Wow, I am running the Boston Marathon! Really! I kept repeating this yesterday and all weekend, really. I also kept telling myself how shocking my time was going to be to me and others after I passed the 19 mile mark and did a finish time calculation for the first time.
And with little distance training, and no long endurance bike training to give me a solid base since my bike accident February 21, I wasn't really expecting much. I really hadn't ridden long or run consistently since IM training last fall. My expectation was to race a 3:40. My qualifying time was 3:26 in San Francisco last summer when I was riding and running a LOT. I've basically done nothing since IMAZ.
I'm psyched. I re-realized today that I am, in fact, a runner. It's in my blood. It's in my genes. It's in my head. I have the confidence and the pain tolerance to push through. I actually think I'm probably a marathoner, and I could be a half marathoner with more short training. It feels good! I'm excited! It's interesting to get to the point of acceptance on things like this. I don't realize things very easily... I have to prove and reprove and reprove to believe in something. I'm pretty tough on myself.
Here's my race report:
I prepped myself over the last month for the fact that I would have a difficult race. I haven't biked or swam in over 2 months. I've run 2-3 times a week, including a few longer runs since IMAZ: 1x12 miles, 2x18 miles, 1xhalf marathon race. I knew I was coming into this wrong. I resigned myself to enjoy the Boston experience. And I was pretty okay with it, I mean what else are you going to do? I was hoping to do well enough to qualify again for 2012 to come back and race for real.
I took a 3 hour guided bus tour of the site the day before the race... It was good to understand the towns, the hills, and the general course. Good move. We had a crazy 1970s runner guy as our tour guide. Classic Boston guy... The thick accent was silly! He kept telling stories of "back in 1986" and "today they let anyone run this race for charity and I disagree with it." He was remarkably unrefined and quite perfect for the tour.
The night before, I wrote out splits by mile, based on an 8 minute mile average, varying by elevation changes on the course (see chart). I did this so my parents could find me on the course with text trackers. My expectations: 00:24 5k, 00:49 10k, 1:14 15k, 1:36:30 20k, 1:43 half, 2:03 25k, 2:27 30k, 2:54 35k, 3:20 40k, 3:33 finish.
I had a nice pasta dish and got to bed a little later than I wanted (around 10:30). I tried to prep appropriately for the race, deciding to wear long sleeves and shorts. I woke up at 5am, kinda tired, but excited. I grabbed a bagel and some hot cocoa from Dunkin Donuts and met Erica at 6:00 to meet up with the Banditos group from Scottsdale and catch the bus to the race start. It was abnormally windy, and about 45 degrees, but clear like Phoenix. Not too bad, especially compared to all the stories I kept hearing about BM weather.
We waited until race start...Erica started at 10am, and I started at 10:20. I was in the second wave (of three) and then in corral two (of eight). Erica was a lifesaver for me regarding prepping me for the race. She brought me a raft so i didn't have to to sit on the cold ground at the athlete staging area in Hopkinton. She brought HUGE 55 gallon trash bags to wear to keep wind out. She warned me about going out too hard. She was a nice calming voice leading up to race time, and I thank her for that.
The race start was interesting... I heard from several people that I need to chill at the beginning of the race (downhill for 6+ miles). Stay in your long training heart rate zone, says my Coach, Nick. It was difficult to have all the people passing me during the first 5-7 miles. And they did... It didn't feel good - I felt sluggish and it took my race ego down. But I kept reminding myself that I'm here for the experience, not to break any records. My calves hurt within the first mile. This pain stayed with me the entire race that I blame on the half marathon race I did last Sunday with no recovery runs this week. I knew better.
Erica warned me that the first 16 miles were downhill. Others said first 6. I decided to follow Nick's race HR plan... It has worked before and I trust him.
So I ran the first 7 miles at between 150-160 (it should have been 144-154, but I couldn't help it). I hurt more those early miles than I wanted to admit to myself. I then picked up to 170 on a hill (around 7.5). My 5k time was 30 seconds slow (24:28) 10k was exactly on target (48:52), 15k was 1:12 (1:14 target), 20k was 1:35:37 (1:36:30 target). Once I picked up the pace, I started to feel better. It was crazy. I had a tough time staying right at 170. I would look down and be at 175, or look down and be at 167. I had to micro manage my HR monitor constantly. I couldn't get into a steady HR for anything! Honestly, the monitoring of my HR kept me busy and distracted. I didn't pay much attention to pace or to time, as these things are irrelevant in the first half of a marathon.
By the half marathon spot, I was nervous about keeping the HR up, as I was fatigued. But I knew I could push to keep my 170 HR, based on experience and talks with Nick. What pace 170 meant was another question! I felt good... I was passing people all over the place and I kept hearing people say to each other "how do they make it look so easy" and "wow, she looks good" or to me "nice stride!". It was encouraging and I needed it! The miles flew by...
The fans were remarkable. I must have slapped hands with 250 people throughout the race... Mostly kids. I would raise my hands and cheer back at groups cheering for me. Passing the Wellsley campus and all those screaming girls was crazy! I spent most of the day smiling. What an amazing experience. All the volunteers, all the cute cities, all the cow bells! Wow!
Half split was 1:40:37 (1:43 target), 25k was 1:59:08 (2:03 target). Here's where the splits really start disparaging: 30k was 2:23:42 (2:27:30 target), 35k was 2:48:06 (2:54 target), 40k was 3:12:03 (3:20 target), finish was 3:22:52 (3:33 target).
I wore my pink Sally Meyerhoff bracelet: "Be Relentlessly Positive." I looked down at the bracelet many times during the race. I never had the chance to meet Sally... I really haven't existed in Phoenix running circles and only knew of her. However, her untimely death has had quite an impact on me, and I think about her and what I've learned about and from her regularly.
I saw my parents during the 24th mile... My mom was jumping up and down in the road trying to get my attention and it was so very nice to see them there with their friends Frances and Jerry. This was definitely a highlight.
The smiles turned into tears at the point when I realized that I could finish under 3:30. Keep it together, Teri. Then, with 3 miles left, I realized it was possible to maybe beat my San Francisco qualifying time of 3:26. Then, with 2 to go, maybe I can go under 3:25, and even better! I was ecstatic.
What a day...
Got to Boston