Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reflections of Boston

Brief and un-energetic would describe my first Boston race report.  Now that I've had time to reflect on the race and settle back into real life, I'd like to share my thoughts not from the stand point of making excuses but to allow me to talk through my experience and feelings about the race and post race. This is kind of a long post but has been very therapeutic.

Because I compare myself to other marathoners, generally better than me, I discounted my achievement of not only running a marathon but running the BOSTON marathon.  Being around other runners and feeling like I'm the under-achiever of the group, I forgot much of the rest of the world doesn't run and a marathon to them is something super-humans do.  When I got back to work, everyone congratulated me.  They were proud of me.  

Up to that point (well even now if I'm truthful) I wasn't proud of me.  I ran/walked the last 6 miles and was disappointed in myself. Had I not given myself permission to walk, which then allowed me to walk again and again, would I have done better.  I was very fatigued and while I didn't quit the race, I quit pushing myself.  I've done plenty of long runs where I thought of walking and saw my pace wasn't that bad after all and kept running.  I didn't even look at my pace when I decided to walk.  Should I have just slowed my pace down?  I know there is no answer to that.
One of my friends immediately after I finished texted me what happened?  My pace fell off. Why did I fall apart the last 6 miles?  Hmmm, are you a frenemy?  It happened.  I've thought about the various areas of possible reasons for hitting the wall
  • Nutrition- being in a hotel and eating every meal out is challenging. I didn't carb up like I did on my last marathon.  I also only ate a bagel with peanut butter 4 hours before the race.  That probably wasn't enough food.  
  • Training- I had 3 weeks of little training due to injuries in the two months prior to the race.  That affected my endurance and confidence.
  • Time of day- my training runs are always early and I would be done and showered by 10:30...which on race day is the time I started running.
  • Pacing- I still feel that I went out ok.  It's a race, I chose to start at my race pace, rather than work into it.  This is a different tactic for me because usually I start much slower and speed up as I go.  Changing my tactic from something that has worked very well in the past for me is something in hindsight that I shouldn't have changed.
  • Mental game - leading up to the race and during the race I was fearful I would be injured. That the IT band or hamstring would act up.  I was fine and wasted a lot of energy and created stress with the worry. 
  • Flat out being tired- I was tired, chose to walk and in hindsight, I wish I just slowed down my pace but kept running.
In reality, even falling apart...or being shredded as one of my friends put it.  I did fantastic.  Bottom line.  I ran a marathon and I did it under 4 hours.  If I stand back and  look at it, that is outstanding and I know many people strive to go under 4 hours and don't ever make that goal. As I mentioned, people at work and my friends are proud of me and so excited to say they know someone who ran Boston. It doesn't matter to them if my pace dropped from 8:25 at the half marathon to 8:54 at the end.  It doesn't matter.

Now for the lighter side of this post.....  I LOVED all the little kids out there.  They were so excited, jumping up and down with so much enthusiasm,  at the start yelling go go go.  Throughout the race they held out orange slices in the palm of their hand making it easy for runners to get the oranges. Popsicles in various colors were held out and was a very welcome treat.  Rows of children would hold out their hands for high 5's.  If you started down the row, other people (adults too) put out their hands to keep the high 5 chain going.  At the beginning of the race, high 5'ing is a serious energy booster. I tried to high 5 at the end hoping to get some energy but eventually I didn't have the energy to even do that.

