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Boston – A recap

Before I get into my Boston Marathon recap, I would like to say just how thankful I am for my awesome friends and family and their support during these past few months.  Dan and I had an amazing support team yesterday.  Mario, Toni, Kayley, Aunt Carolyn, Lindsay, and John – you all were awesome and I feel fortunate to have had such an amazing group of supporters.  Lindsay, thank you for the signs and your great photography skills.   They were awesome and I have the signs saved for next year.   I am also thankful for all of the amazing people sending their positive thoughts from back home, including mom and dad who were always checking in on us.  Emily and Tyler, thank you for my delicious surprise.  It was thoroughly enjoyed, and you guys are the best!!  I am blessed to have such awesome and caring people in my life.

Now on to race day…

As many of you may have noticed (and some of you may have figured out why by now), I have been a little MIA after the race yesterday.  Well, there’s a good reason for that.  I now belong to a very special club and it’s called the DNF club, or in other words, the “Did Not Finish club”.  Yes, at mile 13.5, I gave into the heat and let the one thing I wanted so badly, slip away. And honestly, I haven’t really wanted to talk about it.  Now I’ve had a day to be sad, to reflect, and to analyze all of the things that led up to race day.  Where did I go wrong and why wasn’t my mental toughness strong enough?

In looking back at it, I think there are several things that I did (or did not do) that led to my defeat.  First, I didn’t train smart enough.  My long runs were too fast, I didn’t stretch or ice like I should have, and my speed workouts weren’t so good at including “rest” intervals.  I was running to train instead of running to race.  Second, my nutrition was whack.  Now don’t get me wrong, I always eat healthy however, my meals were not planned properly around my workouts. I didn’t plan ahead and I didn’t refuel properly after a hard workout.  And perhaps my biggest mistake –  I did not arrive to Hopkinton with a good plan on Monday morning.  I didn’t have a good nutrition strategy nor did I have a good race strategy for the grueling 85 degree weather.  When I woke up Monday morning, I ate a bagel (around 5:30am) and that was the last thing I ate before the race started (at 10:20am).  Poor planning on my part and when I entered the corral, I was hungry.  That was a mistake and it certainly didn’t help me throughout the race.  The heat was certainly a big problem for me as well.  We had received numerous emails from BAA stating that we should treat this race as an experience and not as a race.  Slow down, hydrate often, and be careful.  I did not race smart – pure and simple.  I thought that since NC had a pretty warm March, I was pretty acclimated to the heat and  should be just fine.  Wrong.

When the race started, I went out at goal pace and stayed there for about 4 miles.  I drank gatorade, poured water on my head, and ran through every sprinkler I saw.  Well then reality set in.  I think I managed to make it to the 10K mark without walking but after that, it was a downhill struggle.  A lot of things went through my head, but I don’t think they were the right things.  All I could focus on was the heat, the cramps in my stomach, and how thirsty I was. Maybe I should have been telling myself more positive things or focusing more on the amazing crowd support.  Around mile 10, my stomach couldn’t handle any more liquids and I felt like my breathing was shallow.  Not like I was breathing hard but like I couldn’t get a deep breath.  I ran some and walked some.  I tried slowing my pace but nothing seemed to help.  When I saw a medical tent, I went in and never came back out.

I was sad as I’m sure the 20+ other runners who were sitting there with me were (and the other 900+ who decided to step off the course).  I was defeated and I keep looking back on it thinking I didn’t try hard enough.  So many people were  able to keep going and cross that finish line, but I could not.  When we left the hotel today and went to the airport, my defeat really set in.  All of these people were proudly wearing their Boston shirts and medals and talking about how grueling the race was yesterday.  They talked about their struggles and they were congratulated on being able to battle it out to the finish.  I had no awesome story to tell so I kept to myself and to my book.

When I got home this afternoon, I needed some alone time so I went out for a run.  I left the iPod at home in hopes that I could come to terms with what happened yesterday.  I talked out loud to myself, sat in Pullen Park for a while, and made a pact with myself that I would let the past be the past.  And more importantly,  that I would take away from this experience many hard lessons learned and apply them diligently.

My husband has been amazing throughout this whole entire event.  In efforts to console me yesterday, he reminded me that Bill Rodgers did not finish his first Boston Marathon but came back to win it two years later.  He has over 20 first place wins and 9 DNFs (I guess that means Bill Rodgers and I are in the same club =P).  Mario has also encouraged me to sign up for another race and try again (which I have already done).  I now have six weeks to apply the lessons of the past few months and come out with a different result.

