May 8, 2018

The 2018 Boston Marathon: Miserable yet Amazing


Every one of my friends who I talk to asks me “How was Boston?” and my response has been “::sigh:: Miserable and amazing”. That’s the truth.

Settle in for my big Boston Marathon race recap. I thought about shortening it, but I like having all of these thoughts down on the interwebs to look back on. You’ll get expo and logistics thoughts in a following post!

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap


PRE-RACE

The week of the marathon the weather forecast was not looking good. Eventually 3 or 4 days before the race the forecast was saying 100% rain. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. Where in the eff do you ever hear a weather forecast saying 100%?!?! The weather was forecasted to be raw with temperatures around 40 degrees (real feel colder), rain all day, and 20 mph E/SE winds (that’s a headwind). People talked online about how it rained in 2015 when they ran it and how it wasn’t so bad. I wanted to hope that the forecast would change or at least it wouldn’t be so bad. My parents were in town for the race and literally only came to one other half marathon ever-where it also poured rain (are they unlucky?Just saying.) My mom overheard someone in her hotel grabbing shower caps to cover her shoes so I did the same. The concierge said he thought they were out but luckily found a couple for me (#runnerprobs).

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I woke up in Cambridge at my Airbnb Monday morning feeling anxious. Part positively, part negatively. I woke up to the wind howling and rain beating down outside the bedroom window. Yikes. I layered up my outfit and ate a Honey Stinger salted caramel waffle and banana along with some Nuun. I cut holes in my trash bag poncho. I packed my little Athlete’s Village bag with my headphones, gels, extra Honey Stinger waffles, old race heat sheet, gloves, and an extra trash bag.
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Garbage bag chic with shower caps on shoes as an accessory

I was worried about being cold AND soaking wet. Part of me thought too many layers may get too hot over the marathon distance (LOLZ WHAT A JOKE).

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I ended up wearing: Brooks Launch shoes, Maryland buff,  Lululemon shorts, Lily Trotters compression socks, toe socks underneath my compression socks (in an attempt to avoid extra blisters, a Tracksmith Brighton tank (hoping the merino wool would keep me warm), a Lululemon Run Swiftly long sleeve tee, a Brooks Running rain shell, with a Nike November Project tagged shirt on top (gotta rep!). On top of all of that was a clear rain poncho. I also had some Nathan gloves, a Flipbelt, a Mizuno Coldgear ear warmer, Goodr sunglasses, and my trusty Nuun Headsweats hat.

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A candid photo of me looking at the weather outside. YIKES. 

This race was supposed to be my victory lap, so I had trained for a fun and slower race. I got on the T along with all the other runners in a variety of rain and “garbage bag chic” gear. Once I got to Boston Commons to catch the bus to the Athlete’s Village I was feeling okay despite it being 38 degrees outside. The rain wasn’t coming down too hard, and the excitement of being with other runners was fun. We're running Boston, YAY! I waited in line to get on Bus #1 while two men from Dublin chatted with one of the volunteers and photobombed my selfie!

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On the bus I sat next to a girl who had run the marathon before, and there was another Boston first-timer in front of us. People around me seemed to be positive and have the “oh well” attitude I had adopted. Honestly I was a little more nervous because I had been so freaking miserable the year I ran Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon when it was in the upper 30s and rainy. I hate the cold weather in general (not just running) and do not like running in the rain much either (aside from summer rain).

