Boston 2016 Race Recap

Turning onto Boylston. 385 feet of the greatest stretch in marathon history.

The turn onto Boylston has been called the greatest 385 yards in marathon history.

 

It’s been said that everyone who finishes the Boston Marathon has their own great moment in sports.  Here is mine.

That strawberry blonde ponytail in the picture, that’s my friend Amber and any success I had in Boston, she deserves a large portion of the credit.  Her last marathon was the Olympic Trials and she gave up her elite entry at Boston to run with me.  Ever generous, selfless, and inspiring-Amber is one of the best people I know.  Racing confidence is something that I struggle with so going into a challenging course, chasing BIG dreams, knowing the day would be warm, and feeling a little homesick, I really leaned on her.  Our plan was to run to the 20 mile mark and make a decision.  We would either race to the end or call it a training run and focus on Plan B (details on that are coming soon), but there was a little magic out on the course last Monday, and a whole lot of prayers.

Pre-race:

We loaded the buses around 6:30 and arrived at Athletes Village about an hour later.  We had purchased $12 Boston rain ponchos at the expo to stay warm (garbage bags would have worked just fine and been more economical), but the morning was already heating up, so we used them as makeshift picnic blankets and spread our legs out and worked a little more on that knee to mid thigh tan.  I topped off my previous three days of carb loading with a strawberry Poptart. There is something about those simple, sugary carbs that provide great energy right before a race.  Sunday night,  I had called my husband and the last thing I told him was that I needed some powerful inspiration in the morning.  The poor guy’s response was , “Like what?” and I assured him he would know what I needed.  Right before I turned the notification services off of my phone, I watched a 5 second video of my beautiful daughter that he had sent.  She said, “Good luck mommy, I love you, run fast.”  It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Miles 1-6

I was in Wave 1/Corral 8, we started at 10 am with the elite men.  I knew the start would be slow with a sea of neon colored runners spread out for miles…26.2 to be exact.  I had decided not to start my music until mile 6 which was a great decision.  It gave me time to take in some of the race sights, the energy from the crowd and other runners, and get into a groove.  We ranged around 7 minutes and Amber commented to not get comfortable here.  This is such great wisdom to not settle into a pace that’s not your goal.  My favorite spectators were two girls who kept yelling, “This ain’t no hill!” That mantra stuck with me through the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill.  I just kept repeating that over and over in my mind ever grateful for the encouragement from the crowd.

Miles 6-20

We hit the halfway mark at 1:30:39, I had hoped we would be around 1:27 so that we had a little wiggle room for the hills that were still coming.  Amber kept saying, we can do it, but it’ll be close. My first water stop in the race I had tried to do that ridiculous thing where I keep running and drink and just end up getting water in my nose, so I stopped.  I made a choice to come to a full stop, drink a cup and splash another cup on me.  Amber kept running and I would catch up to her.  I know that choice cost me time, but my last marathon was disastrous because I failed to hydrate.  I was determined not to repeat that mistake again, knowing that you have to stay on top of hydration.  The day was getting warmer, I felt hot, I even had to tuck my race singlet under my sports bra to get some air and cool down my core.  However, this section of the race inspired me the most.  I ran past a woman with running with one leg, a man that was a double amputee, Team Hoyt, a woman fighting cancer, and a man pushing his disabled wife.  There is so much greatness on a marathon course.  I found myself utterly inspired by the courage, love, and true grit I was lucky enough to witness.

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Making our choice. I can’t believe the cameras caught this moment.

Miles 21-26.2

After Heartbreak Hill, Amber turned to me and said, “What do you want to do?  You have to make a choice now.  Are we going to push it to the finish line?”  I remember thinking let’s do it.  We hit the 35K mark (almost 22 miles) at 2:31:19.  I wasn’t positive that my sub 3 dream was out of reach yet, I felt a lingering glimmer of hope and a last surge of determination to give it my all. There are some moments in a marathon that feel a little desperate.  At this point, I was praying for strength, begging that my legs could keep going, I think I even asked for an angel, some type of divine intervention.  The answer that came to my mind was look up and look around. The crowd, the people, the runners, the city-I knew I wasn’t alone, with that certainty in my heart, those last miles flew.

The last 5 miles looked like this according to my Garmin:

22-6:38

23-6:30

24-6:29

25-6:05

26-6:20

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When we crossed the finish I turned to Amber and said, “I’m happy!”  and I really was.  There is so much triumph in crossing a finish line.  For a select few it means winning, sometimes we’re lucky enough for it to be a PR, but most of the time it’s a celebration of the human spirit, and isn’t that the most amazing thing of all.

