Boston Marathon 2017 Race Recap

I had two options for the start of my Marathon Monday – get on the VIP bus which would entail getting to the VIP area before 6am or jump on the standard buses with the other runner around 9.30. I am so glad I opted for the regular runners bus (it’s about a 50 min drive from Boston Common to Hopkinton) – not only did I get 2 extra hours sleep, and Pret porridge but I met the loveliest girl, Addie, who I sat with on the bus and hung out with until we got into our corrals. I really helped ease my nerves having someone to chat with, and hang out with in the line for the porta-loos.

On that note – I cannot believe how clean and well stocked all the porta-loos were, or how short the queues were. The London Marathon could learn a thing or two about Boston!

Pre Boston Marathon - athletes village

My wave wasn’t until 11.15am and the temperature was already rising – 22*C. I had factor 50 all over, was using an instant ice pack to cool down and made the decision to keep my hat on during the race – something I’m also glad about. For those asking about my outfit – I wore Adidas Ultra Boost trainers, 2XU compression socks, Lululemon Sole Training shorts, Adidas tank and Triumph Triaction Extreme Light bra.

You’re only allowed to bring a really small zip lock bag to the Athlete’s Village – it was quite annoying having to carry it.

Boston Marathon start line

About 4 minutes, after the wave 4 gun went off, corral 5 crossed the start line. It isn’t the big fan fair that London and New York have so I actually missed the moment we started, and didn’t start my watch in time.

As I was starting in the last wave, corral 5 of 8, with all the charity runners, I was told that the first few miles might be a little slow due to the combination of paces and number of runners. I ended up running along the side of the road to avoid the chaos – mile 1 8.28.

My coach Mary wanted me to take the first few miles easy, especially given the heat. It was supposed to be all downhill (although there were more uphills than I was expecting!) Mile 2- 8.28, Mile 3- 8.22

By this point I was already 0.2 off in terms of mileage and I realised I had to stick to the straight line. I was also taking Mary’s advice to grab two cups of water at each of the aid stations; one to drink (I hate cups) and one to pour over my head. I proceeded to do that at all of the stations along the route, including throwing some of those cups directly into my face. Having trained throughout winter I was not prepared to be running in 23 degree heat and in direct sunshine for 99% of the race.

We were running through really cute towns along the way with people out spectating in their gardens – the atmosphere was amazing! I can see why people love running the Boston Marathon.

At this stage in a marathon it should be ‘clouds’ (Mary’s words, not mine), and it wasn’t clouds. The heat was already sucking my energy, so I started fueling early. I hadn’t been able to find Huma in Boston (seriously, I tried 5 shops & the expo!) and had opted for my old fave Salted Caramel Gu).

Miles 4- 7; 8.11, 8.39, 8.22, 8.30

It turned from downhill and mostly flattened out by this point, but again it wasn’t as flat (or for that matter as downhill) as I was expecting, even having watched the course video at the expo. I knew I needed to adjust further to get through the next 18 or so miles. Honestly they passed in a bit of a blur of water stations and heat. My face is bright red in all my photos!

red faced runner by the lake Boston Marathon

Miles 8 – 13; 8.35, 8.34, 845, 8,51, 8.36

and then I realised I needed to pee. With the timings so tight for a PB, I made a decision…

I peed my pants/shorts.

I’m not proud of it, well actually I am. I managed to keep an 8.45 pace while peeing – then grabbed two cups of water to throw over myself. I know it’s gross but given my finishing time and how close to the wire it was, I don’t regret it.

13.1 in 1.53.12 (only slightly behind my goal pace)

The Wellesley college girls were exactly the boost I needed – they famously hold up signs saying ‘Kiss me…’

Boston Marathon Race Recap - Wellelsey College

Boston Marathon Race Recap - Wellelsey College

My next goal was to spot Zoe who apparently was somewhere between miles 15-17, and that definitely kept me trying to stay on pace. It was so nice to have someone to look for in the crowds, especially as things were getting hillier (and slower).

Boston Marathon race recap

I then put my head down, headphones in and tried to focus on my form. Heading into Newton, I knew the hills were coming and that my pace was going to reflect the inclines. They were tough (and it felt like there were far more than the major 3 you can see on the course profile), and I wanted to walk so badly – I actually just wanted to start walking and never start running again. However, I just focused on running up those hills, no matter how slow I was moving. My quads were already trashed.

Miles 14-21 8.57, 9.03, 8.32, 9.37,9.41, 9.14, 9.48, 10.32 (Heartbreak Hill). I knew/thought the hills would be over after Heartbreak. It was so steep, and long and mean to put it around mile 21. I also started to walk through the water stations to take in as much water as possible without spilling half of the cup.

Heartbreak hill face copy

‘It’s all downhill to Boston’

Not true. There are two smallish hills – an overpass and an underpass to contend with before you reach the finish. They felt like mountains and it was all I could do to keep my pace under 10 min miles. I kept to the centre of the roads and just tried to keep trucking along. I knew that my PB goal was long gone and that it was going to be really tight to run under 4 hours. I had to keep pressing forwards.

Miles 22-26 – 9.39, 10.06, 9.31, 9.57, 9.40

Turning right on Hereford, then left on Boylston, I knew the iconic finish line was near and that Zoe was in the stands. And that I didn’t have long to make it that 800m. So I gave it everything I had left, ignoring the pain in my legs.

