Wednesday, 19 April 2017

2017 Boston Marathon!!!!!

Boston you beast, you've broken my heart yet again and I keep coming back for more.

I did it, my 5th Boston Marathon and with each passing year and training cycle new challenges and obstacles arise. This year I have to say was the toughest when it comes to health and training and crossing the mat on Monday afternoon in the heat of Boston filled me with gratitude. <3

Now let's get to the nitty gritty:

I had a little bit of a meltdown on Sunday morning after battling a fuzzy head and a sore throat for the past 4-5 days. I had gargled so much salt water it was sickening. Marg and Matt tried to comfort me as best they could, but I just really felt like I was not meant to run Boston this year especially with my reliance on a puffer now also. Finally, I put on my big girl running shorts and said, "You didn't come all this way to not run! Get out there and have fun no matter what!" so that's what I did. Boy what a pity thankful you weren't invited!

Race eve at Tom's Pizza-the same meal I've had for the past two Bostons! Pesto Pasta with chicken.

When my alarm went off on Monday morning, I could not believe it. Boston was here yet again!

I tried really hard to enjoy my bagel but it just wasn't going down smoothly, lol.

I packed my mini bag for the athlete's village and tried hard not to panic over the temperature outside.

I took this at 7 a.m.!!!! 
Immediately after this picture was taken I ditched my throwaways and decided to save them for another race!

Throughout marathon training so many things are under your control. I've learned that race day weather is the one thing you cannot control. The true victory is how you handle it.

At least the sun made for some good pre-race photos???

 Next year we'll both be running Boston!!!

After an hour commute from the hotel we arrived in Hopkinton!!!! Having Marg on the bus made me feel calm.

Did someone say camera? LOL.
 This was Marg's FIRST BOSTON!!!!!!!!!!!!! She is so tough and strong I knew she'd do amazing!

I was in wave 2 so after a bathroom stop, bagel and coffee I said my good lucks to her and headed down to the corrals. Gulp-this was genuinely the first year I wondered if I would actually finish. My mind was definitely getting the better of me and mentally I was not as fit as I'd hoped. I also heard two girls make comments at the start when I used my puffer that really upset me. (I honestly have never heard someone speak negatively about others until that moment at the Boston Marathon. It really made me sad). I tried to not let it get to me and remember MY race plan for the by feel and HAVE FUN! Oh, and try not to pass out in the heat. ;)

They had a very awesome decked out runner station on the way to the corrals where you could get anything you needed but forgot, (vaseline, elastics, band aids, etc.). Another girl and I decided we'd go all badass and sharpie our names on our arms. She wrote mine and then I wrote hers...she requested I write "MELON," her nickname. I wrote it and she said, "whoa look at this printing! Are you a teacher?" LOL...she nodded in satisfaction when I said, "YES!" LOL. I thought it was real funny.

Jennie and Corinne were at the start in my corral and it was awesome to see them take off! It was hot for me from the get go.

Even before the heat posed a threat Greg and I chatted about maintaining an 8 min/mile pace for the first five miles and then assessing from there. Well, let's just say at 5 miles, all I was thinking about was how I was going to lose layers. My plan was to ditch the top and pin my bib to my bra when I saw Matt. I fumbled with my bib before Newton but my wet sweaty fingers couldn't quite accomplish this and I was soooo scared of dropping my bib!
This photo was taken when I saw Tom at the Newton Fire Station. I'm pretty sure the temperature at this point was somewhere around "want to peel your skin off hot." 
I won't make this post super long with a mile by mile recap because I'm sure that each one would sound very similar!

At each mile I took a Gatorade and 1-2 waters. One was ALWAYS for face splashing and head dumping. I also ran under EVERY water hose that was set up. It felt so awesome!!!

At the ten km checkpoint I was really struggling. But then I saw Bart Yasso and I was so star-struck! He cheered me on!!!!!!!!! I then had a bit more spring in my step.

Wellesley was fun!!!! I LOVE how you can hear them far before you can see the university students! I didn't stop for kisses but many did!

My clothes were absolutely soaked through and sticking to me. I wondered about all of my friends running the same marathon. Where are they now? How are they doing? Are they suffering in this heat? I hope they're okay!

Entering Newton the hill at Newton Lower Falls just after a huge 1/2 mile downhill was taunting me. I chugged my way up and was pleasantly surprised when I reached the top! My next mission would be to keep my eyes peeled for Tom and Matt.

