Saturday, April 22, 2017

Boston 2017 Race Recap

I'm really hoping third time's a charm with Boston 2018 because, so far, it been hot and then hotter again this year.

My training cycle for Boston went really well, and my tune-up 10K (that was short so I had to extrapolate from 5.9 to 6.2) predicted around 3:27:30. What didn't go so well is the usual winter taper cold turned sinus infection. Oh, and the weather.

Every time I go into taper, my body decides to let down it's defenses and succumb to the latest germs my toddler has brought home from day care. So, just like CIM, come Marathon Monday, I was finishing up a course of antibiotics for a sinus infection. The night before the race, I had sinus pressure strong enough to keep me awake for 2 hours. In desperation, I decided to take a decongestant just to get some sleep. For CIM, I was nearly 100% for the race; Boston, I felt like maybe 80% better (the post-nasal drip continued until about the Thursday after so, clearly, not "all better" on race day).

Race Morning


After about 5-6 hours of sleep, I got up and ate an exorbitantly priced bagel from the hotel breakfast ($6.25! WTF. Last time I do that), and about half a cup of hotel room Keurig coffee. Got all my stuff together and headed out to meet my friend from Advanced Running sub-Reddit. About half way to Boston Common I realized I had forgotten my iPod shuffle. If there was ever a race to run sans-music, this is the one, so I was only mildly annoyed. We boarded around 8:15am after hitting up the porta-potties. The bus was stuffy and warm. Not a good sign. Race morning 2016, I was still cold and had on two layers when I got on the bus. Not this year. I could have shed my long sleeve right there but I didn't feel like walking around in a crop top for 2.5 hours before the start.

We arrived with only enough time to go to the porta-potties one time, sit down and apply sunscreen and eat a bit more before it was time to go to the corrals for one more potty stop. Into the corrals we went and hung out in the only shady spot in corral 2.

My original internet running buddies Margot (@fasterbunny) and Madison (@madisond77) found me (yay!) and we chatted before the start and ran maybe the first mile together, if that. I figured I would try to go out 8:00 pace and see how it felt.

It's Go Time


Mile 1 was super crowded. Mile 2 started to clear up and I was able to pick it up. By mile 5 (splits had been 8:11, 7:58, 7:58, 7:45), I was hot and feeling weird. I touched my face and it was dry which freaked me out. Shouldn't I be sweating? My face felt like it was on fire and I had this feeling that my choice was binary: (a) slow way down right then, or (b) pass out and end up in a med tent.

It was weird, but this is the first time in a race where my body gave me such clear warning alarms. I think the fact that it was so dry (the day before it had been 85F and 26% humidity in Wellesley - super dry even by my San Diego standards) made me -- and everyone else that had this feeling because it was a common theme in race recaps -- dehydrated and overheated faster than I could figure out and attempt to mitigate.

I made the common sense choice of (a) slow way down. I kept thinking what a shit-show it would be if I ended up in a med tent and my husband and daughter had to deal with that situation. I started dumping water on myself at every aid station and drinking more water than I ever have in a race (aside from the Harding Hustle 50K which was in July in Orange County and included 6-7K of climbing or more? I can't remember. It was freaking hot).

Mile 5 split was 8:11. And it just got slower from there.

By mile 8, I had emptied my 20 ounce handheld and refilled at water stop. At 13, I got totally energized by the Wellesley Scream Tunnel - my arm was ready to fall off from holding it up to slap hands! I was able to stop briefly in Wellesley to say hi to my brother-in-law and his wife, and friends that used to live in LA they were visiting. Just like last year! Wondering if 2018 will make it a tradition :)

And guess what? My handheld was again empty. Seriously. Still dumping water on myself, running through sprinklers, fire hydrants, and stuffing ice in my sports bra whenever I could get my hands on it. Refilled the handheld and kept on truckin'. Hit the half at 1:50 or so. At this point, I knew it was going to be Positive Split City.

