Boston Marathon 2016 Race Recap

2016 Boston Marathon Race Recap

I don’t know how to properly convey through typed words how thankful I am for all of you. The gratitude I feel. The fullness in my heart that hasn’t let up since yesterday morning. The response to my last blog left me speechless. When the post went live at 8AM, I’d raised $5,531 for MABVI. Just two short hours later when I finished teaching my morning classes and opened up my computer, I had received 15 new donations. FIFTEEN. What??? I couldn’t believe it. By 5PM, because of YOUR support, I’d raised $7,500. I hit my goal! We hit my goal. You hit my goal. Amazing. Absofuckinglutely amazing. Just typing that is bringing on the burning sensation in the back of my nasal passage that signals the tears are on deck.

Thank you for your generosity. You’ve made my heart so full. I am utterly humbled by your support. <3

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Marathon Monday

Have I dragged this out long enough or what?! Race recap time! Then I’ll STFU about Boston for, like, at least a couple weeks. 😉

My alarm went off at 4:45AM. I had to catch Team With A Vision’s chartered bus at 6AM out to Hopkinton, and wanted to make sure I had time for my new 10-minute daily morning meditation habit. It was pretty pointless though–you try stopping your mind from thinking the morning of your first ever marathon! I sat cross-legged on my kitchen floor with my headphones in “meditating” (good lord I’m turning into my mother) and then started getting dressed for the big day. I had laid out my outfit the night before and packed the bag I’d bring with me, so it was a pretty quick process.

Although it was going to be a warm day, it was still chilly at that hour of the morning, so I threw on some old leggings and a stained sweatshirt over top. TWAV had systems in place to get any belongings back to you, but just in case I wore outer layers I didn’t care about losing.

Last things to do before leaving the house included a swig of apple cider vinegar (disgusting I know, but lots of health benefits so I do it daily-ish), drinking a big 16-oz glass of water, double checking I had everything I’d need packed in my bag, triple checking, waking out the door, realizing I forgot something, repeating a few times, throwing unnecessary shit in my bag “just in case” and then finally leaving the apartment around 5:30AM.

Our bus took off from the Park Plaza Hotel around 6AM and we began the drive out to Hopkinton. On the bus I ate a Blueberry Muffin Larabar because I literally can’t go a day without one and continued to sip on water. I kept having these oh-shit moments where I’d look out the bus window, see a highway sign for Ashland or some other vaguely recognizable town name I knew to be eons away from the city and think aaaand I’m running home. Instead of getting nervous though, for some reason these moments of clarity just made me laugh. I’m running home from Hopkinton. I don’t even like driving home from Hopkinton. LOLLOLLOL.

The Wait

One of the challenges of Boston is the start time–especially for charity runners, who don’t start until 11:15AM. During my long training runs, I’d wake up and then immediately head out for the run. With the marathon though, you wake up at the crack of dawn to bus out to the start line and then you have four hours to sit around and just sort of marinate in your nerves. You need to take this into consideration not just with layering your outfit, but with timing what and when you eat.

TWAV gets to use a small, two-story house (The Vision Center) to wait in before the race. Considering the other runners hang out on the grass or the buses for hours, we might as well have been prepping in the Bellagio. I mean we had a real toilet. Yes, one that flushes and everything. Talk about spoiled.

At the Vision Center, I ate half a bagel toasted with almond butter and banana slices at around 8AM and drank a small coffee. I’ve never done meth, but reflecting on the scene in Breaking Bad where Tuco snorts it and then starts twitching and saying “Tight, tight, tight” repeatedly and then kills a guy with his bare hands, I’d say there might have been a touch of meth in the coffee.

I used the bathroom no less than six times, and then around 10:15AM ate the other half of my bagel with almond butter and banana. All things considered, the wait passed by quickly and before I knew it, it was time to lube up my toes (I smear Vaseline on them to prevent chaffing), lace up and walk over to the starting line.

The Race

Warning: This might be a bit of a boring race recap because I honestly felt great the whole time. I had no big obstacles to overcome aside from some mild armpit chaffing. I had energy to spare, no aches and pains, no injuries along the way. I think the Universe was probably like, This girl is an emotional train wreck, no way in hell she can handle a physically challenging race–let’s throw her an easy one. Hahaaa … but seriously.

