I sent this around to a few folks, but by popular demand am posting on the blog. Below is my coverage of Monday's excitement!
Going into the Boston, I was extremely hesitant due to an IT band injury from late feb-march. I was unable to do much of any running for a month, and could not consistently run until the beginning of april. I cross trained through the injury (lots of elliptical) and luckily recovered in time to get a few miles under my legs and gather the courage to approach the starting line.
Navigating the start was crazy in itself. 25,000 people were running this thing=huge masses. I stayed on the outside so I wasn't smashed in the middle. I also wasn't scared to keep my elbows out and make sure people stayed out of my bubble. Pacing was tough, I generally have a good grasp of what race pace feels like but my normal cues were totally off--the adrenaline was up, so reading my body was hard. It was downhill, which threw me off. And I'm stuck in a mass of people...even more confusing. Before I crossed the first mile marker, I was expected a 6:45ish mile, but was surprised with a 6:23...a little fast but I'll take it.
Miles 2-5: After the first mile, I was expecting for the mass to dissipate. But it was still pretty strong through mile two. Okay, get in your rhythm, I thought. I knew it was incredibly important to get the 6:30's going since I'd been warned and warned about the brutality of Boston and how people wrongly think it is free downhill mileage. Mile 2 split--6:03. Yikes!! I really need to slow down. Ignore the masses and get in your groove. Mile 3--6:15. Slow down!!! Mile 4--6:14 Okay, Caroline, what are you doing?? You KNOW this is wrong. I don't care if you run a 6:45 mile next---slow down. Mile 5--6:35 Ahhhhh, much better. Okay. Stay in your groove
Mile 6-16: This section of the race reminded me of Sat/Sunday--I was just waiting around for the 'real' part of the race to start. I felt very very comfortable--gliding along thinking about staying efficient and rolling effortlessly through the course. Just like any training run. I knew this is not the real or hard part of the race, and that I needed to be patient for the tough stuff.
I also started to realize (yes, I'm very quick....just realizing) that Boston is so incredibly different from any other race I've ran. Generally it is just me and a few other girls in view who trade off places/pacing each other. Off in the distance I will see some of the fast males, but this usually isn't more than a handful of people. Even in the philly marathon (although I did the half there), the field was 15,000ish and it was me and 5 girls battling it out. But here there was a long long line of runners. It was kinda weird to not be among the leaders, but amongst a line of runners. This truly is a premier marathon. Another weird thing--there is pretty much 26.2 miles of continuous cheering. But I didn't allow myself to pay attention to the screaming crowds--just concentrate on your race.
It was also at this point that I realized, wow, I'm going to finish this thing. For legit reasons, I was concerned about my IT band or some misc tendon not being able to handle the impact and flaring up. I ignored this concern as much as possible, trying to keep the confidence up, but it was still in the back of my mind. At this point in the race, I hadn't had any pains and knew any injuries would stay at bay through the end.
Mile 17-21: Okay, its finally starting. I'd been told, once you pass the fire house, its a completely different course....and it was. This is where hills sprout everywhere, but I pushed through them and felt okay. My splits were slowing down--keep up the effort but don't go anaerobic. Once I got up heartbreak hill, I was feeling tired but still with it. I could still turn my legs over and wasn't in too much pain. Just get to mile 22!!!! My coach and I agreed before hand that I could start turning the speed on at 22.
Mile 22-26: Okay, time to turn on the legs, right? hello? legs? No answer, but there was pain. Lots of pain. I couldn't turn my legs over at all and my speed was zapped, which was a weird feeling because my brain and my cardio were ready to get moving. I'd never felt like this, usually I'm either good to go or entirely exhausted, but here I was split. My legs just weren't cooperating with my lungs and mind; the lack of mileage started to catch up with me. I took my splits but didn't look at my watch because I didn't want to know....it wouldn't help anything to quantify how much I was slowing down. The head wind wasn't too pleasant either (apparently winds got up to 18mph). But in the middle of the pain/complete body crampage, I thought this is exactly what you wanted, you wanted a race where you had the option to push yourself. Your IT band is cooperating and giving you the choice to race. Take it.
The last mile is one I will not forget; over a million people came to Boston to watch the race. The final stretch was deafening, with the crowds urging you to stride into the finish. The spectator's eruption and electricity reminded me of parachuting the American flag onto the 50 yard line of a 50,000 person stadium before the AF vs Navy football game....except this time, I'm running on fumes, trying to salvage whats left of my body. Ohhhh it hurts so good.
My mile splits for the race:
So now that it's done....how I do I feel about the race?
1) Got some room for improvement with negative splits. I knew this going into the race, and was committed to keeping 6:30's through mile 22. But the first 5 miles definitely need work.
2) It was hard to be confident going into this, but it turned out well. I ignored as much as possible that my longest run going post injury was 13 miles. But I trusted my coach, who had faith in me running this race. I also knew if I put my mind to something, I will do it. And I wanted to race this really really badly.
3) I was hoping for 2:50ish, but considering pacing problems in the beginning, the wind, and the lack of miles, I'll gladly take my 2:55 (which scored 41st place, and the 24th American) And, afterall, this is my second real marathon. A 14 minute PR isn't to shabby. In sum, I learned some lessons, had fun, spent time with my parents, and got to experience the spectacle of Boston. All great things.
4) Now I'm TOTALLY amped for twin cities. After graduating from UMD, the Air Force is putting me in the World Class Athlete Program. My pilot training start date is being pushed back, as I will be living in Colorado Springs, to train and hopefully qualify for the Olympic Trials at the Twin Cities marathon. Its going to take lots of hard work, but I'm ready for the challenge.