Another Boston Marathon is in the books! AND I HAD SUCH A GREAT EXPERIENCE.
My 2019 Boston Marathon was definitely better in many ways than my 2018 race, but there were still some unexpected challenges — as is the case with almost every race!
That’s what makes a race day different from a training run though. There’s more on the line, more you want to control and so much you really can’t.
Lace up for a marathon post – I’ve got a race recap for you today! (I’ll do another post soon about how I’ve cut over 40 minutes off my marathon PR and what I learned having a running coach for the first time!)
The Boston Marathon is notorious for unpredictable weather. And this year was no different! The forecast was all over the place in the week leading up to the race. At first, it was showing pouring rain. Cold. Wind. Eerily similar conditions to last year’s race.
Then the forecast showed a really hot day, in the upper 70s.
Then a perfect day – 52 and cloudy.
And in the end, we got some of it all on race day.
I tried not to stress too much about the weather this year since it definitely can’t be control. Instead, I focused on packing the right things for every type of weather, just in case! (See my packing tips here!)
After last year’s race in the worst conditions on record, I knew that this year HAD to be better…unless it was a SUPER hot year, which I think would be terrible. Although I heard Shalane Flanagen on a podcast say that the 2018 Boston Marathon was the worst race she’d EVER run and that she’d pick running the hot Olympic Marathon Trials over the hypothermic Boston race, hands down. It did get hot this year (mid 70s with humidity), but nothing like previous years that hit the 80s!
The day before the race turned out to be the biggest challenge after I got food poisoning. My friend, Kate, and I ate at The Friendly Toast for breakfast and I could tell something was off as I was eating. But, I was so focused on getting enough carbs that I ignored it. (Lesson learned – listen to your gut! Literally, in this case!)
After breakfast, we hit the finish line for some photos and the expo so I could grab my bib. That’s when I really started to feel off. About an hour later, we joined our group for the shakeout run and I felt TERRIBLE the entire run. I felt like I was going to throw up the entire run and should have just headed back to the hotel at that point.
Instead, we hung out with the group for a bit post-run, asking final questions of our coach and getting a pep talk. My nausea was escalating, so I left abruptly and it was all I could do to get back to the hotel fast enough before I started throwing up.
I had a lot of people comment that throwing up was probably nerves but I know it was NOT that. My training had gone very well and I felt very prepared. Honestly, I was excited going into race weekend — not nervous. Plus, I know my body and how it reacts to bad food.
On top of it, I also started my period later that evening. And again, I don’t think the puking was related to that at all since that has NEVER happened to me. I 100% blame the food at the restaurant and that’s the lesson I take away from this: Trust my instincts and if possible, BRING MY OWN FOOD.
I sat in the hotel room for the next 5 hours, alternating puking with sips of Nuun. Eventually I started to feel a little better, right about the time Kate came back to our room, with ginger tea in hand. The tea helped a LOT and I was finally able to eat some crackers and keep that down. My coach also suggested I drink some Maurten mix to replenish carbs and electrolytes.
I was nervous about not eating enough the day before the race at this point but I just did my best to continue to nibble on crackers.
We walked to Whole Foods around 6 since I knew the hot bar would be a good way for me to control what I was eating. I filled my box with bland food — rice, butternut squash, spinach, a small amount of broccoli, a little plain chicken and a kombucha.
By the end of the day, I felt weak but I knew there was nothing else I could do. We turned the lights off around 10 and I tossed and turned but I definitely slept. (But no magical perfect night of sleep like last year!)
I laid out my race outfit and the things I’d need to carry with me the night before. This is super helpful so I don’t forget anything in the morning chaos. Here’s what I ran in (all things I’d worn and tested on previous long runs!):
I wore extra layers + different shoes to ditch at the village (more on that here!) and packed my socks and hat in a plastic bag to keep them dry until the race!
I woke up around 5:30 feeling SO much better and I decided at that point, that I was going to tell myself I felt great and focus on the day ahead — not on the day before.
Plus, I had gotten SO many kind messages from all of you on Instagram, which meant more than I can say. I knew I had literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of prayers and well wishes coming my way.
I also knew that my loved ones, family, friends (real life and online!) and my coach would be proud of me no matter what happened on race day. And I was already proud of the work I had put in leading up the race, no matter what happened out on the course.
Since I drink coffee before every run, I headed to the nearby Starbucks to keep that routine. (I skipped in-room coffee maker since those just seem like germ central and I was being extra cautious!)
I came back to hop in the shower and right as I was about to hop in, the alarm went off in the hotel. Thankfully there was a message saying “We’ll notify you if you need to evacuate.” I waited a few minutes and decided to hop in the shower. (Meanwhile, Kate was being more responsible and getting things ready in case we needed to leave quickly.) The alarm stopped, thankfully, without needing to evacuate.
I ate my first breakfast – the same thing I always eat before long runs and races – peanut butter and banana sandwich on gluten-free bread.
Around 6:45 a.m., we left our hotel. And that’s when the weather hit us HARD. It was POURING with crazy wind, just like last year. But, this time, instead of cold temps, lightning and thunder reverberating through the city.
We walked to gear check, dropped our bags and then headed to the buses. The ride to the start was rainy and long but when we hopped off the buses, the rain had stopped which is a blessing at Athlete’s Village.
We stood in line to use the restroom and then headed under a tent to prep. My minute race preparation involves:
Once our wave was called to line up in the corrals, we walked over (about a 10 minute walk), used the restrooms again (much shorter lines!) and begun to strip off our layers before heading to the start. (More tips about Athlete’s Village here!)
It ended up being perfect timing: Right as I walked into my corral, the wave was released and I was off! I didn’t have much time to get nervous.
