Race Recap: Boston Marathon 2017

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I was doing SO well at logging my training online…until I wasn’t! I hope to backtrack on the last five weeks of my training for people interested in seeing how the Hanson’s Marathon Method works (and believe me when I say it does!) and a race recap from my half-marathon three weeks ago, but for now, I want to focus on getting all of my thoughts on completing my first Boston Marathon out while my thoughts are still fresh and legs are still sore!

My journey to Boston has been almost a year and a half in the making. It’s always been a pipeline dream for me, and although I ran cross country in college, after I graduated, I found myself running without much inspiration or joy. Making the conscious decision to train with the scarily tangible goal of a BQ was an intimidating one but the absolute best choice I could have made. While my second year of medical school was monotonous, stressful, and never made me feel great about myself, training for a marathon was exciting, rejuvenating, and without fail gave me a reason to feel like a rockstar every day. My hard work paid off, and I qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in a time of 3:25:26.

I spent my summer studying for Step 1 of our Boards and my fall semi-training for a half-marathon (PR of 1:32:52 at the Mohawk-Hudson Half) and acclimating to our clinical rotations (surgery, pediatrics, and family medicine were up first!).

Starting in December, I started training for Boston using the Hansons’ Marathon Method advanced plan (I used the beginner plan for my BQ). Training went okay. The plan is tough and requires a LOT of running (I averaged 60-70 miles a week towards the end). The workouts are pretty repetitive, so I’m not sure if I’ll use it again for the next marathon I run (LOL why is my mind already there!), but it definitely works. I had some really high moments/weeks, and other times (especially towards the end of training) were rough. Still, I completed the training plan to a T for the second year in a row, and even though my race didn’t go as well as I wanted it to go, I can’t say I didn’t come to the start line a stronger, faster runner than I was at the start of the plan.

So. The race.

The Day Before

Unfortunately because I was on call at the hospital on Saturday, I couldn’t get to Boston until Sunday afternoon. My parents very, very kindly drove the six hours from Maryland to pick me up to drive another three hours from Albany to Boston on Easter. My dad dropped my mom and I off to pick up my bib and explored the expo for a bit. Thoughts: I was proud of myself for not buying a single thing. There were not enough free samples. 😛

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I made fun of my mom for wearing Crocs. With fur. When it was 85 degrees out. And she had been up since 4:30AM driving to come watch me run for like 30 seconds total. I’m an ungrateful daughter!

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Getting dat bib!

After, we drove straight to our hotel in Woburn to hang out, relax, and have dinner. We stayed in a Residence Inn with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchen which was great because I’m pretty particular/superstitious about what I eat the night before a race. Also, as a middle kid, any chance I get my parents all to myself is pretty exciting. 🙂 My mom made us an awesome dinner of salad and spaghetti, while my dad and I schemed about spectating strategies and I tried to get some studying in. My sister arrived in Boston on her flight from LA around 10:30PM, and I was so happy to see her!

Pre-Race

I woke up at 6AM and freaked out because the sun was shining oh so bright and holy moley is it possible that all the clocks in the hotel and all of our phones were wrong?! My race didn’t go off until 10:25AM, and we had planned for my dad to drop me off at the South Street lot to take the shuttle into Hopkinton at 7:30AM, so I had some time to kill. I ran around the hotel room and personally greeted every member of my family (including our dog, Jonas), with a “TODAY I RUN THE BOSTON MARATHON!” It was not particularly well received, especially by my sister who was sleep deprived AND jetlagged. 🙂

I ran downstairs to grab half a bagel and some peanut butter for breakfast, and got dressed. I was really between the singlet vs. crop top, but then decided today was as good a day as any to rock the crop top because of the predicted hot temps. My abs may be non-existent, but what the hey!

My dad dropped me off at the South Street lot (we got yelled at for trying to stop on the side of the road because we were in the left hand lane, not the right one :O #oops #sorrykindvolunteers), and I used the bathroom before hopping on to the school bus to take me to the Athlete’s Village! Which was a freaking porta potty palace, yet still took me a good half an hour to get through the line when I arrived! I briefly saw Erin and Colleen from the Albany Oiselle Volée and then saw Rachel (also Albany Oiselle Volée) in line for the bathroom. Rachel and I hung out together (aka sat in the shade people watching and pointing out all the people we knew from Instagram but were too afraid to introduce ourselves to) until our wave was called (white bibs were second, after the speedy red bib-wearing folks!). Walking over to the start, I met Lexi who I met on Instagram through the Lane 9 Project, as well as some other Oiselle Volée, including Angie.

