Boston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Boston Athletic Association
38F / 3C
Total Time = 3h 59m 5s
Overall Rank = 15649/25746
Age Group = M 55-59
Age Group Rank = 883/1455
Pre-race routine:

Third time qualifying for Boston (and running it). Last time--in 2016--I broke my right 5th metatarsal six months before the race, then pulled my lower back four weeks before the race. Result was my first-ever 5-hour-plus marathon with a whole lot of walking.

I was determined not to repeat that experience, but I nevertheless suffered a lower back/hip flexor/adductor injury on December 30. I did my best to rehab it on short rest, but reinjured it twice in January, so shut down for about two weeks. Came back for an 8K race in late February and did great, so I turned back on my long runs for a five-week peak training period, then a two week taper for Boston.

Obviously was going into this a bit undertrained (although I did get up to a 20 mile run on 4/1) and without quite the speed on my long runs I'd hoped for. But I felt I had a legitimate chance at requalifying with a target of 3:37 or better.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. Five days before traveling to Boston, the forecasts started to predict rain, wind, and cold. All of which were to materialize--in spades--on race day. Both before leaving LA and while in Boston, I bought a variety of gear items to deal with not only a soaking rain with cold and high winds on the course, but also a potential bitterly cold and wet wait for the start in Hopkinton. I bought a cheap rain suit from a home improvement store in LA, then hit on the idea of cast protectors to cover my running shoes while in Boston (not cheap for a throwaway item, but absolutely the perfect solution to dealing with rain and mud in Athletes' Village). Bought a more waterproof running belt than the neoprene one I brought and arranged toggles on it for my bib--which would be outside the waterproof cycling shell I planned to wear.

Dressed for the epically terrible conditions as follows: Base layer of tri top, tri shorts, Lycra arm warmers & calf sleeves; main layer of long sleeve tech shirt and full length running tights; outer wear was breatheable waterproof cycling shell, knit gloves covered with nitrile food-service gloves, and a light thermal cap under my customary running hat. Phone, IDs, and gels in running belt...bib number toggled to belt and weighted with magnets against the wind.

Fought against second guessing my apparel and stuck to plan. Bus ran late so I had just the right amount of wait time in the muddy fields at Hopkinton HS to use the portapotty and shed my rain pants and cast protectors before heading to the start corral in the rain. And the wind. And the coldest temps for the start in 122 years.
Event warmup:

Jogged a bit on the walk down to the start. Hit the portapotties again by corral 8 (I still had to walk up to corral 1...of wave 3).
  • 3h 59m 5s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 08s  min/mile

Started out conservatively to see how I felt. Had some tightness in left hamstring just above the knee that was new and I knew would become an issue sooner or later (it did). Otherwise the only real issue was the 38 degree temps...and the soaking rain...and the gusting headwinds...

I tried to hang close to a BQ pace, but the reality was that I was enough undertrained that with the weather, getting to my target of under 3:37 was going to be a challenge. My only 20-mile training run two weeks out was around 3:43 pace and it was clear by mid-race that I was realistically looking at something like that. I always preach that "training predicts performance" and there's no reason my day was going to be any different.

Overriding goal was not to have to walk...walking in 2016 was a miserable experience. And not walking would mean no injury...which would be a big deal with the Wildflower HIM coming up in 19 days. Stuck to that all day...backed off as needed when I felt any tightness in the upper leg muscles that had been injured earlier in the year.

Cold, wind, and soaking rain wasn't helping the tightness in my upper legs. I ended up deploying a secret weapon: Urine. Yup, after about 7 miles I decided that given full-length black tights and constant rain, I could get away with peeing on the course. Did it a couple times and--it must be said--the warmth was welcome and helped my legs.

  • ..And it made the difference in at least getting under 4 hours.

  • My left ITB and knee tightened up pretty badly right around the time I could here the screaming coeds ahead at Wellesley. Looking at my mile splits, that is really evident. I was still around 8:50-9:00/mile after that, but a BQ was out the window.

    Kept trucking along in the rain and the headwind and found myself really looking forward to the right turn into the Newton hills (not least because climbs were easier on my legs than descents). Got through the "Three Sisters" okay, but my right hip and ITB got bad just before Heartbreak. Felt okay getting up the hill, but knew the descent toward Chestnut Hill Reservoir was going to suck.

    Getting into Brookline and the flats of miles 23-25, I had to really back off the pace to keep from blowing up and walking. Tested my pace a few times, but had to play it conservatively. I promised myself I was saving something for a kick on Boylston if needed.

    First of two unforgettable moments: Made the right turn of "Right on Hereford, left on Boylston" and--for the first time all day--the heavens opened up in a downpour. You could only revel in the moment and I raised my arms to the crowd and they roared.

    Turning onto Boylston and with the finish line in sight, I looked at my watch for the first time in awhile and noticed I was getting dangerously close to 4 hours. Picked up the pace down the stretch (to a blazing 9:00/mile, LOL), pretty secure in a sub-4.

    Second unforgettable moment: As I got to the finish line, the crowd went silent. I was focused on finishing sub-4, so it took a moment to register that the announcer was asking for a moment of silence in memory of the bombing victims. Just a few meters before I finished, the announcer thanked the spectators and exhorted them to resume cheering in the finishers.

    Turns out I finished 5 the minute...after the bombings.
    What would you do differently?:

    Nothing. I spent January and February rehabbing a lower back and groin injury, so I was late to my peak distance training runs and didn't have the speed on those runs I would have hoped for.

    And obviously I had no control over the worst weather...ever.
    Post race
    Warm down:

    There were a ton of medical volunteers watching finishers for signs of hypothermia. I was cold, but not hypothermic. Instead of the usual space blanket, the race provided a heavier poncho with Velcro closure. Got that and medal and water and food and made my way to claim my checked bag with change of clothes. More sore than I've been post-marathon since probably my first in 2007. Limped out of the finish area to a hotel entryway and changed everything except my tri shorts.

    What limited your ability to perform faster:

    Tightness in both ITBs that worsened during the race. Undertraining due to injury on Dec 30.

    Worst. Weather. Evah.

    Event comments:

    It's Boston. It was the most epic weather ever.

    Last updated: 2017-09-30 12:00 AM
    03:59:05 | 26.2 miles | 09m 08s  min/mile
    Age Group: 883/1455
    Overall: 15649/25746
    Performance: Below average
    Course: Iconic point-to-point course from Hopkinton to Boston.
    Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
    Post race
    Weight change: %
    Overall: Good
    Mental exertion [1-5] 5
    Physical exertion [1-5] 4
    Good race? No
    Course challenge
    Organized? Yes
    Events on-time? Yes
    Lots of volunteers? Yes
    Plenty of drinks? Yes
    Post race activities: Good
    Race evaluation [1-5] 5