2016 Boston Marathon: Celebrating a Breakthrough Cycle

Monday was my third Boston and the 14th marathon finish line I’ve crossed. It was the most prepared and in shape I have ever been before even though the results don’t necessarily show that.

I finished in 3:25:53. I positive split like a champ. 1:33:17 through the half. And 1:52:xx the 2nd half.

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Of course I am disappointed. I didn’t bust my butt for months to run 13+ min slower than I did in the fall. But, some days, you’ve got it. And some days you don’t. And there’s no way to plan it so that you race on the days you have it.

But like I have said the last few weeks – this training cycle was a huge success – regardless of what the finish line clock says when I cross it – and I still believe that to be true. It was truly a breakthrough cycle for me and I’m grateful and excited for what I was able to do the last few months. And regardless of anything else, it’s a pretty darn good day when I can finish a marathon!

I plan to do a full recap later this week. My husband, mom and I returned home almost immediately after the race (I went back to hotel, took a bath and then we were on the road by 3:15pm). I took off on Tuesday but I stayed off my computer and social media and spent the day with my little guys – lunch, Barnes & Noble, basketball and soccer in yard and then dinner. So no time has been spent writing down my thoughts yet.

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I am disappointed but I’m also relieved. I’m thrilled that I was able to run on Monday – and that I was able to finish. A small group of family and friends knew that Monday almost didn’t happen for me. Starting early last week, I began feeling off – not sick per-say – just that something wasn’t right. There was some nausea, stomach pain, splitting headaches, achiness and restless nights of sleep – not all at once but a little here and there.

I spent most of the rest of the week grasping for straws – trying to pinpoint what could be the cause and what I would need to do to feel like myself. For several days, I attributed it to lack of sleep, so I focused on sleep (skipped a few runs and slept in). Then I thought maaaaaybe I could be pregnant. So Thursday morning, I ran to the drugstore and took the test in my work bathroom. Negative. Then I assumed it was dehydration – so I started increasing my water intake (even more than I normally do during race week).

But then I woke up Sunday morning with swollen fingers, a headache and nausea. This is when panic was starting to set in. This was day 5 of feeling not-right and I was 24 hours removed from the Boston Marathon. After chatting with my sister and brother-in-law, we thought it could be seasonal allergies. I don’t have allergies nor have I ever suffered from them, so I had no idea what the symptoms are. Made a run to the store to buy some Claritin to see if that helped the situation.

Shortly after that, I had the thought that maybe I was actually overhydrated – I had drank about 90 oz of water in a 3 hour window the day before. So maybe that coupled with a huge decrease in running (b/c of how I felt all week) could have been too much for my body? Sure, why not? So rather than drink a ton of water/fluids on Sunday, I sipped on Powerade and Generation Ucan mixed with water.

I spent a large part of Sunday in bed – trying to fight off whatever I was feeling. And went to bed not knowing whether or not I would even race on Monday. I was devastated. But it was so much bigger than the race at that point. I had no idea what was causing me to feel the way I did. And it was a completely helpless feeling.

I woke up Monday and felt a bit better and knew that I couldn’t pass up the chance to run. It was the freakin Boston Marathon. No way was I going to sit out. I wanted to take a chance and run. To fight for the work I had put in.

I won’t go into details about the race here. Suffice to say, I went out fast, too fast given the heat and how I was feeling. But, my sense of perception was off because of how I felt. I didn’t know if it seemed so warm because of how I was feeling. Or that the pace felt too forced because of how I had felt the previous few days. So I decided to just go for it.

I never felt good. It never felt comfortable or relaxed. And I didn’t really enjoy myself. And that is what is the most frustrating thing. I love the course. I love the crowds. And I felt like I missed out on the experience.

I visited a wellness nurse’s office yesterday. Walked her through my symptoms and steps I took to remedy how I felt. She sent me for a ton of labwork – we are hoping to pinpoint what could have caused how I felt last week and race morning. Will definitely keep you updated on things. It may end up not being anything – maybe stress from work (busiest and most stressful week of work yet), hormones, nerves (I really don’t think it was this – I was so incredibly calm for most of the week). Combination of a lot of things? Will definitely share what I find out – regardless of what it is.

