The Boston freaking Marathon. We all know it. We all love it. We all want to run it. Well, just like the rest of my race recap below, this is my experience. There will never be a year I ‘don’t want to’ run it. There will always be lessons learned. And, there will always be a way to improve our performance out there.

So, at so many of your requests, here it is… my Boston Marathon recap.

<<and, I think we all know this is my experience – this is not how you have to do it – and this is not a substitute to working on your marathon fueling with a sports dietitian.>>

The Carb Load

We all know the party don’t start till I <<re: bagels>> walk in. Race day weekend always starts three days out when the carb load begins. We know that increasing our carbohydrate intake before a race stocks our fast fuel source, glycogen, in our muscles. A full carb load can absolutely save the day out there and allow you to finish your race feeling physically and mentally strong. And, I dunno about you – but a smile down Boylston St is an absolute must in my Boston experience.

FRIDAY – Day One

The carb load started on Friday as I traveled into Boston on an early flight. I was up at 3:45 am eating grahams + chugging coffee so I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel on the way to the airport. Once I got to the airport, I drank a Liquid IV <team watermelon> and ate a Rise protein bar <Use code Feathers10> + Skratch Labs Crispy Rice Cake <team strawberry> as I waited to board. On the plane, I finished a new client plan & stalked my panel guests, Joan Benoit Samuelson & Pam Bede, to make sure I knew everything I needed about them and was ready to moderate the Expo panel with Abbott as our sponsor.

Once I landed, my driver said traffic was horrible and something happened in the tunnel so emergency Skratch Labs Crispy Rice Cake to the rescue. Everyone listen up! This is why I always tell you to pack emergency snacks in your carry on when traveling during a carb load. The driver also had some water for me which was clutch. At the hotel, the bagel load commenced as there was a half dozen waiting for me in my room. Lunch consisted of a bagel + peanut butter + Greek yogurt. There was a bagel snack in there somewhere. And, I ate a bagel + another Rise protein bar  before we headed to dinner. Well, dinner turned out to be more of an open bar and less of the high carb foods I was looking to devour. So, when I got home at 9 pm you guessed it another bagel + peanut butter + Skratch Wellness as a night cap.

Friday’s Bagel Total: 4

Friday’s Carb Intake: 450 gm


We woke up early Saturday to make our way over to film the infamous Carb Load boxes at New Balance before you all came and ate them all! This meant coffee + grahams in the hotel at 5:30 am. <If it ain’t broke… stick to familiar things during your carb load. This is what I do every stinking morning of training.> When we arrived at New Balance, there were 1000 fresh bagels waiting for us. Legit I thought I was dead & in heaven. So, we of course had to sample one, approved! After we wrapped up our event, we all had another bagel because clearly, we couldn’t let these go to waste – fill up that glycogen tank!

I went back to the hotel and feasted on some of the Carb Load box goodies, graham crackers & animal crackers. I forgot how freaking delicious those Barnum boxes of animal crackers are. Then, I went out to lunch with the Believe in the Run team + Emily Saul <fabulous Sport Psychology Coach>. And, when we ordered I might have slightly frozen and also picked a bagel & cream cheese here. <Clearly you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.> Emily helped me visualize better downhill running tactics so I didn’t squeeze the hand break & heal strike the entire first 7 miles like last year.

At this point, I had one small gig to film & then I could rest my Saturday away in a quiet hotel room without hearing ‘Mom’ 1200x per minute. You are all the kindest & many of you reached out worried about my lineup before a goal race – but let me tell you, being able to drop the ‘Mom’ title for the weekend meant this felt like a laid-back vacation. <Shout out to all the other working parents trying to balance parenting, kids, work, training, & making it look easy – it ain’t.> While catching up on trash TV, I decided to play around with my nutrition choices and see how it impacted my blood glucose. I came to Boston with Abbott and had the opportunity to wear their Glucose Sport Biosensor and have been able to see a minute-by-minute read of my blood sugar throughout the carb load. <nerd alert: fascinating! Disclaimer: I am using this device to gain knowledge on how I can improve my running performance with this biosensor. TBD for more…> As expected, my blood glucose rose quickly after eating bagels, grahams, and animal crackers – as it should. More refined, lower-fiber carbohydrates will do that. But, I’ve got a healthy pancreas, like most of us, so it quickly came right back down into range. These increases in blood glucose are what trigger the storage of carbs as glycogen, aka the goal of this carb load. But, I was curious – what would happen if I ate a high-protein Greek yogurt before eating bagels? This was my chance. So, for dinner, I ate a Greek yogurt and followed it up with 2 bagels + some peanut butter. In theory, the protein and fat should have kept my blood glucose from climbing as high as eating a bagel alone, and sure enough – it did. I mean, you all sit around and do blood sugar experiments in your hotel room too, right?! During a carb load, I’m not sure this tactic is necessary – but if someone feels crummy from fluctuating blood glucose during a carb load, this may be helpful.

