The marathon distance is never easy but some marathons are more challenging than others. Boston 2017 definitely falls into this category for me. After the race yesterday, my friend asked me what my favorite distance was to race. Of course the 5k is always a favorite of mine but as much as it kills me the marathon is too. Sometimes it’s good to me and everything clicks. I love those times. I love when I’m focused, in the zone and I hit the right paces. It is so rewarding and satisfying when this happens. It makes all those early mornings and hard workouts worth it. Then there are the marathons when nothing goes right and I question why I even run. This year’s Boston Marathon was painful and I had to work hard for every mile. There were plenty of moments when I hated running. I hated that I had traveled so far, trained so hard, spent so much money, and wasted time away from my family all to run a race that was not going the way I had hoped. I hated that my stomach had turned against me. I’ve never had this happen in a race before but I guess it was bound to happen at some point. Over the years I’ve come to realize that you can’t only accept the victories and good finish times. There are going to be some painful ones and this was one of those times.
It was about 68 degrees when we started and 72 when I finished. The sun was warm and from mile 1 I was wishing I’d had my sunglasses. I’ve only run Boston one other time (2013) but the weather was perfect (mid 40’s) and the sun was never an issue. I had planned to pace with another runner from Arkansas. He stepped in a pothole at mile 1.5 and sprained his ankle. I stopped and ran over to him but he said he was done. I asked if he was sure and he said to go on so I did. I found out later that he had it wrapped at a med tent and tried to run on it but had to drop out of the race.
Originally I had planned on a 6:38-6:43 pace. In Chicago I had averaged 6:40 and I was in better shape this time so I thought this was very doable. With the warmer temps I adjusted to the 6:50’s. I knew my A goal of 2:57 or better would not happen and by the 10k I knew I wouldn’t go sub 3. Honestly I hadn’t even planned for a 3+ hour marathon because I had no other goal besides A or B. By mile 10 I knew a sub 7 pace was not going to happen. In 2013 I ran a 3:03 and my watch average was sub 7. It was definitely discouraging to realize I couldn’t even make that goal. By the halfway point I was in total survival mode and I knew my time was going to be way off. I thought a sub 3:10 was still realistic but my stomach cramps were hitting me hard in the last 10k. I didn’t know if I would have to find a portapotty or not. I slowed my pace and I just didn’t care what my mile splits were. I just needed to finish. Then I could find a bathroom.
The Boston crowds were amazing and there is honestly no race like it. The highlight of the race was seeing a friend and cross country teammate from college cheering me on in the Newton Hills. She had a poster and would hold it up and cheer for me as I ran by. Then she’d run to a different spot to cheer. She’s the only person I saw that I knew the whole race and it meant so much to me that she was there. Thank you Liz!!
I finished Boston in 3:11:30. This is almost 11 minutes slower than I ran the Little Rock Marathon in 6 weeks ago. Little Rock was a tougher course but weather was about 20 degrees cooler and what a difference that made! Could I have done anything differently? Pre-race I did everything I could do. Obviously running a marathon 6 weeks prior was not ideal but I’ve done it before (a few times) and this is usually enough recovery for me. I was well hydrated before and I fueled and hydrated throughout the race. I started 10 seconds slower than goal pace but apparently I should have started even more conservative.
When I finished I was trying to move through the lines towards gear check but I knew I couldn’t make it. A kind volunteer helped me find a nearby restroom which helped but I was still cramping pretty bad. It seemed like making my way to gear check was as challenging as running the last 5k. I had to take a few resting breaks and there were several tears. When I FINALLY got my bag I sat on the closest patch of pavement I could find to call John. My husband is my rock and understands me better than anyone. After a race there is no one I would rather be with and talk to more than him and it’s always tough when he’s not there. He had been tracking me and knew I was having a rough morning. He was incredibly supportive and listened to me while I told him about the race. After our talk I slowly made my way to the meeting area to find my friends.
While none in my group PRd we had a WONDERFUL time in Boston. I could probably write a whole post on the fun pre-race stuff we did but I’ll just post some of the pictures below. Natalie, Kelli, and Jana were awesome roommates this weekend and I had a blast with them!
I will definitely be back to Boston someday but it will likely be a few more years. If I lived in the northeast it would be much easier to make this trip but it’s just not realistic for me to do this one every year. Until next time Boston…