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Balega Boston Marathon
Boston Marathon Recap from Balega’s All-Star Impis

The Boston Marathon is one of those races that is legendary. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most legendary races out there, as it’s the world’s oldest annual marathon and is ranked as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. As one of the six World Marathon Majors, the Boston Marathon has taken place on the third Monday in April (known as Patriot’s Day) since 1897. This year, the 123rd Boston Marathon ended up being a rather sunny day for the 32,000+ runners who took off to run 26.2 miles early Monday morning through the streets of Boston.

Among those runners, our Balega Impi team was well represented in Boston with over 10 Impi ambassadors running this year. We were fortunate enough to touch base with a few of our all-star Impi ambassadors to learn more about their stories from that sunny mid-April morning.

First, we hear from first-time Impi team member, Amy Carrion from Simi Valley, California. Amy joins her husband Alex on the Impi team and is a plant-based nutritionist (check out our Nutrition blog post for advice from Amy on nutrition). This was her second time running Boston (also ran in 2017). In 2016, Amy also ran 40 half marathons to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes.

Our second Impi that you’ll hear from is Melanie Fineman. Melanie is from Washington, D.C. and has been running competitively since high school. To date, Melanie has run seven marathons and now that she’s checked Boston off her list, she is training for Berlin.

The next Impi is Amanda LaVerge from New York City. Amanda works as a Broadway actor, while also finding time to be a competitive NYC runner and a running coach. She is now over halfway towards her goal of running 10 straight Boston Marathons.

Lindsay McClelland is from Sarasota, Florida. She has run over 17 marathons to-date and in 2018 also ran Boston with her 57-year-old dad. She has BQ’d twice and is chasing a sub 3:20 dream! Lindsay also practices and teaches yoga as well as enjoys hiking, water sports, and playing with her sweet pup!

Finally, Tara Entringer weighs in about her experience at Boston. Tara is from Akeley, MN and ran her first Boston marathon in 2017. As much as Tara loves to run, she feels blessed to have four seasons where she lives and also enjoys kayaking, swimming, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, ice skating, hiking, and yoga.

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From left to right: Tara Lunde, Melanie Fineman, Amanda LaVergne, Alex and Amy Carrion

Below are some of these ladies stories and memories from Marathon Monday:

Q: How did the race go?

Amy: “Incredible. One of my best marathons and 55 seconds off a PR. Running with my husband Alex from start to finish was such a great experience and he really pushed me the last 5 miles to be my fastest of the whole race.”

Melanie: “The race went pretty well! I started out on pace for my goal time, and came through the half exactly on target -- then the weather got very hot and humid. My cardio and legs felt great still but because of the heat I slowed down considerably. However, I still had so much fun and finished the race, running ten minutes faster than I did at the Boston Marathon last year! I loved seeing friends, family members, and former classmates all along the course. I was also really happy that I didn’t get sick during the race and that I crossed the finish line with a smile. I also teared up toward the end -- I was running the Boston Marathon!”

Amanda: “Really well considering the heat and humidity! A complete shift from last year’s frigid and rainy temps!”

Lindsay: “I had an injury flare up about five weeks prior to the race, so getting to the start line was a huge accomplishment in itself. While I was far off the goals I’d initially set for myself, I was really pleased with my perseverance and ability to stay steady despite a lack of mileage at the end of my training. I was also 11 minutes faster than last year and had a total blast!”

Tara: “This was my second time running Boston and I loved knowing what to expect from the course. The hills are brutal, but the nervous buzz of the other runners combined with the roaring energy of the spectators makes it the most exciting marathons in the world. Every time I began to experience fatigue or pain, I tried to focus on what was going on around me and think about what landmarks would be coming up next.”

Q: What did your preparation look like?

Amy: “Pre-race day preparation was to meet friends in the morning for a shakeout run (with Scott Jurek)! Then we had lunch before putting our feet up for the afternoon followed by dinner in our Airbnb and an early night.”

Melanie: “I started training for this race after a few weeks off following the Chicago Marathon last October. I tried to do at least one hill-focused run a week, along with long runs on Saturdays. In addition to running, I cross trained at least 2-3 times a week -- doing Flywheel for spin classes and [solidcore] arms and abs classes for some strength training. Especially since I was recovering from injury, I also went to physical therapy almost every week, which was very helpful.”

Amanda: “Well, I was coming back from an injury at the beginning of the year so this particular training cycle looked a lot different. Instead of making Boston a goal race, my program was built off of how each run felt and effort rather than pace specific training. This led to one of the most satisfying training cycles I have ever had. “

Lindsay: “My injury (hip labral tear) really had me focusing on staying healthy. I prioritized recovery and kept up with all my PT and yoga while in Boston. I used the BAA 5K to test how my legs felt and get a preview of the final miles of the course. Fun was also a huge part of my prep — I used my time in Boston to connect with friends and meet new ones — like the Balega crew!”

Q: How did the conditions impact your run?

Amy: “I think the conditions worked in our favor. There was no rain the whole time while we were running. It started to get a little warm towards the end of the race but we drank water at every aid station and poured a cup over our heads at the same time. Staying hydrated and cool was the key.”

Melanie: “The heat and humidity were a challenge! Since I was training in the winter in DC, I was not used to those kinds of conditions and it was definitely challenging. At around mile 16, I actually unpinned my bib, took off my shirt, and re-pinned my bib to my sports bra all while running, without stopping! I also stopped at every water station and, once it started getting warm, I started taking water and Gatorade at both stops.”

Amanda: “After coming out of a New York winter, I was not remotely acclimated to heat and humidity. But any day to run Boston is a good day, so I knew going into the race that I would be conservative and relaxed for as long as possible.” 

