"Whenever you think you are giving it all you have, give just a little bit more"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An experience of a lifetime

It turns out running a marathon is a lot like eating Thanksgiving dinner. It takes hours and hours of preparation for it to all be over before you even blink your eyes. I feel like I just flew into Boston but I am already home with missing toe nails, swollen ankles and sore quads to prove to me it actually did happen.
Luckily for me my life is so hectic with the kids and work that I decided not to fly in to Boston until Saturday night. Sure I had second thoughts on this being a good idea. but in the end it was the best idea for me. I tend to freak myself out going into races so it was best for me to avoid all the excitement in town by just hanging out with my family. It didn't take me long after arriving to come to this realization. Just going for my Sunday shake out I could feel all of the energy in the city. I did my best the rest of the day to avoid too much excitement.  I spent most of the day laying low but made sure to catch up over coffee with Bryce from Elliptigo and my all time favorite race director Richard Fannin over dinner. After stuffing myself full I laid in my room for the night thinking about the race the next day. Not knowing what would happen in the race or really who I should key off of I decided to just go out at the pace I had been training at and see who ended up around me. Those would be the people I would run with. Yet as I sat there I felt like this race should be about more. I wanted to really make sure I took it all in! In most races I couldn't tell you a single thing about the course from start to finish I get so zoned in to my race plan that nothing else matters. So I promised myself no matter how the race was going I would just enjoy the day! Take it all in and get the full benefit of Boston.
Well before I knew it we were at the starting line and the gun was going off. Immediately I was taken back by the crowds. I have never experienced anything like it. The whole time I kept thinking "Ok we are going downhill just relax do not get excited yet. Feel the pace just like a workout" Luckily my body has grown to know the pace and I hit mile one in a comfortable 5:38 and found myself with two girls. We could see the lead pack and the chase pack but were comfortably behind them. This was a good thing I had been worried I'd run the whole race by myself. By mile two I was already feeling a little off which told me this was not going to be like my first 2 marathons. In my first two marathons the miles were just flying by with ease, I almost didn't know how far I had left to go. Unfortunately on Monday I knew at mile 2 I had 24.2 mile to go. My first thought was you have two options here mama. Either give in and settle back or fight for every mile and hope your body comes around. Of course I picked option number two. I had a couple girls to work with so I figured I would just fight for every single mile and let the crowds help me along. The strategy worked pretty well. I went from moments of thinking I'm never gonna be able to finish this, to moments that I thought I'd be able to actually break 2:30. At mile 12 I got a little carried away. I was giving high 5's to the crowd and really enjoying myself when I looked up and noticed all of a sudden a couple people were getting closer to us up front. That little bit of possibility got the best of me and I ran a 5:32 mile. A little too early in the race to be throwing down a mile below pace but the energy from the crowd just took me over.
Long story short I ran the way I had planned from mile 1 through about 17-18. I knew the Newtons and heartbreak were coming up but that's not what was bothering me. After taking my gel and liquids at 30k we hit a downhill and I could tell my quads had had enough. It became a relief every time I saw an uphill giving my muscles a switch in gears. Oddly enough the last few miles my fastest was going up heartbreak hill. I have always been a much better uphill than downhill runner. Shortly after coming down heartbreak hill my quads started cramping up and by now I was all alone. Once you are alone and hurting in the end of a marathon it becomes harder and harder to keep out the negative thoughts and hold yourself together. By 23 I started praying with every step that my quads could sustain themselves and not just give out. I wont lie with 1k to go you dip down under an overpass and when I saw the little bit of downhill I almost started crying. Going into Boston I heard a million people say "Train for the downhill" but I didn't take it very serious. I figured it couldn't be that bad. Boy was I wrong.

Luckily I finished the race and was even able to hold on to a 1:36 PR with a time of 2:32:49. After getting my cramped up quads a massage I found my phone and was greeted with many congratulations. Some people wondering if I was ok with the time. Most of you that know me know I get my head set on one time and if I don't get it I tend to feel defeated so I understood the questioning. However going in to Boston I knew to expect anything from a 2:29-2:34. To me Boston was a win. No I didn't reach my ultimate goal but I got a new PR on a day that I had to work and fight for every single mile. The marathon can be funny like that. There are going to be days it is easy and there are going to be days it is extremely hard. I was handed a hard day and I fought to make it a good day. I never gave up or completely fell apart. I dealt the hand I was given on the day and managed to come away 19th overall female and 5th American woman. In years past my time would have put me a lot farther up in the standings but non of that mattered. I was part of an epic day! I placed 19th on a day that the women ran fast enough for a new course record. I ran on a day when Boston took marathon Monday back to a beautiful memorable day! Most importantly I had a decent day on a day when an American man won the Boston marathon for the first time since the 1980's. Plus it wasn't just any man, it was Meb. Most of you know I am a big fan and athlete for Elliptigo. Elliptigo is a company I am so honored to be connected to. Not only because they have this great device that is so invaluable but because they are the most amazing people I have dealt with. It started out as this little company that has grown into an amazing thing. these guys go out to coffee with me when they are in town, they invite us into the warehouse and give my kids t-shirts (which anyone with kids knows that kids really dig free stuff. so it made their day), they check in on me to see how training is going, they go out and do a 24 mile workout with me just so I am not left alone and they buy me a beer at the airport to congratulate me on a new PR. So to see one of their athletes do so well really makes me happy! Plus Meb is 38! In running years many would have started to count him out, but clearly he is still very much in the game running 50 second PR's! It gives me hope that there are still many more successful years to come!

I spent a lot of the course giving kids, adults and fans high 5's. I waved to people screaming my name and I thoroughly enjoyed myself more than I ever have in a race. Boston is a magical place! I wish I could do it justice and put the energy from there into words but all I can say is if you ever get the chance to run Boston make sure you do it!

Once I am able to get my quads to function and my toes to go back to normal size I am going to tackle getting fast again. I'm not sure what the next marathon on the horizon will be but I'm sure it'll be soon. For now I will be getting in some good quality miles on my Elliptigo and recovering with a few too many beers!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the PR and being part of a truly electrifying day Wendy!!! Sooooo proud of you speedsta :)