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RAW: A Boston Marathon Recap

It was like running on a treadmill in a freezer, with someone throwing buckets of water at you with a high velocity fan to the face and another person is just fucking with the incline button for 26 miles.
-Cori Maley

Yep, that’s me describing the Boston marathon either on the ride home to the hotel or at dinner that evening. I honestly can’t remember, the entire day was such a cold, wet blur.

The day before marathon Monday the tv weather forecast read: “RAW” (where it usually says cold, warm, ice, snow etc.) I pointed at the tv and asked Steve if he knew what the hell that meant. Raw. 40 degrees, real feel 22 degrees, 15-20mph sustained E/SE wind (that means headwind for the duration of the marathon), gusts up to 50mph and oh yeah, watch for falling trees. Splendid.

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I woke up in Boston Monday, April 16th feeling excellent. Better than I thought i’d feel, even though I knew the weather was going to be a disaster. My head was screwed on right. I was going to face the hardest race conditions of my life head on for 3+ hours. Stephen reassured me that morning (and all the weeks leading up) that I was well trained for this, and a very strong runner. I’d finish the race and run the best I could. Like I always do.

I had good feelings until we got on the busses taking us to Hopkinton. All I heard for the hour drive were runners throwing their goals in the trash, talking about how hard this was going to be, how awful the weather was, they “can’t believe this is their Boston experience” etc. I stayed as positive as possible. I knew my goals were lofty and I would have to shift to effort based running depending on the wind, but my god people… rain isn’t a big deal and to throw your race, to throw 16-20 weeks of tough marathon training down the drain because the weather wasn’t ideal? In my head as I sat silently amongst some very negative runners, I knew I was mentally tougher than most.

I’m not delusional though. I do understand the affect of the elements. Temperature, weather, wind, cold, the sleet that started coming down while I waited the 40 minutes for a port-o-potty were going to slow my pace. While standing in line, a girl from Charlotte, NC caught my eyes under the mylar blanket i hooded myself in and went off like a cannon. “Can you believe this sh*t?? This is going to be *expletive* horrible! I can’t believe I flew in from NC!!!” …yada yada more expletives, you get it, she was NOT happy. I turned to her, red faced, purple lipped, shaking and said, it’s not going to be that bad once you get moving. Yeah this weather sucks, but you know what, we get to run a marathon today and when we’re done we get to say we ran Boston. It might not be that bad, try to stay positive.

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It might not be that bad. <—This was about as close to rainbows and butterflies as my morning went. Once I finally made it to the bathroom, my corral was already 15 minutes ahead, walking down to the start, which was a .7 mile walk away from the mud pit ahem i mean, Athlete’s Village.

I sat down on the mylar blanket. If you don’t know what this is, it’s the shiny space blanket runners get after marathons to keep their body temperature warm. It was a life saver and I just so happened to find it on the bus that morning. Alright, so, I’m on my blanket to try and stay out of the mud, to change socks, get my ipod ready, my fuel belt on. Last minute details which should have been easier had my fingers worked. It took longer than normal, I fumbled and cursed. I wish I had more clothes, I wish I had Hot Hands, I don’t want to run like this. I don’t want to run. It might not be that bad. Walking to the start corrals, it felt good to get moving, and was entertaining to see so many people trying their best to stay dry. Like walking to the corrals with grocery bags around their shoes. News flash: in rain like that, your shoes don’t stand a chance. In ankle deep puddles, which we hit in the first mile, your shoes don’t stand a chance. Just pray you wore the right socks to avoid blisters.

Am i boring you yet? I just think it’s important to set the stage as to what went on before the race started. This was the first and only time in my running career I wanted the race to end before I even stepped foot on the course. I can’t tell you how uncomfortably cold I was before the start. But once the gun fired, and our corral was off, I did get excited to start running and hoped to warm up, still optimistic things would get better.

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I embraced the rain. It honestly never bothered me too much. I kinda enjoyed running through the puddles, except when I got splashed from the runners at my sides: It felt like my crotch was getting water boarded. That was COLD rain. Cold. Icy cold. The rain was coming down. Off and on it would let up and drizzle, then in the next minute would downpour where I couldn’t pick my head up to look around. Notice I’m not describing the small iconic towns leading to Boston like most articles and recaps would normally detail. It’s because I didn’t see most of it. I wore a hat to shield the water from my eyes, which helped a ton, but looking up and around was mostly out of the question.

I remember seeing a train station in Framingham (i think) and thought it was pretty cool, then my head went back to looking ten feet in front of me. This is why I felt like I was running on a treadmill. I stared at asphalt for 3 hours. About 5-6 miles into the race my feet and fingers regained feeling. This isn’t so bad and my splits were looking alright. I kept reminding myself not to go too fast, stay conservative for the Newton Hills and the cold/wind which will zap energy. I needed to save all the energy I could to get to the finish.

