Boston 2018: Day 3 and 4

In my last post, My First Marathon Monday: Boston 2018 Race Recap I left off at the finish line of the 122nd Boston Marathon. I found my family at the side of the finish, they had been watching from the grandstands, getting soaked by the rain. We hugged, and then I slowly shuffled into the John Hancock tent. There I received my medal and a heat shield. A volunteer handed me by gear check bag and I set up at a table near the back of the tent. I grabbed some hot water to help get warm and began peeling off my soaking wet gear. They had heaters and a volunteer had made a make-shift change tent so we could get into dry clothing.

It was still pouring rain as I left to go find my cheer-squad. There were people walking in every direction trying to find each other and get out of the rain, it was total chaos. Eventually, I found everyone and we began trying to navigate our way back to the Airbnb. The best option was the train, the streets were still a mess and an Uber would have taken way too long to find us. It was only a few stops to go, and then I had a long hot shower while my mom went to pick up pizzas from Regina Pizza. We had spotted this place a few days prior and it always had a long line so we figured it was probably pretty good! After a few slices I moved I went to lay down under a pile of blankets, how good it felt to be warm.

After a while we decided to go down the street to the Ginger Room, a neighbourhood pub with a massive beer-list and food. I had a pineapple and coconut beer with lactose, sounds odd, but it had a nutty flavour and was surprisingly very delicious. There were a few other marathoners there in medals and jackets, and I ended up running into a few people I knew.

On Tuesday, I woke up feeling pretty good, and of course quite sore, those Newton hills! We had to pack up the Airbnb and then I wanted to check out how busy the medal engraving, and jacket embroidery were before heading over to Tracksmith for my commemorative poster. Unsurprisingly, the medal engraving line snaked around the block, and I decided not to wait in it, my priority was the jacket embroidery which had a much smaller line, so we joined it. I was able to go get my poster from Tracksmith while my mom stayed in line.

By then we were all getting pretty hungry and decided to go to Shake Shack. I only tried Shake Shack for the first time in November, when Sky and I ran the Rock’n’Roll Vegas and we really enjoyed it. I went for a cheeseburger and a Shackmeister beer (brewed by Brooklyn Brewing). We didn’t have a whole lot of time left in Boston and wanted to make the most of it, so we stopped for one last coffee at George Howell and then walked back to the Airbnb. My family had an earlier flight so they went to the airport, Sky and I walked to the famous Mike’s Pastry and shared a cannoli. Very good, but I could NOT have eaten a whole one.

We grabbed a Lift to the airport, and parted ways. Once I arrived at my gate, it was a sea of red jackets waiting to board the plane. One of which sat beside me and wanted to  talk about the marathon. From then on out, several other marathoners and other people wanted to chat about the previous day and what we had endured. It was like being a member of a club without ever trying to. I supposed I underestimated the jacket effect. I don’t think you can wear it and go unseen, and I’m not just talking about the colour. It signifies hard-work, dedication and resilience in the wearer, definitely things to be proud of!

My First Marathon Monday: Boston 2018 Race Recap

My marathon Monday started at 5am. I was lucky enough to get an uninterrupted sleep which I was surprised about. I had coffee and oatmeal with banana, got dressed for what would end up being the worst weather in 30 years for this event, and took an Uber downtown. It was already raining hard and windy, so much so that when I began to open the door of the car, it blew wide open. By 6am, I was in the tent drinking hot water to make sure I stayed warm. As part of the John Hancock Boston Marathon Invitational Program, we were treated to a tent and refreshments before and after the race, coach buses to the start, where we moved into a school to hang out until the race began. An hour later we were directed to the buses and got another taste of what the weather had in store. After 20 minutes inside the bus, once the police and bomb dogs had done their check we were cleared to go, and headed towards Hopkinton with police escorts on motorcycles.