The crowds were awesome.  I wore my name on my shirt and loved having them cheer me on.  At the end, it was very helpful and I felt like they cared and were really rooting for me.  Sorry to the guys that I rolled my eyes and gave them a 'life sucks' look.  I'm so appreciative of the crowds out there even though if I don't have many memories of those last painful miles.  
I do remember 
  • at the beginning seeing the crowd of runners...covering the road...a blanket of people
  • towards the end the crowds were 5 deep and the faces were a blur.
  • coming up to Becky and Sonja from my track group and Becky's smiling face as she cheered me on.  we leap-frogged each other the last 2 miles. 
  • seeing Becky put her hand on Sonja's back to encourage Sonja to keep running...that she was doing great even though it hurt to keep going
  • encouraging another runner who was in tears saying how much it hurt.  The amazing thing to me was she kept running and didn't stop.  Because I was run/walking, I would pass and encourage her a number of times
  • running behind Dana, who turned out to be Miss Canada.  I realized who she was when Miss Canada, wearing her red gown AND HEELS are the post-race party had her bib on with her name on it.
  • running behind Kelsey and hearing the crowd call out her name.  I've heard some runners get tired of hearing the names or runners being called out but I didn't.  Kelsey, thanks for running by me.  
  • seeing Team Hoyt on the course.  You've seen storied about Dick pushing his son Rick in marathons. It was an honor to see them on the course. Rick was very bundled up for the cold.
  • seeing Achilles members and knowing the runners have overcome challenges greater than I could even imagine.
  • telling a blind runner and his guide that he's looking good and having him reply back that I was looking good too. That cracked me up.
  • throwing my gloves off to the side meaning to have them go to the side of the road yet over threw them many feet into someone's yard. I didn't know my own arm strength
  • talking to Tall Mom around mile 11.  She said she was having a tough time and I felt bad for her that we weren't even at the half way point yet.
  • seeing my friend with her union jack bandanna at mile 6 in front of me and knowing she was running a faster pace, let her go and not try and catch up...even to say hi. 
  • running by Jackie Moon and telling him he looked sexy and having him tell me that I'm sexy too and he's going to draft off of me.
  • seeing signs on business to encourage the runners
  • the green water cups scattered on the ground blowing across the road because of the high wind (which very very fortunately was a tail wind)
  • stepping on used Power Gels packs at mile 17 thinking they were slippery and someone could fall if there were too many on the ground.
  • seeing leaf rakes sweep the cups off to the side
  • being encouraged by the volunteers at water stations
  • the lady who cried out..come on in frustration when I started walking. I suppose if the runner in front of me stopped I'd be frustrated too
  • noticing the runner with the KT Tape across their legs at the beginning of the race. Wondering how tough would the race be for them.
  • Feeling a blister on my arch (same place I've been getting them) starting about mile 3. In the end, I had 7 blisters with 4 being blood blisters on the tips of my toes.  Right now I still have a black toe that I wear proudly.
  • being cold at the start of the race but with the sheer number of people scrunched into a small area, the wind didn't get to me and it wasn't that cold.
  • the calmness yet excitement at the start of the race.
  • Choking up when I had the medal around my neck and realizing that I just ran Boston, something many people strive to do and I had to qualify to even get there. 
The day I left for Boston my co-workers decorated my office.  They signed a poster board with well wishes.  One lady explained they tried to find a picture of a white woman winning a marathon and they said, all they found were Kenyans.  They don't know who Kara Goucher, Paula Radcliff and Deanna Kaster are to look for their pictures and the fact is, Kenyans make up a large portion of the elites.
I love my Boston Marathon Jacket (even if it isn't embroidered like past years).  Total strangers before the race told me good luck and afterwards for the following week total strangers asked how I did.

The latest episode (#270) of Phedipidations Steve says "The marathon humbles you, it teaches you something about yourself every time you toe the line. It's always more than just a race. The marathon is a challenge for individual glory and an opportunity for personal enlightenment. "

Consider myself humbled.

Happy Running!


Anonymous said...

Christina, you should be very proud of yourself. It might not have been the perfect race, but a great run nonetheless. I love Steve's quote.

Giorgio said...

Your friends are proud of you because they know someone who ran Boston. But they know someone who ran Boston ... UNDER 4 HOURS!!!
Nutrition, training or mental game, you're looking for the reasons. As you know, there is no answer to that. Although I have never run a marathon I think that it's a great race, Christina.
Have a nice weekend!

Adrienne said...

Christina, I wish you could see yourself through my eyes for just one day. You would be amazed at how awesome you really are. It's not just the running either it's the person you are. Boston is such an amazing accomplishment. Under 4 hours? That is insane! My fastest mile ever is 8:30 and that was only 1 mile. :)

SeekingBostonMarathon said...

Hold your head high. You ran not only the greatest race in N. America, but the greatest race in the world. I can relate because the "wheels came off" my Boston race before I even started. We must be related because I've also tried to dissect what went wrong. For me, five marathons in 16 months did it. Nuff said. Even though tearing apart your race after the face may seem negative, I think you will learn something from it and improve. After not getting into the NY lottery, a running friend said, he didn't feel sorry for me--you just ran Boston! That put it in perspective. CONGRATS!

Lesley said...

Wow, awesome and insightful post! I see I have to get in line behind all the other people who are proud of and impressed by you! :)

How's the recovery going?

Adam said...

I hear you. Having a race like that is never a pleasant experience. Not at all. But, you finished it out. It just looks like you'll have to go back next year to redeem yourself.