“I plan to qualify for Boston.” I said to the cashier at the running store as I purchased a few more GU packets for the race that was now less than 18 hours away.
THERE, I SAID IT. I sent it out to the universe. I voiced my goal of qualifying for Boston Marathon. My plan. And if it didn’t work out for me that day – more people than just me know that I failed. Failed? I guess that’s why I hadn’t said it out loud yet. What if I failed?
I mean I think a few people probably knew that I had that goal in mind. After missing my “BQ” by only six minutes at Grandma’s Marathon, and now training harder than ever, that I must be up to something more than just trying to finish. That maybe, just maybe a Boston Qualifying time was in the front of my mind. But I has still hesitant to say those words. “I plan to qualify for Boston.”
And finally saying those words gave me confidence and at the same time scared the ever loving shit out of me. Here I was at nearly 46 years old – running faster than I ever have and feeling stronger than I did at 26 – ready to kick some butt and post a PR and a Boston Qualifying time? My inner critic be damned.
Ironically, at the same time my goal was given a voice, a good friend of mine who just finished his first full Ironman sent me a Facebook message. “Remember, there’s a point in the race where everything will just start to suck and you question your ability – but instead of giving up and giving in to that suck…EMBRACE THE SUCK and kick ass through it.” (Or something along those lines…)…and I smiled and cried and told him that his words meant just about everything to me and that there was NO WAY I was NOT going to qualify for Boston that next day. Because I had trained hard and well, the weather would be perfect, and dammit – I could do this.
No doubts. No excuses. No maybes.
Embracing the Suck became my mantra.
And I looked back over the past 14 weeks of training and I knew I did the work. I had three 20+ mile long runs. My last of which was at a killer fast pace for me. That week was the first week that I KNEW Boston was possible. I did hill work every single week. Five miles of ups and downs. I did a tempo run of 8-10 miles each week. I did a “sprint” 5K every week. The only training that I was “missing” was speed work – but I felt with the training time I had – that part would just have to wait for another marathon training cycle. You can ask my family – I ran A LOT for those 14 weeks and just like the last two marathons I’ve completed this year – I felt confident to finish based on what I trained for. Exactly. And this time I trained for a 3:45-3:55 finish. I just had to remember to trust my training.
Twin Cities Marathon Race Day Recap:
Jed dropped me off near the start with only about 20 minutes until the gun. I like to arrive as late a possible as it helps with nerves and doing the circle dance at the porta-potty line. I peed once and then entered my corral. It was about 39 degrees and sunny and I wore just a tank and running skort. I had a SPIbelt fuel belt with four GUs(I eat one every 5 miles or so), and I borrowed Eloise’s iPod with mainly her top 40 tunes. Yes I was the old mom up there running to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, and Katy Perry. But I had to throw in a bit of David Gray and Florence and The Machine just to save my ears.
I was chilly but warmed up after just a few blocks.
So here’s the weird thing about me trying to qualify for Boston…I don’t own or wear a GPS watch-thingy-garmin-do-hickey-gadget-thing. So trying to figure out my pace is challenging. Well actually it just keeps my head busy because I’m doing THE MATH constantly when I pass by miles that actually have the race time counting down. But here was my problem – I forgot to look at the time when I crossed the starting line, so I had NO CLUE how to calculate my chip time. I tried to do an estimate and I wrongly assumed that I crossed at about six minutes but actually I crossed at nine minutes. So my math was wrong during the whole race and I had three extra minutes to play with. Which looking back maybe it’s a good thing I had no clue what my actual pace was ever.
So I just used the race time clocks throughout the marathon – and calculated my pace back..which was wrong the whole time. HA! So if you don’t have a GPS thingy-watch-thing, then you do what marathon runners have been doing for years – you get with a pace group. My plan was to just stay ahead of the 4:00 pacer, but by mile three I was running with the 3:45 group and I felt comfortable.
At mile 8 I saw my family for the first time. And you can’t tell me that hearing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off when I saw them was just a weird coincidence.
There was lots of sunshine and little wind and I found myself still with Jack and the 3:45 pace group at the 13.1 mile mark. Turns out I hit there at 1:51 – which is probably a little faster than I intended to run, but I felt great.
At mile 15 there was a bit of a headwind heading up the River Road and I saw my family again. I gave them my fuel belt as I just had the one GU left for mile 20 that I could carry. Unfortunately my iPod also came loose when I took my belt off so I had to carry it the next 11.2 miles which kind of sucked, but it was better than listening to my mind and my math as I continued to worry about my mystery pace…
Because at about mile 17 my 3:45 pacer started pulling away from me. And this has such a sinking feeling as I know either he’s going faster or I’m going slower. I kept him in my vision until about mile 19 and never saw him again. I’m still mad at Jack. So then of course I start stressing out that the 4:00 pacer will catch me.
At mile 20 though my worries diminished when I saw that I was passing mile 20 at 2:57 race time(which is what I thought was 2:51 my time) and I knew no matter how tired I was I could finish the last 6 miles in less than an hour.
But if you know the Twin Cities marathon, you know that miles 19-23 are all uphill with a HARD CLIMB at mile 21. But I stuck it out on the climb and had a great run down Summit Avenue. The street was lined with people – including many friends and neighbors. I felt great and just tried to keep about a 9 minute mile pace(what I felt) going for the last part of the marathon. I was having fun and didn’t really even have to worry about embracing any suck.
I crossed the finish line at gun time 3:57( and what I thought was a 3:51 chip time finish for me) and I screamed “I DID IT!!!” As I ran for my medal and a much needed bottle of water. That’s when I saw Jed at the fence and he was yelling “3:48! 3:48!!! and I found out that I was off on my start time calculations by three minutes. But it didn’t matter. I had set a PR and got my BQ and I wasn’t tired or sore. I knew at that point I had still left some effort out on the course and this PR may just not last that long….
I took 13 minutes off of my Grandma’s Marathon time and 38 minutes off of my Twin Cities time from last year when I got back into this sport and just wanted to finish uninjured. I’m very happy with my 3:48.36 results – and 49th out of 335 F45-49, and 618 out of all 3996 women!
And I hope to see you all in Boston in 2016(although I sure wish I could do it in 2015!).
In the meantime I’m going to keep on training and running and I’m looking for a Winter or Spring Marathon if anyone wants to join me or has any ideas? I’m sure there’s someone out there ready to #embracethesuck with me.