Blood glucose experiments completed – finished off my fluids for the day – and hit the hay as a half-human, half-bagel centaur.

Saturday’s Bagel Total: 5

Saturday’s Carb Intake: 515 gm

SUNDAY – Day Three

By this point, I am a walking bagel so ate another when I woke up. <Sorry, grahams – promise we’ll be reunited on race day.> And, I walked my bagel-self over to the ASICS brand house with Believe in the Run for our Bagel Shakeout Run. That’s right. More bagels, baby!!! <No, I am not sick of them yet.> I never got the final head count but easily, well over 500 of you showed up for a 3-mile shakeout + to crush another 1000 bagels. <Do you think the Boston bagel makers are onto us yet?!> I promptly ran up and down the group run trying to talk to as many of you as I could and then crushed two bagels talking with you all.

I left the ASICS brand house as soon as it died down and headed over to meet my Fueled for Boston group at the Fan Fest as our group was sponsored by Adidas and what a better place to meet up & say thank you. Who is shocked that one of my group participants brought NYC bagels for us all?! <cue a 4th bagel for the day!> We stood around & talked all things last-minute nutrition for race day and just really enjoyed meeting each other in person for the first time after 12 weeks together online.

After this I headed back to the hotel, felt a little behind on hydration, so drank 32 oz water with Skratch Wellness and that did the trick. Might as well eat a couple grahams with this too, amiright?! I was lucky enough to enjoy a course preview with Joanie, sponsored by Abbott , at this point and drank another 16 oz water while listening.

By this time it was 5 pm the night before the race, and I still needed 125 gm carbs to hit my target. Good thing I stole some extra bagels from the ASICS brand house – so I took those bad boys & my jar of peanut butter to Thomas & Meaghan’s room to hang out. Meg gave me a new packet of the Skratch High Sodium, and I sucked that bad boy down. And as I choked down the last bagel, I told them I was officially bageled-out. Just. In. Time.

Meg, my running coach, and I briefly discussed race day plan. She told me I was easily fit for a 2:48 – 2:49:59 and to go for it. But, we’re also both smart and know you kind of have to wait and see how those first few miles feel to know if it will be a day or not…

I went back to my room for a good night’s sleep and visions of carb-loaded bagel fairies danced in my head.

Sunday’s Bagel Total: 6

Sunday’s Carb Intake: 475 gm

The Night Before the Race

I mentioned my dinner for the race above, but if you’re anything like me you probably skip to the headings you care about so I’m going to recap it here too.

I’m a big fan of an earlier dinner on race night – just preference, honestly. At 5 pm, I ate two massive bagels dipped straight into the jar of peanut butter. <because why would I find a disposable knife?!> And, I drank a Skratch High Sodium in 20 oz water. <tastes like a passionfruit wading in ocean water> 

Why do I eat so many bagels you may ask?! Because they work for me, and I love them. There is nothing magical about a bagel, other than that they pack a lot of carbs, taste great, and are easy to store in a hotel room. I have brought toasters to my races in the past but this year I just ate them so fresh and so clean, clean.

I watched a couple episodes of Emily in Paris, Facetimed by kiddos, and reminded myself I get to do this. I always sleep great on race night – perhaps I’m too calm about these races.

It's Race Day Morning!

Gooooood Morning!!!! Let’s do this thang! I woke up at 5:30 am to give myself plenty of time to hang out, drink coffee, take care of business, get dressed, and pack up for the race. I am NOT a morning race showerer. I know this is a highly debated topic, but I wait until after the race to get clean.

At 5:30 am, I ate 5 Honeymaid grahams <full sheets, 2.5 servings>, drank 2 cups of hot coffee with creamer, and got dressed.