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Around mile 8 I saw a Medical Tent and asked myself if I wanted to drop out. I started doing time/distance/Uber/How-mad-would-Stephen-be math in my head, then looked at my watch, hitting 7:30-7:40s pretty consistently and not actually feeling bad isn’t enough of a reason to drop out. But I wanted to. A lot. Also, I thought I might have to pee… but getting into a port-o-potty was completely out of the question. I knew if i sat in something out of the wind and cold I wouldn’t get back out, and didn’t want to worry anyone watching the app, getting mile splits and wondering what the heck happened if I just stopped.

I told myself to get to the halfway mark and assess. I tried high fiving kids, but my fingers hurt too much. I still gave my best smiles to volunteers, officers and to the crowds that lined the course. They were all so awesome, so needed, so necessary. 13 miles came and I hit the halfway mark at 1:40, which meant if I negative split somehow, I could squeak in a small PR today. I wasn’t running happy, I did NOT have a good time out on the course, but I was super pleased with my effort which reflected my training paces more than the clock would show that day. In hills, I slow about 25 seconds per mile, the same in winds above 15mph. The fact that i was going 22 seconds slower than my marathon goal pace in wind, cold, rain, etc says a lot. And I would have had a great PR if just one of those dang elements were absent that day.

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Alright back to the epic cold run. The Newton Hills. I saw the sign that said you were entering Newton (about mile 15-16) and i knew there would be some climbing until Heartbreak Hill at 21. My head went down and I went back to work. Watching the asphalt fly under my feet, feeling the gentle grade changes, up and down. Finally, I looked up again and saw a Nuun tent! Woo! Picked up my one and only cup from the race (I was holding a small 10 ounce bottle with Tailwind that took me 13 miles to drink) and shortly after I glanced up and saw a brown banner that said “Heartbreak is Over!” This was the only time on the course I laughed, I can’t believe i was holding back for this… Heartbreak hill was easy, the Newton Hills were just a few grade changes, knowing the last 5 miles were generally downhill, I hit it and tried to run faster. Tried.

My legs wouldn’t open up. I couldn’t finish as strong as I wanted, I couldn’t feel my quads at this point. The cold and wind were holding me back quite literally. I still pushed and maintained, fought and rallied. I was keeping an eye out at Mile 23, my friend Jordan and her husband Jake were going to be on course, and I desperately needed a pick me up. Somewhere around 22 (I think, it could have been earlier, this was all such a blur) I saw a woman holding a sign with a cartoon beer mug and what looked to be a dixie cup of glorious pilsner. I did a middle of the road 90 degree left turn and asked, “IS THAT BEER?!” She smiled and handed it me. I chugged the 6 ounces of liquid carbs and pain killer. Sorry mom, I take candy, booze and other things from strangers. Quite often now that I think about it.

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The 23 sign came and went and I was a little disheartened, but not more than a few moments later I heard Jordan and Jake screaming my name and holding a wet, white sign that read Cori Maley Whiting, IN! (my hometown and where I know Jordan from) I stopped to hug her and started crying/hyperventilating and she yelled at me to keep going. It took a few minutes to stop gasping for air (crying and running is not easy).

I needed that. I could run a 5K. I will finish. I tried to pick up the pace, I suppose I did here and there, but my legs were ice cold and still couldn’t open my stride. When I tried, the wind was quick to put me in my place. I saw my watch, did quick math and knew I was close to a PR, but I didn’t think it was smart to attempt to push 7:00 minute miles just for a few seconds off my current best time. I chose wisely and tucked my headphones away (my 10 year old ipod nano is now broken btw) and took in what I could of the last half mile of Boston. The iconic, “Right on Hereford, left on Boylston” repeated in my head.

And like that, it was over.

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I crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, profusely thanked the volunteer who slung a medal over my neck and to the women who wrapped me in the very fancy velcro hooded mylar coat and heard my group yell to me. Steve, Clint & Matt were right there behind the barrier. I left the food, drinks, free Sam Adams beer for the other runners, I just wanted to get out of the weather.

3:21:54 (1:05 slower than my PR)

Steve was so proud of me, my effort and impressed with my splits. I felt the same, I was pleased with my effort, even though I did not have one ounce of fun. I never gave up and I stayed positive. That in itself was worth starting and will make me an even stronger runner for future races.

