Boston Marathon 2018 Race Report

Hard to believe it’s been nearly a decade since I last ran the Boston marathon. But last year when Meredith mentioned that the race date fell on her 40th birthday, it seemed as good a reason as ever to make the pilgrimmage back to this marathoner’s mecca.

I qualified at the Jack and Jill race last July, with a nice big buffer for my age group (the joy of aging up?!?).

Training for Boston was … negligible. The Tahoe Triple took a lot out of me last October, and then my training never really got back on track as Sara and I made plans and moved up to Canada in early 2018. I’ve struggled with a lot of knee pain, specifically, and there was a TON of snow up here when we got here! Sure, I managed a nice 26.2 long run with my Mom in AZ in February, but apart from that I don’t think I’d run over 12 miles since October!

Thankfully, a few weeks ago I started to go to a chiropractor here and it has seriously changed my life!ย  My posture is better and he has even done some work to correct my weird inward-facing left foot, as well as work on the popliteus muscle behind my knees. Knee pain is gone!

 

Still, if I can do three marathons in three days at altitude in Tahoe, I knew I could do Boston. Plus, as Meredith reminded me via text, this is a bonus marathon. The hard part is getting there, and then you have nothing to prove.

This sentiment was even more appreciated as the weather forecast came up: 20-30mph winds and rain. Yuck! I declared on facebook that I was expecting that to slow me down a good 15 minutes.

 

Still, it was Boston, which is always special! Sara and I flew down Friday (there are direct flights from Ottawa! Amazing!), and went for a nice run through Cambridge on Saturday. I hadn’t realized we couldn’t check gear backs in Hopkinton, so we bought some throwaway clothes at Goodwill. I bought a ridiculous pajama nightgown thing I figured would keep me warm before we started running. We enjoyed a relaxing day before meeting Meredith, Dave and Anderson at the expo. We then all grabbed dinner together. It was fun to catch up (the last time we saw each other was after the Pikes Peak Ascent a few years ago).

Yes, I ran a marathon in this!

Yes, I ran a marathon in this!

One thing I’d seen at the Expo were magnets for holding your bib in place without pins, and I decided that would be good for the race so I didn’t make holes in my AMAZING ULTIMATE DIRECTION ULTRA JACKETย . I have worn this thing almost every run since we moved to Canada, since it’s wind- and water-proof. So Sunday morning we ran back to the expo (1.5 miles) so I could pick it up, and I also ended up getting a RooSport pouch to carry my phone. I used to have a flipbelt, but hate how it always rode up.ย  We bought a box of Honey Stinger waffles too before remembering we had to run back home carrying all this stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

The last big trip was to the Nike store. I’ve read a ton about the shoes they developed for the Breaking2 initiative and wanted to see the models they’ve released for the public. I tried on theย  Zoom Fly and was pleasantly surprised at how good they felt. They did feel like they were offering forward momentum, like a Newton except without the lugs. Funny to think that I bought my first pair of Newtons the last time I ran Boston, way back in 2009.. but suffice to say, I have a pair of Zoom Fly waiting to be taken out on their maiden voyage now ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, race day. The bus system is SO much better than it used to be: Meredith and I were in the third wave, which meant we were to take the bus to Hopkinton between 8-8:45. We’d leave the Athletes’ village at 10:05 for a 10:50 start, so there weren’t hours and hours to wait in Hopkinton. Good thing because there was torrential rain, and you couldn’t check a gear back from Hopkinton. Meredith had been prepared and brought throw-away shoes, socks, pants and a sweatshirt. I definitely didn’t…

Our airbnb was about 1.5 miles from the bus loading zone, so Sara and I jogged there. I had on my injinji compression toesocks, hokas, capris, a long-sleeved shirt, my fleece nightgown, a buff and my UD jacket. I’d bought some gardening gloves at 7-11 the day before but they were soaked by the time we met the Gordons to get on the bus!

The bus ride itself was uneventful, but it gave Meredith and I some good catching-up time. Hard to believe we’ve known each other for over 13 years!

Athlete’s Village was basically a mudpit. Ugh. I had thought I’d take off the fleece nightgown to run, but there was really no good way to do tha without getting wet under my jacket. So, I decided to just run in it! I fiddled with my phone, headphones and RooSport a bit before the race – definitely didn’t need to be trying to figure all this out on race day, which it was raining (we were huddled under a giant tent, but it was still wet and cold).

Onto the Race!

First few miles of Boston are downhill, and of course you’re caught up in the energy of the crowd. I had qualified with a 3:29 but knew there was no way I was going to run anywhere near that for this race. Still, my first mile ticked by with an 8:45.