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For all those that cheered – whether in person or from afar – and those who volunteered on Sunday, a huge thank you! I heard every cheer and scream – and appreciate every single one. I’m completely overwhelmed with the emails, comments and messages I have received. Like I said earlier, I am disappointed. Of course I am. But, looking at the big picture, I know I will run a faster marathon. I know I haven’t reached my potential. And I know I will rest, recover and eventually be ready to have another successful cycle. It’s just one race. This cycle showed me what I am capable of – and that is a very exciting thing! :)

And for everyone who raced on Monday – congratulations! It was a hot, tough day and we finished – so that, alone, is worth celebrating!

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    23 thoughts on “2016 Boston Marathon: Celebrating a Breakthrough Cycle

    1. Praying for answers to whats going on. You are always an inspiration and an amazing athlete in my book. The race is just one day but your training enhaces your running for a lifetime! Heal up soon!

    2. Congrats on finishing the race and having an incredible training cycle! Your training has been absolutely inspiring and impressive, and I know you have some very fast times to come for you. I hope you find out what’s been making you sick and feel better soon.

    3. I hope nothing is wrong!! oy what bad timing too with the symptoms. It seems as though a lot of people I know who ran the boston marathon had the same experience. I knew that I was trained for a 3:30-3:33- I had my best training cycle yet as well and ran the NYC half in march in a 2.5 minute PR and was feeling great. I started out boston hitting my paces boom boom boom perfectly. then around the half way point somewhere you see my splits drop ALOT. I tried to fight it for a bit and then realized I had gone out too fast. I felt so tired and started cramping in my legs….like right above my knees…think stabbing pain everytime you push down haha. around 30K i actually walked….which i never do. I was beating myself up in my head and also, not enjoying the experience. I was thinking how could you screw this up? this is your 10th marathon, 2nd boston, you know how to race properly, you ARE trained for that time, but now you are letting yourself down and everyone else who is following you. and then I realized that boston was much more than that. I had also raised 10,000 for the melanoma foundation and have been a huge advocate for it over the past months. I made a difference and people werent looking at my times they ewre just proud of me for doing what i did. and so am I. right then and there i turned off my watch and decided to enjoy the show. saw my parents at like mile 20 and stopped for a photo and all. walked a ton. I had to. pain was too much. I was pretty shocked i finished in 3:50…..i was thinking more like 4:30 in my head haha I had no idea where i was. definitely the worst marthon ive ever run. I learned alot from it though and was happy that i was able to come to grips during it and smile.

      i figured….hey- this makes us stronger. Im going to get my PR….im going to get it because of all the work i put in for boston and for all the work ill continue to put in. and getting through a day like monday, well that makes us all tough warriors, doesnt it? haha
      Christina Ponzio recently posted..NYC Half Marathon 2016My Profile

    4. I must echo what Shannon said: “one thing I know for sure is, an arrow can not propel itself forward without being pulled back first. Prepare to launch!” and I believe your perspective on things is spot on. Disappointment is natural. But, choosing to focus on the amazing training cycle you had shows your strength. Money in the bank for the next cycle. The marathon is such a tricky event. All the stars must align for the perfect 26.2 mile race and if it’s a doozy one must recover adequately before jumping back into it…marathoners are tough. You inspire my socks off! Hope you figure out what’s plagued your body. Hugs!
      Jess @ run pink recently posted..Marathon Monday: WK 15 I Quit RunningMy Profile

    5. Congrats on finishing! I too ran and had a terrible day, finishing 27 minutes over my goal. I was well prepared to run my goal, but the heat and dry wind won. I hope to be back to Boston someday and get the race that I had hoped for. I’ll wear my jacket with pride for hanging on and finishing. I’ve enjoyed following your training and will be excited to see what you do next. Keep pushing! You’re very inspiring!

    6. It was a hot, tough race on Monday (I ended up running Boston 30 minutes slower than I had planned!!) and despite these factors you ran a great race overall! Congratulations!! I completely understand your disappointment, but hope that it fuels the fire. I know that you just finished this race, but I know you have it in you to PR in another race soon. You are incredible! Best of luck, and I look forward to reading the full recap.

    7. Congratulations on running like a true champ! I was following along online and knew something must’ve happened but was so happy to see you finish it through!! That takes so much more strength than anything. I am so sorry you had to deal with not feeling so great leading up to the race – that must be so frustrating. I hope you get the right care and recovery you need and feel better soon!

