Monday, April 22, 2019

Boston Marathon Race Recap

Last Monday was Patriot’s Day... and if you are a runner (or if you live in the New England area), there's a 90% chance you know what that means... It was MARATHON MONDAY... The Monday that the 123rd Boston Marathon was held!


Hopefully by now you are caught up on my craziness, but if not, let me give you a brief rundown (and include some links so you can go back and get the full story at your convenience). A few weeks ago the AMAZING folks at Almond Breeze reached out to me to see if I would be interested in running the 2019 Boston Marathon… UH YES PLEASE!

You can imagine my excitement when I opened my inbox and saw an email with an invitation such as this... 

You may remember last year I shared my thoughts on returning to Boston. Although running the race in 2018 was an absolutely AWESOME experience (one I'll NEVER forget), I decided against returning in 2019 even though I had a qualifying time, because I didn't want to take a spot from a qualified runner (there is a finite number of spots available, and since I already had the experience, I didn’t want to take it from someone who might be trying to get in for their first time). With that said, I felt this late invitation was a loophole because qualified runners would've already secured their spots.

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If you looked at a calendar and my racing schedule, you may have noticed the issue... Patriot’s Day (the third Monday in April) was falling two days after the conclusion of #Ragnar4Rett. If you’ve been around my neck of the InterWebs for a while, you know how near and dear #Ragnar4Rett is for me, so the only way I was going to be able to swing Boston was if the Almond Breeze team would be willing to let me take a redeye out Saturday night (after finishing Ragnar) and land on Sunday morning to join in the festivities. Thankfully they were able to work with me and my ridiculous schedule.

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You can read my complete recap for our #Ragnar4Rett adventure HERE, but in case you don't have the time, here's a quick breakdown of the weekend before Boston. Thursday afternoon I rode the train from my house to Orange and met up with the ladies. Friday morning we started our 185 mile journey from Huntington Beach to San Diego (where I personally ran over 35 miles in less than 24 hours, spread out over six different runs), crossing the finish line around 1:30pm on Saturday. After snapping pictures and grabbing food, it was time to say goodbye to the team and head to a friend’s house who lives in San Diego so I could shower and transfer some of my gear from my Ragnar bag to my Boston luggage.


Praise the Lord, everything ran super smoothly (there were so many moving parts that could have thrown a major wrench in the system, so I'm beyond grateful everything went according to plan) and I was able to arrive at the airport with plenty of time before my flight {we actually even finished Ragnar earlier than expected which meant I didn't have to rush}.

Participant guide in hand and ready to fly cross-country! 

Normally I am not able to sleep on a plane (or on a train or in a car, thank you very much, Sam I Am), but I actually think I might have dozed off for a few minutes here or there. The five hour flight didn’t seem too long, so I am thinking I might have gotten a couple twenty minute cat-naps during the cross-country journey. By the time I landed in Boston I was wiped, but the sun was set to rise within the hour so I assumed hoped my energy levels would rebound a bit.

You can see how amused I am about a 4:45am selfie, right?!

After deplaning, I grabbed a Lyft and went to my hotel. Of course, since it was 5am, they didn’t have a room ready (they were completely booked the previous night and no one had checked out yet). Thankfully I was able to leave my bag with them so I could explore without having to carry everything I packed in tow. I waited till the sun was up, then hit the town.

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First up was the finish line. I remembered from the previous year that it can get pretty busy and chaotic on Boylston once the city wakes up, so I wanted to get down there and snap a couple photos before everyone else had the same idea.

The next time I was here, God willing, I would be a TWO TIME Boston Marathoner!

