Sunday, 1 May 2016

My Take-aways from the Boston Marathon & Race Tips! :)

So with 2 weeks of Marathon Recovery behind me I feel like my body is attempting to return to it's normal state. I'm doing my best to get back on track with my regular HEALTHY eating habits, (for about a week anything in sight didn't stand a chance!), ease back into running and working out and just being tired like a normal person, not wanting to nap every spare minute of the day. Post marathon week I was so TIRED!

But it was all so worth it.

I am probably down from my marathon high now and with my recovery time I've had time to stop and reflect back on my training and race performance. There are a few things that I've taken away from the Marathon. Here they are:

1. You absolutely cannot control the weather! 
It's not possible. There's no point in wasting your pre-race energy obsessing over less than ideal race conditions. It really just stresses you out and I've learned to accept that the weather is going to do what it's going to do. I can only control how I react to it and how I dress accordingly. As I'm sure you noticed I did not train in warm sunny weather here in Nova Scotia. Instead I was prepared for a chilly/cool marathon. Nope. Matt and I checked into our hotel in Newton where the lady at the desk said, "Hi, Welcome to Boston! It's gonna be a hot one on Monday!" Just great. :S

So I took this screen-shot on Saturday and by Monday morning in the Athlete's Village the lady sitting next to me kept checking the temperature on her phone and while I sat with her it went from 69 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) to 71! This was an hour before I was even starting the run!!!! 
Obviously I was not thrilled to hear that I'd be battling the warm temperatures, so I just reevaluated my goals. Which brings me to the next one:

2. Have an A, B and a C goal! 
I know this one again is obvious but it's really important to be okay and accepting of each of your goals. It's one thing to tell your friends that you will simply be happy to finish, but will you? ;) I mean this seriously because you expect so much of yourself, especially after months of gruelling training, number crunching, split analysing, and visualisation but you never know what race day will bring, health wise and weather wise. When I first started running, my in laws (who are avid runners) told me that it all comes down to the day. And 7 years later I still think of that on race morning, especially when I was confronted with the heat on Marathon Monday!

I also like to make sure that my goals are within reason. I knew that shooting for a sub 3:35 in Boston would not be wise, especially after the halfway point when I saw people requiring medical attention. Instead I worked hard toward my B goal. And I am truly happy with that!!

3. Create a shield for the negative talk!
Everyone has doubts, even the best in the world. The trick is not to let them creep into your tired Marathoning mind. Instead have something to draw upon to dominate those thoughts. For instance, in the late stages of the race, I told myself that I should have trained longer, harder, more hills definitely, I'm tired, I should just pull off course and get picked up, I don't belong here, I'm not good enough...and the violin continues.

Then I reminded myself that no one would judge me for slowing down, even walking it in! I had so many awesome people supporting me and I thought of every single person who wished me good luck and I was given all the mojo you could imagine to pull it into the finish. I also realized that I wasn't suffering and I wasn't alone. I was FIGHTING for the finish with 30 000 other amazing athletes and being cheered along by nearly a million spectators!!! That's pretty amazing right? 

Not to mention I knew so many of my friends and family were tracking me, like this, LOL. It's a lot harder to give up when you have incredible support!
 4. Trust Your Training and the Taper!
Yes, you've heard this before, but REALLY do it!!!  There is so much time to psych yourself out in the week of your taper. My longest run was only 20 miles-how am I going to run another 10km?! Well, the reason for the magic taper is to recover and refresh the muscles, tendons and joints that you've really utilized over the past few months to allow you to feel fresh at the start. Give them a bit of a break so that they don't scream at you when you call on them come race day. ;) You should arrive at the start line itching to run, not over trained. Between the rested legs and adrenaline, you will get it! You've followed the plan, you've listened to your body and you've done all of the HARD WORK! Your marathon is a celebration of your dedication and training so be confident in yourself and enjoy it!
Just partying on the 
5. Plan your Fuel Strategy!
Know what works for you in training and STICK TO THAT in your marathon! If Johnny fuels with gels every 6 miles, but you've trained with fuelling every 5 DO THAT!  Don't try a new race fuelling strategy just because Johnny does and Johnny is fast, lol. Also plan where you will keep your fuel. I used my sports bra in Boston and all the sweating gave me a really nice painful chaffe mark when I showered! Normally I use a SPI belt for gels but thought not to pack it this time since my plan was to stash them in my arm warmers again. Well, due to the heat, I left the arm warmers at the hotel and ended up with a less than ideal stashing plan.
Seriously, check out the gels in my clevage! LOL
6. If you want it, work for it! (especially for my competitive know who you are lol).
I sometimes wish there were magical fairies that would carry you to the finish when the bottoms of your feet feel like you're walking on hot coals, your arm pits are on fire and your quads are slamming on the brakes, but there aren't.
This was me as I left Boston College... :(
Realizing that it isn't going to be easy peesy lemon squeezy and that every finish is earned, will help you cope with the final miles of fatigue and fighting. This is where your BFF Body glide comes in and those hydration stations to help get you through. I literlly felt slimy I had applied so much glide to my toes, thighs, armpits (except that one spot I missed), back, butt, lol, and I think that's it. It really helped!!!

