Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Race report: Boston Marathon

 image from Boston Globe

All day, people have been asking me "how did it go?" and my reply has been "awful."

It wasn't that my performance was awful, or that I'm not happy with my time and my huge accomplishment of running the Boston Marathon. I've never had a bad race. I've never hated running so much.  I've never been so tempted to quit in my life. "It was so hard" was what I said the first time I saw my parents at the finish line. My Dad's reply was "of course it was."

I'll start with the bad, and then end up raving about how great the event was in my next post. It was clearly meticulously planned, the crowd support was insanely amazing, and I've never been a part of such a big running event!

First, it was a tough journey to the start. Not the whole qualifying stuff, the hotel shuttle line, to the bus line, to the bus ride, to the race start, to the porta-potty line (wow I had to pee), and then finally getting to my start corral. While walking I actually thought the words "I really don't feel like running today." NOT what you want to be thinking at the start of the Boston Marathon!

I had to start talking myself through the race at Mile Three. That is unheard of in my books. I thought the 5k sign was the five mile sign. I always spend the first three miles of my run just adapting, so I thought I just needed to get into my groove. I tried to put as little effort into the run as possible. I just pushed forward and let gravity do its work.

At Mile 8 I really started to feel it. I felt just tired and my legs felt dead. My hips were hurting already but I just focused on keeping my pace up. I was waiting for my runner's high, an endorphin rush, my usual adrenaline rush, a second wave... anything! But nothing! I knew I was in trouble and I was really getting to the point where I was not enjoying myself at all.

I'm surprised I kept my pace up. At half-marathon I was around 1:40 and that's pretty surprising. I was holding on to hope and just waiting for the downhills to end. My quads really started cramping. This got unbearable at Mile 14. The song "Eat you up" came onto my iPod and I felt like it was the course serenading my quads. And I still had 12 miles to go.

Miles 15-19 are a blur. I kept my pace under 8:00 until Mile 16--don't know how I did that. I was actually ready for the hills at Newton because I wanted to get off the downhills. My quads were screaming. My energy was at zero. I hit "the wall," which pissed me off, damn it! I liked to think I didn't have one! The last water stop at 19, I finished my water off to the side and just stood there. A girl in the crowd told me "Six miles to go! Keep going!" and I remembered that this whole marathon-thing started with a 6 mile run in 2006, and so I started running again, choking to keep tears down, and focused on making every mile.

Seven more miles after reaching that point of exhaustion is awful. Just no fun at all. I tried reminding myself so many times that I love doing this. I'm a runner. I love running. I actually seriously doubted that I could finish the race. But, I had a jacket, hoodie, and a t-shirt I wanted to wear with pride. I knew every mile I pushed myself would come back to make me stronger and better during the-race-that-shall-not-be-named. I stopped drinking water because I knew if I stopped I wouldn't start again.

I kept up my pace pretty well until Mile 23. And every time my watch beeped, I was surprised to see my pace. How was I doing this?! A toenail started bothering me and once heartbreak hill passed and we had all downhill running to go, I was reduced to a mix of running and limping. My quads were dead and my foot was killing me. Every mile after 22 was hard as hell. It was hard to have the strong happy runners passing me because I've always been one of those! I hated the weak finish, and yet I was proud of every mile marker I passed because I was working so hard to get there.

At Mile 25, I was able to pick it up for a moment, until being reduced back to my shuffle. But hell, when I turned to see the finish line, my quads were fresh feeling and I took off. I ran as hard as I could and I've never been so proud to cross a finish line. And, I reached my real goal: I gave it all I had. By the time I finally made it to the space blankets I was shivering and choking down tears again. I was spent. Getting that finishers medal felt amazing--I don't think its ever meant to me as much as it did today. I've never thought that I might not finish a race before.

A few months ago, I doubted I could run a marathon by mid-April. I had to work through an injury and rebuild my miles again while taking it easy on my legs. I ran 32 miles two weeks ago and a marathon two weeks before that. My taper included getting so sick, I couldn't run for a week. Hell, I did freakin awesome under the circumstances! I ran the Boston Marathon today! My goal for the past 9 months! I'd rather give birth than do it again, but I finished, I never stopped running and I worked through a lot of pain. I feel great about the race, no matter how awful it was (that's my word for the day).

Thanks to everyone who inspired me, who supported me, and the overwhelming amount of texts, e-mails, and twitter shout-outs yesterday meant more than you could ever imagine. And thanks to my parents who made it out to see me run! They were right by the finish line and got to see the elite men finish--how cool is that!?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This is it!

Two days away from the Boston Marathon.

In the week leading up to MCM, I was insane with anxiety. But, I realized that it was just another long run and only step one to my actual goal: Boston 2010.

It's really hard to believe that its here. There are very few things that I've worked this long for at 22 years old. Its hard to remember running the Baltimore Half Marathon in Fall 2008, and hitting that 8:00 pace and realizing that if I worked hard, maybe I could qualify for Boston--something I never imagined I would do. I thought about trying the Spring of 2009, but decided to wait until MCM in October.  In May 2009 I started training, and found that 8:00 pace hard.

