Anyone who knows me from last year might remember my 2009 Boston experience. First ever DNF at the half due to sciatica. It was a miserable experience, but the right (and only) choice at the time. Recovery was slow but I returned to full strength by late summer/fall with a great 50k in September and almost a PR at Royal Victoria Marathon in October. Everything felt good, and I had nothing on the schedule until Boston the following April. No problem.
Except there was a problem. Something wasn't right in my stoopid right foot. Not the usual metatarsal problems but something more. Turns out I should've stopped using the metatarsal pad awhile ago because my foot had healed to the point of not needing it, and it was causing problems. That combined with poor recovery strategy from RVM led me to Posterior Tibial Tendinitis. Bleh. It'd get better, I'd run on it, it'd get worse, take time off, XT, rehab, repeat. So I took the first two weeks of January off completely. No running, just pool running, elliptical and weights. When I started again on January 15, I started about midway in my normal schedule, but only running 5 days per week and kept up with lots of cross training. This would put me about 2 weeks behind, but I wanted the three 20 milers so opted for the two week taper and eliminated a couple of step back weeks in the beginning.
It seemed to work. Towards the end of my training, the faster paces seemed effortless, my foot was fine, the back was in full compliance and everything indicated "GO." I was afraid to predict a pace or goal time, but did print out a 3:38 pace band as a target, with the full understanding it may not be possible and prepared to ignore it and just run if that's what the day gave me.
Preliminary Activities/fun stuff:
Ok, on to the race prep. DH and I decided I'd go alone this year; it's just too expensive for us to go together all the time. But this would be the first "travel to" race I'd do without him, other than Seattle in 07, and that was a little sad. But, we needed to economize so used airline miles for the travel and I shared a room with Holly that we found on Hotwire.com (ok, great rate, not a bad hotel but we found out it was in a pretty sketchy part of town... oops).
To minimize the chance of back problems (airline seats are killers), I arrived early and stayed the first night with WRFB and PDR in the apartment they rented on Beacon St. We'd met up with LaTortuga and her DH, RoseColored Glasses and the Rocket Scientist, Pro From Dover and his GF, Hally and others. Great group, fun gathering, but I was seriously dead tired from the trip.
Saturday we went for an early run to test out the legs (everyone's, especially WRFB who was thinking of deferring) and the weather was horrible. Good to get it out of the system now, I thought. The forecast for Monday looked promising. We went to the Expo after that, got our bibs and WRFB went to defer. I guess it hit as a final decision when he came back and said "She took my bib!" And that was that. We went back to the apartment after that, they went off to see Nate Jr. and his parents, I hung out for awhile, made my pace band and waited for Hally to come pick me up. We went to her hotel and dropped off her stuff, then to mine to drop off mine, then up to MIT for the DawnDaughter and DH PhD party where we met a bunch of other KR and RA folks, including PerchCreek, Holly, Kimmie, Tramps and his DW, PeterNC and I know I'm leaving some out.
Sunday was a trip back to the Expo so Holly could get her bib and we wandered around, eating too many samples and trying on some stuff. Then we went back to our hotel and waited for Denise (Deez4Boyz) to pick us up. Robin's party was excellent, and we met so many more folks there including KSrunr and his DW, Bhearn and Busiman, Stumpy and more. I was really bummed that I didn't have a camera, but I was apparently the only one without so you can see what happened from others' reports.
After Robin's party, we weren't really hungry, but needed something "real" to eat before getting ready for the race. Settled on Tavern in the Square on Robin's recommendation, and saw WRFB, PDR and family there, too. Denise, Holly, Hally and I had a good time and good food, with leftovers for the fridge. Time to head back to the room and get ready. Gotta really give a big thank you to Denise for the goodie bags she left for Holly and me at our hotel, and for driving us all around Boston; not an easy job! Thanks so much Denise!
I've never taken the buses to the start, but it looked like I might this year. But then our hotel posted a sign about a limo service for $25 and we decided it was worth it for the extra rest we'd get. Got all our stuff ready the night before, and both of us were feeling full and bloated from the day's activities and food. Lovely. Oh well, it is what it is. We got up Monday morning feeling good and ready to go (surprise #1, really). Got in our towncar at 8 and had a nice comfy ride on leather seats up to Hopkinton. As expected, the driver couldn't drop us off at the start like they'd promised (I knew this going in from 2008) so we walked the approximately 3/4 mile to the Village. Met up with Kimmie and Boston Rnr (Susan) and relaxed a bit before heading to the corrals. I found Robin just before the start, and we shared a big hug and good luck talk.
