Tag Archives: race recap

2011 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon Race Recap

Well, I did it! I ran my 4th marathon on Sunday, October 9 in Schenectady/Albany, NY. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was pretty nervous about this race because I was admittedly under-trained.  I had run about 240 miles in training and my longest run was 16 miles. I had good reason to be nervous.

Things that were in my favor: I ran the Boston Marathon in April, so I hoped some training maintenance had carried over; I’ve been running pretty consistently; I’ve had a bunch of long runs recently; and I have been eating very well over the past few months.

But don’t get me wrong, I know this wasn’t a smart decision. If I didn’t think I was in decent enough shape to do it, I would have bowed out. But deep down, I just knew I’d be all right.

I woke up the morning of the race a few minutes before my alarm with a nervous stomach. Not unusual for me. I got up, ate a giant bowl of oatmeal, had a cup of coffee, and then started hydrating. I tried nuun for the first time for this race and I’ll write a separate post about that.

I ran this race with my friend Lauren – we ran this race together back 2009 as well – my very first marathon. We headed to the start around 7:45 and immediately got in the bathroom line. We took the requisite pre-race photo…

Then we headed to the start, chatted with a few people we knew, and then we were off! It was a very quick start.

Our goal was to keep our pace pretty easy and consistent in the beginning. The adrenaline and the crowd tend to tempt me to pick up my pace. And I knew that especially in this race, with not much training, that could not happen. Our first few miles were still a little faster than we intended:

Mile 1 – 8:47
Mile 2 – 8:37
Mile 3 – 8:30
Mile 4 – 8:34

My parents were around the 4 mile mark cheering and taking some photos. At this spot, they only really got our backs…

We look like we were chatting away. At this point, we both felt great. And as we should, it was the first few miles. We had a gorgeous day for our race, but maybe a little too gorgeous. The beginning temps were perfect, but as the race went on, it got a little bit hot.

We began to try to slow things down after about mile 5:

Mile 5 – 8:32
Mile 6 – 8:50
Mile 7 – 8:51
Mile 8 – 9:01

When we hit our 9 minute mile, I decided that this pace seemed somewhat sustainable and I wanted to try to keep it there for a bit. I was starting to feel a tightness in my left foot and I worried that anything faster would start to take its toll on my body. We also started taking either water or Gatorade at every stop – which was every 2 miles.

Mile 9 – 9:03
Mile 10 – 9:13

A little bit after mile 10, I took my first Gu at the water stop there. I decided to take it around 10 and 20. My body was needing it at the 10 mile mark and I prayed that the caffeine would kick in quick. From mile 10.5 – about 13 we had a few uphills, and it was starting to get hot.

Mile 11 – 9:43
Mile 12 – 9:41
Mile 13 – 9:52

A little bit after mile 13 we saw my parents again, cheering with a big crowd. My mom snapped a few pictures.

We look so cheery! But I think at this point, we were both really feeling a little weary. We knew we were only halfway with a lot more running to go. We said hello and goodbye to my parents and trudged on. We saw Lauren’s whole family at mile 14 and she decided to stop and stretch a bit. She told me to keep moving.

Mile 14 – 9:33
Mile 15 – 9:03

Just after leaving Lauren and around mile 15, I had to deal with the two most annoying marathon runners. The first was a woman who decided to stop and “turn around because she started out way too fast” and apparently had some issues. She turned around to run with (and to my mind torment) two apparent colleagues. How did she torment them (and everyone around her)? By singing screaming  songs on her iPod and random cheers/jeers every 10 seconds. Literally, she did not stop. She was trying to “pump up” these two guys, but really she was just utterly obnoxious. A huge part of me wanted to tell her to shut up, but my better judgement prevailed. However, I passed two other runners who said I should do it because they had wanted to tell her to zip for a while as well.

Thankfully, I was able to pass the obnoxious girl in about a mile or two and get out of earshot, so I didn’t want to rip my hair out. I made it to 16 and then saw my parents again at 17.