Next on the agenda was the Blessing of the Athlete service at the Old South Church. I didn’t attend this last year, but heard amazing things so had it on my list of MUST DOs for this trip. It happened to be Palm Sunday as well, so it was awesome to hear how the minister was able to tie in the holiday with the marathon. I don’t know if I was just extra emotional from the lack of sleep and running all the miles the two days before, but man, this service pulled on my heart strings. The congregation welcomed the runners with arms wide open and offered their encouragement and support. It was absolutely amazing. There were a few specific blessings for the athletes (mixed into the normal service), as well as a processional with a bagpipe and drum. I couldn’t help but tear up multiple times (from when she had runners who had participated in more than 25+ Boston Marathons stand to when she talked about the bombing). I walked out of the service feeling inspired, encouraged and supported (and seeing as I was traveling solo this trip, knowing that I had folks physically there for me meant a ton). I cannot thank the Old South Church enough for what they gave me and my fellow athletes.


Once I dried my tears it was time to head over to the Expo. If you remember my race recap from the San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K from a few weeks ago, you may remember me mentioning how I LOVED that they used a QR code you could load into your Apple Wallet. They were able to scan it for everything from your bib to your participant shirt. Well, instead of the Participant Guide that the Boston Marathon has used in years past, they took their info digital this year and did something similar. SCORE! It was so easy (and one less thing to worry about potentially forgetting to pack.)

Loaded in my Apple Wallet (PS I assume
they also had an Android option too...)

As you know, I'm normally not one to spend a ton of time at race expos, but I took my time and walked through all of the aisles (the fact that my room wasn’t ready yet definitely played into this). And, of course, I had to stop for a few photo ops.


This sweatshirt was PERFECT for my mood!

My name should have been right after Ms. Pados, but apparently
I registered too late in the game to be included...

Normally I'm "ALWAYS WANNA GO FOR A RUN", but after 35+ miles of Ragnar and a redeye flight, bed was sounding nice ;)

Although my hotel hadn’t called to tell me a room was ready I decided to head back anyway (I was hoping that seeing my face would remind them I was still waiting). When I got there, the employee who was working when I first arrived remembered me. She said my room wasn’t available, but she would see if she could move folks around so I could get a bed sooner rather than later. Oh, thank you sweet angel woman ;) She was able to work her magic and get me a room.

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By the time I was in a room, unpacked and ready to take a quick siesta I realized I only had about an hour before the pre-race dinner. (I signed up for the first time slot, 4pm, thinking I'd want to get to bed as early as possible, knowing I probably wouldn’t have slept much if any since Thursday night.) Instead of a sub-par nap, I decided to lay out my #FlatCarlee.

You had to assume my #FlatCarlee for Boston was going to be all yellow and blue, right?! Thankfully I have plenty of that color combination!
A royal blue Sparkle Athletic skirt, a handmade Carlee trucker (thanks to felt and hot glue), a GracedByGrit tank, a pair of PRO Compression
Boston socks
, a yellow Handful sports bra, buttercup and lapis Momentum Jewelry motivational wraps, a COROS APEX watch, PROBAR
BOLT chews
white and blue QALO silicone wedding bands, an elite ROADiD, a Nathan handheld, and Brooks Ghost 11 with blue Shwings.
(Plus dish washing gloves to keep my hands dry and warm, an extra poncho in case the Michigan one I had wasn't clear enough for
volunteers and race officials to see my bib and a Mylar blanket to use as a tarp to sit on at the Athlete's Village.)

The weather man was calling for just about any kind of weather you can imagine (everything from cold, windy and rainy to hot and humid), so I overpacked because I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time to go out and grab last minute essentials if I needed them. Last year having dish washing gloves for the race were a lifesaver because they helped keep my hands dry (which, in turn, kept them warm), so I grabbed another pair for this year, along with a poncho, Mylar blanket, etc. I had packed a rain jacket and more layers, but by the time the race was about 12 hours out they were calling for warm temperatures (expecting 60* around 7am, so I knew I wasn’t going to need layers over my tank). {PS Couldn't decide which of the memes I created I liked best to go with the Boston weather so you get all three... you're welcome ;) }

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The Pre-Race Dinner (sponsored by Almond Breeze) happened to be located only a stones throw from where I was staying which was super nice (sort of like I planned it, but I hadn’t ;)). I knew 30,000 runners would be tackling the Boston Marathon, but I didn’t realize all of them would be going to the dinner at 4pm… Okay, okay, I may be exaggerating, but I was NOT expecting the line to be as long as it was when I arrived. I stood in line for about 25 minutes or so before I was up to the check-in spot (they scanned your ticket, checked your bags if you had any, and let you into City Hall).