I love this race. I love downhill. It's just like running from home. All my long runs start out with a few miles of gentle downhill, then some level, then some big hills in the last 1/3. Perfect. As the miles ticked by, I imagined where I'd be on my runs at home and it helped keep me occupied. I never pushed the pace, tried to always have some open road in front of me (not an easy task), and carried a small bottle of water I got from Robin's so I wouldn't have to stop at water stops. It worked! As I made my way along the course, I'd check the pace band every now and then (mainly at the 5k marks) and found myself building up a cushion of time in the bank. I know this banked time can come with a huge interest rate, so I'd work on dialing back a bit and repeated the mantra "easy pace, relaxed legs" over and over. By the 30k mark, I had almost 5 minute banked and felt good!
I do have to add that I had a bit of trepidation after passing the 10k mark. This is the spot last year where some mule kicked me in the butt and ended my race. And when I passed the spot just after the half where CNYrunner and family rescued me, I gave a nod of thanks, checked all systems, got a green light and kept on going. Thanks again, Karin, you really helped me with the DNF and all the frustration that came with it.
It was great to see the gang at the 20 miler mark. I came up on TNally first, who I'd never met but was looking for because he said he'd be at the 20 miler. He called my name and I picked him out right away, it was amazing! A quick hug, I yelled "where's everyone else??" and they were just a few feet on down the road. It was a real boost to see them, I threw my gloves at Pro, grabbed the water he offered and was off. WRFB just got a picture of the back of my head as I took off. I did walk a few steps on Heartbreak hill to take my last Gu and drink some of that water. I'd tried drinking and running earlier with mixed results. After inhaling some and wearing some more, I thought a few walk steps wouldn't hurt. They didn't. I took off up the rest, crested the hill and gave a "Woohoo!" yell at the top and took off.
I did start to feel some cramping at about mile 22 so thought some Gatorade would be a good idea. Next stop, I grabbed some, paused just slightly to chug it down and took off again. I always take walk breaks in marathons, but this one I really hadn't. Just two times of less than 20 steps each while I was doing something else (taking Gu, stashing Gu, drinking) so I kept wondering when my legs would scream that they needed a walk break. They never did. I couldn't believe it. I just kept chugging along and going through Brookline I remember doing the mental math (always a good sign to be able to do that) that I could run 10 minute miles and still PR! That didn't happen though, as my last miles were all in the low 8's.
PeterNC had a shirt on at Robin's that I'd seen at the Expo. It said "Right on Hereford, left on Boylston." I kept repeating that to myself, and remembered in 2008 how I had to walk a bit in that last mile going up Hereford. That was so not going to happen this year. I cranked it and ran up that as hard as I could, and had enough left in the tank for a little sprint to the finish. As I stopped my Garmin, it said 3:32:34 and I couldn't believe it. No way. I'd just run a 6 minute PR on my 2008 time. Boston is indeed a PR course for me!
I wandered around the finish/family meeting areas waiting for Holly to finish. I was texting DH asking him how others had done, and when I found a quieter spot I called him. Turns out I'd beat a couple of runners from Fairbanks, including the women's record holder on the Equinox! Holly called and we connected, then made our way to the bus back to our hotel to rest and cleanup before heading back to WRFB and PDR's for the post-race party. What a weekend this had turned out to be!
Final time: 3:32:33, average pace 8:07, 28th in 50-54 women AG out of 779 finishers.
Here's here I need to add a hugh thanks to WRFB and PDR. Without their hospitality in letting me stay with them Friday night, this would've been much more difficult for me to pull off. Even after I helped myself to too much oatmeal on Saturday and left PDR short, they were gracious and welcoming the entire time. Thanks, you two.
And this wouldn't be complete without a huge thanks and hug to Holly. Would be very hard to find a better race-weekend-roommate and we both agreed we'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Ok, for the data hungry (thanks, Denise!), these are Garmin splits, so off a little bit from true miles, but it's all I've got:
Mile 1 7:57
Mile 2 7:50
Mile 3 7:54
Mile 4 7:46
Mile 5 8:03
Mile 6 7:52
Mile 7 7:49
Mile 8 7:58
Mile 9 7:59
Mile 10 8:01
Mile 11 8:02
Mile 12 7:53
Mile 13 7:55
Mile 14 8:01
Mile 15 8:10
Mile 16 7:48
Mile 17 8:19
Mile 18 8:22
Mile 19 8:05
Mile 20 8:42 (20 mile stop)
Mile 21 8:44 (brief walk break on HB Hill)
Mile 22 7:56
Mile 23 8:14 (Gatorade break)
Mile 24 8:03
Mile 25 8:06
Mile 26 8:16
Last . 38 (?) 7:37 (little kick to the finish)
woooohoooo Erika!! You ran an amazing race ............. so happy for you!! Go ahead - post those splits - you earned it!!
thanks for the shout out in your report - I had so much fun hanging with you, Holly and the rest of the gang and would have loved spending more time with you but needed to be with my local running group as well........hopefully someday i can travel to a destination race and hang out without distractions!!
