2016 Boston Marathon Recap!

I don’t post here every day but I share my running and other daily happenings on instagram!

I have so much to say about the entire weekend, but will try to focus just on the race here and save the rest of the weekend for another post!

Nutrition
My nutrition stayed the same for most of the week. I tried to not deviate too much from it – so I ate the same, had popcorn and wine at night and snacked like I normally do – when I felt like it.

I started increasing carbs Friday night – pasta and a baked potato and then over Saturday and Sunday increased it a bit more (bagels as snacks, pasta for dinner Sunday evening, etc).

I also took more rest days this week than I ever have before. I talked about how I felt off in my last post – and so I tried to take as much time off and focus on sleep and nutrition so that I could feel good on race day.

But I think the increase in carbs coupled with the decrease in running made me feel really tired and lethargic as the weekend went on. I had spent 4 months of running almost every day – and I think going from that to virtually no running for 8 days was not the best decision. I’ve already made a mental note to not do either as much as I did this cycle.

Race Morning
I got up at 4:45am – had my coffee and chatted with my husband while getting ready. My stomach felt heavy and I didn’t feel great. BUT, I did feel a bit better than the day before and I was still holding out hope that I would feel better once I started running.

By 6am, I was ready to head down to the lobby to meet some of my friends. Jess and Molly were waiting in the lobby for me – and 2 minutes later, Meg walked in! We then walked over to where Elizabeth was staying…

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and then picked up Laura and Rebecca!

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This was truly the best part of the morning for me. I was with an amazing group of women for the entire morning – some of my closest friends and women I look up to in so many ways. We were together for the walk to the buses, bus ride, athlete’s village, all the way to the start. It could not have been more fun, relaxing and exactly what I needed to keep my mind off of how I felt.

The morning was seamless – from the buses to the athlete’s village, it was easy and quick.

Unfortunately, from the moment we got to the village, it seemed to get exponentially warmer. We had all brought layers of clothes – the forecast called for temps in the upper 40s in the AM, but within 15 minutes, most of us had taken our sweats off. It was warm and the sun was already strong (with not a cloud in the sky) – and it was only 9am.

Before I knew it, they called the 2nd wave and Jess, Molly and I said our goodbyes and were off. We made a quick stop at the last group of port-o-potties and then rushed to our corrals. Jess and I were both in the first corral – we squeezed in and it was 10:23 – we were starting in only 2 minutes!

There are no words to describe how grateful I was to be starting with Jess. She knew how I had been feeling and offered to run with me from start to finish if I felt off after starting. I felt so much comfort in knowing that if I felt that bad, I would have a good friend to run with.

Race Summary

Over the first couple of miles of the race, there was a battle in my mind. One part of my brain was telling me to just pull the plug on trying to race. I didn’t feel good and I wanted to enjoy as much as the race as possible.

But the other part of my mind – and my heart – told me to just give it a shot. I didn’t work my butt off for four months to throw in the towel even before it started. Maybe I would just need to run hard for a few miles before things started to feel better. Or maybe I would feel like garbage but still be able to push.

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There were a handful of tempos in training where I started off feeling tired and off. But eventually my body woke up and I nailed the paces. I remembered a particularly hard long tempo in February – I felt terrible and the paces felt hard – but I managed to hit the paces and complete the workout. There were long runs where my legs were just not responding – but I managed to get the miles in and have a successful long run.

So I knew that feeling good was not a prerequisite to a good run or race. Sometimes you don’t feel well but you suck it up and keep pushing.

And so I decided to just go for it. What’s the worst that happens? I don’t hit my time goal or PR? There’s always another race. But I didn’t want to ease up and then forever question that maybe I could have pushed harder.

So, I stuck to the race plan for as long as I could.

Looking back, I know I went out too fast. I was hitting the fast end of the paces my coach had given me. But my entire sense of perception was thrown off because of how I was feeling. I knew it was warm but I thought maybe it felt warmer to me because I didn’t feel well. The forecast called for temps in the upper 50s and so I felt it shouldn’t affect my pace. But it ended up being much, much warmer (I’ve heard it felt in the mid to upper 70s at points) and there was a crazy headwind that was worse than last year! I also realized I couldn’t race by effort. The only thing I had to go by was pace. And so that’s what I did.

