Boston Marathon 2018 Race Review

The Restless Runner is back! Why haven’t I been around? This school-year has been so tough. Maybe at some point I’ll elaborate on why. Not even having time to respond to all the emails in my inbox made it feel wrong to spend my spare time blogging. I also took most of August-October off of running more than the occasional weekend run or 3 mile de-stressor after work. I was in work survival mode.

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High-School BFF Jackie and I!

At the end of September during the Boston registration window I was in a low being especially overwhelmed. I asked Brent whether I should go for Boston #4 and he didn’t hesitate and said “Yes! You love that race. We’re going any year we can.” I signed up because I really wanted something to look forward to. I love Boston. Not just the run, but the whole experience. It’s such a special race, and the training doesn’t stress me out. It brings me so much joy. But this past week when the weather report projected headwinds, rain, and cold I cried to Brent, “I signed up for this because I wanted to have fun! And now conditions are just awful!” Brent is amazing. He reassured me this was meant to be. He said that I was meant to run in the most challenging conditions because this year has been so tough and I was to take all my strength and all my grit that I had built over the year and put it into this race. He was right. I wouldn’t change a thing about this past weekend. It was perfect.

The night before the race Ellen and I were talking race strategy. It would have been really easy for us to forgo racing on Monday. It wasn’t a PR day, so why not just run a long run pace and save our legs another race? I’ll put it out there, I trained for a 2:55. Yes, I was disappointed that race conditions weren’t going to give me the opportunity to show my fitness, but that’s the beauty of Boston. The late start, the point-to-point course requiring to travel to the start hours before you start, the no pacers rule, the hills, and April in New England makes for real racing. Marathoning requires grit, tactics, and strategy. Marathoning is symbolic of life, and you cannot control all the elements. There are many races out there designed to give the perfect conditions so that you can have an ideal race and a PR to brag about. I haven’t run a PR since October 2016, but I know I’m a stronger runner today than I was back in 2016. Yesterday’s 2:59 means so much more to me than a 2:55 would on a 55 degree day with a tailwind pushing me towards the finish line. Ellen also embraced the suck and went for it. She earned a PR despite the tough conditions.

Monday morning when we arrived to the mud pit that is athletes village we all questioned why we run stupid marathons. All of our shoes were soaked and muddy before we even started. We couldn’t feel our fingers and toes. We were crowded under a tent, shivering from the cold, joking that it was an “honor and a privilege” to be at Boston and that we paid to do this. I tried to remind myself that so many runners would gladly take my place for a chance to run this iconic course. I reminded myself I had the opportunity to literally run in the footsteps of my heroes.

Around 9:15 we heard the announcers ask wave 1 to make their way towards the corrals. We began the mile “death march” towards the start, laughing at the fact that we were avoiding puddles like it was going to make a difference. Boston places you in corrals based on pace, so everyone in my corral qualified within 1-2 minutes of my qualifying time. I asked others their race plan, and it was pretty split. Some saying they were going to go for it, and others opting out of a hard effort. I decided to go out slightly more conservative but still ambitious, a 3 hour pace. I hoped it wouldn’t be a suicide mission.

I couldn’t feel my feet for the first few miles. It’s a strange feeling that I can’t even describe. My fingers were frozen before the race started and didn’t come back to life until my 20 minute post-race shower. It made fueling really hard, but I kept telling myself “Find a way to get your calories in. You’re going to bonk if you don’t!”

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Mid-race glove swap

I got in a grove and didn’t check my watch much. My arm was frozen so I didn’t feel it buzz at every mile. I looked down at the halfway point and saw I was in pace to finish under three, and prayed the second half, the more challenging half, would be good to me.

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Running with the boys.

I then got in a trance. I visualized being on the beach in Playa del Rey. I repeated over and over again “You are warm. You are at the beach. You are comfortable.” With every gust of wind I welcomed it and said “You are stronger than this wind.” I thought of my training BFF Ellen, and found comfort knowing she was running in the same conditions. I knew she wasn’t giving up, so I couldn’t.

