2017 Wrigley River Run Race Recap

My first race post Boston wasn't half bad! I have a love/hate relationship with the Wrigley River Run. I love that it's a local race that supports the community, its small, and very well organized. It's also a chance to run with all of the local running groups at once. But, I hate the course! It's a tough one with the hills you have to take to get up to the riverbed several times (hence the name).

Wrigley River Run

When I first ran this race in 2015, I broke the tape and took home my first ever win. I've come back each year to fight for that win, but it's been a tougher field since 2015. Last year, a 2012 Olympic Marathon qualifier showed up and swept the 10K taking not just first female, but first OVERALL. Yes folks, she beat the boys too. I ended up with 3rd female that year and my worst recorded 10K time of 43:11 just 4 weeks after I ran the Vancouver Marathon.

WRigley River Run

It's been almost 6 weeks since Boston and to be completely honest, I haven't fully recovered. I signed up for the Wrigley Run about 3 weeks ago because I do it every year! In the back of my mind I thought.... maybe I can really break 40 minutes! As the race got closer and I'd missed a few runs, only done some strides for my "speed work," I knew I should abandon my expectations. You can't be the best all the time and you can't expect to be able to run something you ran during your marathon training at your peak, so close after a goal race.

The week leading up to Wrigley, I'd felt really run down, my hips were tight, my body has felt a lot of stress from multiple back to back vacations and upcoming road trips that require more planning than relaxing (Big Sur camping, Havasupai camping, and a super quick trip to Mexico for a wedding). The day before the race while I was doing my little 3 mile stride workout, I thought, "maybe I won't race and I'll just run and have a good time." For some reason, this is really hard for me. I often show up to races feeling like I just want to have fun and not worry about time, but that never happens.

Wrigley River Run

When I showed up that morning, it was perfectly overcast (the perks of June gloom weather for runners), and the race was starting in about 20 minutes. I met up with Peter and some other GRVL Runners and folks from the Long Beach Running Club. All of the 10k runners lined up and I looked around and there were not very many women in the front. I surrounded by all men. I told myself not to go out too fast (my main problem with shorter distance races) and to pace myself. I felt good when we took off, but when I looked at my watch and saw I was doing a 5:30 pace, I pulled it back. I was still surrounded by all men (and lots of them started to pass me).

So many cool peeps racing!

So many cool peeps racing!

Wrigley River Run

We made our way through the neighborhood and finally to the first turn onto the riverbed. The one good thing about the course is that you're able to see where your competition is when you are running up and down the riverbed with all of the turns. When we came up the first turn, I saw another woman about a quarter of a mile behind me and the next woman was pretty far behind her. At this point I was thinking, ok... I'm in first place right now... but I'm really tired! We continued on the riverbed and finally came off back onto the street. I was behind an older gentleman around mile 2 and told myself to stay with him.

We came back up onto the riverbed just before mile 3. I worked hard through the uphills, but I need some serious hill training (I figured this out in Boston too). At this point, I started getting into the low 7's range on my pace. My ultimate goal for the race was to average a sub 7. I heard someone coming up behind me and knew it was the second girl. As she passed I shouted "Great job!" She had a great kick and I knew I wasn't going to catch her. 

Rootz Nutrition

I continued to pace with the older gentleman, and stayed behind him on the riverbed. We finally came off the riverbed and made our way into mile 5. There was no way I could catch the woman who passed me, so I just focused on staying consistent and strong until the end. I slowly passed the older gentleman after mile 5 and pushed through to the end, claiming 2nd female overall.

Damn, that was rough. I cannot find a love for these shorter distances, but I know I want to get faster at them. The race director asked Ricky to take some photos of the event, so I stuck around for the 5k and the kid's race and got to cheer on all of the folks running that, which is always lots of fun. 

Me and the photographer!

Me and the photographer!

While I was waiting for the awards, I chatted with Gina, who volunteered for the race, and she told me the woman who came in 1st was a former Olympian! 2 years in a row I got beat by an Olympian! What are the freakin' odds????? I was still super happy to take home my beer glass (I need to start drinking more beer because pint glasses are consistently given away at races!). I'll be back next year, of course, and hopefully the field will just be filled with recreational runners like me :)

J

Freshly Meal Delivery Service Review + a Coupon Code

I was so excited to try Freshly when they recently offered me the opportunity to try their 4 meal plan. If you've been following along with me for a while, then you know I'm big on meal prep and fresh, whole foods. Unlike other meal delivery services, all of Freshly's meals come fully cooked and ready to heat and eat - literally no chopping, washing, or cooking required. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

Chicken livorno

Chicken livorno

Freshly offers several meal plan options. You can choose from a 4, 6, 9 or 12 meals per week. I went with the 4 meal/week plan. It was going to be delivered shortly before I went out of town for the second weekend in a row, which meant I didn't have to worry about my last few meals of cooking and potentially wasting food or what Ricky was going to eat while I was gone (he is not a chef by any means).

