Thursday, April 18, 2019

2019 Boston Marathon- DNF

"Finishing" the marathon
Haha. I'm chuckling at writing yet another "DNF" for a marathon. And I know what you're thinking! "Oh boy. Here we go again having to read about her injury AGAIN. Why she continues to run with this injury, I don't know." Ok, probably something along those lines, right? Well, I'm hear to tell you you're wrong! Haha. It wasn't the injury, believe it or not. And, no, it also wasn't the weather...although, the weather was probably a factor in why I dropped when I did. Nope. The fucking intestinal issue got me today. I've run two road marathons without an issue so this blindsided me, especially since I actually felt good prior to the start. Soreness and pain during the week leading up to Monday had me assuming the injury would take me out, but for some crazy reason, I woke up on Monday morning in no pain. I had no pain driving down and no pain prior to starting the race. I did feel it once I started running, but I knew instantly that the injury was not going to cause a DNF for me today. I was really excited for that. I had no time goal, only to have fun and finish. Not feeling any pressure I had so much fun standing in corral 7 hugging and wishing the best to everyone I knew walking by to the corrals ahead. I was optimistic this was going to be a good day. Not a good race time, but a fun experience. Unfortunately, I was handed a nice punch in the gut early on and did not finish the race.

My morning started off with a 2am wake-up. I'm still wondering if this was the beginning of my intestinal issue going haywire. But I have no idea and never will. My body does tend to have a "routine", though so I can only guess that this disruption messed me up. I did stop once to use the bathroom on the way down.

The drive down wasn't bad, but I'll admit I was tired. Fortunately I was in no pain, though. For some reason, I did get a little emotional over the race. I think it was over so many things from happy to sad. I was happy to be going back, but I was worried I wouldn't finish. This wasn't the first time I've been emotional driving towards the marathon. In 2014, I got super choked up over the events of 2013, even though I wasn't there. But I would go on to run my marathon PR (at the time) that day on no training whatsoever. Only 4 weeks at 30 miles and the rest 20-30. The photo below came up in my FB memories just today. The woman on the left is Linda Parrish. She finished her 30th consecutive Boston on Monday.

I got down to Wellington Station. Everything was going as planned since I wanted to catch the first train out of there to Chinatown. I was 20 minutes early which gave me some time to relax after the drive. But this included yet more sitting...which I also believe was a possible cause to my issues that day.

By the time the train arrived at the Chinatown stop, it was raining out. I put on my 97 cent poncho to walk to the bag drop. I didn't stay totally dry, but it was good enough. I was super thankful I opted to wear toss away shoes this morning.

By the time I was walking past Boston Common, the rain had stopped, and that's when I felt how steamy and sweltering it was in Boston. Very warm and humid. So when I got to the bag drop, I made a decision not to bring my hat, gloves or the outer jacket I was wearing so I quickly stuffed them in my already stuffed-full drop bag and handed it over. Along with that was my phone since I didn't want to have it with me during the race. 

I walked to the bus area and stopped at the line-less porta-potties to go again. (Not trying to give details, just a timeline). Looking back, I was 4 hours past having my last coffee. I've always had coffee within 4 hours of a race and ALWAYS have had coffee within 2 hours of the start of Boston. Looking back, I should have gotten another coffee before getting on the buses. I'd have one more chance to have coffee 2 hours before the race but declined. I shouldn't have since most of us who drink coffee know it can help "move things along". Haha.

The drive over the Hopkinton was in the absolute pouring rain. I was thankful to be on the bus then, especially in the back in the single seat. I snag this seat if I can. I did in 2016 and also at Eastern States this year. I just wanted to close my eyes and not end up next to some chatty Cathy. The bus ride seemed longer than usual and for some reason a whole bunch of wave 1 buses ahead of us got stopped on the highway. We almost did, too, but our driver pulled left at the last second. Haha. Apparently none of  us could hear the on-going thunderstorms outside.

Once in Hopkinton, I stepped off the bus and started walking away from Athlete's Village. Peter Lagoy and his wife, Amanda, open their home right near the starting line every year for runners to hang out pre-race. After the long walk in the pouring rain, I was very grateful for the dry warm home and company of kind people. Peter offered me coffee just as I arrived, and I declined. I shouldn't have. Unfortunately, I would end up sitting for the next two hours. I never do this pre-race. I always warm up before marathons, even if it's just a mile. And I always hit the bathroom within 10 minutes of starting. I did use the bathroom twice while at Peter and Amanda's home (Sorry, Peter! Haha). It was very nice being there. I finished off the homemade banana bread I've been eating pre-race for weeks without an issue. I've made this same banana bread often as a pre-race meal for over a year now. I really did enjoy the company and chance to talk with the other runners there. Just before I left, Amanda snapped a photo of me. My smile is genuine. I was feeling optimistic.