This wasn't their first rodeo... they had everything set up super efficiently once you got in.

Like I mentioned, I didn’t go last year (runners get a complimentary entry to the dinner, but guests have to buy additional passes for $30 a person, so we didn’t think it would be worth it with my parents and hubby along for the ride) so wasn’t sure what to expect. The set-up was super easy. When you came in they gave you a carry-out container and then you went through a buffet line (there were at least 8 different lines, all with the same food, set up so runners could get through quickly). I had mixed greens in Italian dressing, pasta salad, triple cheese mac and cheese, penne marinara, and a roll. I also tried the bread pudding made with Almond Breeze but forgot to snap a picture of it. Everything was delicious (the pasta salad wasn’t my jam but I think it was due to the consistency of the gluten-free noodles, but I do appreciate they had options for different dietary restrictions). I felt like I had plenty of food to eat and was fully carbed-up for the race.


Love that they used the Almond Breeze Almondmilk in most of the recipes!

PS There were three different Almond Breeze Shelf Stable Almondmilk flavors available with dinner (chocolate, vanilla and unsweetened vanilla). I grabbed two of the unsweetened vanilla cartons and actually saved them to drink with my breakfast on Monday and Tuesday morning - which was perfect since my hotel room didn’t have a fridge.

You can see my plate of bread pudding in this shot ;) 

After my belly was full, I was starting to fade fast so I got back to the hotel, threw on my PJs and set my alarms. My wave wasn’t scheduled to start until 10:25am, but I was supposed to get on my bus to the start between 7 and 7:45am. With that said, I started my alarms early to make sure if I slept through a few of them I would still have plenty of time to get ready and make it to the race. (Tell me I am not the only one who has a recurring dream nightmare of sleeping through a race or having to frantically rush around to make it on time, inevitably forgetting something important like your shoes...)


I woke up when the first alarm went off (normally I am up long before my alarm goes off, but as I’m sure you can imagine, my body was exhausted and it’s main focus was getting rest not stressing about the race or missing an alarm) and decided to reset my alarm for 5:35am and go back to sleep for a half an hour. Surprisingly I was able to fall right back to sleep and get a few extra minutes of shut-eye (you know I must have been extra tired for this to happen, right?!).

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Once I woke up the second time, I perused the InterWebs for a few and had breakfast (a PROBAR BASE bar, along with an Almond Breeze Shelf Stable Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk). {I also took a banana with me for the bus.}

Get in my belly!

Since my hotel was only about a 15 minute walk to where the buses would be picking up the runners, my game plan was to leave around 7:00am. While getting ready I had on the weather channel (which I'm not sure was a good idea or not because it was starting to freak me out more and more). The severe weather that caused upwards of twenty tornadoes throughout the Midwest and South was making its way to Boston and bringing with it plenty of wind and thunderstorms.

Source: @bostonmarathon's Twitter

Living in SUNNY Southern California we don’t have a ton of experience running in the rain, but thankfully they were calling for much warmer weather than last year (last year it was in the 30s and 40s with the torrential downpours) and the wind was supposed to be a tailwind instead of running into a headwind like 2018. I decided my tank and skirt would probably be plenty warm (since it was already in the 60s when I woke up), but decided to bring the dish gloves, extra poncho and Mylar blanket (more for something to sit on if I needed it rather than to stay warm) with me just in case.

The hubby wasn't there to take pre-race photos, so you'll have to be okay with a selfie set up on a chair... 

