Monday, April 25, 2016

Boston Marathon 2016

Boston is finally over and done with, and I feel like a huge monkey is now off my back. I didn't realize how much it was stressing me out until after it was over. All of these months post-injury were mainly focused on it. All of my nervousness and uncertainty were because of the impending Boston, and I didn't even intend for Boston to be a big deal of a race. It wasn't even a goal race, but when I finished, it all made sense. I didn't know where I really was with my running. And now, that I do, I feel relieved and all of a sudden have this focus I haven't had since before my injury. I was focused on Boston, but not with the seriousness I had for my racing last year. All of my races of 2016 have been met with a lackadaisical attitude and apathy. I just haven't been able to put myself back together mentally or physically. Even during Boston, I struggled big time, but for some reason, ever since I crossed that finish line, I feel like my 2015 self. Not necessarily as fast or in shape, but mentally, I feel all of a sudden "back". Of course, if you had asked me how I felt about my running future during Boston, I would have told you I was quitting at mile 11, dropping out of VCM and never running another marathon again. Haha. So here's my race recap...

I was wide awake as soon as my 2am alarm went off. I don't know how, but I guess I was ready to get this day over with. John's dad had parked his van in the driveway after he got off of work at 11pm so that I could leave early. It was nice being able to just get up, get dressed, grab coffee and go and not have to worry about the dogs or dragging John along. Made getting on the road less stressful. There was no traffic and I got to the parking garage I had booked a space in earlier than expected. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I had booked a valet-only garage which meant I had to hurriedly gather all of my stuff and get out of my car (this would also be a problem later since I couldn't just walk to my car, change and then head back out on the town). It was still dark out and the streets were empty until I got closer to Boston Common when I had homeless people wishing me a cheery "Good morning" from their doorway sleeping bags. I'm not even kidding. They were full of smiles. It was odd but kind of nice and made me smile. I made my way over to the new bag check on Boylston St which was WAY better than the Common location and pretty much in the same location as where the buses used to be. There weren't many runners out and about yet, so it was nice to walk through the Public Garden in the quiet.
Cool shot I got coming into the city

View from the Public Garden

Boston Common
I found my bag drop, which I was a little embarrassed about because I knew I wouldn't be running anything close to my qualifying time. I shut off my phone, put it in my bag and off I went back to the Common to catch a bus. I'm glad I got there when I did because it wasn't crowded yet, and I was on a bus by 6am. For some odd reason, we sat there waiting for almost half an hour, and by the time the bus left, the crowd waiting was huge. I attempted to sleep on the ride, but our bus driver decided to open his window all the way, and it was freezing. This is funny because I was anything but freezing the rest of the day.

I was at Athlete's Village so early that I was the first person to use the porta potty that I went in. I grabbed coffee and a bagel and picked a spot on the grass in the sun in the empty field. I drank my coffee, then tried to lie down and sleep, but I couldn't. I spotted Michael Narcisi, so he joined me for the rest of our time in the Village. I made the mistake of waiting too late to hit the bathroom again and ended up waiting in line for about 35 minutes. I just made it out of the Village before 9:20am. The crowd was tight, so we were all walking. I decided to stop at the last porta potties one more time and waited in line there for 20 minutes. It was 9:45am when I finally left there. I felt kind of rushed and worried I wouldn't make on time. I ran into Matt Garfield and Mick Arsenault as they were walking up, so the 3 of us walked together to corral 3. I stopped outside of the corral to tighten up my Brooks Neuro's, the shoes I bought at the expo. I decided to make a 4 time tradition of wearing a brand new-to-me model shoe for Boston. I hadn't been disappointed yet, and I knew I wouldn't be this time. Haha. I finally entered the corral. It was jam packed with people, so I squeezed in way in the back. That's when I noticed it. How warm it was! At this point, the last weather forecast I saw had it just maybe hitting 60 for a high, but it already felt warmer than 60. The guy next to commented on how hot it was, and me, being in denial, just said it was probably because of all the people and that I was sure it would be cool once we got going. But something definitely wasn't right. I didn't feel as hot as I did in the corral in 2012, but it was pretty reminiscent of it. I started to get a bad feeling that this guy was right. And that is where I went wrong. In 2012, I knew it was going to be close to 90 degrees. I prepared myself mentally for it. My only goal when I lined up at the start was to finish. But this time, I wasn't prepared. Even though I felt that it was hot, I didn't readjust my goal time. I went with the 2:59 I had planned, and, unfortunately, I continued to fool myself with this time until I hit mile 10. From the start, I was running the exact pace almost to the second of what I wanted to run, and that was all by feel. I only used my watch to check my splits to see if my effort matched the time, and for the first 9 miles, it did. So, basically, I would end up going out too fast. It was exactly what I planned, but that plan was not the right one for the day.

Things were good. I felt great. I grabbed fluids at every aid station. Poured water on my head. My effort felt easy. Then I hit mile 10. The headwind that had been keeping us cool was gone, and that's when I realized the air was stifling. My pace slowed way down through 10 and by halfway through mile 11, I was dropping out of the race. I was done. There was no way I could finish. I was dying, and I was only on mile 11! It was only like 70 degrees, but it felt so much hotter. I was done. That was it. But, then all of a sudden, we crested a hill at the end of mile 11, and the headwind was back!! Such relief. I wasn't going to quit anyway. I paid $180!!! Haha. At this point, I should have made the decision to cut the pace back to something realistic, but instead, I had this renewed hope and decided to get my pace back to what I had planned for that 2:59. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But I did just that for the next 5 miles. I came through the half in 1:30:09, less than a minute off my goal time. Perfect! I had lost a little in miles 10 and 11, but it was still looking good. Hahaha.

