Saturday, May 9, 2015

Post-Boston and Going Forward

Hello everybody, and welcome back to my blog! I haven't written since the marathon. So I just wanted to fill everyone in on what I've been up to for the past three weeks. At the end of this post I will go into my experience at the Boston Marathon. If you are someone who loves Boston as race, I would advise you not to read that part of my blog, because you may start to hate me. 

I was happy about my race! It wasn't exactly what I wanted, I am still pleased with what I was able to do. The race course itself was difficult. I think I underestimated it a little bit. I went out at the perfect pace and I held it for a long time! Here were my splits and what was going through my head for each mile:

Mile 1: 6:53 - Race started, I was a bit afraid of going out too fast, so I held back a bit.
Mile 2: 6:44 - Perfect pace!
Mile 3: 6:37 - May seem a bit fast but this was very downhill
Mile 4: 6:31 - This too!
Mile 5: 6:45 - Perfect
Mile 6: 6:36 - Downhill
Mile 7: 6:43 - Perfect
Mile 8: 6:45 - Perfect
Mile 9: 6:43 - Perfect
Mile 10: 6:49 - A bit of an uphill but still feeling good
Mile 11: 6:48 - Good
Mile 12: 6:44 - Perfect
Mile 13: 6:48 - Good
Mile 14: 6:46 - Perfect
Mile 15: 6:46 - Perfect
Mile 16: 6:35 - Downhill
Mile 17: 6:55 - Uphill
Mile 18: 6:54 - Uphill
Mile 19: 6:44 - Perfect, legs beginning to cramp up
Mile 20: 6:59 - Uh Oh!
Mile 21: 7:23 - I'm in trouble!
Mile 22: 7:01 - I saw a sign that said 4 miles left and I knew that if I could run at least 7:20's I could still go under 3 hours
Mile 23: 7:24 - Nope
Mile 24: 7:38 - Nope
Mile 25: 7:44 - When is this going to end???
Mile 26: 7:52 - %$#@*!
There was so much downhill that my quads felt like they were going to explode. At about mile 10 I started to feel my quads and I was able to hang on for another 10 miles but in the last 6 miles I was sure that my quads were going to burst. The next day I couldn't bend my legs at all. I think I can mostly blame it on the hills, but also the wind, rain and cold really beat me up.

For the rest of the day after the race, I was so sore from the cold weather and the hills, I just laid in bed for the rest of the day, took a bath and drank lots of chocolate milk. That night I had lots of beer and lobster for supper!

I was pretty sore for the next couple of days and I absolutely could not think of running another marathon anytime soon. I got one massage from Mike Booth at Massage Athletica and within a week, my legs felt totally back to normal.I didn't run again until May 3rd, which was pretty much 2 full weeks off. 1 week after the race I started riding my bike to school and could still feel a little tweak in my quad. 

This past week I ran about 45 miles (about 72kms). The first couple of runs felt a bit rough, they were slow and felt very unnatural. By Thursday I was able to do 3 mile repeats at about 6:40 pace. Compared to how I felt after the Manitoba Marathon last year, I feel way more motivated and recovered and ready to start training again! (I think I was a bit over trained last year). I'm ready to jump back into training and I am going to train for a fall marathon this year. I'm thinking either Twin Cities or Toronto Waterfront. Many people have asked me if I am planning on do Manitoba, to go for the win again and my answer is no. If I did Manitoba I will certainly not go faster than my 3:03 from Boston, the races are too close together. I am planning on running the Manitoba Half Marathon this year and I am excited to give it a go! There are 3 other quick girls from Winnipeg right now, and the prospect of racing against them, seems like a lot more fun than running for 3 hours by myself. I'm really going to have to go for it, because one of the other girls ran 1:24 last weekend and another one is planning on going 1:21. My PB is 1:23 in the half from when I was 19, I would love to bring down my record!

Alright so there it is my sum-up of the race and post-race! I will be beginning to post more, now that I am back to training again! Below is my rant about the things that bothered me about the Boston Marathon. Like I said before, if you love Boston, don't read it. 

The Boston Marathon - My Experience
The hype begins at the airport

I decided to do the Boston Marathon because, well why not, right? I knew it would be an experience. The qualifying times were not really a big deal, for a woman of my age you only have to run 3:35, that was 30 minutes slower than my first marathon. I think for some people qualifying is a really big deal. People try over and over again to qualify and when they get there it is a really big deal for them, so I think they look at things differently while they are there and remember things differently and continue to try to go back as many times as possible. I guess that's kind of what made me want to go there, was the hype surrounding it, which failed to convince me while I was there.

The city of Boston is nice. I love the vibe of an oceanfront city. The smell of the ocean, the abundance of sea food and the 36,000+ runners walking and running around. The city is so proud about the marathon and the whole city booming with excitement on marathon weekend. I've never seen a city that supports runners like it. There were thousands and thousands of spectators even though it was raining, windy and freezing outside. There were people throughout the entire course cheering and willing us on. Every so often, I heard a "GO CANADA" and it motivated me a bit.
When we went to the race expo, my mom asked me if I felt like I was with "my people". The answer was no. People were so excited to be here. Out of 36,000 runners I'd say that 1 in 3 runners at the expo bought themselves a Boston Marathon jacket the day before the marathon. I'm not sure what the draw is towards those jackets. Maybe it's that it is an exclusive club that only 36,000 runners get to join every year? Maybe it's the fact you spend $110 on something with the event name on it, so that you have to finish the race to wear the jacket with pride? I don't know. People seem to hold their heads higher when wearing them and give off a sense of entitlement or give off an elitist vibe. The whole thing is a bit odd. I couldn't make myself buy anything with the Boston marathon emblem on it because there is constantly a sense of doubt in my mind about running, what if I run like crap? What if I don't finish? Even as a 3:03 marathoner I have doubts sometimes, because I have experienced races like that.