I spent the first 8 or 9 miles trying to find a steady rhythm. But it felt forced and hard from the very beginning. I tried SO hard to enjoy the experience – I high-fived and smiled but it was forced, too. My mouth felt like cotton and I was barely sweating – despite feeling the heat and sun. By mile 7 or so, I had stopped sweating and had a layer of salt already caked to me.

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Miles 1-9: 7:14, 7:09, 7:03, 6:57, 7:01, 6:59, 6:56, 7:08, 7:01

By mile 10, I knew I was in trouble. My legs felt like toast and my breathing was labored and heavy. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. So I went from trying to hit paces to running as close to them as I could. Mile 10-12: 7:07, 7:11, 7:10

That lasted a few miles. By mile 13, I was in survival mode. It no longer was about running a certain time or trying to hold on to paces. I felt like garbage and truly did not believe I would be able to run another 12-13 miles.  Miles 13-16: 7:12, 7:16, 7:38, 7:36

The heaviness in my stomach turned to nausea and I began to feel dizzy. This was when I pulled the plug on racing. Between the lack of sweating, salt loss, nausea and unexplained off-ness I had felt for over a week, I was freaking myself out over what could be going on. So the next medical tent I found, I walked in and sat down. They gave me three cups – salt, water, and ice. I mixed the water and salt and drank it and put the ice in my sports bra. Between my normal temperature and lack of visible signs of overheating, the nurse gave me the green light to continue.

But I had decided to quit. I had no desire to get back up and run another 10 miles. Zero. I asked to borrow a phone to call my husband, but was told that it would be tough for him to get to me. Next I asked about where I needed to go to get taken to the finish – I was told that it would be a long wait until that happened.

I knew that if I had to sit there for 30+ minutes and watch runners go by, I would regret not getting back up. This is THE Boston Marathon. So I decided to give it another shot. My next goal was to get to the next medical tent.

Mile 17: 14:09 (includes ~7 min stop in med tent)

I ran for the next 3 or so miles before feeling like I needed to walk, so I went through the water point to catch my breath and then started running again. Ran until I saw Chris at the base of heartbreak hill. Stopped shortly to get a hug and update briefly on the morning and then continue up the hill.

The last 10 miles were spent just counting down. First 5ks then miles then minutes – until it was over. 3:25:53 after it started, it was over. And I was so thankful.

Miles 18-26.2: 7:54, 7:50, 8:04, 9:03, 8:30, 7:56, 8:25, 7:47, 8:44, 2:55 (.40 – 7:06 pace)

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—–

As I said last week, I’m obviously disappointed with the way the race went. This was the first race where I was confident in my ability, my goals and my approach to the race. And I felt ready to have a breakthrough race that matched the break through training cycle I had had. But, I know that race is still out there – it will still happen to me because I’ve put in the work (and will again). And it will make that race that much sweeter.

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In the days since the race, I’ve gotten some blood work and some results have come back. I’m hoping to go in and sit down and discuss them all with my wellness doctor sometime this week. More to come on that.

I think one of the biggest issues I had was lack of sleep. I spent some time this weekend going over my sleep stats from my Garmin connect. (Note: I know that it’s not the most accurate way to track sleep since it often shows me as sleeping even when I’m awake in bed – but it does give me an idea of how much sleep I got). First I looked at February and March. On average, I was getting around 7+ hours of sleep at night + 15-20 min naps to/from work. So pretty close to 8 hours. When I look at my sleep for the two weeks before Boston, it’s a different story. Most nights are around 6 hours. And it wasn’t good solid – broken sleep with lots of awake periods.

The two weeks before Boston coincided with two really crazy weeks in my life. Two weeks out, my husband was in Africa for 9 days. So later nights and earlier mornings to ensure everything was getting done. And the two weeks prior to Boston were my busiest and most stressful so far at work – and I think the stress from work came home with me and affected my sleep.

Regardless, it’s at least something for me to work on and pay more attention to for my next goal race. I’m annoyed with myself for becoming almost complacent with the amount of sleep I was giving my body. I spent 3+ months being so defensive about my sleep and then found myself staying up late and watching TV in the week or two before the race.

