Boston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Boston Athletic Association
45F / 7C
Total Time = 3h 44m 26s
Overall Rank = 11351/23126
Age Group = M50-54
Age Group Rank = 1065/2700
Pre-race routine:

This story actually starts on Feb 19, 2008 (I looked it up because I remember logging it) while riding the trainer in the living room preparing for IMAZ, I casually mentioned to my wife that I planned to qualify for Boston at the 2009 Houston Marathon.

I said then I wouldn't actually *go* to Boston, just wanted to make the time qualifier because it's such a recognizable goal. Even after I qualified, I said I didn't want/need to go. Things change...

Fast forward to April 19, 2010 and my wife has just dropped me off near Hopkinton for the start of the Boston Marathon.
Event warmup:

Since I had almost 2-1/2 hours to kill, I just took it easy strolling around the park near the start line. Sat down in sun to stay warm (there was frost on the car early this morning) and chatted with some other racers. Ate some snacks, drank some G-ade and water.

I had checked with the information booth to confirm where the buses for the drop bags were parked; they were back down a side road near corrals 10 & 11. Cool, I was in corral 12, so that would be easy. Looked around for some BT'ers who were supposed to be meeting up somewhere for a pic, but saw no one. Chilled out some more.

There were plenty of portacans and no lines; awesome. I was wondering where the other ~20,000 runners were. I watched the wheelchair racers start and I sure was admiring their skill, their spirit, and their machines.

Well, it's getting to be 9:25 and I need to start heading to the drop bag area and starting corrals. Start down the main road (the course) and now I'm seeing runners already in the corrals; LOTS of runners. I pick up the pace to get to Grove Street and the buses, but there were no buses. Instead, there are thousands of runners pouring down Grove Street towards the corrals.

Like a fish trying to swim upstream, I'm walking against people traffic as I start looking for the buses. By now I'm starting to realize the magnitude of my malfunction: While I was chilling at the park; the other 23,000 runners were hanging out in the athlete's village and getting ready.

Now I'm starting to jog upstream dodging people and looking for the buses: none. Keep going and going, now I'm starting to sweat, and now I'm concerned about wasting energy before the most famous and hardest Marathon I've run. I still have 15 minutes, I'm not worried; yet.

Finally, I see some buses and start looking for the one marked with my bib number. Don't find it in the first group. Run across a big parking lot area to a second group of buses; nothing in that group either. Dang it.

Ask some volunteers where the buses for the 12-thousand bibs are: You'd of thought I'd asked them how to split an atom; they had no clue. Run some more to another group of buses. Nothing. Still not panicking, it's just a run race and no prep is needed. By now I'm really starting to sweat; well at least I'm plenty warmed up.

Finally, the last group of buses and I see one marked with 14-thousands, and then another with 13s and finally mine with 12s. Strip off the warm-ups, stuff'em in the bag, throw it to the volunteer inside the bus and then turn towards the corrals. Remain calm, I've got this, I say. What a dumb-ass, I say.

Jog back down the road and squeeze into my corral just as the jets make their fly-over and they finish the National Anthem. Bang, I hear the gun fire and we stand there.
  • 3h 44m 26s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 34s  min/mile

And we just stand there. Finally, you see people up ahead start walking, then us, then a shuffle, and then a jog. It takes almost 11 minutes to get to the start line, and now we're jogging a good warm-up pace.

My goal was to hit 3:35 which is my BQ time and an easy 8:00 pace would get me there with room to spare. Everything I'd read about Boston, was go "slow" in those first 3-4 miles of downhills and don't get caught up in a too-fast pace.

The previous 3 days of rain had cleared off and we had perfect weather; low 40s at race start and 50s at the end, along with a good breeze.

I was keeping a 7:30 pace, feeling great, and nothing was hurting. I had told myself to be sure and enjoy the day, the course, and the crowds. This may be my only time here and if it came down to it; I'd let my time goals suffer and soak up as much of the race as possible.

I tried to interact with the crowds when I could: slapping the hands of kids as I passed and acknowledging their cheers. I had worn a race shirt that has a good outline of Texas on it and it got a lot of attention during the race; people would holler out: "Go Texas" and "Yay Texas" as I passed.

