Coach Julia Goes To Boston: A marathon on zero mileage

Remember in February when I mentioned that I’d had the flu three times since Christmas? That I was signed up to run the Boston Marathon and would just forge on with two months of training to go? Well, that plan got chucked out the window when I got a fever again at the end of March,  just three weeks before the race.

I can’t say why this was happening; it still baffles me. To make sure that it really was just a crappy immune system my doctor had me do every blood and urine test possible and everything checked out fine. Thank goodness.

So consulting with my dear husband and my nutritionist we all decided that as long as I was healthy the day of the race I would be fine. My nutrition plan remained the same with added supplements to boost my health.

Training was rough. I was slow and weak and a little discouraged, but I put my trust into these two caring people and knew that things would work out.

And they did. We arrived in Boston on Friday night and Saturday morning went for a run and I felt fine. Great even. Sunday we had an event to go to (will talk about it in another post!) where we ran a little and I still felt fine. Monday morning I woke up ready to go… sort of.

There’d been were record high temperatures of85°f on Sunday. It was supposed to drop to 70°f but that is still really warm for a marathon. I bought sunscreen and a white cap with a long visor and hoped for the best. Boston has a 6 hour 15 minute cutoff and I just hoped to make it to the finish line.

But if I was at the start, I knew in my heart that I’d make it because I was feeling better than I had in weeks.

If you are reading this and you ever find yourself in the same predicament my advice will always be to give it a go, as along as you feel in good health on race day. If I was still feeling down or the fever had come back or I knew that I just didn’t have it in me, I would not have started the marathon. I would have opted to be a cheerleader for my friends and leave it at that.

I’ve seen runners start marathons in an unhealthy state and not only have a bad race, but they take so much longer to get well again. I felt good and knew that I had enough experience to pull myself through. My plan was to savour every minute of the race and enjoy myself.

I didn’t realise the Boston course was such roller coaster! It’s straight downhill the first kilometre and then back uphill. Repeat until about mile 20 and then it’s relatively flat. My race tactic was to walk 30 seconds every mile, which corresponded to a water station. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for the entire distance but it was a good starting plan. It lasted for about the first half, though I walked the hills. After that I just did what I had to do to get to the finish.

Big thanks to Up & Runner Meena for being a great cheer squad and taking this photo!

It was hot, hot, hot for the first two hours of my race (wave 4) then it thankfully clouded over and we could concentrate on running. The course is iconic and the crowds were fantastic. I laughed while I passed the screaming Wellesley girls and almost cried when I saw the infamous CITGO sign. It also meant I only had a mile to go!

The hardest part of the marathon was from the finish line to my hotel a half a mile away. Your mind really does help you run for twenty-six miles, but once you’ve done that it pretty much shuts down. I had to sit down and rest three times along the way. But I finally made it.

I stopped a woman on the street and asked her to take my picture, I wanted a proper keepsake with my medal. After handing me back my phone she gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and told me she was proud of me. Yep, I shed a tear and waddled my way back to the hotel.

My final time was 5:27:54, well within the cutoff time. Yay!

We toured Cape Cod for the rest of the week and then flew home. After six days of complete rest, I started running again and I’m feeling hopeful that I’ll be able to train without illness and interruption. Onward to IM Cervia!

  1. Nico
    Me too, I am so proud of you, fearless girl! <3
    • Julia Jones
      Fearless, yes Nico!
  2. Marci
    I still see no contradictory evidence to my theory that you are the latest model of the terminator. The lady made me cry too, while reading this! So happy this trip worked out for you!
    • Julia Jones
      Thank you, Marci <3
  3. Barbara
    Sei la migliore coach Julia!
  4. Cels
    fabulous. well done. and am so glad that lady knew exactly what to say on all of our behalves! xx.
  5. Tessa
    You never cease to amaze <3 So happy you managed to run despite all the setbacks. Looking forward to your next post!
  6. meena
    I made it to the U&R front page!!! Just kidding. :) It was seriously awesome just being there and soaking up the energy from the crowds!! And to see you so jubilant at mile 16!!! You were hardly sweating!!! Iron(wo)man indeed!!!
  7. Helen
    Look at you - being all sensible and awesome rolled into one. So thrilled for you, and inspired.
  8. Anne
    All kinds of wonderful. Congratulations! Love the medal photo, and the story that goes with it.
  9. javi plantillas
    This is such an inspirational blog. Congratulations for this post and for your medal! I hope you keep writing a long time!
    • Julia Esther Jones
      Thank you Javi!