On Sunday, 9/10, I ran the first annual Beantown Marathon. It was the last day to run a qualifying marathon for the 2018 Boston Marathon, so I registered in the late spring with a 2018 BQ as my goal.
The Beantown Marathon is a loop course. 6 loops, first five a little over 4.5 miles, last loop a little over 4 miles. I ran all my long runs on a 4-mile loop, so I’m used to seeing the same thing over and over again. It started at 7am, and we ran in “pace groups” but there were no pacers. Basically everyone who wanted a 3:30:00-3:40:00 started at the same time, and that was the “pace group”.
This was a really small race, which I expected since it was the first annual. It took place in a park (in Hingham, MA), barely had any supporters, plenty of water stops but no Gatorade, maybe ten people at the finish line…ha!
I didn’t feel like myself at the starting line. Usually I’m so pumped and jumpy, but I felt scared this time around. I think the thought of a BQ was weighing heavier on my mind than I thought it would.
My first 6-7 miles were on pace. Low 8’s. But after that I just lost pace. I started feeling not great around mile 3, I think because I had so much on my mind –> (“There’s no Gatorade. I want a BQ. Do I stay with these girls or hang by myself? I can’t open this Gu because my hands are too sweaty (didn’t consume any electrolytes miles 12-20…not good). Dang, that hill at the end of the loop is long..I have to run that five more times?!”). Things like that. And it all got to my mind. Running is extremely mental. And even though I was in great shape, my mind really got the best of me.
Waving to my mom
However, something I did love about the loop course was that I saw my dad, mom, and Kyle so many times. They spread themselves out around the course, and literally every 1-2 miles I saw one of them. Kyle stayed at the starting line the entire race. Every time I finished a loop, he signaled whether I needed to speed it up, slow it down, or keep pace as is. First loop was on track. Second loop, needed to speed it up. After the third, he stopped giving me signals and just cheered because he knew I was having an off-track race.
I finished this marathon overall feeling proud and smiling. I don’t know many people who would willingly run a loop marathon that has basically no cheerers. And something else? I ran every single step. Keep in mind, I started spiraling downwards at mile 3 (started dumping water on my head at mile 8). And I still ran the next 23.2 miles non-stop. SO PROUD!!! That’s a lot to push yourself through when you see every little goal slipping away…but finishing a marathon, running every step, and not giving up is huge, so those are the three big things I’m proud of when I think back to this race. I proved to myself I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.
Booking to the finish line
My finishing time was a 4:04:59. My PR is 3:48:23, and I was aiming for a 3:32:00 BQ. I’ve learned over the past two-ish years that not every race will be a PR. It’s just not. And even though I didn’t BQ, PR, or go sub-4 doesn’t mean my killer summer training cycle won’t benefit me this fall.
26.2 miles done. BOOM!
My cousin’s husband came out to cheer, and so did one of my friend’s whose brother ran. I also met a friend who qualified for Boston 2018! She and I follow each other on Instagram. So proud of her!!
Love my family. We went out for a delicious brunch afterwards.
So fun meeting Katya. She qualified!
With Nick and Natalie
So pumped to run a race with Natalie this fall!
Tomorrow I begin training for fall races (woohoo!), and I am so excited to have running back in my life. Recovering after a marathon is 100% necessary, but after 5 days or so, I am ITCHING to get back out there. I’ve taken these past two weeks very easy with working out just because I want to be good to go this fall and log some PRs.
One goal I have for myself is to not seek out marathons that are described as “flat” and “fast”. If I happen to register for a marathon that is described as flat, great. But, I don’t want to eliminate all marathons that are described as “hilly” or having “rolling hills”. I run hill repeats weekly, and often include hills on my long runs, so why avoid them during races when I can easily use them as a strength? I want to feel confident on hills during races, like I do during my training. I want to see a hill and think, “YES! I can run this hill strong”, not “UGH another hill”. During Beantown, I definitely thought the latter.
Kyle always takes me out to eat the weekend following the marathon. Buffalo Wild Wings for the win and rockin’ my Beantown shirt!
Another marathon in the books, another 26.2 miles stronger, and another run for Robert. Happy Fall!
I really enjoyed reading this, you have such an amazing attitude, it’s really inspiring. Making me rethink my attitude about my kind of crappy long run this morning–thanks for that, congrats, and enjoy your fall season 😉.
Hi Cat, thank you so much! Attitude is everything!!! It’s only a bad run if you think of it that way. Every run makes you stronger, whether you hit your paces or not. Hope you’re doing well!
You are one tough girl to run a loop marathon with barely any supporters! It’s AMAZING you didn’t walk at all. You’ll get your BQ soon.
Hi Maureen, thank you so much! It was tough and wasn’t my “day” but still a great experience overall! Always wanting to try new races 🙂 Thank you!
Great article! I’m thinking about running this race this coming September, but I can’t find much about the race. Did you think it was well organized? And I do worry about those hills. I’ve seen other BQ races that are flat and shady, and the map they provide definitely seems to show hills. Were the hills just in your head, or are they significant enough to cause trouble? Thanks!
Hi there, thank you so much! So it was the first annual when I ran it in Sept. Umm..to be perfectly honest, I thought it could’ve been more organized. There were no “official” water stations – just an option for all runners to bring little water bottles and grab them from a table 1-2x each loop. I was confused because there was a Gatorade logo on the race info so I thought there would be Gatorade supplied but there wasn’t. So, I remember two little hills (actually, smaller than hills, just inclines) and then a longer, gradual hill at the end of the loop, and so we ran that 6 times. I went into the race thinking it was flat so was really thrown by this, so my mind made the hills much bigger than they were. Parts were shady, parts were very open… Wasn’t a horrible race, I just didn’t go in with the right mindset and thought I’d be given Gatorade and wasn’t. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.
That’s super helpful. I guess what I should do is go check out the course one day and see for myself what those hills are like. My last marathon was Chicago which was dead flat (except for that last little bit at mile 26). Btw, I highly recommend the Chicago Marathon…great crowds and flat course. I do love the timing of this race, the customizable Gatorade station and the fact that friends can cheer you so often. Thanks again!
Hi Euge! Yes, I highly recommend that! There are a couple little inclines during the loop, and then right at the end of the loop there is a longer, steadier incline. HOWEVER, I will say that because I started spiraling downwards at mile 3, A LOT got to my head. So, these hills seemed big for me and may not to you! I definitely loved seeing family and friends multiple times. That helped a lot. I saw some runners bring 6 mini water bottles full of whatever they liked to drink, so would grab one at the end of each loop and then toss it, so there was always one right on the table for them. I brought one big water bottle so if I tossed it…I would have to run and go get it the next time.