I ran the BOSTON MARATHON! Race Recap
Remember me?!? It has been a minute since I’ve blogged. I have totally fallen off the blogging wagon the past couple of months and took a long break. It wasn’t that I was “too busy” to blog, but rather just uninspired. Luckily, I am ready to jump back into it now and what better way to start back up again than with a recap of my Boston Marathon race?!?
I actually had not posted too much on the blog about running the Boston Marathon in the months leading up to the race. My training was going super well until 6 weeks out from the race when I had to take 2 weeks off due to a nagging hip and glute injury that was causing me to have pain while walking, sleeping, and sitting. After 2 weeks off, I only had 4 weeks left to get back into it before the big day. I was only running 3 days a week and doing minimal speed work (I managed 1-2 sessions of tempo/faster than tempo during the last two weeks), so I was nervous about how the race would go. I didn’t mention anything about this injury on social media/ my blog because with that always comes lots of opinions from other people on what you should do, and I knew that I just needed to follow my gut on this one.
Spoiler alert- I made it to the start line pretty healthy! AND I finished healthy, albeit very, very sore, but no major blow ups during or after the race- score!
now almost 4 full days post-race exactly 3 weeks and I am still riding a high from the race. It wasn’t until after the race and the next day that i had really come to grasp the magnitude of what I had just accomplished. The boston marathon is just as iconic as everyone says it is. The crowd support is off the charts, the volunteers are next level, and the BAA makes the experience magical for every athlete. They really do treat the athletes like celebrities on race weekend. If you are wearing marathon gear, running clothes, etc., the people of Boston will wish you luck or congratulate you on a job well done. That was so cool. The city really loves the runners! Some people even said that Patriots Day, also known as Marathon Monday- is their favorite day of the whole year! I can totally see why. If I lived in Boston I would spectate every year (at least if I wasn’t running it!).
Now that it has been 3 weeks since the race, I have jumped back into running some easy miles and am feeling ok- hopefully I can continue on this streak of healthy, pain-free running!
So here’s how the race went down:
I flew into Boston with my parents on Saturday morning. The first thing we did when we got into town was hit up the EXPO! The expo was amazing- so many cool vendors, free samples, lots of cool running gear and super cute clothes! I of course had to get the iconic Adidas Boston Marathon jacket. I heard it was a sin to not buy the jacket at your first Boston, and it holds so many special memories already. We walked around, tried some cool recovery rollers out, and talked with some other runners. I thought it was pretty funny that people kept asking me if I was even old enough to be running the race. One lady even told me that I looked about the same age as her 17 year old daughter. Yep- 17 + 7 years. Hey- at least i’ll be looking fabulous when I’m 40!
After we finished up at the expo we walked over to the Cheers! bar. My dad was super excited about this because he is a major fan of the show. After a few drinks (water for me! lol), we headed back to our car and made our way to a restaurant for dinner. We ended up staying at a hotel out in the suburbs and went to this restaurant that specialized in flat breads and salads. I was a little worried about eating a ton of raw veggies in the days leading up to the race, but my body is very accustomed to eating large amounts of fiber and fresh veggies so I figured it would be okay. My parents both got flat bread pizzas and they had some decent vegan options (for mom- she has been transitioning and already lost some weight!). Too bad they didn’t have any gluten free crust for me :/. My salad was pretty satisfying though as it had beans and lots of veggies on it!
After dinner we headed back to our hotel and passed out fairly quickly. I was zonked from the travel day and getting up at 4:30 a.m.
Sunday morning I woke up and did 30 minutes on the stationary bike at the hotel, followed by 2 easy miles jogged outside + a few striders. I was feeling pretty decent, and like I got most of the “travel stiffness” out of my legs. After that I showered, made some oats in the hotel room, and we headed back into downtown. We walked around for a bit my the water, checked out the Quincy Market, saw some street performers, and then ultimately decided to take a trolley tour of the city so we could see more of it in a shorter time. We were able to get on and off the trolley at the various stops to check things out by foot as well which made it extra cool. We saw Harvard, MIT, Victory Gardens, Paul Revere’s house, Fenway park, and lots of other cool stuff! I was a little nervous about the amount of walking around we had done earlier in the day and how that would affect my legs on Monday, but I tried not to stress about it. We hopped off the trolley when we were near a whole foods and I filled up on a late lunch/ early dinner at the salad bar. Again- more greens and fiber, but I decided since this is how I always eat, that I would be just fine.
After we finished up the trolley tour we headed back to our hotel. My legs were feeling kind of stale, so I headed to the pool to swim for about 20 minutes to loosen things up. The hotel pool was actually ginormous and I could swim some laps in it! Plus, after about 5 minutes, the other people in the pool left and I had it all to myself. After I finished up my swim I met my parents out in the lounge/bar of the hotel to hangout for a little bit before going to bed. I got a pretty decent night sleep and felt well rested when I woke up Monday morning. I got up fairly early Monday morning, drank some coffee, got my running outfit on, and made some oatmeal to eat on the car ride into downtown.
If you have run the Boston Marathon, you know that the only way to guarantee that you will get to the starting line is if you take the buses from near the finish line to Hopkinton. There wasn’t much traffic getting into downtown, so I made it to the buses around 8 a.m. I made a quick sop at the port-o-potties because I heard it was a long ride out to hopkinton, and got on the bus. A lady from Jacksonville ended up sitting next to me and we had great conversation on our way out to athlete’s village. She told me about her sons, her love for racing duathlons, all the places she has lived, and about our pets. I love how easy it is to connect with other runners. The energy in Boston really is contagious.
