Sunday, May 14, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017

Well, it's taken me some time to sit and write my recap of the Boston Marathon. I think I'm still exhausted from all the training, excitement, and ..the hills.

When I say I had fun running the Boston Marathon - it's because I did. It was the first race that I held back, and because of that, I was able to relax and enjoy the race. I held back because I had a lot of concerns training for and anticipating this race:
  • Would I make it to the start? Last year I got injured and had to pull out of running Boston., and last September, complications form my Crohn's Disease landed me in the emergency room, and I had to withdraw from the Berlin Marathon three days flying to Berlin! 
  • Would that happen again?
  • Would my stomach blow up on me in the race?
  • Once I got there, would I finish? 
Let's face it, the Boston Marathon is intimidating. Anytime you ask someone how they started running, they tell you their story, and then there's always the 'And then I was accepted into Boston' or 'And then I ran Boston' or likely the most painful "And I tried four times to make it to Boston - the last time, I missed by X seconds'.

Don't get me wrong, I was definitely psyched. During the taper, I was flying. In fact, the last few miles, I ran on the track, and was running 7:40-8:00 minute miles, not even trying - just because I was so pumped up!

Even driving up on Saturday, I was psyched. It was nice spending time in the car with Ron, Jules, and Johnny. We stopped for lunch, and even stopped off at a brand new Ducati Dealership in Medford, Massachusettes so - as Ron put it - he could sit on a new Supersport and make some vroom, vroom noises! Carlo, the owner was so nice. You could see and feel his passion for the bikes he sold! I connected with this passion - as I have the same for running!
Vroom, Vrooom!
Like My 261Fearless Shirt?
The other reason I was so psyched to run Boston 2017 was because I was running in the race that marked Kathrine Switzer's 50th Anniversary as being the first official woman to run the Boston Marathon. Wow!
At 70 years old, she smiled crossing the finish line!
This woman is amazing!
I am not kidding! Kathrine Switzer's Boston Marathon story is the ultimate #runtoinspire. She has done an incredible job of promoting women's running. I didn't know she worked with Avon to promote races for women. I remember the first few races that I ever ran were sponsored by Avon! Who knew, Kathrine's hard work helped me run - giving birth to those bucket list items: I want to run a half marathon one day, I want to win a race one day, I want to run a marathon one day ... I want to run Boston ... one day ....
Kathrine re-enacting her race 50 years ago at
Adidas Base Camp, Boston, Ma
I did not run for 261Fearless. I had a lot keeping me busy this past semester with teaching both Advanced Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, juggling my private B3yond Nutrition Counseling Business, and my clinical work at a Kessler Rehab Hospital, not to mention all the training that goes into preparing for a marathon. Even so everyone was so welcoming. I have great memories of running down Boylston from the Adidas Base Camp!
When I say 261, you say "FEARLESS!"
Thank you Chris Grack-Wilson for organizing everything!
I have a confession to make, though. Even though I thought running down Boylston with Kathrine and the 261Fearless team was super wonderful, I was NOT, NO WAY, NO HOW, going across that finish line area. To me, that was sacred ground - I had to wait until Marathon Monday to have that privilege! Shhh - I snuck around some barriers, and waited for the team to run onto the sidewalk to head back to Adidas Base Camp.

The day before running Boston 2017
With Kathrine Switzer!
What a great Easter!
I felt bad asking Kathrine for a picture - everyone was pulling her in a thousand directions. But my daughter knew how much of a fan I was, and kept coaxing me to wait and get a pic.
Easter morning was wonderful!
Next stop, packet pick-up and the Boston Marathon Expo! 

I got some great advice from my son when we were driving up to Boston. He told me,
"Don't say that you're not going to stop on Heartbreak Hill, 
instead say you're going to keep running, because
everything you say and think must stay positive!" 
I had a few minor lapses of confidence, until seeing the time leaving for packet pick-up: 3:33pm - I knew my late husband was telling me that I would be fine, and that he would be with me! Luvutons! Thank you! I needed to see that!
3:33pm Of Course!
Aaagh - my first Boston Marathon!
Head for the Citgo Sign
And then there's the Boston Marathon Expo - it's like the largest running candy store in the universe!

