Monday, May 11, 2015

Coach Jenny's recap of Boston 2015

I thought it would be really fun for Coach Jenny to come back to my blog and give us a taste of Boston!  I have been devouring all of my favorite blogger's recaps of Boston, since I am not speedy enough to qualify, so I just had to hear about her experience as well!  Sit back and enjoy!  BTW, Coach Jenny is accepting clients so if you are interested, just let me know and I will point you in the right direction.

How did you training go leading up to the Boston Marathon?  Any surprises (i.e. constant bad weather, better paces than normal) or injuries you had to contend with?

What a great question.  My training this year was very different than it ever has been before, mainly due to the fact that I hired a running coach.  He turned many of my training methods upside down, but I know I’m a stronger, fitter athlete because of it.  The main difference is that my focus shifted from a miles-based approach to an intensity-based one.  I ran fewer miles overall training for Boston than I typically would during race preparation, but the miles I did run were so much more intense than what I would have done on my own.  Think: week after week of hill workouts and lots of time spent running at a moderately uncomfortable pace.  I also did quite a bit of strength training and cross training, which are two areas I have a tendency to ignore, or at least put low on the priority list.  I was lucky and had no big surprises while training.  A few weeks of icy weather made some of my training runs difficult, but not impossible.  It’s all part of the fun!

Tell us about your trip up and back?  The expo, how long did you stay, what did you see and do before and after the race?

The trip up to Boston was, fortunately, pretty uneventful.  There is a direct flight from Nashville to Boston, so we can typically can get up there in about 4 hours total travel time.  It was a much bigger deal just getting my two kiddos situated with my parents here at home than actually doing the traveling. 
The expo in Boston is just too amazing to even describe.  Everything (and more) a runner could ever hope to buy is there.  It’s always so fun to go because all the latest, greatest toys, gear, and gadgets are on display.  And the energy in that place is just phenomenal.  Thousands of runners have come together after weeks of hard training to run one of the greatest marathons ever known, and there we are, surrounded by all these great booths and merchandise.  Everyone is just so excited and happy and grateful to be there.  It’s really something that’s difficult to describe here in writing.  You have to see it to believe it!
About the only extra fun thing we did (aside from several REALLY phenomenal dinners), was go see a Red Sox game.  We had amazing seats and perfect weather, so that’s something I’d definitely do again.  Those Red Sox fans are some intense folks!  I had as much fun people watching as I did baseball watching.  Plus a warm pretzel is a great way to carb load.

Tell us about pre race?  How early did you get up, what did you eat and when, how did you get to athlete’s village, how long till your wave started and how was the weather during all of this?

My dear husband gets the job every year of driving my friends and I to near the start line in Hopkinton in a rented SUV.  We do this to avoid taking the school bus shuttles that require you to leave at the crack of dawn, and then spend hours waiting in Athlete’s Village to be released to your corral.  The group met in the hotel lobby at 7:45 that morning.  I was due to step over the start line at 10:25.  It’s a bit of a process getting to the start line, and allowing enough time for bathroom breaks, so we left from the hotel at 8:00.  I ate a bowl of oatmeal and a banana at about 7:00 that morning, then had my two scoops of Generation Ucan in water at around 9:30.  The weather was actually quite good during the pre-race period.  In fact, it was great up until I was about 6 miles into the race.  Then the rain started.  Honestly, I really didn’t even mind the rain so much.  At about mile 16-17 though, things got bad.  The rain picked up, the temperature dropped 10 degrees (I was only in a tank and a running skirt by this point), and the wind gusts were reported as 25-30 mph.  At times, I felt like I was running directly into a wall.  On one of the infamous Newton hills, I remember thinking that the wind was going to blow me flat onto my back and I would go rolling backwards down the hill.  Not exactly what I had in mind for my day in Boston, but so it goes…

Tell us about the race.  How did you handle the mileage (i.e. group miles into manageable chunks mentally or use landmarks reached or use GU s to count down the miles).  How bad was the weather during each of these phases?  Did you hit a wall or was your nutrition/hydration spot on?  How did you dress for the weather? How emotional was it?  Favorite sight or sound or both? Were you able to see your hubby and or family on the course at all?

