2 Marathons in 2 weeks | Race Recap
I hope you enjoyed the first installment with the highs and lows of training for such an undertaking. Even if I was training for just one of those marathons, it still is often fraught with such dips and mountain-top experiences. It's the nature of the beast - in a manner of speaking. You take on a marathon or any race distance, as a challenge to yourself. Not the "How bad do you want it?" mindset - that usually puts me off and I say, "Not as bad as that other person!". Instead, a personal "you can do this" and "why not me?" approach. It tends to spill over into the rest of your life too. However, I digress. Let's get to it!
After the stormy weather of Boston 2018, we packed for all eventualities. Well, maybe not the lightening that was predicted even up to a day before the event. How do you prepare for that? Practice making yourself really small? Check, please!
So I got on my flight to Boston and was ready for cold weather.
My first run in Boston on the Thursday before the race was a speed session. I knew this was not aimed towards the race in Boston but for London as it takes about 2 weeks minimum to reap the fitness benefits of any workout. So I ran my warm-up and got into it. In one easy jogging interval, I ran up alongside a gentleman who was out for his run but was in Boston on business. Business that would mean he would fly out before the race! He had run Boston before himself so he wished me Godspeed as I headed off to my next speed interval. Yes, I am that person who will chat with other runners mid-run. Running makes us even more human and lets us grow together as a race. At least, I feel that way. What do I know?!
Next up, meeting up with Jaimie and friends (read: other crazy ultrarunners who were using Boston as training for the 56-mile uphill Comrades Marathon in May)! We picked went to see the sights of Boston (the Ducks on the Common who were good for sitting and posing on) and then we picked up our numbers. More posing ensued!
We had a tight schedule to leave the Expo (which thankfully was on Boylston this year). After grabbing our numbers, T-shirts and goodie bags, from which we swapped out products we didn't want (No thank you, Ensure!).
A summary of the next two days:
I went back to the Expo on Saturday morning with my friend, Eliot who arrived from Chicago, went for 2 more shakeout runs (with Altra and McKirdytrained runners, respectively), met my Coach, Heather McKirdy for some last minute course and race plan advice and a Tina Muir (elite runner and Podcast host) meet and greet at Tracksmith running shop. Finally, I relaxed ready for the race. Oh and I ate, quite a bit of food!
Boston 2019 | Race Day!
Bright and early on race morning, I pscyched myself up whilst nibbling my food and getting ready (see above pictures). The Marathon Glitter was applied (best carnival on legs!) and I was layered up and ready to go. At the hotel reception, I asked for some see-through bin bags to wear over myself for extra protection from the rain. I had my little bag of food and my racing trainers in hand.
I wore my first pair of marathoning trainers (Nike Zoom Fly I believe) and was ready to donate them at the starting area.
As I walked in the pouring rain - yes, Boston, raining again - I joined the steadily growing crowd of folks headed to Boston Common for the Race shuttle buses to the start. After a spot of security checking and dodging ever-growing puddles of water, we were on a queue for a bus and promptly on it!
I chatted to the gentleman beside me as we headed off to the start line in Hopkinton. I can't tell you what it was about because I cannot recall. Such is the nature of race morning nerves!
All too soon, we were there. We disembarked and about-turned to head back up to Hopkinton. Even before getting though the gates of the starting camp, we had to do more puddle dodging!
As soon as we had made our way inside, I clocked the porter potties and made a beeline for them. There was so much mud down-hill to those toilets. Oh well, needs must!
I was lucky thereafter, to walk further in and find the Clif bar tents and a seat with a blanket to hide under. I sat tight and cosy! Of course, I grabbed more freebie Clif blocs! I love those things for fuel on the go!
Expect the unexpected with Boston - the rain stopped just before the race began!
I changed shoes and put my original pair of Marathon shoes (Nike Zoom Fly?) on the heap of things to be donated as we walked to our start pens. It is about a mile walk down to the starting line so another - nervous - bathroom break was had. As we walked further down, trying to do a few drills on the way (no space for strides), we saw folks from the earlier start rushing down the side as one of the buses had dropped them off LATE at the wrong end of the starting area! The horror! Oh well, they got a warm up sprint!
After shimmying my way into my starting pen, we were soon off!