I think if you are surprised or defeated when you feel pain you are more likely to stop fighting. But if you are mentally prepared to overcome it and run through it you will be more likely to endure it. Visualizing Burgers and Pizza always helps too! ;)

7. Have some freaking FUN out there! 
Research has shown that people have their BEST runs when they are happy! Hello, that's enough to convince me! ;) I had some of my best energy surges at Boston when I high fived the spectators! The kids were just trying their best to give you a good solid slap which was totally hilarious, and the Wellesley girls were just screaming and high 5ing! It was so cool. I smiled so much and tried to even grab a rose from a spectator during the last couple of miles, but I missed. Then I decided that it was probably a good thing because can you just imagine if I grabbed onto a thorn?! So, enjoy your run. Who wants to have marathon memories where you whined or just thought of the things that aren't going your way?! Right! Embrace all of the positive and take it all in! That finish is yours!!!!!!!!

8. Fuel After your Race Even if you Don't feel Like It! 
Take it from someone who didn't fuel post race due to nausea and then passed out in front of strangers on a Boston Subway. I always feel nauseous immediately after a marathon but there's a reason the volunteers give you protein, water and carbohydrates....YOU NEED THEM! You've depleted your body and it needs fuel, NOW!

The strangers on the subway were feeding me these and they made me feel so much better! 
 9. Plan a Celebration! 
Someone at the finish line gave me this free tee and I love it! Matt and I celebrated with an awesome burger and nachos!!!

 10.  Display your Bling!
You totally earned bragging rights and it is perfectly acceptable to wear your medal to work for the rest of that week!

 I'm in LOVE with my new medal rack made by Robyn at Deja Vu Decor! Check it out:

 11. Enjoy some REST! You've earned it!!! 


 This post has been dedicated to all of my friends AND MATT who have marathons coming up real soon!!!!  Good luck, run smart and have fun! You will be amazing!!!!

Also you might like the marathon week dos and don'ts  post I did. :)

Thanks for stopping by!
What advice would you give someone who is running a marathon? I am so not a pro for advice, these are just things I've learned.

Happy Running,
Heather :)


  1. Girl, your joy and your strength are so impressive when you run! I was cheering for you when I was tracking you! I knew it was hot and I just hoped you smiling and loving every step. I am glad you had such a great race.
    You made it to Boston, you are already in an elite percent of runners. It is smart to have the A B ad C goal. Given the right conditions, I had no doubt you could knock out a PR run, but sometimes the pace isn't the most important. You finished freaking Boston :) and I love how much you appreciate that!

  2. Great post...I find a lot of these are relevant for most races!!

  3. See and I was just thinking you should be doing advice posts more often because you run so many races and you have a wealth of knowledge!!! I need to keep reading stuff like this. I just signed up for a marathon on Sept 11 and I feel soooooooooo out of the loop. Last marathon I did was Boston'14.

  4. Great takeaways! I especially like #6 - if you want it, work for it! Words of wisdom! Have a great week!

  5. Love these! #3 - since I haven't tapered for a full -that is helpful to know! Love 4 as well.
    Hope to see you at Bluenose!

  6. I love that, despite being a seasoned racer, you still learn things from your races!