Seeing Brent and Jackie at mile 6, 13, and 21 gave me something to look forward too. I am so grateful to spectators. I know how stressful it is! I switched out my gloves at 13 thanks to Lucy who gave me an extra pair. I only managed to grab one, so Brent sprinted to catch up to me to give me the other. My hands were so cold it took me a full mile or two to get them on correctly.

When I hit the hills from 17-21 I did what I always do at Boston, force myself not to look at my watch and run by effort. When I hit the top of heartbreak hill I got a rush. 5 measly miles. That was it!

When I saw the Citco sign I got emotional. It was almost over. My legs felt like they could run another five miles, but my body was so cold and ready for a hot shower. I took the iconic turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston. There is something so emotional about running down Boylston. I always think about the bombing, think about what the marathon symbolizes, think about how grateful I am to be happy and healthy as I charge towards that finish line. It was my fourth time, but it never loses its magic. I try to soak it all in. This year that was quite literal!

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2:59:11

This race had great flow. I didn’t run nervous. I wasn’t a slave to my watch like I have been in the past. I just ran what felt like 3 hours, and knew everything would be OK.

Fellow runners, you amaze me. I didn’t even consider quitting because all of you were out there proving that together we are so strong. You inspired me and encouraged me. Thank you! Volunteers, you deserve the biggest thank you. Standing out there for hours being splashed by water as we ran through water stands. Thank you for helping us earn our medals.

What next? Who knows. Will I run Boston again? Yes. Next year? Maybe. Just don’t be surprised and expect me to get it out of my system because just like Papa said, in the sport of running, Boston is the cultural mecca.

A few photos:

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The article Papa wrote back in the 70s when he was just starting as a reporter in Michigan. Little did he know his daughters would be self-torture clique members.

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Meeting our heroes at the Expo!

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Well worth the $$$

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Only $800 and I can have this at home!

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That time Desi’s husband made me coffee

 

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Athletes Village in Hopkinton. Waited here for a over an hour before walking to the start.

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Ellen spotted this celeb on Saturday afternoon!

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Celebratory beers sent to our hotel room from Andrea and Alaina. Thank you!

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I love Mama!

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This is GRIT.

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Post-race celebration with Lindsey, Jackie, and Brent at Alden + Harlow!

I feel like there is so much more to share. Boston really is so much more than one race, but for now I leave you with this quote from Desi. I just LOVE DESI! I was a fan before she was cool. She is so damn gritty and humble. And she trains in Michigan. SO SO SO happy she won.

IMG_0511.PNGUntil next time. Hopefully it won’t be another 10 months 🙂

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Mix It Up May

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since the Boston Marathon. It feels like so much longer! Yesterday I ran a 6:45 pace for a few minutes. There’s no way I could have held that pace for 26.2. Traditionally May is a month to mix it up. School has been my biggest focus. February, March, and April were big training months, meaning I was rushing home after work to run, strength train, stretch, eat, and sleep. This month I’ve spent more time on finishing the school year strong. I took my team to Palm Springs for a work retreat, went to New York for a school workshop at Achievement First, and have been hiring next year’s additions to our team.

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The EQ3 Dream Team!

In my running world, I’ve averaged 30ish miles a week and have tried a bunch of new cross training classes. Easier said than done. I love working towards a goal and spending Saturday morning exploring the city. It’s no fun feeling like I’m getting slower, but I know this is good for me. I have the rest of my life to train. Slow and steady wins the race, right?!

Here’s how I’ve been mixing it up…

We had our first ever Talent Show at EQ3. Our scholars took the event so seriously. It was adorable! IMG_7679.JPG

We finalized our furniture order for our permanent facility. Feels weird spending $180,000. Thank you Walton Family Foundation!