The weather channel was saying the rain was supposed to stop by race time, but I wasn’t putting all of my eggs in Mother Nature’s basket. In fact, I was expecting the worst when it came to the weather - figuring it couldn’t be worse than last year (although you never want to jinx yourself, right?!), but thinking it’d probably be similar just a little warmer.

The valet didn't want to actually go out in the rain, so he stood in the hotel doorway ;)

On the walk from the hotel to the buses my shoes got soaked. Now, I did pack grocery bags that I could've tied around my feet, but last year that really only helped with the mud, not necessarily the rain, so I didn’t do anything to protect my feet. Thankfully I normally don’t get blisters so I was hoping I would have similar luck with my soggy shoes for this race.

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I got on a bus around 7:20am. Normally I am always a little leery about race transportation because I have had some bad experiences in the past, but I didn't even think twice about it because I figured “it’s Boston, what could go wrong?!”.

Let's get this party started!

After about 45 minutes on the bus and only being in Wellesley (which is about the halfway point of the race), we realized something was up. One of the girls behind me was a local and mentioned “the word on the street” was that due to the crazy weather the buses had to avoid Mass Pike and take the LONG way around to the Athlete’s Village.

Nothing like some pre-race transportation issues to cause some extra stress...

By the time we got to Athlete’s Village (FYI - I would say about half of the people on our bus got off at one point or another because they thought they could walk faster than the bus would get us there), the rain had stopped - WHOO HOO! Not only did we not have to stand out in the rain, but the people who stayed on the bus were able to save our legs and sit the entire 95 minutes on the journey from Boston to Hopkinton! I don't think we could've planned it any better!

This is my "YAY, WE ARE FINALLY OFF THE BUS" face ;)

Last year I got a picture near the “It all starts here” sign, so I decided to search it out again for a quick photo op.


After that it was almost time for my wave (Wave 2 - White) to be released to our corrals. The extra long bus ride meant less time in Athlete’s Village (and less time to freak out), which was totally fine with me, seeing as it was a soggy swamp.

Definitely not as muddy as last year, but a mess nonetheless!

If you haven't run the Boston Marathon before, you may not realize the Athlete's Village (where they hold all of the runners) is still about a mile to the start line. Prior to your wave's start time they release the waves into another holding "pen" when they split you off into the different corrals. When it's time to actually release the wave to the starting area, they let the earlier corrals go first (1 and 2, then 3 and 4, etc). The idea behind this is that as long as people are still planning on running close to their qualifying time they submitted, then hopefully people will be seeded properly (faster people up front, slower paces further back, and similar paces near each other). All of this pre-race sorting definitely helps with the flow of the race and runners (especially with close to 30,000 athletes). FYI: On the way to the starting line there's a set of port o potties in a CVS parking lot on the walk (so you don't have to stress if you still need to get out a nervous pee ;)).

Gotta pull off the route to snap a photo, right?! 

On the way to the start there are tons of volunteers to take your extra layers if you are looking to drop them. The clothes are collected, cleaned and then donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. {They also had some "zero waste" tents within the Athlete's Village that were sorting waste into different piles [like water bottles vs food vs ponchos].}

Good on ya, BAA!

Eventually it's time to fill the corrals and wait for the starting gun to go off. About 5 minutes before the start I took off the poncho I was wearing (it hadn't been raining but I thought the layer of plastic would help keep the chill from the wind off). **PSA: It is important to get any layers you may be discarding TO THE EDGE OF THE CORRAL. Do not just drop your gear by your feet (or try to throw it and in the process hit someone in the head) because it becomes a tripping hazard for all of the runners behind you. If you don't want to "lose your spot" where you are standing you can ask to hand your shirt/ poncho/ Mylar blanket to the runner next to you so they can hand it to the runner next to them and get it off to the side.**

In my corral and ready to go!

And before we knew it, we were getting ready to take off and run the seven towns (Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline) before making our way back into Boston and finishing on Boylston Street.

