boston marathon 2012: pre-gaming

Alright-I know this post is way overdue!! Been a busy couple of weeks 🙂

So even though the final time was not what I had hoped for, everything else about the Boston Marathon and the surrounding events lived up to the hype. And then some.

Instead of one long-winded post, I decided I’d break it up into 3, like I did for my first marathon…I think it deserves that respect 🙂

Saturday, April 14

Time to make the train trip up to Boston!  Was Amtrakking it-nice and easy.  And a coupla other Flyers were on my train too…not surprising 🙂

Trip was pretty much drama-free, but in the time between New York and Boston, the B.A.A. had sent us all an email that included the following:

We are now making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit or if you have any underlying medical conditions (for example-cardiac disease, pulmonary disease or any of a number of medical problems), you should NOT run this race.

  • Inexperienced marathoners should not run.
  • Those who have only trained in a cooler climate and who may not be acclimated (for at least the last 10 days) to warm weather running conditions should also consider not running.

Highly fit?  Yeah I guess.  Inexperienced?  Hells no.  Cool climate and not acclimated…oh yeah.

Not to mention:

Due to the unusually warm weather forecast for the Boston area on Monday, the B.A.A. will defer the entry of those official entrants to the 2013 Boston Marathon for participants who decide not to race.

Wow, now that is huge.  I know it was a controversial decision by the B.A.A., but I think given the conditions, something had to be done to cover themselves.  But I wasn’t considering deferring, I worked too hard to get here.  But I had the premonition that Monday was not gonna be a normal race day at all.

Anyway, got into Boston with no issues and got to my hotel-which was right around the corner from the Back Bay train station!  The hotel was not the most glamorous, but in terms of location, couldn’t be beat-within walking distance of both the finish line and Boston Common (for the bus to the start.)  Also another cool thing was that the BAA was located in the same building!  So after dropping my stuff and getting settled, was time to head to the expo.  Which apparently was in a different place than normal-the Seaport World Trade Center as opposed to the Hynes Convention Center.  And I didn’t find it too much of a pain to get to-Orange Line to Silver Line (or a shuttle)…no different than heading from the UWS to South Street Seaport 🙂

i'm all in-the expo!

the scene at number pickup

 

Expo time.  I was looking forward to this-I’m such a kid in a candy store at running expos 🙂  (Especially since I had some extra spending money from finishing in the money in not one, but TWO March Madness pools!)  But before going shopping, first things first.  Gotta go get the bib.  Being handed the bib, I’m thinking “oh boy this shit is real!  i’m doing this!!”  Then time to get the bright orange bag and race shirt.  Really nice shirt-blue long-sleeve with yellow accents.  But they said we could try it on and I’m glad I did-in keeping with the warnings that they ran small, I had to swap my small size shirt for a medium.  (Hey Adidas-do you assume that all female Boston marathoners have no boobs to speak of? 🙂 )

look what i got!

 

Time to hit the booths!  As I had visited the expo last year when I came up to spectate, I knew what to expect and it didn’t disappoint-great variety of booths-if you want something, they got it!  Expo tip-if you want to get Adidas stuff, go to the booth that is closer to the entrance-NOT the one thats by the number pickup (unless you really want one of those T-shirts)-the booth closer to the entrance is less crowded.  And even though I already had the jacket, I also picked up a hat and sports bra…thought of getting the stuffed unicorn but passed on it 🙂  Did a lap around the expo, picking up other things I “needed” ;-)…then made one last stop at the Adidas booth before I left.  This time I got a pair of flip flops which felt great on my feet (I’m wearing them as I type!), thinking they may come in handy in a couple of days 🙂  And of course I ran into some Flyers-HM (her first Boston too!) and DM (Boston vet, this year just up to cheer.)  After some gabbing I headed back to my hotel to rest up before dinner…

HM and I, shopping til we drop!

 

So I met up with Flyer DK and a friend of his in the North End-aka Boston’s Little Italy.  And he showed up already wearing the Boston 2012 jacket…”Boston jacket etiquette….ur doin it rong!”  Though he did it on purpose to irk me 😛  Anyway, good company, great pasta and merlot at Al Dente-highly recommended!!

So after a long day, headed back to Back Bay for some much-needed rest…

Sunday, April 15

Knowing I wouldn’t get a lot of sleep this evening, I made sure to sleep in 🙂  And for brunch, seeked out my traditional day-before-race pancakes…finally wound up at Five Napkin Burger with a nice outside seat.  Yep, nice day for sitting outside…for running, not so much!!  And I even got a Bellini with my pancakes (don’t worry, I had lotsa water too)-figuring that any “racing” plans for the next day were out the window.  So after brunch, I hit up Newbury and Boylston streets for a little sightseeing and shopping.

