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Boston Marathon 2012 Recap: 3:09:28

April 19th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts

Never, ever, did I think the day on which I ran my slowest marathon would be one of the happiest.

But Monday was exactly that: a new personal worst time and a new favorite marathon experience. I can honestly say I have never been as happy during or after a marathon as I was on Monday. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been this purely happy at a race since college. I think I’m still glowing from it (but more likely, it’s the sunburn).

Ignore my awful form & lack of abs. Pay attention to my smiling, happy face!

It’s no secret: I like to run fast. I am internally competitive and incredibly driven by time goals. Sometimes I think a bit too much of my happiness depends on my running goals, but that’s a story for a different day. You all know Boston was my big race to break 3:00…believe I mentioned it in just about every post for the past two months. I thought I’d be heartbroken if I didn’t; what could possibly be wrong with me if I couldn’t pull it off in a race? For the 2nd time?

On Sunday before the race, I readjusted my expectations. Well shit, I likely wasn’t going to run under 3:00 or close to it. I didn’t want to be an idiot in this heat, run too fast, and suffer for it. Quite simply, I had to respect the weather and accept the fact I couldn’t control anything but my mindset. I could choose to soak in the experience and remain positive, or dwell in the disappointment and frustration. I chose the former.

We have to run the whole way back?

I met Alex and her friend Neal to board the buses to Hopkinton around 6:20 in the morning. My hotel was a quick 2 minute walk to Boston Common so I didn’t have to travel far. The bus ride was long, and I realized we’d soon be retracing our route by foot. The entire pre-race experience was so much more mellow than my experiences the last 2 years at NYC– the village was calm and non-herd-like, bag check was in close proximity to the waiting area, porta potties weren’t crazy, and we were just fine getting into our starting corral with 10 minutes ’til race time. The relaxed atmosphere certainly soothed any nerves pre-race.

Once we left our shady resting area in the starting village and hit the sun, I started getting hot and nervous. Before bag check, I made the last minute decision to race in a sports bra vs. my CPTC singlet. I’m aware that this sounds really vain, but I didn’t feel comfortable racing in sports bra. Despite being in my best marathon shape running-wise, I’ve gained about 8 pounds since I started this training cycle..and it’s not all muscle. I don’t worry about my weight too much as I always tend to gain during marathon training, and I’d rather be faster & stronger but a few lbs heavier, but this is the highest weight I’ve ever been at in my life. I’m not sure what’s going on (or it could simply be more drinking..ha), but probably warrants a separate post. Anyways, a soggy, heavy singlet felt like it’d be a burden so sports bra it was. And now, I hate every one of my race pictures but will post them on the Internet anyways.

I’m currently without the USB to plug in my watch to get all of my splits, so we’ll just have to go off the official race splits & pace at each of them for now. I’m also too lazy to calculate each individual 5K split so the paces are cumulative.

“Welcome to Hopkinton, It All Starts Here!”

  • 5K- 21:36 (6:57 pace)
  • 10K- 43:23 (6:59 pace overall)

The gun went off and as soon as we crossed the starting line, I started smiling. This was so cool. Seeing the packed crowd of runners ahead trail down the narrow street was so surreal. The streets/bridges are so much wider in New York City, I hadn’t ever witnessed anything like it. I was running the BOSTON MARATHON! Everything about it was so novel.

Alex and I decided to keep the early splits steady– with a few under 7. We clicked off mile after mile and I felt comfortable aerobically. It took a bit to shake dullness from my legs, and I noticed sweat starting to pour down very early on. We ran through Ashland and Framingham, simply taking in the sights and grabbing fluids at just about every stop. When people are already walking at mile 4, you know it’s going to be a long day.

We're running a marathon in 86 degree weather! This is so much fun!!!

“Entering Natick”

  • 15K- 1:05:30 (7:01 pace overall)

At mile 10, Alex told me she wasn’t feeling great and needed to back off a bit. I didn’t want to leave her since I wanted my running buddy, but she urged me to go ahead. So into the sun and heat I went solo: comfortable, confident, and happy. I knew I could continue to click off that pace easily, since we never really ‘red-lined’ the pace early. I wasn’t in the hole, I was cruising. My pace at 15K was pretty on par with the 5K and 10K marks.