I spent the ride into Hopkinton staring out the window, getting into the headspace to run. My enthusiastic seat partner from Pennsylvania kept trying to engage in small-talk, which I kept polite but minimal. Sometimes running is selfish, and I am okay with that, especially so in the final days and hours before an event. I have no problem doing exactly what I need to do to set myself up for success and not be concerned with anything else. Upon arriving, we were shown into a school gym equipped with bleachers and mats to sit on. There was also coffee, water, Gatorade, Cliff bars, Cliff bloks, and Finagel Bagels. Most importantly there was heat, shelter from the rain and actual washrooms. We all felt very lucky to be inside for these final hours before the start.

We arrived to the school just around 8:30am, and the blue bib start time wasn’t until 10:50am. Fortunately, I had Women’s Running magazine to read, and a second breakfast to eat: a plain bagel at 8:50 am and a banana at 9:50am. I also drank a small coffee and 1.5 bottles of water. I read the magazine cover to cover except for the parts about coming back to running after child-birth which there was a focus on, but not of interest to me!

Aside from that, I mostly watched the antics of other runners in the gym, some highlights were watching a man eat a loaf of bread directly from the bag, several people duct-taping their shoes, everyone wearing garbage bags, myself included, and someone putting rubber gloves on-top of his gloves. I have to hand it to the running community, people get pretty creative with their outfits when the weather is poor. In this case, I am sure it contributed to them having a safer race than those who did not adapt their gear. Nearly 1,300 runners received medical treatment on the course, and nearly 1,000 more did at the finish. When even the elites are wearing jackets, you know it’s a poor weather day!

Before long, they were calling for the blue bibs to move into the corrals. I made one final washroom stop and moved towards the door, staying inside as long as I could. My outfit was: Saucony Kinvara 9’s, Stance socks, Adidas Supernova Storm Jacket, Lululemon: Fast & Free crops, Run on bra, Meant to Move Tee, and Ciele Gocap Century Hopkinton hat. I also wore a disposable jacket from the Van 1st Half, a garbage bag and gloves from the BMO half.

We began our rainy walk to the start, the area surrounding the school and athlete’s village looked like a runner’s war-zone, clothing, shoes, garbage bags, and water bottles everywhere. This continued all down the sides of the road up and into the corrals. Once I reached corral 2, there was 8 minutes to start. I took my first gel and a drink of water and waited. After a few words from Bill Rogers, the gun went off, and the rain began to pour. What a sick joke I thought as I hit start on my Garmin, and smiled my way over the first timing mat.

My priority starting this race was to stay in control and not start too fast in order to save my legs for later. My other priority was to stay warm, I was in no rush to shed my garbage bag, disposable jacket and gloves. I imagine the beginning of any major race to be exciting, but I am not sure any of them can compete with this. People are cheering for you on the sides of the street in Hopkinton before you even start, this of course continues as your start, there are people on both sides of the road and they are genuinely excited for you. It makes you feel super special!

Another thing of note is that, you start on narrow country roads, so you are confined to stay with the “peloton”. This was okay for me since I wanted to start conservatively.  I knew that with the wind and hills, I could not let my mental state be dictated by splits and I was prepared for this. I figured that things would mostly even out with the downhills and flats, and that if I stayed on pace for those parts I would be in good shape. My first 5km were: 5:03, 5:04, 4:56, 4:59, 4:41 (downhill). My 5km split time was 24:49, average pace 4:58/km. The back of my legs felt stiff and cramped from the cold, something I had not previously experienced, I was concerned it would turn into full on legs cramps, again something I have never experienced. I decided to focus on getting to Boston, and everything went away. I did not feel cold, I did not lose focus, I had to get to Boston one way or another.

The next 5km were: 4:47, 5:03, 4:50, 4:50, 4:48. My 10km split was 49:14. My average pace for the first 10km was 4:55/km. For reference, the pace I was meant to hold was 4:50. Around km 8 there was a very cute golden retriever sitting on the right side of the road watching the race and holding  2 flags in his mouth. You can see more footage of Spencer the dog here.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 9.03.30 AM

10km took us to Framingham and boasted people on both sides on the street cheering. The whole atmosphere was party, and I swear I could smell beer and food for most of the first 10km ranging from pizza to Indian food. I was timing my gels for every 30 minutes, which worked perfectly with the water stations.

