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Boston Marathon, April 20, 2015

Kathleen Michaud

My "A" goal was under 3 hours. I felt that was a somewhat conservative goal given how fit I was feeling going into the race. I knew I could break 3 without it having to be 100% perfect conditions.

However, I had two things working against me - (1) I had such a slow qualifying time I had to start in wave 2 corral 5. It took almost 5 miles before I could hit goal pace consistently and really get into a groove.

(2)The weather - the headwind was awful and because I was passing everyone for most of the race it was difficult to find anyone to draft off of.

I ran a 3:02:41 - still a PR by over 20 minutes, but I know I was capable and fit enough for a faster time. I am very happy with how I ran considering the conditions and my starting place. It was a rough day out there and I was able to maintain a consistent pace and finish with a little left in the tank. That is more than I could have asked for.

It is still amazing to think I ran a marathon on a windy day at around the pace I ran a 5 mile race in just 10 months ago.

{Kathleen began training with Fernando's Personal Coaching model in January.]

Michele Gorham

My goal: average 9:30s (4:10:00)
My time: average 9:58s (4:20:56)

The first few miles were very slow. So many people, it was hard to settle into a comfortable pace. Also, for the first time, I underdressed and decided to keep the sweatshirt I planned to toss at the start. It got soaked and held the water (fuzzy cotton :/), so I was pretty frigid the whole time (especially at the hills when the wind picked up). I bet the race photos will be pretty hilarious.

I had a pretty good idea early on that 9:30s would be a struggle, so I decided instead of pushing to increase my speed I would try and focus on keeping it consistent and finish feeling strong...which I did.

The beginning of the hills went great (mile 21 kicked my butt), but I recouped and finished well.

I walked through three of the water stops, but otherwise ran the whole way. I felt confident in my running the whole time and even though I didn't hit the time I wanted I feel I ran well and finished well and am happy with my results.

There were no issues at all during the race. Both my knees held up well (I wore braces on both). Nutrition and hydration were spot on....I think it was my salt levels that caused my problems at Baystate. And I am feeling pretty great today [day after the marathon].

Oh, I didn't really care for the crowds.

[We asked Michele about her previous marathons -- "Smuttynose was 4 40 something, and Bay State was almost 4:30, so I'm definitely going in the right direction!" She certainly is.]

Sharon Yu

The weather was really not too bad for running. It did get a little tough towards the end when the rain and wind picked up, but personally, I found it better than last year, which was too warm. I ran 23 minutes faster this year, although it was still a slow time (5:17:48). I was happy with it. I think my goals are always too ambitious for my capabilities but it doesn't hurt to keep trying or adjusting. It was such a tough winter to train with lots of treadmill running, but we all seemed to survive and get the training done.

Michele will tell you about her race, but I have to say that she had such a great run. Her splits all the way through were so even, including the hills where she never slowed down. She is very happy!

Karen Durante

I think I finally got it right. It may not happen again, but this year, the 2015 Boston Marathon, was by far my best.

It's unusual that I say this because it was not my best time - I've had 2 better times.
2003, 3:43, 22nd in age division 50-54
2011, 3:39, 7th in age division 60-64
2013, 3:35, 6th in age division 60-64
2014, 3:47, 10th in age division 60-64
2015, 3:40, 7th in age division 60-64

All of my other Boston marathons have been difficult. I've been known to say Boston just "eats you up and spits you out". I always get leg cramps - sometimes just before the hills, or during the hills or even after the hills. 2003 was my first Boston and I had no idea what to expect - it was not fun. In 2011 I was on a 3:30 pace until mile 23. I added another 9 minutes with a bath-room break and several walk breaks before I hit the finish line. In 2013 I trained really hard and ended up with my best time - but it was painful. I knew by mile 16 that my quads were trashed from the downhills at the beginning which I, of course, ran too fast. My first half was significantly faster than my second. In 2014 I didn't expect much because I missed about 4 weeks of training during Jan/Feb due to surgery. I walked a lot during the hills and later miles. I was never really disappointed with my results; I just thought if only I could make it through without being forced to walk.

But, 2015 was different I had a running partner, Jen Rapaport, who guided me along the way with words of encouragement. She was also my spotter along the course for spectators who we knew would be out there. I have never had so much fun running a marathon. I went into it with low expectations. Between a number of nagging injuries during the training months and this horrendous winter, just getting to the starting line was a mission in itself. Most of the races I generally run during training season (Black Cat 20 and MV 20 miler in particular) were cancelled - so I had no gauge of how I would do. So, my goal was (1) to finish; (2) to break 3:45 and (3) to break 3:40. The 3:40 best case scenario was based on what I actually thought I could accomplish on this particular day if everything was perfect.

