2016 Boston Marathon Race Report

The week leading up to Boston was stressful. Since last fall, I’ve had an issue with my 4th toe on my right foot. It’s been sore and inflamed and after visits to several doctors and finally an MRI, they determined there was a mass in there, along with two small bone spurs that cause a corn to build up between the toes every few years. A biopsy is very invasive so I’m also going to get the bone spurs shaved so the corn issue is eliminated. Surprisingly, I was able to train for the marathon and running actually felt better than biking. The surgeon told me to do the race and we’ll do surgery after so that was all I needed to hear. Unfortunately, the week before the race the toe was really inflamed. I think it was because I tried a new version of the same Brooks Pure Cadence 4. I backed off on running and biking but spent more time in the pool. On Thursday night, with the swelling still substantial, I wondered if I should do the race. I decided it made sense for me to do a short run on Friday morning in the old Brooks to see how my toe felt. It wasn’t great, but not terrible. Then for kicks I threw on my Newtons that I only use for shorter runs since they can aggravate my calves on longer runs. They are wider and they felt a ton better. Decided those were the shoes for the race since the toe was more important than the calves. I felt ready and at peace with my decision.

Later that day, I received a text that United had canceled my flight for Saturday (the next day). It had not even started raining yet! I really started to wonder if all these roadblocks were signs that running this race is not a good idea. I was going without my family and felt ambivalent about that when I booked the trip. I decided to see if I could actually get on another flight. If not, it was not meant to be. After an hour, they got me on a Delta flight on Saturday through Minneapolis. I was happy with that, but felt like the chances were slim that the flight would actually go out of Denver. I decided to make the best of it and had a nice dinner with my boys. I also told Magnus that if I was stuck here I was planning to run a marathon in Denver at the same time that I would be running in Boston. I would even try to run by his school and see if the kids could come out and cheer me on.

In the shower on Saturday I knew I really wanted to run this race since this might be my last one for a while, but it was out of my control. I grabbed my flight snacks (sliced vegetables with guacamole, nuts, coconut butter, Wild bars) and the boys took me to the airport. Two hours later my flight was actually taking off! We were late to Minneapolis but there were several other racers on the flight. We all sprinted to the next flight and we made it!  I had to check my bag in Denver but I was wearing my shoes so I really had all I needed. The flight to Boston was easy and I was completely shocked to see my bag roll onto the carousel. I felt like I had won the lottery and knew this race was meant to be!

On Sunday, I got in a quick run and tried to de-stress as much as I could but I love to spend time at that expo. I requested a refrigerator in my hotel so I grabbed snacks and meals at Whole Foods to make sure I was eating what I typically eat. It’s so nice to not have to worry about carb loading and just eat real foods. I did my athlete’s yoga routine to make sure my body was loose.  I chose my outfit without too much analysis. I love my Tribella race top and it has pockets to carry what I need so that was it. Around 5:45 I walked to Whole Foods and got my dinner. I was hoping for salmon but they only had poached and it was topped with some type of green and tomatoes. I thought that may be risky so went with the chicken. I added baby kale, beets, mushrooms, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Most was cooked, but cold so I warmed the food slightly so that it would be easier to digest. I also took an HCl/enzyme capsule to be sure. I went to bed feeling good and ready to race.

I woke just before the alarm went off and my body felt good. I had decaf coffee with a bit of caffeinated added before leaving the room. I decided to wait on the fully leaded until I was in the Athlete’s Village. That was all I needed… another bonus of being fat adapted – no stress about breakfast. I took a Vespa CV-25 one hour before the start, discarded my lovely hoodie and pants for Goodwill to pick up and walked toward the corrals. In the corral, I took 3 amino acid capsules plus one Salt Stick (just in case as the temps were going to be a bit warmer). I took a Vespa Jr. just before the start.

I felt good starting out and I did not feel as flat as last year so the timing on Vespa and coffee was perfect. I tried not to go out too fast but the downhill makes it tough to reign it in. I was counting down the miles a bit, but just kept reminding myself about how lucky and happy I was to just be able to run. I named my toe Joe and he would tell me to keep going (in a gruff Burgess Meredith voice). When my quads and calves started to hurt, Joe would tell them to shut up, they don’t have any reason to complain like he did… and he wasn’t! I didn’t start to do math on a potential finish time until about mile 10 and told myself to stop tracking, we had a long way to go. I was just watching the pace. It seemed like I was going faster than last year (I was actually eerily similar both years). At the first hour, I was fumbling to get my amino acid capsules out of the bag. I waited a bit to let the capsules digest and then I took in ½ of X2 Performance. I stuck with the system of taking in the aminos (with salt tabs at hour 2) and then ½ of X2 at each hour. I took 2 cups of water at all stations up to mile 23. I would drink 1 to 1.5 cups and pour a small amount down my shirt. I did not want my shoes to get wet since they were a little big. I was doing the math, assuming I slowed to 9 minute miles at the end, just in case. That would give me some extra time. The downhill before the Heartbreak hill section really hurt my quads. It felt good to run up Heartbreak and give the quads a break. I ran the hills faster than last year. As we came into the city it really hurt but I just kept reminding myself to take in the cheering crowd since I may not be racing again for a while, depending on recovery from my surgery. I had forgotten about the uphill around the underpass at mile 25. That slowed me a bit. I still thought I would come in at 3:42-3:43. I was running faster but my math must have been off. I had some in the tank and sprinted once I turned the corner and saw the finish. It hurt badly, but good thing I emptied the tank since I only PR’d by 3 seconds. My final time was 3:44:58, beating my best marathon and my Boston time from last year by 3 minutes.

Once I crossed the finish and started walking, I could feel that Joe the toe was really swollen. I got my blanket, medal, pictures, etc and then Joe didn’t seem to bother me anymore. The calves and quads held up too. They were sore but never slowed me down. I had my Vega Recovery Accelerator and ate a mini Cliff Builders bar with 1/3 of banana on the walk to my hotel. Since I don’t take in many calories during the race it’s important that I get some protein and carbohydrates in to recover. 

Total race nutrition:

Before the race – 1 packet Vespa CV-25 (18 calories, no carbs), 1 packet Vespa – Jr. (31 calories, 8g. carbs)

During the race – 1.5 bottles X2 Performance (1 bottle = 60 calories, 15 g. carbs)

Total before and during – 139 calories, 30 g. of carbs.  + 12 full spectrum amino acid capsules and 2 Salt Stick capsules

Recovery went well but that plane ride on Tuesday was a killer! Now I’m onto my next adventure with Joe the Toe going under the knife on 4/27. We’ll see how it affects my summer race plans but either way I’m really happy with my day in Boston!