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I'll be honest, as soon as I started the race, probably about 5 steps into my run, I knew my left hamstring was not having any of it. Although my legs felt fine walking around Boston the previous day, running was a different story. Now, I am not saying I was (or am) injured, but running 35+ miles mixed with all of the sitting (both in the Ragnar van and on the cross-country plane ride) was not a recipe for fresh feeling legs. I was never planning on having Boston be a super fast time, and the kink in the back of my leg just reminded me that I was going to take it easy and enjoy every step of the way.

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The only game plan I had for the day was to soak in as much of the experience as humanly possible. There was absolutely ZERO time goal(s) in mind - I just wanted to revel in the history, the hype, the surroundings, the spectators, the city, the race. When I ran Boston in 2018, I felt like although it was amazing I missed a lot of it due to the weather (it was hard to do anything but look down when you had freezing rain being pelted into your face by 30mph wind gusts). This year I was hoping to soak it all in (and was praying I wouldn't be soaking with rain when all was said and done).

How I looked for the majority of the race in 2018...

I stopped along the way to chat with friends and snap selfies, I made photo pit stops at "characters", I gave out hundreds of high fives and I don't think I stopped smiling the entire freakin' race. Like legit, I think I PR'ed in the number of high fives, thank you's and smiles I gave out on the course. I was absolutely living it up and enjoying every single moment.

This pup might be my favorite spectator of all time! 

Quite the assortment of character stops on the course! I told Santa I was a good girl... he laughed and said "I highly doubt that"...

It was great seeing friends out on the course! Who doesn't love a friendly face or three?!

When I referenced "chasing unicorns" I meant the race medal, but these guys work too ;) 

In case you don't remember, I actually made the trucker hat I was wearing for last year's Boston Marathon, but due to the weather I had my rain jacket hood up and covering it the entire time. Well, let's just say this year it worked like a charm. The spectators along the course are already AMAZEBALLS, but throw in the fact that I had my name clearly visible on my head and the people went wild. I literally felt like a ROCKSTAR the entire 26.2 miles. At one point there was a fellow runner behind me who happened to run up next to me and said he wasn't sure if I was a local weather girl who everyone knew or if I had my name somewhere on me, because it seemed like everyone and their mom knew me ;) The crowds kept me plugging along when all I wanted to do was nap (okay, so there wasn't really a point in the race where I wanted to pull over and take a snooze, but you get what I am saying, right?! I was so drained both physically and emotionally, but the spectators kept me charged and raring to go). I know a lot of races tout having the best crowd support, but there is none like Boston. They aren't just cheering "go runner", they are in your face screaming for YOU specifically! They showed me that I definitely need to step my spectating game up because it sucks compared to theirs.

Major props to Cheer Everywhere for being on the course and snapping this picture of me!!

And, because I'm sure some of you are wondering, the weather wasn't awesome, as I'm sure you could have guessed... I'd say that by about Mile 1.5 or 2 everyone around me (myself included) was dripping with sweat because of how humid it was. It was sort of like the humidity was radiating up from the ground. Around midway (at least for me) the sun started coming out, which I thought made the humidity less (maybe the clouds were holding that sogginess in), but with the sun came warmer temps. But, let's be real, I don't know that many people go into Boston expecting perfect weather conditions (although the day after the race {both last year and this year} seemed to have much better weather for running than race day itself, but what can ya do?!). I ran with my handheld, which was a smart move. I think around Mile 10 I started taking Gatorade at the aid stations (normally I do not do that, but I knew my body needed the electrolytes from the weekend's activities and from the amount of sweat I was losing) and also pouring a cup of water on myself as well.

Thanks to the volunteers who not only kept us hydrated, but who cleaned up our GIANT mess!

After last year's race, I sort of joked and said "where were the hills?" because everyone makes such a big deal out of Heartbreak Hill (and the Newton Hills before that) and, to be honest, I didn't really notice them. This year, probably due to my leg fatigue and the fact that I wasn't in a little rain jacket bubble, I definitely felt them. I wouldn't say they were terrible (I was still able to charge up them at a decent clip), but they weren't as insignificant as last year ;)

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The issue of the hills isn't necessarily their height or length, but where they fall within the race itself.