The middle miles came and went without too much issue and I had settled into a 7:40 pace. The constant ups and downs didn't allow me to get into my perfect breathing pattern because of all the adjustments being made, but I was still doing well and hitting my splits. I had banked about 3-4 minutes but nothing outrageous.

Got past the 13.1 mile marker and into Wellesley College with all the screaming girls. There was only girls on one side of the road instead both as in years past. Not sure why, but I didn't care. I didn't take advantage of any of the free kisses being offered (probably my only chance to kiss a college girl), but I did high-five a bunch of out-stretched hands. Now it's on to the Newton Hills and Heartbreak.

I had been hitting the drink stations regularly and slamming a gel every 40-45 minutes. At the 25K (15.5 mile) marker there's a significant downhill and as I held back some going down, I felt my right hamstring tighten up. Oh crap, not a true cramp, but I could tell this might be the start of something.

It was this next 2 miles that I started to feel the onset of some minor cramps and the pace started to slide into the 7:55-8:00 range, still OK, but definitely slowing down. About in here is where I passed Team Hoyt as he was pushing up a small hill. I was really close to them as I passed and turned to get a good view of them; felt like I was seeing royalty.

As I got into the Newton Hills, past the first major uphill and then at the second hill at mile 19: Boom! I got my first bad cramp and came to a fast walk while I worked it out.

Started up the third hill at mile 20 and fought my way up that one while still being able to run slowly. I saw lots of other runners struggling; walking, and stopped on the sidelines, so I didn't feel so bad about my slower pace.

As you top out, you're entering the Boston College area and the really rowdy crowds. It was right in here that I heard someone yell out that we'd just finished Heartbreak Hill. I didn't know that I was on it much less, done with it. Awesome.

I was done going uphill, but the next 2-3 miles are a steady downhill and that really messes with your tired and crampy leg muscles. Here is where I really slowed down, fighting off misc. cramps and anxiously looking for the next mile marker. Walked each drink station getting full cups of water and G-ade. I had warmed up and the sweat was really flowing.

Somewhere around mile 22, people were offering baggies of green grapes and I grabbed one. There were about a dozen in there and each one tasted great; helped get me through the next miles.

By mile 24 I was gutting it out to maintain a 9:00 pace and trying to keep steady. Had a pretty good idea I wasn't going to make my BQ time, but kept at it. At this point you can see the big Citgo sign letting you know that you are "close", but close means another 2.2 miles.

Told myself I could do this; hang in there, it's less than 20 minutes and I'll be done with this self-induced pain. Make the turn and get into the downtown streets and thousands of noisy spectators. I know my wife is in here somewhere, but I don't know where. I make a decision to run down the right-hand side, and of course she was on the left-hand side.

I hear her call my name as I passed by and now I'm 1/4 mile from the finish line. She manages to snap a pic and get my foot as another runner passed in between us.

I smile for the camera and raise the hands as I cross the finish line; I'm done.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I ran conservatively at the start and hung on when the hills and the cramps hit.

You read so much about this course and how deceptive it is. It's just flat enough to where a good athlete can put up a fast time, but it's just hilly enough to where you'll pay a heavy price if you're under-trained or make a mistake.

I only missed my goal by 9 minutes, but I felt slightly disappointed because I have the ability to do better; I just didn't have a perfect race.
Post race
Warm down:

Shuffled through the post-race lines with the hundreds of other finishers, feeling OK, but stiff and starting to get chilled from the cool wind.

Met up with my wife pretty quickly because we had planned a meeting point. Slowly walked down the subway stairs and took the train back to our parked car.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Maybe doing 3 hard races in 12 weeks prior to this one may have been too much.

Maybe if I had just focused on this as an "A" race I could've performed better.

Maybe if I had followed a professional training plan to the letter and done the 20-mile long runs with some hills at mile 18, I wouldn't have cramped.

That's a lot of maybes and that's not the way it happened; I did it the way I did it, and I have zero regrets.

Event comments:

As they say; it's BOSTON, and it doesn't get any better/bigger.

The race is very organized for its size, the people were friendly, and we had a great time.

I'm glad I changed my mind and ran it when I had the chance.

Last updated: 2009-10-23 12:00 AM
03:44:26 | 26.2 miles | 08m 34s  min/mile
Age Group: 1065/2700
Overall: 11351/23126
Performance: Average
Course: The legendary point-to-point course from Hopkinton to Boston, with its hills and the crowds; what else is there to say.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5