The temperature was perfect but the added rain and wind was an issue. It was more of an issue for me before the race (worrying about it) than while I was running. Coach Fernando gave us last minute advice on what to wear, how to fuel, how to avoid cramping and all of this was in my head. I knew it was raining - more in some spots and less in others. I remember trying to avoid puddles. I remember some wind on the hills and coming into downtown but there were so many people on the course I really didn't notice it much. I think I was in what Coach Fernando refers to as "THE ZONE". I could feel that my legs were tightening around 16 and prayed that they didn't cramp. I adjusted my stride a bit. I took quick baby steps on the uphills and went very easy on the downhills all the way through the race. I tried to stay relaxed and not get overwhelmed. I actually ran up and over the Newton hills (not something I have ever done in Boston) feeling little to no pain. I checked off each hill as I finished it. I knew if I kept running this way and if my legs didn't cramp, I would be able to pick up the pace as I got closer to the finish. I shuffled through mile 23 because I know this is where many runners get let cramps by starting to run a faster pace too quickly. After that I just ran as fast as I could. My last 3 miles were at least 3 minutes faster than my first 3 miles. I saw so many people out there in the cold rain and wind during the race - spectators, volunteers, law enforcement and runners - all smiles. I was able to have several short conversations with other runners, joke around with Jen and was able to wave and smile at my friends and family along the course. The result was a 3:40:12. 7th place age group finish. Eight of the top ten finishers in my age group were 60 years old. One was 61. I am at the top end at 64 and I cannot wait until I age up next year. I will try this again and hopefully I will get it right again. And, I won't stop to pat my sister's 3 dogs - that took at least the 12 seconds that I went over 3:40. :):)

After record-breaking snow in the winter, marathon day was cold (40s) and rainy. At least it wasn't snowing.
All GTDers who trained throughout the winter in Coach Braz's program finished the marathon. Here are some of their stories.

Denise Young

It was the most amazing and fun experience I've ever had in my life. I'd do it again tomorrow if I could. I would love to run the Boston Marathon again if I ever had the opportunity to do so.

I wasn't bothered by the weather. I'd prefer to run in cool rainy temperatures than sunny warmer temperatures. I was prepared for the rainy weather since I discussed what to wear with Coach Fernando the night before. I purchased a storm jacket which was wind and rain repellent at the expo. I wore that jacket, gloves, visor, rain poncho, and applied aquaphor to toes to prevent blisters once sneakers became soaked. I know my running partner thought I stressed too much about the forecast, but I felt prepared and glad I planned for it. I felt confident beginning the run and was not going to let the weather ruin the day for me.

My first goal was to finish, and my second goal was to finish in 5:30. Dream goal was to finish in 5:15 or at 12 minute pace. I did better than I thought-- 5:11:32 at 11:52 pace! Woohoo!

I started training December 1, 2014. The training experience was intense and sometimes exhausting, since I work full time, have a family including aging parents that require lots of my time, volunteer on a town committee and at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. I felt like I had no downtime. It was tough to work a 12 hour day where I'm on my feet a lot and then come home and ride the bike for 60 to 75 minutes. I also worked in core training 3-4 times a week as Coach Fernando instructed. It took commitment and lots of discipline to do that.

Running long 15-18 miles in single digit temperatures was a struggle at times despite dressing in layers my legs were very stiff after 3 hours. It was only tolerable because I had the company of 2-6 members of my running club to join me on Saturday mornings. Throughout training I also had deep tissue massages 2 times a month to help prevent injury.

Despite the challenges, the training experience had many more benefits and rewards for me. I feel stronger now and have lost some weight. I'm eating healthier and feeling more like an accomplished runner. Having been through all that I know now I've got grit and a very supportive husband to endure ME through all that training.

The execution on marathon went as according to Coach Fernando's plan. I ran mostly on feel, sticking to training paces of 11:30 to 12:00 until the last few miles, then tried to run faster. According to the texts I received from AT&T I had negative splits. I seldom looked at my garmin because it was under my jacket sleeve and it doesn't perform so well when wet. My running partner kept calculating what our pace was when we ran by mile markers. She kept me back several times when I got too pumped up from the cheering spectators. The instructions from Coach Fernando to walk 30-60 secs during water stops, when to have electrolyte replacements and nutrition, prevented cramps and fatigue. My running partner and I also followed his strategy for running up hills and down hills. We never stopped to walk except at water stops.

I would have never been able to do this without Coach Fernando's expertise, words of wisdom and emotional support.

Carol Blanchard

My goal was to run with Dawn Mickee and to finish in under 4:10. We were in wave 4 so it was raining from start to finish, and with the cooler temps and then the wind I never got into a groove.

Like everyone else though, I thought how fitting that the day was a tough one considering the weather we had to train through. The entire race was work, but I finished in 4:09:23 and Dawn finished in 4:04:35, so from that perspective it was definitely a success. Dawn and I split up when we turned to run the hills in Newton - she was running a pace that was a little too fast for me and I was afraid that I would cramp up if I continued at that pace.

Fernando's training worked its magic and although it was not the best run, I never gave up. Glad it's over for this year.

Dawn Mickee

My goal was 4:10 (Boston qualifier) and I did 4:04 and felt good despite/thanks to the weather (don't like heat).

I had a herniated disk a few months back, and so Fernando had to ease me back into the training. I also insisted that I be allowed to continue boot camp 3x week. The program that he laid out for me worked well. I made it to the Start as well as the finish within my qualifying time. I couldn't have done it without Him and my BFF Carol, who paced me for the first 17 miles.

Other GTD runners at Boston this year were Shawn Conway (3:10:35), Yazmin Acosta (3:45:59), Julie Valenti (3:56:42), and Tara Stuart (4:30:16).