Mile 15- Reality. I came to grips with it. I was struggling. I was SO hot. I was SO thirsty. I had been guzzling water at every single aid station. I was in a huge state of hurt by the time I finished mile 15. My pace was not sustainable. I wouldn't finish if I tried to maintain it. Mile 16 was a little of a relief and a chance to get my head on straight. I made the conscious decision there to slow down my pace through the hills. I didn't even maintain the same effort going up them. I wanted to barely be out of breath up everyone of them so that I would have something left in me the last 5 miles. Looking later, I would see I ran two of those miles slower than I did in 2011 when I ran a 3:17. I was not pushing myself. I had wasted so much energy early on that I wanted to save what I had left for the end.

Luckily, the last half of the race saw a decently strong headwind, something I would normally have complained about because it was more than noticeable, but it cooled things down a bit. I still felt hot and thirsty, though. I was struggling to the finish. Normally, the last 5 miles drag on, but this time, they didn't. After Heartbreak Hill, the nice downhill gave me some relief to speed my pace back up. I started to notice that I wasn't getting passed by as many people anymore and others who had been ahead of me for miles were starting to get closer. Still, I wasn't feeling good and wanted nothing more than for it to end. Where the fuck is Hereford?!!! But at the same time, I was picking up the pace. I brought my pace back down to the low 7s. By mile 22, I knew I was going to finish between 3:05-3:07. When I realized that, I wasn't disappointed at all. I was happy knowing that. I was happy just to be finishing! Add on a respectable time (and still sub 3:10 as my B goal), and I felt good about how I was about to finish.
Looking for Hereford. Where IS IT?! Photo by Mike Giberti
The Citgo sign finally came into view! I knew Hereford wasn't too far! I just wanted to be DONE by this point.
So close!!
 Then it finally happened. I was turning on Hereford!! I was done! The rest would just be on autopilot. I was even able to smile for the camera right after the turn onto Boylston.

Home stretch. (Good photo. Terrible quality)
But then it happened. I was all of a sudden Diane in Poltergeist! I could see the finish, but it seemed to keep getting farther away! Here's a clip if you're too young or had no taste in horror movies as a kid to know what I'm talking about. :)

Gianina Lindsey snapped a photo of me with the look of horror on my face at the finish line getting farther and farther away 
But just like the hallway stops stretching for Diane, Boylston stopped stretching for me and I realized I was about to cross the line. It was over. I was done. 3:06:47. 11 minutes slower than my VCM time, but I didn't care! In fact, I didn't care at all because I was all of a sudden dizzy and started slightly hyperventilating. I started stumbling back and forth and realized I was about to go down. So I just stopped, bent over with my hands on my knees and took 3 deep breaths through my nose. I stood up. All set! I was good again. Haha. I spotted Andy Schachat who was walking towards me and gave me a big hug. Then he dragged me over to be interviewed by WMUR Channel 9. I don't remember much of it except that I, of course, used the word "awesome". Haha. People told me they saw me on tv, but I never saw it and couldn't find it online anywhere. Boo. As soon as I was done with them, Nancy Eckerson was waiting to interview me for the Foster's Daily Democrat. Nancy and Andy are the two responsible for my 2015 New Hampshire Female Runner of the Year honor, so it was great to finally meet her in person. She's so nice! I got a little blurb in the paper the next day. Thanks, Nancy. I thanked Andy and then moved back into the stumbling marathon finisher traffic. Got my heat sheet, metal, food. Megan Boucher was standing just over the barricade and stopped me for a quick chat. That was really cool to see her. I wandered down to the baggage area, grabbed my bag and plopped down right there to change clothes. I've perfected the complete outfit change without exposing a single thing. Haha.

Don't know what I'm doing with my arms. You can see the dried sweat on my shirt. 
Once I was done, I walked right out onto the sidewalk and down into Arlington Station. I couldn't walk the .9 to my car. Haha. The station inbound was empty and the ride was free, so I was on a train quickly. Another runner joined me walking out of Govt Center and down the street. He was funny. He couldn't get over how hot the race had been. He said it over and over and over. We parted ways as I headed to the parking garage. Eric Narcisi texted me to let me know that he, Brenna and Michael were at Rockbottom Brewery and had saved me a seat. I got my car (accidentally drove around the Common twice when I got stuck in the right lane haha) and moved it over to the garage underneath the block Rockbottom was on.

I joined the Narcisi's and the group of Tuesday Night Turtles at the table next to us. I think I was there for the next 5 hours! Time got lost after A LOT of beer drinking.
25oz Peanut Butter Stout to start things off
Eric made the HUGE mistake of leaving his sunglasses behind. I'll be giving those back at Big River this weekend, but I've had some fun taking pictures of them this past week and will share all of the photos in a future post. :)
Me with Eric's glasses at Rockbottom. 
By the time I left there, it was past 9pm and I was starving again, so I walked around the block to Boloco and got a burrito. Once I sobered up a bit, I drove all the way home. I had intended to just sleep in my car, but that meant moving my car again. I drove out of the garage, and instead of finding some street parking, I just kept going and drove all the way home. It was almost 1am when I got back, but I still jumped in the shower before zonking out. I was up for almost 24 hours straight. What a painful, fun, crazy, strange day.

So something about Boston lit a fire under my ass. And I all of a sudden feel like a fog has cleared. I'm ready to be serious and focused again. Even though I was definitely dropping out of VCM while I was running, I'm definitely not, and I'm now super excited about it. Even if my body and speed aren't back to what they were pre-injury, I feel like my mind now is. The rest should follow.

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