And, before I knew it, I could see the famed Citgo sign in the distance (it marks the "one mile to go" distance on the course) and started to get a little sad that my run was coming to an end. Don't get me wrong, my legs were screaming to be done already, but my soul was LOVING every single step and wished it could've lasted another 26 more miles!

I had to chuckle because two days before I was taking a selfie with the "One Mile To Go"
sign on my final Ragnar leg
and now I was doing the same thing in Boston! 

The famed Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston was all that stood in the way of me becoming a TWO TIME Boston Marathon finisher! I couldn't help but tear up and give a little cheer. Like I mentioned before, I never thought I would be returning to the finish line of the Boston Marathon as a runner... sure, maybe I would come back to spectate or volunteer, but I thought Boston was a one-and-done race for me, so I was overjoyed and overwhelmed to have the chance to cross the finish line once again! {Major thanks to Almond Breeze for giving me this amazing opportunity - I'm forever grateful!}

I DID IT!

I was STOKED to cross that finish line. I don't think there was ever a moment where I questioned whether I could do it or not because the crowds kept me amped up the entire 26.2 miles. Normally I wouldn't recommend running a marathon two days after finishing an ultra relay race, but this was an opportunity I could not (and would not) pass up. I had to continually pinch myself to make sure it wasn't a dream! Big thanks to Adidas for putting together a finisher video for all of the runners! They even found footage of us while running (thankfully my bright yellow tank is easily visible in all of the shots!).


I'm not sure if any of you are interested in my actual finish time or splits, but just in case you care, I will include it (but, for me, this race was about the time on the course, not the time on the clock). Surprisingly I was able to keep a decent pace for the majority of the race (except for when I was stopping to take photos or chat with friends, I kept chugging along, but that was probably because I assumed if I stopped for long I probably wouldn't have the energy to start again ;)).

My splits via Strava (my COROS app couldn't fit them all in one screen). The far right
column is my heart rate and the column to the left of that is the elevation change for the mile

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Originally I was planning to go to the Post-Race Party, but by the time I got back to the hotel (PS once I crossed the finish line the skies opened up again and the rain started falling), showered and ate, I was 99.7% sure I wasn't leaving my bed until Tuesday morning. (Maybe if I somehow end up at the race in the future I'll attend the Mile 27 celebration.)


The first thing I did once I woke up, ate and checked out of my hotel was to head to the finish line to snap a #MedalMonday picture.
They were already removing the graphics (you can see in the background a worker peeling off one at the top of the photo).

My flight out wasn't until Tuesday afternoon, so once I checked out of my hotel (and left my bags at the front desk so I didn't have to carry them with me), I took to the streets and got in 12-15 miles of walking around town (by the time I got to the airport at 4pm I had over 30K steps on my watch). I went to the Boston Public Library, spent time in Boston Common, grabbed donuts for the hubby, stopped in some running stores (I was on the hunt for a trucker, but couldn't find any...), etc.

Perfect way to start and fuel the day! Breakfast was even smiling at me!

Some of my sights around Boston.

I saw this medal on a tree and shared it in my IG stories. The "owner" of the medal saw my post and shared her story!

The employee at Clover shared a secret menu item with me (the Russian BBQ Seitan Sandwich) - so yummy! And I was actually pretty
surprised how well the donuts held up since I carried them with me all day on my journey around Boston and back to San Diego!

As I'm sure you can imagine, this was a whirlwind of a weekend, but one that created memories that will last for a lifetime. Again, I have to give a MAJOR THANKS to Almond Breeze for giving me this opportunity, the hubby for for telling me to go after it, the #Ragnar4Rett team for racing their booties off and getting us to the finish line with plenty of time to make my flight and for YOU who passed along your love and encouragement along the journey. YOU ALL ROCK MY SOCKS!

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Have you ever been to Boston?