Thursday, April 23, 2015
I have completed the Boston Marathon. I ran the 26.2 mile course from start to finish. I am proud to say that this is one of my biggest accomplishments in my life. Monday was a wonderful day. While the weather did not cooperate, the emotions of the event certainly made up for the lack of sun.
The race for me started four months ago with the start of training. But I guess, officially, it does not begin until you cross that line in Hopkinton. On Saturday, I dragged my wife and son, along with my sister-in-law to the bib pickup at the Hynes Convention Center. It was packed with racers, friends and families, there for their bibs but also the huge athlete expo. Tons of vendors, and samples and clothing for sale, but we elected to get my race stuff and get out of Dodge.
Sunday, I tried to keep a low-key day. We did a few errands around the house, and I tried to rest. My goal was to get to bed early, but falling asleep with the excitement of the next day’s events proved to be a bit tough. But after closing my eyes, I was up early ready to go. I drove into Boston, parked my car at my sister-in-law’s place, and walked to the Common. I was nervous, not because I was worried about finishing, but I wanted to make sure I would perform to the best of my potential.
The ride out to Hopkinton on the BAA buses is long. It makes you realize just how far you are about to run. When we got to the Athletes Village, it was already pretty chilly. I met up with some of the other NWH athletes at the medical tent (fitting) sponsored by NWH. I think we were all a bit nervous. The rain was on and off to this point, more like a spitting rain, never pouring. Just enough to remind you conditions were less than ideal.
When it was our turn for our wave to make it to the corral we headed out. The rain started to pick up, and I started to get a pretty good chill. I left my sweatshirt and pants on for as long as possible. Discarded clothing was to be donated to charity so I planned accordingly. Right before the start it was time to strip down to my race attire, and I was ready to go.
There is so much hype, and there is such a large mass of people, I wasn’t aware of when I was about to cross the starting line until the last minute, but then boom, there I was, actually running in the race. My first 5k split was SLOW. It was really crowded, so between bobbing and weaving around some of the slower runners, it was tough to get into a comfortable pace. But as the race went on, and opened up, my splits dropped.
I came prepared to run, I had my four packs of Gu that I had planned on consuming during the race. I also had my headphones and music, though truthfully with all of the people along the course screaming, I kept the power on my iPod turned off. The spectators along the course were great. Out there in the elements, screaming, cheering, having a great time. I just tried to soak it all in.
I felt great for the first half of the race. I was in a comfortable pace (faster than I had planned on) but I had to make up for my first 5k split. Even through the start of Wellesley, I still felt pretty strong still, and as I ran past the college and the adoring fans I felt my pace pick up a bit. But as I made it to the east side of Wellesley, I started to fatigue. But I got it together as I approached NWH as that is where my family would be watching. I kept telling myself the faster I ran, the sooner I could see them. Eventually making it to the Hospital, I looked to see friends, but it seemed like a blur with the crowd of people. I did manage to find my family across from the Hospital; I planted a kiss on my wife and kept going. Just seeing them out there in the cold, screaming for me, gave me the boost I needed to keep going.
When I made the turn onto Commonwealth Ave, I again started to get tired. But I kept kicking away. I know the hills of Newton well, so I was aware of what was ahead of me. I remember going up Heartbreak Hill at what was a snail’s pace, but I kept on moving, never walked, just kept going forward. That was my goal. I did have three very brief stops along the course where I had to ask medical staff and strangers to open up my Gu packs, as my fingers were too cold and swollen to function. But that was it for the feet stopping. Once I made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill, I knew I had made it through the toughest part of the course, and I was going to make it the rest of the way.
My pace slowed a bit through BC and Brookline as I continued to get a bit more tired. It seemed no matter how hard I wanted my legs to kick, I just couldn’t move faster. The last six miles of the race is really about mental strength just as much as physical. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking about how tough the race is, but it’s in these moments where your mind challenges you to stop, where you can tell your body to keep moving.
Towards the end of Beacon in Kenmore Square, at the 20-mile mark I got a cramp in my left thigh. It was pretty uncomfortable, and for about a quarter of a mile I was in near tears. My gait worsened, and I had a pretty bad limp. But after making it that far, there was no way I was stopping. The cramp began to improve, my stride lengthened, and I was ready to finish. I made the turn onto Hereford and the Left onto Boylston, and I saw the finish! Crowds were screaming, and I just soaked it in. As I ran down the street, I was able to see my wife and mom again and gave them a smile and a wave.
