Boston Qualified - FINALLY!

“ I was completely alone… but I felt like I was winning my own race. That’s how I suggest that anybody should run: to imagine that you’re winning” - Esther Atkins

The Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon.

7/27/2019

Time: 3:23:57

Overall: 115th out of 693
Female: 29th out of 404
Age Group: 10th out of 44

I finished the OKC Marathon on April 28th feeling pretty disappointed. I was too disappointed to write about the race on the blog. I just knew that was going to be the race where I qualified for Boston, but I came up a little short. I ran a 3:35:04, my goal for the race was 3:25 or faster. It started out well and then my foot started hurting pretty bad at mile 19. I ran in brand new shoes that weren't broken in, and I paid for it. I came away with an 8 minute PR, but it wasn't enough. I had the same thoughts I had in my 3 previous marathons, maybe marathoning just isn't for me.

I took about a week off, let my foot heal and resumed training in preparation for the J&J Marathon in Snoqualmie Pass, WA at the end of July. I had some really incredible training runs and was feeling better than ever. I started tracking my food and upped my daily calorie intake and notice a huge improvement in my energy levels and recovery time.

For the first time in my running career, I wasn't nervous about the race, I was just ready to run.

The weather on race morning was like it was made for me. It was cool, low 60s with a light rain. The Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon is on a gravel trail starting in Snoqualmie Pass and ending in North Bend.

You have to start the race with a flashlight or headlamp because you run through a tunnel that is pitch black and nearly 2.5 miles long. The tunnel was really neat, but a mile in I was anxious to get out. Once we exited the tunnel I was overwhelmed by the scenery. Summer in the PNW is one of my favorite things, so getting to run on this amazing trail with my favorite cloudy, rainy weather was just perfect. I can't even begin to explain how beautiful this course is.

I noticed early on, by about mile 4, that my legs just didn't feel good. I kept hoping they just needed to get loosened up, but that wasn't the case. They each felt like concrete from my hips down to my knees on the front and sides of my legs. My hamstrings, calves, knees, ankles, and feet all felt great, but my quads just felt like stone, no fluidity to my muscles at all. I was frustrated but running fast enough to BQ, so I just kept pushing.

The course has a few really, really big bridges. On the first bridge, I looked over at the girl running next to me and said "wow, this is pretty awesome" she agreed and we kept on. Thankfully heights don't scare me, because we were very high off the ground.

I had to do a lot of shifting from side to side on the course to find a place where the gravel was fine and not going to hurt my feet or cause me to trip. I also had to move out of the way for bikes and hikers since this is an open course. I didn't care too much, the course was so beautiful that I was distracted from these minor inconveniences.

I spent most of my race running alone, people would pass me, I would pass people, but for the most part I stayed by myself. I feel like I run the best in no-man’s-land. No pressure from other runners, just me trying to beat my own personal best.

By mile 15 my friends Carlee and Twist passed me, they both looked incredible. I wanted to go with them, but my legs weren't feeling it, I maintained my 7:40 pace and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Carlee later told me that she could tell I didn't feel good, but she wasn't going to let me know that at the time, instead, she joked that the mascara running down her face made her look like Marilyn Manson. I was so happy to see my teammates doing so well. I was also happy that I would have my friends at the finish waiting for me and knew Carlee would be able to capture my finish on video. There's always a silver lining.

By mile 20 my friend Christie passed me looking super strong. She told me the faster I ran the faster it would be over. I was able to stay with her for about a mile and then she surged, I wanted to go with her, but I wasn't ready to push yet. Christie was the last runner to pass me, from mile 21 on I passed people, but no one else passed me. Christie later told me she was manifesting that once I had 5K to go I would be able to pick up the pace, and I did.

At this point in the race, I knew I was going to qualify for Boston, but I wanted to be as far under the 3:30 qualifying time as possible. I was tired, chaffed from the wet clothes, my quads felt worse with every mile, and I was trying not to get emotional knowing that this was finally the day I was going to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

The last mile of the race seemed to last forever. I could hear the announcer over the loudspeaker so I knew I had to be getting close. Finally, I could see the flags leading up to the finish line and my legs were ready to push. A person on the sidelines yelled out to me "wow, you look great, this is a great finish, you're almost there!"

As I approached the finish line the announcer exclaimed: "Andrea McKinney, you just qualified for Boston!" I couldn't hold back my emotions any longer. I felt like Shalane Flanagan when she won NYC. I started balling. I stopped my watch, put my hand over my mouth and crouched down crying harder than I have in a really long time. A medic came over to me concerned I was hurt, Christie ran over to tell him I was fine, these were just happy tears.

I had wanted this for so long. From my first season of cross country in high school when I was 17 I dreamed of the day I would run marathons and qualify for Boston. I have a framed poster in my bedroom from the 1984 Boston Marathon that I've been staring at for 5 years. I have had a post-it note on my fridge that simply says "Boston 2020" for the past year. I wanted this so bad.

I did it. I qualified for Boston and ran over 6 minutes under the qualifying time for my age group. I ran 11 minutes and 7 seconds faster than I ran OKC just 3 months before.

I couldn't have done it without my Wahoo family. I am thankful for each of you for pushing me to be a better runner and believing in my goals. I love each of you very much.

It wasn't just a big day for me, it was a really big day for Wahoo. This team has big things coming and I'm so proud to be apart of the journey.

Here are the Wahoo stats:

Marathon:
Twist Patten - BQ 3:20:38 - 20 min PR
Carlee Daub - BQ - 3:20:56 - 10 min PR
Christie Thomas - BQ - 3:22:06 - crushed an 18 year PR, 2nd place age group
Andrea McKinney - BQ- 3:23:57 - 11 min PR
Lauren Pratt - BQ - 3:27:08 - 5 min PR
Jana Clarke - 3:46:03 - 4 min PR
Jessica Lilke - 3:46:13 - 8 min PR
Deana Nelson - BQ 3:58, Queen D has qualified for Boston every year she has attempted to BQ.
Ashley Storm - 4:13 - 21 min PR
Chloe Quirk - 4:24 - First marathon

Half Marathon:
Toni Steinberger - 1:47:44 - 2 min PR 2nd place Age Group
Kinsey Youngquist - 1:51 - 20 min PR
Deidre Snell - 2:16:08 - first half marathon, 6 minute negative split
Mari Wolden - 2:25 - 20 min PR
Tony Quirk - 2:30 - First Half Marathon
Drew Hill - 2:50 - First Half Marathon

To the say this weekend was a success would be an understatement.

I'm going to the Boston Marathon and so many of my friends are going with me!

"Find a group of people who inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life" - Amy Poehler

If you are interested in joining Wahoo, click here for more info.

Race Gear:

Oiselle shorts, Volée crop, and hat

Pro Compression short socks and calf sleeves

Tierra sunglasses (even though I didn’t need them in the rain)

Altra Torin running shoes

Race Fuel:

Honey Stinger waffle and cherry cola energy chews

Run Gum

Hydradill pickle juice shots