At Niketown, I put a little shoutout to the Flyers on the wall.

I also got a sneak peek at the turn onto Hereford….

does this remind anyone else of that "hill" in the last mile in Chicago?

 

and Boylston…

view down Boylston, from Hereford. So close, yet so far away...good to know for tomorrow...

 

And of course, a pic at the finish line.  But I wouldn’t cross it yet-had to wait til the next day! 😉

Soon enough, was time for the “Last Supper”  aka pasta dinner with the Flyers 🙂  We had it at Papa Razzi, which we’ve eaten at before in previous years and this year I took the lead in organizing.  I booked this in February, but the best I could do was 4 tables of 4.  At first they had us all split up, but there was another party that was willing to switch tables with us so they could be near their friends…and vice versa.  (what were they thinking with the seating arrangements in the first place!)

one-half of the Flyer pasta party

 

So again, food and company were great, all exchanged expo chronicles, me and EA had eyes for the cute waiters…and of course conversation turned to this latest email we got from the B.A.A. today:

The weather situation continues to be a significant concern for Boston Marathoners. We have determined that the race will occur in a “red zone” which is considered an increased risk but acceptable for high-level elite runners.  However, it is not considered safe for unfit and novice runners.

We strongly recommend that unless you have met qualifying times for this race that you accept the deferment option from the B.A.A.

Anyone who has not run a qualifying time should also very strongly consider the deferment option.

Again, if you have any medical problems or if you under-trained, then please do not run this marathon.

Those who are running the race should run much slower, adding several minutes to your per mile pace.

Also important, please be sure to complete the emergency medical contact information on the reverse side of your bib.

Remember, unless you are acclimated to the weather conditions forecast for Monday, you should not run.

For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions.

So while a couple of us (not me!) were debating whether or not to still pursue their original goals, others (including me) were discussing what the revised goals should be.  And reminisced on Chicago 2010-as me, EA, DK, JS and NPT were all Chicago 2010 survivors.

As I said before, deferring wasn’t an option I was considering.  But given that several peeps were making sure I was aware-via Facebook, email, whatever-of this deferrment option, it kind of made me wonder…and I asked Coach T via email “Am I a total idiot for not taking the option to defer?”  His response?  “Run this race.   Your training is in. Relax. You cannot control what the New England weather will be, but you are fit, and tough. Good training trumps bad weather, every time.   Yes, I’ve seen the forecast. I trust your conditioning, and your courage. And you must as well.”

And that’s just what I will do.  There have been other occurances beyond Chicago (e.g., LTR in the Heatpocalypse) that showed that I do know how to be smart when the heat is on.

So after a bunch of good luck phone calls/texts/emails, and laying out the race outfit…

Flyer top, Lululemon shorty shorts, Brooks PureFlows. bailed on the pink compression sox due to the weather.

 

…and all my other necessities for the next day, was time to get my beauty sleep for what will prove to be a helluva day…

Race day to follow in the next installment!

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winter training and me

So I received a nice little reminder in my email inbox today.

Thanks for addressing me as a Boston Marathoner. Thanks also for reminding me I have less than 10 weeks left to train.

Oh the irony that the B.A.A. specifically says they hope that “everyone’s Winter training is going well” because honestly, all I’ve been thinking over the last couple of weeks is that if I didn’t have this to train for, I wouldn’t bother making any goal races for earlier in the year, and save them for the summer (yes, you heard that right) and the fall.

As for the mileage, with the exception of the one week that was derailed by illness, I’ve been on track, getting it all in, getting the intervals, tempos, hills, long runs done.  The problem?  I don’t seem to have the speed I had last summer.  My intervals and tempos are definitely slower than usual.  What was supposed to be a fun last 5 miles on my long run last weekend as a group run to City Bakery turned out not-so-fun when I got dropped because I couldn’t speed up to anything faster than a 9 minute pace (which last year was my go-to-long run pace, mind you.)  And mentally it gets to me.  These speeds aren’t worthy of a Boston Qualifier.  What right do I have to be running Boston?  How the hell did they ever let me into the race in the first place?

That aside, I do feel that in many ways, winter training just does not agree with me.  I know a lot of you love running in the winter, but hear me out.  And even with this winter being milder than normal, it’s still not ideal weather for me.  Outside of running, in the spring and summer, I like to be out and about.  Cold weather makes me want to hibernate.  Which leads to less sunlight which leads to vitamin D deficiency which leads to tired and cranky me.  And I’ve noticed it’s much easier to eat better in summer (love watermelon and berries that are plentiful and in-season in the summer!) whereas now we gravitate towards more comfort foods and hot chocolate (or in the case of City Bakery, a melted chocolate bar.  I did run 15.5 miles to earn that though!)