Marathons are all about the training. Every runner sees the actual race as the Victory Lap--the 26.2 mile run that tops 500-1,000 miles of training. And on Monday, I feel like its finally my victory lap. After two marathons, countless long runs, three injuries, and 11 months of training, this is it! This is the big one! This has been my goal since May of last year. Its been my computer screen background, my phone background, my motivation for every run, swim, spin and strength workout. The reason I didn't go out so many Saturday nights; why I got nothing but cold running gear for Christmas; and why, for some reason, my race pace has gone from 8:23 min/mi to 7:17 min/mi. I've learned how to challenge my body, to stop underestimating it, and that its possible to overwork it. I actually started to take running seriously.

I've been sick all week, but finally recovering from a bad head cold. And no matter what happens on Monday, no matter what time shows up on the clock--I made it. I set a goal for myself and I got there. And really, that's all the matters. The finish line has been my phone background for 9 months now, and I can't wait to cross it.

Good luck to all the other runners on Monday. I'm bib # 9546 if anyone wants to track me online or by text/e-mail.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Playlist necessities

I'm not going to post my Boston Marathon playlist, since there are way too many embarrassing songs. But for anyone looking for some new additions or ideas, or need a power song, here are some playlist necessities:

I Made it Kevin Rudolf- when just getting to the start line was a huge accomplishment
Its My Time Fabulous- LOVE THIS SONG
Sexy Bitch David Guetta- "they say she needs to slow down, the baddest thing around town"
Living on a Prayer Bon Jovi- At 13.1... ooohhh we're halfway there
You can do it Ice Cube- ...put yo ass into it. This is my hill song.
Eat you up BoA- a new find today and I think I like it...
The War Angels&Airwaves- I love the "why won't you tell me that its almost over" at mile 20 or so...
Halo/Walking on Sunshine Glee cast- This is my fav song to come onto my playlist mid-run. Its just so upbeat and happy! The walking on sunshine part is just perfect for reminding me that I love running. I swear if you put it on you'll get a solid two minutes of awesome running in with a smile on your face!
Baby Got Back Sir Mixalot- No explanation needed.
Remember the Name Fort Minor- Best pump-up song
Run this Town Jay-Z, Rhianna, and Kanye- Again, no explanation needed when "run" is in the song
Don't go Breaking my Heart Elton John- for right before I should be hitting heartbreak hill
Heartbreaker Mariah Carey- for Heartbreak hill
Lose Yourself Eminem- gets me all competitive feeling
Move Along All-American Rejects- Got me through mile 23 at MCM
Alice Avril Lavigne- Great song for the end of the race
Bombs Over Baghdad Outkast- Once, I held <6:00 pace to this whole song. Its magical. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How to catch a runner

Step one: find a trail
Step two: leave behind a tangled, near invisible fishing line
Step three: watch as they run, get caught in it, and not realize its wrapped around their legs until they fall over.


Last weekend (yeah, this is a little late), on a beautiful Spring day, I wanted to spend a lot of time outside. I planned on a 20 mile trail run, and then running back to my place if I felt like it.

First, I was running along on a trail (in the "woods") and turn to find a giant, black and gray, super-hairy, huge (did I say giant yet?) dog. Alone, just standing on the trail. I honestly thought it was a wolf. There was no one else around. So, I stood completely still and for a good 20 seconds, was scared to death. I was in between climbing a tree and jumping into the Potomac, when the dog's owners finally turned the corner.

Then, the fishing line accident happened. And, I discovered why I only ran 4 miles an hour last week, as I actually watched my splits, they went: 8:53, 10:57, 13:42, 27:16. One mile in nearly 1/2 hour!! There is a ton of rock climbing and its just not runnable. This time I got stuck behind a family and they weren't very speedy. It was annoying since I was on the clock.

I really like trail running, except I get lost every 10 minutes and it totally kills my rhythm. But, its ok when that leads me to hot boys who can give me directions (twice). The Potomac Heritage trail is really confusing and at one point goes through a neighborhood.  I got lost, gave up, turned around and hit the C&O Canal towpath after 9 miles on the trails.

The towpath was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and I finally got into a great rhythm. Thing is, I ran out of water, and luckily there was a park with Gatorade, and I chugged 1/2, poured the rest into my fuel pack. I had made corn tortillas with black beans for the run, and was glad to see how well my body handled food.

So, I kept running, and running, and realized at mile 14 I ought to turn around and head home. Then, on my way home, I decided to do a lap around Haine's Point to see the Cherry Blossoms. At mile 28 my feet finally started to hurt, but I was still 3-4 miles from home. I walked through the massive amount of tourists for 1/2 mile and then ran home, giving me about 32 miles in 5:48!!

This is what happens when you threaten me with a taper!

In light of all this, and after finding trail running friends to convince me, I moved up to the 50 mile run in June! So excited! And, I'm really looking forward to the Boston Marathon--11 days away! I'm taking it easyish this week and then next week I'll rest more. I decided to try and PR at Boston. If I die out at mile 20, then I die out. The goal is to have fun and not be able to walk the next morning :)