Mile 16 – 9:04
Mile 17 – 9:02

I was actually feeling pretty good still… even though the photo makes it seem otherwise. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the pain to set in. Oh and I said there were TWO annoying runners. Well, the second was really a group of runners. There was an Asian team of runners, whose apparent Captain seemingly kept them all “motivated” by randomly screaming “WHooo HAA, Whhhoo HAA” in an extremely loud voice. The first time he did this, I thought it was a signal that they wanted to pass so I got nervous and moved over. But no, just randomly every few minutes this guy did this and scared the beejesus out of me. The obnoxious woman and the Whoo-Ha crew actually overlapped their stay in my run for about a mile, and I thought for sure I was being punished for something. Looking back, now I think it was the motivation I needed to keep up my pace and pull away from them. I ditched Screaming Lady and the Who-Ha Crew and trudged on.

Mile 18 – 9:00
Mile 19 – 8:57

After mile 18, we moved onto the main road in Watervliet and it was HOT! No shade, running on the streets with traffic, inhaling some awesome exhaust. My parents were there around just before mile 20, and they said they could tell I was totally faking my smile this time around.

Yeah, I was starting to feel the pain. I’ve got my Gu in my hand here, ready to throw it back at the next water stop, which came just after this photo was taken. I downed my Gu and tried to keep my pace up, but it became tough. By the time  I hit mile 21, I was running smack into “The Wall.”

Mile 20 – 9:24
Mile 21 – 9:38
Mile 22 – 9:58

I told myself I needed to make it to the water stop at mile 23 and then I would do something I’ve NEVER done in a race before – I would walk. Desperate times people, desperate times. I know myself. I know my body. And I knew that walking may not be a helpful thing for me because I may NEVER start running again.

I grabbed a water and Gatorade at 23 and started walking. It was a strange new experience, and I fully admit I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to walk. I wanted to run. But I just couldn’t. I hadn’t trained hard, I needed a break. And I knew I needed to do this to be able to finish at all. But it also HURT. Walking isn’t an immediate relief. It’s just a new kind of pain – maybe a little less intense – but still pretty awful. After about 1/4 of a mile, I tried to start running again, and OH LORD, that was pain.

I managed to get moving and told myself I was allowed ONE MORE walk break.

Mile 23 – 9:58
Mile 24 – 10:53

I decided to take my next break around mile 24.4. This time around, I was prepared for the pain, but again not the embarrassment and even anger I felt at myself. I know people walk in marathons. I’ve run a few, I see it happen. But I didn’t want to do it.

As I was mulling over my guilt, one of the guys handing out water said: “Great job guys. Remember, it’s totally fine to take a break right now. You just have to look good from mile 25 to the end.” I wanted to hug him. I knew he was right. I knew that in the thick of this race, out on the bike path with no spectators, it was completely my time to deal with my pain however I needed. I had every right to walk or even stop if I needed to.

I walked for a little bit longer and then decided around 24.75 I wanted to start-up again.

Mile 25 –  11:43

I started running again at mile 25 and decided that was it. I was going all the way to the end running. I had to force myself not to check my Garmin because it felt like it was taking forever. But finally, I could feel the end and knew I’d see it soon. I tried to pick up my pace and push harder.

As I rounded the last .2 miles, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief very close. And every time this happens in a marathon I want to cry. So as I passed the family and friends lining the final .1 of a mile, I fought back my tears and tried to smile. And then I was crossing the finish!!

Mile 26 – 9:40
.25 – 2:10

Final Time: 4:04:59

It was my slowest marathon so far, but I didn’t care in the least. I wasn’t fully prepared and was happy to just finish it without any injuries. Not every race is going to be your best, and not every race will allow you to prepare like you want. But I was extremely proud of my will to power through the pain and finish strong.

And I can NOT say enough thank yous to my family and friends cheering during this race. My parents were literally everywhere, and even at mile 20 when I didn’t want anymore photos and could barely crack a smile, I was still so happy to see them.

And that’s all folks – my fourth marathon is done! Hurray! 🙂

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My First Fifth Avenue Mile – Race Recap

I’ve never been a sprinter, never had much speed, never liked the pressure. And as I toed the line of the Fifth Avenue Mile start today (okay, well quite a ways back from the line really), these thoughts circled through my head and I asked myself again why I decided to sign up for this race.

Specifically, I really hate the pre-fast-race-feeling. You know it. It screams that you need to bolt out of the gate and push your hardest because this race is too short not to. Oh the pressure. And I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this as I eavesdropped on other conversations where girls talked about nerves and tightness in their legs. It leaves me asking the same question I did in high school: Who the heck wants to be a sprinter?! Not this girl!

