How could I be giving so much, yet running so slow?

After running back-to-back 2:58:30s in 2013 and 2014, I had set my sights squarely on going under 2:55 at Boston. However, I crossed the finish line on Boylston four minutes slower, not faster.

I feel weird saying this, but I’m not as upset as you might think. Clearly, that was not the race I had trained for. While I am bummed I didn’t go sub 2:55, I’m more bummed we had horrible race conditions. That, I can’t control. If we had 40 degrees and a tailwind and I ran the same time, I would be sick to my stomach!

My babies tracking me in school.
My babies tracking me in school.

I certainly felt long distance support all along the way. Every mat I crossed I thought of all of my friends and family. I knew Pete in Japan had set his alarm clock to see my finish. I knew my Mom was my social media director. I knew Joey was biting his lip after my 15k split and crossing his fingers. I knew the teachers at my kid’s school had the tracking projected on the board. My sister did the same in her own classroom. I was and am beyond honored for all that attention.

The Foretaste of a Boston Headwind
The Foretaste of a Boston Headwind

But [expletive deleted] it was miserable. It came down to logical reasoning for me. The rain, wind and cold took me out mentally before they did physically. I knew when it was pouring sideways at 9:00am with a 20+mph headwind it was going to be tough. I have never tempo’d even six miles with any degree of success in wind half as strong. So, I approached the start with a slightly defeated, but optimistic attitude. I would will the conditions away. Draft. Focus.

That technique lasted about ten miles. I was screwing my head into the wind at times. Trying to fight it. I took other measures to conserve energy. I kept my arm swing minimal and tight. I didn’t hammer any of the uphills. When the wind would break I tried to stride my split time down. This wasn’t working. At the half I knew I was done. I couldn’t push any harder. I’m 100 pounds. The wind was strong. My clothes and shoes were soaked. I couldn’t even see at times because the rain was so blinding.

I tried to run the rest of the race as best I could. I wanted to stay strong and kept hope conditions would improve. That is a tough agenda when you know every footstep is off goal. Then, on top of that, the weather became worse as I approached Boston. I was laughing at times in disbelief. Was this really happening?!

Sucking air on Heartbreak Hill: Even my bib was starting to fold…

The pace felt moderate. But the effort was sub marathon pace. It was a messed up feeling. How could I be running so slow, yet giving so much?

I stopped looking at my watch after two hours. It was depressing. But it’s BOSTON! I mean, there was no boo-hoo’ing. The fans were out in full force. I was running the race most runners dream about. I wasn’t going to be a little bitch because I was wrecking my sub-three hour streak. I really enjoyed the race despite not running as fast as I wanted. I finished with a smile on my face in 3:02. I’m not defeated. Success is not always linear.

10 seconds post race.10 seconds pre hypothermia
10 seconds post race.10 seconds pre hypothermia

I’m always proud after I marathon. I was proud of this Boston. I was also disappointed. I worked so hard… The grieving for that probably took two weeks. But, I mean, c’mon. It was a 3:02! Yes, I failed to reach my goal. But at least my body was uninjured. I left the finish line with a bruised ego, but also with a ton of fitness I can build on.

The best hairstyle for marathoning
The best hairstyle for marathoning

The Good:
*I feel fine. Not even a blister.
*I’m confident in my training and fitness level.
*Brooks T7 Racers are great marathon shoes.
*I didn’t get the hypothermic shakes until the finish line.
* I had loving family standing at the finish line.
*I found the best hairstyle for marathoning!
*I will never stop doing this marathon!

The Bad:
*I’m sitting here and I can’t think of anything. I refuse to feel sorry for myself. I’m still healthy, alive and happy! There is no bad. I ran the Boston Marathon for a third time. I am elated to have the privilege.

Laura Frey
Raleigh, North Carolina
April 20, 2015
Age – 41
Bib # 3198

[Laura Frey says “I love running and often laugh way too hard not to share it with others. I love this sport and love running with and motivating others.” Follow her experiences on her running blog On Your Left Please.]