I hadn’t thought about how my headphones were going to work with my fleece nightgown, so in the second mile my headphones came loose. I was trying to fix them and re-arrange my phone, when I dropped my credit card. Then I took my phone out and tried to put it in the inside pocket of my jacket.. and it fell out completely! Apparently my inside pocket isn’t a pocket??!?!? I kept going awkwardly until I realized I no longer had my credit card. Crap! I turned back to look for it (thankfully I’d been on the edge of the course and could turn and go backwards without being too distracting to the sea of runners behind me).ย  One runner asked if I was looking for a credit card, and directed me backwards to a specific spot. Thank goodness! Anyway, that was the third mile. Ooof.

M1: 8:45
M2: 9:44
M3: 10:34
M4: 8:38
M5: 9:10
M6: 8:53
M7: 8:58

After the credit card-phone mishap, I was pleasantly surprised how the next 5K went. I knew that I shouldn’t expect to keep up sub-9 min miles for the whole race – I didn’t necessarily have the endurance, and those darned Newton Hills – but it was doable.

Once upon a time, I used to tell myself that everything should feel completely effortless until mile 8.ย  In this race, this may have been when the rain and wind picked up. But I’ll admit to a point where I was thinking that I didn’t need to be out here. I have nothing to prove. Thankfully, knowing Sara was out there in the rain, and she’d be excited to be there for me while I ran (and finished…) the Boston marathon kept me going. It’s not that I couldn’t do it.. I just wasn’t particularly enjoying it. I definitely flirted with the idea of calling and Uber ๐Ÿ˜›

M8: 9:41
M9: 9:13
M10: 9:45
M11: 9:19
M12: 9:37
M13: 9:26 – given the conditions and the credit card mishap, I was pretty ok with a half time of 2:04!
M14: 9:57

How ridiculous is this???

So whether or not it was a great choice, I had been listening to an audiobook about the Golden State Killer. Yeah… now that I reflect on it, definitely not the most uplifting thing to read about while running in poor weather… but all of a sudden during mile 15, the audiobook stopped. Huh? I saw a portapotty up ahead (with no line!) and jumped in.ย  My phone had turned off. I turned it back on. Battery at 1%. Well crap! I had planned on using this phone to meet up with Sara at the end! Ah well. Couldn’t worry about that now. I took out my headphones and got back on the course.

 

I apparently also stopped my watch at this time. [Amateur]. But that just meant I didn’t have anything to try to do mental math off of. Which was ok with me!

M15: 14:52
M16: 9:45

Then came the Newton Hills. They actually didn’t seem too bad, perhaps since I’d been running relatively conservatively for the first part of the race.

M17: 10:16
M18: 10:03
M19: 10:58

Are they done? I can’t never remember where the hills end, and this year the inflatable wall wasn’t on the top of the last hill.

M20: 10:04
M21: 10:41 – did a quick reset of my watch to get it back onto the mile markers

Ok, by mile 21 I know they’re done. Sweet! Only 5 more downhill miles til the finish! And my quads are definitely not trashed like they’ve been in past years… though looking at my pace, it wasn’t like I picked it up a ton. I just didn’t feel like I was on a death march..

M22: 9:50

At this point I ran past some spectators holding a sign that said “Women’s Winner: Desi”. I stopped and turned back to ask them “Are you serious???” They said yes, and that gave me a huge grin and somewhat of a spring in my step as I continued.

M23: 10:10
M24: 10:10
M25: 10:03
M26: 9:54

Where did the last .2 go? No idea.. right after the portapotty, I guess??

Overall official time: 4:19:08, for an average pace of 9:53.

It felt great to run down Boylston. I was amazed at how many spectators there were during this weather! I crossed the line, and wandered through the chute. I felt ok, though of course it got cold once I had slowed to a walk. Grabbed a food bag and made my way to the exit. I was trying to figure out how best to meet Sara. I had thought I’d try to turn my phone on and text her to come find me, but before I could do that, she ran up. She’d seen me in the final stretch and tracked me though the chute. Thank goodness!! I was so grateful for her tenacity!

We grabbed the train back to our airbnb where I had a fantastic hot shower and marvelled at the fact that I didn’t seem to be chafed anywhere (that came later). Not my best, but not my worst. The time was within my expected window of 4:15 – 4:30 given the conditions, and that’s without the credit card and dying-phone mishaps!

So of course, I’m already chomping at the bit wondering how I’d do if I actually got back to training! I have the Marine Corps Marathon this fall (Yes!! I got in!!!), but I sorta doubt I’ll be able to wait that long. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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