BX3: Boston Strong X Three

May 13, 2016 7:27 pm

We had three team mates gunning it for 26.2 miles on a warm and windy Boston day. From experienced marathoner to second timer, their stories paint a picture of perseverance and finish line excitement.

SUZETTE, PR professional, San Francisco

• Tell us about your Boston Marathon experience:

Last April (2015), I decided it was time to check ‘run a marathon’ off my bucket list and thought it best befitting to run in my adopted hometown of San Francisco. It was only in March of 2015 that I’d even run my first half with no formal training. I simply ran my way up to 12 miles and called it good. Of the 250 women in my 50-54 age group I, shockingly, placed fourth.

What followed was a four-month crash course in proper training with Coach Pete Coulson and a pipedream of qualifying for Boston. The more I studied the San Francisco course and the more Boston stats I devoured, the more the odds stacked up against me, yet the more determined I became. I never once let on to Pete that my key motivator was a visual of me texting him after crossing the line to tell him that I’d accomplished the goal. I think we were both a little surprised when that actually happened. I crushed my qualifying time by over ten minutes!


What is the atmosphere like in town during the lead up to the event?

The lead-up to Boston was not as solid as San Francisco. I was in the process of learning how to kite board and while training in the Baja heat was pushing me to greater limits, the kiting injuries were hampering those efforts.

Despite that less than perfect lead-up and a lot of anxiety, I felt I owed it to the legacy that is Boston to show up. I wasn’t going to just finish. A friend had driven me over the course the day prior to the race, I’d seen the first five downhill miles and the hills of Newton and it all looked tougher than I’d imagined. Despite self-doubt, I told myself, you earned this slot and you deserve to be here. It was a mantra I would repeat throughout the 26.2 miles on Patriot’s Day.

Boston truly delivers on the hype. The entire course is peopled – twenty-deep in many spots – with nearly all of Fenway emptying out onto the sidewalks in the last two miles. My Nano was blasting at volume 10 and on repeat, summoning a reliable tune to bring me home; the crowd was roaring at eleven.

Over and over and over, leading up to the start you hear and read, “Run conservatively during the first five miles. Don’t get caught up in the excitement. Hold back. You will never make it up the hills if you go out too hard.”

Many of the runners didn’t get the memo. The number of people I passed on the hills astounded me – something I contribute to San Francisco living. By the time all 26.2 miles was said and done, and despite the fact that I was still nursing rib and foot injuries, I managed to cross the line 13 seconds faster than SF with yet another guaranteed Boston Marathon slot.

• How did this race compare to your other marathon days?

No matter what anyone says about running on adrenaline the last two miles were brutal. As a newbie to this marathon game, the last few miles are managed with equal parts doubt and equal parts ‘self will.’ But still you wonder is this where I’m going to crack?

• What are your race goals for the rest of the year?

Both Coach Pete and I believe my marathon PR is still in my future. I told myself before Boston that this was it; that I only needed to do one Boston. San Francisco was just a bucket list item and there was never intention to go beyond that. But it’s tough to turn down the qualifying spot knowing you can probably do better. We’ll focus on a few half marathons and assess from there.

• What’s your marathon nutrition strategy?

My nutrition plan was to follow my successful San Francisco plan which consisted of eating lots of high water content vegetables the week prior: cucumbers, celery and radishes with salt and olive oil are my faves. Dinner the night prior was pasta with protein, bread dipped in olive oil, and a glass of red wine (moderation, right?). Just before bed, I downed 8 ounces of OSMO pre-load. Breakfast consisted of a small cup of Peets Major Dickenson’s, steel-cut oats, a banana and some prepared hydration to sip during the 26-mile bus journey out of town.

A gel at the start and Clif Shot Bloks – one every fifteen minutes about five miles in – were the regimen followed again. My secret survival weapon, courtesy of Dr. Stacy Sims, was eating diabetic sugar tabs throughout the last ten miles. Timing the eating of chalk, chews and water was tricky. Lastly, having witnessed a few Ironman World Championships over the years and given the fairly warm Boston 2016 temperatures, I took cues from the pros and doused my head with water at every aid station.

• I saw some cool Boston 16 running shoes advertised, did you get any cool memorabilia?

Absolutely! I snagged a coveted pair of NEWTON Boston skyline shoes graciously stashed for me by a long time friend who works for Newton. That connection was the golden ticket as all shoes in my size were sold out by the time I got to the booth early Saturday morning.

• What was your post race meal?

Fortunately, my hotel was just 500 yards from the finish line so it wasn’t long before I was sitting in an ice bath drinking red wine and eating sea salt potato chips. A few hours and T-train journey later, I added a bunch of cold beers and a baby kale waldorf salad from the Washington Square Tavern in Brookline, Ma.



HELLOIS, mum of two, Missouri.

* What is the atmosphere like in town during the lead up to the event? Have you raced it prior to the bombings and is there any difference?

From the instance I got on my Boston bound flight it was everywhere. I immediately noticed an array of different colored Boston Marathon jackets representing former days of Boston Marathon glory. I have never raced Boston before and I felt like such a rookie in comparison to the tough, sinewy old timer on my flight coming back for Boston #15.
The entire city gets geared for this spectacle and I learned some interesting facts: throughout the years of World War 1 & 2 there were only 4 major events that continued their annual tradition being the Rose Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Westminister Dog show and the Boston marathon.
It is indeed and noticeably the most spectated sporting event in Massachusetts with every inch of the way lined with spectators. Security was visible in every form on and off the course. People competing and spectating felt determined to celebrate liberty. There were people just everywhere and in great numbers.