I ended up LOVING these New Balance shorts I bought for the race.
Once I stepped out, it was only a short walk to the corrals. I did find the secret empty porta potties and I'm kicking myself for not stopping in, but I really didn't have to use them...yet. (And, no I'm not sharing their location haha.) I was literally one of the first 20 runners in corral 7 so I had to move all the way to the front. I just felt good and happy and not stressed about my time. I've learned to never make Boston my goal race because it never seems to happen. I felt fit enough in 2016 to run close to a 2:59, but the unexpected warm weather left me with a 3:06 that day. However, it wasn't my goal race at all so I was thrilled with that 3:06. Funny how 2019 weather was very similar to 2016. I moved to the fencing and watched everyone go by. It was awesome. I got to wish so many people I knew good luck. Got some hugs. Even ended up with E-J Hrynowski right next to me on the outside of the corral just as the National Anthem started. Made it very exciting. But, in hindsight, I should have been running around and then making a last porta potty trip instead of standing there for over 30 minutes before moving again. My routine was not the norm, especially pre-marathon, since this intestinal issue started 14 months ago.

Finally, the race started. The crowd walked up until we were able to jog just before the start and we crossed the line. This is always so crowded, andand norma the downhill sucks you in to starting off fast. For once, I actually made an effort to hold back in the first mile. I felt the tendons, but I knew even then that the pain was going to be minimal today and that I wouldn't DNF because of it. Just before we hit mile 1, my pal, Jessica Marlier, caught up so we talked. Came through mile 1 in 7:11 which I was thrilled about. Jessica wanted to move a little faster so we said our goodbyes. Only a few minutes later, Zak Kudlak and Bob Jackman caught up to me for the rest of the 2nd mile. We chatted. I felt good, but they made me run that mile too fast in 6:59. Haha. So I let them move on. Unfortunately, all of mile 2, I felt the intestinal pains come on. I wanted to ignore it and just hope it would subside since that does happen sometimes, but nope. All of mile 3 was spent with me in my head questioning if I really needed to stop because maybe I didn't. But there was no way I could talk myself out of it. As soon as I crossed into mile 4, I made a beeline to the first porty potties. I ran 7:00 flat for mile 3 surprisingly. Honestly, I wasn't upset or even surprised I had to stop. I knew I never got that last chance to use the bathroom pre-race so I figured that was why I was stopping now. The only thing that was different, though, was that this wasn't my usual quick in and out. It was exactly 1.5 minutes! 

Photo by Sarah Chapin. I really love this photo.
I got back in the race with the new people around me and felt great from this point. I was running faster than I felt, and I wasn't even out of breath. If you don't count the time for the porty potty stop, my splits the following 4 miles were consistent. 6:57 (running time not actual which was 8:24), 7:04, 7:04, 7:09. I took an S-Cap at mile 7. I felt great. Then, all of a sudden...the grumble. Omg. I had to stop again, but I was STILL in denial and ran with these intestinal cramps for all of mile 8. I couldn't believe I had to stop again! I had already used the bathroom 5 times this morning! I took a gel right at mile 8 (same gels as at Eastern States where I had no intestinal issues) and then hit the next porta potties. Omg, it was so warm and steamy in there that I immediately started pouring in sweat and my glasses fogged up. But I'll be honest that I was laughing. I think it was more of a I can't believe this is happening laugh. And once again, this was not a quick stop at all. In fact it was worse than the first. 2:28 minutes lost at this stop. Once I stepped out and started running, I felt someone stiff in the legs, but still felt good and ran a quick mile after having that "rest". 6:58 running time for mile 9 (actual time 9:25). Sadly, after that mile, I felt suddenly drained (pun intended). Like zapped. All of a sudden I was in a fog. I started taking Gatorade at every stop after this. I was so suddenly depleted that I had a feeling I would be slowing down fast, and I did. And this is when the mind games started playing. I knew feeling badly only at mile 10 meant I stood very little chance of making it, but I wanted to finish SO BADLY. I started making checkpoints with each med tent. I'd hit one and ask if I could keep going to the next, and I could. I never realized how many med tents or porta potties there were on the course until today. Haha.

