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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Marathon Weekend in Boston

Marathon Weekend in Boston

What a weekend! I’m going to save a recap of race day for its own post (coming ASAP), but wanted to start off by talking about the rest of the weekend and updating you all on the whole fundraising-induced meltdown I talked about here. The past couple weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster–and I’m not talking It’s A Small World at Disney–but I’m actually glad my experience went that way. I met some truly inspirational people this weekend; accomplished the biggest physical feat of my life; and saw a lot of personal growth. This was an incredible opportunity that I wouldn’t want to have gone any other way. I’m so glad my first marathon was as a member of Team With A Vision!

Friday

If we’re still comparing my marathon experience to a roller coaster, Friday was the part where the bottom drops out, your stomach lurches into your throat, and you wet your pants a little. Bear with me through Friday because the rest is nothing but positive.

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It was the start of marathon weekend. I woke up early, did a 10-minute meditation (aka 9 minutes of trying to meditate and 1 minute of meditation), and was ready to tackle the day’s focus: fundraising. I had well over $3,000 left to raise and, while I have until May 31 to do so, I knew the enthusiasm from donors would wane as Marathon Monday passed. I still had this gnawing discomfort with asking people for money and felt that I’d already tapped out friends and family, so my plan was to reach out to brands with whom I’ve worked with on blog projects. In exchange for coverage on the blog, maybe they’d be willing to donate.

My post-meditation calm did not last long. As I was drafting emails, the anxiety and stress started to wrap around me like an itchy wool blanket. I’ll never raise the money. I’m going to have to pay $3,000. I can’t afford that. I need to get out of this. I can’t do this. WHERE IS THE FUCKING EJECT BUTTON.

The negative thought spiral was in motion when I got a text from my mom that just sent me over the edge. I’ve never talked about this on the blog before, but a family member of mine suffers from severe schizophrenia. It’s a topic I want to draw attention to because this country does not take care of its mental ill AT ALL and that needs to change, but at the same time I know he would be enraged if he knew I was sharing things about him here, so it’s a tricky line to walk. I have faith that one day he’ll have his illness managed and want to help others by sharing his story, but sadly that day is not yet here. So without going into detail, the text I received from my mom informed me that a particular incident had gone from bad to sickeningly awful. The type of situation that makes your insides feel both unbearably heavy yet somehow hollow.

This, added to the stress I was already feeling, and I just lost it. Meltdown #599. I actually cried so hard that I gave myself a painful stye in my left eye that’s still going strong as I type this post. Watch out, Boston Marathon, the Hot Mess Express is comin’ in hot!

Joe took a work break to meet me downtown for coffee, which helped calm me, and we agreed I needed to stop fundraising altogether. With everything going on, it was too overwhelming, and from a logistical standpoint, I’d probably never cross the finish line on Monday if I was still in this frenzied state. That actually made me feel relieved. Being mentally done with the fundraising meant one less thing on my plate. And with this mindset, I started to feel excited about running on Monday. I hate to admit it, but that was the first time in over a month I felt any sort of excitement about running the marathon.

There are nonstop activities in Boston during marathon weekend, but I chose not to partake in any of them Friday afternoon or evening (see above meltdown), instead just getting a couple glasses of wine with Joe that night at Minibar and going to bed early.

Saturday

I thought writing my last marathon update was the catharsis I needed to be a good place for the marathon, but turns out that was just the warm up. Friday was the real emotional rock bottom I needed to purge the negativity from my system.

Runkeeper booth at Boston Marathon Expo

At noon on Saturday, I was set to meet Simon, Heather and Andrea from Team With A Vision at the Runkeeper booth at the Marathon Expo. I walked over from my apartment feeling a bit drained but excited to start enjoying the weekend now that fundraising was off the table.* I didn’t want to let the weekend pass me by without fully taking in every moment of it.

*For the record, if you run for a charity, you can’t just not hit your goal. You agree to pay for any deficit remaining when the deadline comes. I was just choosing to deny that logistical detail–the mind is a powerful thing!

This was my first time meeting Simon and Heather in person, and we spent the next couple hours holding down the fort with Runkeeper. It was there that Simon and Andrea talked a bit about Team With A Vision and the obstacles faced for those who live with visual impairment. How the loss of vision can feel like a robbery of one’s independence. The unemployment rate among the blind is in excess of 70%. With that comes a feeling of isolation; of being separate. As if you’re not participating in this life but rather sitting on the sidelines. Then comes the depression. The emotional and psychological pain. Mental illness. Team With A Vision and The MA Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired not only offer logistical, physical support for the blind and visually impaired, but also work to support the emotional and mental health issues that can come hand-in-hand.

Damn. Replace “visual impairment” with “schizophrenia” and they were telling my loved one’s story.

And that’s when the pieces came together for me and I could finally see the big picture. Why I was doing this. Why the fundraising was important. Why it was such an honor to get this opportunity to run for a charity. The $7,500 wasn’t a price to be paid for getting to run the Boston Marathon without qualifying. It was $7,500 of support where support is so very needed. I knew this to be true from the moment I signed on to run, but I don’t think I fully understood it or felt its truth until that point. Proof that as old as 28 feels, I’ve still got a ton of personal growth ahead of me in this life.

When that deep personal connection clicked, suddenly the discomfort I’d felt in asking for donations vanished. Just hours before, I’d given up on fundraising. Drawn a line in the sand. Thrown in the towel. Now, I was overtaken by a surge of enthusiasm for crushing my $7,500 goal. I told you–this rollercoaster is no joke.