I guess I got a bit ahead of myself and already answered the question about the weather.  It was not good.  One of my best indicators of how strong that wind was is that my biceps and forearms were cramping toward the end because it was taking so much force just to move through it.  I suspect it cost me a solid 5-7 minutes on my time.  Pretty disappointing.  The worst part is that the weather was picture perfect the day before the race.
I don’t know if I’d say I have a method for handling the mileage.  In Boston, it’s pretty easy to distract yourself with amazing crowd support, hilarious signs from the spectators, and fabulous scenery and landmarks.  My race-day nutrition seemed to be quite good.  I definitely did not hit a wall, but I also slowed quite a bit in the later miles as the wind took its toll on me.  So I suspect positive splitting the race saved me some energy stores.  One really awful thing though- I had a stitch in my side form the very beginning.  I was actually cussing for the first 6 miles, because I just couldn’t believe that was happening.  I NEVER get those.  Yet here I was running the Boston marathon with a stabbing pain in my side.  That subsided around mile 11, but it absolutely messed with me mentally.  I think I knew pretty early on that between the side cramp and the weather, my goal of 3:15 was slipping away.
I really struggled with what to wear that day.  I had a specially made tank to advertise my son’s school that I was running for, but the forecast was changing so quickly up until I started running, I wasn’t sure I’d be warm enough.  Ultimately, I ended up starting the race in a throw away long sleeve shirt that I ditched at mile 4.  By mile 16, I was wishing I had it again…BRRRRR!!!
About my favorite part of this race is the halfway point when we run by Wellesley College.  This is an all girls’ school and it’s their tradition to come out and scream for the runners.  There are no better screamers than a thousand 19 year old girls!  You can’t help but be grateful for the little lift that it gives you as you run by.
I didn’t see my husband until the finish line.  Honestly, there is no way you’d ever be able to hear someone yelling for you on the Boston course though.  It’s THAT loud all the way through. 

Post race.  Break it down for us.  How did you feel mentally and physically? 

I was pretty disappointed right away.  It just wasn’t the race I pictured.  And it certainly wasn’t what I had trained so hard all winter for.  But I’ve tried really hard to focus on the positive things—I requalified to go back next year, I raised a good amount of money for my son’s fabulous school, and I’m still healthy.  I can’t be too mad about any of that, right?
Physically I felt pretty well, except for the COLD.  It was freezing and so, so, so windy at the finish line.  Plus I had been rained on for many miles so I was soaked.  Between the time I crossed the line and got my warming cape, I had turned blue and couldn’t feel my hands or feet.  I found Doug right away but I couldn’t speak to him because my face and lips had gone numb.  I was slurring words like I’d had a stroke!  Poor husband, I think he was pretty worried about me.  I knew that a hot shower and coffee would make me good as new.  I really did feel much better right away once we were back in the room. 

Recovery?  How has that been going?

Recovery has been going relatively well.  I think I had much less leg soreness post-race this year than I did last year.  My toes took a pretty good beating though.  It’s not unusual for me to lose a couple of toenails when I race, and Boston was no exception.  Unfortunately, the last week or so I’ve had a little twingy something going on with my left knee.  I’m trying to get to the bottom of whether it’s an IT band issue or something else.  Reluctantly, I’ll be taking a few days off from running while I try to determine what’s going on.  Fingers crossed there!    
What are you setting your sights on post Boston?

Nothing is 100% decided, but I’ve had the itch over the last year to do an ultramarathon.  I’m tossing around doing a 50K trail race in December, and will likely do another road marathon along the way as part of that training.  The focus for right now is complete recovery since I tend to be not so great at allowing myself enough rest days.  I’m the typical runner, I’d say.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, as always Michelle, for asking me to contribute. It was so fun to re-live it all!