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After marathons I usually cross the line with a new version of self worth, appreciation and knowing I can accomplish big things. But after that day in Boston, I feel unbreakable. I truly feel like I can get through anything. I have run in rain, heat, snow, sleet, hail, wind, ice, 9 degrees, up trails, down mountains, through mud and in the middle of the night. Stephen has pushed me so far out of my running comfort zone during the last year so I could become a better runner. He saw potential in me during our first trail runs together where I was SO uncomfortable and afraid and constantly rolling ankles and sobbing because it was just too plain hard. Why am I gushing so much over him? Because I wouldn’t be the runner I am today if it weren’t for him. I’ve never had someone believe more in me. I owe him. He just made me fall more in love with a sport i’m already obsessed with and gives me the courage to constantly do my best.

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My final thoughts on Boston: It was that bad. And totally not fun but I’m so glad I didn’t skip it or quit along the way and so happy with my effort and the time I crossed the line with. As much as I didn’t want to go back and repeat Boston, I may just have to…I would kinda like to see the course. haha.

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Tuesday morning I gazed out the hotel window at the Charles River one last time before we drove back to Maryland. It was dry, cloudy, 45 degrees and with my head cocked to the side like a dog, I noticed the waves on the river were moving the opposite direction. A western breeze. Absolute perfect marathon conditions with a tailwind. Funny how life works like that sometimes.

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Phone Dump Friday #11

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: legs- front squats 3 x 5 @ 135#, 4m run 9:50/pace
Wednesday: 6m easy 9:45/pace
Thursday: 1 hour Corepower Yoga, 5m run 8:22/pace, Crossfit

Happy Friday! I will be recapping the weekend of Ragnar & the crazy hot St. Mary’s Historic 1/2 I did in 36 hours next week. I also have a Spartan Race to giveaway, so stay tuned, enjoy some of the random pictures that didn’t make a blog post and get some miles in this weekend!

Pretty Maryland…

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From Ragnar DC last September, always loved this sign.

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Exhausted from a hot run a few weeks back.

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One of my favorite pictures of this girl…

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heart shaped sweat…

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Got this beautiful sports bra at the CorePower Yoga studio in Bethesda.

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Eggcellent.

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Rock Creek Trail

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Capital City Cheesecake (Takoma Park) Funfetti mini cheesecakes!

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Arm raspberries from sandbag cleans #Crossfit

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Follow Mimi on Instagram, she’s the one who makes my hair beautiful

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And just another beautiful Maryland shot to sandwich this phone cleanse.

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Last Week

Monday: 8m easy 8:57/pace

Tuesday: Crossfit, 5m easy 9:00/pace

Wednesday: 5 rounds of 25cal row, hang snatches 3 @ 65#, handstand against wall + 5m easy run 8:47/pace after workout.

Thursday: Crossfit

Friday: 1st leg of Ragnar 4.3m 9:30/pace

Saturday: 2nd leg of Ragnar 5.4m 9:28/pace, 3rd leg 5.7 (Garmin didn’t work)

Sunday: St. Mary’s Historic 1/2 13.1m 2:10:32

Total Miles: 46.5


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Thanksgiving in Pictures

Monday: Rest

Hey guys! I promise the Philly race recap/BQ awesomesauce post is going up this week! Keep an eye out, but for now I needed to say hi, happy Tuesday, sorry i’ve fallen off the face of the earth and I am so thankful for many people in my life who support and love me. Enjoy some of the fun pictures from Thanksgiving! ❤

View at the back cabin:

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nephews: Brant Mason Jaxon, cousins: Brooke & Colton & 2nd cousin: Gabby 🙂

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Sister-in-law Trish & my brother Adam

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Le & my cousin Becky (you can see the Maley resemblance right?)

My nephews Brant, Mason & Jaxon could not stop talking about how many pull-ups and pushups they could do or how fast they could run! Melted my heart, they were speaking my language, and they aren’t full of it… those kids are strong!

In the Maley house, Uno is tradition.

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purple teeth ain’t no thing

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sleeping bag snuggie? I don’t know but it was warm

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Mara, a new face and always welcome!

More cards…and a hat that was worn by the “President.”

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Becky, Josh, Mara, Trish

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Matt, Me, Adam

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Last Week

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Crossfit

Wed-Sat: Rest

Sunday: 7m + 30 min lift (front squats & push presses for volume)

Total Miles: 7 (that first run back felt glorious!)

How did you spend your Thanksgiving?

Annual traditions?? Ours involve a lot of drinking and cards haha


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Week 11, You Were a Jerk.

Monday: 6m easy 8:20/pace

I’ve been waiting for it to happen. Waiting patiently for the week of training where it felt hard, unachievable and where tears would roll. Up until now marathon training has been going almost too good to be true. Every pace, every workout, every strength session, better than the last. Recovery has been second nature, I’m sleeping like a dream, eating well, foam rolling, early AM wake ups, all on point. Then came Week 11.

