Boston Re-cap #2: Mile by Mile (ish)

This is so over-due that I question whether it is worth posting!

I wanted to spend time making a race re-cap that was entertaining and meaningful…but now I just want it down for record keeping, and as a learning experience. Mostly, I want to move on because I just want my BQ back!

Miles 1-3: Yes it was hot, and yes we were sweating in the start corrals and all the other things about the race start you’ve already heard/read a million times. Nothing about my starting miles was any different than anyone else’s reports.

It was exciting though, and I had a friend with me, which kept us both in check, and was great.

Two things stand out in my memory. 1) People who say that the Boston start is like being shoved off a cliff….are not kidding. And, 2) the starting line is really subtle…weird, right? (we nearly missed it)

Mile 4: I lost my friend, after testing out what my goal pace felt like. It took about a half mile for me to decide that I wouldn’t be going for my goal pace, and to accept that yes, just finishing was a fine goal, and enough motivation to keep running.

I literally did not try one iota to push my pace from here on out. I did force a slow down more than once however. (I don’t mean that to suggest I could run tons faster, but rather as the single reason I didn’t end up in a med tent, or with a DNF…moral of the story, YOU are in control of YOUR run. The weather isn’t in the drivers seat, the runner is)

Mile four is where I gave up on trying to keep my shoes dry. From here until the end of the race I went arms up, full steam ahead, into every hose, hydrant, and water tunnel I could find.

Mile 5: I have no memory of mile 5 other than thinking I should try to get a decent 10k split so that my father wouldn’t be worried. The technology actually does really do marvels for motivation, doesn’t it? Totally ups your sense of accountability.

Mile 6: Passed the 10k mark (and clock and timing mats). And I think I had my first popsicle. To the spectators handing out freeze-pops, I love you! You are brilliant, and the 5 pops I had between miles 6 and 23 were the best part of my run. Seriously.

Life saver

Right before Boston one of the coaches for the Boston Bound program gave the advice to take popsicles from spectators, that the cold, sugary water could only help. He is totally a genius. And his advice was basically on refrain in my mind as I scanned constantly for my next little tube of Heaven.

Mile 7 – 10: Uneventful. I kept waiting for the density of the running field to thin out. Never happened. During this stretch I really focused on trying to carefully regulated my exertion. This equated to a steadily slowing pace. Somewhere in mile 7 I felt water sloshing around in my stomach and forced myself to skip several water stops. But still opted (ravenously so) for ice whenever it was offered.

Mile 11 – 15: These miles are mostly a fog. But I do remember seeing the first of many red bibs. I also saw many runner stop and collapse abruptly. Many, many times I considered walking or bailing because the carnage was scary! It was really notable, however, how quickly spectators and fellow runners reacted to every single person that showed signs of struggle.

When I saw my half-marathon slip, I made the conscious decision not to look at my Garmin anymore. And I didn’t.

Mile 16: I think this is where I realized I wasn’t sweating. I got a bit annoyed by this fact because it was a no win situation. Take water, feel sloshy and nauseous, skip water, stop sweating, dump water over your head and it dries in 800 meters.

Miles 17-20: These miles weren’t so much rough because of the hills, they were hard because my ability to plan and problem solve was rapidly dwindling. I developed a strategy of jogging between water stops. Walk to drink a cup of water, dump another over my head, then jog to the next water stop. I think a lot of folks emplyed this strategy, it helped to reign in the frustration of not being able to perfom.

I walked a lot in mile 20. I didn’t have many goals left, but I wanted to be able to say I ran Heartbreak Hill from bottom to top. No walking, even if I walked the last 5 miles.

Heartbreak Hill: Totally overrated if you ask me. Of course, we got some decent practice on hills during the Boston Bound program, and also, I was running so conservatively that if you ask me again after Boston next year (I’ll be damned if I don’t get me re-match!), I might say “it’s the most terrible hill in the universe!” So take my arrogance with a grain of salt, please.

Mile 21: Top of the hill, my friends Ale and Greg were there. For future spectators, this is the perfect spot to be in! It’s amazingly reinforcing of the effort made to get up the hill, and totally gets you excited about the last 5 miles! I stopped for hugs (wherein I must have gotten them soaked), and a few pictures. It was great and totally lifted my spirits. I ran the rest of that mile at a faster pace. When I realized such (my breathing was super effortful), I walked a water stop and re-calibrated.

Mile 22: I was still cruising off seeing my friends. But the crazed search for ice to chomp on continued. I walked the water stop again.

Mile 23 – 24: These two miles were the hottest of the race for me. There weren’t the constant hoses and ice handouts anymore. Mostly a lot of drunk college kids. During mile 24 I was slowing down a lot (I think), and a man stepped on the course and stopped me, placing his hands on my shoulders. He then pushed a freezing cold yellow (yes, weird, I know, but it’s a shockingly vivid memory) sponge into the top of my head. It was an amazing feeling.

Mile 25: My heart gave a flutter (for real….I know…cheesey) when I saw the Citgo sign with an un-obstructed view.

Mile 25.75: I think it is important to note here, that even though I ran the 5k the day before, and visited the last two turns of the course on Saturday. AND USED TO F_ING WORK IN COPLEY SQUARE! I was convinced I wasn’t anywhere near the finish and stopped to stretch. A very kind and handsome young man in the crowd tried to urge me to keep going. He said something like, “No, really, you’re almost there, just walk a few steps, jog a little, and you’re at the finish.” I continued to argue. For like 2 minutes. I think I made a few really bad jokes too.

Mile 26: He was right, of course. I took a few steps, jogged, turned at Boylston and sprinted (I used the term loosely here) to the finish line.

I feel stupid doing the victory pose…so I compromised, because it was Boston. Normally my strategy it to pretend there isn’t a camera there. Yes, this was thought-out. Don’t lie, you plan your finish photos too!

Redemption Marathon 2012 will take place in 11 days!!! I have started (re-started?) tapering. My legs have felt heavy, my turnover slow, and my body very cumbersome since taper for Boston…so this will be interesting. I need to work on my mental toughness for the next few days.

A ton of bloggers, friends, training buddies, and various other runners have hit some impressive PR’s in the last month! Please share you’re experiences and how you minimize self-doubt and training frustrations!


9 responses to “Boston Re-cap #2: Mile by Mile (ish)

  1. Nice recap! I echo everything you said. I am already planning my revenge for next year … 🙂

    • Oh my gosh, me too! In fact, I already booked a room at the Marriot in Copley square for next year’s race…and I don’t even have an eligible BQ yet!

  2. I’m glad you finished! I really hope it’s 50’s and overcast in Midland for you!

    • Thanks Shel! I have been checking the weather twice a day already…even if it’s a warm day I am repeating to myself that the early start time will save us. Also, I am so excited to watch you finish the half!!!

  3. You’ve got the mind control. Midland will be fine.

    • Haha, that made me think of, like, some sci-fi scenario wherein I can control the weather and terrain with my mind…but seriously, I have been visualizing the heck out of my race strategy! Wish you could be there!

  4. Pingback: 2013 Training and Racing Plan | Fluency's Folly


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