But I tried to push those thoughts aside as I readied myself for the race ahead of me. And then it was go time. There was a slight pause at the start and it took a few seconds to get “out of the gate” but then the crowds pretty much dispersed. This was probably because I’m so OCD that I showed up to the start super early and was pretty close to the front. So all the speedy ladies around me took off.

To be fair, I wasn’t holding anyone back. I got going at a pretty good clip right from the start. I propelled myself forward by some unknown force and told myself it wouldn’t be so bad. And the first few hundred feet weren’t!

And then I think just before the half mile point my body realized how fast I was asking it to go and abruptly went into revolt. I glanced at my watch to see a 6:20 pace!! Holy crap.

Just keep going I told myself. Thankfully, there was a slight decline that helped a little. But then it was back to pain. I actually think I started to get dizzy at one point. And then I felt like I was going to pee my pants. This people, is why I’m not a sprinter.

But I didn’t pee or faint. I pressed on and finally saw the end ahead of me. I’d like to tell you that my pain faded away and I was able to really kick it in at the end.

Not so. I finished and it wasn’t pretty. My watch tells me I ran that one atrocious mile in 6:28. Fine by me. I was shooting for 7 minutes and I didn’t pee myself. All in all, I’ll call it a good race.

What about you – are you a sprinter or more of a long-run, endurance runner?

Now it’s decision time. I signed up a LONG time ago for the 18 mile tune-up tomorrow. Dare I do it? My last long run was 15 miles…3 weeks ago. It would be nice to run a long run tomorrow with water stops along the way. I could always drop out at any time – it’s not really a race…

Mmm – did I just talk myself into it?

2011 Boston Marathon Race Recap

Yes, this is the latest race recap ever, but it’s finally posted nonetheless. I always try to write my recaps right after every race, when the memories are the freshest (and rawest). But it is what it is, and this will be a recap a little bit more removed.

I’m going to spare you all the race day lead-up stuff, except to say that I ran and traveled with my friend Lauren and the poor girl did a lot of traveling to get to Boston. But we were together for a lot of it, so that made it better. I will say that we stayed at The Boston Park Plaza and the location was extremely convenient. I got a great deal on Hotwire, so no complaints about the price either (although I did book the room back in May 2009!).

So anyway – we did the whole expo thing the day before and checked out some of the swag, but we were kind of tired. So we bailed early, relaxed at the hotel and then had a nice pasta dinner with some friends. Riding the jam-packed T was an experience that I’d like to soon forget, but I digress.

Anyway – on to race day! It just so happened that our old running coach (not officially our coach, but he helped out the team A LOT) from high school was staying in our hotel two doors away from us! Well, he offered to give us a ride to the start so we wouldn’t have to take the buses at the crack of dawn. Obviously, we accepted this generous offer, and so we got to sleep in a little bit. But still, it was an early morning.

We were up and took care of all our pre-race activities (you know the drill) and then we met up with Jerry (coach). We hopped in the car and away we went to the starting line. We headed straight to the start instead of the Athlete’s Village because we weren’t getting there super early and didn’t need to wait around for hours. We went right to the start area and were thrilled that we got to see the professional men and women start their race. They started a solid half hour before all of us “regular” runners.

As this was going on, Lauren and I were doing some last minute fueling with Gatorade and Gu Chomps. But we cut ourselves off early enough to hit the porta potties by the starting line one last time before line-up.

And then slowly, all the other waves began to line up and my nerves really started kicking in. I was supposed to be in one of the waves before Lauren, but I decided to just start in her Wave and corral so we could run together. As they called our wave to the starting area, we began shedding our “throw-away clothes.” I was rocking a nice Christmas sweater, previously purchase for an ugly holiday sweater party, so I had no qualms about tossing it in the bag. Plus, I read beforehand that all the clothes that are left behind are gathered and donated to the needy. I’m very glad they do that.

So in we went to our corral and started walking up the hill (yes, there is a hill you have to go up to get to the actual starting line) to reach the start. And once we crossed the line, we were officially running The Boston Marathon!!