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The bus ride to Hopkinton was about 45 min-1 hour long, and it felt like it. I also made the mistake of picking a seat next to the heater on the bus so I was literally sweating and feeling uncomfortable by the time we got to the Athlete’s Village. Once we got to the village I was pretty excited, despite the fact that it felt cold and rainy. I made it to the port a potty and then into the Athlete’s Village tent a.k.a. the Athlete’s mud pit. On the plus side-no line to get a photo with the Hopkinton sign!
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Instagram Story screenshot! 
I squeezed into the tent, and it was not the fun time I imagined getting to hang out before the race. Near me there was no room to sit or even squeeze past people to find a spot. So I awkwardly stood around, sipped on a beet juice, and ate another Honey Stinger waffle. Once the first Wave left the tent to walk to the start there was a little more room (it’s a 0.7 mile walk from the Village to the actual Start Line). I had a Chicago Marathon mylar heat blanket (things they give you after races to keep you warm) that I ended up tossing since I wasn’t sitting down. Luckily I had some Hot Hands I packed for the race to put into my gloves for the walk to the start. Once it was time for Wave 2 to head to the start I started walking. Getting in the mud was unavoidable, but my shoes stayed semi-dry thanks to the shower caps.

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I was having a flustered morning with the uncomfortable heat on the bus, the logistics, the mud pit and standing in the Athlete’s Village, that I hadn’t gotten my headphones ready and spent time walking to the start trying to finagle them and get them set up (I brought wired ones because I was worried about my AfterShokz wireless headphones getting soaking wet?) as well as remove my sweatshirt and pants. I met a girl who was running her first Boston in my corral which was nice to have a small chat before our wave started. Also sidenote, it's bizzare because the race ends in downtown but literally starts in a neighborhood in a small town. 
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Think happy thoughts at the start line? 
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Welcome to my corral! 


THE RACE

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Boston Marathon race course (source
I knew the first few miles were downhill and fast so I tried to stay slow. I was actually embracing the rain and having fun those first few miles. Trying to avoid puddles was pointless because the rain poured down those first few miles so everyone was soaking wet and cold anyways! I decided to keep my clear rain poncho on for the race and kinda knotted it up so my legs were free to move. It was exciting to see spectators and to be running the BOSTON FREAKING MARATHON. The rain was cold, and around Mile 3 I just remember running through a heavy, heavy downpour. I honestly do not understand how some runners ran without hats. Also because the wind was blowing against us the whole time, wearing sunglasses totally helped keep the rain out of my eyes. I tried to focus on looking out for the signs for the iconic towns we were running through during the first 10K. It's so historic, and I read so much about this course and knew the names of these small Massachusetts towns that it was exciting. 

I was feeling okay and running consistent miles through the first 10K. I had some feeling in my feet by now! My gloves were soaking wet and annoying so I tossed them around this point and hoped it was a decision I wouldn’t regret. Once I hit Natick I was struggling from miles 7-13. There wasn’t a ton of spectators. In my head I was fighting mentally-I kept thinking that I was miserable.This was miserable, but then I would try to keep my thinking positive because it’s Boston and I’m here. It was just hard for me to swallow that I needed to buckle in for 4 hours of this. I was also struggling because I never felt this crappy this early in a marathon-usually the hard part comes around miles 17-18. 

I had my name written on duct tape on my chest which helped to get some cheers-I was so grateful for every spectator that yelled out my name. I thanked every volunteer from whom I took water from too. I took water or Gatorade at all but a couple aid stations because I knew I might not feel thirsty but still needed to hydrate. At the halfway point I checked in with my watch and was happy to see that I was running consistently at a 8:35/mi pace. At this point I focused on getting to the Nuun Hydration cheer station at Mile 17 and knew my November Project friends would be at the cheer station at Mile 18.

Again, the whole race was into a headwind (with sometimes the wind comically filling up my poncho, but I wasn’t ready to give it up) with light rain alternating with heavy rain. Somewhere after the halfway mark I moved into a happy running place. I was running the Boston Marathon and kept telling myself that I was doing great. I chuckled to myself that I wanted a victory lap and Boston was like “NOT TODAY. Prove you’re a badass, again!”. 

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Once we entered Newton around Mile 16 I knew there would be some smaller hills before Heartbreak Hill, but actually they weren’t too bad. It was some climbing, but nothing I haven’t seen in Baltimore before. I grabbed a Twizzler from a spectator which makes an excellent running fuel choice-especially in the rain!

Sidenote, shout-out to Honey Stinger Ginsting gels for not being gross to suck down in the cold rain! Surprisingly I had no problems fueling during the race.

