Train. Execute. Conquer. Easier said than done. 2018’s Boston Marathon goes into the record books as being one of the toughest races for runners to endure. Yep, it was. No lie.
I trained 20 weeks for this race once again shooting for that elusive 3:30 finish I so desperately wanted.
I knew heading into it, I didn’t feel strong enough to maintain an 8:00 minute pace unless by some grace of God, my feet grew wings. Even so, I was still hopeful especially since I decided to take it easy the week before the race and let my legs recover from the last few weeks of difficult training.
But about a week before, as I was beginning to peek at the weather conditions for the day, and I began to worry. It went from temperatures in the 30’s to windy, to snow to heavy rain. Ugh. Who could deal with that for 26 miles?
Surely something would change, I thought. It couldn’t possibly be that bad?
But it was. Everything that was forecast except the snow.
Race day came, and as all runners were bussed out to the starting line in Hopkington, Massachusetts, 26 miles outside of Boston, we all talked about how we were layered for the conditions and how we expected to finish the race. I’ve never seen more runners wearing rain and cold jackets, ponchos, hoodies and plastic bags over their running shoes. I don’t think anyone cared about paying for those race day pictures on the route! We all looked so silly in our getups, but you gotta do what you gotta do to stay warm, right?
I think waiting in the cold rain, huddled against a wall and each other for 45 minutes was the worst. At least when we started running, everyone warmed up despite being drenched in 38 degree rain.
Next to the waiting, having to use the porta potty was the next worst moment for women runners. I think I avoided drinking water as much as I could so I wouldn’t have to remove any clothing.
Reduced hydration was another issue runners had to deal with. It’s hard to know you are thirsty when you are freezing and sweating at the same time. I must have grabbed a few gulps of water at only 5 water stations this year. That’s my record low for a marathon! Thank goodness I’m like a dang camel. Lol.
I also hardly reached for my go-to Gu gels I usually use for energy. I had one before I started running because I was cold and then about three along the route. I usually have about 6 during a marathon.
After the race I talked to a lot of runners that had cramping issues and I’m not sure if it was the cold or just not realizing that your body needs nutrients like electrolytes, Magnesium and salt replenished. Running in the rain makes you forget you’re sweating because it just feels like water.
I am not sure what the explanation is for the cramps in the arches of my feet that started as soon as I began running. It was a horrible pain that worsened if I tried to go faster. It felt like a tendon was pulling in my rear arch and if I ran too fast it would rip. I know, TMI…right? But it was horrible and constantly on my mind during the run.
But somehow the pain was numbed at times and I could enjoy the course. My favorite area is the students lined up at Wellesley College. All the observers are so supportive and loud, but this group is especially fun. They are mostly girls and many have signs saying, “Kiss Me” so you see some kisses shared, but I opted for a few high fives.
It’s funny how last year when I ran Boston, reaching mile 21 felt like I was in the home stretch. This year, all I felt was pain. I picked up the pace a little after Heartbreak Hill at mile 20-21 but not nearly as fast as I did last year. I thought I just needed to finish in one piece and prayed my arches would not cramp up bad enough to force me to stop.
So I kept going, even finding the energy a few times on the course, to pull out my phone and take a selfie or a video.
The crowds start to get louder at Boston College where everyone seems to be having a Patriots Day party to celebrate the holiday and the marathon. Once we get to mile 22 and 23, crowds get thicker, the route is narrower and has more turns as we get into downtown. From some ways out, we can see the giant iconic Citgo sign above Kenmore Square and it really begins to feel like we’re nearing the finish!
I love the giant sign painted on the street that reads 1 mile to go, so you know you’re at 25.2. THAT feels sooo good and it’s time ignore the pain and run as fast as you can (and get your camera ready for another selfie of course! Lol)
My favorite part of the race is turning onto Hereford street and then eyeing the turn onto Boylston Street which is the final stretch before the finish. From Hereford to Boylston the crowd is so loud it makes you emotional every time. The last 385 yards of the race you can see the finish line banner lit up in blue and yellow and I’m sure every runner headed for it feels like they’ve just won the race! I know I do! And I can’t wait to someday do it again.
Boston less than a week away!
It’s hard to believe the Boston Marathon is less than a week away! On Monday I ran my last 10 miler and I’m doing a few shake out runs this week…like 5 miles or less.
My hamstrings are super tight, so I will be working on stretching and rolling out my legs with the foam roller, and maybe take a yoga class if I can squeeze it in. Also, it’s always been helpful to get a Cryofreeze session in to help in muscle recovery and prep. Those are brutal, but afterward your body feels heavenly!
I won’t lie the last few long runs and interval runs have also been brutal for me. I just didn’t want to do them. I think I procrastinated all day.
From the 16 miler two weeks ago to the 12 miler last week, I was dreading having to go those distances at about an 8:15 pace. I didn’t quite make the pace in either run, but at least I finished in one piece. Ha!
My interval runs the last two weeks consisted of 8 x 800’s at a 3:40 pace and then 10x800’s at the same pace. An 800 is a basically a ½ mile hard run-- just a tad slower than sprinting. I finished those pretty strong. The first set was between 3:37 and 3:45. The last set of 10 clocked in at 3:30 to 3:43. Nice!! But that’s probably why my hamstrings are not happy today!
It’s all part of the last few weeks of marathon training. The feeling that you’re so sick of running and can’t do another training run to save your life. But, gotta, suck it up and get it done. The suffering is almost over and the glory awaits as you cross the finish line.
In case you have ever considered taking up marathon training, I attached a training plan similar to what I did for my very first few marathons, when all I cared about was getting the miles in and being able to finish at a natural pace for me. If you are wondering, my natural pace marathon finish is 4 hours and 15 minutes. That’s without any speed work.
If you love running and want to build a good foundation, try following this plan. Let me know how you like it and if you really love it and after 8-10 weeks, you want to add some speed work, I can incorporate that for you.
But this plan is great for someone who isn’t out to set world records, but you want get that marathon run off your bucket list and, who knows, maybe down the road, you might add a little speed demon stats to your resume of sports accomplishments.
On Sundays for Cross training, I would suggest doing a weight lifting class but go lighter on your legs. So an upper body type exercise is great -- even like a boxing workout.
On one of your Rest days, you should consider doing a yoga for runners class to stretch out those muscles. You could also do a yoga class on one of your lower mileage running days.
Sarah's Training Blog
From running to bodybuilding to Ironman, how she makes it all work - and you can, too!