I had one word in mind as I traveled to Big Sur this year to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge: REDEMPTION. Okay, to give you a little context, let’s talk about where I was in my training before Boston. My training for the 2017 Boston Marathon went better than I expected and I trained for a faster pace than the previous three Boston Marathons. I was determined to push the pace this year, as I had ran 3:11 in 2015 & 2016; I felt I could break 3:10 (I was training at 3:05 pace). My Boston training partner, Todd Losee, was also feeling great. Our plan was to run our goal pace until the Newton Hills, see how we were feeling and adjust our individual plans from there.
As you’ll hear from most Boston finishers, having a plan and actually hitting that plan is unusual. I had been lucky in my previous attempts that everything went as planned. That was not to be the case this year.
We were on pace through mile 13 to go sub 3:10. The temps this year were high, and many runners were being treated for heat stroke. I heard one runner had an internal temperature of 108.8 at the end of the race. The heat definitely started to take its toll on me even though I was taking in extra water at each aid station. Not only that, but I just couldn’t hold the pace. At Miles 14-16 things went very bad for me. Heavy legs, mental fatigue and an upset GI tract hit me like a sledgehammer and the Newton Hills were looming ahead – I knew I was in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
At Mile 16, I told Todd he had to go alone, he was handling the pace and the heat like A ROCKSTAR (this was his 17th Boston in a row). The last 10 miles were a run/walk nightmare for me. My slowest marathon of all six I’ve run and my first non-Boston Qualifier. To say I was defeated was a massive understatement. After 24 hours of a rough recovery, including sore muscles and a failing GI tract, Todd and I regrouped and tried to figure out what went so terribly wrong.
I was just going to accept the fact that I’m not a warm weather runner, Todd had other plans. He had noticed the excess salt on my face and shorts and quickly theorized I had a salt problem that was heightened and more obvious in hot weather. By the way, we had the Big Sur Marathon in 13 days to finish our second BOSTON TO BIG SUR CHALLENGE. I was petrified I’d fail again. We figured out what needed to be done and how to adjust. By the time I had to get ready for Big Sur, I was feeling a bit more optimistic.
For Big Sur…
- I added salt tabs to my race nutrition plan
- I started concentrating on my breathing (Todd had noticed at mile 13-16 my pattern was erratic)
- I backed off on pace (I wanted a BQ for 2018 – new goal)
- I ran solo and with music (Todd BQ’d at Boston and I didn’t want him going slower with me)
- Worked on my mind (I ran with a mantra “be a FREAKY BEAST” when things got rough)
At Big Sur, I cruised to a 3:16 (9 minutes faster than 2016); my plan worked. My eyes are already on Boston 2018. Thanks to Todd Losee’s help (and the advice from other GHRC marathon experts), I was able to successfully redeem myself from my 2017 Boston Marathon 13 days later.