I crossed the finish line, and felt a huge sigh of relief. I felt great for about 20 seconds. Then I felt cold. Really cold. Really really cold. I couldn’t stop shaking. I got my medal, my blanket, they gave out snacks and I started to walk to our designated family meeting place. I tried to eat some bread because I felt weak, and lightheaded. It made me nauseated. I made it to my car, turned the heat on full blast, got home, took a hot shower, drank some Gatorade and felt 80 percent better. With some food I felt great.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The countdown is on. The final week is here! I can’t believe the race is almost upon us. When I look back on the past few months of training, I must say I am pretty proud of myself. I said it during my first blog post, I am not a runner. I still don’t consider myself a runner. It doesn’t come easy to me. But I still enjoy a challenge.
Preparing for this race has been an amazing experience. So many firsts. I consistently increased my mileage, well above anything I’ve run in the past. Now, I can get out and do 10 miles and it’s easy. I’ve spent more time on the treadmill than I ever have in the past. I have consumed more Gu than I ever thought I would. I have lost feeling in my toes during cold weather runs way too often. Would I do this all again? In a heartbeat.
This week is all about the taper. Low miles, a couple of pickups and plenty of stretching. I’m planning on picking up my bib and info on Saturday, and spending Sunday continuing the carb consumption and laying low. Monday WILL be a fantastic experience.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Wow! I cannot believe that the Boston Marathon is one week away. I have a million thoughts running through my mind. Did I train enough, did I train right, have I eaten right, am I going to be able to do this, I feel like I just started training, I can’t believe how many miles I have logged since January 1 (somewhere around 200), I wish this winter was better, what is the weather going to be like on Marathon Monday, and the list goes on and on. Deep breaths, deep breaths, that is what I keep telling myself.
This whole tapering thing seems odd for some reason. It just doesn’t seem right to not have to run 20 miles on a weekend day. It feels like I am almost slacking, but I know this last week with the short runs is what my body needs in order to fully recuperate and be ready for race day. I did run a 10k this weekend that was supposed to be in March and it felt great to be out in the nice sunny weather running along the course. The funny thing was it was only 6.2 miles and I had planned to use it as a relaxing run to just find my pace legs, but the competitor in me always seems to kick in. It was hard for me to stay in my pace and I actually ran it faster than I could have imagined. Not at all how I wanted to prep, but sometimes you just have to follow where your legs will take you.
I look forward to the week ahead! I can’t wait to experience the expo next weekend and do all of the touristy stuff that goes along with the Marathon. This is my first marathon and it is even more amazing that it is the Boston Marathon. I wish the best of luck to my teammates at NWH and to all of the runners hitting the course next Monday. This has been an amazing journey and I am so happy that I have been able to experience it.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
It feels so close to race day, and I know these next two weeks are going to creep by. After I finished my last 20-mile run, I was thrilled. No more high mileage jogs, no more sore knees, just easy sailing until race day. Like many things in my life, I was so wrong. I thought I was on the road to tapering, my training schedule would be a few 3 or 4 mile “light” jogs and I would ease into April 20th – unfortunately, I did not look ahead.
This past weekend, I ended up doing 15 miles. I was visiting family in NH for the holiday, so it was nice to get away from the course for a change of scenery again, but the hills were killer. Getting out on some of the more remote roads, my GPS watch failed, as did the timer on it, so I had no clue how far I had gone. When I got back to the house, I realized I was a few miles short; I headed back out to complete my last three miles. It ended up being one of those runs where I got it done, but didn’t feel like I really pushed myself. I had a hard time finding my pace on the run. I also think because I was off on my schedule last week (did my long run from the weekend on Wednesday, sprint day on Thursday and no tempo run), that coming back Saturday and putting in 15 miles was a poor decision.
In these next two weeks leading up to the race, I want to make sure I have everything straight. Eat clean, run on the scheduled days, the correct distance and pace, and focus on getting my mind straight for the big race. I am so excited about the last part of the challenge. These past few months have been really wonderful, and I am excited to see how my hard work as paid off.
So since my last 20 miler, the distance tapered a little bit. I was glad to get the chance to re-charge the batteries, and allow my knees to recuperate a bit. While I felt lousy after the long distance, on my upcoming recovery runs, I felt like I was getting my wind back. Maybe it was the nicer weather, but I felt a new zeal for getting out and putting on some miles. Then, last week I got to have a change of scenery.
