My Bumpy Road to Boston

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I started 2016 racing The Hot Chocolate 15K in San Francisco on January 10th, feeling strong and with decent speed (1:05:43) and 1AG. Then, a week later on January 17th I went to Arizona with Diane Batchelor and Shawna Clark, to run the Rock and Roll half marathon as part of the Grand Prix and the end of the championship series. Diane and I won the championship for our age groups, I finished my half marathon with a PR of 1:32:17and 1AG.   I felt great during almost the whole race, but there was something bothering me on my right foot that I had been ignoring for a while, I believe since November 2015. By mile 11 I felt a sharp pain in my heel, but I kept going until I finished the race very strong, but also in pain. Walking back to the hotel I was limping, hmmm, this is not good. When I returned home the first thing I did was schedule an appointment with Dr. Christopher Mattock our great sponsor from Precision Sports Medicine and Chiropractic. Plantar Fasciitis he said 🙁 I told him, I’m registered for The Boston Marathon on April 18th. You will be fine he said if you just want to run the race, but no running for 5 weeks, agrrrrr! It was hard to walk, especially around where I live because there are lots of hills. I wasn’t able to do yoga for two weeks, and not able to use the elliptical either. I was able to do spinning but not pushing too hard. I don’t have a gym membership, but hey… we have our marvelous Joe Condon, and he has a little gym at his home, so I asked him if I could use his spinning bikes and “yes of course” he said. Thank you Joe, you are always there to help! During this time I challenged myself to do pushups, squats and planks, then yoga when I was finally able, until I had the green light to run 3-5 miles and then increasing the distance little by little feeling out of shape.

I booked my flight to Boston with Southwest for a very good price and thanks to good friends I also had a place to stay for free; after all, if I’m not able to build up my endurance, I will cancel my flight, it’s easy with Southwest.

I did everything possible to recover, even buying different shoes (that was not going to change anything, but in my mind it did), buying and returning different inserts because they were hurting my good foot and not helping the “bad one”. Then I saw an advertisement for Heel Seats or Heal Cups, and having nothing to lose I ordered a pair, and bingo! They have been my saviors. Stretching and trying to get strong, little by little I was adding more miles on my training until I was able to run 20 slow miles with rolling hills and without pain, so there was hope.

I encouraged my husband Greg to run the Couples Relay with me in February; we did it and we had fun, his first race and he enjoyed the whole thing. Then I ran the Shamrock 5K on March 13, very slow but not too bad for a 1AG. On March 20th   I wanted to test my legs on a longer distance, so I ran the Oakland half (1:39), 1AG. Since I am again this year running the Rock ‘n Roll events for the half marathon Grand Prix, I decided to run The SF Rock ‘n Roll hilly half on April 03, probably not a good idea since that one was too close to the Boston marathon, but my plan was to run it as a hard tempo (a hard one); struggling after mile 10, but finishing with a better time than the Oakland half, this time was 1:38:55 and 1AG. With that on my legs, I felt a little more confident, but a little nervous feeling undertrained; but because my goal was to finish the race and not hurt myself, I made the final decision to go and run Boston; so it was time to get ready.

On Friday April 15th at about 5:30 pm I received an e-mail from Southwest informing me that my flight for Saturday 4/16 at 6 am SF-Denver-Boston was canceled due to heavy snow in Denver. Now what? No flights with Southwest until Sunday. So now it was time to do the whole thing again and find a flight to Boston. A few hours later and $230 extra for my ticket and with my stress level super high, finally time to have dinner and then almost immediately go to bed because my flight was scheduled to depart at 5 am. Everything went as planned and I arrived in Boston without any delays. Sunday morning, a cup of coffee and out for a little run with my friend Toni, then to pick up our bibs, later on pre-race dinner with friends and we were all set for next day.