This year, I had a different set of instructions from my (new and awesome ) Coach, Heather McKirdy! She planned a negative split race allowing me to go gently at the start (no downhill sprints) and to ignore my watch on the Newton Hills from Mile 16.
I also got to carry a water bottle with my electrolytes in it! Yes. Almost like an elite! lol! I even had Maurten 320 in the bottle - just like Eliud! (ha ha).
As we started running, I would still grab a cup of water but mainly to dunk on my head after a quick sip and thank you to the volunteers. However, within a couple of miles, I noticed something a bit worrying. The cold water I'd tasted moments before would feel hot on the back of my neck when I poured it through my hair! Oh no, it was humid and warm. I made a note to keep sipping and dunking water on my head.
By 10 miles in, my neck felt cooler with the water dunking. Phew, crisis averted. I didn't toss away my bottle until around mile 10 (plan was to throw it away around 15km so not bad).
I kept running within myself, waving and even managed a few high-fives with the ladies of Wellesley College at mile 12! Read a sign saying "Kiss me!" and I quipped, "Let's stay friends!" I was feeling good.
Past halfway, I kept gently pushing, keeping my pace a bit faster for this 10km portion of the race but also avoiding surging. I manually lapped my watch for the race so imagine my surprise to realise I hadn't noted the mile 16 sign as suddenly there was mile 17 on the right hand side of the road. I knew it felt hilly! The sun was out int full force by this point. The water, gel and dunking plan continued.
As the hills wore on from mile 16-21, I glanced down at my watch to see a pace slower than the 8:10/mile I hoped for this bit. Oh well, ignore it and keep moving. I noticed a man in front who's T-shirt prompted us to praise God. So I did. I sang a few songs on the hills of Boston, guys!
After mile 21 and that Heartbreak Hill (which felt longer in the heat this year), I was ready to rumble downhill. Except I knew it was still rolling up and down to the finish.
Somehow, I kept pushing and managed to see 7:20 - 7:30 pace as I cruised towards the CitGo sign! Who dis? Lola! I also winked at a guy in the last mile along Commonwealth Avenue (I think?) and he gasped and said to the person next to him, "she winked at me!"
It was time for that final couple of turns, right on Hereford, left on Boylston.
As I went up yet another incline (why) on Hereford, I told myself to give the last stretch everything I had left.
I picked up speed gradually as I approached the finish and looked up to see that I wasn't in for a PB. It was a course PB by 16 mins though!
Finished in 3 hours 27 mins and change (come on, I'm too lazy to check now).
Afterthoughts on Boston: finish line and beyond!
After the race, I quickly found a volunteer to take a couple of pictures of me and my shiny new medal. I felt my butt spasming as I stood holding the pose. As I took a couple more steps to get my foil hood, my feet felt like there were in a vice!
I took of my racing shoes and gently staggered back the block to my hotel (with a lift inside, thankfully). Would you believe that Boston is the only race so far that makes me smile at the medical people with empty wheelchairs: hoping they'll offer me a lift? Yes, I've run 50km and 100km races and run 116km in 24 hours and still not felt like that anywhere else. Those hills!
As I crossed the last street towards my hotel, I spotted another lady holding her running shoes in hand and hobbling gently along. We gave each other an understanding nod.
As soon as I was showered, I was planning to eat all the food, see my baby cousin (it was her birthday!) and looking towards recovery for London Marathon.
Don't worry, I did the customary shuffle around town the next day. I actually walked the entire Freedom Train in Boston (yes, there were some steps involved) and got my medal engraved for free. I also got my new Boston Goodr glasses laser-etched with my finish time in that time before heading home to the UK that evening. Yes, nothing by halves here!
London 2019... 13 days later!
Recovery from Boston!
For my recovery, I had 2 days of NO Running. I did 15 mins of yoga each night as usual.
Then on the third day, I ran! I ran for 30 whole minutes initially. On the Thursday and Friday, I ran 30 mins. I then had a day off before another 30 minute run. By the second run, my legs were much lighter and faster (running Sub-8 minute pace without meaning to)!
I basically had a day or two of running, then a day of rest for that 13 day period. My legs felt so fresh!