Around mile 11, my stomach really started to bother me. I kinda had to pee when I started and the feeling hadn’t dissipated like it usually does. And the sugary Gatorade was not sitting well. I’m not used to taking in so much Gatorade and sugars while running, but I knew I needed the extra electrolytes to keep hydrated. I started to notice there weren’t very many portapotties along the course and hoped the feeling would pass.

“Kiss me I’m  ________”

  • 20K- 1:27:39 (7:03 pace overall)
  • Half-Marathon- 1:32:59 (7:05 pace overall) – bathroom stop @ mile 13

As we approached the shady streets of Wellesley, someone said, “Can you hear it?” I tuned in and took in the deafening sounds from ahead. It was incredible. As we approached, I drew right and stuck out my hand, high-fiving the entire throng of girls with a ridiculous grin on my face. I actually think I was laughing at this point– were the signs really funny, was I having a blast, or was I already delirious? All three, probably.

After the deafening screams, I still couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling and had to stop to go to the bathroom right before mile 13. I have never stopped during a race before- it’s always been my biggest fear. I was a bit bummed that I lost around 45 seconds, but better to have a happier stomach on a non-PR day than one where time mattered.

Quads, meet hills.

  • 25K- 1:53:33 (7:07 pace overall)
  • 30K- 2:13:37 (7:10 pace overall)

As we wound through the downhills, my quads started to feel a bit off. I knew it was only going to be a matter of time until the steady pace started feeling a bit harder to maintain. I tried to stay controlled on the downhill to keep my quads intact, but my pace was slowing to around 7:15. I wanted so badly to cruise down the hills, but I knew it was smarter to hold back. There were hills ahead!

My mom was supposed to be stationed at mile 16, but we completely missed each other! I looked for her on the sidelines, but it was so packed and we had pretty poor planning. Once I hit the gel stations at 17, I knew I definitely missed her. My pace slowed as we climbed the Newton Hills, but I just focused on making it up and staying as relaxed as possible.

Hills are not my strength and never have been. Maybe it was the slower pace, but I didn’t think they were too bad. Yeah, they come at a sucky time in the race right after some steep downhills that kinda rip up your quads, but they’re relatively spaced out to allow enough recovery between. I was expecting more back-to-back hellacious climbs.

And all of the sudden, we were on Heartbreak Hill. People were stopping. Spectators shuffling alongside runners, offering water and ice. I just focused on powering up and passing people. Suddenly, I reached the top and broke into the BC crowds and instantly felt a wave of relief! The worst was over.

Almost home, rockstar.
  • 35K- 2:36:28 (7:11 pace overall)
  • 40K- 2:59:22 (7:13 pace overall)

The crowds at BC were my absolute favorite. Heartbreak Hill was over and I powered down a sweet, steep downhill. The college kids made you feel like a rockstar. I high-fived and smiled this entire mile and recall clocking a 6:55 down it. I had a second wind!

But that spurt was a bit short-lived, as I continued to coast until I finally hit the wall around mile 23. My quads had been fading bit by bit up until that point, but 23 was where my body really started to shut down and feel the heat. My run felt like more of a shuffle. 7:20 and 7:30 pace was harder to maintain. I tried to grab a gel from my pocket, but my hands & shorts were all wet and it slipped from my hands…and I was too tired to stop and pick it up. I kept pushing forward bit by bit. I saw my CPTC teammates around mile 25 which gave me a boost. I felt myself trying to push the pace, but struggling in frustration to do so. I actually made the conscious decision to stop trying to push faster and simply relax and get to the finish. Time was out the window, so why make it stressful? Relax. Breathe. Enjoy the sights.

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston…

The turn onto Hereford felt like an eternity, but I started smiling the moment I hit Boylston Street and saw the finish line– there’s my silly grin in the first picture up top. I did it. Here I was. I could still break 3:10? What’s happening? Why do we have to move to the left side? Why can’t I run in a straight line? Should I throw my hands up when I finish? How many guys can I outkick? Why is this the longest .2 miles ever?!

Finish. 3:09:28, 7:14 pace overall. 58th female finisher, 994th overall finisher.

My slowest marathon by 5 minutes. Off my PR by 6, and off my goal time by 10+. I know it could have gone much worse. Even now, I don’t know how I still managed to run this pace in the conditions. Without the stupid bathroom stop, it would have been in the 3:08s. I am proud to say that I ran a smart race. I started conservatively and kept my head on straight, focusing and soaking in the experience: something I don’t always do when I’m gunning for a PR. I’m also proud that my hard training paid off in some capacity.