Race day the weather was supposed to be, the lowest 43 and highest 57, with a nice breeze to finish. On that morning my friend Toni and I went to catch the buses, while getting in line we found Chuck Ojeda so we rode together to Hopkinton. Bathroom time, a quick stop for a picture and then we went to a house where a group of runners gather before the race, it has been a tradition for some of Forward Motion members to go there and wait until it’s time to walk to the corrals. When our time approached, Chuck and I headed out, we were both in the 2nd Wave, he was in corral 5 and I in corral 6. This is not the feeling of 43 or 50 degrees, it feels hotter than that we said. It wasn’t as hot as it was in 2012, but it was warmer than expected. I was feeling a little nervous thinking if I was going to finish the race without getting hurt; the weather could be a big issue during a long distance race and especially if we are not well prepared for the distance. I kept saying to myself “I have to stay positive and run a smart race”.

Time to start and there we went. Running conservative the first 3 miles trying to keep a good pace without going too fast: 7:40:97, 7:32:67, 7:44:35 (22:57); next 3 miles nice and steady pace as well: 7:26:35, 7:46:28, 7:42:70 for (45:53 10K), not a bad pace but was still early in the race; if I go too fast I will pay the price later. My next four miles: 7:44:71, 7:49:65, 7:51:02, 7:48:12 reaching mile 10 at 1:17:06, very good time considering my lack of preparation, but thinking also I had to push hard if I wanted to keep that pace. I started feeling a little concerned about my breathing, and there came the negative thoughts, “what if?” All I had in my mind was “I’m out of shape, I should not push too hard, I’m going to pay the price later”….One thing came to my mind, words from Diane Batchelor wishing me good luck a week before during our last 12 miles we ran together “Good luck Dear, please don’t try to be a hero!” A good thing to keep in mind.

There are little rolling hills after mile 10 but not a big deal, my pace was still very good, but I wasn’t feeling that great, I was breathing a little hard. Then I passed two gentlemen, and I heard one of them saying “my heart beats are a little higher than usual” according to his HR monitor, and his friend said “It’s a little hot today, we better slow down a little bit.” That was encouraging for me; aha! It’s not just me, so I switched gears a little bit and thinking more positively “I’m in good shape, and all I need is to finish this.” It works good for me to get distracted during races I’m not feeling too good, and reading those funny signs along the course definitely helped. Mile 11, 12, 13 as follow: 8:01, 7:47:75, 7:54:75. I reached the half way point in 1:40:51, a very good half I think.

Here comes more “little” rolling hills so my next three miles 7:53:59, 8:04:41, 7:47:50, at this point, mile 16, I saw Chuck Ojeda, it was very encouraging to see a teammate. I tapped on his shoulder, I wished him the best and I kept going. I was still feeling good, not great but making good time.

After mile 16 and until mile 21 those who have run Boston know, this could be the hardest part and for those who didn’t take those first 5 miles downhill with caution will suffer the consequences. With all my humble heart I am not afraid of running up the hills, not when I am well trained. “I know this time I’m not in the best shape so the only thing I can do is slow down my pace, do not stop and keep going, slowly but consistently.” So mile 17, 8:15:33, mile 18, 8:16:63, mile 19, 7:56:96 (still fighting), mile 20, 8:22:65 and I thought I was going to feel better after mile 20 and that I was going back to sub 8 min/mile. Nope! My legs were giving up, I had cramps in both legs, but my right leg was the worst. At this point, I decided not to check my Garmin anymore, just went by feeling and tried to put myself into the “survival mode.” I didn’t want to stop there, I just shake my legs a little bit with a quick stretching and went up the hill. Mile 21, 8:47:82, mile 22, 8:06:73, and pushing hard; mile 23, 8:10:33 but not feeling any better. My left leg is alright now but my right leg still has cramps; mile 24, 8:34:17. At mile 25 I had to stop for a little bit, walking and stretching wouldn’t hurt, so I did, and for this mile (8:36:92). Okay, I have to finish this without stopping again so here I go, slowly trying to pick up the pace, but again… I had to stop, walked, walked and stretched. My mile 26 was 9:03:01. Oh woman! Bring your jungle courage and that strong mind back to the game, still some road to cover and this is the longest part 😉 (it was .4 on my Garmin). That feeling when you turn left on Boylston and you see that finish line, but still looking far away. I pushed as hard as I could, my legs were “dead.” A man running next to me he said: “you got this, you look strong” (really?), I said “thank you, you too” (we become liars during races, don’t you think?), but only I knew I was done, and trying to pass that finish line. Just 150-200 meters to the finish, I heard “Go Rosaura, go”, I looked to my right and smiled (I do smile even if I feel I’m dying when I’m racing); it was my friend Nora Domingo, Ruben’s wife; she is always pretty much at the same spot almost every year Ruben is running the race. It feels good to hear our name while racing, especially in races like this one. With that big encouragement I did the last push, hard, very hard, barely moving, but I finished with 3:31:58. Did I say enough that I pushed hard in this race? Really, really hard. No foot pain and no knee pain, just a little out of shape and undertrained.

