Rather than write a true 2016 Boston Marathon race report, here are answers some questions I suspect some mother runners are wondering. I’ll dive more deeply into my Boston Marathon experience—both training and the race itself—in the AMR podcast that’ll air on Friday, April 29. Stay tuned!
What was your time?
4:34:49. Going into Boston Marathon training, one of my mains goals was to beat my 2012 Boston time, which was 4:43 due to extreme heat. I’m proud I achieved that goal, although I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t dreamed of a faster finish. My coach, Briana Boehmer, told me a few days pre-race she felt I was poised to run one of my strongest marathons ever. But the weather—and I suspect the course’s net downhill in first half—conspired against me.
But I also just remembered one of my goals was to finish in under 4:15, and most folks finish times were about 20 minutes slower than they were shooting for…so by that standard, I nailed my goal! #GlassHalfFull
Heard it was hotter than expected. What’s up with you bringing stark sunshine and high temps to Boston in April?
I know, I know: I need to turn down my Mary Sunshine tendencies! While the mercury didn’t climb as high as it did when I ran in 2012 (88-degrees), it was way too hot for a late-morning start (high 60s/low 70s). And hardly any shade in the first half of the course, which was rough. It really took it’s toll, and wore me (and many runners) down. Thankfully, coastal breezes greeted us around Mile 16, so temps dropped some, but the damage had been done.
How did your ankle fare?
Amazingly well! My ankle rarely bothered me in training, but sometimes the inner side of my Achilles felt tight. From about Mile 8-17, my Achilles decided to complain, and it caused me concern. Then it shut up. But my Achilles started shrieking as I walked (hobbled) from the finish area to the hotel. I iced it and started dosing with new-for-me Hyland’s homeopathic tablets called ArniSport. I was really concerned about the pain in my Achilles and how badly my quads (and even toes!) were cramping in the first hours post-race. Amazingly, I woke up Tuesday feeling better than I have after most of my 13 marathons. I’m giving ArniSport credit as my legs were pretty much in agony in the final miles and post-race.
Did the Newton Hills make you their b*tch?
How I attacked the infamous hills is one of the two things I’m most proud about my #Boston2016 (the other is my strong finish). I realized early in the race—by Mile 8 or 9—it was not my day to run a “fast” race (see Heat, above). From that point until about Mile 12, I struggled. The crowds were somewhat sparse in sections (thank you, Natick, for turning out in force!) and the course was sun-baked and not terribly interesting to look at. (No disrespect.) Always wanting to pull a positive element out of a less-than-ideal situation, I decided my race-redemption would be to charge the Newton Hills, and pick off people on the uphills. I really leaned in and played flashbacks of hills Molly and I had tackled in training.
After leaving Heartbreak Hill and its sister hills in my rearview mirror at Mile 21, I knew the course was a net downhill, which wasn’t the relief it should have been. My quads and hip flexors were fairly thrashed by that point, so descents were bittersweet: easier on the cardio system, but fairly torturous on the legs. Thankfully, there were numerous climbs in those final 5.2 miles, and as I approached each one, I talked myself up. As in, I said in my head, “Excellent! Another hill: I am crushing hills today!” and “Fantastic: You can charge up this hill!” (Honestly: I “uttered” those full, silly sentences in my muddled mind in the final miles!)
Did you hear me cheering for you?
I can’t begin to express how strongly it motivated me and buoyed my spirits every time I heard someone shout, “Run strong, Sarah Bowen Shea!” or “Go, Champy!” Or “Yeah, SBS!” I tried to give a wave or thumbs up every time I heard personalized cheers.
Did you pee your capris rather than stop in a port-a-potty?
Oh, you know me so well!! I copped a squat in the starting corral (telling my friend Nicole to move as the puddle was migrating toward her shoes!), pretending to tie my shoes. Then around Mile 17 or 18, I peed a bit (on purpose) in my Saucony Bullet Capris. But the heat + wind really negated the need to pee, despite drinking a lot during the race.
Oh, and I was very impressed: I saw another female runner drop trou mere feet from the race course. I assumed she was merely peeing, but I didn’t look long enough to see for sure.
Did you talk to yourself in the third person?
Not as much as I did in my BQ marathon. Instead, I switched things up and often used the second person—a lot of “you are strong!” and “you are crushing the hills!” (Always with exclamation points.)
Kiss any Wellesley “girls?”
Not just one, but two! Perhaps to make up for not smooching any gals in 2012.