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Brent took me rock climbing…

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Workin on my upper body and core strength at Coreology. It’s humbling. Very humbling.

logo.pngls.jpgWe celebrated Rexetta turning 1 year old!IMG_7713.JPG

I joined Excelencia Charter Academy’s Board and survived the LAUSD Capacity interview.Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.08.46 AM.pngAlaina and I went back to Yoga and Mimosas at Malibu Wines.18319334_1872959282962173_8968698514493380850_o.jpg

I went to Palm Springs with these lovely ladies.FullSizeRender-3.jpg

Alaina was very excited to work with me…IMG_7565.PNG

I won a 10K here in Playa del Rey, but learned that you can’t run easy three milers for a month, sign up the night before, and expect to run a PR. 40:20. Was annoyed that I didn’t run sub-40, but I’ll take a win. I’m the one in the front fixing my hair.

LATS17XX00083 (1).jpgMy Transitional Kindergarten group and I have been working on our sight words.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.35.23 AM.pngVisited Achievement First Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY. Lovin the school signage.

And yesterday I picked up the pace. It was fun to run fast! Strange to “only” run 7 miles on Sunday, but they were quality miles. Loved Stride Fitness Studio in Pasadena. Think Soul Cycle for runners. They give you a heart rate monitor, have fun music, motivate you through intervals. In my opinion, speed on treadmills is WAY better than on the track. I loved the vibe at Stride. Preferred it to Precision Running and Mile High Run Club in NY. It was less intimidating, more inviting, more technical with the heart rate monitor, and they send you an email with your stats after class. I will be back! Wish it was a little closer, but Pasadena isn’t too far on a Sunday morning.IMG_7804.JPGScreen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.27.02 AM.png

It’s almost JUNE! Ahh. Next weekend we’re heading to San Diego for Brent to run the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. We’re turning into that annoying running family. I’m so excited to be a cheerleader, and can’t wait to see what he accomplishes! That race has a special place in my heart. My first BQ 4 years ago, and Ellen’s BQ last year. RnRSD.jpg

Have a Happy Memorial Day!

Boston Marathon 2017 Race Review

Boston, you’ve been so good to me. I love the Boston Marathon tradition. I love the city support. I appreciate the challenging course and the late start. Boston finish times are hard earned. I don’t care to run other marathons. The Boston Marathon is the marathon for me, and my third time was a charm. I feel so blessed. This was my 12th marathon. I don’t expect a cheer team, so it was a nice treat to have support from Brent, Mama, and Papa. I was also so happy to experience the race with my best running buddy, Ellen. Races are always more fun with her! I trained for a 6:40 pace, hoping for 55 degrees, a tailwind, and race day luck. Race day wasn’t ideal, although it could have been worse. Easter Sunday in Boston was 83 degrees. I started the race at 10:00 am and it was already 70 degrees in Hopkinton. The course provides little shade and isn’t known to be a fast course. It’s crowded and waters stations are war zones, again another reason I love Boston. I love the idea of killing it on a tough course.

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1st and 3rd Boston

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Ellen, Kristine, and I on the bus ride to Hopkinton

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Not a woman in sight in Wave 1 Corral 4

What I started the race I got into a 6:45 flow. It just felt right. I knew 6:45 translated to more like a 6:50 official pace because of tangents and water stations. I knew with the heat running any faster could become a suicide mission. I knew I’d be happy if I held back in the early miles. I spent the extra time dumping water on my head at water stations and drinking 1-2 cups every mile. My 6:40 pace goal got officially readjusted in my mind at mile 5. I wondered if I was giving up, but reminded myself to respect the distance and go with my gut feeling. My legs were trained for 2:55, but today wasn’t the right day.

It paid off. I ran nervous until 15. I really don’t understand how people go out too fast. I’m always soooo scared. I hold back during miles 1-15. During these miles on Monday I questioned why I run marathons, fantasized about giving up on my running lifestyle, and thought about taking it easy and being compliant with a sub-par performance. I talked myself out of that funk, told myself I’d be so upset if I ran complacent, and made a sub-3 race plan on the spot. This race was all about proving I was a sub-3 marathoner.

