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!


Scarlett said…
Congratulations on an amazing marathon time and such a well executed training plan and race. (yr outfit is super cute too)
Raina said…
Oh my goodness! You were THAT close! I am SURE that if you had the band on you would have done it. That is fantastic! I bet you found all sorts of extra mojo for the last few miles.

Great race photos- one had to be near 18th or maybe at the fox hollow turn.?

Nice work!
Congratulations! What a great recap! I have always believed that you had a BQ in you - and now you know it too! I am proud of you and excited for you. What an amazing race. A bit heart breaking to just BARELY miss that BQ, but you will get it! I just know it!

Great tips!!

I can't wait for the next part of the story... you seriously made my day on Sunday, I would grin ear to ear everytime I thought of you guys. :)
Great race pictures! I have no doubt in my mind that you will get a BQ at your next marathon. How about running Portland in October???? I still think I might do it. So I am pretty excited for the 2nd part of your finish line story.... :D
missris said…
Aughh congratulations! You are SO awesome for running such a great race and for PR-ing! Can't wait to hear part 2 :)
abbi said…
Congratulations on your great race and huge PR...and so close to the BQ but you'll know you can get it for the next time!
Kayla Lee said…
Congratulations! You rocked the race!! Way to go!!
Anonymous said…
Congrats!!! Awesome job! It was nice to meet you and I so loved cheering on all the marathoners and half marathoners. Hopefully, I'll be back!
Anonymous said…
Congrats!!! Awesome job! It was nice to meet you and I so loved cheering on all the marathoners and half marathoners. Hopefully, I'll be back!
What an amazing race recap Lauren! I am so happy for you! That is a HUGE PR! You WILL get a BQ, I know it!!!

Good advice on the taper thing. I am trying hard to follow that this week and take it REALLY easy even though I'm feeling anxious and icky and bloated. I know it'll be worth it come Sunday.

CAN'T WAIT for part 2!!!
Wow, that is a great time! Good job! You are super speedy! I think your statement of "you are always stronger than you think" is so true! Once we push ourselves a little (more), we can do more than we think! That sounds like a great race. I have it on my list of races for sure; I just wasn't quite ready for it this year.

I can't wait to hear the second half of the recap!
Jessica J said…
Wow, you look amazing! You definitely just inspired me to workout this morning!

Looking forward to the second half of your story :)
Leigh said…
You are amazing Lauren! I have no doubt that you will BQ soon. Can't wait to hear the second part! :)
Sass - this is amazing. I've always known those legs were capable of much more than you gave them credit for ;) Hah, not a bad problem to have, though!! No doubt you've got that BQ in there (I had no idea they didn't allow the extra :59! Sheesh), and you'll know for next time.

Training, taper and a lot of trust goes a long way. I think we all have to learn those lessons for ourselves, usually the "hard" way, but always with reward. Running will always have something to teach us, that's for sure! :)

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story...
Anonymous said…
You did awesome!! Congrats to you girl!!!
Lindsey said…
I knew you were going to PR BIG! Congrats! You will totally get your BQ soon!

Great job staying strong and resisting extra workouts during your taper.

I'm so happy to hear the crowds were better this year. Way to go Eugene!
Redhead Running said…
Holy smokes girl! If I were you I wouldn't know what to do with myself either?!?!? Not expecting to qualify and then coming so close you can taste it?!?! GAH!!!! First and foremost, CONGRATS ON A SPEEDY ASS RACE! You rock, seriously. Second, looks like you need to line up another race... :)
Emily said…
CONGRATS!!!! What an awesome marathon!!!
travelstar said…
Hey Lauren, I've been reading your blog for awhile - I actually found it while googleing lunchtime workouts! Just wanted to say congrats on your awesome marathon! Your blog helped inspire me to do my first half last year...and I just signed up for a full yesterday. Thanks for the motivation :)

I somehow missed this post earlier - congratulations on a fantastic race and time! Your 3:35 is literally just seconds away!
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Ricole Runs said…
YOU ROCKED IT! I know those extra few seconds over 3:35 succckkkkkk but just think how the next marathon you run you will CRUSH that BQ time (and make sure you get in with their new weird rules where faster is more likely to get you in). Do you have another marathon planned before Boston sign-up time?!

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