Except for a few amazingly strong runners, it seems like nobody had the day they were hoping for in Boston on Monday, but I know I have never enjoyed not hitting an A goal more in my life and the smiles plastered on the faces of the runners around me as I cruised down Boylston Street would indicate that I’m not the only one. Despite the warm and windy conditions, it was impossible not to have a great time and soak up the completely unique atmosphere that surrounds the Boston Marathon.
The crowds were fantastic: The Wellesley girls took it to a whole new level and I think my right arm may have been partially removed from its socket after a quarter mile of high fives. November Project really outdid themselves at the mile 18 water station and it was great to be able to fully enjoy their energy and even steal a kiss from my husband. The drunk college students seemed even more rowdy than usual and the crowds on Comm Ave, Hereford and Boylston must have been twice as loud as last year. The support from friends, family, team mates and even people I haven’t heard from in ages before and after the race is truly overwhelming and so appreciated! I got to hang out with my parents, go to a Red Sox game, run a shake out on my old college loop with some of my new SFRC team mates and hang out in athletes village with some of my favorite running buddies. I can honestly say I have never had so much fun at Boston before.
That being said, I did not hit my A goal to break 3 hours and I have had a few days to think about why. Before I dive in I want to say I am extremely proud of myself for achieving a 12 minute PR, passing about 8,000 people and coming in the top 150 women. I smiled every mile, I high fived as many people as I could and I thanked every volunteer I could. I could not have done this without the support of my friends and family or the guidance of my coach, David Roche. I definitely would not have even made it to the start line without Hal Rosenberg, Jennifer Ross and Katy Kunkle who all took such expert care of me that I felt like an elite with a dedicated health care staff!
No excuses. I ran a 3:05 marathon. I know I can break 3 hours, but I could not break 3 hours on Monday. Sure it was warm and many people (including the leaders) ran slower than “normal”, but weather isn’t what prevented me from breaking 3, I prevented myself from breaking 3 by giving up on myself around mile 9. If I am 100% honest, I toed the line already giving myself permission to not break 3 so when the realization hit that my legs just didn’t have any spunk, I let myself get away with giving less than 100% and that is what I am disappointed with. Time goals are arbitrary and often externally motivated, and if I had hit a 3:05 but given 110% I would be completely satisfied. But I didn’t. And so I am not. And that is why I keep going back to Boston.
I knew it was going to be tough, and I thought the lessons I have learned about pushing through discomfort on the trails would transfer to the roads, but something got lost in translation: Maybe its because instead of my legs feeling worked but powerful like they did on the final climb up Marincello at The North Face, they felt flat and spunkless at mile 9. All I know is that from a mental standpoint I reacted terribly when I found myself working harder than desired for a pace slower than desired but was able to turn on the Punisher when I hit the hills at mile 17.
So yeah, I have some mental work to do to learn how to suck it up, but there are also some important physical lessons to take away as well. This being my first consistent high (relatively) volume training block, well, ever, it was always going to be a bit of an experiment and based on how I felt on Monday, I think I was slightly over trained. Even in the warm weather my legs should have been totally fine with hitting 6:30;6:40 on those early downhill miles. I didn’t go out too fast and burn out, that was how fast I was supposed to go out. My effort level felt calm and controlled and my heart rate and breathing were well within comfort range. And yet by mile 9 I started to slow and my legs felt flat. Even when I re-engaged mentally I was still only able to pull 7’s on downhill miles whereas on training runs in equally warm conditions, flat 6:50’s were within comfort. While achieving the perfect training peak and having perfect conditions would have been great, it’s rare for everything to go smoothly on race day. The line between over training and under training is a knife edge and when aiming for a 20 minute marathon PR you have to take some risks. This one paid off in that I am in the best shape of my life and achieved a goal I missed out on last year. The risk did not pay off in that I did not feel my best on race day. I did learn a lot about my abilities and how my body responds to training and will use that to get even stronger.
Moving forward I have a road half marathon in under 2 weeks and then I shift back to trails. And boy am I excited. I can’t wait to base build and work on climbing ahead of the OCC in Chamonix in August. I am really looking forward to soaking up all that is Western States in CA in late June and I’m hoping to sneak in a few altitude training trips to Boulder and Tahoe over the summer as well. For now, I am enjoying all the donuts and beer while I mentally prepare to anxiously cheer on my husband and coachee as he takes on his first long trail race this weekend at the Folsom Lake 35K!