At mile 16 I enjoyed a downhill, and when I hit 17 I felt PUMPED. The men around me were dropping like flies. I was passing them left and right, and I thought to myself “Just a Sunday morning Beverly Hills 9 miler left.” I maintained my pace throughout the Newton Hills even though my quads were starting to tighten up. When I saw Mama, Papa, and Brent and the top of Heartbreak Hill I gave them thumbs up so that they knew I was OK (a Mama always wants to know her baby isn’t hurting). Brent yelled “I love you so much” and I cranked it up a notch and started running 6:35s. I hit mile 23 and reminded myself I just had a lazy 3 miler left and started talking to myself like a crazy person. I used my sister Carmen’s mantra saying “Come on! Come on!” over and over again. A runner stayed with me for a full mile while I talked to myself, so I guess he appreciated the free pump up talk.

At 24 I calculated that as long as I ran a 7 minute miles I’d hit sub-3, and it was at that moment that I realized I’d hit my second sub-3. Long Beach wasn’t a fluke. I did it on a hot day, on a hard course, with more pressure. I’m proud of myself for adjusting my goal mid-race. I averaged a 6:47 pace for 2 hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds, and I couldn’t be happier. 83rd woman out of 11973. The marathon is a distance to be respected, and I know I made the right call. I felt the benefit of my training, I felt the strength in my legs, and I’ve never been happier running 26.2.

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So what’s next? A break. No marathons until MAYBE Boston next year. I’d love to concentrate on speed. I think I have this whole endurance thing down, but my legs need to learn to move faster. They just don’t know how to move faster than a 6:30 pace, so maybe so a half marathon or a 10K? I have my whole life to run, and women peak well into their 40s. There’s no pressure. No need to set another lofty goal now. I’m gonna take it easy, do more yoga, fatten up, and spend more time with friends and family. It’s been a crazy 2 years of marathoning. Time for a BREAK from high mileage.

PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND

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At the Runner’s World Pop Up Shop with Bart Yasso!

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Saturday Shakeout with Bart Yasso!

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Scott Jurek at the Cliff Station on Boylston

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Picking up Ellen’s bib for her first Boston!

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Free cryotherapy at the expo

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Blessing of the Athletes at Old South Church

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Pre-Race Dinner at Antico Forno in North End 

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Ellen and Anna at Dinner

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Tatoo Station at Athlete’s Village

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All smiles with a mile to go

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Post-Race Dinner at Adlen & Harlow in Cambridge

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Visiting Lindsey and Baby Carter Tuesday morning

Race Nutrition

  • Salt Tablets
  • Pretzels I saved from the airplane ride to Boston
  • Salted Caramel Gus (I think I’ll pass on ANYTHING salted caramel for a while)
  • Water at every station and dumping water on my head too

Boston Tips 3.0

  • I said this last year…DON’T TRIP ON THE RAILROAD TRACKS IN FRAMINGHAM. I did it again this year.
  • Train on rolling hills. It’ll prep your quads.
  • Plan for a war zone at water stations. Possibly consider carrying a small water bottle for the first few miles.
  • Use the corner porta-poties at Athletes’ Village. The line is shorter.
  • Have FUN and think about what an honor it is on the run on such a historic course
  • Pack light. You’ll get a ton of freebies at the expo! This year was especially good. Thank you Clif and Kind for all the bars!
  • Go to Alden & Harlow in Cambridge after the race for dinner. It is so so so good. Like top 10 restaurant worthy!
  • Go to the Blessing of the Athletes service at Old South Church. Even if you’re not particularly religious, you’ll enjoy it. It is such a cool service with a blessing, prayer, and bagpipe procession!

I had such an incredible time in Boston, and I can’t wait until I’m back there again. But I also just love being a principal and was so excited to see the kiddos and staff today. It was fun being Marathon Cristina, but Principal Lowry is back and ready to end the year strong 🙂