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Rach and me before our races!

The Race

The race went by FAST with all of the changing terrain and spectators lining the sidelines almost the entire 26.2 miles. Various friends from so many walks of my life had texted/reached out to me letting me know where they would be, and the excitement of looking for them in the large crowds really kept me going when times were tough. I saw my family twice (it would have been THREE times, but they missed me by a few minutes in Wellesley!), cross country coach from college, Alison, cross country teammate from college, Laura, other friends from college and med school, and the Oiselle gang scattered along the course.

The awesome sign Alison had for me! She had texted me earlier in the morning with where she would be and this pic, but I didn’t have my phone on me past 8AM and unfortunately didn’t see it until after the race. But I DID spot her and her daughter Hazel during the race on one of the toughest hills! And it was magical.

I know people keep saying “last year was so much worse blah blah blah,” but as far as I’m concerned it was HOT out there. I took water/Gatorade at almost every station, most of it to pour on top of my head to stay cool (the water, not the Gatorade LOL). I’ve also never participated in a race this large before, so the logistics of even getting water amongst a huge crowd was new for me. Luckily there were aid stations on both sides of the road at every single mile, but each time, I had to come to almost a complete stop and weave in and out of other people trying to rehydrate, too. Might have *almost* taken down some peeps with me. SORRY. 30,000 people trying to run a marathon in a sunny 70+ degrees ain’t no joke! There were SO many times during the race that I’d look ahead of me and just be amazed by the sea of runners ahead. It was insane. I’ve NEVER seen anything like it. I’ve also never seen so many guys just unabashedly peeing on the side of the road mid-race. (Sorry not sorry for all the tangential writing).

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Running is hard.

Unfortunately, my watch started bugging out around mile 15 and not recording my pace or mileage accurately. And let me tell you, when you’re at mile 15 of a marathon and already dying, you do NOT want your watch to be telling you you’re averaging 10 minute pace (…I wasn’t). I tried to play the fun game of calculating splits in my head, but when you’re mid-marathon loopy, that doesn’t go over well. Instead, I ended up playing the, “Okay, if you average the 30 minute pace you’re FEELING right now, looks like you probably won’t PR…” game.

I started hyperventilating/bawling with about a mile to go because of the sheer realization of what I was about to do. So many people all around me. Runners doing their thing after their own months and years of preparation and hard work. Spectators cheering for ME and sometimes by name (thanks, Angelica, for writing my name on my bib before I left in the morning)! I felt like a rockstar crossing that finish line.

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Looking back on my splits, I’m surprised by my consistency at the start. People who were following later told me they thought it was just averaging splits along the way. Compared to the Shamrock Marathon, I felt a lot more stressed at the start of this race, which I attributed to the heat and rolling hills. I freaked out a little about not feeling too relaxed, and it may have bit me in the butt, but whatchagonnado. And although I knew I was dying towards the end, especially the last three miles or so, my pacing wasn’t as far off as I imagined it would have been. I mentally checked out a bit more than I usually do/know I shouldn’t do and wasn’t able to get into that super uncomfortable place I’ve trained myself to sustain in countless workouts, even in the last couple miles, which was disappointing after months of hard training. Blame it on the heat, the hills, or poor pacing, but it wasn’t my best race.

Still, I PRed! And know I’m much fitter than the time suggests. And if I choose to run Boston again next year, I should be able to get into it without a problem.

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Pretty much sums up the last couple miles of the race for me.

Post-Race Reflections

My main goal was to enjoy the experience and have fun, and as much as I was hurting, that I did! My favorite parts of the race were running through Wellesley and high fiving as many kiddos as I could throughout the entire race. Cross country and track were never “cool” sports in high school and I constantly had to defend how running IS a sport to people, and it was fun to see so much support out there for us football players, basketball players, baseball players runners in Boston.