The options are endless on the meals you can choose, and their website is very user friendly. They allow you the option to filter out any meals with certain ingredients (think soy, tree nuts, eggs, dairy etc), allowing you to cater the options to your dietary needs and wants. I settled on a few chicken dishes and got the Steak Peppercorn for Ricky. 

Steak Peppercorn

Steak Peppercorn

The meals arrived as ordered. They come packed with recycled denim insulation that keeps it super cool so you don't have to worry about not being home when your meals arrive. We had a snafoo with FedEx - normally, they deliver inside our building, but for some reason, we got a notice that the package was undeliverable and by the time we got home that night, the facility it was at had closed. No big deal though because when we went to pick it up the following day after work (so almost 24 hours later), it was still cold and fresh!

I will admit to you all, I was really not sure about this at first because the meals are microwaved. I definitely microwave things from time to time, but reheated chicken and steak?? Hmmm. It always comes out kind of tough and chewy and just not that great. I kept an open mind though. Ricky, of course, ate the Steak Peppercorn and I had the Chicken Livorno with White Beans and Kale the first night. Damn if that wasn't the juiciest steak and chicken I've ever had, I don't know what is! It was delicious. I was pleasantly surprised! We also received the Southwest Chicken Bowl and the Chicken Risotto, and they were equally as delicious.

It was a great first experience with a meal delivery service and it really saved me tons of time this past week taking out any cooking requirements. I loved it so much that Freshly was nice enough to offer me a code to share with you for $20 off a 6 meal plan for your first order: ft639. Enjoy saving time this week and making more time to get your runs in (and to sleep!).

J

2017 Boston Marathon Race Recap

I'm not sure where to start. A thank you feels most appropriate... Thank you to everyone who tracked, texted, commented, called to support me on what was, without a doubt, one of the most important days of my running life until now. My mind is always blown by how many people believe in me. Which is why it's hard to swallow a difficult race because you feel like you  not only let yourself down, but you let down all of the people that were cheering for you! I know this isn't true because so many people have told me how proud they are of me, but it hurts a little to not hit your goal when so many people are watching.

Boston Marathon

Now onto the recap of the race and the experience and a few other things I want to share. We left early Saturday for Boston, and this is where I already wish I did something differently. We lost so much time coming in on Saturday, I wish we had flown out Friday or took a red eye on Friday night because you lose so much time coming from the west. We landed just before 4pm and made our way from the airport via train to our AirBnB, which was so dope. It was a recently remodeled brownstone less than a mile from the finish line. Our hosts stocked some essentials for us and it was so nice to feel like we were at home rather than a hotel.

Day 1 - Saturday

I had to do a quick shakeout run when we got there - 3 miles. I wanted to see the finish line asap, so I told my parents and Ricky to meet me there at the end of my run. I ran from the brownstone up to the river, along the path and then made my way to Boyleston. I walked up to the finish line from the opposite direction, but it was just as beautiful. There were tons of people there, but I felt so overwhelmed with joy and started crying. The majesty of the Boston finish line is like no other. Once my parents and Ricky got there, we made our way to the local Trader Joe's to get food for our pre race days. After making a pasta dinner, we were pooped and went to bed. Super exciting right??

Boston Marathon

Day 2 - Sunday

We did way too much on Sunday and it was HOT. I still needed to get my bib because we got in too late on Saturday and the expo was closed. My dad's mission on this trip was to get to Fenway Park. He bought us tickets to the afternoon game, but he also wanted to do a tour of the park that started at 9 am. So the schedule was - tour, expo, game, dinner, bed. I knew it was too much, and I always struggle with trying to make the people with me happy because they are taking the time to be here to support me. So, we did the tour. Ricky and I went to the expo right after and I wanted to spend so much more time looking around, but I was so tired already. I bought way too much stuff for being there only an hour!

FullSizeRender.jpg

After the expo, we grabbed a bite to eat before Ubering back over to Fenway for the game. At this point, I was exhausted. The game was fun, but I wish we could've gone to the game after the race! The saving grace of going to the game was that I met Molly Huddle - I was completely starstruck. We got home around 5 and made dinner (spaghetti squash with ground turkey and marinara), laid out my gear for the morning, and I was in bed around 9.