Maybe it was all the water on me and in me that made me stop feeling so much like death, but, strangely, I started feeling a little better. My feet on the other hand, were feeling worse because I made a rookie mistake of wearing shoes that I had only tested out 3 times. My big toes are still suffering a week later - I wouldn't be surprised if I lose my left big toenail at some point in the near future. I have always had pretty good luck shoes so I took it for granted these would just work. And they mostly did except that the toe box wasn't tall enough to deal with my big toes that like to curl up before my foot plants. So I have two under-the-nail blisters that I can't drain. Lesson (re)learned.

I hit the Newton Hills and didn't walk any of them(!). But they really are pretty tame as far as hills go. I did get slower but the sun was still out and it was still hot, so, not surprising.

Mile 18 rolls around and my handheld is empty again! Yep. About 20 ounces every 5 miles/45 minutes. Refilled a third time. And I never had to pee. It was nuts. Somewhere around here I took an ice pop from a spectator (actually, it was being held out by his toddler which was too cute) - it was the best damn grape ice pop I've ever eaten.

I get to Heartbreak and I had been telling myself I would walk if I wanted to. But I didn't! I found another Instagram buddy, Katie (@phxrunnergirl), who gave me a lift with her enthusiastic cheering! I kept plugging along. Somewhere in mile 21, the sky started to cloud over some. Last year, we got relief from the heat at mile 13-14. This year, no relief until mile 21.

My toes were still pissed off and I kept looking down to see if maybe they were bleeding or something. I don't know why I thought that, but they just hurt. But not so bad as to make me walk or slow down a lot. I managed to finish the last 5 miles faster and faster with the last two miles 8:29 and 8:28. Just like last year, I got totally swept up in the finish - it is just the best feeling to hit Hereford and then Boyleston.


I plan on buying these photos when they go on
sale like last year (usually takes a couple weeks).


I finished 3:47:17. Almost 4 minutes slower than last year, 16 minutes slower than my PR, and 18 minutes or so off my goal.

Bye Bye, iPhone


Aside from my sub 3:30 goal, the other unfortunate casualty of this race was my iPhone 6. My desire not to pass out from overheating overwhelmed worrying about the state of my phone sitting in my short's side pocket. Had I expected to be dousing myself every 8-10 minutes, I would have put my phone in a baggie. Unfortunately, the iPhone 6 is a delicate flower and even though it was mostly just getting moisture not direct water exposure, it still couldn't handle it. About 2 hours post race the touch screen stopped working (I didn't realize there was a water damage issue until this point). I couldn't power it off. Tried to put it in rice, but it never came back. So we switched to Google Fi and Android phones a bit earlier than I had initially planned.

Final Thoughts


Could I have run this race faster? Possibly. Maybe had I realized earlier how quickly I was getting dehydrated in those early miles and started drinking like crazy from mile 1, I might have finished a bit faster. But I don't think I was going to hit my goal in that weather. Drinking nearly 80 ounces of fluid in a marathon is crazy for me. By contrast, I drank maybe 24 ounces at CIM. I never refilled my handheld. This race, I refilled 3 times, poured water all over myself every station, stuffed ice in my sports bra, had an ice pop, etc and I never once had to pee (in fact, I didn't pee until about 2 hours post-finish). If that doesn't explain the conditions we were running under, I don't know what does.

When we got back to the hotel, we watched some of the live broadcast and they said that they had to submerge about the same number of runners for dangerously high body temperatures that they did in 2012 (the year it was diabolically hot). I'm not saying it was 2012 hot, but there's a lot of data to support that it was worse than last year.

While I am, obviously, disappointed with my time, I still feel like I ran decently under difficult conditions. I didn't totally fall apart, I managed not to pass out and DNF, and had a fairly strong final push. The training cycle miles are still in the bank and will count towards future races. I plan on running another fall marathon for a 2019 BQ (because no way in hell I'm relying on Boston 2018 to have good weather) and am leaning heavily on Ventura which moved to late October and looks very similar to the Mountains 2 Beach course.


2 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry about how the race went for you. Marathons are a tricky thing. I've followed your training on here and on AR and know you work hard. Glad you finished the race even if your time wasn't what you wanted AND your phone is ruined. We have Project Fi though and love it, so at least you were planning on the new phone.

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  2. UGH. I was sad to see that the year was hot...again. It sucks that we cannot control the weather! I think you ran a smart race! Thanks for the recap!!

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