Boston wasn’t just about running 26.2 miles.
It also was an opportunity to test my limits, shoot for some big goals, stop and appreciate my support team and learn a few things about my training and racing strategies. And to have fun, right?
For a recap of the race itself, check out Part I.
After I crossed the finish line, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to walk all the way to bag pickup and stay on my feet long enough to meet up with my mom. My quads were so tight and stiff that I could barely bend at the knee. I stopped to stretch on one of the fence barriers before moving through the finish area, where one of the medics came rushing over to tell me not to bend over with my head below my knees. Well, all I needed was to squat, but I didn’t want to end up in the med tent so I moved along.
I wandered (waddled?) through the finish line stations in order — mylar blanket, medal, hydration, food and bag check — and immediately pulled out my phone to call my mom and tell her where to meet me. Because she was so close to the finish line, it didn’t take her long to push through the crowds and find where I was (barely) standing. As soon as she saw me she gave me a huge hug and also started crying. I did it, Mom! It was an emotional moment.
The first thing I wanted was my Boston jacket, which I’d given to her to bring to the finish. As Emily said, I mother-effing earned that sucker!
My next priority was to put on some warm clothes and roll the shit out of my quads. I packed The Stick in my checked bag for just that reason, and man, was I glad I did. I stretched, rolled — it hurt SO GOOD — and sat down on the steps of a nearby church to regroup. I was lookin’ rough — 26.2 will do that to you.
A proud moment. Again, 3:28:52! Is this real life?
After waddling a few blocks to hail a cab, a long hot shower, an intense stretch session and some time sprawled out on the hotel bed, my stomach had finally calmed down enough to take in my post-race meal. I had big plans to have a hamburger and french fries as a reward for kicking Boston’s ass, so we walked (waddled) the 1.5 miles through Cambridge to Mr. Bartleys. It felt great to walk, and the evening weather was beautiful.
So Mr. Bartleys is a Cambridge institution that serves enormous burgers and thick milkshakes. When we arrived there was a line snaking down the block, but because we were the last to arrive and had only two people, the waitress taking orders from the crowd said she could seat us at the bar. Bomb.
The burgers are all named for political or pop culture figures, and the menu changes based on what’s going on in the world. For example, I ordered the Lady Gaga, topped with provolone and grilled peppers, while Mom ordered the Tom Brady, which had guacamole in addition to cheese and standard burger toppings. Both came with orders of sweet potato fries. I’m a sucker for all things guacamole, so I think she won.
Followed with the Elvis milkshake — chocolate with peanut butter and banana. Blissssss. The perfect reward for an awesome race.
The Details: Race Nutrition
I get called out all the time for having a sucky — or nonexistent — race nutrition plan. I don’t do gels/bars when I run, and I don’t have a consistent strategy for fluids. I’ve never truly bonked and also have never felt like I could easily take in Gu or something similar. Nor have I ever really needed it. I know for IM I’m going to have to change my tune, but since I haven’t practiced with this race morning was not the time to experiment.
I did, however, do Gatorade on the course. I hate the lemon/lime flavor (why do they always serve that kind???), but I’d hate carrying a fuel belt even more. I had to balance going by feel and waiting until I was actually thirsty to drink, because at that point it’s already too late and dehydration has set in. Gatorade also makes me thirsty. So that’s a challenge.
I started taking fluids — a few sips while walking for a few seconds through the aid station — at mile five. Gatorade first, then water a mile later. Then I’d skip two to three miles and do the same thing. This kept me hydrated but didn’t create a lot of sloshing in my stomach. I did have a little bit of a stomachache at certain points during the race, but I attribute that to having a Clif bar in the Athlete’s Village. I was still hungry. I eat Clif bars regularly, but they don’t work quite as well before running as they do before swimming and biking.
In any case, I definitely need to get this issue under control as tri training gets going.
The Details: Things I Loved
Really, I loved almost everything about this day, which is why I keep reliving it over and over in my head. It’s Thursday and I’m still on the post-marathon runners’ high, which I imagine will continue for quite awhile.
I was a little bit skeptical of running through a bunch of small towns. When it comes to exercise, I’m a city girl through and through. I get bored if the landscape doesn’t constantly change, which is why D.C. is such a fantastic place to run. I’m also a big fan of running near the beach, but that’s a different issue entirely. In any case, I was not disappointed in the marathon course. The crowds were awesome and each town was a little bit different and interesting in its own way.
One of the things I really appreciated was that you knew where you were without actually knowing how the towns were spaced along the course because the boundaries were marked with signs:
Plus, Adidas had huge banners along the way that read things like “Brookline with Determination” and “Newton with Grit” for each part of the course. The descriptions totally matched up with the terrain and how you were feeling at any given time. After all, the slogan of the weekend was Boston With Love.
Another very cool part of Marathon Monday was the elite race. The only other event I’ve done that really makes anything of the elite wave was Chicago, but Boston is on a whole different level. I wish I’d been able to see the elites come flying down Boylston to the finish, but Mom captured the moment(s) for me.
Caroline Kilel of Keyna, 2:22:36, with American Desiree Davila close behind:
Men’s winner Geoffrey Mutai, Kenya, 2:03:02. He set a new world record but apparently
Boston’s course isn’t certified the steep elevation drop and tailwind are issues? So it’s unofficial. However, BAA is asking IAAF to recognize it.
Americans Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher placed 4th and 5th in their races, respectively. Hall set a new American record.
Boston is a big effin’ deal, folks!
A Huge Thanks To
I wouldn’t have made it to the start line, much less the finish line, or performed as well as I did without the love and support of so many awesome people in my life.
Most importantly, my mom traveled to Boston with me, put up with my needs, paid for almost everything and was patient through the expo, constant picture-taking and a very strange eating schedule. And she endured six hours in the cold on a street corner just to watch me run by to the finish. Thanks Mom!
The rest of my family — my dad, sisters, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins — tracked me on race day, texted/tweeted/called and were amped for the results. One of my favorites was Andrew’s tweet:
My team back in D.C. was getting live updates via a group email, and I earned the nickname T1000 for my consistent pacing. Then there were my Twitter followers, readers, fellow bloggers and friends, all of whom were so excited before, during and after the race. When I picked up my phone at the finish, I had so many texts, emails, @ replies, Facebook posts and blog comments that I was overwhelmed and couldn’t believe that many people cared about my race. Thanks, all, it wouldn’t be the same without you!