I am very proud of myself, not the best time but very happy with my finishing time and very happy that after all the ups and downs I was able to go to Boston, run the race and finish it with a very decent time. 6th place in my age group. It was worth it!!!

It took me a while to recover when I passed the finish line, cramps, and more cramps. Walked and walked, very slow until I felt it was time to get my bag and change my clothes, grabbed my phone, called my husband, big supporter and my fan number one, Greg. It was time now to take a few pictures to post in Facebook (we have to do it, right?), then I headed to the meeting area where we agreed to meet. Chuck Ojeda and cheerleader Janet Tsuji, Toni Recca who finished with a PR 3:30, Rachelle Fong, her sister Alisa and her family.

We all separated a little after taking our mandatory pictures, having some recovery drinks and talking about our experiences. Toni and I went to the apartment where we stayed, I opened my can of sardines, OMG! My body really appreciated it! I Stretched a little bit followed by a nice warm shower, a little bit of resting and then out again to meet our group for dinner where we had a great time. We left the restaurant close to 10 pm, we stopped to get some “mandatory” cannoli and to get ready for the next day. The next morning I woke up at 3 am to catch a flight at 5 am and came back home. Phew!!! A very bumpy road, but I’m very happy for making the decision to go and run the race.

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About Author

I was born in Costa Rica in a little town (a jungle) near the border with Nicaragua. I didn't have any exposure to sport until I was 19 years old when I started the practice of Taekwon-Do, activity I did for 11 years. I left Taekwon-Do behind and I started swimming and learning how to ride a bicycle. Running wasn't something I enjoyed at the beginning and I suffered when I had to run 1-2 miles; little by little I started feeling more comfortable with it, so very quick running was part of my workouts because it was also helping me to get in better aerobic condition for my swimming practice. With some running, swimming and struggling with the bike rides I immersed into Triathlon, activity I did for a good amount of time. My first trip to this country was in 1996 to participate in an Olympic distance triathlon, the 1996 championship in Cleveland, Ohio, and that was the end of my triathlon career; I haven't done one ever since. I've been running for almost 30 years and I have done several 5K, 10K and half marathons, but it wasn't until 2006 when I ran my first Marathon in Portland with a time of 3:37, a qualifying time for Boston, but I didn't know that. I have done 16 marathons - three of them in Boston - and one 50K. In 2015 I ran Boston marathon in 3:24:50, a PR and 7AG; six days later I ran Big Sur Marathon (Boston to Big Sur Challenge) in 3:46, a decent time considering the terrain and the short brake I had between races. I continued training and racing during the following months but not running more than 16 miles as a long run, then I had the opportunity to run San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Full Marathon and I had only 6 weeks to get ready. I went there just thinking about finishing the race with a decent time, but I saw again my opportunity to improve my time from Boston/15 and I did it, I finished this race in 3:24:17 a new PR. I started 2016 with a 15K race in San Francisco and a week after I went to Arizona to be part of the Grand Prix Championship half marathon from the Rock 'n Roll Series. I ran this half marathon in 1:32:17, PR for over a minute improving my time from 4 years ago; this allow me to win also the international championship in my age group. Running is my passion and I only wish I can continue running "healthy" for a good amount of years.

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