The way the event was run was a little bit interesting. The pre-race expo was awesome. There were so many interesting booths and exciting people to see. I saw Shalane Flanagan, Meb
Keflezighi and Katherine Switzer on Sunday, so cool! A few of the people working at the expo asked me if this was my first marathon, which is a bit of a weird question considering you have to qualify for the race. The bib and race package pick up was super easy and fast except that they ran out of XS shirts, so I settled for a small which was fine.
Race morning was a little bit ridiculous. Wave 1 had to load onto the buses at 6:00-6:45 am. On the buses we weren't allowed to bring anything except what we were racing, with and some clothes that we were going to donate to charity. I had sweats and a sweatshirt, but I was nowhere close to being warm enough. To be warm enough I would have needed to have had a winter jacket and ski pants. The bus ride was an hour to Hopkinton. I sat on the the bus with a nice guy from Mexico. He was not wearing sweats or a sweatshirt, just what he was racing in! He talked about how the Boston organizers treat the runners like prisoners. I kind of got what he was talking about, but when we got to Hopkinton we stopped outside a school at about 7:30am. They let us our and I assumed that we would be going in the school. NOPE. We were directed to go behind the school into the school yard and there we sat outside for 2 hours before the race. I have never had a pre-race experience like that before. Why did we have to be out there for 2 hours???? Ridiculous. If I could give advice to people going in the future, I would say that they should rent a car and take that to Hopkinton instead of the stupid prison buses. That way they wouldn't have to wait outside for 2 hours in the freezing cold before the race. There were no heaters or anything! They didn't take care of our most basic needs! (warmth and shelter) I was pretty outraged.

Freezing people
As I crossed the finish line, I was looking forward to getting out of the rain and into some warm tents or something. NOPE. There was nowhere for the runners to warm up after the race. It was pouring rain and 3-5 degrees out. I was frigid! They told to keep walk down the road to get to bag pick-up. I was hoping so hard that there would be somewhere warm where we could go. NOPE. They kept telling us to keep walking. We walked for about a mile after the finish line. So I ran 26.2 miles and then had to walk an extra one at the end.

They were handing out sandwiches and water after the race, I couldn't grab anything because I couldn't use my hands because they were so cold. So I grabbed nothing except a warming poncho, which didn't do me much good. As I was walking and shivering and whimpering, I started to hope that someone would come and let me get in their car, or let me come into their restaurant to warm up. As I was looking around thinking "Why isn't anyone helping me? I am SO %$#*ing cold!", I noticed that everyone else was in the same boat as me. No one was talking, or enjoying themselves, there were thousands of people around me who were having the same miserable experience. Then I spotted my parents, I honestly felt like Rose from the movie Titanic when she was in the water and the rescue boats were going around. I almost couldn't get their attention, because I had no energy to call out to them or walk fast enough through the crowd of people. Finally I was able to reconnect with them, and I instantly started crying. My mom helped me change in a small changing tent, because my hands still were not working. While my dad was waiting outside, he helped several people open water bottles and their bags because their hands weren't working either. 
Me in McDonalds FML

When we got out from the changing tent, we went to the closest place possible to warm up. It ended up being a McDonalds. I was not impressed. I ended up getting a chicken burger and a hot chocolate and I sat and ate it while being extremely bitter and feeling very sorry for myself.

The whole thing was an awful experience. I am never going back. It's so weird because normally I am a very positive person and I try to see things in the best possible light, but this was ridiculous. I have ran so many races in my life, marathons, half-marathons, track races, road races, cross country, and all of them have taken care of their runners better than the "Almighty Boston Marathon". If they had rented a few heaters at the start line it would have made such a big difference, fires even! At the end they could have put up a few tents for us to warm up, or let us into the convention centre where the expo had been. I'm sorry, but when I pay $200+ to run in a race, I expect to have my basic needs met. 

When I got back to school so many people asked me how it was. My short answer is "Well, it's a marathon, so it was a hard". They tend to follow up with "Was it awesome though?" I can honestly tell them that the Manitoba Marathon is a better event and it's not worth the trip or the money.

Last weekend while I was watching the Police Half Marathon, I saw one of my favourite kind of people, someone wearing this year's Boston Marathon jacket. I overheard him talking to someone while watching the race and the other person asked "How was Boston?!" and he replied, "IT WAS AWESOME!". I felt like yelling in his face "In what world was that awesome?????", my mind was blown. 

Please forgive me for being so negative, but I really just needed to get this off my chest. My parents, on the other hand had a fantastic experience going to Boston with me. They thought the whole thing was very cool. The results were so fast and the athlete tracking had most of my family and friends jumping for joy. I wouldn't recommend this race anyone, but I also don't expect anyone to take my word for it either. When there so much hype behind something, people need to try it for themselves. 

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