Lindsay: “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was definitely very prepared apparel wise so that part went really well! I also lucked out and my bus dropped me off at the start vs. athlete’s village so I didn’t even have to deal with the mud. When we got to running, the heat and humidity was certainly a factor, but I train in Florida so I noticed that I fared better than most. Due to the pounding sun, my heart rate spiked pretty early and was at its highest before 14 (even higher than the hills or final miles!). I took a few walking breaks on the hills to manage my injury and heart rate and that definitely helped me stay controlled!”

Q: Anything unexpected?

Amy: “I have Type 1 Diabetes so managing that on race day doesn't always go to plan. I started the race with higher bgls than usual so had to manage that and couldn't take on any fuel/gels until after mile 6, which was a bit late for me. With some balancing of insulin I was able to take on gels for the rest of the marathon to ensure I was fueling enough to get me to the finish line.”

Melanie: “You never know what the weather is going to be like in Boston! I had been mentally preparing for similar conditions to last year, and the weather this time around was definitely different.”

Lindsay: “The sun! I was not expecting that much sun during the run. Thank goodness for the firefighters with hoses (and my Balegas for keeping my feet dry) and the fact that I remembered my sunglasses.”

Q: What was your favorite moment on Marathon Monday?

Amy: “At mile 21, Alex [Amy’s husband and also an Impi ambassador] looked at his watch and I looked at mine. He said to me, ‘You can PR but we have to push.’ I don't think I said anything but we both knew it was go time. Alex set the pace and I held it for the last 5 miles without speaking to each other until the last 0.5 of a mile to go. We just knew what had to be done and were on the same page. It was such a nice feeling.”

Melanie: “I was so lucky to have so many friends and family cheering me on, both on the course and from afar. Seeing people I knew cheering for me along the course was definitely a highlight! In particular, I loved seeing my parents and my sister -- they went to Natick with family friends (around miles 8/9) and the corner in Newton where I grew up cheering for the Marathon with a big group of neighbors (around mile 18.5). I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who supported me every step of the way, along with the opportunity to run the Marathon in the first place, and I truly feel that I have the greatest family members out there. I love them so much, and loved seeing them!”

Amanda: “I saw and hugged my mom at our usual spot at mile 16.8. I also danced my way out of the runner's exit shoot when I saw my mom at our meeting point. She has been at 5 of my 6 Bostons and it never gets old! Also knowing I requalified for next year was just icing on the cake! Trying to get 10 consecutive Bostons under my belt!”

Lindsay: “I loved seeing friends at the start, all the inspirational charity runners, the Wellesley girls, and my husband cheering on heartbreak hill, but my overall highlight was definitely running strong down Boylston. Last year, I don’t even remember the final stretch of the race, I was so cold, so being able to run strong felt really amazing!” (Lindsay)

Tara: “My favorite moment of the race was turning left onto Boylston, and it clearly shows in my race photos. My face broke out in the hugest smile when I saw the finish line. I was thrilled to see my husband cheering in front of the Hynes Convention Center. Then I looked at my watch and realized that a PR might be within reach. I sprinted towards the finish and crossed the line 39 seconds faster than my previous personal best time. My coach was waiting in the family meeting area and I have never been so excited to tell someone that they were right and I was wrong. It was my day.”

Q: Who inspired you to run Boston and why?

Amy: “I never wanted to run Boston. However, after I did my first marathon in 2015 (the New York City) marathon and ran a 3:39:39  I then looked up the BQ time for women in my age group and realized I was really close. I knew I had to run another marathon to qualify, so I did! It's a privilege and an honor to be able to run such a prestigious race so added it to my bucket list.”

Melanie: “I have wanted to run the Boston Marathon since I was a little girl growing up in Boston cheering on the runners at mile 18.5. I even ran a BAA Invitational Mile in high school! After I became injured running in college, I never thought that I would be able to run longer distances, and a marathon especially felt out of reach. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to qualify for the marathon and to run it -- and I can’t wait to be back next year!”

Amanda: “I began years ago as a charity runner with the Alzheimer's Association. That is where I found out about Boston and the prestige that comes with it. Anytime I struggle during training, I think of my late Grandmother and how she broke barriers when she was alive and I know that I am stronger than I think.” (Amanda)

Lindsay: “I was inspired to run Boston because qualifying was something I worked really hard for. I decided to return this year because I wanted to see Boston in its glory vs. last year’s torrential rain! My dad and I also qualified for our first Boston together, so that experience is something I’ll always cherish.”

Q: What tips or advice do you have for someone who is thinking about running Boston in the future?

Amy: “Training is key. Getting in a good mix of long runs for endurance, tempo and speed work for the speed and running hills will all help to conquer Boston. Alex and I do a lot of trail running which really helped us with the Newton Hills and heartbreak hill. All the hard work definitely pays off.”

Melanie: “Enjoy every second! Get excited for big crowds, prepare for the uphills and downhills, and have so much fun no matter what!”

Amanda: “Boston is special and it is so much more than 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. The training to qualify is the hard stuff. Find a coach or find a running group that will help you with the hard time qualifications and train you specifically for the hilly terrain of Boston. The actual Boston Marathon is something to be enjoyed and savored. The crowd support is unlike anything else and being a part of such a special community is unlike any other marathon.” (Amanda)

Lindsay: “Enjoy it! My biggest mistake going into Boston this year was that it was my A race and I had some really big goals which being injured derailed. The injury actually allowed me to take the pressure off of the race and enjoy every single mile. I even covered my watch for most of the race and just ran by feel!”