Before I knew it I made it to Mile 17 and grabbed a cup of Nuun. At Mile 18 I saw my friends including my buddy Sarah. I was confused as she came on course with me to cut across the course to get to a train station, but it was really great to see a familiar face. I think I deliriously told her I was feeling great, haha. Heartbreak Hill was a little tough of a climb for me, around here my legs were feeling cold and tight, and I started to have pain in my foot. It did feel really great to finish that infamous hill and have all those spectators cheering at the top! At this point I was lower on energy and started giving thumbs up to spectators who cheered my name instead of cheering back.

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The twingy pain was in both feet and then just my right foot, and all I could think was that I was injured. After Mile 20 and Heartbreak Hill I knew it was fairly downhill. My numb-ish legs, the headwind and cold, and the pain in my foot (plus my mind now wrapped up in the pain) made the last miles a struggle. I took walk breaks at all the water stops and stopped twice to stretch out my legs. I knew I was slowing down, but at this point the goal was just to finish. I saw a box of clean white socks on the side of the road which was a nice gesture, but I wondered if anyone took the time to change their socks during the race.  

My next visual goal was to make it to the Citgo sign at mile 25. I struggled through until Mile 25 and then attempted to take my phone out of my Flipbelt for a photo which was comical. My hands were so cold they wouldn’t work, and the STRUGGLE WAS REAL. It literally took a minute or so on the side of the race. I took a foggy, rainy selfie and then headed on to the finish. 
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Terrible selfie. And comically so wet. 
At this point I dropped my poncho for the finish line in a poncho graveyard (everyone was shedding gear!).

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You can make out some of my ugly crying face in this one LOLZ. 
Once I saw the iconic Right on Hereford followed by Left on Boylston turns I cried some ugly tears (hidden mostly by the rain and my sunglasses). IT WAS SO ICONIC AND STILL AMAZING, even in the terrible weather. I heard my name yelled out by a few people and even stopped for 30 seconds to go hug and chat with my boyfriend who was like “GO finish the race, Lauren!”. I was so happy that last mile.

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Thanks to Sarah for the great photo on Boylston! 
And then I threw my arms up in the air and crossed the BOSTON Marathon finish line in 3:52:44. It is my slowest marathon time to date (which was the plan anyways) but was more of a struggle than I had anticipated.

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I laugh at this now, but part of me wondered during the race if I was a big baby about the weather and maybe everyone else didn’t think it was so bad. Seeing the faces at the finish told me I was right. A volunteer gave me a medal and another wrapped me in the fancy hooded mylar coat thing. I knew I’d be sad if I didn’t take a finish line photo so I wrestled with my phone again and took a finish line selfie.

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Look at those tired, defeated faces behind me

POST-RACE

I knew the cold would kick in fast-it always does for me post-race even when it’s not freezing cold and rainy. I heard at the finish that Desi had won the women’s race and cheered for her. If Shalane wouldn’t take it I really wanted Desi to win. I shuffled down to grab my bag of snacks and water. I felt like the finish line chute was SO long. I kept shuffling until I got to the family meetup. My boyfriend had my jacket and a warm shirt so I wanted to meet up with him, and I was happy to not have to wait at the gear check. BIG THANKS to the volunteer who had a map to help me figure out what direction to head and what streets to go on to get to my parents’ hotel. Also BLESS THEM for having a hotel by Copley Square.