I can't remember if I saw Tom first or he saw me. But either way this is how I looked when he saw I'm pretty sure this is how I look right before I die. 
Matt was just a few steps ahead on the left and I saw him quickly. I stopped. Yes stopped. I said, "I'm done. It's just too hot!" He confusedly handed me water and said, "You better get going!" I stopped long enough that my Garmin paused and I was kind of annoyed at Matt's persistence that I keep running in this hilly Obviously I'm glad I continued. ;)

The hills of Newton:
Again not as bad as I imagined. That's always the case, even though I did slow it was more for fear that I would push my body too far and collapse. By this point there were people being carried off by medics and some of the first aid people running in the opposite direction with stretchers. That's NEVER fun to see! I knew there were 4 long inclines with some dips and flat sections in between. Each one was like a task I had to do. I thanked God for every mile I made it through and before I knew it I was at Mile 20 where Heartbreak Hill Running Company is. That's where Matt and I went to get my jacket on Friday! They have a Mile 20 unicorn painted on the street and I ran over it. It felt like this unicorn was sending me extra strength to power through to the finish. I took a Mr. Freeze from a kid. It was green. I'd never had that flavour before but the cold ice water sliding down my throat was pure salvation! One hill to go. I can do it. I've done harder things...maybe? ;) I kept running one foot in front of the other. Hey my toes feel good! I don't even think I have ANY blisters yet! I grabbed at least two orange slices from spectators. I LOVE YOU SPECTATORS! Is there anything better than citrus when you're dehydrated?!?!?! And trust me when I say it was dehydration nation up in here!

I looked for Boston College. Then I knew the hills were over. I see it. I see the Heartbreak arch that says, "The Heartbreak is Over." And I smile.
Boston College is my favourite part along the course. It always has so many people I get overwhelmed and I can't stop smiling. It smells like beer. Some guy who has clearly had a few of them yells out, "Go BLT Running!" I grinned wondering if he also thought BLT stood for Bacon Lettuce Tomato. 

As happy as I was, I knew these last ~5 ish miles were not going to be pleasant. 
This isn't the finish. It was late in the game but I was trying hard to smile.
"Just keep running!" I said. I thought of my winter long runs. They were freezing! I thought of my long runs with Marg and the Moose run with Marg and Stacey. I remembered the 22 mile long run I did when it was frigid out. Man I wish I was cold now

I see the graveyard-the haunted mile they say. More runners drop out here than any other point along the course. But not me. Not today. I'm powering through. Look I'm already at mile 23! I take another Mr. Freeze. This one was blue and more solid than the previous so I ran with it for over 1/2 mile. 

Each checkpoint for runner tracking got progressively slower and I thought of people watching, wondering what was happening to Heather's pace?  Did they know how much I was thinking of them? My friends? My family? My students? Remember they thought I'd win! I have to keep trucking along at least for my students so they can see the unicorn I'll get at the finish. 

The heat kept coming but I kept running. A building had the temperature flashing and 23 Celsius is what it said. That's much hotter than I have run in, much. But I continued listening to my body and absorbing the atmosphere. 

I ran through bubbles. I smiled at the girls jumping on mini trampolines and the drumming band. I was thankful for all the cheers. They are out here for us. <3

I see the Citgo sign. Don't look at it. Don't look at it. It's deceiving for runners because you think you're almost done, but it's a mile away when you GET TO IT. Finally, I did. I see the Boston Strong bridge and the blue lines that have been painted just for the marathon. I'm running on the lines...all the way in. Then there's the little tunnel you go under. It hurts. It's a small but noticeable incline and I see a man with one fake leg. I clap and give him thumbs up. I have no excuses. 

I searched for fellow Nova Scotians as I turned right on Hereford. I can't see them there's too many people. I hear screaming and cheering and all things Boylston! 

I turn. I see the finish and I'm coming. I'm finishing this Boston Marathon! 

It's so close!

Thank you God! I did it! 
An emotional proud mess filled with thanks!

Time wasn't even on my mind at all. Monday was all about finishing. Conquering the marathon and listening to my body. 

Boston Marathon #5
3:39:04 (BQ)

It was a tough day for us Nova Scotians dealing with the heat but we powered through!!! Congratulations to everyone and an amazing thanks to all the volunteers!!!!! Thanks also to my running friends...I really did think of you ALL!!!! 