Decided on the underarmour top

Decided on the underarmour top

Day 3 - Race Day

Let's be reaaaallllll. Race day weather was supposed to be in the low 70s and I was dreading this. I legit thought that the weather would be perfect (I'm soooo naive). I woke up at 5 am and did my thing. Ate my oatmeal and banana, used the restroom a ton of times.... I wasn't sure if this was good or bad at the time. Around 6:30, Ricky, my dad and I jumped on the train to go up to Boston Commons where the buses grabbed us. We met up with Kim and Neil and walked over to the hotel. This was the first time I connected with anyone I knew (from Instagram or real life) all weekend! I really avoided meeting up with anyone because I wanted to stay as focused as possible, although I do regret it a bit now. I doubt all of the people I want to meet will be in the same place at the same race like that again.

Once we got on the bus, it was a long drive up to Hopkinton. Our bus left at 7:30 and we got to the Athlete's Village at 8:30. As soon as we got there, we went straight to the porto potties. I'd heard nightmare stories about waiting in line for an hour to get in to the portos, but was surprised they weren't that bad (that didn't last though). We walked around for a bit and then Kim and I decided to get back in line after Neil left to go into his corral. While we were waiting, I met Katie, Bethany, Sarah, and Mel (all from Instagram)! I was really glad I saw some people I wanted to meet.

After the bathroom it was time to go into our corrals. There were more restrooms on the way and I knew I could stop again (are you noticing a theme about my fear of having to go while racing?). It's at least a half mile walk to the start. It was pretty cool, all of the local folks were out in front of their houses cheering for us, drinking beers. Lots of fun! As I was walking, I met Nikki - she recognized me and we started chatting. She had just read my blog post the night before about my race plan and she asked if I'd ever run Boston before. When I told her no, she was surprised. She told me I had a solid plan, as if I'd raced this before, and if I followed it, I'd have a great race. This was her 4th Boston. That made me feel so much better. I told myself I was going to follow my plan and just hope my body could last in the heat. We parted ways at the restroom stop just before the final walk to our corrals, but I swear that conversation got me through the first half of the race.

Rootz Nutrition

I went to the restroom 3 more times before finally going to my corral (you'd think that would be enough right?). I tossed my water bottle, stuck in my ear phones (I really needed them), and we finally were off. By 10:30 am when I crossed the starting line, it was about 70ยฐ. I was already sweating. I just kept thinking, "You're running the Boston Marathon. Be happy!" And so I tried. Here's how it went:

Miles 1-5: I stayed in the middle of the pack and focused on holding back. I did a good job up until mile 4 when I ran a 7:06 mile. At this point, I couldn't deny the fact that I had to pee and was glad it was early in the race. I ran up to the first bathroom that was open and.... walked in on a woman who was just pulling up her pants! OMG that's never happened before. It worked out and I got to pee, so yah!

Miles 6-15: I held onto goal marathon pace. At every aid station I took water whether to drink or throw it on my head. I somehow had the urge to pee 2 more times and successfully walked in on two more people, so I only got to pee once. I didn't even really have to pee both times! I think I just drank way too much throughout the morning and was thinking too much about it. Al I can think now is, what if I didn't stop?

Miles 15-21: The hills were hard. I kept telling myself they might not be that bad, and even Nikki confirmed that. But hills are a different battle for everyone. I counted the hills, but couldn't tell if the first one at mile 16.5 was really the first one because it was pretty small. By mile 18 my right quad was starting to cramp, so I kept grabbing Gatorade to help subside it, but the damage was done. When I made it up Heartbreak Hill, which was completely brutal, someone held a sign that said "You're at the top of Heartbreak Hill" and I knew it was over. I made it. My pace stayed in the 7:30-7:40 range on the hills, which is surprising looking back, but mile 21 was an 8:20... that heartbreaker was hard.

Miles 22-26: I used the downhill after Heartbreak Hill to pick up the pace, but I knew my legs were shot. Mile 22 came in at 7:37. I couldn't regain any strength though. Mile 23 came in at 8:20, and this is where I started to cramp bad and my pace jumped up into the 9's. My ankles, feet, and shins had barely any movement in them because of the cramping. I was basically shuffling and couldn't get any stride back. I finally took out my music at mile 24 when I saw the Citgo sign. It was amazing to hear so much cheering. I wanted to stop so badly, but I kept shuffling. I saw the "1 mile to go" sign and was so relieved. Once the blue lines appeared, I forced myself to stay on them and follow it to the finish. I knew Ricky would be at the corner of Hereford and Boyleston to get a photo, so I tried really hard to get into a good stride (I know right, like who cares at this point what the damn photo looks like!!!). I also knew my mom and dad would be there and that I looked pretty bad and I didn't want them to see that. As I made the final turn, it was all I could do not to cry. It was so beautiful. The majesty of the Boston finish line is something that cannot be matched.