In 2011, the 58th female finisher ran 2:54; In 2010, 2:56. I realize this comparison is unsubstantiated, but I wanted to see how my performance, relatively, would have fared on an average day. I am confident that a 3:09 in Monday’s conditions is easily a 2:59 or under. While it is a bit frustrating to not have been able to cash in my training and hit that time on Monday, it’s simultaneously very comforting. It confirms that I’m right there, just like I knew I was. I am fit now, and I can be fit again for Chicago in October. My confidence is actually boosted, given what I was able to achieve on Monday and what could have been achieved, speculatively, on a cooler day.

See ya in two weeks, Big Sur Marathon! Love, Lindsay & Alex.

I suppose I only have my two experiences at NYC to compare to, but the crowds in Boston were incredible. Like no other.  I preferred the atmosphere of Boston over NYC. Maybe it was the heat of the day, but I loved the throngs of supporters- from little kids with ice pops to the fire department’s cooling tunnels. Everyone came together to make it a race I’ll never forget. I couldn’t have done it without the incredible spectator support, offering ice cubes to stick down my sports bra and cold sponges to soak over my head. Their water was colder than the sun-soaked cups at the aid stations. For a really well-written description of the race atmosphere on Monday, check out this article on Boston.com that sums it up beautifully.

Thank you to those who cheered on Monday & spotted me, including Susan (who wins best spectator as she saw me in 3!!! spots!), KellyLizzy, Lauren, Brenda, the CPTC gang, coworkers Kara and Emily, Erica, and I’m probably forgetting more. And reader Freddie who spotted me at the finish! I could not have done it without your support on the course. And everyone for tracking from afar, and texting, calling, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming and any other method of communication. I felt very, very, very loved and supported before, during and especially after.

On Monday, I reminded my overly stubborn self that running is about so more than PRs; I run because I love it. That pure love and sheer enjoyment drew me into the sport and has kept me here for 11 years. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. I hope I haven’t become too robotic and numbers-driven to forget that. I am so proud of my 3:09, and happy to say it’s not always about the numbers. Sometimes, it’s simply about enjoying the run. 

And of course, celebrating with drinks & friends after.

And now, decompressing for a week before jetting out to CA for the Big Sur Marathon as part of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. Big Sur’s hilly course is not conducive to a PR, so I won’t be gunning for sub-3 there as a redemption/’B’ race as a few friends suggested. Even if it was a flat, fast course, I’d still just run it relaxed. My body needs a break and I don’t care how slowly we run it. I probably won’t even run more than once or twice before the 29th. If I can steal a memorable quote from the BAA, “this is not a race, it is an experience.”

Thank you again for continuing to follow me along on this journey! While for a different reason than originally planned, Boston 2012 will have an incredibly special place in my heart.

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50 Responses

  • Jena says:

    WOW! You’re a rock star! Your recap had me a little teary – you had/have such a great attitude considering the conditions of Monday! Congrats on a well run race !

  • Lauren says:

    Congratulations Lindsay!! You ran so well on Monday. And even more importantly – I loved your attitude about the entire race! I think it is awesome that you took the crappy conditions you were given and just embraced it as part of your whole Boston experience. I love that you were smiling most of the way – not sure if I can say that about any marathon I’ve run…ever! You are such a strong runner. 3:09 is a great time any day, and in those conditions, it is incredible! I’m so glad you enjoyed your experience in Boston and hope you are starting to recover for Big Sur!

    • Haha, I don’t think I’ve really ever smiled and laughed the way I did during a marathon before. I felt kinda silly but loved it. Now if only I could continue to do so during every race…Thanks again for cheering!!

  • Stacey says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while. Congrats on a great race in that heat! I was down in Kenmore (at mile 25) cheering and saw you! I was waving the green KICK ASSphalt sign. You looked so great and finishing with that kind of speed was incredible to see. You definitely have a sub-3 in you. I’m glad you loved Boston and goodluck in October! :)

  • Kelly says:

    Seriously Linds, I have been thinking about you since seeing your smiling face at about mile 23.75. You ran an awesome race, but I’m most impressed by your attitude, the joy you exuded the entire race and the fact that you completely soaked up the experience. it’s exactly why I love running (and why I MUST run Boston someday soon). You have inspired me, lady. Can’t wait to celebrate with you!! Also, I love that you’re smiling in your pictures! You look great :)

  • Jenn says:

    You are amazing – that is all! Way to go!

