Boston Marathon in a Rowboat

A group of people taking a selfie in front of a sign.

G, L, C & me for the traditional finish before the Finish line picture. [Jill is in the center of the picture; pink jacket.] Kudos to the dude with the epic photo bomb!
[This post is a reprint of the 2018 Boston Marathon race report from our athlete Jill Pescatore. You can see the original post here. Thanks, Jill, for allowing us to repost here!]

~by Jill Pescatore

Running the Boston Marathon is always a privilege. Let’s face it running any marathon is pretty special when you turn 50.

2018 is full of big goals for me to match my shiny new age group. It was the 5 year anniversary of the bombing, and I wanted to go back to where I felt the ground shake beneath my feet on the day that changed the running community forever.

This was the second marathon with my coach Maria Simone. Throughout this cycle she taught me to push my edges and pick an attainable goal that was a little bit scary. Both Maria and my husband Gerard as coaches have this way of putting your mind in a place where you didn’t think was possible. It is a gift. I trained hard for this race with a goal pace of 8:24 and a new PR.

The training was different than other marathons because I’m also training for my first Ironman in October (big goals, remember?). I swam two or three times a week, biked twice a week and ran quality workouts.

Training this often at goal pace was new for me and frankly intimidating. I would see 4 times 2 miles at marathon pace and think……how will I do that? It is going to hurt.

The track work was fast and pushed me out of my comfort zone, but there wasn’t a doubt that I would try. After I would whine to my husband. He would just tell me to go into Spock mode and be done with it. I also knew I wasn’t going to go back to Maria with some shit-quit excuse about it. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t go to pieces on my 20 mile progression run in the freezing rain and come home crying because my arms and hands were frozen. Or that my hip didn’t act up from a previous injury. It did, but I kept on going toward Boston.

One of the most important things I did during this training cycle was work hard on the muscle between my ears. I’ve always been amazed by athletes who can flip a switch and just work through the pain. They tell the negative voices in their chimp brain to shut the f*ck up and go for it. Gerard calls it “Spock Mode” and Maria calls it “embracing the suck.” I want to gain this quality and not settle in to that comfort zone in my racing.

Charlyn & I heading to the buses race day morning.

Race Week 

I was full of mixed emotions this week. G trained hard for this race and we were supposed to both be running. He sustained an injury about 6 weeks out and he wisely chose to take care of himself and not race. As a runner I know how tough that is, but I’m so proud of him for making that decision. We had many friends running this race and he shifted gears to become the unofficial photographer and the best race supporter with 1 mile to go ever!

Weather stalking is always a bad idea. Couple that with runners on social media and the frenzy is just wasted energy. I shut that down when people were posting about Boston weather 2 weeks out. New England weather is unpredictable and April in Boston can be anything. As I packed for the trip I was prepared for a range of weather especially rain. My husband gets the award for the best addition when he suggested I take hand warmers for my gloves and the rain poncho from Disney.

This is the 4th time I toed the line in Hopkinton. The weather is always the topic of discussion on this point to point course. 2013 was perfect weather pierced with the devastation of a terrorist attack, 2014 was a beautiful day for redemption, 2015 was sideways rain and 50 degrees and 2018 was going to challenge runners and spectators alike. Rain, snow at the start, pouring sheets of rain, 30 mph headwind gusts and it was freezing cold. But every runner was facing this challenge and I was lucky enough to have my friend Char for the journey to the start.

The Race 

I raced the Boston Marathon in 2015 and it was on the BAA list as “unusual weather.” I PRed that day so I had my mind set on the big goals I trained to achieve. I also knew that I had to take what the day gave me in terms of conditions. Here is where my work with focusing my energy on what I could control became the key to a successful day. I kept using positive self talk and telling Mother Nature to bring it. I was going to choose to have a positive attitude in challenging conditions. Let’s see what I can do!

Char and I kept as warm as we could at the start. It was great to have her there with me. She is a positive force and it kept me focused on all the work we did to get here. In fact, the complaints we heard from others fed our fuel to race hard because this is Boston!

I won’t lie. I’ve never seen the weather like this and it was obvious that runners had packed it in before they even started. The normal rush to the starting line was more like a slog and a number of runners from the earlier waves were choosing to be in my wave (3). I quickly came to realize that this was going to have more of an impact of my race than the weather.

I took one last potty stop on the way to the start, changed my shoes and off I went. It was clear that the day was going to be different. The number of spectators at the start was significantly less than prior years and who could blame them? The start was really crowded in my wave. Those first few miles when runners have a tendency to go out too fast were slow. I was thrilled to have people cheering in very creative tents to keep themselves dry.

I started the race with an extra layer on and a garbage bag on top. I dumped both of those at about mile 5 and largely drafted behind other runners when the driving sheets of rain came and pushed us around.

I began to execute my race plan. Keeping pace for the first 7 miles was a challenge because of crowds but also because I could not feel my feet. They were like running on two blocks of partially frozen mashed potatoes. I had a little give but they were hard as a rock in the middle. I wasn’t going to let my brain tell me that it was a problem, so I moved a bit faster to get the heat moving in my body. This proved to be my method of keeping warm for the entire race. I was soaked, working harder provided enough extra body heat to keep me warm and running.

