The Time I Almost Qualified for Boston
I should probably start off with saying that in no way did I expect to come close to qualifying for Boston. I had no clue my legs had something resembling a 3:35 in them so I was aiming for a PR of 3:40. After all, I had sort of written off the dream of running Boston last spring when they bumped up/back the qualifying times.
So Friday night, I hit up the expo, Saturday I spent most of the day out at the manfriend's bike race or at the expo again (because I just love expos and all the energy in the room).
There is something contagious about seeing all the out of town runners, hearing the excitement in people's voices, seeing elite athletes and having booths of running gear at your fingertips.
Saturday night I went to bed with my race outfit set and got to sleep quickly. 5 am came quickly and I was up and at 'em to eat my toast with ab&j (almond butter), half a banana and tea. I foam rolled a bit and headed out the door for the race.
The manfriend was planning to bike around the course with his friend and teammate. It was actually kind of nice being on my own and just getting to focus and do my thing before heading to the start line.
Even got to use my work restroom rather than the port a potties! You too can have your very own neon orange, feminine workout top for just $14.95 at your nearest Old Navy. As for the shorts, they're Lululemon, but they feel like a dream and were worth every penny.
Making weird faces is also up to you.
Weather was perfect in Eugene for the marathon - maybe 50 degrees and overcast at the start.
About 15 min 'til the race, I jogged over to my corral and found a spot in front of the 3:45 pacer (they had pacers every 10 min from 3:15 on I believe). Last year worked so well starting slower and gaining speed as I went that I wanted to follow that same method.
I felt good the first several miles. No leg exhaustion like I experienced from GO! at the Victoria Marathon. Thank you, legit taper (more about that later).
I saw the manfriend and his friend Jeff around mile 7. This year's marathon crowds were WAY improved upon last year - more abundant and better, more frequent music. You're slowly getting this marathon cheering thing, Eugene.
Thanks to mom for the photo
From go, I was hoping to maintain a 8:25 pace, but the legs were showing they could do more so most of the time I was running between 8:15-8:20. Even when I felt good, I wanted to hold back because I knew I had a ways to go. The legs started feeling tired around the half way mark, but nothing unusual.
Since we had split from the half marathoners a few miles back, it was spreading out, but I had a few good steady paced runners around me that I used strategically to pull me along.
On the fueling front, I sipped from my nuun water at every mile marker + extra when I took food. I had a Shot Blok at miles 4, 8, 11, 18, 23 and Gu at miles 14-16 (I carry it in my hand and eat a bit at a time) and 21.
Around mile 20 or so, I did the calculations and realized I had a chance of BQ'ing if I ran my ass off - AKA held an 8 min pace or less. It was doable, but of course at that point is when you really start to dig deep.
Out of nowhere, my friend Chris met up with me around mile 23 to run me to the finish. We hadn't planned it, but man was I glad he came to find me. I told him "If I finish by 3:35 I go to Boston." His response was "Well, crap, let's get you there!"
And just like that I tried to run like the wind following him and weaving in and out of people who were starting to run zig zag or walk. One of those last few miles was a 7:40 or so, which really hurt.
Photo credit to friend Danielle who was out there cheering on her bike.
At mile 25 I had this overwhelming sense of "I can't do this anymore." and almost threw up/started hyperventilating and walked for about 2 seconds. And then I pulled it back together because you CANNOT stop when a pacer is hauling your ass to the finish line.
With about .2 mi left to go, Chris left me to sprint into Hayward Field. I nearly knocked out a guy who couldn't keep his line as we were making the corner into Hayward and shouted "On your LEFT!" just barely missing him.
Another photo thanks to D!
I sprinted my little heart out and crossed the line at 3:35:32. In the old days, I would have had that extra :59 buffer to qualify, but no longer.
Another photo courtesy of mom
Either way, I was really happy with my time. Granted, I was also disappointed that I was THAT close. Had I been wearing a 3:35 pace bracelet, maybe I could have realized it a bit earlier and picked up the pace around 19 or 20.
Never did I believe this body had it in me to run a 3:30 something. Now I know to start telling myself otherwise. You are ALWAYS stronger than you think.
Finish time: 3:35:32
24-29F Division: 26/192
Overall female: 118/1063
Avg pace: 8:14
Miles 23-26: 7:58, 7:44, 7:53, 7:52, 7:00 (.21 mi)
If you're counting, that's a 9 minute PR from Victoria Marathon this past fall. Thank you, Eugene Marathon, for an awesome race!
There are a lot of things that played into me having a fantastic race. I thought it would be good to mention those as well...
What I did right: 1) adding those Tues Tempo runs in the last six weeks 2) Thursday night speed work 3) two 20+ milers and many 15+ milers 4) Practicing a legit taper the final week 5) Telling myself I could do this thing.
Let's talk about the legit taper because it's one area I have neglected in the past. Sure, my long runs have always been shorter those last two weeks, but I haven't always followed the other taper rules.
The second to last week of my training was pretty normal with about 35 miles of running and normal cross training (spinning class, Lifeforce, yoga). But the week of the marathon, I tried to do almost nothing other than 3 easy runs totaling 13 miles and one yoga session.
Don't get me wrong, it nearly drove me bat shit crazy, but I survived and I just kept repeating "You're saving your legs for a strong race."
Moral of the story is: I am definitely going to follow a serious taper for big races in the future. And if you're even considering doing this race in the future, you should. Eugene is a beautiful place with so much running history!
There's a second part to my finish line story, which will come next so stay tuned!