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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

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. nerdthatruns #

    Hope you feel better! I still say, qualifying and actually taking part in the Boston is an amazing and elite feat on its own! Don’t get down on what happend, but just look forward to what’s ahead!

    April 17, 2012
    • Thank you!! I appreciate your kind words and I am looking forward to my next race in May. Maybe I’ll have a different story to tell =)

      April 17, 2012
  2. Soraya Valdez Place #

    You are still my hero! Good luck in May. You will be great!

    April 17, 2012
    • Awww thanks! I think I’ll be ready to redeem myself and apply my new found wisdom.

      Are you ready to go to Panama?? I bet y’all are going to have such an amazing experience!!

      April 18, 2012
      • Soraya Place #

        Leaving in two weeks! Keep up your determination!!!!!!

        April 19, 2012
  3. Girl, you should be proud of yourself. I cannot even IMAGINE! You have to take care of yourself, though. You listened to your body and did what you thought was best. I sometimes feel like nothing is ever enough with my diabetes. Different, but kind of the same. Go Tracie! 😀

    April 17, 2012
    • Thank you Beth! Our bodies can do great things but they also have their limitations. I didn’t want to Mario to have to come see me again in the hospital so I did what felt right. =P I’d like to think I’m a little wiser because of it… Thank you for your support and encouragement and hopefully I can write about a different outcome in May!!

      April 18, 2012
  4. You are still awesome! Kuddos to you on being the greater, smarter person, stopping at that moment was what you needed to do, I always say it: know your limits. Just this past Nov a 32 yr old guy who died of heat exhaustion in a San Antonio RnR race with similar extreme weather conditions, remember reading the story and reflecting on how we always think nothing like it would ever happen to us; but the reality is that we are ALL human and our bodies do have limitations. You still are “Speedy Gonzalez”, with thousands of miles in front of you and many more stories to tell. Love the post and your words clearly show how strong you really are. XO

    April 17, 2012
    • ¡Gracias Adri! You are so right – we are only human and things can happen to us, even if we think they can not. It’s definitely given me a new perspective on things and taught me a thing or two. And I’m excited to try again next month. After that, I’m taking a break! Maybe yoga and biking for a while =)
      Mario says we’ll be coming to Miami in late July or August so I hope I get to see you then!! Thank you again for your words of support!!!

      April 18, 2012
  5. (hugs) You’ll be there again, lady!

    April 17, 2012
    • Thank you! I’m going to do my best to be there again next year and make my way down Boylston Street. I want it more now than ever!!

      April 18, 2012
  6. Laura #

    I can’t imagine running in those conditions– it sounds miserable. I’m so sorry you were disappointed, but as others have said, making it there is a huge honor, and I’m sure you’ll be back!

    April 18, 2012
    • Thank you Laura! Yes, the conditions sucked and I think we were all miserable. Hopefully if things go well May 27th, I’ll be back in Boston next year and show Heartbreak Hill a thing or two =)

      April 18, 2012
  7. Tracie, I am so proud of you (as always) for sharing honestly. You, more than anyone else in the world, are my picturesque example of winning, determination, and hard work. God has blessed you with extreme talent and ability. Your DNF is not a failure or an “incomplete” – it is a milestone in your achievements and I know that one day you will be across that line before everyone else and if you don’t that’s OK too because again you are my definition a winner in every way! You inspire me. XOXO ~ Amber

    April 18, 2012
    • Amber, you always have the best things to say to make me feel better! Your words of support are just what I needed. I like the idea of seeing this as a milestone – it gives me something to keep working towards. In May, I will take my lessons learned and hopefully come back to NC with a different story to tell. Love you and hope to see you soon!!! XOXO

      April 18, 2012
  8. The conditions in Boston Monday did not provide a fair environment for proving what you are capable of, so it’s impossible to find a “cause” for the DNF other than the heat. Our training could always be better, our race strategy could always be smarter, our nutrition could always be wiser, but on most days such things matter only at the fringe. You needed to have everything go perfectly to meet your Boston goals, and they didn’t. Like you said, time to move on, and I’m glad you’ve found a new goal. A running “career” is long, and there will be plenty of opportunities for a talented runner such as yourself to make your mark at Boston.
    And I’d debate whether long runs can really be “too fast” – what you instead might consider is going longer, to have a run that is closer to your marathon time goal.

    April 18, 2012
    • Thank you Greg! Your absolutely right about a running “career” – it is long and I must always keep that in perspective. There are so many races still ahead. Who knows what the future holds?

      I’m going to take your advice about the longer runs while preparing for the next race. I wanted to do two 22 milers while training for Boston but I only made it to 20. I think making it to that 22 miler will definitely help mentally.

      Thank you again and hopefully I’ll have a different story to write about in May =0

      April 18, 2012
  9. Amy #

    Everything happens for a reason. You’re body told you to stop, and you had to listen. Time to look foward to 2013 when you will get your revenge on Boston!

    April 18, 2012
    • Thank you Amy!! You are right, I will get my revenge next year. I just hope Mother Nature doesn’t have a sick sense of humor and give us a 90 degree race day!

      April 18, 2012
  10. Stacy R #

    Proud of you Tracie! Keep up the hard work and I’m sure you will get that finish next time.

    April 18, 2012
  11. You played it smart. If you kept going, who knows what sort of state you might have been in now. Your husband is right, and what matters now is to come back strong next year. Boston isn’t going anywhere. It’s great that you signed up for another race. I wish you the best luck in the next race!

    April 18, 2012
  12. You had every right to feel sad and disappointed. I’m glad that you were able to process those emotions and now look forward 🙂 I think as runners we have very high expectations of ourselves, which is fine if we can also accept that some days it is all beyond our control

    good luck on the next!

    April 22, 2012
    • Thank you Amanda for you kind words. Us runners have a crazy way of thinking and being, but I guess that’s what makes us special. =)

      May 18, 2012
  13. What an emotional week I am sure this has been as you both, reflected on the days and miles past, and planned for the ones to come. I must admit, I was a bit saddened to read your recap of Boston. The emotion was evoked neither from the outcome of the day nor from the events that transpired prior to visiting the tent, but rather from the question posed of yourself, “Where did I go wrong and why wasn’t my mental toughness strong enough?” Perhaps “wrong” is an illusion (certainly a harsh judgement of yourself) and the measure of “mental toughness” is a calculation impossible to weigh. Nonetheless, I certainly know about placing expectations on ourselves and our lives that are not realized in the timeline we envision. How absolutely agonizing! The important thing is to recommit, and I am so happy to see that you have done just that. So…in response to and in appreciation of your candid sharing, I offer you a huge, heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS for your entry into the DNF Club…that is to say…
    D id qualify for Boston
    N urtured vital signals sent from your running body &
    F ollowed through with a recommitment to tackle another race.

    That certainly gives me reason to “run inspired”!!!

    April 22, 2012
    • Mary Marcia!!! What a kind and heartfelt comment!! I love your interpretation of DNF and have actually been reciting it to myself. Thank you =) It was a hard thing to deal with but I’m feeling so much better this week. I feel like I really have a grip on things and on racing strategy so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a different outcome in May. Thank you again and I look forward to seeing you July 14th at the race!! I haven’t signed up yet – just waiting to make sure we will be in town but I do plan to be there.

      April 23, 2012

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