    8. Congratulations on so much amazingness!!!! You had such an amazing training cycle while working full time and raising two young boys and two cute dogs. That alone gives you super woman status in my book :). Then to run that race after such a rough week and not feeling well and still running an amazing time is something to be super proud of. These races are tough, but I remind myself that I am doing what I love and that is what matters, not the time on the clock on 1 particular day. I remind myself of all the blessings in my life that are far more important then how fast I am running :). Rest up and I am praying you get results and can feel better :).
      Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..A Big Step of Faith that Led us to Florida!!!My Profile

    9. Congratulations on finishing! I admire you so much for how hard you train and you always leave it all out there. You inspire me so much with your determination and fitting in a tough training schedule with your family and work. I can’t believe you managed to finish (with a time faster than I’ll ever manage) with being sick and the weather conditions. You should be very proud, and I hope you’re feeling better soon!
      Gretchen recently posted..Bullet Journal 101My Profile

    10. Congratulations on the finish! My experience was so similar to yours, particularly your lines “I never felt good. It never felt comfortable or relaxed”. I finished in 3:31:49 – and was shooting for 3:15 after the best training cycle I have ever had. I hope you start feeling better and thank you for giving me a new way to look at Monday’s race.
      Amy S recently posted..The Time That Wasn’tMy Profile

    11. long time reader, first time commenter :) CONGRATULATIONS on pushing through adverse conditions on monday here in boston. between your illness and the heat and headwind, it’s incredible you had the perseverance to get to that finish line. (i only had a 5 mile run monday and my pace was way off due to the heat!) looking forward to hearing how you are feeling and i hope you are relaxing and recovering!

    12. Congratulations on an amazing and inspiring training cycle. I loved following it. It truly did inspire me and make me want to get out and become a better runner. The fact you gave it a shot Monday knowing you were not 100% shows a lot about your character. You are a great role model!! Congratulations Michelle!!

      • 100% agreed — especially with the negative stories recently about how people “qualified” or “won” their races. Yuck.
        Thanks for being an inspiration and setting a great example of how to behave when things don’t go as you hoped.
        If you can, please share what you tell yourself to push through the discomfort and how you do what needs to be done.
        Congrats again. Darn nice work.

    13. Like so many, I was eagerly and excitedly following you and got worried when things didn’t seem right. We all have off days, and it totally stinks when it happens on race days! I feel for ya. I’m glad you’re getting everything checked out though and noticed some of the RX to check your thyroid. If it’s that that’s off-balance, it’ll likely be an easy fix (speaking from experience), but hopefully this was all just a fluke and not indicative of some larger underlying issue. Thinking of you! And congrats on a stellar training cycle and on another Boston :) xo
      Erin recently posted..35 by 35: A Runner’s Quest by Taryn SpatesMy Profile

    14. First a huge congratulations on finishing such a tough race despite how you were feeling. I’m so sorry it was not the race you were hoping for, but it just shows how strong you are to do as well as you did. I’m really glad I got to connect with you in the finish area! Keep on inspiring :) And congrats again!
      Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Weekly Wrap – RtR Week 6My Profile

    15. You are amazing! You just ran the worst race of your life AND re-qualified for the BOSTON marathon by A-Freaking-lot!!! I think that says a ton about your running fitness and your ability to persevere!! As always, I’ll be rooting for you during the next one as well!

    16. My heart breaks to read this! I saw you as I was walking to to bus and wanted to come say hi (but didn’t want to look like the crazy internet stalker I appeared to be at the mossman tri a few years back). I pointed you out to my husband and we chatted about your goal. I told him how on point your training had been.
      It was a rough day for many. My hubby ran 3:00 last year… he ran a 3:27 this year! Though this wasn’t an “A” race for me and we had intended I run comfortably between a 3:25 and 3:30… that pace certainly did not feel as comfortable as it should have. I was ready to tap out at mile 10! I ended up walking the hills.
      One thing I know for sure is, an arrow can not propel itself forward without being pulled back first. Prepare to launch! You’re certainly headed for amazing things with this foundation you have laid for yourself this training cycle. Be proud of your progress! You inspire many – regardless of what numbers are on a clock!

      All the best,
      Shannon

    17. Congratulations on finishing such a tough race! It’s so hard to know what the right decision is and you just have to listen to your body and do what’s best for you. I had a similar experience for the NYC marathon a few years ago I had to at least start the race, even if I wasn’t able to finish (I did). If not, I’d always wonder “what if.” Hope you are feeling better and they get it all sorted out! Congratulations again!
      Sarah @ SarahRuns26 recently posted..BalanceMy Profile

    18. So incredibly impressive that you RAN A MARATHON feeling the way you did. Most people can’t even fathom running a marathon on their best days. much less feeling the way you did. You’re a rock star!!!