I must remember that sometimes it’s just not your day and yesterday was certainly not mine.  I accept that.  It’s the ability to apply the lessons learned during the hard times that make us better, stronger people.

Finally, I would like to give a huge congratulations to my cousin Dan who beat the heat and crossed the finish line in a very impressive time.  He was awesome and I’m so proud he stuck with it, even through the most difficult conditions.   That’s why I call him “Dan the Man.”

Thank you again to everyone for all of your support and kind words.  I wish I had a different story to tell, but maybe next year…. Besides, Mother Nature can’t be this mean two years in a row, right?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Just a few Boston pics…

Meb Keflezighi

From the JFK museum

The Boston Marathon – Finally!

As most of us runners probably already know, Monday is one of the biggest days for our sport.  Monday, April 16, 2012 (also Patriot’s day) at 10:00am, thousands of runners will start their Boston marathon journey.  Hours later, months of training will finally have paid off and hopefully we will all be enjoying a Sam Adams brew cheering on other runners as they cross the finish line on Boylston Street.

Due to the fact that I have all of this free time during my last week of tapering, I’ve been reflecting on what has brought me to this point and how I will make race day special.  Here is a little insight into how I’m feeling about something I’ve wanted for over 7 years…

I have always wanted to run Boston and in 2009 I knew I was in shape for a sub 3:40 qualifying time.  However, pouring down rain, 40 degrees, and a bad hip made me 40 seconds too slow.  One year later I tried again, but this time I didn’t let a fever and a cough stop me from running 3:40:00 exactly.  Well then Boston changed their rules and my time wasn’t quite good enough anymore.  Great, I’ll just have to try again in the summer or early fall.  Marathons aren’t that easy to come by during that time of year so on a whim, I decided to sign up for the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC 2 ½ weeks before race day.  With a long run of 15 miles two weeks out, come race day, I PR’d by 13 minutes (3:27) and couldn’t have felt better.  Finally, on to Boston…

I remember 7 years ago watching my first Boston Marathon and dreaming of the day I would be there.  I decided at that moment, I would be dedicated to training and running my first Boston in 2006.  Life happened and that goal got pushed to the side.  I traveled, started working, quit work, went back to school, moved, started work again, and any other life event possible.  To be honest about it, I didn’t try hard enough for the one thing I really wanted.  I came across this journal entry tonight that demonstrates just how ambitious and determined I was back in 2005, and I would like to share with you what I wrote on my 22nd birthday, May 2, 2005…

I don’t think ambitious me would be proud of the fact that it took 7 years to get to this point, but I feel this is the right time in my life for this to finally be happening.  And at this rate, maybe I’ll do my first Ironman in 2014?

My first Boston will be special, no matter what.  However, I’ve been holding onto something special in particular, waiting for just the right race to wear it, and I think Monday will be that special race.  Back in 2009, when Ryan and Sara Hall started their Steps Foundation, I immediately signed up and started to raise money for a great cause.  It was right before my November marathon and it got me even more excited for the BQ race I just knew I was going to run (failure).  Apparently I was the first one to raise $100 so Ryan Hall sent me a Steps Foundation singlet with his autograph.  To this day, it still hangs in my closet with the tags on it.  Many times I have wanted to wear it, but the occasion just didn’t seem right.  This was a special shirt for a special race.  I don’t think there is a better occasion than the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.  And although they say don’t try any new running clothes on race day, those tags aren’t coming off until Monday morning.

I’m nervous about Monday.  I have high expectations for a not so easy course, and I feel that I could have trained a little harder.  A race starting at 10am is not the same as a race starting at 7am, and I’m not sure how well my body will handle it.  However, I have decided to give it everything I have and leave everything out there on the course.  My Pinterest Running Motivation board is quickly growing and I’m a fountain of motivational quotes.  I found this really cool saying that I’m going to have written on my arm come race day… “Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going!”

As a runner, I’ve come a long way.  I feel like now I truly understand what it means to want something, strive for it, fail, and then try again.  I’m glad that it took me this long to get here because I have learned so much along the way… things about myself, things about running, and lessons about life in general.  No matter what happens on Monday, I am a lucky person to be there amongst so many amazing people and athletes.  I will cherish every moment of this amazing event.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,