I must admit, I've always found that after a hard distance run, my legs spring back faster. The super-compensation, I guess.
My awesome, Coach gave me a race plan in the last couple of nights before London. I was so ready for the victory lap in my hometown!
Race Day: Good-For-Age Start!
This was a new thing for me. We had a different start for men and women qualified with Good-For-Age running times. After catching the train nice and early, and following the crowd to our starts on Blackheath, I started getting my bags ready for my drop-off. A female marshal said hello and said, "finally, a woman!".
Just like that, I looked around and realised I was surrounded by men! lol!
I changed to my shorts (stripped off as inconspicuously as possible) and dropped my bag before I joined a porta-potty queue. I had waited a few minutes before another female marshal came up to me and told me I didn't have to queue. There was a separate set of toilets for the women. Yassss!
So I walked over to these 3 empty porta potties - yes, so few women - and picked one! lol!
As I came out, another lady joined me and offered me her spare black bin bag to keep me warm. Yep, I always forget one. I thankfully accepted and went off to do my warm up. I did less than a mile of 10-minute plus pace to get warmer.
I then got into the corral and squeezed past so many men until I found my new friend to start with. lol! We got close to the start and kept warm among all these bodies.
Soon, it was time to go!
Guess what my race plan was? DON'T Go faster than 8:15 pace for the first 5K, then no faster than 8:10 for the next 5K, then no faster than 7:55 until halfway. If I felt good, go down to 7:40s. Be prepared to feel like your legs are full of concrete at some point, so give yourself grace and back off the pace.
I'm a good girl! I followed the plan. I ran the paces and the crowds after the 3rd of so mile, helped. There was a downhill in mile 2-3 which Coach had warned me about, I let people pass me and I slowed a lot to not go over the top!
I did have some GI issues - darn it! At mile 11 and mile 18 (yes, I had to look back at my splits to see this), I ran to the porta-potty. I had to ask the marshal at mile 18 as it was obscured by the crowd! Yes, I can't handle a chilli pasta sauce the night before a marathon! And it seemed every time I came out of a potty break, another member of my club would be on the course. I did what anyone would do to allay suspicion: cheer them on and run away!
Rookie move, Lola!
However, my legs felt great for the WHOLE race. I ran over Tower Bridge and yelled across the road to my running club buddies to "Make some noise, CHASERS!". They loved it. Then I focused on running to keep the pace between 8:05 and the high 7s. It was so good! I got to mile 22.5 and snuck up on my club mates on the right side of the road to cheer! They were like, "How did she get us?"
I remember at times thinking of my other team mates who had started in the Championship start (that's you, Lauren) and sending up a prayer that she had an great race. Spoiler alert, she SMASHED it!
I came by another male team member who was struggling but tried to (gently?) urge him on as we were in the final mile!
And so, I ran. I ran for my life! And I even got a yell from the sidelines of the Embankment by none other than the Marathon Marcus himself! Whoop whoop!
The whole course was like a homecoming. especially since most of my training had been in and around Chester and Merseyside. I really felt so glad to be back home!
After London....thought on the Double!
After the race, I did my customary "Strike a pose and grin like mad!" without the Boston ouchies in my shoes or behind!
Then I jogged (yes, jogged) to the bag reclaim van (mine was furthest away) and got suited up!
After a quick journey home (which feels like forever but is in fact 10-15 minutes) and a shower, I headed back out with my medal to a pub in Kentish Town to meet with my running club!
All the runners of the day were welcomed as conquering heroes!
A cheer and a drink was given! Sweet sweet victory!
And before you ask, I am signed up for both marathons for 2020 now. They are 6 days apart next year. I can't wait to see what these legs and lungs can do.
Ps: I have not run a marathon this Autumn/Winter. It has been a focus on 10Ks and half-marathon instead. So yes, a quiet little winter it has been. lol!
Hope you enjoyed the long awaited recap, all.
Later, Ladies and Gents.
I'm Lola - a hair obsessed doctor who stumbled into running long distances and baking all the cupcakes.
I blog about life, running and of course, hair! I'm an Altra "Team Red" Sponsored Athlete, so I will do the occasional running shoe or gadget review.
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I do not own the copyright to all the pictures so I will credit the source, where that is the case.