Boston Marathon Race Recap 2019

Boston Marathon, you have a special place in my heart. For so many years you were the ultimate dream. I failed on multiple occasions in my quest to run this iconic course. Monday I finished the course for the fifth time. What keeps me coming back? Yes, the tradition and the history, but also because the Boston Marathon = GRIT. PRs aren’t given, they are earned. Don’t be fooled by the net downhill course. The Boston Marathon course is designed to put the odds against you.

The gun goes off and you run 100+ meters downhill in the first mile. Sounds nice huh? That downhill pounding on the quads and pushing of the toes against your shoes comes back to haunt you in the teens. You go up and down the first few miles before evening out until the 15ish. Mile 16 is a major downhill, again trashing your quads as you easily run your fastest mile right before tackling Newton Hills. For 16 miles you’ve been running scared, knowing Newton is approaching. You see the “Welcome to Newton” sign and you get a little nauseous.

Everyone talks about Heartbreak Hill, but what really makes it a heartbreak is that you’ve run 3 hills prior and you’re convinced it’s over and then boom, heartbreak. It’s just a punch in the face. So you conquer the hills. You’re rewarded with another downhill. Sounds nice, but at this point your quads are trashed from the early downhill miles and your hamstrings feel like they’re about to pull from climbing so you’re pumping your arms like crazy and using the crowds of Boston to send you home.

You see the Citgo sign and the Prudential Center and you choke up. You just ran from Hopkinton to Boston. With less than a mile to go you escape the crowds in an underpass, then make the infamous right on Hereford and left on Boylston. That final 800-meter stretch is surreal. For those few minutes you escape reality. You try to soak it all in. For those few minutes you’re not “Principal Lowry” or whatever your day job might be. If I had the writing talent of my Papa or Carmen maybe I’d be able to describe it!

This year I ran a 2:54. A 4 minute course PR and finished 98th woman. I was hoping for top 100 😜 I’m determined to master this course, but I’m not there yet. This year the strategy was a planned positive split. Run hard for the first half, ignore the watch from 17-21, and then give whatever I’ve got for the final 5. The plan served me well as I got the tiniest of PRs. A PR is a PR though and considering I’m a new Mama and ran fewer miles than in past training blocks I’m super excited! Plus it’s BOSTON! It’s no Revel course!

So how did I feel? I ran a little scared. Scared I’d hit the wall. Scared my hamstrings would lock up, scared I wouldn’t be smiling at the top of heartbreak, and the early miles just felt so aggressive. I had a pit stop around mile 16/17 because I didn’t get to use the porta potty before the race (the line was crazy long) and I was really thirsty from the humidity. I remember around mile 17 fantasizing about how easy my life would be if I just gave up marathoning and slept in and went to brunch on Saturday mornings instead of training. I forced myself to ignore those negative thoughts and did my positive self talk. I looked down at my JANES tattoo and thought about my daughter, I told myself I was tough, I thought about Brent and how much he believes in me, and I thought about Mama and Papa and all the cross country meets they took me too and how much I love them. I did a bit of math around mile 24 and knew I’d have to hustle for a PR. Alaina sent me a text that popped up on my watch and it said “Fire up those buns and GO GO GO!” and I just went for it. I busted out a fast final mile and finished in 2:54. I cannot believe I ran 26.2 miles at a 6:37 pace. I feel so grateful and lucky.

I’m getting closer to that ultimate goal of 2:48, 2 hours faster than my first marathon in 2008. But will I ever reach an ultimate goal and feel 100% satisfied?

For now I’m gonna take a bit of a break from high mileage running, but I’ll see you in 2020, Boston.

A few pics…

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Jane did such an amazing job on both flights! She’s the best baby!

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Obligatory bib pic.

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Ellen my running BFF!

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It decided to pour the morning of the race. Thank goodness it stopped by 10am!

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Min my Salt & Straw and wave 1 buddy!

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Walked to the start with Hungry Runner Girl and Tina Muir!

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Yup, that’s Blue randomly in my parent’s photo of Jane and Brent!

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Less than a mile.

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I can see the Citgo sign!

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Always fun to see Lucy in Boston!

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Sweet Baby Jane

I was sitting in a summer training session at at school on August 21st when my phone rang. It was the adoption agency. I ran out of the room to the playground. “Hi, this is Mia with AdoptHelp. I’m calling with good news. You’ve been selected by a birth mother in Florida who is giving birth to a baby girl in December.” So much to process in that loaded sentence. Someone picked our profile? A girl? But I always thought of myself as a boy mom. December? I’ll be a Mama before the end of the year?! This is the best early birthday present ever. Mia gave me a few more details, none of which I remember. I was just anxious to get Brent on the phone. We officially accepted the placement and scheduled a call with the birth Mom.