After the expo, we drove the course. We took the highway out, and race course back. About 3/4 of the way to Hopkinton, my son says OUT LOUD, "Wow, This is really far!" Yeah, thanks, son! You might have thought that, but you didn't have to say it out loud! We all cracked up! It was like the worst thing you could say!
Okay! Marathon Monday Morning:
Didn't really know what to do except eat and drink! My plan: 1g carbohydrate per kg three hours before, 1g carbohydrate per kg two hours before, 1g carbohydrate per kg one hour before. I tried to get in as many carbs to top off liver glycogen stores - of course the last three/four days I "carb" loaded - basically traded up some protein for carbs in my mid morning and mid-afternoon mini-meals. I also Beet loaded all week with 1-2 BEET IT Sports Shots, and took one shot 2 hours before the start of the race. So for the next three hours I ate a few red potatoes (no skins), some of my famous banana nut bread, a banana with Justin's Honey Flavored Almond Butter (I'm addicted to the stuff), and topped off with water and a little Gatorade on the bus over to Hopkinton.

I heard all the stories about the drive on the buses to Hopkinton, and anticipated all the feelings that my runner friends shared. I sat next to a gentleman, John Devries, who was running his 20th Boston Marathon! He was 72 years old! He told me that he didn't started running until he was in his 40's! Just incredible. I can only hope that I'm still running at 70 years old!
John finished in 4:26:10! 
Congratulations, John! It was great meeting you!

I started at 10:50am, Wave 3, Coral 1. The next thing I knew I was yelling at myself to slow down, "Easy Peasy Elizabeth, Save it for the End". Well, I told myself that so much, I made a friend, Alexandra (Sondra) Darvish - she was from California. We were in the same age group. Her husband worked in a Rehab Hospital - no coincidences here! She and I planned to run with the same goal - easy enough to BQ! 

It was hard holding back - it was scary seeing an 8:40-8:45'/mile pace on my watch in a race. With fresh legs, and all that downhill - it was hard to hold back. But holding back made the race very enjoyable - even at the end when your legs feel disconnected - like tree stumps coming out of your hips!

The Boston Marathon isn't like the Chicago Marathon or The NYC Marathon because the course winds through quaint little New England towns and unlike the big city streets, the little roads keep the runners close to one another. When you look up ahead - you see a mass of runners. It's quite an awesome view. Sondra and I kept taking in all the sights and sounds. For about 10 or so miles all we heard was, "Go Mexico!" We would just laugh! Then, IDK what happened, but we lost Mexico.

The crowds are just like everyone says they are - incredible! Everyone screams for the runners. It's like they get up on Marathon Monday and drink one or two double espresso coffees and then scream non-stop all day! And nowhere were the crowds louder than the screaming girls at Wellesley College.
OMG! My Poor Ears!
Their screams were so loud that I felt a surge of anxiety rush through my body. I looked at my watch, and I was running an 8:10' mile. My new friend, Alexandra yelled out, "A little too fast" I had to slow it down! After that, Sondra and I ran together for about another 3 or 4 miles, then we lost each other.

I took the hills, miles 16-20 pretty comfortably, but when I approached Heartbreak Hill, I was like - okay, Heartbreak - I'm ready for you. Even though Heartbreak isn't the largest of the hills, at that point, you feel it - and at that point, I was also feeling the heat of the day, and started to look forward to the push home. My strategy on each hill was to let the person in front of me do all the work. I always tagged behind someone and told myself that they were doing all the work. But on Heartbreak, my "pacers" were dropping like flies. It was odd - I always chose someone to pace because they looked strong - and then they would stop running.
I refused to stop! 
I refused to walk!
I have to admit that I am proud to say, I ran the entire Boston Marathon - even through the water stops - I might have shuffled - but I refused to walk. That was one of my goals - and it was my goal especially up the hills. I promised myself in the beginning of the race that even if I had to slow down, I would continue to run, jog, or shuffle to the end.
Why?
Because I have one sister-in-law who had to have cancerous tumors removed from her lungs this past year  - and throughout that entire process I asked her to stay strong, and to have faith. And I have another sister-in-law with metasticised lung cancer  - there too - is this unspoken request for her to fight every single day, and to not give up - and every day she puts a smile on her face says, "I am so blessed!" and fights an incredible fight.
So you bet your sweet bum, 
I was NOT going to stop and walk during my Boston Marathon.
I had to be Fearless! I had to be #261Fearless!
Plus, like family, the crowds push you.
Going up Heartbreak Hill people were just screaming:
"C'mon, you can do this!"
"C'mon, you got this."
"This is it, one more hill and your home!"
"You're almost done!"
"You are near the top!"
and at the top of Heartbreak, they were cheering 
"You conquered Heartbreak! You did it! You did it! You did it!"