Km’s 11-15 were: 4:55, 4:58, 5:00, 4:57, 4:59, this brought us to Natick. My 15km split was 1:14:07, an overall average pace of 4:56. Another thing I noticed was that my Garmin wasn’t matching up with the km markers anymore, very annoying! For me, the thing about Boston was that I always felt like I was looking forward to something, or more so running toward something. Every section of the race has a focus. The first 10km I was cautious because I didn’t want to destroy my legs on the downhill, and I had heard several times that this is a strategy course where you need to save your strength for the end. The following 10km brings you to Wellesley College, also the half-way point. I knew it was coming soon and how amazing it was supposed to be, so once the initial 10km passed that was my next checkpoint.

Km’s 16-20 were: 4:59, 4:57, 5:03, 4:54, 4:50. My 20km split was 1:39, 4:57 overall average pace/km. Since the Wellesley scream tunnel is something most any runner knows about Boston, I was curious to see how loud it really would be, especially given the weather. It definitely lived up to its’ expectations, so many girls, so many signs, such loud screaming. I decided to put out my hand and high-five as many of them as I could. One overzealous cheerer even fell over the barrier and another girl was trying to pull her back over by her legs! The scream tunnel gave me a massive energy boost, thank you Wellesley girls! My 21km split was 1:44:22, an overall average pace of 4:58.

The scream tunnel was such a rush that I didn’t fully register this meant we were already half-way done! I started to feel my legs around this point, but tried my best to push those thoughts aside. Km’s 22-25 were: 4:55, 5:00, 5:02, 5:04, my 25km split time was: 2:03:58, average pace: 4:58. After Wellesley, I knew the next major landmark would be the notorious Newton Hills, what I had been bracing myself for the entire race.

Km’s 26-30 were: 4:42, 5:23, 5:02, 5:20, 5:03, you can clearly see this was the Newton Hill portion of the race, by the large fluctuation in pace! My approach was to focus my view on the top of the hill rather than my watch and just get there as best I could while keeping the effort continuous and not increasing it. As with almost all of the course, both sides of the street were lined with spectators, there were tents, people were drinking, having BBQ’s. I even spotted a bouncy castle on the right-hand side of one of the Newton hills. Even though the hydration and fuel stations were plentiful, people were handing out water, oranges, bananas you name it. So much hospitality from the spectators on one of the gnarliest Boston Marathon’s in history.

Km’s 31-35 were: 4:49, 5:12, 5:11, 5:40, 4:46, this included the famous Heartbreak hill, and no it’s not THAT bad, but it is long and it is deep into the race so any incline would feel tough. The feeling of completing Heartbreak Hill is wonderful however. You know that the worst is over and there are only 7 more km to go! I had been told this final portion was flat and fast so I was looking forward to that. There were a few more short inclines though, and by that point any incline felt like a mountain.

Km’s 36-40 were: 5:15, 5:07, 5:09, 4:52, 5:08. Finally, it was the moment I had been waiting for. Only 2km to go. I was still wearing my disposable jacket, and wanted to at least get a good finish line picture, so I discarded it on a barrier, and took off into the downpour. At this point you know where you need to go and are just holding your breath for that right on Hereford, left on Boylston. The streets were lined with people, the roads coated in slippery garbage bags, making footing uncertain, I was determined not to fall going up Hereford! Turning onto Boylston might be one of the best feelings I have ever experienced, there are so many people! The finish line is massive and spectacular, and I knew my family was waiting on the stands on the right-hand side. Km 41 and 42 were: 5:19 and 5:11. I kept my eyes locked on that finish line while my ears were filled with a roar from the crowd, I heard my name and waved. And just like that, I became a Boston Marathoner in 3:32:09.

Training Recap March 26-April 1, 2018

This week marked the beginning of the taper for Boston. I had two days off running instead of the regular Monday off. My mileage will continue to decrease over the next two weeks. This Friday I am flying to Toronto to hang out for a week before heading to Boston the following Friday. I am looking forward to enjoying my taper and not working, but what will I do with all that free time!?

Monday: OFF. I did strength training.