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My boyfriend called and insisted I wait for him somewhere although I argued that if I kept shuffling in the right direction I would make it there faster (cold, tired, runner sass). So in typical Boston fashion, I huddled my SOAKING wet self into a Dunkin Donuts. Here I was on the verge of not happy tears because I was really uncomfortable, and it seemed to be taking my boyfriend FOREVER to come find me. Eventually he did and bless him, he took off all of my top layers down to my sports bra (no shame) because my hands weren’t working (so I really wasn’t any help) and got a dry sweatshirt and jacket on me. We shuffled back through the Prudential Center mall all the way to the Marriott across from my parent’s hotel. Inside we made a pit stop at David’s Tea (which I mostly agreed to because tea is warm, despite loving David’s Tea in all other scenarios). The cashier comically asked me if I had just run the race even though I CLEARLY was wet and bundled in my Mylar coat.
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Upon showering I found out that I had the worst chafing I ever have had, despite liberally applying Aquaphor to my entire legs and feet (Thanks a lot, thighs! No blisters though!). I’ve never had literally chafing wounds that lasted a week and needed to be bandaged the next 2-3 days. I’ll spare you the details, but DAMN. A hot shower and a cold beer along with an entire plate of French fries (no shame in my game) warmed me up faster than I imagined. I also got to see some news coverage of the race in the hotel and learned about how SO MANY elites dropped out! It was over, and I could celebrate being a Boston Marathoner now.

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Sidenote: Also my foot was feeling a little sore post-race like it had before the Philadelphia Marathon in the fall and during some of my training, so I have been keeping an eye on it. I had two weeks of rest and it's felt okay with a few runs this past week, but fingers crossed it's nothing serious. 

Final thoughts: Boston was miserable yet amazing. I thank each and every volunteer and spectator who was out there that day. I do really want to come back when there are larger crowds of spectators and the weather isn’t the worst in race history. Maybe have a proper victory lap? I felt like crap for a lot of the race, but did have some happy miles. This race showed me that I can do hard things. Really hard things.


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14 comments:

  1. Congrats on a great race. It was an epic day for sure and one we'll never forgot. Super proud of you!!!!!

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  2. AMAZING!! i'm so glad you detailed it out like that. I don't feel so alone. I also had my ankles BURNING on the bus, so many ugly tears late in the marathon and definitely asked stephen to help take off my wet clothes. And the chafing.. i chafed in some areas I didn't know could happen. :/ You're amazing. We survived!

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    1. Yes, it was just really hard for me to relax and feel like everything would be fine. Also the chafing was for real. Boston Class of 2018 are bonded in a special way for sure.

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  3. Man, what an experience! This was an awesome recap to read. I love the poncho graveyard picture - definitely not the same, but at Chicago last fall, there was a similar (but much smaller) sponge graveyard at the last turn, where people ditched the sponges they handed out during the race before the finish line. Funny how once we get so close to the finish, the things we needed to stay moderately comfortable for the previous 26 miles don't matter anymore! I've never come close to running a marathon in conditions like Boston had this year, but in 2016, miles 10-16 of my 18 miler during marathon training were in alternating downpours/sprinkles, and I had never before and hopefully will never again have chafing as bad as I had after that run. I was soaked to the bone, and my skin was NOT pleased. I can only imagine how much more than must've been compounded for you during Boston! Congrats on your finish - you're an inspiration!

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    1. Glad it was fun to read! Girl, chafing is no joke for real. I'm surprised at how okay I was for most of the race in the most miserable conditions ever, haha. Thanks for reading :)

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  4. YES YES YES YES YES. I think I teared up a bit seeing you come down Hereford to turn on Boylston. You are a freaking badass and I'm so so proud of you. I am SO glad I was able to catch you at a few points along the course. It honestly made my day.

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    1. Honestly seeing YOU was a highlight of the race for me. Love ya, lady!

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  5. I would have run this one just like you did and never stopped. I am so excited for you! You ran Boston!!!! Congrats!

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    1. Yes, that was what the race gods had dealt so I had to battle through it. Thank you so much, Wendy!

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  6. Thanks so much for sharing your recap - especially the photo of the poncho graveyard! Malinda is still trying to write her recap so thanks for the inspiration! :-)

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    1. Haha I'm glad to help-it's a big one to write! Thanks for reading :)

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  7. You're amazing! I cannot believe how many layers you had on! I am so impressed with all of the badass finishers. Most of the elite women dropped out but you powered through! Way to go, Lauren! You rock!

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    1. I can't believe I ran a marathon in that many layers and didn't ever feel warm! Thanks so much, lady :)

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