Wow, what an experience. The sheer number of fans along the entire course was simply amazing. I couldn't stop high fiving kids for the first several miles before I forced myself to be more judicious with dishing them out. The amount of runners was pretty crazy too, even in Philly the crowd thinned by the second half at my pace. This created a few issues trying to get over to the aid stations early on, but I think I figured it out pretty well by the end.
I was seriously worried about my knee coming into this, but overall I would say it was mostly a non-factor, which was such a relief. It hurt early on (as usual), but I was so distracted by the fans and other runners, it didn't seem as bad. After I was settled in, it was never bad enough to affect my running. With that no longer a concern, I knew what kind of pace I needed to run to break 3 hours, and did a really good job holding it consistently (ran a 1:29:30 first half). I wasn't going to kill myself if it wasn't happening though, and with the temperatures a bit higher than expected I knew this was a real possibility. With the heat, my plan was to take two cups of water or Gatorade at each aid station, but after 8-10 miles, my stomach wasn't really up for that anymore, so I had to drop to just the one.
I think I handled the early downhills with appropriate reservation, as my legs never really felt like I was beating them up going down too fast. The middle section was mostly flat or rolling, and I really settled into a nice pace with most miles clipping off in the 6:40s. Going through each town along the way (and the colleges) was so awesome. The crowds were really dense and excited, and the scenery was so beautiful. One town in particular the fans were so close to the runners that it felt like the Tour de France, super cool.
Crossing the half marathon mark, I knew I didn't have much room for error the rest of the way, but I also felt really good. I knew that if you could just get through the late hills in Newton, it was a pretty fast finish from there, so I thought I still might be able to go under 3. Those famous hills started around mile 16, and the last one (heartbreak) ends between 20 and 21. Obviously my pace slowed a bit going up them, but none were all that huge, and I still felt pretty strong even up final one. I knew the terrain would be more friendly from that point on, but I also know how hard the last 6 miles of any marathon will be.
Somewhere in the mile 22-24 range I started to not feel great anymore. I was going downhill, but wasn't gaining any time back. My inner quads started to get crampy (a result of not being able to take in as much water and Gatorade as I wanted after a certain point). When I hit mile 24, I knew I had to run the last couple of miles around a 6:30 pace if I was going to break 3 hours. When that wasn't happening, I knew I was only going to torture myself the last mile to mile and a half if I kept trying. Not this time. I was going to enjoy the final stretch of my first Boston Marathon. I backed off a bit (but not totally, because, ya know), and really savored everything going down those streets of Boston. Making that famous left turn onto Boylston Street was pure magic. The crowds were going INSANE for all the runners. I got right in the middle of the street and ran down the painted 3 blue stripes to the finish line. It was so emotional, so incredible, and not something I'll forget.
What would you do differently?:
Maybe I could've packed salt tabs, but who knows if it would've made a big difference. I'm really glad a backed off a tad at the end, the last mile of a marathon is hard enough, there was no reason to suffer.
Stumbled down the finishers chute, collecting my medal, water, food, etc.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
I fared better than many others in the heat, but on a cooler day I likely would have been able to go a little faster.
What an incredible experience. I can't get over the amount of people all along the ENTIRE course, just insane. And afterwards either walking down the sidewalks, when we got some food, or back at my hotel, everyone was giving congratulations and just made me feel like a superhero. It was so freakin' cool. A major bucket list item checked off!
Last updated: 2017-05-01 12:00 AM
Boston Athletic Association
75F / 24C
Overall Rank = 1559/27221
Age Group = M18-39
Age Group Rank = 1088/4921
Had part of my breakfast in the hotel (tea, pineapple, and a french toast muffin) before walking over to the nearest T. Got to the Commons a little too late to meet up with Joe, so just dropped my bag off and boarded the bus. The guy I sat next to for the hour long ride was also running his first Boston, and it was really fun chatting with him during the ride. Got to athletes' village and was amazed how huge it was. Wandered around a bit trying to find Joe but eventually gave up and found a seat under one of the massive tents where I would wait until it was time to go to the start line. I popped some naproxen (and crossed my fingers) and ate my other french toast muffin and a banana a little over an hour before start time. Somehow, Joe actually found me in the massive crowd. We hung out and chatted about our very similar knee injuries before we hit the port-a-potty and joined our wave for the walk to the start.
None really, though the walk to the start line was a bit over half a mile I'd say.