, my friends for their support in boston and from home, my amazing husband for his encouragement and being willing to shoulder all the household duties for three days along with his school work.
I don't think I'll do Boston again.
I feel like my experience is complete.  I would love to go back someday as a volunteer.   But I don't need to run it again.  Regardless I will follow the race every year with excitement and pride.  Like I said, Boston has my heart!

And THIS is the bacon song.  You are welcome.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M6qAMMqFhI

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pre-Race Jitters

I'm all jittery this morning.  I hope that sitting down and writing out some of my feelings will help.

Last year at this time all of the pieces were falling into place as I prepared for the Boston Marathon.  Months of training were on the books and I'd executed as closely to plan as possible.  In the final weeks I was tweaking my food and nutrition plan to ensure that I knew exactly what would work for me both before and during the race.  My race outfit was good to go including some new shorts that I used for my last 20 miler to ensure no unforseen chafing issues would arise.  I was eating carefully for maximum nutrition and to ensure I was as lean as possible for the race.  While I was nervous I was also confident in the training and planning I'd put into my preparation.

This year is so different.  The only training plan I've been able to follow since I hurt myself on Christmas Day has been a mishmash of everything I've done in the past.  I've had a few decent speed workouts, I got in a couple of 20 milers (at a pace significantly slower than ever before).  I even had one week that I managed to squeak out 45 miles.   Compare that to last year when I ran each workout according to an exact plan.  I had multiple 55 mile weeks and three 20 miler long runs.  On the weeks I didn't have a 20 for my long run I still often had 17 or 18.  I ran tune up races and marathon paced long runs.  When it came time to taper I knew I was ready.  Now with 12 days until the marathon I have no idea what I should be doing.  It feels weird to say I'm tapering because to me you taper from your peak. I never felt like I reached a peak so to then back off just feels wrong.   When I take it easy I beat myself up that I should be working harder, when I work hard I beat myself up that I should be taking it easy.

Here's what I think it all comes down to.  I've never before run a race where my goal was not to run faster than I ever had before.  A PR has always been my goal.  This year I know that a PR is not a possibility.  And for all the talk about how I'm just going for the experience and how I'm just happy to be there after what's happened in the last couple months, it is a majorly pride sucking experience to know I'm going to go and run the slowest marathon I ever have.  I kind of feel like a fraud.  I want to wear a sign on my back that tells everyone that I am only 9 weeks post-op from my knee surgery.   I want an asterisk by my name on the results page.

And that comes down to nothing more than pride.  I run because I love it but I also run because I'm good at it.  And if I'm honest while I can do lots of stuff pretty well I don't do anything great.  And don't bother trying to disagree with me because you'd be wrong and the point of this blog is not to get lots of you to pat my ego.  My ego doesn't need patting, but my pride sure needs a kick in the butt.  You can pray for me on that one.  Thanks.