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Monday, April 28, 2014

Boston 3- Week 18, Race Day

Start of Boston Marathon  in Hopkinton 
"Confidence and mental toughness is built on a platform of physical fitness." - Cheri Cope, MS Mental Conditioning Coach

4/21     Monday   70 F   Boston Marathon, 26. 2 miles  4 hr 51 seconds
4/22     Tuesday   71F    Rest
4/23     Wed.       45F    Rest
4/24     Thur        52 F   45 min swim
4/25      Fri          67F    60 min bike
4/26      Sat         45 F   2 mile walk at Crazy legs Madison
4/27      Sun        47F    1 hour 20 min bike

I didn't have to wake up on race morning because I got NO sleep. Every hour I saw the top of the hour on my hotel room alarm clock.  I took an over the counter sleep aid when I went to be at 9 pm.  Then I took Tylenol PM at 11 pm and then a second dose at midnight. No luck and no sleep. On top of that the sleep medicine left me dehydrated with a dry mouth.

Remember how you felt after doing an all nighter in college? Now imagine having to stay awake and run 26.2 miles. Throw in a bit of nausea for good measure.

I ran the Madison marathon on no sleep to qualify for my first Boston and I ran a half marathon just a few weeks ago on no sleep. It is so frustrating to train for months and have that happen.

So I got ready, ate my breakfast of oatmeal and headed to the lobby.   I stopped to get a go cup of very hot water and placed a tea bag in it. I let it brew for the 15 min walk to the Boston Commons to meet my guide. It would be nice and strong by the time I arrived.

I met my guide and we tried to connect with our teammate CJ, but could not find her in the crowd. Buses were parked all along Tremont street 2 across. As a runner you get a color code on your race number. There were four waves and I was in wave number 3 the blue wave.  Runners are seeded according to qualifying time  There were 4 waves with about 10,000 in each wave.  My wave was told to board the buses between 8 am and 8:30.  This is to minimize the time you spend in the athlete's village. As one wave is leaving to go to the starting line, one wave is arriving. It is a smooth and well organized effort.

We got on the bus and we were on our way.  The traffic coming into Boston was backed up for miles.  We were among scores of buses all making their way to the start. It seems like it takes a long time to drive to the start and you begin to realize just how far you will run.

The athlete's village is a place to rest, relax and hydrate until your wave is called to the start. The staging area is a state park in the town of Hopkinton.When we arrived there did not appear to be on place to sit. Porta potty lines looked over an hour long.

There was an announcer telling us there was room on the other side of the park. We also found a potty line with few people so we got right in.

As we looked for a place to sit, we scored a spot some runners were just vacating. We got tarps, sun screen, bagels and bananas.  Before we knew it we were being called to the starting line. It is about a mile walk to the start. Part of the walk is through town and the locals were lining the route.

As we lined up in the start, there were some spectators right next to me with a big sign offering beer, cigarettes and donuts. They were serious because they had several cans of beer and packs of cigarettes. I did not see anyone take them up on it. I thought yeah, just what I need is a beer or a cigarette. It made me laugh which eased my stress a bit.

There was not much time to think about the race, but in the few minutes before the race I assessed how I was feeling. Tired, dehydrated and nausea. Check, check and check. I wondered where I would find the energy to finish the race. Nothing new for me, I often stand at the start of a race and wonder where I will find the energy. Even when I get a good night's sleep I am always tired and for this race I would be going on no sleep.

The gun went off and we were off. The very early part of the course is a steep drop. The course was lined with spectators. There were lots of signs and reading them is a good distraction.  One early on said , hurry the Kenyans are drinking your beer, Many said touch here for power. I touched every one of those.

I gave lots of high five's especially to the little kids.   My guide gave me my first mile split and it was sub 10:00.  My pace goal was 11:00. It felt easy. My legs had a will of their own. Although my body was tired, my leg kept churning. My coach said my legs would remember and they did,

Every mile had a water stop and we would slow down through each stop and I would take a bit of water. A bit into the race as the temperature climbed, I would drink one cup and pour two over me.