Tuesday: 50′ easy, ran an out and back to the bog with my running buddy.

Wednesday: Group WO, ran 5km easy to the WO location and then, 3 sets of: 2x 3’@tempo, 1′ fast, then 5km home. I also did core.

Thursday: 45′ easy, did an out and back to the bog the other way with my running buddy. I also did core.

Friday: OFF. Nothing at all!

Saturday: Group WO, 20′ easy, 2×2′ tempo, 4x1km (4:04, 3:57, 4:02, 3:59), 20′ easy. Going into this and even during the 1km repeats I felt slow, but I was not! I was targeting 5km pace, but those are all faster than my actual 5km pace. I would love to race a 5km right now to see how it would be! I also did core.

Sunday: “Long run”, 80′ minutes for a mix of trails and road, I had 4 bunnies join me for this Easter run. I also did core.

Total Weekly Mileage: 60.8 km

Training Recap Feb 19-25 2018

This week was a bigger one, but the upcoming week is even bigger! With only 7 weeks until Boston, that is to be expected. It has been cold on the island lately, which is fine. However, when the snow starts to come down and stay on the ground, it’s a different story. Fortunately, it is gone now, and fingers crossed that’s it for the year.

Here is what I did this week:

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 60′ easy, I did an out and back route along the ocean. I also did core.

Wednesday: Typically a group WO, but the snow started falling in the early afternoon and it didn’t stop. So no WO, but two of us ran 75′ easy instead.

Thursday: 75′ easy, ran big loop around the neighbourhood with my running buddy. It was great to try a new route. I also did strength-training.

Friday: 30′ easy, I did a little out and back on my lunch.

Saturday: Group WO, I was on my own for this one, but the others were doing some short faster stuff nearby. It was 40′ easy, 4km @marathon pace, 3km @marathon-half pace, 2km @half pace, 1km @10km pace, 10′ easy. During the 3km bit, there were some rolling hills (intentional) which made it challenging, but hopefully this will make me strong for Boston. I also did core.

Sunday: 2:20 easy for a 25km long-run. We ran out to Elk Lake, did a loop around the lake and then came back. This was a really enjoyable route offering a variety of trails and road, with some hills as well. I also did strength-training because it won’t fit into my day today.

Total Weekly Mileage: 88.8km

1st Half (marathon) Race Recap

This was my second time running the 1st Half in Vancouver. It would have been my third, but last year the race got cancelled due to inclement weather! Vancouver got a shocking amount of snow last year, normally not an issue. I kept my eye on the weather all week because this race is notorious for having crazy weather. The first time I did it, in 2016, it was a full-on monsoon. I remember a guy saying to me, “theres water in my shoes” around the 18km mark last time and thinking yeah man everyone’s in the same position.

In spite of all of this, we were very lucky with the weather this year. It was a crisp day for sure, but the sun was out, and the views were spectacular as ever. When it’s good it’s good. The race started at 8:30am, and our hotel was under 1km from the start, so we planned to run over at 8am. Breakfast was coffee, water and oats from Starbucks. The oats were very dry, so Jo and I poured an Endurance Tap on them, this made them so good!

Our warm-up was only 10 minutes, so we ran around Yaletown, ending up by the start to do our strides and then line-up in the corrals and take our pre-race gel. My focus was to stay on pace and in control to avoid burn-out later on in the race. The start of a race always feels amazing, especially when you have a full taper. The sun was shining, I was running alongside 1500 others in Vancouver and I never felt better. This was definitely reflected on my first 2 km, my pace was showing me running slow, I knew I wasn’t, but, I didn’t feel like I was going too fast.

The first 2km were 4:25 and 4:22, 10-13 seconds faster than my target pace. Km 3 and 4 were 4:50 and 4:30, there was an incline on km 3. Km 5 and 6 were both 4:38. My 5km split was 23:13 according to the race timing, a 4:38 average (this is 32 seconds faster than the sum of the 5km according to my watch). At some point early on the mileage on my watch stopped matching the km markers, and my current pace was never accurate for the duration of the race. I was essentially running on feel. Not what I wanted to do, but the only option. I knew there was a signal issue when I looked at my pace on the first km and it never got better.