It’s funny how, before the race even starts, your brain divides the course up into arbitrary sections. (Mine does anyway?) For me, it wasn’t so much the big distance markers (10K, half marathon, etc.), it was based more on where I knew friends and family would be and familiar landmarks. Instead of doing a mile-by-mile breakdown, I’m going to split the race recap the way my mind did.

Start Line to 4K Mark (My Parents!)

2016 Boston Marathon Race RecapSimon has run Boston before and I’m so thankful for that. There is no way my race would have gone as well as it did for me if Simon wasn’t there because I would have absolutely made the exact mistake he warned against. With all the excitement, I would have practically sprinted this first portion of the race. It’s downhill; your legs are fresh; there’s this badass tailgate of bikers at a burger bar blasting music near the start of the race (please invite me next year, I want to be in your crew); you’re running the Boston motherfucking Marathon. Holy stimulation overload.

The first few miles of the race were hot. No breeze, no shade, and although the forecast predicted a 60-degree day, it had to have been in the 70s at the start. It didn’t bother me though. Honestly, nothing really bothered me the entire race–I was a woman possessed.

My parents were waiting for me around the 4K marker, and I gave them each a quick hug before continuing on my way.

4K Mark to Btone Wellesley (Half Marathon Mark)

This is a long stretch to group together (over 10 miles), but to me it represented the part of the course I wasn’t familiar with–the part that wasn’t “home”. I’d done one training run starting in Framingham, but other than that, I’ve never spent much time in that area of MA. So as soon as I left my parents, my mind shifted its focus to the next familiar sight I’d see: Btone Wellesley.

Because I was so focused on Wellesley, Natick seemed to stretch on forever. The upside was that a breeze had picked up, and while we weren’t necessarily more shaded, the sun felt a lot less intense than it had at the start of the race. The brutal heat was behind us. Still, staying hydrated was important Monday, and that’s yet another reason I am so thankful to have done the race as a team with Simon and Heather. I wouldn’t have drank enough water along the course because it wouldn’t have occurred to me to drink more than I did during cold winter training runs. We got something to drink at just about every water station and I think that’s a huge reason I felt so great during and after the race. 2016 Boston Marathon Race Recap

An hour in, I ate my first Cafe Mocha Hüma gel. This is my favorite flavor, but after the jet fuel meth coffee I drank before the race, I wanted to make sure I didn’t overdo it with the caffeine. Throughout the race, I ate four total gels, one at the hour, 2-hour, 3-hour and then 4-hour mark. I alternated between Cafe Mocha and the Strawberry flavors.

When we finally hit Wellesley, I wasn’t sure if anyone I knew would be outside the studio, but I was SO HAPPY to see Jody and Jamie out front of Btone! It’s crazy how much of an impact seeing a familiar face can make on morale during a race.

Btone to The Turn onto Comm Ave

With Btone behind me, the next thing I focused on was turning off Rt 16 and onto Commonwealth Ave. I swear Comm Ave runs through the entire state of Masschusetts so this isn’t saying much, but I live on Commonwealth and it always felt like a bit of a home-stretch moment when I’d turn onto it during training runs.

It was during this section that the back-of-the-armpit chaffing started. My only “issue” during the race, it was greatly relieved by some heaven-sent guy along the course handing out popsicle sticks with globs of Vaseline on the ends. You’re a true American hero, sir.

The Start of Comm to BC

Although it’d been going on for miles, it wasn’t until this point in the race that Simon finally let on about how much pain he was in. Over a month ago, Simon suffered a pretty bad IT band injury. Inclines only aggravated it, so when we reached the infamous Newton hills, we walked up, running the stretches in between. With the heat, it seemed a lot of runners were using a similar strategy.

BC to Kenmore Square

2016 Boston Marathon Race RecapWe’re getting there! We’re getting there! This is when the excitement started to build for me. We continued to tackle the course with a mix of running and walking

Kenmore Square to the Finish Line

I knew I’d start getting emotional when I wrote this part of the race and yup. All the feels.

The crowd thickens as you near the city–the cheering intensifying, the volume increasing, the energy level rising. I’m home now–not just in the city, but in my neighborhood. I start to look out for familiar faces in the crowd. I can’t stop smiling. Well, I think I’m smiling, anyway. Based on the race day pictures, my face was actually doing something along these lines:

That’s ok though! Your top lip and bottom row of teeth are both highly overrated when you’re nearing the finish line!