This race was a mental challenge. I struggled around mile 8-10 with voices telling me:

  • I’ll never race this again.
  • All that work and this is what happens on race day…..
  • Small marathons are better…

But, each time, I’d push the voices away and keep on going. I raced conservatively for the first 16 miles and I think I would like to be a bit more aggressive the next time I do this race. When I turned to go into the hills at Newton, I wasn’t able to work as hard as I intended. It was odd at that point in time because my heart rate was well under racing zone and I was struggling to get any more speed. I knew I had the leg strength but it just wasn’t there. This part of the course is a mental battle when it is beautiful, but I was really perplexed by my body not responding.

This was also a time when runners where dropping out of the race or already walking. I could see shivering runners in heat sheets, but I had to put that out of my mind. This wasn’t going to happen to me. It did remind me to change my gloves for the last time. It was then I realized that I had very little use of my fingers. My split slowed down as I tried to put my fingers in gloves that appeared to shrink. I had 2 more hills to go and then Heartbreak Hill to Brookline!

One Mile to Go! Picture by Gerard.

The race is a bit of a blur from that point. People where cheering as they held their disintegrating signs. The rain was relentless and the headwind was worse, but I’m small and there is always someone bigger to draft off of. I love the turn on to Commonwealth Ave. I extend my arms like I’m flying around the corner. It is the point where any monkey on my back gets sent on its way. There were a few runners that were messing with my jam because there were still so many people who were slowing down and running 5 across. This was never the case in my previous experiences.

Once I can see the Citgo sign for those last 5 miles, I’m energized. The carnage of those who had a rough day from the downhills and the uphills is apparent at this part of the course, but this day was particularly bad. It was also unusually quiet. Those who cheered Des Linden to her Boston Marathon win were long gone and the rain wasn’t letting up. I liked it. I like the quiet. It gives me a chance to focus and begin to pass people. This is also special because I’ve been running for hours so I can see Gerard cheering at 1 mile to go!

There he is! He’s soaked to the bone and I stop to kiss him and apologize for being slower than I planned. He laughs and tells me to go get it!

That last mile is striped with a blue Adidas line guiding you to the best 2 turns in marathoning. I looked at my watch and knew I punched my ticket to a solid BQ. When I made the right onto Hereford Street the crowds were awesome and the sky opened up. The rain, as it was all day long, was so hard you could hear it falling from the sky before it hit the ground. I put my arms up in the air and yelled “Bring It!”


The left onto Boylston was surreal. It is the longest-shortest sprint to the finish with spectators screaming. It is so loud it is quiet. I was overjoyed to run a BQ and be consistent on an unpredictable day.

I was about 10 minutes slower than my goal time and that seemed to be the order of the day for many racers. Note to self – 30 mph headwinds with rain equals 10 minutes slower.

On a serious note, I now believe I was meant to run a 3:52 that day. When I crossed in front of the memorial for those who had their lives taken 5 years ago the announcer asked for a moment of silence to commemorate the exact time of the bombing. The entire street became quiet. Chills went down my spine. I was running past ground zero of what those bastards did during the quiet. Then the announcer said, “Now let the world hear what Boston Strong sounds like!” The cheers were deafening. I cried again and crossed the finish line with such joy, pride and gratitude for the racing community and the city of Boston five years later.

Thank you Boston! I will see you next year.

A huge thank you to my husband and best friend, G  and my coach and friend Maria Simone. Here’s to the next adventure!

For those of you interested in race day fueling and gear, here’s my list:

Race Day Nutrition:


  • Yogurt & Coffee at wake up
  • Bottle of Water, Bagel with PB on bus
  • Banana and remaining bagel 1 hour pre race
  • PB Gu (no caffeine) 15 minutes pre race

During Race:

  • Gu every 4 – 5 miles (Water at water stops until mile 16 then gatorade)
  • Started caffeine GU before half marathon mark and dropped one. Took Cliff caffeine GU at mile 17. My mind was wandering so I needed a bit more calories.

*I need to have a better hydration plan for that race. The water and Gatorade every mile throws me off my plan. 

Race Day Clothing:

Pre Race (stay dry)

  • Throwaway sneakers and socks
  • Sweatpants
  • 2 throwaway shirts w sweatshirt
  • Plastic poncho
  • Garbage bag
  • Hat on top of cap and headband

Racing clothing:

  • New Balance Zante
  • SFRC crew socks
  • Shorts
  • Boston 2013 short sleeve shirt
  • Bike sleeves (my intention was to throw them, but they saved me)
  • North Face rain jacket with hood
  • Boston Marathon cap over headband (hat on top of that which wasn’t thrown until it blew off at mile 24) and hood on top of head.

3 pairs of mittens/gloves – 1 pair for pre race, 1 pair mittens for race and 1 pair in ziplock back until mile 16 or 18. I can’t remember.

*Wish I had – Playtex Dishwashing Gloves, Shower Cap, Actual Rain Pants & Rain Coat. 

Boston Marathon in a Rowboat
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