I made a game-time decision to ride the school buses to Hopkinton instead of taking the VIP buses. Why you may ask?! Mentally, I knew I wanted to be with Meaghan until the start. She’s 100% my person at races. This meant I had no throwaway clothes with me <VIP = heated bus & school room vs school bus & athlete’s village> so someone is sporting some sweet new kicks, Vuori joggers, and sweatshirt #worthit. We rode the bus and ate grahams again <2 this time> around 7:30 am + I sipped on Skratch Wellness <higher sodium>.

When we got to Athlete’s Village it started raining, so we popped in the porto-pots & headed to the tent. It was chilly so we figured in there we’d have some serious body heat to keep us warm, and we were right. We found a solid crew to sit & hang with until go time. Meg & I whipped out our grahams for a third time & a few guys with us did the same. I ate another 4 grahams & finished my Skratch Wellness .

Race Day Graham Count: 11 grahams <132 gm carbs>

It's Go Time

At 9:15 am they herded us like cattle into our pre-corrals in Athletes Village and dismissed us line by line to start the 0.7-mile trek down to the start line. Much like last year, Meg and I were two of the only people who were still in our throwaway clothes – but we knew about the secret stop-off with porto-pots & clothes discard tables.

I hopped into there, put on my racing shoes, discarded those brand new Vuori joggers, grabbed my nutrition and went to the start.

Ten minutes before the start, as I took my first gel – a Maurten caffeine – it started to rain. <and, I’m not sure it ever stopped> The National Athem rang and we were off.

I started the race with a 20 oz Amphipod handheld water bottle with 1 scoop of Skratch Sports Hydration <team strawberry lemonade> and 2 Maurten gels, another caffeine and a regular.

As we bounced down those first couple of downhill miles, we were packed like sardines. I saw Meg and her crew weave ahead to get their pace dialed in. I stayed put. Last year the bob & weave left me with dead legs by mile 16, so I was trying something new this year.

I took my first gel, Maurten regular, at mile 4 <which was about 25 – 26 minutes>. Took a few swigs of Skratch as everyone fumbled at the aid stations – I stayed tight to the center line and cruised. I felt great. Quick check – body, mind, breathing – all felt great.

Mile 8 rolled around in another 25 – 26 minutes and I took my second Maurten caffeine gel <3rd gel total> and again some swigs of Skratch to get that bitter, bitter caffeine taste outta my mouth. Quick check – body, mind, and breathing all felt good.

There was a Maurten depot at 11.8 so I grabbed 2 gels here for my mile 12 & 16 gels, both regular Maurten. I stashed 1 gel in my handheld and kept the other in hand to take immediately. I took down my 4th gel, a couple swigs of Skratch, and again – a quick check. Errr… stomach isn’t feeling too good, but mentally & physical running felt exactly like I was hoping, strong. At this point I start bargaining with myself about if I can really stop to poop on course. As mile 14 approached, I saw an open porto-pot & decided the optics of your sports dietitian finishing the Boston Marathon with poop down her legs was not the optic I was going for… <cue 46-second stop> 

I then analyzed how I was feeling for the next mile. All the normal ’causes’ of GI distress checked out fine, intensity, hydration, and normal food, so I knew it was the antibiotics I took the week prior for a raging sinus infection. I was on a very broad-spectrum antibiotic that kills off the bad germs & all the good germs in your GI tract. Quick check – fitness, the rest of the body, and mentally I felt strong. Let’s do this, Meghann.

I took my 5th Maurten gel at mile 16, just before the steep downhill leading into the Newton hills. This was my fastest mile of the day and I felt unstoppable. Shortly after that gel, my stomach turned again. ‘SHIT!’ I thought. ‘I’m gonna have to stop again.’ I made it into a game and at mile 18 I challenged myself to see if I could PR this porto-pot stop. Checks watch: 36 seconds. Success!

At this point, we’ve got two Newton Hills left, and I honestly forgot this was even happening with the poopscapades. I made the decision here to not take my gel at mile 20 – it seemed like this was making things worse. While this never happens in training, it felt like the right move in the moment. I knew I was fully carb loaded <see above – crushed it!> and I could get through the last 10k on glycogen alone.

Around mile 24 – 25 the skies opened up and it hailed, poured, and gusted some pretty serious winds to the point we all just started laughing. If this isn’t Boston, I don’t know what is!