My first thought during the first mile – “This is  mayhem!!” We were shoulder-to-shoulder and could barely move. There was no way to manuever around anyone, we were just traveling as one large mass. At times, Lauren and I were squished together or pulled apart by the crowd. It was crazy, but there were also SO many people cheering for us on the sidelines. It was so invigorating to have so much support. The first few miles were a little frustrating for me because it felt a little claustrophobic, but our times were pretty good:

Mile 1 – 8:43
Mile 2 – 8:27
Mile 3 – 8:07
Mile 4 – 7:59

However, after that fourth mile, Lauren told me to slow it down. Apparently, that is something which is hard for me to do during the first part of a marathon. I tried, but my speed just kept inching back up.

Mile 5 – 8:18
Mile 6 – 8:16
Mile 7 – 8:10
Mile 8 – 8:25
Mile 9 – 8:20

Just before Mile 10, Lauren told me that she was not feeling good at all and that we needed to really slow down. A few seconds later, we heard people screaming our names and turned to see Lauren’s two sisters and families on the sidelines. They had said they would be closer to mile 12-13, so we were not expecting to see them for a while. We all hopped around and said hello and then we took off again.

But things were not going well for Lauren–she was in pain and it wasn’t easing up.  We started slowing our pace a bit.

Mile 10 – 8:38
Mile 11 – 8:46
Mile 12 – 8:33
Mile 13 – 8:59

By the time we reached the half marathon point, she was not a happy camper. She said something to the effect of “I can’t believe we’re only half way and I feel this bad.” I felt really bad for her because we all know that feeling of pain and the dread of all the miles ahead of you. We continued to slow and I continued to try to help her to push through it.

And while that was going, I was continuing to marvel at the crowds. The Wellesley College girls were absolutely roaring by the time we ran by. It was the loudest screaming I had ever heard in my life. And for a solid 8-10 miles of the race, we must have been near someone who had “Vegas” written on their shirt because that’s all we heard was “Let’s go Vegas, Come on Vegas.” I tried to find the person, but couldn’t spot him/her anywhere around us.

Mile 14 – 8:51

Just after mile 14, Lauren said she had to go to the bathroom. In our previous races, we took water or Gatorade every two miles after about the 4th mile, but in this race we seemed to be taking water almost every mile, which I think was a little too much. We ran about another half mile and then she spotted a porta-potty and I stood off the side waiting.

Mile 15 – 9:40

After she came out, we started running again. But no long after she started experiencing a tight pain in the back of her leg. Finally, she told me that she was going to have to stop. I thought about it for a minute and realized that if I stopped again, I might not start back up. I was feeling some pain and wasn’t sure I could continue running once I took another break. I felt awful and did not want to leave Lauren. But in races sometimes, there comes a point where you and your running buddy have to make that decision. She told me she would be fine and to go. I decided that continuing on was my only option.

Mile 16 – 8:37
Mile 17 – 9:43

I said goodbye to Lauren, we made a plan for where to meet-up afterwards, I wished her good luck and I kept running. I felt awful as I left her behind, but I knew that I had to press on.

I was a little lonely running it alone, but the crowds around me were amazing. They really kept me going.

Mile 18 – 9:24
Mile 19 – 8:41
Mile 20 – 9:11

Once I hit Mile 20, I knew that there were supposed to be some major hills coming up, so I prepared myself. We started to incline and I pushed myself a little hard.

Mile 21 – 9:33
Mile 22 – 9:09
Mile 23 – 8:56

And then just like, I was passing Boston College and seeing  a sign that said it was all down-hill from there. I was so confused. The big hills I had been dreading weren’t that big at all. They were more like rolling hills . I guess having done my training in runs in Central Park on those rolling hills really paid off. I was thrilled that the homestretch was ahead of me. Just three more miles.

Mile 24 – 9:25

By the last two miles, my feet were on fire, I could feel a gigantic blister on my toe and my legs were heavy and dragging. But then as we got closer into the city, the crowds became even more intense if that is possible. It was so awesome. I looked around and took it all in.

Mile 25 – 9:19

As I got closer to the finish, I noticed that if I pushed just a bit, I could make it in under 4 hours. So I pushed and pushed ahead.

Mile 26 – 9:03
.43 (I ran it a little longer) – 3:40

For a grand finish of: 3:53:08!!

Hurray!! I ran the Boston Marathon and finished in under 4 hours! It was such an amazing feeling to finish that race. I can’t even explain it. I immediately called my husband (I had my phone around my waist in my SpiBelt) to tell him the good news. I also told him about Lauren. He was checking our status online and kept refreshing the screen until he finally saw that Lauren finished as well! I felt so relieved.