Motivation?  With the exception of my speed/tempo workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s been a struggle to force myself out the door, even for long runs.  I miss all the organized long runs of last summer, and I’m not looking forward to doing all my 20’s on my own.  (Or even I have 18 on tap this weekend, which won’t be a picnic either.)  One disadvantage to our “hometown” marathon being in the fall I guess…

And just to add to my complaint list :-p  The fast stuff has been tough, my lungs do not deal well with having to breathe in cold, icy air, which is an issue with interval workouts and short races.  Guess the Cherry Tree relay in a week and a half will be interesting, huh?  Ideally I’d pass on all short races for a couple of months, but I got my arm twisted into this one, as I was originally planning on yes, the 10-miler as a training run.  Maybe this is why I got all my short distance PRs (the 4 and 5-milers) in the summer last year?  Hell, even my 5K PR was a summer race…

And maybe it was just too soon after NYCM to jump back into training.  Coach T has even said it himself, that the fall-then-spring marathon thing takes a lot out of you and he wishes most people would take the spring off after a fall marathon cycle (well not take it off, but not have a marathon as a goal race.)  And honestly, had I not already been registered for Boston, I would have had no desire to run another marathon in the near future.  But this may be my one and only chance, so I had to take advantage.

I know what you all are thinking, getting into Boston and running it is my dream, why aren’t I more excited?  Believe me, I am excited, I really wish I had a DeLorean to skip forward to April 16th 😛  It’s just all the putting in the work to get there.  There’s a difference between just going through the motions and stepping it up a notch, and I feel my training so far has been the former.  I am adjusting my goals, I don’t think I have a realistic shot at a PR or re-qualifying, but I do respect the distance, and would like to at least have a respectable performance that doesn’t end like it did in NYC.

For all of you who thrive on winter training…how *do* you do it?  How do you beat the winter blahs?

now that’s a birthday present!!

oh hi!  guess what?  i “aged up” today.  yes, as of today, I find myself in the 35-39 year old age group.

And I kept it quiet but I’m sure you guessed that last week I signed up for that certain marathon in April.  And to be honest, just the fact that I was able to register was a nice surprise, I totally expected registration to close with the BQ-5 peeps.  But wait?  My BQ-1:54 actually had a fighting chance?  But all i could do is wait til this week and hope fate was on my side.

So the B.A.A. announced that they will be announcing today who from the “5 minutes or less” group got in.  I checked my CC statement-the fact that the “hold” for the entry fee was still on there was a good sign.  Shortly after I saw my name in the entrants list…but maybe I was just hallucinating.  Finally, I got this email:

So wow.  Apparently it was close (I made it by 40 seconds) but I got in.  Doesn’t mean I don’t feel heartbreak for those who were oh-so-close too but didn’t get in…as grateful as I am that I’m in, it’s still a little bit bittersweet.  But damn, couldn’t have been a better day for me to get this news.  (And I guess Boston doesn’t hate all Yankees fans…lol)

But does this mean that I’m just gonna cruise through NYCM?  No way, Jose.  There’s bigger and better goals to be had.

Here’s to the next age group-thankfully already getting off to a good start! 🙂

was it all for nothing?

Yes, you all knew I was going there. That imma be blogging about this week’s hot topic.

Unless you have been living in isolation with no access to Facebook, Twitter, internet forums…hell, the Internet in general, then you know that registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon closed almost as fast as it opened.  8 hours and 3 minutes to be exact-unbelievable.  And honestly, I predicted it would fill fast.  I had a feeling that those running NYC and even MCM would get shut out for 2011.  My guess was that it would close in a week.  But a day?  Whoa.  Yep, I know there were medical deferrals from last year, spots reserved for Europeans who couldn’t make it to Boston due to the volcano, then everyone who qualified in Philly (or other late fall marathons) and even those who qualified in NYC and didn’t register in time were not gonna make that same mistake twice.

I know what you’re all thinking-I have my BQ time for 2012, I don’t need to fret-right?  Wrong. 

Who knows what is going to go down for the 2012 race.  Tightened qualifying standards?  Adjustment of the qualifying period?  A lottery?  All of the above?

Tightened qualifying standards…I may not like them right now, but I completely accept that it may have to done to control the field size.  That said, if it does happen, I believe 2012 (if I get in) may be my one and only chance.  This is working on the assumption that any time modifications are made in 2013 and not 2012.  But who knows?

The one that really gets to me is the adjustment of the qualifying period for the 2012 race.  Originally, the FAQs said that September 25 was the beginning of the 2012 qualifying period, now it says the period is “under review.”