It took long enough and now hopefully it has passed and I can move forward. But not before giving you guys an inside look cause all the instagram pics and happy-go-running status updates aren’t always as they seem.

This was my highest mileage week ever. I topped it off at 58.9 miles and finished the month at an all time high as well, 218.6. The picture below is actually from a long run 9 days ago, not last week. It’s the only one i found of me smiling. Like hey, look at me the distance isn’t killing me at all right now.

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The mileage really wasn’t getting to me, it’s mostly everything else that happened on top of it. I had sinus headaches all week and the allergy meds I was taking made me super tired and loopy.

Then Tuesday at Crossfit, I basically took a swan dive into a box and skinned up my shin pretty bad, on the first box jump 😦 You know how people say “the mind gives up before the body?” Well, not always, cause my mind and right leg were on top the box and lefty just wasn’t recovered or ready to jump. Stupid, unbalanced, left side.

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I felt the skinned up, bruised to hell left leg days after, especially while running. Every step was a reminder that my shin was sore. I was barely holding onto g0al paces during speed work. I couldn’t get my head into the run and wished each day was a rest day.

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But when the rest day (Wednesday) came, my legs were so tight i think it hurt more not to workout that day. Exhaustion set in hard this past week, every easy run felt labored. I needed a 1-2 hour nap every day before heading back to my evening shifts at the gym. Probably because of a mix of the allergies and workouts.

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she naps with me often

I drank about half a bottle of wine one of the nights because i was super stressed all week for no reason. The wine did not help the anxiety. I slept awful almost every night, not sure if it was because of sore muscles or the naps, but either way i was getting about 5-6 very interrupted hours a night, which is NOT good for me.

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Then just as the week was ending I had one last hard run left. 16 miles. The weather called for rain/thunderstorms all morning so i decided to head to the gym for the treadmill. Not fun, but neither is running in wet weather for 2.5 hours. Even though it was only misting at the time, i figured i’d still be soaked and wasn’t into it. Of course, it never rained. 16 miles later, i probably could have ran outside. Dammit.

Next on the list was a haircut and dye job. You try running for 2.5 hours and then sit in a chair with patience for five more. It’s tough and to make a long story short i love the cut, hate the color.

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I’m basically a redhead on top and a grey/green (ashy blond) on the bottom (you can’t see it, but after one wash it happened). And i’m not looking for compliments, I asked for this:12106068_1664601663751478_1576883465_n

So yeah, i did the girl thing: came home and cried and complained about everything to my husband. The exhaustion and allergies, the missed box jump, the shitty sleepless nights, the not-so-great runs, and finally spending ALL THE MONEY on hair that I don’t even like! And then crying because i have nothing to cry about! These “problems” are hardly problems, I was just overwhelmed because everything was happening all at once. Week 11, you bastard. Cameron lovingly reminded me i’m allowed to be upset and frustrated by all those things, fed me candy and took my mind off of all my adulting with some video games.

The next day I had a run date with a few Ragnarian’s along a trail in Arlington. This was a big turnaround for my week. I got to run in a new location and catch up with friends. The best part was running finally felt easy! It was fun again and i relaxed for the first time in over a week.

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Steve, Me, Normailed, Nick

Steve and his fiance were nice enough to have us over their house after for a cook out, beers and hot tubbing. I needed this. The tub was so relaxing, the food was great and I needed beer! It was a super cool secluded house too, felt like a mini-vacation spot.

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So, i guess one Instagram picture was honest. The one with the woods in the background. “Keep me outside, keep me happy.” I meant that. I’m a solar powered machine and I need nature to stay happy.

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I cropped that picture from this one, because I look like a third wheel. Haha.

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Monday’s easy run went well. It felt similar to Sunday’s. Effortless and so fun. It just goes to show that when you have a bunch of crap runs, a good one is just around the corner. Most of the time I run for those days, but I wouldn’t notice them unless I knew what the hard ones felt like.

Bye Week 11!

Last Week

Monday: 10m interval (6 x 1m repeats @ 7:13/p)

Tuesday: Crossfit, 9.5m easy 9:20/pace

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Crossfit, 10m tempo (MGP 8m @ 7:51/p)

Friday: 7m easy 9:00/pace, strength circuit: 25# single arm db snatch + weighted box step ups + butterfly situps

Saturday: 16m long 8:25/pace

Sunday: 6.4m 10:00/pace

Total Miles: 58.9

How do you get through the tough weeks of marathoning?

What’s your happy place?