I made it through the thousands of people, got some food and snacks and then headed to our hotel to our meeting spot. After we took a quick shower at the hotel, we were then on our way back to the train station to head out. I limped my way to the station (I had an utterly nasty blister), and proceeded to eat an entire Snickers bar Lauren gave me. We made our way onto the train and back to NYC, and FINALLY up to my apartment where we crashed HARD.

All in all, it was an amazing race. The hype is well-deserved. Having only run smallish marathons in the past, the Boston Marathon was completely overwhelming and exciting and something that I will NEVER forget. I doubt I’ll ever make it back there, now that the qualifying times are changing. But that’s alright with me. Once was enough-it was a run I will cherish forever.

NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon Recap

Let me start by describing this race in one word: freezing! When I woke up at 6:15 this morning and checked the weather, I knew it was going to be a tough race. The temperature was hovering around 14 degrees and it was only supposed to climb to about 17 degrees by the end of the race.

While this sounds absolutely ridiculous to most people, I had run 12 miles in less the 5 degrees the weekend before, so I knew that a) it was not impossible to run in 15 degrees and b) it wouldn’t be too painful if I dressed appropriately.

Running attire for the race: my Sugoi arctic tights (these thing are freaking fantastic and I highly recommend them to any and all winter runners), compression socks (first time wearing them), Nike base layer, Under Armour long-sleeved shirt and then another long-sleeved zip-up over top, gloves, a hat and a neck warmer. Again – can not stress what a major help the neck warmer is. I pinned it to my hat again and it covered my face and mouth for the majority of the race.

I left the apartment around 7:30 and got to my corral just as they were shutting them up. I hopped in the back and jumped around a bit, waiting for the start.

Finally the race began and I started out at about an 8:27 pace. I started to pick things up in the next two miles and then, true to form, I went up and down in pace throughout the race. Those rolling hills in the park really mess with my pace.

I had a few tough spots during the race. Around mile 5-6, I felt a little dejected by the amount of miles I  had left and my legs felt heavy. After passing the mile 6 marker I had a burst of energy that carried me for a bit. But, by the time I hit around mile 9 at the very north part of the loop and I knew that the huge north hill was coming my way, I experienced some major fatigue. I made it up the hill, but watched as almost everyone passed me. It was kind of disheartening.

After making it up the last major hill, I gained a little momentum back. However then miles 10-12 happened and it hurt. I slowed down quite a bit. As I was reaching the 12 mile mark I started to pick it up again and was able to run the last mile faster than the previous few.

I finished and looked down to see icicles/frost/snow on the tips of my gloves, as well as some tiny icicles on my eyelashes. I grabbed two gatorades and then ran a cool-down home. It was FREEZING! Once my pace slowed and I was jogging, I felt the cold chilling me to the bone.

My official time was 1:49:12 (my time last year was 1:49:17). Here are my splits:

I got home, stretched a little, rolled out my legs, hopped in the shower and then headed to Yorkville Creperie for some well-deserved crepes with Kelly.

We recapped our respective races and tried to warm up over some delicious crepes and coffee. I had the country crepe with banana, strawberry and nutella. It was delicious and I ate it in about 15 seconds.

And now I plan to watch Easy A and relax for the rest of the night.

How has your weekend been? Did you brave the cold for a run?

Back from the Boilermaker!

Good morning – happy Monday! I’m trying to think positively here. How was everyone’s weekend?

I was a little mia for a bit at the end of last week and then we had a super busy weekend, so posting was not at the top of my list. Some of my weekend activities:

  • Finally going to see Eclipse with two of my girlfriends. I liked it soo much better than the first two movies and am looking forward to the next one already. I’m a sucker for cheesy movies.
  • Had a nice pasta dinner with Lauren before our Sunday race.
  • Dealt with some work stress over the weekend, but managed to get done what I needed to.
  • Ran my 6th Boilermaker 15k in Utica, N.Y. on Sunday morning!
  • Had a nice family BBQ at the in-law’s house after the race.

So those were the highlights of my weekend! What were the highlights of yours?

As far as the Boilermaker goes, I did not set a PR 😦 , but it wasn’t my worst time either. I ran it in 1:17:12. Last year I ran it in 1:17:03. I’m happy with that time considering I didn’t really train as well as I could have and hit a major running slump after the marathon in May.  

