Thoughts on 2018 Boston Marathon and What's Next

With almost 2 weeks of a Post-Boston Marathon high and plenty of time to think about the race from my own perspective, chat with teammates on their experience, and plan my next race I wanted to dive into what happened with the race:

Before the start:

Around 7 am the weather was in the 30s, rainy, and windy.  All weekend I had my mind set on sticking to my initial plan of 3:00-3:05 marathon.  The weather and how I felt about the weather kept getting pushed in the back of mind and tried to stay focused on how great I felt rather than how cold I felt. 

Prior to leaving for Hopkinton ( where the start is), I was lucky to find a teammate before boarding our shuttle to the start on the day of race.  We sat on the bus together and since it was both of our first time running in Boston we were equally excited, nervous, and kept the positive vibes going. It helped so much in relaxing me before the start and get back into the zone of "all the things are possible".  We stuck together in the swampy Athlete's Village until it was time to depart for our starting waves. 

For warm clothing I was wearing: two t-shirts, a vest, a fleece long sleeve, jacket, gloves, arm warmers, and long pants. I also had a poncho on to try and keep the water off of me. As starting time drew nearer, I took off my pants and poncho, so that I could just run in my shorts, and long  compression socks.  I left all of my top layers on (and would later take off the fleece long sleeve and jacket). 

It was freezing standing in just my shorts and top layers, but wanted to make sure I felt confident and could find my running rhythm right away. 

During the race:

When my wave starting gun went off I was able to fall right into my pace and just let it carry me all the way through. I was able to spot another teammate at the start and run with her for about the first 10 miles, so that helped a lot in keeping me focused on the race versus the weather. Whenever I felt like I was falling off pace I would look for her, catch up,  and we'd cheer each other on to keep going. 

The first half I tried really hard to block out all the external things going on and tap into how I was feeling. Luckily I still felt strong and kept a few other women in front of me that were on pace within sight. I was getting a little tired by mile 16, but kept fighting to stay within sight of the women ahead and push through the pace especially since I knew the hills were coming up soon.

No lie- the hills from mile 16-22 are tough and you definitely have to focus on each one individually, because if you are already anticipating the last ones  it'll mentally crumble you before you even start. Again, I kept the women ahead of me in sight and kept on pushing along side them. 

After each hill, I would re-focus on how I was feeling and find my rhythm again. I'd take this time to also say my affirmations to keep my positive thoughts coming. A few things I'd say were :

  • You are strong. You can do anything
  • You are going to finish great. You got this. 
  • One by one.
  • You have everything you need inside of you to finish this. 
  • One down, now focus on the next one.

By the time I knew it I was already at mile 23 and feeling emotionally ready to finish. To be honest, I don't really remember very much of mile 23-26. I have short recollections of seeing the Boylston signs and people yelling that I had 1 mile left. The only thing I remember is trying to really focus on moving as quickly as I could so that I could finally see the finish line. 

Once I saw that people were turning right and then left on Boylston towards the finish, I felt this huge amount of emotion of happiness and relief. Upon seeing the finish line, I just fixated on getting to it and allowing my legs to just take me along. Once I crossed, I raised my fist,had the silliest grin on my face, and felt the weight of 26.2 miles in my legs.

After the race:

I continued to walk to my medal, my rainccoat jacket, picked up a finisher bag, and made my way to gear check in to pick up my all my warm clothes and phone to call my boyfriend.  On the way, I had volunteers give me hugs and extend their help. I couldn't stop crying. I would start, recollect myself, and then start again. 

There's nothing like finish a marathon that threw everything at you: hills, rain, wind, cold temps, a cheering crowd to mentally pick you up, and finish it. Finishing is probably going to be one of the stories I tell others when I'm 70 years old while I watch the Boston Marathon (or maybe when i'm still toe-ing the start line).

For me, it was symbolic moment in my ED recovery. It was exactly and everything of what ED recovery promised me. There's no way I would have ever been able to conquer it had I never embraced this NEW and HEALTHY life. 

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Take Aways:

  1. Don't readjust your goals just because the weather is not ideal. Stick to your plan if your body feels great the day of the race and you are healthy.
  2. Prepare for the unexpected weather wise. Be smart with the cold weather temps.
  3. Don't listen to other people's negative energy. Listen to what your body feels. Sometimes nerves mean your body is ready and it's ready to release the passion you've developed for the sport. The energy you give off race day attracts what you get around you.
  4. Having a teammate to run with helps you focus the first half.
  5. If you don't have #4 find others around you and tuck in for the ride. Sometimes if hold on long enough you can find yourself in the right position.
  6. When it's cold don't neglect your energy levels. Stay fueled via your nutrition and hydration. When your body is running out of energy your mind may also be running out of energy. In order to stay focused your mind needs energy too! Double fist gels if you sometimes have to.
  7. Affirmations on heavy rotation work wonders on your energy at mile 22.
  8. If you can't feel your legs due to sever cold weather conditions- electrolytes provide comfort in knowing they will at least continue contracting and moving. 
  9. Block out what's going on externally as much as possible. What's going on externally is different from what's going on inside, even if it is still a marathon. 
  10. Have your boyfriend ready with a blanket, jacket, and lyft ready to take you back to your shower ASAP. & easily digestable protein rich foods like protein shakes or ice cream lol
  11. Continue with hill training  
  12. Focus a little more on digging deeper the last 3 miles  
  13. Some races aren't about it time or how fast we can finish especially ones like this marathon. Sometimes it's about how ready you are to race and if you have enough grit to stick with the hard stuff. 

My nutrition was another BIG thing I contribute my finishing and fighting off hypothermia to. I never missed a gel and gatorade stop. In fact, because I was so afraid of my hands getting so cold I started grabbing two at a time just so I could have enough until my next gel. Cliffbar also has gel stations out on the course and would grab 2 if I felt I needed energy and would just eat them as I went. 

What's next:

My finishing time was 3:15:03. I am very proud of this third marathon and feel satisfied with this time, given the weather conditions , however, I am still hungry for that sub 3 hour marathon. I've been taking days off and just started doing some short jogs. I'll be getting a good base down during the summer months and start cranking things up in the fall for some short races, a half marathon, and one last 2018 marathon at CIM in December. 

Cross your fingers and stick around.  The real marathon work is just getting started. 

Let's Shine,

Starla