The Boston Marathon has such a smoothly run race start, especially considering the number of people. I’m a big logistics person and I was amazed again at how efficient things are at Boston!
I followed the race plan my coach had given me and it was nice to just focus on executing what he had outlined, especially in the beginning when adrenaline can ruin your race by going too hard! In short, my plan was:
There was no need for nerves. My job was to just trust in what he outlined, listen to my body, and focus on fueling and hydrating. And most importantly, enjoy the day and everything that comes with it!
My legs did start to feel tired around 10, much earlier than I wanted to feel that fatigue. But I told myself to just get to the hills. I knew the Wellesley scream tunnel would give me a boost between 10 and 16 as well!
Unlike so many who dread the Newton Hills, I was excited for them. I really enjoy running hills and the variety of muscle stimulus they provide. Climbing was a nice break from the quad pounding during the first half of the race. Plus, I knew better what to expect this year. And I knew it would be better without a 40 mph headwind!!
The hills were over before I knew it. I wasn’t even sure I was on Heartbreak Hill as I was going up Heartbreak. I just felt that good.
Around Newton is when I started to pass a lot of people, from mile 16 through the end of the race. Enoch told me this would happen if I ran the first half of the race smart!
I knew that last year, my energy crashed pretty hard around mile 21. So even though I felt GREAT, I moderated my pace until about mile 24 where I let myself start to pick it up. It was continuing to get hotter so I was still conscious of that too.
Once I got into the city, there was a little more shade and I started to pick up the pace. I still didn’t go too hard since I knew I could still hit the wall, but once I hit mile 23 I let myself open up the pace a little. And as I turned right onto Hereford, left on Boylston, I felt AMAZING.
Once on Boylston, I tossed my sunglasses. After racing with them all morning, it felt like seeing the world in technicolor. The sky was bright blue, the buildings were glowing and I was just SO grateful as I crossed the finish line.
I never looked at the time on my watch other than at the half way mark. Enoch told me in my race plan that I should come through the half point around 1:36-1:38 but to not panic if I didn’t.
I hit 13.1 around 1:39 and then didn’t look at my watch again until I crossed the finish line. So I saw my time of 3:17:50 and was ELATED. It was a 10 minute PR.
And honestly I was happy the ENTIRE RACE. Last year there were many moments of misery. While I laughed through a lot of it, because it was just the craziest weather, I definitely felt like I suffered more in 2018.
Even with better conditions in 2019, I expected to have some miserable moments since that’s just the marathon experience. It almost always starts to HURT. But it never did this year. And I’m so grateful since I know the heat REALLY got to some people.
While I thankfully didn’t have a 40 mph head wind, it did start to get HOT right about Newton time. At each water stop, I started grabbing a gatorade for extra electrolytes, only drinking half since I didn’t train much with it.
I also grabbed two waters — one to drink and one to dump on my head. And I continued with that strategy the rest of the race. It helped a LOT to keep me cool.
I did get a sunburn on my shoulders and upper back though. While I almost applied sunscreen before we headed out, I opted against it since I figured it be overcast the whole time. Another lesson learned!
Even though I didn’t have Tommy or my mom in Boston with me this year, I felt like I had support throughout the entire race day. Sometimes it was someone in person cheering for me, and sometimes it was just recalling all those who were supporting me from afar. It all made a big difference in keeping my spirits high.
On the bus, I sat next to a women named Jordan who told me she followed me on Instagram and was so happy to see I was feeling better.
Near the beginning of the race, another runner told me she followed me on Instagram and was so happy to see me out there running and looking good.
Around mile 13 someone yelled “GO TERILYN!!!” from the crowd and we made eye contact. And it gave me the biggest boost.
I saw my college friend Brooke in the Newton, which was so fun! Again, it gave me a boost!
Around mile 23, another fellow runner yelled “Go Teri!”
I wrote my name on my bib last year, and forgot to that this year. But I’d highly recommend it! I saw others who wrote their name on their upper arm. The crowds definitely will call out your name!
Compared to last year, the crowds were UNREAL. There were people on the course the entire way. And at certain points, the crowds were HUGE and loud. I loved the crowd support last year but man, it was a different experience this year with better weather.
I was also thrilled that I found Kate soon after finishing and I also bumped into one of my friends whom I grew up with in Utah. Deveree and I finished TWO SECONDS apart – crazy!!!
Every time I crossed at time mat, I thought about those who were tracking me and that they’d be getting an update on my time. I thought about how much they were rooting for me and how proud they were of me.
One of my close running friends, Clare, also suggested that I focus on people I’m grateful for at each mile. That was a great way to feel the support of those who mean the most to me!
As soon as I finished, I headed to gear check to get my bag, which had my phone (and my protein shake!). I called Tommy, absolutely ELATED.
After we chatted, Enoch called me a few minutes later to congratulate me, which was incredibly thoughtful. (He had an amazing race day too – 2 hours 17 minutes!!!). And then I talked to my mom and a few close friends before heading to the hotel to shower.
I was SO happy and so, so grateful — and I still am riding that high. I’ve had some pretty big life changes in the past month (more on that soon) and I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.
I cried a little but mostly just laughed and couldn’t stop smiling.
Thank you all again for you ALL your support leading up to the race on race day. I feel so lucky to have so many people cheering for me, at every step.
I’m also so grateful for my coach, Enoch, and his wife, Angela, for all of their support leading up to and after the race.
And I can’t even begin to thank Tommy…. he deserves a medal of his own for supporting me through some intense periods the past 6 months. We celebrated in style this weekend with a day date and dinner with friends. And yes, I had that glass of wine. 🙂
Side note: I ran in the Tarte Lights, Camera, Splashes mascara and it did NOT budge. Best ever mascara for running with sweat & rain! And came off easily with the cleansing balm that I use to wash my face.