  • Katie says:

    Oh wow, I loved reading this! You make me want to go out and run NOW! You’re so inspiring– from your sheer athleticism to your awesome attitude! Congratulations and best of luck at Big Sur!

  • Freddie says:

    As reader/runner I know how easy it is to lose touch with why we run but seeing and meeting you at the finish line on Marathon day was a true inspiration. Not only was the smile on your face beautiful but you captured the true meaning of running Boston. Myself being a Bostonian, we try to show everyone who comes here to run that this marathon is suppose to be life changing and a must do race. I can not thank you enough for providing me with such a great blog but also someone who I can relate to and deals with the same issues as a runner. You are simply beautiful and a great runner and your ROCKSTAR for finishing the marathon in tough weather.

    • Hey Freddie- thanks again for spotting me at the finish and for your kind words, what a small world! Most of all, thank you for volunteering on Monday, all of the racers couldn’t have done it without support from everyone on the course and at the finish.

  • Meggie says:

    Umm, yeah, 3:09 is AMAZING to me on any day and in 86 degree heat I think it is AWESOME! Anyone who ran and finished is amazing to me! 86 degrees is no joke.

    So glad you had a great time — I always think it’s important to pull positive memories away from something like a marathon.

    Great attitude, great race, and I bet you got a jump start on your summer tan!

  • Kristy says:

    Your time is amazing! I was 50 minutes off my BQ time! I agree with everything you said…Boston is a race like no other and I can’t wait to run it again (under cooler conditions!).

  • AR says:

    You’re one of two people I’ve talked too that came within 10 minutes of their PR. Pretty impressive in the oven, because you can probably give yourself 30 seconds a mile for a similar effort in ideal conditions on that course, which would put you at about a 2:56 by my quick math.

    I had the same debate with the sports bra vs. singlet debate. Comfort won out over beer weight concern. HIGH FIVE.

    • Yeah, to come within less than 10 minutes of my PR is certainly very, very close considering these conditions. I feel really fortunate that it didn’t go worse- part of me doesn’t know if I got lucky or just wasn’t as affected by the heat as others? I can’t wait to hear all about your race– you did great, beer gut and all. High five! (or, should we belly slam?)

  • Christine says:

    um, yeah, you’re AMAZING! your positive attitude about running because you love it is contagious. 3:09 is a time to be so proud of on any day, but especially on monday at boston. cannot wait for you to run chicago! congrats – hope you’re celebrating with lots of beer, meatballs, and froyo. xoxo

  • I love this recap! Your attitude toward the “Boston Experience” was so refreshing and positive. Thanks for sharing your post race thoughts. Have fun with Big Sur!

  • baker says:

    Congrats Lindsay! It was one hell of a day right?
    I was talking you up on the train to some CPTC girls. They were like, “One of our teammates ran a 3:09 can you believe it?” I was like, “Um, yeah she did, Lindsay Kos, she killed it.” Nice work.

  • Ali says:

    I am so so so impressed with you, and not just because you were the 58th female finisher AT THE FRIGGIN’ BOSTON MARATHON. You ran a smart, strong race in ridiculous heat, and that’s all cool — but it’s your mature, always-positive attitude that just blows me away. You are such an admirable runner and it’s so fun cheering you on because you always have a smart takeaway from your training and racing experiences. I’m so glad Boston was an amazing day for you and I’m so proud of you and happy for you. We all know that sub-3:00 is going to happen no problem, and it’s going to be SO FUN when it does. Congratulations on a kick ass race. You’re the best.

  • jamie says:

    Woo hoo! Way to go girl – an inspirational post :-) You made me want to grab my running shows now!

    Great to see you yesterday – so impressed with all that you are accomplishing!

  • Pete B says:

    Congrats! Great recap. It is a lot easier to soak up the marathon atmosphere when you aren’t worried about pace. I picked up my packet at the Expo, but took the deferral due to the heat. My sub 3 will come in Chicago. Congrats again.

  • Jocelyn says:

    Congratulations!! Great recap! It was nerve racking watching your times on the athlete tracker, (i’m a stalker).