My family was nice enough to join me while I went to a CME conference in St. Maarten. Our hotel was right on the water, and was in an absolute gorgeous setting. Per my training schedule I was due for another 20-mile run while on the trip, and I packed all of my supplies for a long distance run with the full intentions of accomplishing this feat. But the hills were pretty intense, as was the heat, and the most I did on any day was 5-7 miles. But man oh man, was it a gorgeous place to run. Out of our hotel, I was able to cross from the Dutch side of the island, to the French side. Then, hugging the ocean I had spectacular views for my entire jog. My runs would start at sunrise, and there was typically an early morning sprinkle before the run would start, making the roads a bit slick. The hills were so intense that literally, your feet would slide out from underneath you, so pacing was a bit slow.
When we returned, well rested, it was time to get after that second 20 mile run. After the airline found my bag, and delivered it a few days later, I was laced up, hydrated, prepared with my Gu gel and ready to go. I went east on the course, and felt wonderful. The sun was out, it was in the low 50s, and I felt especially motivated to accomplish this run. I followed the course, through Newton, up Heartbreak Hill, left at Cleveland Circle onto Beacon St, through Brookline and into Boston, got onto Boylston, and ran to the finish line. I purposely went around the finish line and did not cross it, as I want to save that for the 20th of April. Turning around, I headed back towards Newton.
I find that miles 13-17 are tough miles for me. I think the novelty of a distance run has worn out at that point, and my excitement wanes. But at 16 miles, I know the end is near, and get it back together. I really tried to focus during this last long run to keep a consistent pace, and stick with it, and by the end of the 20 miles I was happy with my time. I had shaved 10 minutes off my last 20 miler! Maybe it was I actually prepared for this one by pre-hydrating, eating smartly and getting a bit of sleep, or maybe it was just the excitement of being in gorgeous spring weather. Either way I was pleased with my time.
I had a few more workouts this week, and a quick run in addition to another 15 miles this weekend. But after that, it’s time to really taper those miles. My knees and ankles are really excited.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
When I arrived home on Monday, it felt like Christmas. Waiting for me on the kitchen table was my official Boston Marathon Passport! Words cannot describe how excited I was. Reality is now setting in; I can’t believe the Marathon is right around the corner.
It felt so good to be somewhat back to normal health. Although a cough has been lingering, I did not let it slow me down. The weekly work outs went as well as planned. I was a little short on energy while still trying to recuperate but I was still able to get out there!
The biggest accomplishment in my training so far came Sunday. I participated in the Eastern States 20 mile road race. The race took place along the scenic seacoast from Maine to Massachusetts. My fellow race buddies were participating in a half marathon that day so it was just me and the road. I was determined to make it longer than the previous week (14 miles) without walking. I am proud to say that I was able to successfully complete all 20 miles without walking! This was the farthest I have ever run in my lifetime without stopping. This race gave me the much needed confidence boost for Marathon Monday.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Four weeks to go! Yikes! I still can’t believe I am doing this! Really me, I am running the Boston Marathon! This week may go down in the books as not the best week yet. Throughout the beginning of the week I was battling a stomach bug but still managed to get a few good workouts in, but then Thursday hit and so did the cough, cold, chills and bed. Due to not feeling well I ended up taking off three days from working out, something practically unheard of for me, but I could barely breath just sitting, never mind running. Then Sunday rolled around and so did our long run. I met the other two amigos at NWH for our normal weekend long run, and a long one it was. Sunday it was 20 degrees, with 20 mile per hour winds and our goal was 20 miles. The run started out pretty good, I was struggling a little on the hills but doing fairly well for feeling like I only had half a lung. I ran past the Citgo sign and saw the actual Boston Marathon finish line for the first time in my life! These were definitely the highlights of the day, but the rest I am pretty sure I would like to forget. After about 12/14 miles my body started shutting down. The last six miles back to the car was an extreme struggle, consisting of some jogging and mostly walking. I just could not get my legs to run even if I tried. I tried running from street sign to street sign, then I went to running on the down hills and walking up hills, to eventually just running when I can and walking the rest. Although it was probably one of the worst workouts of my life, now looking back I can’t believe I did it! It may not have been pretty, but this is the most distance in anything I have ever done before in my life. I ended up completing 19.30 miles, which is about 5/6 more miles than I have ever done before. As much as I am not looking forward to doing another 20 miles this upcoming weekend, I am looking forward to attempting another 20 miles! I know I know, that must not make any sense, but I am looking forward to bettering myself and improving on my experience from Sunday! This upcoming Sunday I am competing in the Eastern States 20 miler and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes! My goal is to focus on spreading out hydration, adding in more nutrition and keeping my head held high!