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2023 Boston Marathon Recap & Reflections (Hint - It was Long!)

2023 Boston Marathon Recap

Somehow 10 years has already passed since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. I wasn't running marathons back then, but I was running multiple races a year and couldn't believe something like that was a possibility. This year's race gracefully acknowledged the tragedy and wonderfully celebrated the resiliency of Boston and the running community. Although spirits were high among racers, organizers, and volunteers, my race experienced lacked both energy and speed.

World Major marathon medals

This year's Boston Marathon marked my 4th major marathon (2018 NYC, 2019 Chicago, 2021 Boston). I decided to return to Boston to get the "full experience" after the 2021 race got delayed and the field size was reduced 50% because of COVID precautions. This being my second Boston, I knew first hand how brutal the downhill 5k start is, the killer Newton hills, and the "mile to go" Citgo sign feeling. Add in the unpredictability of springtime New England weather (50deg, rain, and a headwind on race day), and it feels like the 26.2 mile distance gets exponentially longer. Luckily my husband was committed to my marathon completion and provided 2 outfit changes (I dropped my long-sleeve shirt at 5k only to pick it back up, plus a hat, at mile 20), snacks at the bottom of Heartbreak hill (banana and snickers), and dry socks, shoes, and a puffy coat at the finish.

My official finishing time was 3:49:31, about 8-9 minutes slower than my fitness suggested and 23+ minutes slower than my marathon PR (Chicago 3:26:20). Going into this marathon, I expected to run slower, enjoy the experience more, and feel decent through the last few miles. As it turned out, I did run slower, but I had a hard time enjoying running nearly 4 hours in the rain, and felt pretty terrible starting around mile 18. Mentally, I struggled mightily through the last several miles, especially when I was convinced I passed mile marker 24 twice. At the end of the race I seriously considered sitting in one of the many wheelchairs at the finish line. I decided I didn't feel bad enough to warrant any medical attention, but I did break out in tears when I finally met up with my husband. I still don't know if I cried because I felt physically awful or because I was mentally running on fumes, but I'm pretty sure it was some combination of both. It was likely more mental fatigue because I couldn't decide if I wanted to eat, sit, change, or rest. Thankfully my husband made the decision for me and immediately ordered an Uber to get me back to our hotel in Brookline.

Finish line Boston Marathon 2023

Recovery has been slow, and a week later I still don't feel like my body is capable of enjoying a run. My reduced training cycle not only led to a slower time, as expected, but it also led to more soreness and an extended timeline for returning to activity. In hindsight, I should have trained more, but life sometimes gets in the way. Running a business, training through a rougher than normal Denver winter, and prioritizing a home remodel all interfered with getting miles in. Additionally, a nagging left lateral meniscus irritation and a right foot tendonitis had to be managed throughout this training cycle. Sometimes the biggest wins include getting to the start and finish lines in one piece.

Boston Commons 2023 Boston Marathon Finish photo

Next up: Ragnar Trail Aspen, a 150 mile team relay race out of Aspen. Then, who knows! This may have been my last marathon, but there is always the allure of completing all 6 world major marathons (NYC, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Tokyo, London). But first, I need to recover from last week's race!

Race & Travel Logistics

- Flying in on Saturday allowed a small buffer to ensure getting to bib pick-up on time. BUT, official Adidas Boston apparel and many of the pop-up shops with Boston specific gear were low on stock or sold-out.

- Hotel in Brookline Village: on the D and E line with easy access into Boston for the Expo at Hynes Convention Center and to catch the start buses in Boston Commons. BUT, the central Boston Green line T stations get completely shut down on race day making traveling through the city impossible on public transit on Marathon Monday.

- Bike riding spectators: a $100 gravel bike rental from Urban Cyclery and a hop on the commuter train to Ashland (5k mark of the race) was easy and fun in 2021 with a reduced field size. Unfortunately, this year no bikes were allowed on the commuter train which resulted in a rainy 2 hour bike ride to Ashland, only to ride back towards Boston for another 3+ hours in a leapfrog pattern along the race course. Although a difficult and stressful way to watch the race, Kris was able to see me 6 times and provide much needed encouragement, snacks, and clothing swaps.

- A couple days in Boston after the race allows for a more relaxing way to see the city, and avoid the fear of taking too many steps the days before the marathon. I highly recommend: La Morra (Italian restuarant in Brookline), Mike's Pastry for cannolis, Vinoteca di Monica (Italian resturant in the North End), Charles River Esplande for a 3-5 mile walk or run, Thinking Cup for a well balanced espresso drink (various locations around Boston), Zaftigs Delicatessen for breakfast/brunch (Brookline), Anatolia (Turkish food and Baklava in Brookline).

- Boston Commons for post-race pictures with your medal and Boston gear.

2023 Boston Marathon Recap

Need help training for a race, managing and preventing injuries, getting stronger and faster? Book a coaching consult here.

Dr Jessica Klain PT, DPT, COMT, CSCS, OCS, CNPT

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The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Science in Biology (2006)

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