It wasn't long after hitting mile 10 in 7:31, that the intestinal cramps started again. At this point, I was questioning my ability to finish. I hung on through mile 11 (7:35) before finding another set of porta potties just past the 12 mile mark. And wow, it was bad. SO bad. There was no laughing. I knew I was doomed. Just seconds shy of 3 minutes in there this time! But...due to the "rest" break, I was able to pull off a running time split of 6:55 for mile 12. Haha. Actual time: 10:19. Once I entered Wellesley, I could hear the scream tunnel and hoped it would perk me up, but I couldn't enjoy it. Just before mile 13, I passed Amy and Rick Bernard and Charlie Bemis who were cheering. I almost missed them due to the foggy brain. After I passed, I almost dropped out of the race there and walked back to be with them, but I kept telling myself that I couldn't quit. I hit the halfway point in 1:42:29. It wasn't a bad time considering I had lost about 8 minutes with my 3 stops. That was still under 1:35 for moving time. I would have been happy with that today. 

Unfortunately, from the halfway point to where I dropped, I felt even more depleted. I was struggling just to run, and then dizziness came on. I took a gel at mile 15 and continued to take Gatorade or water at every aid station. But it was to no avail. I knew when I hit mile 16 that I wasn't going to make it. I wanted to. I kept telling myself I was so close to the Six03 tent at mile 20. I could make it. I could stop there, chug a beer and maybe still finish! But I knew I couldn't run much farther. I felt like I was getting close to falling over.

Just past the mile 17 mark, I passed Krissy Kozlosky who was handing out gels and snapped my photo. I was actually pretty sad because I knew this was it so I gave Krissy an I feel like crap face. Haha. So thankful she was there, though. One last smiling face of someone I knew. 

Just past the gel station was a water stop. I was so dizzy. I couldn't run and drink the water I grabbed so I stopped to drink it. That's when I was done. There was no way I could run up that next hill so I planned to drop at the base of it. I started running again with my head down after the water stop. When I looked up, I saw a woman ahead of me who had just gone by. It was Ashley. Ashley is the woman at the subject of my I Fucked Up blog post, the woman I unintentionally body shamed. She wasn't supposed to be where I was right now. She was supposed to much farther ahead on her way to a 2:50. So it took me a second and then also asking myself if I should say something and catch up to her. Of course I should. So I said, "Ashley," and then ran up beside her. You could see the look of defeat in her face. Training so hard but just not feeling good on race day. Much like my VCM DNF last year, she dropped at mile 10 but then got back into the race. She said she was going to drop just ahead. I said I was, too. So two defeated runners with a not-so-good original connection ended up running the last 200 yards or so before we called it quits at mile 17.5.

I had no idea there was a photographer here, but I had to buy this.
I don't have a religious bone in my body. I don't believe in fate or that things happen for a reason, but sometimes this crazy world throws me for a loop. Out of nearly 30,000 runners, how did we end up together for this last stretch and then spend the next 2 hours going through DNF hell? I don't think I ever updated that Ashley responded positively to my Instagram apology prior to this so I had some sort of closure with the situation, but I'm so thankful we got to know each other on Monday and that I had the chance to apologize in person. I feel like I needed that for both of us, and I'm so grateful for the experience we shared over this, at times, emotional journey back to the finish line.

So dropping out was a tough thing to do, but I was ok with it. I don't think I could have continued to run without ending up in a med tent. I was starting to feel more faint intestinal cramps in the last mile anyway. I was too depleted and dizzy. Once I stopped running, I felt fine, just tired. In hindsight, although I wouldn't have wanted the horrible finish time, after realizing how long it would take to get back to the finish (2 hours!), I probably wouldn't have dropped there. I could have walked the 2.5 miles to the Six03 tent, had that beer and then hopefully walked in the last 6.2 miles or at least dropped there. Walking didn't bother me and it would have been better than all of the sitting. So after that experience, I don't recommend dropping out of Boston unless you're injured or really sick. Walk until you can at least get back to the finish more easily. Just my 2 cents.

That being said, it was definitely its own worthy experience. A van ride to other med tents followed by a bus ride from BC, around the city and back through the crowds. We didn't have many people on the bus, but it was nice to have the DNF camaraderie and such nice volunteers.

So I ran the 17.5 miles in 2:17:02. 7:46 avg pace that includes all the stops. Here are both sets of splits with the stops and without. I wish I could have run the first one. Haha.

