The Boston Marathon
Well guys, it has been a while…
With Boston, I decided to take a bit of a blogging break and soak it all in but I am back and man, do I have adventures to share! This will probably be a long post as it is over a week’s worth of posting.
I left first thing last Friday morning to head to Boston with some local runners and we arrived midafternoon with enough time to check out the city at night. I was able to chat about the race with a few runners who have done the course and we grabbed dinner while I eyed the famed Citgo sign that taunts runners throughout the marathon.
Saturday morning, I met up with some of my fellow Nuun athletes for a meet up and shake out run.
I had already done a short run by the river that morning so I opted to stay and chat with the CEO, Kevin. I snagged an amazing Nuun Boston bottle and some of their latest hydration products, which I will blog about later. I love running for this incredible company – there truly is not another one like it in the hydration world!
From there, I met up with Marky, my fellow running buddy from Toronto and we hit up the expo. We were like kids in a candy shop, picking up our race kits and taking the essential wall selfies.
Trying samples and becoming models.
We grabbed lunch and spent the afternoon exploring the city until I headed to a 3:30 meeting. That evening, I dropped my gear off at a house I was sharing with fellow Janji team mate, Laurie Zack and we headed to a Janji dinner that they put on for their athletes who were visiting.
What an AWESOME Boston welcome. They had the most ridiculous spread and it was great to meet friendly faces that until then, I had only seen on Google hangout and social media. I also collected my race day shorts.
Sunday morning, I took it easy because I knew that if I left early, I would walk all day and I wanted to make sure I kept my legs as fresh as possible. Around 11 am, I left to exchange my race shirt at the expo for a smaller size and then headed to the famous Fenway park to take in a baseball game.
It was so exciting to check out such a historic stadium, even though it was bitterly cold. Following the game, I headed to the Boston pasta dinner and ate dinner with runners from Spain, England and New York City. It was great to hear different takes on the course.
After that, I forewent spending time with friends to grab a tea at Starbucks and quietly go over my race plans for the next day. I studied the elevation profile, went over my coach’s instructions for my race plan and read the race booklet from cover to cover.
Race morning, I quickly dressed, took down the breakfast I had trained with:
– two containers of Love Grown Oatmeal
– one banana
– small coffee
I wore this outfit:
I headed to the Commons to drop my gear and grab a bus to the start line. There is nothing more daunting than hopping on a bus for an hour bus ride while the wind is whipping and rain is pouring and knowing that you need to run the whole way back.
I drank my coffee and triberry Nuun water on the bus ride and man, I seriously have never almost peed myself until this past week.
I got to the start line and tried to grab a medical blanket to keep me warm while I waited for the washrooms. They were out in the one area so I headed to the other area and they were out too. I snagged an abandoned blanket on the ground and got in line and proceeded to wait for almost an hour. It was painful and I tried not to talk too much or let the nervous energy get to me because to add insult to injury, mother nature decided to pay me a visit the morning of the race. I tried to be focused and calm.
The timing was perfect because as soon as I finished up there, they were calling my wave and I headed to my corral. Before too long, we were off and I held back. I came up with a simple strategy with my coach for each section of the race which we broke down into four parts. I gave a one syllable word for each and repeated it over and over while I ran each section.
Section One 1 – 10 KM: EASY
This is the part of Boston that gets everyone. The downhills with the contagious energy of the crowds makes it easy to rip out paces that are way too fast and make you pay later in the race. I held back, probably too much and ran around 4:45/km here. I was also caught behind other runners and decided to just tuck in because the wind and rain would required extra energy to weave and be a hero at this point. The first 10 KM felt like a gentle warm up and I knew by my splits I might not even get the numbers my coach and I decided on and I decided I was ok with that. I wanted to just enjoy the race. I ran this section in 47:29.
SECTION 2 (10-25 KM): STEADY
This stretch is where it flattens out and you want to be hitting your average pace on the head with every KM. Like I mentioned in another post, I was not intending to crush this Boston. I ran it well within my abilities because my goal was to execute a smart and safe marathon to kick off my season. I began to settle into a steady 4:39/km and take it all in. My legs felt fresh and strong. The crowds were great and although the weather sucked, the wind and rain didn’t really daunt me. I had trained in much worse this winter and Waterloo region boasts some intense training conditions that are quite helpful for preparing runners for lots of different conditions. I don’t mind racing in bad weather. Time at this section was 1:58:36.
SECTION 3 (25-35 KM): WORK
I knew the hills were starting and that there is an exposed section of the course that would leave me at the mercy of the weather. I mentally readied myself for the pain train and pushed up the hills, which really were not that difficult at all, considering the elevation where I live. In fact, when I finally reached the top of Heartbreak, I looked at a spectator and asked if what I just did was Heartbreak. Once he confirmed, I laid the hammer down and started picking it up. I realized I had a lot more gas in the tank and started pushing hard. Time at this section was 2:45:03.
SECTION 4 (35 KM – 42.2 KM) –GO!
This was the only section that I had my coach’s permission to run like a bat out of hell so I did. I started weaving around people and pushing as hard as I dared, while still trying to respect that I had just ran 35 KM so I might hit a wall at any time. I didn’t look at my watch and just focused on how I felt, but looking at my stats later, I was running a minute a mile faster than I was at the beginning of the marathon. It was one of the biggest running moments of my life, racing down Bolyston and taking in the crowd’s energy!
I crossed the finish line at 3:15:48 and was pleased. This was exactly the time that my coach and I had discussed and although it was a conservatively raced marathon, I felt strong and happy.
Nutritionally, I followed the plan that was set out as well. I ate a big breakfast, grabbed half a clif bar while on the bus with 500 mL of water with a triberry Nuun tablet.
30 minutes before starting the race, I took a gel.
Every aid station or so, I grabbed a swallow of water or a mouthful of Gatorade which I hold in my mouth to allow my brain to think it is getting a constant source of energy.
Every 45 minutes, I took a gel and made sure I had a gel with a bit of protein at the halfway mark. (I love peanut butter flavoured hammer gel). I took 5 gels total, including the one at the start line.
In between those 45 minute stretches and when I wasn’t grabbing Gatorade, I sucked on a Clif Blok. I went through all but one in the package. I am able to take down a lot of fuel while running and I honestly believe this is why I don’t usually hit the wall. I had some salt tablets with me in case I were to start cramping but I didn’t need them.
And that was Boston! It was a wonderful experience, despite the weather and I celebrated with a latte (or course) and what was hailed as one of the best burgers in Boston which boasted peanut butter, bacon and deep fried, sugar covered bananas. Worth it.
Now, I am focusing on recovering and getting ready for my next big adventure in about a month! I will do a post on that shortly, because there are some really exciting new elements to it. This weekend is the kick off to the 5 Peaks race series at Terra Cotta where I will be running the Enduro Course as an easy, shakeout run. On Sunday, I am tackling my first Paris to Ancaster race on my new mountain bike! If you are interested in racing, or just want to check it out, visit their website or go to the expo this Saturday where there is an amazing session on Women and Mountain Biking from 1-2 PM.
Whew! Thanks for holding on for that. Thank you all for your Boston support throughout my training and over the race weekend. I am so lucky to have you all in my life. If you are interested, I would love to share some of the love with some incredible giveaways and discounts from my partners in my upcoming newsletter at the end of the month. Sign up here and I will see you on Monday as I return to my regular posting schedule!