We near the Mass Ave underpass and we’re running by my apartment. A “Boston Strong” sign hangs overhead. People drape themselves over the metal gates lining the course. We pick up the pace as we make a right onto Hereford Street. The crowds! We’re almost there! The cheers! I can’t believe I’m actually doing this! It doesn’t seem real.

And then that left onto Boylston Street.

THAT LEFT ONTO BOYLSTON. The months of training in the cold winter weather are worth it if only for that moment. It’s that incredible. For the last stretch of the race along Boylston, you are Mick Jagger walking onto the stage. You are the 2004 Red Sox in game 7 against the Yankees. You are Kate Middleton when she does anything. You feel so loved, so proud, so elated.

The crowds are so thick you can’t even see their end; the cheers erupt in this sort of funnel of wonderful, endless noise; and you fully understand why Boston is such a revered, beloved race. And then it sinks in that you are a part of that.

Final time: 4:45:08

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I grew up in Massachusetts, so from the time I was a little kid, Marathon Monday has always been a special day. I actually didn’t even realize that Patriot’s Day is only celebrated here until I went to college in North Carolina and we–*gasps in horror*–had to GO TO CLASS on Marathon Monday. Since graduating, Boston has been my home, and as fun as day drinking with my friends in Back Bay is each year (it’s the best), I’ve always wanted to be the one running. Even just once, to cross it off the bucket list. I can’t thank Team With A Vision enough for giving me this opportunity. And I can’t thank Simon and Heather enough for making race day such an amazing experience for me. To Simon, it was an honor to both guide you and in many other ways throughout the race be guided by you and your breadth of running knowledge and experience.

The Post-Race Celebrations

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I was greeted at the finish line by my cousin and uncle, and then shortly thereafter, Joe, his mom and aunt. We went out to eat at Cafeteria where I ordered the hummus sandwich with fries, but weirdly enough I didn’t have much of an appetite and couldn’t finish even half of it. But I did drink the best beer of my life. No exaggeration, beer has never tasted better. IMG_1913Even better than the taste of beer though was walking into Cafeteria and seeing horrifying cardboard cutouts of my deranged face all over the bar. My friend Steph had these hilarious things made, proving that she is both the best and the worst (haha). After eating, I showered and then we headed out to a friend’s party for a little bit. And for the first time in my life, I got more attention than Joe in a social setting. It was a big day for me, guys. Big, big day.

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So…

Would I run another marathon? Hell yes. I will run another marathon. Any recommendations??

Would I run again as a guide? Hell yes. I loved the experience.

Would I run again as a charity runner? Yes but … give me a couple years (haha). My attitude for fundraising has been completely transformed for the better because of this experience, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a stressful and time-consuming undertaking. Raising $7,500 is like taking on a part-time job! In addition to the time commitment of training. In addition to my full-time job running the blog. In addition to my part-time job teaching group fitness. It’s a lot, but in a few years, sure, I’d be willing to do it again.

That being said, even if I’m not the one fundraising, I want to help future charity runners reach their goals. If you’re a local reader and get a charity bib next year, seriously reach out to me. Let’s organize an event–I’m happy to teach a fitness class or help with the fundraising in any way I can!

PHHHEWWWW. These marathon update blog posts have been no joke. I’ve asked you guys to do so much reading lately. So. Much. Reading. Tomorrow how about I post pretty pictures of a sandwich and call it a day? Sounds like a damn good plan to me. 😉

Did you run Boston on Monday? How’d the race go for you?

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Comments

  1. Congrats girl! I loved this recap. I especially loved the Breaking Bad imagery haha. So glad you reached your goal and you had such an amazing time!

  2. Loved reading this and can relate on so many levels with my NYC Marathon experience– good training means there’s never a moment where you don’t think you’ll finish. I highly recommend the NYC Marathon. I can’t compare it to anything since it’s my only experience, but it was a really spectacular experience and the energy is amazing

  3. Ah this post is amazing, I have goose bumps! It’s been fun following along with you during this journey, your recap made me laugh and get teary all at the same time. Well done!

  4. Congratulations! your recaps are great and I’m glad you met your fundraising goal. Echoing Kayla up there, NYC is a fantastic marathon – the crowds are great, but maybe not as great as the Boston folks!

