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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Boston: Pre-race

I’m sorry I didn’t post some goals and pre-Boston thoughts here, but I just got pretty busy tying up loose ends before our trip. Actually, as the weather forecast kept changing, I wasn’t even sure what my goals would be!

By the day before the race, it looked like the rain and wind would have lessened by race time, and the temperature would be mid to high 60’s throughout. It was also forecast to be cloudy and humid, with humidity in the 90’s. The wind would be a crosswind for my wave, but its impact would be negligible anyway, as the winds were light at ground level. That sounded fine to me. While we were blessed with great weather for most of our Boston training cycle, I’m no stranger to heat and humidity, so those conditions did not seem bad. Since before the race we heard all about various likely weather - torrential rains, cold air, hot temperatures, wind - I packed two options, our new team uniform crop top versus a singlet and arm warmers. I also packed a hat and sunglasses. Who knew what the weather would be race morning?

I was pretty sure I was in 3 hour shape going into this race. How I came up with that was based on my tune-up 10k. I ran that race in 39:06, which, plugged into the Jack Daniels equivalent calculator, predicted 3:00:43. Part of me thought I could actually run faster than that: after all, that 10k had been un-tapered, and I felt like I’d left something in the tank. But part of me also figured I would probably run slower than that, because the 10k was on a fast course in perfect weather and basically ideal conditions, compared to the challenging timing, weather, and course that Boston presented. I decided that those two factors basically cancelled out, and if I got decent weather - anything short of last year’s hurricane - I would shoot for sub-3.

The Powermilers had a group of twenty qualifiers, and nineteen who chose to race. During this training cycle, I started out running with one other girl near my pace, but as training progressed and I got faster, I ended up all alone for most weeks. Then I moved up to do my weekly speedwork with Mike, Jeff, and Van. They are all faster than I am, with faster goal times, but I could usually hang on for workouts, generally falling off on the last rep. They were all projecting times under 3, between 2:56 and 2:59. Because I would always lose them on the last rep, I had some trepidation in placing my goal so close to theirs, but I also knew that a 3:05ish effort at Rock n Roll had felt more like a hard workout than a race. So 3 hours sounded reasonable.
We did a tour of the Tiffany glass windows in Arlington church

I spent the day before the race doing way too much walking, but overall it was a good day. I started my morning with a 3-mile jog (including 8 strides) from our hotel in Cambridge. We stayed in the Porter Square hotel and it ended up being perfect - right at a T stop and very easy travel without being crowded for the race weekend. And the neighborhood was cute. I was just jogging along, looking at the little shops, when I heard my name. It was Audrey, from one of my favorite blogs, Hurdling Ham! I was jogging in her neighborhood! I stopped and got to catch up with her (we met when she raced RnR New Orleans) and we wished each other good luck for the race. I loved that serendipitous meeting! After my run, David and I attended Palm Sunday services at nearby St. John the Evangelist, then headed downtown for the rest of the day. We had a busy, busy day but fit a lot of fun activities in. We hadn’t thought out ANY logistics for the next day, so we went to the hotel bar for a happy hour Old Fashioned to plan for the race and work out all the timing and meetups. I knew that would push dinner pretty late, but that was the plan - eat late, race late. Unfortunately we ate MUCH later than we thought we would. The Thai restaurant we went to was packed, clearly understaffed, and we waited for our food for an hour after we sat down. But it was just what I needed - protein, rice, veggies - so it served its purpose.

On race day, I slept until almost 6, waking at 5:53 without my alarm. The weather was horrible! Storms, ferocious wind, and cold rain. But later it would clear up, and it would be close to 70, so I wore my crop top and shorts, skipped the hat, and brought sunglasses - just to block the wind, I thought. I did not expect sun because the forecast was for almost complete cloud cover. I was wearing my ZoomFly SPs , which I mostly like, except that the laces are slippery and flat and come untied all the time. But they do ok if triple knotted and tucked in, so I took my chances. I threw a throw away sweater I’d taken out of our Goodwill pile over my crop top, grabbed my oatmeal for the bus ride, tucked five gels into my shorts, and we headed out.

David walked me to the station under an umbrella , which was useless. We were drenched immediately. He rode with me and walked me all the way to bus boarding, trying to keep me dry, but the swirling rain and wind meant that my shoes were saturated before I ever got to the buses. I kissed him goodbye, found a bus, and took my seat.
Here I am with two other friends of my friend Kate: all of us taking shelter at the home of the Calkins. What a sweet family and a great idea! We had food, water, Gatorade, bathrooms, even vaseline and moleskin available. It was a little mini athlete's village...without the port-a-potty lines!

The bus ride turned out to be... interesting. My driver and a few other buses got lost, all following one mislead bus, and we rode that thing for an hour and forty minutes! Luckily I was early, and our driver navigated us to athletes village by some back routes. And it gave me time to sort of dry off, along with meeting some great runners with wonderful stories (like the guy from the running group called something like "The north side stallions" and he made them change the name to "striders" or something less of a turn-off to women! And now they have several women running with them!). Once I got to the village, I borrowed a phone and texted a friend of a friend. She and her husband live near the start, and host their own “athlete’s village” each year. She kindly reached out to host me, and the prospect of a house and a real bathroom was very appealing!

I followed her instructions to our meeting point, and her husband picked me up. There were a dozen runners at their house already. As I arrived, the wave one runners were getting ready to leave. I had enough time for a bathroom stop and to eat a croissant before I also got a ride back to the start. This was such a great perk and I just love the word-of-mouth running community that made this possible!

I actually cut it way too close getting to the start. I was in wave 2, corral 1, and didn’t realize how hard it would be to get up there. I wanted to meet up with my training partners Jeff and Van and pace with them for some of the race (Mike had a faster qualifying time and was in wave one). But with a minute to the start, I had to choose - squirm up to where I saw Jeff, or stay in the back of the corral and retie my shoe. Obviously I picked shoe! No sooner had I tucked my laces under then we were off. My Boston marathon had begun!


  1. Oh man, those conditions were awful that morning! My sister really struggled with the weather as she's used to the super dry temps of Tucson. She did not have a great race but seemed to take it in stride pretty well. I'm glad you had a place to hang out before the race - so cool that those people open their home to runners!!

  2. I love Boston weekend serendipity, especially when it's running into a familiar face in my neighborhood! So fun running into you and I'm looking forward to reading your race report!

  3. Oh wow, I am so jealous of that house before hand. Complete game changer.

  4. Several comments!
    1. You and I think alike in terms of using the McMillan calculator and then having factors cancel each other out. LOL!
    2. OMG- I would have been panicking with the bus ride being so long. I thought one hour (last year) was way too long, but wow. It didn't seem to bother you at all.
    3. Very cute outfit- the shorts match so well. Love the white.
    4. Glad you got into the corral on time. I almost feel like it would be better to be in Wave 2 corral 1 then the back of wave 1.