So how was the race overall? It was fun, but tough. Last year when I ran this race, I had started marathon training a few weeks before and I think I was in a little better shape. This year, we started in a faster corral (thank goodness) and didn’t have to weave in and out of people as much. Here are my stats from the race:

Mile 1 – 8:13
Mile 2 – 8:15
Mile 3 – 8:22
Mile 4 – 8:43
Mile 5 – 7:39
Mile 6 – 7:50
Mile 7 – 8:38
Mile 8 – 7:59
Mile 9 – 8:32
.40 – 2:59

Total mileage – 9.40 miles in 1:17:13. Average pace 8:12 minute mile

It was pretty cool to run this race with a Garmin for the first time. In the past, I really didn’t have much clue what my splits were. Mile 3 -4 is definitely tough for me – it’s at a golf course and there is a big, huge, long hill that we run up for most of that mile. Ugh. I’m glad that is over.

But overall, this is such a fun race. The whole town comes out to cheer you on, there is music, tons of water stations, and even a popsicle station. It’s a good time and I highly recommend this race. Plus, it’s the biggest 15k in the U.S.! This year was even the largest in the history of the race – over 13,000 people! Anyway – if you’re even slightly intrigued, you should check it out.

We were having so much fun that we didn’t end up leaving the in-law’s place upstate until about 7:15 p.m. and get home until after 11!! That meant that bedtime didn’t happen until about midnight. That is super late for me. So, I’m pretty tired today and have a dentist appointment – not a good Monday.

Hope you all have a great Monday though!! I do have a NYC restaurant review that I need to post – hopefully tomorrow!

Father’s Day 5-Mile Prostate Cancer Race Recap

Good afternoon all – happy Sunday and Happy Father’s Day! Love you Daddy!

How is your father’s day going? Mine started bright and early this morning with a race in Central Park – The Father’s Day Prostate Cancer 5-mile Run. The last time I ran a 5-mile race was in early January and the race conditioners were 100% different than today. The race started at 8:30 a.m. and in all honesty, I wish it had started a lot earlier. The heat and humidity were intolerable! Here was my race-day appearance.


It was already 80 degrees by the time I headed out of the house. I jogged to the start, hit the porta-potty and found my corral. As I stood in the corral waiting for the start, I began to think that this wasn’t going to be my best race. And I was right.

The race began and already I felt like I was struggling. We headed north along the West Drive and man did that first mile take forever. I kept checking my Garmin and being amazed by how little I had run. We hit the first mile marker and I managed to pick it up a bit from mile 1 to mile 2, but it hurt.

I struggled up all the hills and my breathing was a lot more labored than usual. Plus, choosing to wear a hat to shield my eyes also ended up making me hotter, I think. As we reached the third mile marker I hit up the fluid station for a much-needed guzzle of water.

From mile three to mile four I struggled again and watched the mileage slowly tick by on my watch. Finally we hit mile four and I knew there was only one to go, but man was I feeling it. The heat, the humidity, the crowd – it was all taking its toll.

Finally I spotted the finish area up ahead, but it was really a struggle to get to the end. I did not kick it in like usual – I basically threw myself over the finish in pure exhaustion. Here are my stats:

Mile 1 – 7:59
Mile 2 – 7:40
Mile 3 – 8:07
Mile 4 – 7:59
Mile 5 – 7:58

Total mileage: 5.06 miles in 40:12

So technically, this was a PR for me at this distance, but I ran the 10k in April much, much faster – so I’m not totally satisfied with these results. However, I have no one to blame by myself. Since the Pocono Marathon in May, I’ve enjoyed quite a running hiatus, so I am not in great shape right now. I’ve got some major work to do before the Boilermaker 15k in July.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

Pocono Run for the Red Marathon Recap

Happy Monday – I have the day off today! And boy do I need it after the race yesterday. I am extremely happy that I qualified for the Boston Marathon, but it was not an easy race by any means.

Saturday

We headed up to the host hotel on Saturday afternoon and got in around 3:00. We checked in and then hit up the expo to pick up my racing bib, etc. The expo was small, but it was helpful. One of the race coordinators was giving an in-depth overview of the course and what we could expect the next day. He reiterated what I’d already read online – the course has a lot of downhill in the beginning, so remember to pace yourself. He also briefed us on a few uphills on the second part of the course, which I was dreading.