And of course thank you to Matt who went with me to Boston and supported! I wonder what would have happened if he wasn't there to insist I keep going? ;)

Special thanks to tiux and Mizuno for decking me out in amazing running swag!!!!! I am forever grateful. :)

Thank you to you also for reading my recap! If it is too long I apologize, but Boston recaps can't be too short! 

Do you have a Boston Story????

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

It's Boston Marathon Eve!!!!

It's here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boston Marathon eve! I  cannot believe how fast this night has come, seriously. I just wanted to thank everyone for their well wishes and to wish my own friends an amazing day tomorrow!!!! Enjoy every step and take it all in. This truly is the best marathon ever!

Yesterday Marg and I shopped until we almost dropped at the expo! We also had some super tasty eats at Back Bay Social Club....mmm! We were literally so hungry that we almost took someone else's plates!!!! I wish I was joking! LOL.

Samuel Adams 26.2 Brew! And obviously blue nails. ;)

This was OUR food....and I was sure to confirm before I grabbed it, LOL.
Turkey burger and sweet potato fries! We were much more rational after getting some food in our bellies!

Today Matt and I made an unexpected trip down to Boylston street in an attempt to repair my phone!! It completely crashed but the amazing workers at apple totally fixed me up. ;) Thanks!!!!

On the way I took a couple of pictures with my actual camera. Gee that felt weird after taking nothing but phone pics for a while, lol.
One mile to go!!!!! 
 Follow the blue path to the finish!!!!!
When you get here there will be soooo many spectators! 
 Flat Heather is ready to take on Boston! ;)
I will also be wearing my pink hat to shield the sun! 
I've actually had to reevaluate my goals for this marathon, and that's okay. I'll be running with my puffer and the temperature is supposed to be hotter than I've trained in, but it will be amazing no matter what! 

Have an awesome run everyone and I'll see you on Boylston!!!!!!!!!

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Boston in the a.m.!!!!

Apparently I have the super power of blinking and BAM, it's go time! Seriously, where did this training cycle go?!?!? I'm leaving for my 5th Boston Marathon in the morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am very grateful to be toeing the start line this year at Boston. This winter has been a true test for me and my strength and ability to listen to my body. For over two months now I've battled asthma like symptoms after recovering from bronchitis. I still did my best to train and really only noticed it affecting my speed workouts. They were tough. But I have my puffers ready and packed. I am grateful for each and every mile that Monday will give me and I count my blessings every day that I am able to do what I love. I have had many supporters reminding me that running a marathon is a gift and I will enjoy every moment this year in Boston no matter what the clock says. <3

Now let's take a look at what Boston Prep has looked like this past few days....

Fuel for the race!!!!
 I paid a visit to Yee so she could massage the crap out of my tight muscles.

And here's Jeff workin' on those tight spots...OUCH!

It's okay, my whining got me a free In all seriousness, I am very thankful for the work he's been doing with me and my issues....I really think I should also pay him for therapy! ;)

How awesome is all this Spring Mizuno Gear that I got on Tuesday?!?!?!? Lola has claimed the pink singlet apparently?
Yes, these ARE my race shorts! 
 The next logical thing to do was take them for a test run. :D

Anyone else LOVE this song??? I definitely turn up the volume when it comes on! 

No, I am not in a Breaking Bad scene, I got sneezed on at school the other day so Lynda....God love her, lol suited me up to keep me germ free until I leave! Can I tell you how awesome Lynda is? Last year after the hot Boston Marathon I could not look at my own toes because they were so sore and gross. Lynda checked them for me at school to assure me that my toenails were not falling off inside my shoes as it felt.
"Happy going away to Boston day!" LOL
 After school snuggles with my girl. <3

My students decked out Marg's and my Athlete's Village mats so we'd be chillin' in syle. ;)

AND, my running group is the Best!!!!!!!

Lola is exhausted listening to Mommy talk about her run!

Aaaaaaaannnnd, you can track me again this year with bib number 12563!!!!!! Download the app, like now mmmkay? ;)
You can read my other Boston Marathon recaps here: 

So to all my fellow Unicorn chasers, enjoy the ride on Monday! It sure is an awesome one. <3

Thanks again for all of your support this past few months. It REALLY has helped get me through. 

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Monday, 10 April 2017

Tips for Running the Boston Marathon!!!!

No no no, this isn't a post on "How to win Boston" or anything like that, lol. These are just tidbits of advice for runners that I've learned from my few years there.

