|Lovely view from the hotel|
After a nightmare run in Houston, I felt this cycle of training and race expectations in Boston needed to be different. Staying healthy was the top priority. Next was structuring training in a way that wouldn't necessarily get me into tip-top shape, but get me back to enjoying my running again.
So, training was solid, but not super intense, and a lot of fun. I got back to loving the long 20 mile runs again and stayed healthy doing it. Win-win in my book!
Anyway, a 10-mile race three weeks prior to Boston told me my fitness was probably in 3:10ish range, so a PR was possible, but would not be easy. I set a few different goals depending on how the day played out:
- PR (under a 3:09) if possible
- Meet NYC Marathon qualifying standard to bypass the lottery (3:13 for women in my age group)
- Beat my bib number (seeded 7196, wanted to finish higher overall than that number)
- Enjoy and remember more of the Boston experience (I did not do a very good job in 2014)
|A little stroll Friday evening landed us at Cheers|
|Brian and Derek being Brian and Derek|
|Boston Common on a lovely morning|
|Skye gettin' it done...|
|Team Hoyt on Commonwealth during the 5k|
|A few of the elite 5k runners including winner Ben True|
|Best. Cinnamon. Roll. EVAH!!!|
|The motley crew|
|Fantastic pasta dinner at Al Dente. We just happened to be there at the same time as the Quarter Century Club (runners who have run more than 25 Boston marathons). They included us in the festivities.|
|High likelihood at least one (or three) of us was checking the weather...|
|Randy, Derek, Brian and I...cold and wet in Athlete's Village!|
Finally, we were able to walk to the corrals. This is such a cool part of Boston: you have this world-class race filled with the best-of-the-best marathoners and lots of prestige and history, and it all begins not with a glitzy startline in a fancy, urban area, but in the quaint, quiet town of Hopkinton. I love the small, older homes lining the street with people spilled outside their front doors with tents and signs setup offering everything from chapstick to sunscreen to beer.
Perhaps the best way to describe it would be like playing the Super Bowl in a small town, Friday-Night-Lights setting.
My race plan was this:
- Don't blow it the first 4 downhill miles
- Get on to 7:05-7:10ish pace by mile 5
- Hold that pace through Wellesley (about mile 13) and regroup before the hills
- Keep breathing under control in the Newton Hills and save enough gas to pick up the pace again after Heartbreak Hill around mile 20
- Last 5.5 miles as fast as possible in the downhill stretch back into Boston. Hoped to get back down to about a 7:10-7:15 pace or so
It was cold, but the rain had stopped at the start. Mile 1 was actually a little slow, I had a 7:28, but that ended up being a good thing. Mile 2 was too fast at a 6:50, but by miles 3-4 I figured out the right level of effort and got on pace. You're either going downhill or some short uphills in the early miles so my splits were back and forth.
I remember tossing my gloves around mile 5 because I had warmed up a good bit and thinking "I'm probably going to regret that..." :)
Mile 8 it began to rain pretty steadily, but honestly felt pretty nice.
The first 10 miles were really, really good and just seemed to fly by.
Just before I hit Wellesley about mile 12, the rain stopped. I also remember thinking, "Crap, I can feel my quads now" and wondered how that would play out in the last miles. I quickly forgot about them though because I could hear the Wellesley girls WAY before we saw them. Their energy just sucks you through the midway point. I ran along and high-fived as many ladies as I could and had an absolute blast.
After the halfway point, I regrouped and took inventory of how the first 13 miles went. I came through in 1:33, which was on track to run about a 3:10, but that was the easy half of the race! I was starting to feel some of the mileage, but all-in-all felt reasonably good, so I put it on cruise and just waited to start picking off the hills in Newton.
Soon enough, it was time to switch into climbing mode. Here's the GOOD thing about the Newton Hills: they forced me to mentally break up the remainder of the race. Each hill was a short goal: get to the top with an even effort and without getting out of breath.
Right about the time I started the first hill between 16-17, the rain picked up pretty steadily, as did the wind. For a moment, it was a bit demoralizing, but those crowds along the way were so cheerful it was hard to stay down.
It was rainy and windy all through the hills. I remember getting to the top of Heartbreak at mile 20 and asked someone if we had crested Heartbreak. My brain was getting just a little foggy at that point. The Newton Hills are not easy, but relatively speaking, I felt that stretch was "easier" than last year. It's tough to gauge how much to push here or not because you know you need to save some for the last stretch.
As soon as I crested Heartbreak, I knew I had to try to pick up the pace again to recoup some of the time lost in the hills. Downhill sounds great at the end of a race, but it was pretty painful on my quads by then. I was happy though and knew the crowds would be steady and thick into Boston from that point. We were getting closer!
My pace did improve, which I was thrilled about, but the combination of shredded quads from the early miles and tired, numb hip flexors from the wind/rain/cold made it tough to get back down to the pace I wanted to. I just could not lift my legs very high in the last 4 miles. I was worried about slipping on the discarded cups in the aid stations because I couldn't step over them very well.
All that to say, in my depleted state, I knew a 3:10 was probably out of reach at that point, so I set my goal to a sub 3:13 (NYC marathon qualifying time).
And the Boston crowds...they just boost your spirits coming down through those last few tough miles!
I had my eyes peeled too for my friends Carrie and Skye, who were going to be around mile 24, and it was a huge boost to see them on the sidelines!
|Couple of shots at mile 24, care of Carrie and Skye|
|Opted for the Adidas Ultra Boost over my usual choice of Saucony Kinvaras|
In the last few miles, I remember trying to enjoy the experience and take in the sights as much as possible. Gave out as many high-fives to folks as possible. Loved every painful minute!
And then I remember seeing this sign...(only 4 laps on the track!!!)
|Yay!! (Photo credit to Carrie :) )|
Then we turned right onto Hereford, and left onto Bolyston....
The last stretch was super fun...a celebration of all the tough miles beforehand and the accomplishment of finishing a tough course (plus the effort that goes into qualifying). Able to muster back a short stretch at 6:50 pace in the last mile...if only I could have held it longer :) Someday I hope....
That course does not go down without a fight, and it's what makes the finish so satisfying. You earn every step of it, fast or slow.
|That wonderful finish line...|
The volunteers at the finish were simply amazing. I think most of us were probably almost hypothermic by that point, especially after we stopped running and walked down the finish chute on Bolyston. It was so wet and windy and just nasty, but those kind folks were standing out opening bottles of water, literally dressing us in the mylar blankets, peeling bananas for us, etc.
My hands were so cold, swelled, and white, I couldn't open anything. Can't say enough good things about the cheerful volunteers. Simply wonderful!
So, while I didn't quite meet my PR goal, I'm super happy about the outcome. Stayed healthy through training, made it under the NYC qual time, overall finish was higher than where I was seeded (5102 vs. 7196), and most of all, I have such good memories of my entire experience.
Happy to be friends again with 26.2.
A special thank you to Carrie and Skye who supported our crew the entire weekend with smiles on their faces the entire way...you ladies are wonderful to say the least. Michelle, I enjoyed being roommates again with you this year-you are a stud to run a strong Boston after a torn hamstring. And to my training partners Randy, Derek, and Brian-had a blast putting in the miles beforehand with you guys!
|My stud training partner Sir Skye|