Running The Boston Marathon, The Second Time Around

Stephanie at Boston Marathon

I have now officially completed my second Boston marathon!  Just like the first, it was an incredible experience! I have so much I want to share and explain, it’s hard to know where to begin. The funny thing is that when I look back over some of my blogs, such as The Power of Spectators, nutrition and running, Running With Music, Running in the heat, and many more, it makes me remember how many factors there are to having a successful marathon. So I am going to start with the actual trip and the race and work my way back to why I am really excited about this go around.

Taking four kids this time meant a little more work on the front end to get ready. So I was doing a lot of rushing on Friday since we were leaving on Saturday. Of course one of my kids came down with strep that afternoon (perfect timing, right?). So I immediately went to the doctor to get her a nice shot of penicillin! (Ouch!) we all packed up and left Saturday afternoon, so we arrived late that evening.

Boston Marathon family

Since Sunday was the last day for bib pick up, we got up early and headed in. I always love going to expos. This one is the largest in the whole world, with over 200 exhibitors. They always have great running gear and the latest and greatest snack foods for runners, and so much more. So we went and got my bib number and of course spent way too much on new stuff! The coolest thing in the expo was getting to see my name on the finisher’s wall! It was pretty exciting just to see that because it is permanent. I know now no matter how old I get, it’s a accomplishment that I will remember forever.

Boston Marathon race number

Boston Marathon Finishers Wall

As we headed out of there to the Red Sox game, we walked towards the finish line and I got to meet Meb! I know so many of you saw my Facebook post with he and I and were wondering who he was! Meb won the Boston marathon last year and has won many more! He is currently training for the Olympics. He is truly amazing, a world class athlete. I am humbled and honored to have met him, and I was SO excited to get a picture with him! What an incredible highlight to the trip!

Boston Marathon

This time my husband and I brought all 4 kids and our awesome friends came from Charlotte to spend time with us and cheer me on. I still am not quite sure my kids understand what an amazing experience this was, but I know as they get older they will. For me, however, having them all there with me was so meaningful. Above all, they are the people I strive to be better for. I could not wait to see them when the race was over. What running the Boston Marathon represents to me is a constant strive for self improvement, and running this race has shown me the beauty of accomplishing my dreams. It reminds me that no matter how hard things get in any situation in life, quitting is not an option. We are really never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream. That isn’t just some fancy quote, it’s the absolute truth. To have my children witness that is special in a way I just can’t explain.

Deciding what to wear was easy since the weather was so warm. I wore shorts, a tank, my Swiftwick socks, and my Mizuno Wave Creation. I bought the new Nike Tempo MOD shorts and I am in love with them! They are so comfortable and easy to run in and they have an awesome zipper pocket  in the back. It was perfect for one of my rehydrate gels. I will definitely be buying more of these shorts!

The weather was already in the 60’s when the race started and there was full sun. Anyone that knows me knows I MUCH prefer clouds and cooler weather.  So yes, I panicked in the week leading up to the race, but the crazy thing is that once I got there I talked myself off the ledge. We can’t control the cards we are dealt right, just how we play the hand, so I went with it. I forced myself to stop a few extra times for water and Gatorade and I was sure to do so before I actually felt thirsty. I also brought two Rehydrate Gels and took one a little sooner than planned because I was feeling warm. I also took several orange slices along the way that were being handed out by spectators. (Thank goodness for all of those that come out to support marathoners!) Speaking of spectators, there were SO many people out, I can’t even explain it. They expected a million people to be out in the city watching the race.

My first half was great, I felt no fatigue and I paced myself well.  But having been down this road before, I knew exactly what was coming. Hills were coming, and they were coming after a lot of down hills in the first half. Last time when I started to slow down and feel the pain and tiredness set in, I panicked and tried to force myself back to an uncomfortable pace, which in turn made me even slower. This time I allowed myself to gradually get slower so I didn’t crash and burn like last time. I ran a 3:51 two years ago and while its not a bad time, it was my worst time in 10 years. I’m without a doubt my worst critic, and that wasn’t good enough for me. This time I was aiming to break 3:40 and I ended up running a 3:36! (15 minutes faster than last time I did Boston!) While a 3:29 is my best time in any full marathon, with the late morning start, the hard elevation, and the hot sun, I never expect this race to be an overall personal best. I just wanted my Boston best, and that’s exactly what I accomplished!

There were definitely several factors that improved my time. I wasn’t as nervous this time so I didn’t have the stomach issues I had last time. I was able to keep food in and hydrate while we waited in Athletes Village for two hours. I also took my amino acid supplements with me, (Advocare’s Catalyst as well as 02 Gold and Argenine Extreme), they all helped fuel my muscles with the right stuff leading up to the race. A marathon depletes you of SO much and last time I did a poor job of replenishing. There was no way was I making that mistake again! How have I ran for so many years and I am just now realizing how to fuel and repair my muscles the right way?!?

Boston Marathon

This time I met a girl from Milwaukee when I was boarding the bus, she was there for her first Boston. We rode the bus to Hopkinstown together and we chatted the whole time we waited. It was a good distraction to have someone to talk to, especially when it was someone as kind as she was. So right from the beginning I felt more at ease, more prepared.

I definitely think I trained a little harder this time as well. I tried to do a few later runs and I incorporated more cross training to improve my overall strength. Leading up to a marathon all you can do is prepare well. So many things are out of your control such as weather, nerves, cramps, and so on. So you just have to control the controllables and roll with the rest!

The spirit of the city of Boston is just flat out AMAZING! My first Boston was the year after the bombings and there are no words to explain the shear awesomeness of the people that lived through such a tragedy, and really the entire city. I ran by a man that was running the race and he was missing one leg. I saw him just as I was having one of those moments that I wasn’t sure I had the strength to keep this up. But when I saw him I thought oh yes, yes you can. I high fived him and I ran, and I forgot all about the pain. Making that last left on Boylston Street is out of this world amazing. You can see the finish line and it is SO loud because people are literally screaming with joy, support and excitement. Every single step down Boylston hurt, but somehow I just kept moving. I wish I could replay it over and over again. I am happy with the outcome but I am sad it is over. These are moments I will remember when I’m 80 years old. I feel lucky and I feel blessed that I have had this opportunity not once, but twice.

My time in Boston this year actually qualifies me to go back again in 2017. For my age group I needed a 3:40 or better. There are a lot of other marathons I want to experience, so I don’t know yet if I will return next year. However I do have to say, with an experience like this it is REALLY really tempting to say yes! I mean after all, it’s Boston, and there really isn’t anything else just like it. 🙂

1 thought on “Running The Boston Marathon, The Second Time Around”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *