Boston Marathon - Run

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Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Boston Athletic Association
60F / 16C
Total Time = 3h 02m 4s
Overall Rank = 2701/
Age Group = 18-39
Age Group Rank = 1779/
Pre-race routine:

I was staying in the South End so the morning would consist of grabbing the T into Chinatown and then walking the two blocks over to board the buses at Boston Common for the trip to the start in Hopkinton. Thankfully there are enough accounts of the crazy long morning waiting to get started that it wasn't a surprise and I could prepare for an almost 6 hour wait from the time I woke until the starting gun.

Woke up at 4:30am, usual bowl of oatmeal to get the day started and a cup of joe. After showering I sipped some water and before heading out the door at 6:00am for the T I made half a toasted, GF, almond butter sandwich to eat on the bus, also stuffed a banana in my pocket further answering that age old question of what is in my pocket.

Bus ride was uneventful and made it out to Hopkinton around 7:45-8:00 am. Pulled up a seat on the lawn and prepared to just veg out for the hour and half until it was time to load the corrals in anticipation of the start. Sipped some more water, ate my banana around 8:30am and then grabbed half a bagel around 9am. Finally it was time to make the walk to the corrals .6 miles away and go time.
Event warmup:

The walk to the corrals.
  • 3h 02m 4s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 06m 57s  min/mile

I think I could write a book on this one, granted it would inevitably be a book nobody besides my mother would read. I'll try and keep it to the point though, for all our sake.

Goal today was to run 2:55 or a 6:40 average pace. Through numerous avenues of research it's clearly visible there are numerous varying segments of this course that all need their own special approach; first 6 miles to Framingham, next 4 miles to Natick, next 6 to Newton, Newton hills through Heartbreak, last 5 to finish.

Hopkinton to Framingham - Goal here was to avoid the initial surge and fast start to save some legs for Newton hills. Wanted to open up around 7:00 for the first mile or so then roll it down to around 6:45 or so, keeping my cadence high and feet light as the road continually falls away from you. Executed this pretty well as it turns out. First mile was slower due to traffic but from mile 2 on I was running around 6:55-6:40 the rest of the way.

Framingham to Natick - Relatively flatter area and where I'd planned to dial it in around 6:35 and just establish a good rhythm. Lapping my watch at each mile split proved I was right there and physically everything was feeling great. Effort well within check, HR great, just set on cruise control.

Natick to Newton- Again a fairly net elevation drop through here before rolling into the Newton Hills. Just tried to run it even, letting the legs out a little bit when the road dropped away but still trying to maintain that 6:35 or so pace. I knew Wellesley was coming up and traffic would be an even bigger issue here (aid stations were nightmares so far) as would maintaining pace and avoiding the adrenaline surge through the scream tunnel. Wow was the energy through here amazing! Kept it calm and on track.

Newton Hills up Heartbreak- Friday afternoon I rolled down to Newton and ran a couple of the hills along with HB hill just for some course recon. Definitely glad I did as it was nice to have an idea of what lie ahead. Felt great coming into Newton and confident that keeping myself under control for the first 16 miles was going to really pay off here. Hit the first climb with ease and just moved through it. My plan here was to ignore pace entirely and just keep my effort consistent. Newton hill #2, no issues and kept chugging through. Hill #3 I saw good friend Jake and gave him a pat on the a$$ for encouragement. On any normal day he'd run me into the ground but he missed loads of training time due to injury coming into this. It was really good to see a familiar face though at this point. Finally hit HB hill and just ran through it. Again, no issues and it felt like the pacing really did pay off from earlier.

HB Hill to finish - "That last 10k is a b&*ch"...famous last words. After HB the course again falls pretty well for the next couple of miles and it was half mile into this that I now found myself wishing the last 6 miles of this thing were uphill. My legs were finally starting to scream. I had less than 10k to go and was right on top of my time goals, now is not the time to fall apart. Each falling step came with another shot of stabbing pain in the side of my quads but I keyed in on knowing the road leveled soon and it wouldn't hurt as bad. "Just keep pushing". Lost a little time in here but nothing bad, where is that finish line? This mantra repeated itself for the next mile or two and then it gets a bit fuzzy.

I remember thinking it was hot. Much hotter than I thought I would feel considering I'm an Arizona boy running in the cool April temps of Mass. I was boiling though. Through the entire lead up I was taking a cup of water every other aid station and a Hammer gel every 40 minutes, tried and true plan for me through the years. Somewhere around here I started taking a little extra water to help with cooling. I thought about a gatorade but it always turns my stomach so I decided against it. "Where's that finish line?"