WICKED AWESOME as we say in Boston!!
Trails are hard!
Erika--That was a spectacular race for you. That high in AG at Boston is amazing. I'm so glad that all your training came together so well. It was also great to be able to see you again at Robin's and at 20 miles.
I refuse to believe that you (or any of the Boomer Goddess) are actually in the AG that you say you are. I think it's a plot to steal AG awards.
Need a fast half for late fall. Then I need to actually train for it.
Erika, what a great race and report! I was grinning while reading it. Parts of it reminded me so much of National last year for me--the whole idea of waiting for the pain to come...and it doesn't!... and the elation that comes when you realize it won't! Who knows why it happens (or doesn't) but its a fantastic feeling when it does.
After all your struggles and hard work this past year, I'm so happy you had such a spectacular race. You were smiling later in the day and had every reason to! Congratulations.
It was great to meet you in person!
I've been looking forward to this!!!!!!
All the people you got to hang out with is way kewl.
Now, when we Erika up, the bar has been raised all the higher. You are an amazing runner.
Leslie Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain -------------
Trail Runner Nation
i'm lovin' it... MM#1949
Congatulations Erika!! (as the BAA would say )
The Hill Goddess conquers Boston! That pacing just shows how strong that run was. You even had a sub 8 mile after the hills which means execution was perfect! Your race preparation can teach us all alot about mixing in cross training and pool running to build strength without injury. After the race you didn't seem tired at all! Amazing day. Just wonderful. I'm so happy for you!
Perch's Profile "I don't know if running adds years to your life, but it definitely adds life to your years." - Jim Fixx "The secret is to make in your mind possible what was not possible before. The secret is to make easy what was difficult, instead to make difficult what really is easy." - Coach Renato Canova
What an impressive race, Erika. Especially after all of the injuries you'd been dealing with last year. It's amazing how, while reading your report, you made me feel like you were just off for a short, easy run instead of running Boston! I really enjoyed reading your RR. Like Steve said, "Erika up" just took on a whole new meaning.
Congratulations and it was so great to meet you!
Marathon Maniac #530 Mike (My Indian name is "Runs for Beer")
What a great race you had! These sorts of races are exactly what keeps us coming back (except that it takes me a lot less speed for me). But I'm really so happy for you - that kind of PR is awesome, especially after all your struggles and last year's disappointment.
We loved having your company Friday night, and it was a real treat to see you during the rest of the weekend. (Truly - I had plenty of oatmeal).
Please, please come back to Boston!
aka Mrs. WillRunForBeer, MD, USA Marathoning, the triumph of desire over reason
Prince of Fatness
Not only an amazing HUGE PR race with excellent pacing, but a huge PR on the weekend socializing! I really like the fact that you kicked the Equinox's woman's butt.
What an awesome race, and you just keep getting faster and faster!
"During a marathon, I run about two-thirds of the time. That's plenty." - Margaret Davis, 85 Ed Whitlock regarding his 2:54:48 marathon at age 73, "That was a good day. It was never a struggle."
Congrats, that was fun to read. Boston RR's always bring back greta memories, yours does it in spades.
Boston #1 for me, I was secretly aiming for a PR (I've never told anyone that, and was not disappointed if it didn't happen) I missed it by about 5 minutes. to get a PR by 6 minutes on that course is HUGE!!and
And as you know, that weekend is about so much more then just the race.
I had dot wait for a quiet moment in my life to read this RR. Most of you know that Erika and I are very closed friends in real life and I have kept track of her ups and downs with training in the last six months. After her two weeks off in January and her strong come back, I knew that she would have a great race come Boston. Her approach to recovery and racing is an inspiration to me and many others here. Just look at those splits...you are one amazing and talented runner Erika...
You worked hard for this PR and I am so happy for you. Enjoy it sistahhh!!! I know there is yet a faster pace in you!
"Champions are everywhere; all you need is to train them properly..." ~Arthur Lydiard