* How did this race compare to your other marathon days?
I am not a ‘marathoner’ and my first marathon ever was when a friend asked me if I wanted to do Boston with her as she qualified earlier in the season and I was looking to do my first ever marathon to try and get in the weekend before registration opened. My qualifying race was an uncomplicated and easy run. I did anticipate Boston would be more tough going but the conditions, standing around and wait and then final run through the middle of the day really made for a tricky race and ended up to be quite the physical challenge.
I am used to and like running on my own, even when racing but there is hardly a square inch of space around you at most times during the race. Crowds and fellow participants equally carry runners along in a continuous wave of people.

* What are your race goals for the rest of the year?
I am really looking forward to hopefully some faster running in competing at the National Long Course Duathlon Championships in June in Oregon. The plan is to end the season with a fun Ironman 70.3 race in Austen Texas.

* What’s your marathon nutrition strategy?
I like to stick to what my body is used to everyday. I am not a huge fan of processed sports nutrition and like a more old fashion approach of a good breakfast of oatmeal, bananas and bagel with some hair raising caffeine in the form of black Java!! Throughout the race I do revert to using gels as they go where they are needed when needed. I make sure to train with these in the weeks leading up to my race to ensure they sit well.

* I saw some cool Boston 16 running shoes advertised, did you get any cool memorabilia?
I loved our race T Shirts which were long sleeved technical in classic Boston colors. I did get the 120th anniversary race jacket .. ?

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* What was your post race meal?
Prosecco and a feast of authentic Thai food

* Anything else you’d like to add
Definitely not a race to PR I think but it is an epic experience. Will I go back for # 2 +? I just don’t know..


RYAN, Banker, Los Angeles

* Tell us about your Boston Marathon experience:

This was my second time running Boston. While the weather conditions were perfect for spectators, it was a little warm for a runner. The first year I really did not appreciate the difficulty of the course. I was so consumed by the event as a first time runner that I did not get as distracted by the challenges of the course. While you lose almost 500 feet of elevation what I didnt fully understand and appreciate how tactical you have to be to run it fast. There are many deceptive challenges. For example, the first 16 miles are largely downhill and if you don’t run within yourself (versus getting caught up in the fast pace) you were burn out your legs the last 10 miles. There are many rolling ups and downs which will take a toll on your legs over a 26 mile race.

This year the race had a strong headwind and it was a bit warm for marathon racing. One important lesson I learned and can offer future Boston runners is that don’t just check the temps in Boston. You really need to check the temps in Hopkinton where the race starts. Most people don’t know that Boston starts at 10am.

I put a lot more effort into this years’ race and only gained about 1 minute. I ran this year in 2:58 versus 2:59 last year. But based on the level of effort I expended, I felt like I should have run a 2:50 pace. While I was really hoping for a faster time, I felt better after realizing that the pro men finished 9 minutes (2:12) off the course record time (2:03). 9 minutes for the pros is a very long time for pros and equates to almost 2 miles.


* What is the atmosphere like in town during the lead up to the event? Have you raced it prior to the bombings and is there any difference?

The weather this year was a lot better which was evident by the huge crowd along almost the entire route. The prior year was cold and raining. I would say this year there was easily double the number of spectators. Boston is unlike any event I have ever been to. The crowds line the course approx 90% of the way. The final stretch from Fenway Park all the way down Boylston Street is about as electric and energetic as anything I have ever spectated (including Kona) or raced. There were a lot more police present this year. I don’t know if the weather had do with that or an unannounced threat law enforcement was aware of. Other than running down Bolyston, the kissing girls at Wellsey College (all girls school) and the drunk kids at Boston College are the most memorable parts of the course.

* How did this race compare to your other marathon days?

Boston can not be compared with any marathon (or any race for that matter). The history and spectators and the athletic field. Running through towns which were founded 200-300 years ago is a pretty unique thing for a race in America. I would say the closest second best race for me would Chicago Marathon.

* What are your race goals for the rest of the year?

I am doing the Berlin Marathon in September and would love to beat 2:50. But I never hang my hopes for a particular time on any race so I am never too disappointed. I think I will join the CFC team in either Santa Barbara or in San Diego for a triathlon.

* What’s your marathon nutrition strategy?

2 cups of fluid at every station. One goes on my head and one I take a few small sips from. This helps me avoid cramps. I always take Skratch pre-load drink mix the night before and morning of. A banana, and a bagels with peanut butter a couple of hours before the race are a must. I will take a couple swigs of Gu a couple of times throughout the race.

* I saw some cool Boston 16 running shoes advertised, did you get any cool memorabilia?

I have purchased the stereotypical Boston race jacket but I think I am done wasting my money on those, especially with some of the awful color coordinations the last few years. The 2015 jacket was purple and looked like FedEx delivery jacket.

* What was your post race meal?

I love Fogo de Chao (Brazilian steak restaurant) and of course Boston has one.

* anything else you’d like to add.

If you ever race Boston, remember to bring a seat cushion or couple of towels from the hotel to sit on in Hopkinton before the race. The grass football field can get wet and cold while you wait for a couple of hours before the race start.


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