It was around this time, or shortly thereafter, that I could feel the nausea coming on and my head was starting to spin. I was falling apart, absolutely on the verge of crumbling. No clue why but I couldn't even think straight enough to even try and trouble shoot. All I knew was there was a huge black hole opening up right in front of me and I had to find a way to get through it and to the finish, no matter what. It was at this point I accepted that I would either finish or be carried off this course; I was not stopping, walking, pulling up or anything else. I could gut out another 1.5 miles.

I had an A, B and C goal coming into this race. A was a 2:54:59, B was to just go sub 3 and C was to at least priority qualify for next year by 5 mins. I knew enough to realize that 2:54 was out the window and it was going to take some really fast closing 2 miles to run sub 3, I didn't have that left and would probably collapse trying. So I dug in and settled on just trying to maintain a decent enough pace to get me in as close to 3:00 as possible.

Finally, pulled even with that cursed Citgo sign. (You can see it from 1.5-2 miles out, knowing it's at mile 25. It just taunts you, ever looming as a symbol of just how far and just how little you still have left). Making it past that sign was a huge mental victory but seeing the small downhill underpass was demoralizing, I absolutely did not want to run downhill any more. Unfortunately, there was no way around it but thankfully it was with only 1k to go. I keyed in on that 1k sign and held onto that knowledge through the dip and rise. I don't even remember seeing people through here although I'm sure with 1 million spectators there had to be some.

At last, the turn onto Hereford street signally Boylston and the finish just lie ahead. Once turning onto Hereford I started becoming a bit more aware of my surroundings and the crowds, wow the crowds. That energy was so amazing! Boylston was a block up and I was almost there, just keep gutting. Made the left on Boylston, cried when I realized the finish was further than I expected, but pushed on. Backed off the effort a little bit more so I could enjoy this, the people, the experience, everything. Finally, the finish.

After crossing the line I just wanted fluids, anything I could find. Unfortunately, thanks to the changes in the finishing chute this year those fluids were seemingly miles away. Made my way up the chute and was first greeted by the volunteers with medals. Kept asking for fluids and was told I had to keep walking, they were just down the chute. Legs were starting to cramp, my head was spinning like crazy, my arms were 100% numb and tingling and I was starting to shake. Water, finally.

Grabbed a bottle and drank it fully within a minute. Kept walking in hopes of staving off leg cramps as well as just trying to find some gatorade. Now I wanted to throw up. Sat for a minute, medical asked if I was ok, told them I was and he kindly advised me I needed to keep moving to which I agreed, I didn't want my legs to completely lock up. So he helped me up and I kept walking, looking for gatorade, hoping not to pass out, wanting to throw up and with my legs screaming.

My head was spinning so bad by now and I was continually fighting back the urge to throw up. I couldn't stay up so I sat again and again was checked on by medical. Again I informed them I was ok, just exhausted an cramping and again, they kindly told me to keep moving. I agreed once more and, with their help, stood up and tried walking again, stopping every few feet to try and stretch and regain some composure of my stomach.

Finally, just when I felt I was probably going to not be able to hold back throwing up any longer and on the verge of what felt like passing out, asked a medical with a wheelchair if I could sit. She asked if I was ok and I finally admitted that no, I was not. "I want to puke, I want to pass out, my arms are numb and tingling and I'm afraid I just cannot stand up any longer or you'll be picking me off the pavement". She wheeled me into medical at that point.

The next 30 minutes were absolutely horrible but the medical staff was absolutely awesome. I was sick, I was exhausted, I was hyperventilating, couldn't stop shaking uncontrollably, and my legs were officially one big cramp. Doc settled on hyponatremia and they began working to get some salt into me.

After about 30 minutes of broth and chips (no IV thankfully) and two amazing PTs working on my legs I felt like a champ again. Thanked them all for being so awesome, checked myself out of med and went to the Met Back Bay and grabbed a beer. Damn that beer tasted amazing.
What would you do differently?:

Probably play around with a little extra nutrition to see if it would have helped.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing. I feel confident that I left every single ounce of me out on that course on this day.

Event comments:

The hyponatremia is one I'm sure I'll obsess over for a while as it's still such a mystery to me. I don't feel I drank too much water but in retrospect it is possible that the finishing temps and humidity (we are not used to even 25% humidity in AZ) elevated my sweat levels just enough. Or I simply used every ounce of what fitness I had and the hyponatremia was simply an end result of that. Chicken or egg? I will not, however, blame the hyponatremia on my finish time as I think that's pretty lame. I ran what I was able to run on this day, probably to within the last percent of it. I'm happy with that.

I'll be back next year for revenge :)

Last updated: 2013-11-18 12:00 AM
03:02:04 | 26.2 miles | 06m 57s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Course: Point to point net downhill from Hopkinton to Boston. There's plenty of course descriptions out there on this one so I'll spare the details since they are readily searchable. It's a painful one.
Keeping cool Average Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]