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When we parted ways at the Runkeeper booth, Joe met up with me and we spent some time walking around the Expo. I picked up my bib, bought the obligatory marathon jacket ($110 for a turquoise and pink windbreaker straight from the 1980’s … WOOF) and walked along the endless aisles of vendors. Afterwards we grabbed lunch, did some oh-shit-guests-are-coming apartment cleaning, and then later enjoyed a nice dinner with Joe’s mom and aunt.

Sunday

Sunday started off with a team shakeout run together with Runkeeper. We met up by the Charles River and did an easy two-mile run along the Esplanade. As we finished, Simon joked, “We only have to do that 13 times tomorrow!”

When I got home from the run, I sat down to reach out to family members and friends who hadn’t yet donated. In a short, but truly from-the-heart email, I explained how the MABVI offers support; described why, despite the initial dread of fundraising, I now feel so deeply connected to the cause; and asked for a donation, if within their ability at this time. From that one email, I raised $1,500 in less than 24 hours. $1,500!! There was a sense of relief, yes, but more so just overwhelming gratitude. For my loved ones and their generosity, but also grateful that I could give that much more to MABVI.

While that was a huge leap towards the $7,500 goal, I still have a little way to go, and would like to take a moment to ask you for your support. If you’re able to make a small donation, the contribution to this wonderful charity and the people it works to help would mean the world.

Donations can be made at my fundraising page HERE.

To those of you who have already donated, thank you so, so very much!
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The remainder of Sunday was spent enjoying the gorgeous day in Boston. The city vibrates with energy during marathon weekend and the sunny, 60-degree weather only added to that excitement. I wanted to rest my legs as much as possible, but couldn’t resist a stroll around the city with Joe and his family. I ran a few last-minute errands to prepare for the big day, and then settled in at home for a relaxing evening. IMG_1670

For dinner I made a big bowl of brown rice, quinoa, shredded sweet potatoes, brussles sprouts, red onion, avocado and topped with a fried egg. I went to bed full and pumped up for race day.

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I can’t wait to share my race day recap with you next. Guys, it was awesome. I’m still riding the high from crossing the finish line. Stay tuned!

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Rowing + Burpees Pyramid Workout

Rowing & Burpees Pyramid WorkoutI’ve got a simple but super challenging workout for you guys today. But before we get to that, let’s talk about what I’m wearing (priorities!). In a past life, I think I was a trendy teenage boy who slept outside specialty sneaker stores the night before the freshest new kicks dropped. There’s no other explanation for the way in which my vernacular morphs from grown adult to teenager when I see a pair of sneakers I like. Dope. Fresh. Ill. Who am I?? Not to mention I was first introduced to the PUMA Fierce because I follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram. I’m 28 going on 18.

But c’mon–these sneakers are dope. Puma Fierce Collection

The Fierce is a lightweight trainer and PUMA’s most progressive and design-driven training product yet. It fills the needs for both fashion and performance. I love the look. Sleek but bold, and the high tongue is totally on-trend. The looped tabs on the tongue and back of the shoe make them easy to slip on and off, and while I was initially worried they wouldn’t fit tight enough without laces, I actually love the no-lace design. Easy to put on and remove, and so comfortable. I have narrow feet, so the fit is slightly looser than I’d normally wear lace-up sneakers, but I’ve tested them out in a couple boxing classes and HIIT workouts and my feet feel totally secure in them. I probably wouldn’t wear them for a workout with a ton of extreme, quick lateral movement changes (basketball for example), but other than that they’re great.

Also from PUMA are the leggings, tank and bra I’m wearing. I love the sheer detailing on the back of the leggings, and the high waist makes for a flattering fit. The bra has a fun strappy back and removable bra cups for added support if you want it (I always take those things out immediately though). And low arm holes = obviously I’m into the tank. 😉 Puma Fierce Collection Puma Fierce Collection

You can easily take the PUMA Fierce shoes and PUMA apparel from the gym to the street. Layer a leather bomber jacket over a hoodie, throw on a hat and you’re good to go for brunch with friends.

Rowing + Burpees Pyramid Workout

If you really hold yourself accountable to pushing through this workout as fast as you can (without sacrificing proper form) it is a total butt-kicker. It’s pretty simple: You’ll alternate between rowing sprints and burpees. The distance of the sprints and number of burpees gradually decreases as you go in a pyramid structure. Here’s the breakdown:

700m row sprint
20 burpees
500m row sprint
15 burpees
300m row sprint
10 burpees
100m row sprint
5 burpees

Rowing & Burpees Pyramid Workout

ROW SPRINTS | THIS is a super helpful video on proper row form. For my competitive friends, my personal fastest times for those sprint distances are: 0:17 sec 100m // 0:57 300m // 1:48 500m // 2:35 700m (<– I don’t do this distance often but gahhh it’s awful in a good way).

BURPEES | There are a ton of burpee variations–let’s do chest-to-floor burpees for this workout. From a standing position, squat down, bringing your hands to the floor. Jump your feet out to a plank, fluidly lowering your chest to the floor. Press back up through plank, hopping your feet up towards your hands and then jumping up into the air. Puma Fierce Collection

What does being #ForeverFierce mean to you? Show me your fiercest looks in and out of the gym on social and share using #ForeverFierce.

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by PUMA through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about PUMA, all opinions are my own.