We made it to Hopkinton after about an hour bus ride, and headed into athlete’s village. I could not believe how many people there were in there! Wow- it was crazy. They had clif bars, bagels, bananas, water, gatorade, and clif shot blocks for the runners! I brought my Vega accelerator with me, as well as my beet elite and some shot blocks that I got from the expo. When I got there I grabbed a couple of the mini clif bars and got in the port-o-potty line while i snacked on the bars and sipped some water. The lines were super long and I waited for probably over 30 minutes in the first line. Then, I got right back in line again, knowing that I had been drinking a lot of water and would probably have to go again. I used the restroom one more time, and then they called my wave to start heading to the start line. It is almost a mile I believe from athlete’s village to the start line, so we had to head there about 45 minutes before the start.
There were already people outside of their houses cheering us on as we walked to the start. I couldn’t help but tear up as I walked alongside thousands of other runners to the start. I felt the special energy that embodies the Boston Marathon. I couldn’t believe that people were cheering for us already and we hadn’t even done anything yet. There were tents along the way with sunscreen, and sharpies to write your name somewhere on your clothes/ body. I had someone write my name down my right arm and I am so glad I did! It was so cool to hear strangers cheer you on by name as you run through the crowd. It really gave me that extra boost when I was hurting bad during the race.
As we approached the start line, the crowds started to thicken. I stopped at the port-o-potties once more (shocker lol!) and found my way to my corral. There were tons of people at the start in Hopkinton, wishing us luck as we were about the embark on our marathon journey. I was in corral 2, so I didn’t have too far to travel from my corral to crossing the start line. When they blew the gun, we slowly picked it up from a walk to a jog as we approached and crossed the start line.
The first mile was a very sharp downhill. I was trying to conserve energy and not weave through the dense crowds and remind myself that my pace the first mile didn’t really matter, and I just wanted to let my body ease into the hill and not put the breaks on. I tried to shorten my stride and keep the pace easy over the downhills, but I knew that my quads were going to be pretty torn up since I don’t have much access to hills or downhills near where I live.
The first 6 miles flew by- there were some rolling hills, but a lot of the race was downhill. I was feeling pretty good- was keeping my pace around 7:50-8:00 miles, and just focusing on effort. As I remember the course, there were not too many flat sections- I felt like I was either going up or down the entire time. As we approached mile 12, my quads were already starting to feel it, but it was not outwardly slowly my pace. I knew that I wasn’t necessarily going to feel super good throughout the race, so I just tried to block out the pain and keep whatever pace felt comfortable.
It was also around this time that I really started to feel the effects of the heat. Some reports said it reached 80 degrees out in the suburbs during the race! The sun was harsh at some points, and even though I was hydrated well beforehand, I was feeling pretty dehydrated during the race. I definitely expended a lot of energy by running from one water station to the next one on the opposite side about 100 meters later because I needed water badly! There were water stops at every mile, and by the time that next mile was approaching, I was yearning for more. Luckily, there were also spectators passing out water on the course as well- I probably had about 4-5 cups from random people!
I made it to mile 15 and we took a very steep downhill before starting the famous Newton Hills. I think that downhill is really pivotal in the race, because my quads took such a beating from that sharp drop, and now it was time to start to climb. The hills weren’t all that bad- it was just that i had not really had much of a chance to train hills, especially downhills. After finally making it to mile 21 and the top of heartbreak hill, I was ready for some downhill again. OR so I thought. The downhill actually hurt much worse. I felt like I had daggers going into my thighs. Honestly I was in a lot of pain, but I did a pretty good job of drowning it out.
The crowds at Boston really keep you going. If it weren’t for the crowds being 2-10 people deep during the last 4 miles, I don’t think that I could have kept going without stopping to walk. I just old myself to keep shuffling along, and even though it was slow, I wanted to make it to the end without walking. I saw my parents at mile 23 and that definitely helped propel me to the finish line.
When I finally made it into downtown and made that iconic right on Hereford, and the left on Boylston, I knew that I was going to finish- and with a respectable time at that. I didn’t have much left in me after turning onto Boylston, but the roaring crowds helped me to pick up my pace just at tad as I approached the finish. The cheering was almost deafening. The crowns were insane- probably 20 people deep at spots. I crossed the finish line and started to swallow back tears as I tried to catch my breath and come to terms with what I had just been a part of. The 121st Boston Marathon- only 4 years after the bombings took place. It was a great day to be a runner- I finished with a time of 3:35:12, which although I know it was not what I was trained for earlier in the year, with coming back from injury, running minimal mileage, and dealing with the heat, I think that it was a good result.
I had a blast, gave tons of high fives, and covered nearly 27 miles on the course according to my Garmin. Definitely need to work on hitting those tangents next time! I knew going in that this would not be a P.R. race for me- especially since it was only my second marathon and my first Boston. I definitely learned a lot and know what I need to work on for future races.
After the race I eventually found my parents, took some photos, and we made our way to the T to take it back to where my parents had parked the car. I couldn’t really walk down the stairs to the T and had to go down backwards. I knew that I was in for a few very sore days ahead when I tried to step off the curb and was met with excruciating soreness in my quads.
We made it to our car, and had to rush off to the airport so that my parents didn’t miss their flight and so that I could catch my flight back to school as well. I wish that we could have stayed the night on Monday, but duty called and i had to make it back to school the next day because I had a lab class all day :/.
Overall, I’d say that my first Boston Marathon was a highlight of my life. I know that I will re-qualify again, and get back there to experience the magic all over again. I can see why there are people from all over the world that come back to race Boston time and time again. There truly is nothing like it.
AND – that’s a wrap! How’s that for a first post back?? Even though it was delayed, I hope it gave you some insight into the race, and got you motivated to qualify or set some new running goals!
So tell me- did you run the Boston Marathon this year? Have you run it before? Is it a goal of yours? What is the best race you’ve ever ran??