But I knew, after Heartbreak, I was still far from done. And ouch - those small hills after Heartbreak just chew up your quads. As I ran those last few miles I remember thinking ....
  • Aaagh, now I get that person's post how you see that "damn" Citgo sign forever!
  • Where are those the three blue lines? This is new as of last year - starts somewhere around mile 24? IDK I was delirious at that point  - But three blue lines are painted on the road for about the last 1-2 miles (?)
  • Ech, there's still Hereford. Don't forget that person's words of wisdom "At Hereford, you gotta let the crowds push you up the hill."
  • I also wondered what young Kathrine Switzer felt like after she made that turn at Brookline 50 years ago?
  • Another little hill, "Our Father who art in heaven...."
  • I'm doing it, I'm doing it, I'm doing it!
I am every woman! 
I'm doing it! 
Fighting to reach the end of a marathon 
because it embraces hard work, perseverance,  and is empowering
It shows my kids that no matter what, 
you push, you strive, you set your sites on a goal, and you fight to reach that goal
I am #261Fearless!
I'm every woman, it's all in me
Anything you want done baby, I do it naturally
I'm every woman!

Somewhere in the last few miles, Sondra past me. She asked me if I were okay. I said, "Yeah, just taking it a little slow." I got really bad GI cramps. They were pretty intense and for a mile I worried that maybe I was actually perforating. More Our Fathers... Which definitely helped because before I knew it, it was a right on Hereford, and left on Boylston. 
Alexandra finished 3:50:01! 
Congratulations girl! 
It was so wonderful meeting you! 
I know why you run - you told me your story! 
And you are Fearless! 
#261Fearless!
    Letting the Crowds push me up Hereford!
    Secretly wishing that little side street was Boylston!
When I got to Boylston, I had a surge of energy. The crowds were screaming, and I saw that grandiose finish! There was about 1/4 mile left to run. I ran that last stretch at the best pace I could muster, about 8:10'/mile.
Running down Boylston!
Wow! Boston Marathon 2017!
As I approached the finish line, I remember thinking, "Is this real? Will I still hafta keep running, even after I cross that blue mat?"
Boston Marathon 2017
3:51:38
It was real! 
I ran the Boston Marathon! 
I finished!
I blessed myself, praised God, thanked all my supporters in heaven, grabbed a water, and was crowned with a medal. Literally, a volunteer said, "You - come here, let me crown you!" Next thing I knew, someone was handing me a space blanket.

I couldn't wait to get my bag, and call my family,
"Ron, Juliette, Johnny - I did it! I ran the Boston Marathon. I finished!" 
"I love you guys!"

Then, I called my Coach:
"Joel, I did it! I finished! Thank you! You got me to Boston, and you got me through Boston! I BQ'd! I wanted to BQ for you - to show everyone what a wonderful Coach you are."

In spite of this past winter Crohn's problems (Anemic, low albumin, tired, very slow at times), Coach Joel got me through! He told me that I ran a very smart race - especially in spite of the heat. I set out to run an 8:50'-8:59' mile, and my pace wound up 8:51'/mile. It is my slowest marathon!

Then, Coach Joel, in his typical drill sergeant way told me,
"Great race! Rest up! Training for Berlin starts in May!" 
Yeay! Just what I wanted to hear!
Then his new softie self came out, and he said, 
"Congratulations! You did great! Go celebrate ... I love ya'!
I hung up the phone and cried!
Coach told me he loved me!
... I love you too, Joel!
Proud 2017 Boston Marathon Finisher Momma with Kids!
 #Train Smart
#RunToInspire
And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside, and you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a Hero lies in You!

#RunFearless
#261Fearless!
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