Interesting to note that I dropped out just past Leslie Rd. Sad that Hope St didn't give me renewed hope. Haha. And funny that I lived on a Holman Rd for a year once. 

I was watching the Flyby to see my porta potty stop times.
Back at the finish, I got my drop bag. The vibe was so positive that I was actually in a great mood. My dropping out was really bad luck and totally out of my control once it started. Dropping out was the right thing to do. I know it was. It still stings a little since this was supposed to be my last road marathon indefinitely. Well, I can't go out with a Boston DNF so it looks like I'll be back to finish Boston in 2020. I already have my 3:09 qualifier from Hartford 2018 so I don't have to run another marathon before then. I'll only sign up for it, though, if I feel good at registration time. And I'm not going to train for it. It will simply be to finish.

I was supposed to meet Steve and Jennifer Brightman at Rock Bottom so after changing clothes I headed that way but heard back from Jennifer that they were leaving. I was already almost to the Chinatown T stop so I just decided to get on the train, go back to my car and go home. I had booked a hostel bed for the night in Everett, but I didn't use it. I'm only out $50 so that's good. I just wanted to go home and see John and the dogs. After 9 hours of nothing but 3 gels in my stomach, I stopped at Five Guys in Seabrook for a burger and fries. I was starving. I still did a long run! Funny, I couldn't finish even half the fries. When I got home, I showered then sat down with a DNF beer. This wasn't how it was supposed to go, and I finally let the tears flow for a little bit as the emotions took over. I need one quick cry before I could let it go. It helped talking through things with a friend who probably knows me the best. I don't know how I stayed up until 11pm, but I did.

Over the following 2 days, I received an amazing outpouring of support from friends and acquaintances from all parts of my life. I feel very alone and friendless most of the time, but this proved otherwise. People are there, even if they're not close. I posted that photo of Ashley and me on my Facebook page yesterday, and I made sure to tell people not to apologize to me. I'm weird about receiving apologies from people when they aren't the cause of what happened. It was amazing how taking away that option from the replies led to so much more meaningful and appreciated responses. I don't need apologies (or "great job" in the opposite situation). I love to hear things like jokes, insults (in jest) and stories or something unique someone has to share.

So I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling strangely good. Like an optimism I haven't felt about running in a long time. I think Boston was a dark shadow hanging over me for months. There was one last thing I needed to do, though, before completely moving on. Finish those damn last 9 miles! Had I lived closer to Boston, I would have run those exact 9 miles, but I had to settle for the Valley. I had no plan other than 9 miles and just kind of ran randomly, making it up as I went along. Started off on the RR tracks after leaving the neighborhood that were still a little ice covered, ran the Kanc, ran through Bald Hill and passed Kevin Tilton's house, passed another house where my friend, Chris, lived and said hi. I stopped to take 2 photos of the Dirty Girl Trail Course still covered in snow. I ran back down the tracks to home. Doorstep to doorstep...EXACTLY 9 miles in 1:14:36. It wasn't fast, but the weather was beautiful. I didn't feel like I had a run a marathon, but I had a tad bit of soreness. I couldn't resist making myself a silly Boston Finish Line photo. Sorry to the poor guy I superimposed myself over.

Why am I the only one wearing a hat? It's cool to wear the race shirt, right?

My actual surroundings....

One of many attempts
It's crazy how getting that done has helped me move on. I am still slightly sore, but I don't feel any need to recover. I didn't run hard enough or long enough to be in post-marathon agony. I can finally focus on the things I really want to do this year. I'm so excited to start getting back into trail and mountain running shape ASAP.  I won't quite be ready for the Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race this weekend, but I'm at least in better shape than I would have been had I finished Boston. With the competition this year, though, I will be lucky to finish in the top 10, but that's ok. I'm only now beginning my journey back. It will be through the chronic tendon pain, but I can do it. I feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders and that I can move on now. Enjoy the departure of winter and the trail and mountain running to come.

I'm going to leave this post here and write a separate one for the pre and post Boston stuff that I'll publish in a few days. This blog post doesn't need to be any longer than it already is.


  1. I'm so thrilled you were able to patch things up with Ashley! It is pretty awesome you two DNFd together kind of like sealing the apology and acceptance bond? Yeah, it sucks to DNF, I think it sucks worse to deal with the "I'm sorry" You handled your FB post really well. I'm always impressed with your sportsmanship!