I’m not sure if I’ll run Boston again next year or even what my next race will be (gotta focus on finishing out third year strong and rocking Step 2 of our Boards this spring and summer!), but one thing’s for certain: yesterday was a beautiful, unforgettable day. 🙂

Day 120/120 of #bostonmarathon2017 Training: Not quite the time I was hoping for, but a PR and an incredible day nonetheless! Might have started bawling with a mile to go because the whole darn thing was so overwhelmingly awesome. 🏃🏻‍♀️🦄💙💛 – Holla at the best family (@angelicahyi, @thomasyi21042, @helenyi1963) for traveling all the way from Maryland and LA to cheer me on, and friends who encouraged me both in person (especially @comeback_runner, @laurarunsthe617, @lapzyn10, and the @oiselle gang!) and via text (WISH I could tag you all!). Floored by the amazing hard work culminating in beyond stellar races by the 30,000 runners and the 500,000 high energy spectators supporting us with all the cold Gatorade and high fives today. I know I'm capable of so much more than today's 3:24:17, but I'm extremely humbled and happy to have been able to share this Boston journey with you. What. A. Day! – #beboston #bostonmarathon2017 #medschoolrunners #runningmedschool #runningformentalhealth #stillirun #oisellevolée #capitalregionbirds #hansonsmarathonmethod #sportsbrasquad #ihavearunnersbody #mileschangeyou

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Sunday Runday: Week of 3/6 (Boston Training Week #12)

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Monday, 3/6:

(What I Was Supposed to Do: Easy 8 miles)

What I Did: 8.01 miles in 1:19:50 (9:59 pace). Did not feel like running this morning at all. It was freezing, but I overdressed! :O

Tuesday, 3/7:

(What I Was Supposed to Do: Strength 3 x 2 miles in 14:20-40 with 800 recovery  (marathon goal = 3:12-3:17))

What I Did:

AM:

3 mile warm-up

3 x 2 miles with 0.5 mile recovery in 14:31 (7:18, 7:13), 14:21 (7:14, 7:07), 13:57 (7:11, 6:46)

2ish mile cool-down

12.18 miles total

PM: 4.50 miles in 40:31 (9:01 pace) with Moira. Bonked haaaaaaard. :O

16.68 miles total for the day

Wednesday, 3/8:

(What I Was Supposed to Do: OFF)

What I Did: Flexibility hot yoga with Laura, my future mother-in-law. My hamstrings hated it during it, but it was exactly what they needed!

Thursday, 3/9:

(What I Was Supposed to Do: Tempo 9 miles at 7:26 pace (goal = 3:15 marathon :O ))

What I Did:

3.15 mile warm-up

9 mile tempo in 1:04:15 (7:08 pace; 7:40, 7:22, 7:06, 6:59, 7:12, 7:02, 6:57, 7:00, 6:52)

3.20 mile cool-down

15.35 miles total

Felt surprisingly awesome on the run! Took me a mile to really get on pace, but I ran according to feel and nailed it!

Friday, 3/10: 

(What I Was Supposed to Do: Easy 7 miles)

What I Did: 7.44 miles in 1:14:46 (10:03 pace)

Saturday, 3/11:

(What I Was Supposed to Do: Easy 8 miles)

What I Did: 6.01 miles in 1:01:55 (10:18 pace) before Pre-Cana with Phil. So much cold!

Sunday, 3/12:

(What I Was Supposed to Do: Long 16 miles)

What I Did: Debated running the half-marathon I had registered for all week, but ultimately decided against it in order to see Wicked with Phil (a super nice Christmas present from his parents!). The show was at 1PM which was inconvenient in and of itself and it was going to be 15 degrees warmer (i.e. real feel of 12 degrees vs. like -5 degrees) in the afternoon, so I opted to run then. Luckily Fiona had been in Lake Placid where it was even colder and hadn’t run yet, so she met up with me to run 8 of my 18 mile long run with me (I think I ran like 3.5 by myself-we were moooving beause we were cold)! 18.04 miles in a blazinnnn 2:23:57 (7:58 average; 8:28, 8:08, 8:07, 8:15, 8:12, 8:06, 8:05, 7:51, 7:54, 7:49, 7:36, 8:06, 7:52, 7:52, 8:06, 7:55, 7:47, 7:26). Really happy with this run and can’t believe I dreaded it all week. Highly recommend the Zim Smith Trail if you’re in the area-the gravel was a great break for these legs!


Total Weekly Mileage = 71.53 miles

Total Boston Training Mileage = 647.21 miles