  5. I loved this recap and I’m so glad you reached your fundraising goal! I had no idea runners were on the hook for the amount if they couldn’t raise it, I can understand where your stress came from! I spent some time on Boylston on race day and it’s so much fun. I always say I’ll run it one day 🙂 Congrats!

  6. mkgaller says:

    Way to go, Nicole!

  7. Congrats lady!!! Such an impressive feat and you killed it 🙂

  8. Congratulations! So happy you reached your goal and loved the experience.

  9. Try the Air Force Marathon in Ohio. It’s in September; this year is the 20th anniversary and I’m running the 10k (my first!) with my son. We’re a little excited. 🙂

  10. Made me get a little teary thinking about finishing my first marathon. A friend gave me a card the morning of (she had already run a few marathons before) that told me to relish every moment and take mental snapshots the whole time, because even if I ran more marathons, I’d always be chasing that special high you feel when you finish your first. She was totally right. I’m SO happy for you — running is awesome, but being in the marathon club is just something really special of its own right. CONGRATS GIRL!

  11. Super bummed I forgot to add you to my list of “heroes” to look out for 😉 I had four friends charity running and was around when you were likely coming through! Loved the recap; Marathon Monday is the best day in the entire world. Congrats!

  12. Thank you for writing this so I can live vicariously through you!!

  13. Congrats, Nicole! I loved reading your recaps and following along! I recommend throwing your name in the lottery for the NYC Marathon 🙂 I also did Disney, which was fun but not as much energy as NY for obvious reasons. Enjoy a well-deserved break!

  14. Michelle says:

    Congratulations!!!!! Nothing compares to running Boston….but the NYC Marathon came pretty close

  15. Nicole, that is just amazing. I’m so happy for you, you did an amazing job and have even convinced me to sign up for a half marathon (let’s not get full on crazy with a whole one!! I’ll leave that to you!)
    Plus, I loved all the blog posts, it is nice when people are honest and don’t pretend their lives are perfect. Seeing people overcome their struggles is inspiring!
    Virtual High Five!!!

  16. Congratulations on finishing! That’s such an awesome accomplishment!

  17. Your Kenmore Square to the Finish Line portion gave me the chills! What an awesome experience and AMAZING job reaching your fundraising goal!!! You’re totally an inspiration & actually have me considering a marathon. *GASP* 🙂

  18. Congrats!!! Great job!!! So exciting!!

  19. Jennifer @ Dashing in Style says:

    Congratulations! What a great experience for your first marathon! The cardboard cutout is hilarious, ha ha!

  20. I loved reading this! Way to go Nicole!

  21. Congratulations Nicole! Glad to hear your first marathon was so seamless. You look beautiful in all your race day pictures- just glowing.

  22. I was so excited to read this recap and let me tell you it gave me all the feels! I got teary eyed reading it and just being so darn proud of you! Congratulations!!! 🙂

  23. CONGRATS!!!!!!!
    You had me choking back tears though – thanks. I’m at work. 😉
    I’ve had it in my head that I will never, in a million years, qualify for Boston, but then I read reviews and the desire to run Boston increases with each finisher. UGH! I need to get faster. Just the THOUGHT of doing fundraising makes me need an alcoholic drink!
    Recommendations? Columbus Marathon – Columbus, OH! I’m running Pittsburgh this Sunday, so I’ll let ya know about that one…

  24. Hey Nicole! I just read this and girl, your writing is so good. Your emotions come through so clearly and the experience sounds like it was incredible. I was also super excited to see my name in your recap! YAY! I have only run one marathon – Cape Cod in 2006 – which is a fall marathon and a GORGEOUS course! Recommended if you didn’t love training in the icy snowy winter months! One day I’d love to run Boston though if my knees ever allow it. The crowds are like no other. I too never knew until college (I was at CU Boulder) that no other states celebrate Patriots Day except us. Who knew?! There’s nothing like Marathon Monday. And I know that feeling of seeing a familiar face. It is SO important for morale. You looked SO STRONG out there (I wasn’t sure if you’d actually just run 13 miles or hopped into the race 100 yards prior – were you even sweating? You looked so happy and refreshed! I was both impressed and confused) I felt totally inspired by you. Great work. You’re one badass lady!!! Congratulations on RUNNING BOSTON!!!! -Jamie

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