I do feel for others who may be screwed, but I’ll get to that shortly.  I’m gonna be selfish and focus on ME for a minute.  I can tell you right now, if one or the other happened for 2012-I will be very unhappy-because it’s like my fate wasn’t in my own hands.  I have full reason to believe on October 10, 2010-at the time of the race I ran a legitimate BQ time for 2012-as I did meet the following criteria:

Qualifiers must meet the designated time standard that corresponds with their age group.   The qualifying times are based upon each athlete’s age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which they are participating. 

Check-as I will be 35 on April 16, 2012, my BQ time is 3:45:59 or better.  I actually finished almost 3 minutes under that particular standard.  (and for those who don’t think it’s fair that I ran my qualifying time when I was still 34-please tell me when the hell I’m allowed to run my qualifying marathon for the next age group.  Or maybe I should yell at my dad for not getting my mom knocked up sooner in order to give me a birthday earlier in the year than September. )

Before the FAQ page was updated on Tuesday,  the rules on October 10, 2010 (and even a few days after!) stated this: “The qualification window for the 2012 Boston Marathon opened on September 25, 2010. Any marathon run on a certified course after that date is eligible for application into the 2012 Boston Marathon.”

Check-ummm last time I checked a calendar, October 10, 2010 was after September 25, 2010.

So on the day of the Chicago Marathon, I had every reason to believe that I had qualified for the 2012 Boston Marathon.  I qualified fair and square, no ifs, ands or buts.  You all know me, and know I did my homework to confirm that would be the case 🙂  But now there is a possibility of that privilege being taken away from me-and that I didn’t know soon enough to adjust.  If I knew then that a 3:45 would have been no good, and that Chicago wasn’t gonna be my day for 3:40 (or faster if need be), I at least would have had the option of dropping at the half and trying again the following weekend.  Or if October 10 was going to be before the qualifying window for 2012, picking a different, later race with enough notice to train appropriately or even to sign up before it gets closed out!

This quote was from someone on the Boston Marathon’s Facebook page:

“But there is nothing like the thrill of finishing a marathon KNOWING that you have BQ’d.

So this time around, if all goes well and I finish on schedule then the full exhilaration will be watered down as I will not know if I did or did not qualify for the holy grail.”

I feel it relates to me in a way.  As happy as I was on race day, now I’m honestly feeling down about this.  Like I put in all this work and it very well may have been for nothing if the rule changes eliminate me from contention for 2012.  I feel like it’s a lose-lose situation for me.  If the standards don’t let me in for 2012, I lose because I miss out.  If I do make it in for 2012, I get to feel guilty for being there for being “too slow” (even though again, as of October 10, 2010-I did have a legitimate qualifying time.)  Tell ya’all what, I’ll asterisk my Boston time if it’ll make you feel better…mmmmkay?

And I’m sure the first thing everyone will say is to “just sign up for another marathon and BQ there.”  If you may remember, I would really like to take 2011 off from marathoning to give my body a break and to avoid burnout-to be honest I was feeling a little burned out just prior to the taper this time.  Maybe I look too long term/big picture, but that’s how I roll.  Secondly-I do not want to put down the money for another marathon now and have to eat the cost if indeed my Chicago time is good and running another marathon is not necessary.  That goes for others who are in my situation-running another marathon may not be an option…you can’t just assume that someone has the time and money to run another one-not to mention the body holding up.  Not all runners are made to run multiple marathons in a short period of time.  I am looking ahead to and do want to plan a race/training strategy for 2011-but everything is so up in the air now…

Plus-and as of now, this is the case for those running marathons this weekend, and MCM the next, NYCM the week after, etc…we still don’t know what the 2012 standards will be. (Or as I saw elsewhere…analogy is like trying to hit a moving target.)  Or if the race we run is going to be on a day that will be good for qualifying for 2012.  Or those who got closed out of the 2011 race and don’t know if their times will be good for 2012-which for some would definitely be a double whammy.  It just seems like everything is in a holding pattern right now, which is not cool. 

Finally-I do have to say I’m saddened at some of the things I’ve seen said or written this week.  I remember being told years ago (even before I really got into running!) that “runners are the nicest people ever”…hasn’t seemed to have been the case lately. I’ve seen more personal attacks on people than I want to see…between this person not deserving to run Boston, that person is too slow to run Boston, this person is an elitist, my friend didn’t make it in because of so-and-so who has no right to register and took his/her spot, its so easy to BQ so if you didn’t/can’t get it you’re not working hard enough.  You know-after Club Champs 4 years ago, I was interviewed by NYRR after the race, and I remember really feeling a great sense of community.  Like even though we run for different teams, in a way we’re all in this together.  I can’t say I’ve felt that’s been the case in the last few days.

All in all-I’m happy for those who did get in, and sorry for those who for whatever reason, couldn’t.  And thanks for letting me vent.  I’m sure this is gonna be a lively discussion…