What were your original goals for Boston? (Before you saw the weather forecast).
Soren: My goals were only to have fun. I treated it from the beginning as just a fun run. My Chronic Training Load had fallen from over 100 down to 37 during tax season. When I became a CPA, I had to give up thoughts of running Boston and snow skiing. During a conversation about aging, dying, and qualification times, Dr. Steven Detweiler was actually the person who convinced me to try and run it. I would not say I was running it for him, but it did feel like I was running it with him on just another 1st Magnitude Run; and to race it seemed at odds to that feeling--even if I could have.
Gretchen: A group of us from FTC had been trying to get into Big Sur for a few years. Last summer we found out that our dream marathon would be a reality. I had heard about the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge and since I had a Boston Qualifying time from the Albany Snickers Marathon in March 2017 decided the timing was perfect.
So with a Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge on the horizon I was working with my coach, Enoch Nadler on my goal. I love racing but two marathons 13 days apart sounded like a significant challenge. To further complicate matters I injured my right ankle in February so my training, especially hill training suffered. Ultimately, I went into race weekend with the plan to try to race Boston and then take Big Sur from there. I was hoping to be close to my time from CIM in December a 3:10:02.
Courtney: I had never run Boston before but heard it was a tough course so I wasn’t really sure what to set my goal at as far as time, especially after starting training pretty soon after CIM in December. About two months into training, I was feeling fit and figured I could set a PR and possibly go under 3 hours. Regardless, I had a race plan to execute more based on feel.
How did you adjust your goals/mental state once you realized in what conditions you would be running?
Soren: I adjusted them to my Florida winter attire—huge mistake. We do occasionally have to run in the 30s in Florida, and I brought my clothes for a run like that. I added an Under Armour Heat Gear long sleeve, Stio windbreaker, gloves, and Darntough knee-high socks. I might have run in different shoes, but there was no way I was not going to run in my Saucony Boston Edition Shoes.
Gretchen: With the weather forecast I didn’t reset my goal but I did try to mentally prepare for what could happen. The wind forecast was my biggest concern. I had run the race in 2015 which also had less than ideal conditions but nothing like what we saw this year. I planned on going out on plan and taking it from there.
Courtney: I actually didn’t adjust much before, other than my mindset. I planned to start at the same pace, see how that felt, and adjust from there. I went into the race more relaxed and was more lenient on pacing, which I think worked well. Also made a goal of running behind the largest runners I could find!
What was the atmosphere like in Boston in the days and hours leading up to the race?
Soren: I would say the attitude was, Boston can have really bad weather, so just deal with it. I don’t think anyone really anticipated the worst weather in the history of the race.
Gretchen: Boston loves the marathon! Everywhere you looked you saw runners and most of the chatter was about the weather. We went to the expo on Sunday and had to wait in a cold wind for the bus back to the finish line area. That was when I really started to worry a bit and noticed the concern on many runners faces. While the atmosphere was a little subdued it was still exciting and we saw many runners out and about during our Sunday morning shake out run. We made a quick stop at the finish line and everyone was excited for what was yet to come.
Courtney: From the airport to the expo to the Goodwill (gotta buy extra throw away clothes), there were runners everywhere! It’s pretty cool how the whole city is aware of the significance of the event.
What did you decide to wear to race in and would you have made any changes in hindsight?
Soren: If there was any chance I would have been able to grasp the weather that was about to come, I would have brought a neoprene vest. I am accustomed to wearing a long sleeve shirt and gloves in the winter and then after a couple miles heating up and being too hot; I thought that is what was going to happened on race day. My biggest mistake though was to get rid of my clothes at the start. I had two extra layers at the start but choose to get rid of them while waiting in line. The clothes you got rid of at the start were going to be donated, and I hated the idea of just ditching them a couple miles down the road when they could go to good use. There were people on the course that ran the entire race in full down jackets, and I envied them for miles. As it turned out, those extra clothes were needed for others along the course.
Gretchen: What to wear was probably our biggest concern. Courtney tried to convince me she would be fine in her sports bra and arm sleeves. I forced a Florida Track Club singlet on her….I hope she was glad J. I kept debating about if I should go with arm sleeves and a singlet or if I should put a long sleeve under my singlet. I also debated shorts vs tights. With the power of Facebook I was able to look back and find what I wore in 2015. In 2015 I learned I wore capris, a singlet, hat, and arm sleeves. Knowing that Patriots’ Day 2018 was going to be colder and the rain would start earlier I decided on tights, singlet, arm sleeves, FTC visor, and an ear band. I also started with a fleece and long sleeve on. I wore a poncho to the start line but ditched it there as it had already bugged me so I figured it wouldn’t last long and I’d just be done with it at the start. Besides I was a few rows behind Meb and I saw him ditch his poncho…so I figured that was the thing to do.
Courtney: I wore running tights, Gretchen’s FTC singlet (I had actually only brought a sports bra), arm warmers, a running hat, and a thick headband. For the first 4 miles I even wore a rain poncho, regular gloves, and rubber gloves. Up to the start I had on an extra pair of pants and jacket. In hindsight I would’ve worn a bit more. Maybe a light jacket. I also would’ve kept my gloves on-at least the rubber ones. My hands went so numb I could barely rip the gu’s off my pants!