Hopefully you find something to take from it!

1. Celebrate first off because YOU'RE GOING TO THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!!!!
Embracing Unicorn culture is a must when you are a Boston Marathoner. ;)
Congratulations you're in!

2. Give your friends and family your bib number so they can track you! The BAA has a great simple system on race day where you simply enter your runner's info and you will receive updates every 5k, along with half and finish times for your runner(s)! Trust me, knowing others are tracking your progress adds a little zip to your step when you see those chip mats along the course! ;) LOL

3. Start packing at least a week before you leave! I always start with race attire possibilities, runner passport and throwaways! Daily I add to the suitcase as I add each thing on my list.

4. Pack something to sit on and cover up in at the Athlete's Village. Sitting on the damp grass even on a warm day gives me a chill. I like those foam workout square mats that fit together or a yoga mat cut in half. A garbage bag is good sure, but the ground is still firm and you don't want to be standing and walking around the entire morning hours before your marathon!

Just chillin'.

5. This reminds me! Line up for the bathroom and LINE UP AGAIN! As bus loads of runners enter the village this becomes a major waiting game and the nerves grow as you hear runner waves being called to the starting corrals. Also, you may want to take some TP with you, just in case! I've heard people say that they do run out!!!

6. Plan for ANY type of weather! I pack gloves, hats, shorts, sunscreen, long sleeves, arm sleeves, tanks, bras, garbage bags, you name it! Each year it seems Boston's race day weather can be one extreme or another. I've gotten a sunburn there twice and nearly froze to death in 2015 in the wind and rain. So seriously train in all weather and pack for ALL weather! But don't let the weather obsessors psych you out! ;)

Just in case you were

7. The course will hurt. Know that but for goodness sake smile as much as possible, lol. Cameras are EVERYWHERE!!!!
Even when you don't see them! LOL

8. If your family comes along to cheer find a spot and know EXACTLY where they will be! The city will look so much different come race day with all the signs, barricades and PEOPLE! One year I couldn't find Matt in the crowd going up the first Newton hill and it was basically all I thought about for the rest of the run. :( Let's just say that the past two years I SAW him. :D

9. Preview the course and get pumped up!!! I watch this video each year before Boston and I get so chilled and excited just listening to the elites/organizers talking about each part of the course!

10. Seriously resist the urge to spend all weekend on the concrete floors of the John Hancock Convention Centre at the expo!
I usually take one day (Saturday) to do this so that on Sunday I can chill at the hotel. Although Matt and I like to drive some of the course as well....
I took this driving up one of the Newton hills
11. Have so much fun!!!! This course goes by quicker than any other marathon I've ever run!!!! I feel like you hear the start gun, Suddenly you're in Wellesley hearing the girls screaming and before you know it you've crested Heartbreak! Then there's only like 9ish km to go!!!!! Take it all in because you WILL replay it over and over in your head!  I'm always elated and sad when I's actually kind of weird really.

12. Know that when you arrive in Boston your goals may change! Each year I train hard and leave for the Boston Marathon with great ambition. Every single time the Boston Buzz gets to me before the race and I really just want to soak it all up and enjoy every step! I'm NOT just saying that. You'll know exactly what I mean in a week. ;)

13. I am NOT a Pro Boston Runner or an expert by any means and each year I learn something new, as with every marathon I run. But the one thing that resonates is pacing! The temptation to zoom through the first half of the race is there because of the elevation profile. The layout offers a fast first half, but know that what you waste when the course is easy, becomes less you have for the hills of Newton.

14. When you make the final turn onto Boylston the finish seems super far away! Take it in and try not to obsess over how far you've left to go. (It appears like an eternity away). Instead take in every step of glory as you make your way up the famous marathon finish! Honestly, it's amazing!
Boston 2015 finish.
15. You MUST plan a celebratory meal for the night of! Seriously, I am highly motivated by food so sometimes when things get tough late in the game, Burger mania takes over my brain.

To hold me up until then.....

16. Wear that unicorn proudly! This truly is a special piece of hardware. <3

17. Believe in yourself!!!! Yes this is often the hardest part of your marathon training, but know that you have people who DO believe in you!
Love love love this! <3

What other tips would you give someone running Boston? Or any marathon for that matter!

Thanks again my friends for stopping in on the GGR blogspace!
One week!!!! 

Happy Running,
Heather :)