Let’s flashback to January 2018. After an informational meeting with AdoptHelp, Brent and I decided our philosophy aligned perfectly with the agency. On January 15, 2018 we officially joined the AdoptHelp family. This is something we’ve talked about since before we were married. It was hard to believe it was actually happening. We were sent a THICK packet of paperwork. Applications. Home Visits. Profiles. Family photos. SO MUCH PAPERWORK. With the stress of school, it felt like a second job. We could have been a bit more urgent about finishing everything, but didn’t finalize all the work until the end of May. Brent was a bit of a perfectionist with the profile 🙂 After submitting all of our paperwork we were told to expect a 9-12 month wait. It was up to a birth mother to select us. To celebrate being done with all the initial work we went on the most amazing trip to Namibia and lived a “yes” lifestyle. This translated to running too. Run Cross Country for the first time since high school? Why not? Chicago Marathon with the American Development Program? Yes! Day trip in Sacramento to watch Ellen crush the California International Marathon? Absolutely!

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It was all well and good, but does not compare to the fun of being Jane’s mother. My whole world changed when Jane was born on December 30, 2018. Not having experienced pregnancy, I wondered if I’d feel like Jane’s mom. I wondered if she would bond with me. I worried that my mother instincts wouldn’t kick in. It didn’t feel real until I held her in my arms.

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I feel so blessed to have been there for Jane’s birth and to be the first to hold her after she was born. It was an honor to hold Jane’s birth mother’s hand through labor. We’ve built a strong relationship with her, and I know we’re going to be a part of each other’s lives forever. I love Jane more and more every day. Nothing beats the feeling when she laughs and smiles at me. I absolutely am Jane’s Mama, and those mother instincts definitely kicked in. It’s Mama and Jane all day everyday until April 1st. Oh and side note, yes, I’m a proud Jane, but Jane was not named after my running group. Jane met the name requirements for both Brent and I. I wanted a timeless family name (my Grandma and I both have the middle name Jane) and Brent wanted a female scientist. I love that she is named after a scientist who worked in Africa 🙂 For these next few weeks I am soaking it all in and taking advantage of every moment. Oh, and it turns out I love being a girl Mama too 😉

 

 

Random Racing + Pacing

My running life post Chicago Marathon has been glorious. Low mileage, BoxUnion and Barry’s with Marta, occasional racing, and a bit of pacing. The other day I ran past an empty soccer field mid-run was in the mood to run fast, so I did 10 sprints. Why not? It’s been a nice break from the super structure of marathon training.

Brent and I stayed in LA this year for Thanksgiving Ashley and Chad’s Wedding. We celebrated at a golf club in the mountains in Burbank. It was perfect. I have the best of friends. I’m still on a high from that day!

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Despite getting home at midnight, the next day I work up early to run the Grand Prix Turkey Trot in Dana Point. Considering my mileage has been lower, I thought I might be able to run a PR. Marathon training exhausts my legs, so I’d been feeling a little more pep in my step. The gun went off and I tried to keep my teammates Julia and Rachel in my sight. First mile, 5:57. Oops! This is gonna hurt. I tried to slow it down a bit, but kept running sub 6:10. I thought to myself, “It’s a 10K. I’ll just let myself crash and burn. No biggie.” But I never crashed. I hit mile 5, and looked down at my watch and did a bit of math and thought “If I can run a final mile in 6:05ish I’ll run in the 37s.” I felt strong and confident, and was so excited to see a 37 on the race clock.Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 3.40.55 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-12-02 at 3.42.17 PM.png
The weekend before Thanksgiving I ran my first cross-country 6K with the Janes at the USATF SoCal Cross Country Championships. My goal was not to be the slowest Jane. We’re openly competitive 🙂 The course was tough, but I managed not to trip or fall. Oh, and I finished smack in the middle for our team.

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These days I’m loving the shorter stuff. I feel like I have a lot more to give in the 5K/10K. I love racing, and I can do it more often with shorter distances. I’ve also managed to run exactly 18:28 in the 5K THREE TIMES so I’m looking for a 5K to add to the schedule and lower that number. I’m hoping working on speed will help me in future marathons. I think I’ve got the endurance down; my legs just don’t love running fast.

The real highlight since Boston was TODAY at the California International Marathon. Ellen ABSOLUTELY KILLED IT! I last minute decided to head up there to spectate and pace for the final few miles. Spectating is no joke. Thank you to anyone who has ever cheered for me. It’s a different kind of stress! Sprinting to the car, avoiding road closures, looking out for your runner, praying they’re feeling good. Oh it was so amazing to watch years of hard work pay off today. When I first met Ellen she had never run a marathon, she ran her debut at LA in 4:02 and today she joined the sub-3:10 club running a 3:08. Sub-3, we’re coming for you! I am so so so so proud. It was so amazing to see her execute what I know she has had inside her for a very long time. And to think, this is only the beginning.

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Huge thank you to the Mulholland family for their hospitality. I always love spending time with them 🙂 Now I’m off to celebrate the Brent. Happiest of birthdays to my 35 year old partner-in-life.