What was the high and low points of your 2018 Boston Marathon experience?
Soren: My high point was when I read one of the Wellesley College girl’s signs that said, “Kiss Me I’m Wet.” It was not for the reason that you just thought of. I learned that day that the Maslow's hierarchy of needs is wrong, warmth is way below everything. It was because in all this horrific weather, this was the first-time people were out screaming with excitement. Up until this point everyone was just trying to make due. The other reason was, that she clearly was not dwelling on the fact these conditions were miserable, she was one of the rare individuals that was doing what Boston said they would do in the days prior, taking a bad Boston day and Charlie Mike on. I did not really have a low point; the entire day was really fun. I was in a lot of discomfort from the freezing cold rain, but the race was good. When I say discomfort, I mean it. I at times as a child walked to school in -20 weather, and this was the coldest I have ever been in my life. The lowest point though, I would say was after the race. I was suffering from hypothermia to an extent that I could not remember the name of my hotel, the name of the street it was on, and I could not move my fingers to use my phone. It could also be true that I just don’t remember the low points. I have a very limited memory of anything after mile 16.
Gretchen: Highlights were running into Rob Robbins at the pre-race tents, amazing who you can find in a sea of people, starting right behind Meb, Wellesley, seeing the Citgo sign, finishing the race, and finally finding out who won and learning it was Desi.
Low points for me were right before Wellesley, the cold was really getting to me. I started to hear the ladies of Wellesley about a mile out and it really did keep me going. Also, the downhill and then subsequently uphill really got me. Due to my ankle I wasn’t able to do much hill training and I paid for it. Mentally the cold and hills were rough.
Courtney: High: seeing my dad cheering in the crowds with about half a mile to go and all the people in the crowd that shouted “Go Florida” the whole way!
Low: Right after the finish line/waiting in line for the bag check. It was about 45 minutes of waiting around in the cold rain in not much clothing. I’ve never been so cold in my life (and I’ve walked through -40F in Chicago winters before). I even thought about going to the med tent but I felt much better after changing into my dry clothes.
When did you know that Desi had won the race? How did this affect your race?
Soren: I found out almost immediately. I think the information just rolled down the line as fast as someone could shout it. It had no affect on my race, but I think it has a subtle affect on all of us. In a day when women still struggle with fair treatment in sports we have had a year when women are making headlines, which is good for the sport, and hopefully good for their contracts too. I think it also shows us how different women are in sport, and how much respect they deserve. This year in Boston men had an 80 increase in DNFs, and women only increased by 12 percent. Which in light of the history of women at Boston, is extremely apropos to my way of thinking. The weather was the big news story, but in a race that women were once banned from because they were too soft, on this Boston, they just crushed the men in will-power. The way she won also says a lot. She won by helping others, I believe that it was her helping others that made her able to bring herself back and win. All too often if a man can’t put turpentine or Duck Tape on it, we are lost for a solution.
Gretchen: I didn’t find out until I was almost out of the finishers area! I asked a few spectators along the way and they looked at me like I was nuts when I asked who won…it was almost as if it hadn’t crossed their mind that there was “a winner”. At the finish I kept asking volunteers who gave me about the same look and kept congratulating me. Finally there was a woman up something that looked like a lifeguard chair with a microphone. She was giving directions and then I yelled up and asked who won. The first thing she said was Desi!
It didn’t affect my race but it did warm me up a little and put a smile on my face. I ran in 2014 when Meb one and now 2018 when Desi one. I feel really lucky to have been a part of both historic days.
Courtney: I didn’t know Desi won until well after I finished. I hadn’t really been thinking about it but when I heard a volunteer announce it I was super excited! Made me forget about the cold for a second.
What advice would you give runners looking to run Boston in the near future?
Soren: I am not sure I can give any advice, I doubt any of us will live long enough to see another Boston like that one. The one thing I would say, is that it is worth taking this race easy, if you don’t have a lot of energy for the last 7 miles, you will miss out on a lot of excitement.
Gretchen: Do it! I hear from so many people that they would love to run Boston but would never qualify. I truly believed that when I started running and am thrilled every time I know that I have a BQ so I can go if I want. So keep working, but also consider fundraising. The charity program is amazing and there are just some really wonderful causes out there. Boston is a race like no other, I just highly recommend getting there one way or the other.
Also, once you have your entry train for hills….both up and down. Boston will always make you respect just how hard a marathon is and at the same time make you fall in love with the marathon all over again.
Courtney: Be prepared for anything! As far as racing, I think I had a smart race plan that I executed well (thanks Enoch!). I’d definitely advise waiting to really race until after Heartbreak hill and not worrying too much about splits. With the rolling hills, consecutive miles will vary, so your average is what really matters. Learn how to run based on feel during long hilly runs.
Also, wear an FTC singlet! The crowds were yelling “Go Florida” at least every 5 minutes and it really got me pumped up