The miles ticked off quickly. When I was at mile six a ripple went through the crowd because someone had posted a sign that Meb had won in 2 hr 8 minutes.  I had been rooting for him and that gave me a boost. We made the 10 K mark in 61 minutes

We just kept moving,  I took oranges from the crowd, sipped the sports drink I had brought along.
As we approached 13 I  prepared my guide for what she would see at Wellesey College.  This portion of the course is known as the scream tunnel.  The girls hold signs asking guys to kiss them for a variety of reasons.  They scream like crazy for any runner. I play with them and pretend I can't hear them and they scream loader.  This is the one spot on the course where I get choked up. All the rest of the day I focused inward just to keep it together physically. I had no energy to spare.

We arrived at the half way point at 2 hr 18 which was 2 minutes faster than a half marathon I had done 2 weeks ago. Although I feel like crap I was having a great race. I was way ahead of schedule.

Now is when the race hits the hardest portion, the Newton hills. The next 8 miles are rolling hills finishing with heartbreak hill between mile 20 and 21.  I focus, remember why I am running and repeat my race mantra.
The miles tick off and I arrive at mile 20 in 3 hrs 30 minutes. I run up heartbreak hill.. This is a milestone because I know once I hit mile 20 I will finish. It is just a 10 K I tell myself. I can walk that if I have to. I have never run up heartbreak hill before in any of my other Boston marathons.

I stop giving out high fives to concentrate. I focus inward. I have barely talked to my guide most of the run. She keeps giving me my splits every mile. She points out hazards in the road so I can run safely. She hands me sports drink and gels when I ask.

We did have a bit of fun. I saw this on the course and stopped to have a picture. These are the Boston Strong Duck folks and I just happened to have mine with me. She has done every race this year. They were jumping up and down and hugging me. A quick picture and I was back out on the course.

Now at mile 22 I start to walk two minutes after each water stop. The lack of sleep is taking its toll. We see Boston college and get a boost from the crowds. My toes are really starting to hurt. I stop twice to adjust my shoes. My arches hurt. Still we keep running.  I point out the grave yard mile to my guide. It is a cemetery around mile 23 and no one ever stands there.

We see huge crowds, the national guard has been pushing them back for miles to keep us safe. I hear multiple helicopters overhead all day. There are police everywhere. I think I am in the safest place on earth. Finally we see this sign
Almost done

We were just a half mile beyond this last year when we were stopped from finishing. This time I knew we would make it to the finish line.  In no time at all we were there.

Boston Marathon Finish line.
I crossed in 4 hours and 51 minutes, exactly the goal time my coach had set. I had not run this fast since my Madison qualifying race. If I could have been a bit mentally tougher or gotten a good night sleep I might have had a great race. Still just finishing on a warm day with no sleep is an accomplishment worth savoring.
One of my affirmations I practiced as part of my race prep was "My finisher medal feels so good around my neck."  I just can't describe the feeling when that medal is put on my neck.  It is worth all the work.

That finisher medal did feel good around my neck.
The race is over, but still lots of walking, they run you through a whole gauntlet, blanket, water, finisher medal, food. Then a long walk on sore feet back to the Boston Commons to collect luggage. We met friend Robert, who spent the day drinking coffee and watching a movie. He got this picture of me and my guide Cheryl.
My guide Cheryl and I post race.

My post race nutrition plan said eat anything I want and have a big glass of wine. So after a walk back to my hotel and a shower it was time to celebrate. We skipped the party at the Hard Rock thinking it would be too crowded. We had Italian in the North End and yes I had that big glass of wine and a nice desert.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a two time participant of the Boston Marathon.  She was the 2012 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division. In 2013 she qualified as a member of the Team USA Duathlon Team. She will compete in 2014 at the Age Group World Duathlon Sprint Championship in Pontevedre Spain.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 149 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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