    Congrats on 58!!!!!!! BALLER.

  • Celia says:

    58th place is amazing! Had it not been so hot I think you would have definitely gone under 3. I really admire your ability to make the best of the situation and still run a really impressive race. Seriously. I know lots of people who ran like an HOUR slower. Actually I think you are the person I know who was closest to their PR! Have fun in Big Sur! I want to do that race some day!

  • Great race recap! Congrats on finishing strong and healthy. I am amazed by your pace given the day’s heat. You killed it! You can most certainly hit your goal. Congrats again!

  • Wow, I loved reading this recap – it sounds like Monday was such a surreal day for all who ran. Congrats on an EXCELLENT time, despite the heat. Very impressed. Best of luck gearing up for Big Sur – one of my bucket list marathons! Congrats again, Lindsay!!!

  • This entire post makes me so happy. Congratulations again — you are incredible!

  • You summed up the race (excuse me, the “experience”) and the spirit of the day SO well. I am a New Yorker through and through, but Boston melted my heart on Monday.

    The crowds were phenomenal and the cold ice and water sprinklers almost brought me to tears because they felt so good. CONGRATS on 58th place, baller. Can’t wait to see what you do in Chicago.

    Mmm, celebratory margaritas so soon.

  • Ellen says:

    Congratulations!! I was stalking you and so impressed by how hard you rocked it! Recover well and can’t wait to hear about big sur!

  • sofia says:

    you are a rock star. seriously! what an amazing race in these conditions. i like your description of how you kinda just got over what you expected out of yourself because of the conditions, and played the hand you (and all the other boston runners) were dealt. way to turn it around in your head! i’m sure your mental stamina helps with your speediness. and you’re just damn fast regardless. :P

  • Pedro says:

    Congrats! you did awesome!! despite the heat you did 3:09 which is a great great time.

    I run 114th B.M. (2010) and it not my best time (3:36) but was my best marathon ever! unforgettable, I ve run NYC, BOSTON, CHICAGO and MCM and I can say this is for sure Boston is a must do in you lifeas marathoner
    Best luck in BIG SUR, take care and easy!

  • Laura says:

    I love reading your blog and your recap on Boston is inspirational. Congratulations on a great race!

  • Wow! Your recap is amazing! You are so inspiring!! Congrats on the GREAT run!!!

  • Congrats on making the most out of an otherwise miserable day! I love that you smiled the whole race and still ran an AMAZING time. The conditions were horrible and definitely not PRable, but I think your race in the heat shows that you have sub-3 easily within reach.

    Don’t totally count out Big Sur, I ran within six minutes of my PR there! Now THAT’S a race you’ll definitely have a smile on your face for the entire way. :) Have fun!!

  • PS So fun seeing you THREE times! That’s the record.

  • Lizzy says:

    Lindsay, you rock! I’m sorry it took me so long to comment, I thought I had already! I loved loved your post. You are such an inspiration and such an amazing runner. A 3:09 in 90 degree weather would absolutely translate to sub 3 on a nice 50 degree day. You should be so proud of yourself. I was so happy I was able to see you briefly on the course and I knew right away you were killing it.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Boston and the course. I think for me it’s the streets I grew up on so it’s not as exciting as a big city marathon like NY where there is constantly something different to look at, different cultures and tons of fans. I also didn’t qualify so when I ran Boston, by the time I got to Wellesley there weren’t a ton of people out there supporting the slow pokes : )

    I’m so excited to see what you can do in Chicago! You’re such a rockstar!!!! Congrats again.

  • Maddy says:

    Congrats on dominating Boston!!! It took me 5 hours :) never again, I hope!

  • danielle says:

    incredible recap of an incredible race!

  • Awesome recap! Congratulations!
    My twin sister just qualified for the 2013 Boston Marathon and that’s a goal I doubt I’ll ever achieve but I’ll be happy to watch her run next year! :-)

  • David says:

    What an absolutely incredible race you ran on Patriot’s Day! So many people I know either went out way too fast and blew up or took it really easy. It seems like you found a perfect middle ground. If that was your slowest race it says two things about you (1) you really are wicked fast, and (2) under the right conditions, your sub-3 is in the bag.

  • Chels R. says:

    You are totally amazing to me!! Love it! CONGRATS :)

  • David Haas says:

    Hi,
    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?
    David

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