After the expo we went to a local outlet we passed as we arrived for a bit and then stopped at CVS for water, gatorade, snacks and contact solution stuff I forgot. Once we got back to the hotel it was just about time for dinner. We spent a few minutes enjoying the view from our balcony. It was a gorgeous setting. There was actually a wedding happening at the host hotel that night as well, so we watched as the bridal party took some photos.

Gorgeous view…

The pasta party started at 5:30 p.m. and was what was to be expected: salad, bread, penne pasta and spaghetti sauce, as well as dessert. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was free for me and only $7 for Hubby, so understandably generic. We piled our plates and settled at a table. A few minutes later a brother and sister running pair joined our table and we started talking BQ-plans and dreams. We strategized, talked about our previous marathons and then wished each other good luck a little while later as we all headed to our rooms to try to get some sleep.

I laid out all my gear the night before, as well as my morning food and drinks. Around 9:00 p.m. I headed to bed. Hubby decided to head down to the hotel bar to give me some time to get to sleep and to have a few brews to help him get to sleep. After he left, I proceeded to lay in bed wide awake. I’ve never experienced such nerves or had such a hard time sleeping before a race – even my first marathon! I tried counting, I tried switching positions, covers on and covers off, but nothing worked. When Hubby got back to our room at midnight I was wide awake and told him so. He proceeded to hop into bed and fall asleep within 10 minutes. I tossed and turned and think I may have finally dozed off around 12:45 – 1:00 a.m. Not good!

Sunday – Race Day

I woke up Sunday morning exactly one minute before my alarm was set to go off. Anxious much?! I got up and started my pre-race routine. I don’t particularly enjoy getting ready for a race in a hotel room. I’m not usually comfortable or feeling my normal self, and especially not after such little sleep.

At 6:30 a.m. I headed downstairs to wait for the bus to the start. I ran into the brother and sister team from the night before and they shared with me their get-sleep tip: they split a Benadryl pill and slept soundly. Genius! Mental note to give that one a try if I face sleep issues again. We all hopped on the bus and began to head to the start when Louie (the brother) realized he didn’t have his timing chip! As he ran off the bus, two other girls realized they didn’t have theirs either and they went sprinting to find them. So after a slightly delayed start we were off.

We got to the Clear Run Elementary School and I headed straight to the bathroom. Then I grabbed a race-provided trash bag to put my long-sleeved shirt in for transport to the finish. Finally,  I hit the ladies room one more time before heading outside. The temps were a little chilly for standing still, but perfect for running. We all lined up at the start and I could kind of hear the National Anthem and then all of a sudden we were off!

From the course overview the previous day, I knew the race wasn’t completely downhill from the start. From about mile 1 – 8 we ran through rolling minor hills. Around mile 4 there was a loop where the leading runners ran by. Then we moved up a slight hill. I was moving at a pretty good clip, but was nervous to hold back too much. I knew this wasn’t the “downhill” section by any means, so I tried to maintain a comfortable pace that was still pretty strong.

Mile 1 – 7:53
Mile 2 – 7:55
Mile 3 – 7:49
Mile 4 – 8:03
Mile 5 – 8:05
Mile 6 – 7:56
Mile 7 – 8:02
Mile 8 – 8:09

Starting at mile 4 or so, I took water or Gatorade at every stop, which was just about every two miles. As we hit mile 8, one of the spectators or course managers said: “Ok guys, it’s downhill from here for a while. Just settle in and cruise.”

And then the downhill began and this guy was not kidding. It was all down hill for quite a few miles. I tried to use it as much as possible, but kept telling myself to “use it, but don’t lose it.” I didn’t want to go crazy and really kill my legs on the downhill by just letting completely loose. From after mile 8 – 13 we went all downhill all the time.

Mile 9 – 7:44
Mile 10 – 8:02
Mile 11 – 8:09
Mile 12 – 8:04
Mile 13 – 8:06

My pace for mile 9 was a little too fast, so I decided to scale back a bit. I also took a Gu between mile 11 and 12. When I crossed the halfway mark I was pretty floored to see that my half marathon time was a PR! The clock said around 1:45:30 I think. This made me a little nervous – I knew I was going really fast.

A few minutes later I was very glad I took that Gu because miles 14 and 15 were rolling hills and my pace slowed a bit.