At the same time, I looked down and noticed my pace had dropped 40 seconds and I felt like I was running the same effort. I thought to myself, ‘this is the wall – Meghann. you need carbs or your pace is gonna continue to tank.’ I was bound and determined NOT to stop. So, I remembered my Freaking True Friday post on swishing carbs in your mouth to improve performance. We have receptors for carbs in our mouths that immediately tell our brain ‘carbs are a coming!!!’ and improves performance. So, I swished and spit that last Maurten gel until Boylston St. And, my last 1.5 miles were back to marathon pace average.

That last minute nutrition decision to hold some gel in my mouth to trigger those carb receptors to convince my body to get a move on allowed me to fly into Boylston St with a permanent smile on my face the entire way.

Despite the two GI pitstops + fueling fumble after mile 16, I was able to finish the Boston Marathon stronger than my 3 previous Boston Marathons.

I finished smiling, happy, grateful, and unbelievably proud of what the human mind and body can accomplish with training and belief in ourselves. And, I finished with a Boston Marathon course PR.

Boston Marathon 2023: 2:52:14

Boston Marathon 2022: 2:56:56

Boston Marathon 2013: 3:28:53

Boston Marathon 2011: 3:25:30

There is not a doubt in my mind that the carb load + fueling early and often saved my race. Things happen. Perfect races are the unicorn, not the norm. But if we can stay mentally engaged, positive about our body’s performance, and focus on what we can control we can accomplish some pretty incredible things! Boston Marathon – I love you, forever and ever.

After the Finish Line

As I finished, the first person I saw was Ali Feller. I immediately walked over to her and said ‘I pooped twice.’ Apparently, I found immense comfort in sharing this with her. She then hugged the crap outta me, almost. Snagged this sweet finisher photo and they must have noticed the V on my bib and sent me right into the VIP tent where I saw my dear friend and medical volunteer, Tamanna. I got another massive hug – I can still feel her stethoscope in my chest.

I scooted through the VIP tent and out the back door in approximately 5 seconds as I grabbed a medal and saw my hotel across the street. I just wanted to get inside a warm hotel, shower, and let my family know I freaking did it!

After a very long shower, I met some people at the hotel bar to wait for the rest of our crew to finish. I slugged back a protein drink in the shower <shower shake!> + a couple of bottles of water. Your sports dietitian had ZERO interest in carbs at the moment but a glass of bourbon was on tap at the bar.

After everyone finished, we headed over to Joe’s on Newbury for burgers and fries – my favorite post-race meal. My mom still cannot believe I eat hamburgers <I was a very selective eater as a kid> so I sent her this picture as proof.

Lessons I Learned:

Every marathon is a learning experience. This is why we become better at running the marathon the longer we stick with it. We also know the marathon is a beast. We can do absolutely everything right and still not have a flawless race. My day is a great example of that – I did everything I always do, yet still had some GI trouble.

Carb Load is Queen. I cannot tell you how many times a carb load has saved my athletes and now me. If we fully load those glycogen stores pre-race, we can rely on these for FAST fuel throughout the entire race.

Fuel Early & Often. Again, we never know what the day will bring. If we fuel our body early & consistently we are less likely to hit the wall. And, much more likely to have a mentally strong race. Carbs make us positive, happy and optimistic when racing.

Keep Your Mental Game Strong. Those fumbles on race day don’t have to break our performance. But you know what might?! Our mental game. It’s easy to hear those negative thoughts and allow them to derail our performance. Focus on the positive facts – my body feels strong, I am happy, I am healthy, I am running the freaking Boston Marathon!

Know & Trust Your Body. We all need a plan going into a race. But, we need to listen to our bodies and adjust the plan on the fly when needed. Nothing is set in stone. Trust your body and adapt when needed.

Have Fun. We GET to do this! And, we do this in our free time!!! If this isn’t fun, then why would we do it?! Focus on why you enjoy this and have the time of your life.

Thank you!

I want to send out a huge thank you to Abbott for letting me join their team for the Boston Marathon, New Balance for creating the perfect Carb Load Boxes for 200 of our runners, ASICS for feeding over 500 runners all the bagels they needed & allowing us to take over their store for a shakeout run, Adidas for sponsoring our Fueled for Boston group nutrition class, Believe in the Run for being my trusty sidekicks in all things running, and to all of YOU for trusting me to be a part of your journey and sharing that journey with me.