making a left onto boyleston

making a left onto boyleston

I finished in 3:26. I despise that number. I've finished 3 marathons with that ridiculous time and I will be damned if I get that again. I wanted to cry out of anger and disappointment, but my family wasn't close and the Boston finish shoot is long, so there was no one to cry too. Once I crossed the finish line, my legs were still cramping. I took as many water bottles as I could carry before getting my medal. I kept stopping because my legs felt like they were going to buckle. After the 4th medical person asked me if I was ok, I asked to be taken to the medical tent because my legs weren't allowing me to walk. They got me in a wheelchair and I got to the med tent. I figured they'd give me some fluids and send me on my way. A nurse asked me to tell her where my legs hurt when she touched them, so I responded. Finally, a doctor came over and told me based on some of my responses they thought I might have a stress fracture so I needed to monitor it and if the pain didn't subside or got worse, I'd need to see a doctor and get a boot (hence the reason why I thought I had a stress fracture up until a few days ago). After about 15 minutes, I finally felt like I could walk successfully and made my way through the rest of the finish shoot.

My dad was waiting as close up as he could get to where the runners exited. I was so happy to finally see my family. He told me I looked like I was dying when they saw me coming into the finish. I couldn't help but laugh. When I saw my mom and Ricky though, I started crying. I was so disappointed in myself and couldn't help but think I'd disappointed everyone who was following and supporting me to this point. 

I love this guy so much!

I love this guy so much!

So happy I got to see kim again at the finish

So happy I got to see kim again at the finish

We walked back to the brownstone and before we made it home we checked in at a restaurant close by to see if we could get a table in an hour when I was done showering. Everyone at the restaurant started clapping for me when I walked up with my medical blanket on. It was so awesome! We went home and I got ready and we finally ate around 4:30. I drank a couple beers, indulged in fried chicken and brussel sprouts, and finally got my long awaited pint of ice cream when we got home that night. 

So grateful these two are my parents

So grateful these two are my parents

We spent the following day exploring. We made it to the Cheers bar, walked the Freedom Trail, and ended up at the Sam Adams Brewery and did a beer tour. I was hobbling for most of it, but it was a lot of fun! I'd definitely recommend an extra day or two to spend time in the city - Boston has so much history.

Final Thoughts on Boston and Why I Won't Be Back Anytime Soon

Boston has been my dream. It was hard to get here, and it was even more difficult to race this marathon successfully. Logistically, it's unlike any other marathon. The start time, the course, the entire thing is overwhelming. I loved being here, so please don't mistake that. I am completely honored to have made it here and graced these historic streets with some of the best elite and recreational runners in the world. I won't deny this - any race I do poorly at seems to leave a bad feeling in me. I rarely want to redo them (which explains why I'd love to go back to CIM and Chicago - they hold my best marathon experiences and PRs). This is probably the biggest reason I won't be back to Boston next year. You'd think I would want to come back and crush it, but no. I want to move on to a different race.

Boston Marathon

I talked to my coach after the race and shared my experience. She told me she thinks Boston is the toughest marathon to do well and she didn't want to share that with me before. She told me "You've got to go into every marathon reaching for the stars, even Boston." She's right. I would never have tried to stick to my 3:15 race plan if she told me it was very unlikely I would get it. But if I didn't try, I'd never know. If I went into the race holding back the entire time, I'd have unfinished business. But I didn't. I tried as hard as my body allowed me to on that day, and I came up very far from my goal. 

I've also limited myself to 2 marathons/year. This works for my body and it's all I can really handle if I want to do well. I don't want Boston to be one of the 2 each year. To be honest, its a huge chunk of change to get here, and its really hard to race. I've got a few good years left in me and there's quite a few other marathons I want to experience in the Spring (I've got my eye on the Eugene Marathon in May of 2018) before I call it quits on this distance. I also just don't run marathons for fun right now. With the damage they do to my body, I can't take them for granted. I want to get as fast at this distance as I can before I can't run it anymore or I start to slow down. Boston is a fun marathon if you can enjoy it. I just can't at this point in my running life.

I'm walking away from Boston for now, but I do hope that allows others the opportunity to go. I've already qualified for 2018 at Chicago and did it again at Boston, but I know that takes away from other runners getting in and makes the qualifying times more strict. I will be back. I think putting a few other marathons between me and Boston 2017 will give me the ability to come back and tackle this course again. 

Thank you again to everyone who has taken this journey with me and supported my dreams from my first marathon to Boston. I've enjoyed this process and am excited to continue building on this awesome training cycle and reaching for my goals. I hope you'll stick around for the next part of my running adventure.

J