Mile 14 – 8:11
Mile 15 – 8:13

As I got past mile 15, my adrenaline began to pump because I knew that Hubby was likely going to be at mile 16. That was the only spot that I was able to give him directions for. My pace picked up and I started looking around as we neared the spectator spot.

I heard Hubby cheering me on before  I even saw him and started grinning like a fool. (me in the blue tank top)

And then I started waving…

Doesn’t the guy with the number 664 bib kind of look like an older Steve Carrell?

Sorry – sidetracked. Anyway – I saw Hubby and was all giddy and he told me he was on the phone with my best friend and she was cheering me on. YAY! I was so excited I sped up a bit. So I checked my Garmin…

Mile 16 – 8:00

I was feeling good, but that was short-lived. My next mile was my first taste of the dead legs that were to come.

Mile 17 – 8:28

And then there was a lovely and much-appreciated downhill.

Mile 18 – 7:47

But that little spurt was just a tease because then came the hills. They weren’t huge hills, but they were hills just the same and they were tough. I didn’t walk at all, but I was moving slower and I watched helplessly as my split times crept up.

Mile 19 – 8:56
Mile 20 – 8:43
Mile 21 – 9:00

And then after mile 21 things went bad pretty quickly. Call it the wall if you want, I called it the end. The end of my BQ hopes. As I watched my splits get slower I began to prepare myself for the fact that I probably wasn’t going to qualify. I was just moving too slow. There was no way. And then I told myself that this was probably good. I didn’t want to run another marathon anyway – I completely forgot how awful I feel after mile 21. This was a good reminder and was reinforcing the fact that I am not cut out for a BQ. I decided I just didn’t have it in me.

So after this little non-pep-talk, I decided that it would be good enough if I could just finish the race and try to finish without walking.  Although at the worst moments I wondered how bad it would really feel to not finish (I decided it would feel really bad), but thankfully I pushed on.

With my non-BQ pace acceptance, I struggled to just put one foot in front of the other. I decided once I got to mile 24, things wouldn’t be so bad.

Mile 22 – 9:25
Mile 23 – 9:29
Mile 24 – 9:32

As I hit mile 24 and saw that 9:32, I also looked at my pace band on my wrist and saw that I was actually a little bit ahead of the pace for a BQ. I didn’t quite understand how this could be, given my sluggish times, but I figured my surprising speed during the first half must have really built a cushion for me.

So this is when I decided that maybe, just maybe, I had a little something left in me. I started trying to push a little harder. As I’m working to build back up some speed, who do I spot and hear cheering for me just before mile 25? Hubby!! He was along Main Street cheering like crazy and I definitely needed it. I start to push a little harder.

Mile 25 – 9:04

I hit mile 25 and knew there was 0nly 1.2 miles left and that I can certainly finish, but if I maintained my speed, a BQ might still be in sight. I push on and on, for what feels like forever and finally I see a school up ahead. I know that this finish is around a school track. Pushing hard, I finally hit mile 26…

Mile 26 – 9:01

And then there is .2 to go. We had to run around the track and I could see the finish, but there was still more to go. Miraculously, my Garmin says I just hit 3:38 and there is a slim chance that I could sneak in under 3:40! I start sprinting – or at least try. It feels more like a slow-motion sprint, but I give it a shot nonetheless. I push and I push and I push and finally I cross the line:

3:39:35!! (official chip time)

I did it! I qualified for Boston. I cut things pretty close, but I finished under 3:40.

In all honesty, this is not how I pictured running this race or qualifying for Boston. I wanted a nice even 8:10-8:15 pace the entire way, but this marathon was not built like that, in my opinion. I think it’s inevitable that you will run this race much faster in the first half. This was a hard race – it was fast – but it was really hard. Compared to my first marathon, I think I gave more of myself and exerted a lot more energy.

I’m still shocked that I actually qualified based on my splits. I was fully prepared to accept that I wasn’t going to get my BQ. But I am beyond thrilled that I did it and that I’m heading to Boston next April. I hope to maybe even meet up with some of the amazing running bloggers I read regularly. And now I have to cheer on my best friend Lauren as she tries to get her BQ in October at the Bay State Marathon!!

Thank you to everyone who supported me, encouraged me and made me believe I could do it! And thanks again to my husband for coming to the Poconos with me and cheering me on. I did it!!!