Km 7 and 8 were both 4:45. I took my second gel at km 7. Km 9 and 10 were 4:43 and 4:29. My 10km split was 46:29, still a 4:38 pace. I was feeling great at this point. 11 and 12 were 4:40 and 4:32. 13 and 14 were 4:37 and 4:40 as per my Garmin. I knew the last few km of the race were hilly so I was mentally preparing for that.

At the 15km mark I was planning to take my final gel. That was around the time a wave of fatigue hit. I decided not to focus on it and power through. Having a wave of fatigue in a half with only 6km left is preferable to having it happen in a marathon because there is often double the distance left when the pain starts. Km 15 was 5:00! My 15km split was 1:09:56, average pace 4:39.

Km 16 and 17 were 4:41. 18 and 19 were apparently 5:20 and 5:17. This is the hilly portion. Just before the last climb between 19-20km, and as we began to climb a guy yelled, “I’m so excited!” As he picked up the pace, another guy beside me said, “wow, he’s got some pep”. I responded with, “yeah, let’s catch him”. He said, “you go for it”, so I began chasing him. Km 20 was the last bit of hill and 5:23? The last km is flat and then turns into downhill. I zeroed I’m on the peppy guy and caught him just before the finish. Due to the watch error km 21 shows up as only 560m and 2:48. My average pace for the last 6.1km was 4:32, so not quite the splits my watch said!

My finish time was 1:37:45, average pace 4:37.8/km. I was the 85th woman out of 777, and 21/80 for my category. I was happy with how this went, but I know I have more to give, sub 1:35 I’m coming for you!

Training Recap January 22-28, 2018

This week started out well and was supposed to be a larger week. Unfortunately that didn’t happen because I ended up with a wicked cold that prevented me from doing my Saturday workout. That being said, I am happy I got this cold out of the way now before training really ramps up.

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 50′ easy, got up early to get this done before work, it was very dark and raining, but I had company so that made it better. I also did core work.

Wednesday: Group WO, 7 Sisters (7 hills), this is always a solid workout and I was happy to do it.

Thursday: I did my strength training in the morning before work. I ran 75′ easy, along the ocean after work before heading over to Frontrunners to help out with the Saucony Winter Warrior event.

Friday: 40′ easy, woke up with a sore throat and thought it was just dry, but as the day progressed it became evident that it was in fact a cold.

Saturday: OFF. Sick, so no running for me. Instead I ran a Netflix marathon.

Sunday: 20km easy

Total Weekly Mileage: 60.5 km

Training Recap Jan 15-21

This week was good, it involved a 10km race, my second race of the season. Aside from that my easy runs are trending faster than usual and I do not know why. It will be interesting to see what happens this week.

Here is what I did last week:

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 45′ easy, I ran home from work with a detour for an errand.

Wednesday: Group workout, 20′ easy, 5′ @ tempo, 200m, 2 sets of: 600m, 400m, 200m, 20′ easy. This was hard! I also did core.

Thursday: 70′ easy, I met up with a running buddy and we did mostly road with a bit of trail in the bog. I also did strength training and core.

Friday: OFF.

Saturday: 30′ easy + 5 x 10” strides, did this with a running buddy, and then did core.

Sunday: 20′ easy, Cobble Hill 10km, 40′ easy. I will do a race recap later this week.

Total Weekly Mileage: 58.5 km

This week is a larger week, only 3 weeks to go until 1st Half, which is the next race on my roster.

10 Signs You’re Training for a Marathon

In just 3 months, I will be toeing the start line of the Boston Marathon. I feel like even if you didn’t know I was training for a marathon, after quick look through my room (and my Strava) it would become pretty obvious. Here are 7 signs you’re training for a marathon:

1. You’re super stocked up on run fuel.

Can’t train for a long-distance event without fuel, so I have a bunch on hand for all the long runs I’ll be doing leading up to race day.

2. This is the view from your bed.

These are the medals I have received since living in BC, and my acceptance card for Boston 2018. #motivation

3. Your hydration game is on point.

Hydration is obviously very important in life as well as in endurance training and I like to replenish electrolytes by using Nuun.