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My official time was 3:00:45

Breaking a 3 hour marathon is still my own personal unicorn.  I’m not ready to give up on that dream, if anything this journey taught me to have confidence in my own ability, and I feel the fire for that goal still burning bright.  The marathon distance changes us from mere mortals to heroes who run with our hearts, who push beyond limits that would stop any rational person, and who pursue greatness.  I am so grateful for this experience and so grateful to all of you for your support and encouragement.  Happy running friends!

What’s your favorite running experience?

I would love to answer any questions you have about this race, ask away! 

19 thoughts on “Boston 2016 Race Recap

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Jennifer you are the sweetest! Thank you for being such an awesome friend. And can I just say-right back at you!

  1. Molly says:

    Way to go Katie! I am so inspired by you! Thank you for sharing your journey!
    What do you typically eat before a race? And what are your favorite foods to eat while carb loading?

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Hi Molly,
      Thank you so much! I really learned and lived the benefit of proper carb loading this time around. For the 3 days leading up to the marathon I had oatmeal for breakfast, a sweet potato and lots of veggies for lunch, and I always eat rice cereal the night before a race. Additionally I add in lots of extra fruit and even bread. I hope that helps. Happy running!

  2. Jen Knox says:

    Great race !!! I mean if you did that in Boston imagine what you could do with cooler temps and flatter course ! I enjoyed tracking you !!! Love that you and your friend ran together ! What a bond ! Have you always been able to do 6 min miles or have you trained to get that fast? What is the benefit of the compression socks? They seem like they would get hot and annoying 🙂
    Kudos!!!!!!

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Hi Jennifer! I loved getting to run with my friend, she is amazing! My coach really had me focus on increasing speed and training to hold a tempo. We specifically trained with a pickup at the end of each long run ranging from 3-5 miles. It really paid off! I’ve never had that kind of speed at the end of a marathon before. I love running in compression socks. A lot of the fabrics are breathable and I feel like they increase my blood flow. They are great for after a long run too, they seem to help my muscles recover. I just ordered these from Procompression and they had a buy one get one half off so I couldn’t resist. Happy running!

  3. Nikki Del Vecchio says:

    Hi Katie!! I remember emailing you a few weeks back and you were so inspiring and positive in my struggles if I could complete my first marathon and although I didn’t finish as fast as you did Monday, I finished! Your blog and your posts have been soo inspiring to me and I hope you know how amazing you truly are! I’m so curious, what are your next racing plans? Do you have another full or half marathon coming up!

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Nikki! That is such exciting news! Congratulations! Thank you so much for your kind words, I’ve got a Plan B in the works, but I want to see how my legs feel this week. Happy running and I hope you went out and celebrated!

  4. Mike @FitFriend says:

    Holy wow! This race reads like a dream. Those last 5 mile splits – what in the world?! 😀

    In the lead up to all of my major goal races, there’s always 1 recap that inspires me more than anything else, and going into my marathon next week, this is the one I’ll be reading over again! Thank you, I’ve loved following your journey on IG and will be cheering for you for your next race. This is a very good PR and well executed race, and in conditions that so many others fell apart on. Just amazing!

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Thank you so much Mike, that means so much to me. My last marathon was a bonk so it was really rewarding to have the race come together like it did. I wish you the best of luck next week! Happy running!

  5. Don Brown says:

    What a great story and I love the way you told it. I too know what it’s like to not hit a race goal. It was heartbreaking at first but after reflection I found myself being satisfied with myself and my efforts. I realized I was fortunate enough to be able to run and should enjoy that and my goal was just a “time”. You ran a great race!!!
    I too cannot run and drink water; it gives me huge stomach cramps. It’s funny now but not so much at the time of the race. 🙂
    What is your next race? I use the Clif goo’s right before a race, do you use those or something else. I have been thinking of using something with caffeine. Any recommendations? I have been struggling with having energy and I think it’s nutrition. Great job on your race.
    Don

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Hi Don,
      I couldn’t agree more. There were too many things that went right in Boston for me to be upset over the time. Every finish line is such a triumph! The water cost me some time, but if I had gotten dehydrated it could have cost me the race. I had to learn that lesson the hard way in St. George last fall. I’ve got a Plan B in the works, but I want to see how my legs feel running this week. I used EFS as my sole source of fuel and it worked great. I always do caffeine and I really like Buzz Bites. Nutrition is so key for the toll long miles take on our bodies. Thank you so much for your kind words! Happy running!

  6. Colleen @ CSmith Run says:

    Great race!! That’s amazing you could turn it on so much at the end and made the conscious choice to do so! Love what you said about the crowds and cheers leading you through those last few miles and to just look around – I tend to forget that piece when I’m so focused on how I feel during a race, so I will definitely try to remember that too! Can’t wait to keep following your training on the sub-3 quest!! 🙂

    • Katie Guisinger says:

      Colleen thank you so much! It was such an amazing experience. I love the shared support from the other runners and the crowd. Happy running!

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