Boston Marathon shake Shack

Boston Marathon Race Recap

Final stretch – 7.26 pace. I wanted to finish strong and to make sure I earned that sub 4 as it was pretty much the only thing that kept me trucking forward. I didn’t want a repeat of Chicago a few years ago.

3.59.03

Boston Marathon race recap

I couldn’t decide whether to cry with happiness. with pride for pushing myself to a sub 4 finish, or with disappointment because I missed my PB goal. Ultimately, I’m really proud of myself for pushing, listening to my body and racing sensibly.

Medal hanging

Finish line with medal

After finishing I felt OK for a little while, then started to feel really sick and like I needed to use the loo very, very badly. (TMI but I only just made it into a porta-loo). I then went to meet Zoe at Shake Shack for fries and a Diet Coke – and had to text her to hurry up as I was nauseous and needed the loo again. And again on the way back to the hotel. My stomach is very very unhappy – thank goodness I took some Imodium before the race otherwise who knows whether I would have met my ‘don’t shit yourself goal’ during the Boston marathon!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my Youtube channel so that you can be notified when my Boston Marathon vlog goes live tomorrow!

24 Comments

  1. 18th April 2017 / 7:50 am

    Congratulations Charlie! Sounds like it was really tough and you handled it so well. I hope you’re celebrating and relaxing now!

  2. Lauren Smith
    18th April 2017 / 9:19 am

    Congratulations!! That sort of determination is amazing. Enjoy your celebrations! 🙂

  3. w. Purves
    18th April 2017 / 9:40 am

    Well done. Sounded really tough. Hope things have dried up!
    Try to relax on your return trip. Love, G.

  4. 18th April 2017 / 10:35 am

    Well done. And I totally agree w/r/t US race organisers getting portaloo to runner ratio better than in UK. When I ran the NYC marathon a few years back there were so many loos at the starting village I was even able to shelter in one for half an hour without being disturbed! Not ideal but it was really cold outside.

  5. Julia
    18th April 2017 / 10:52 am

    well done! Big fan of the blog and after Chicago its great to see you get a sub 4! I felt it was totally the right decision to take the place at Boston though it seemed at the time you gave it a lot of thought. live by NOW (no opportunity wasted!). Are you still doing London on Sunday?

  6. 18th April 2017 / 12:47 pm

    Congrats on the finish! The conditions were rough yesterday, but you made it and a sub-4 is amazing — especially at Boston! I watched the race and was following a bunch of you guys on social media, and I’m so inspired to take on my first half. I’ve always been a shorter-distance runner, but a half is on the bucket list. Hopefully this is the year I can do it 🙂

  7. 18th April 2017 / 1:03 pm

    Congratulations!! It could so easily have been a DNF in that heat, I was watching your time and so happy to see you came in under 4 hours, that is amazing plus I know how irritating it would have been to have gone just over!
    If you don’t mind me asking, what is your PB to beat?

  8. 18th April 2017 / 2:31 pm

    congrats on making it under 4 hours. also i love your blog and love it 10x more now that you’ve announced you peed yourself. hope you’re so so happy today!!!!!

  9. 18th April 2017 / 2:54 pm

    Great time Charlie and congrats! Also, those fries looking A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

  10. 18th April 2017 / 3:27 pm

    Amazing grit and determination. You should definitely be very proud. So hard when you’re not used to the heat.

  11. 18th April 2017 / 3:47 pm

    Well done Charlie! You did so well in the heat x

  12. 18th April 2017 / 3:59 pm

    My stomach is upset just reading about this – I would have suffered a lot more in that kind of heat 😐 Well done for finishing strong!

  13. 18th April 2017 / 4:38 pm

    A sub-4 marathon is amazing! Congrats!!

  14. 18th April 2017 / 5:08 pm

    Congratulations, Charlie!! What a harrowing race you had. You definitely EARNED every bit of that sub-4!

  15. Erin
    18th April 2017 / 5:20 pm

    Awesome! It sounds like you had an awesome race.

  16. Lauren
    18th April 2017 / 5:39 pm

    Congrats on a spectacular race!

  17. 18th April 2017 / 6:35 pm

    Amazing Charlie well done! What an iconic course and marathon to complete 🙂 I would love to do it some day – I wouldn’t be running a BQ but I would love to go with a company like 209 Events……maybe someday. Rest up and take the next couple of days easy before Sundayxxxx

  18. Chiswickmum
    18th April 2017 / 9:11 pm

    Truly amazing. So much grit and determination. So proud of you. Hope you get a chance to really rest this week. Xx

  19. 18th April 2017 / 9:32 pm

    Wow!!! I have always respected you as a runner but this post took my respect to a higher level. Well done x

  20. andrea hershner
    19th April 2017 / 2:09 am

    Oh my gosh! That “don’t shit yourself” line totally caught me off guard and was hillarious!! Great race, congrats!

  21. 19th April 2017 / 7:46 am

    Congratulations Charlie! That’s a fantastic performance and well done for keeping pace while having a pee! We had similar heat issues at the Paris Marathon and I figured that sometimes just getting to the finish is enough to be considered a successful run 🙂

  22. Georgie
    20th April 2017 / 2:00 pm

    Congratulations! you have done amazing!!! xx

    • charlotte
      25th April 2017 / 1:24 pm

      Thank you!