4. Your training journal lives next to your bed.

Though my training schedule is kept on an excel doc, I also like to have it written in a training journal. I write down what the run is, any notes about how it went, what shoes I wore as well as when I do strength training.

5. The answer to have you seen…on Netflix is almost always YES! Recovery is a major part of training and admittedly, I spend a lot of my recovery time watching Netflix. Always accepting recommendations! Just started Black Mirror.

6. You have a stock-pile of running shoes ready to wear.

Saucony is my preferred brand of running shoes, especially Kinvara’s and the Freedom ISO’s. I have run in Saucony’s for all 3 of the marathons I have done and plan to run in them in Boston as well.

7. You have pre-scheduled your sports massages for the entire training cycle. What can I say, runners tend to like structure, routine and planning oh and massages, duh.

8. Reading for pleasure is mostly made up of running content.

Other reading I have done recently includes a 46 page power point presentation on nutrition for marathon running. I plan to print out some of the key slides and post them on the fridge.

9. You use running as a means of transportation. I am a big fan of the run commute. Instead of spending the time and money to get home and then run, I run home instead. It allows me to run while there’s still daylight, and saves time. No brainer. I also “ran” an errand the other day during my run commute home.

10. When people ask what you’re doing this weekend, you send them this meme:

Or this one:

10.

Training Recap Nov 27-Dec 3

I was pleasantly surprised with how this week went. During both of the group WO’s I focused on running as quickly as I could rather than checking the pace on my Garmin. Upon reviewing the splits, I was very happy with what I saw at this point in my training. Here is what I did last week:

Monday: OFF.

Tuesday: 30′ easy, 5 x 15” strides, I went out solo and then did the strides up and down this short stretch of paved trail near my house. I also did a core workout.

Wednesday: Group WO @ PISE, 20′ easy, 2 x 90” @temp, 3 x 15′ hill sprints, and then 200m, 400m, 600m, 400m, 200m on the track, 20′ easy. I enjoy the track because you can always see where your teammates are and push yourself to catch them (Binder).

Thursday: OFF. I did a core workout and an arm workout.

Friday: 30′ easy, I ran on my lunch, down to the ocean and back.

Saturday: Group WO, 20′ easy, 3 sets of 4′, 1′, 1′, 4′ @threshold, 20′ easy, we did this on a gravel loop just over 1km long. This was tough, but fun and I felt good about it after. I also did a core workout.

Sunday: 105′ easy, the long-runs are almost getting long again! Headed out with a friend towards Sidney for an out and back. The sun finally came out and warmed us up a bit. That was definitely the coldest run we’ve had so far, which I supposed is pretty lucky! I also did an arm workout and a core workout.

Total Weekly Mileage: 55.1km

This week will be a little higher in mileage and we are heading back to the track on Wednesday, so I am excited for that. It is also our training groups’ holiday party, so any suggestions for a clever $10 gift are graciously accepted!

Training Recap Nov 6-12

This week was pretty light because of the Rock’n’roll half. I was happy about that because last Sunday, I made a mistake on my 10km easy run. For some reason, I decided to run on my forefoot for the entire time, which felt good at the time. However, shortly after the run, my calves felt terrible. They were super tight and painful, and that continued through the week. Lesson learned!

Monday: OFF.

Tuesday: 40’ easy, I met up with my friend and we ran on Lochside. I also did a Core workout.

Wednesday: Met the group and they did a WO, I just ran easy with coach. I also did an arm workout.

Thursday: OFF.

Friday: 30’ easy, nice, little pre-flight run. I also did a core workout.

Saturday: 20’ minutes easy, I ran the strip while most people were still asleep, I always make a point to do this in Vegas even when I’m not there to run the strip at night. It is fun and challenging due to lots of stairs and escalators.

Sunday: Rock’n’roll Las Vegas, run the strip at night, my first “night race” and Sky’s first half-marathon. It was a lot of fun!

Total Weekly Mileage: 44.3km

I will post a full recap of my time in Vegas and the race later this week!