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I enjoyed not running or doing much of anything for the better part of last week. Went for a slow run on Saturday and Sunday followed by more rest and a run this AM. I still don’t feel “right” but am hoping that getting into early morning running again will help (my body and mind need a routine!).

I have some shorter races on the calendar over the next couple of months but other than that, I am planning to take it easier for a bit. My mind, body, heart and especially my family – need a bit of break from heavy-duty training and mileage for a bit.

Hope you are having a great week!

 

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    9 thoughts on “2016 Boston Marathon Recap!

    1. Well done on your race and pushing through to finish. It’s so hard to do that on days where you feel off and in a marathon, the finish can seem like a very long way to go so you can be proud of yourself for getting to the finish & seeing it through to the end. Don’t forget too that you had some seriously impressive runs in this training cycle so lots to be happy with. Hope you feel better soon :)
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    2. Congrats again Michele on a really inspiring training cycle! I wish Boston had gone differently for you (and so many others!!)- the heat is not something to mess with, and it sounds like you were feeling a little off going into the race as well. But as you said, anytime you run the Boston marathon it’s a win! Rest up well and you’ll be back and stronger than ever. :)

    3. Wow- such an awesome job pushing through and finishing, Michele! I know it wasn’t the time you had trained for, but that is still an impressive finish time! Especially with your stops!!! You are such a strong person, and I’ve really enjoyed following your training. You’re an inspiration to me- being a working mom and training like you do! I hope you enjoy your more “relaxed” training, and I hope that everything is okay with your lab work!

    4. All of this sounds so familiar! Stress and lack of sleep were huge factors for me. I’m so proud that you finished, so much determination! Xoxo

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    6. Michele you had an amazing training cycle and I know you’re right when you say that race is still out there. I’m sorry this one was so tough! It is amazing that you ran the time you did given how you felt – a huge congrats to you for not giving up and digging deep. You continue to inspire me!
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    7. You had an amazing training cycle and I’ve enjoyed following this journey. I’m so sorry things did not go well race week or race morning. I’ve been there and there is nothing harder than finishing a marathon when goal pace is out the window and there are still so many miles to go. (My last marathon was this way.) Boston is a tough course to not start that fast with the initial net downhill. When I ran Boston it was not quite that warm. Weather is a huge factor. HUGE congrats for putting yourself back out there and finishing. Sometimes I think those are the races we learn the most from- not the ones when everything goes as planned. I hope you are feeling recovered physically and mentally after this experience. Marathons always take so much out of me in every way. I hope your recovery goes well. Hugs!!

    8. So much to say about this!
      First of all: CONGRATS! I know 3:25 is definitely not what you trained for but, after stopping at a medical tent and given the way you were feeling, that is seriously impressive. I heard that many people ran much slower that their PR/goal time and that did not include a medical tent-stop. SO what you did was still HUGE!
      The weather: I have to say, what saved me is that last year in NJ I felt so dizzy towards the end when it was just 55F that, after seeing it was supposed to be high 50s-low 60s, I still did everything that I could the days before and the day of to prevent what happened last year. Most people, on the other hand, rightfully thought they would be fine because these temps, although not ideal, are still not high enough to adjust your goals (considering the dew point was low). Well, too bad temps ended up being in the 70s somehow… nobody expected that. And you are right about the head wind… I especially felt it on Hearth Break.
      Sickness: I believe there was a virus going around. I, for once, started feeling under the weather on Friday (throat and ear ache) and that got worse on Saturday. Luckily, by Sunday I felt much better. However, I have two friends of mine who showed up at the start line with the same exact symptoms. Running a marathon is already a challenge… Running a marathon when you are sick makes it an even bigger one. Bad timing for sure.
      Lastly… I’m SO proud of you! I remember you saying that in the past you were a strong runner but not a strong racer, that when your Garmin would start showing paces slower than your goal pace you’d authomatically give up mentally… You certainly did NOT do that in Boston. When things got tough, you had no choice but adjusting your pace (which was really smart given the way you were feeling). You did not give up and you fought until the end, dizziness and all. That is a huge win in my books!
      And I agree: “I know that race is still out there – it will still happen to me because I’ve put in the work (and will again). And it will make that race that much sweeter.” THIS x100!