Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Baby, the Boston Marathon, and Other Good Things

Hey all, I’ve since upgraded to the double jogging stroller since the last time we met.
Jingle Jog 5k in December

We welcomed our sweet little boy, Bryce, via scheduled c-section on 11/12/13.

He is the snuggliest, most chilled-out baby ever. His big sister just loves him to pieces too.
Having a scheduled c-section made it easier to have everything in place for his arrival. Mr. Blondie could schedule his time off, and we had family come to help out. Also, having a frame of reference for all things newborn took some of the first time parent anxiety off our shoulders. Fortunately, both my c-sections were fairly easy to recover from, but having the scheduled c-section took some of the trauma out of procedure.

Within about 3 weeks I was able to walk/run a 5k race with my mom and the kids. I competed in a true 5k race around 7 weeks post-partum.

She got 3rd in her age group. Go Grandmom!
 It seemed a little crazy at the time to hit the “Submit” button on my Boston Marathon application when I was almost 8 months pregnant. I had the qualifying time from the marathon I ran in November of 2012, although I had no intention of running Boston again. Then the tragic events of last year happened, and I knew right away this was an event I had to be part of this year.

I set the bar extremely low for this race. All I wanted to do was finish. I could barely run 6 miles without stopping when Emily was 5 months old, and here I was about to do 26.2 miles 5 months after having Bryce. When pressed for an estimated finish time, I told people I thought it would take about 5.5 hours.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you might recall me talking not doing a long run over 13 miles to prepare for marathons in my younger days. However, I was running 50-60 miles a week so my overall volume was high. This time, not so much. I peaked at about 35 mpw in the beginning of January while I was still on maternity leave. After that, whenever I started ramping up the mileage something would get in the way. Injury, weather, family emergency, illnesses ….the list goes on.
This is where the magic happens...typically at 4am.

My typical workouts were 4-6 miles on treadmill (about as much as I could tolerate on there), topped off with some time on the elliptical or bike to reach full hour of cardio. My goal was to do an hour of cardio 4-5 days per week. Some weeks I did more, some weeks I was lucky to do just one. My longest run was a 13 miler the second week of March. After that I took 2 weeks off from running, and only did the bike and elliptical while I rehabbed some calf cramping issues. Shortly thereafter, starting with the baby, our whole house was overrun with stomach virus shortly. Never a dull moment around here.

Sooo....Race day started at 4:30 with a pumping session. Our hotel was in an awesome location, both within walking distance of the finish line and Boston Common. I left our room around 6:45 and stopped at Dunkin Donuts on my walk to the common. I ate my blueberry muffin and small half-caf while waiting in line for the bus. I had intended to eat it on the bus, but they wouldn’t let me bring the paper bag into the bus loading area and it was awkward to hold with my other gear. Security was no joke.

The bus ride felt like it took Like really, I’m about to run this distance back?

Once we arrived at the Athletes Villiage, I set up camp with an airplane blanket and ate one of the bagels from the refreshments area. I played on my phone for the next hour and a half, then it was time to head to the corrals. It’s also when I finalized my race strategy.

I knew from my lone 13 miler that I was capable of running the first half in about 2 hours. My plan was to come through the half in 2 hours, and then just hang on for dear life. I assumed I would mostly be walking the second half, taking pictures, and enjoying the crowds. When I came through the half in 1:57 still feeling strong, I had to quickly reassess.

I wanted to keep that same pace for a long as possible. Although I had been taking in a half cup of Gatorade at each mile, my fueling strategy wasn’t very good. In fact, I hadn’t brought any fuel with me at all. Since I expected to be going slow, I figured the course Gatorade would be enough, then I’d grab some of the PowerBar Gels they were handing out at mile 18.

Will I ever learn? I was already behind the 8 ball on fueling by that point, and knew I needed something.

I started taking candy from strangers. Thank you generous spectators for your sugary aid.

Tossing back a handful of warm jelly beans when you have cotton mouth is not the best idea. I was gagging like I had a hairball as they got stuck in the back of my throat (Twizzlers went down a little better, so I started taking those instead). It was not my finest moment. But at least I was getting more carbs in my system.

Don't worry, I didn't take anything from them.

I hit the wall HARD at mile 16. My quads seized up and each leg felt like a lead weight. There was still so much of the race left to go, walking was going to take forever, and it hurt almost as much as running anyway. If you’ve ever hit the wall, you know the complete frustration of having no control over your legs.

Mile 16 is also right around the point where I passed Team Hoyt, as well as a woman on a prosthetic leg. The whole experience was so emotional, but at that point, TEARS. It was more like a shuffle, but I willed myself to keep up a running motion until I hit the 20 mile mark. There were people with more obstacles than me.

As soon as I hit the 20 mile marker, relief and elation washed over me. I was almost there. I was “allowed” to walk now. I walked all of mile 20, which included Heartbreak Hill. For miles 21 and 22, I alternated between a ¼ mile run and ¼ mile walk. It was at mile 23 that I realized, not only was I going to break 5 hours, I was going to break 4 ½. Game on!

Right on Hereford. Left on Boylston.
 The adrenaline washed over me and I was able to pick up the pace and run the last 3 miles. Right on Hereford, left on Boylston. The roar of the crowd in the final stretch was deafening. Cue more tears. I managed a smile for photographers at the finish line. But after I passed them…..more tears. I was so overwhelmed by the intense joy and energy all around me. At the same time, I was in shock that I dug out a performance I thought was impossible.

We were funneled quite some distance from the finish line before the barricades ended and we could join the spectators on the sidewalk. I took my first step up onto the curb and literally crumbled. Fortunately, a man behind me caught my arms and helped me back up. Five days later and my legs still feel broken. I expect to be climbing stairs again in about five years give or take.

 My time of 4:09 was almost 45 minutes slower than my BQ Marathon time, but one of my proudest finishes of any race I’ve run.

Refueling with a bacon cheeseburger and pint of Guinness, of course.
 I also have some BIG news about some changes that will be affecting our family in the upcoming months. I'm not quite ready to discuss those yet :) #vagueblogging

So lucky to have this guy by my side for support every step of the way.