Boston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Boston Athletic Association
60F / 16C
Total Time = 4h 17m 23s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Woke up normal time b/c of the late start. Oatmeal and some water. Left around 8 a.m. from the hotel to be dropped off at the Hopinkton Industrial Park, where a shuttle bus took us to the athlete's village.
Event warmup:

Not sure on the logic of the buses, but we sat on I-495 for about 45 minutes to get into Hopinkton. A bunch of first wave runners barely had time to get to their corrals. As I was wave 2, no worries on my end - dropped off my gear, used the facilities and then began my stroll to my corral.
  • 4h 17m 23s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 49s  min/mile

Had I stood at the back of my stall, I would have been one of the last runners to start. The first wave went off at 10 o'clock, we went off at 10:30. I crossed the start line at 10:41. The good news is that most everyone I finished ahead of, I had to pass to get there. :)

I didn't really have a game plan here, other then to run steady. I was hoping for more cloud cover, but the sun was already in full force at 10:20 when I entered my corral. There was a nice cool breeze, but the shade was hard to come by.

I was really boxed in for the first 7 miles, finding it very difficult to get into a groove. I would find a nice pocket, run a good pace and then be in a pack of friends running 4 or 5 across, chatting away. Traffic jam would ensue, get around and then keep going.

I was really trying to focus on 9s. My mantra was 8 is great, but nine is fine. I should have added, 10 to the end.

My first 5K was dead-on at a 9 pace. Same with 10K mark. The course was a beautiful rolling course with more downhills then uphills in the first half. I really felt myself sweating a lot in the first 10K, more so then usual, so I started taking water even thought I didn't feel like it.

I hit the 10 mile mark EXACTLY at 90 minutes, dead on for a 9 minute pace. I started doing math realizing that I keep this pace, I'm giving myself a nice cushion for a sub 4 hour marathon. I didn't have high hopes for a 4 hour pace, but figure I didn't want to rule it out this early. I was a little concerned about the sun and the heat, but one foot in front of the other.

Through Natick and Framingham, bring on these famous Wellsley girls. Crest the hill and they do not disappoint. Man oh man, about half a mile of women cheering - there was no way I wasn't run a wicked fast mile there. Many held signs requesting to be kissed, but I passed on the tempting offers.

Down a nice hill, push through another town (I think Needham) and cross the halfway point. 1:58:33.

At this point, I should point out that until last week, I had never run a sub 2 hour half marathon. Last week I PRed w/ 1:57 and now this week in a controlled first half of the Boston Marathon, I again run sub 2 hours. Darn near pee-ed myself with excitement. But like all mid-race celebrations, it was short and concluded with me continuing to run forward.

At the half way point, I took a little inventory and realized that I needed to break this race down into 2 final halves. Newton Hills and the final 5 miles.

First half - Newton Hills:1, Tim:0. Holy schnickies. We're going along on a nice gentle rolling course and all of a sudden you just see a mass of people heading upwards. And it seems to never end. Crest one hill, level off for a half a mile and start climbing again. I truly understand and appreciate the "heartbreak" of heartbreak hill b/c after 4 miles of gradual hills, that just breaks your spirit. But to at least update the score - Heartbreak Hill : 0, Tim : 1 - b/c I REFUSED to stop going up this hill. I was not going to be bested by this hill. This is a little misleading as I was doing a fair amount of recovering walking prior to this hill, but this place and time, it was run fatboy run.

Newton Hills really brought out the reality of the situation. I was very thirsty and at one point noticed I had stopped sweating. I was taking gels over 30 minutes (twice as much as my anticipated rate). I was taking 2 waters at every stop and started taking water from spectators. (note : water from spectators is nice and cold!)

It was during the Newton Hills I started getting really nervous for 2 definite reasons. Around Mile 16 I started to feel my legs cramping up and the blister on my left arch I felt on mile 8 was now REALLY starting to burn.

The blister was out of my control. The cramps had to do with my amount of sweating, but Gatorade was out of the question as I just can't stomach it during a race. Instead, I found a safe harbor in the comfort of orange slices from strangers. About mile 18 I took an orange slice and it perked me right up. Over the next 2 miles, I had myself the equivalent of a full orange and with all the water I took, the cramping issue had all but disappeared by Heartbreak Hill.

The blister, that sucked, but it was an ignorable pain. Mind over matter, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

I had set a place keeper at the 3 hour mark. Should I have a chance at a 4, it was 20 miles at 3 hours. Should I have a bad day, it was 18 miles at 3 hours. To split the difference, I went for a 19, ended up hitting the 4 hour mark right around 19.25 miles. So I new it was going to be a PR, but it still came down to a strong finish that I could respect.

Upon cresting Heartbreak Hill, I knew the end was within reach. Phase II : the way home.

I remember seeing that there was elevation descent in the final stretch. What I wasn't expecting is that endless line of crowd support. That was simply amazing. At this point, I was in race-saving triage. I was figuring out what worked best with my hydration and keeping a solid pace. My goal was to run in the low 10 minute range the final miles, keeping me under 4:20. I knew I could manage a pace where I walked for a few minutes per mile and then ran a good 9 minute pace to the mile marker.

One by one, the miles of the final stretch started falling away. I saw the blessed Boston Skyline and new it wasn't too far. I maintained a steady stream of running / walking and just kept going forward.

The sun was really kicking my tail at this point, I was barely sweating and I had just finished my 6th and last gel pack. My blister REALLY hurt. I was physically and emotionally demoralized. I spent miles 21-23 really hating the world and at a loss for why I was doing this. Mile 24 was a little better, but a lot like miles 21-23 only more pain, less sweat and the glorious knowledge that I was one mile closer to home.

I distinctly remember realizing I was 2.2 miles from the finish line and coming to the realization that I was running and about to finish the Boston Marathon. One might think it odd to only realize this now, but hey, I'm weird that way. So began the push to the end.

I gave myself one last final breath (err, walk) and brought it home. I don't have my exact splits (as my Garmin was off .3 miles from the mile markers), but my final mile was at about an 8:40 pace as after hitting the 25 mile marker, I just wanted to be done. I knew I was going to PR and I knew I was going to be under 4:20, the question at this point was whether I was going to be sitting here right now typing this and remember not giving it my all or running what I felt is my best possible race (so far).

As long as I'm alive, I'll never forget the moment of turning the corner of Boylston Street, seeing about half a mile down that walls of people and the finish line. I ran that with more gusto then the first mile. I crossed that finish line, chest out, lungs burning, legs aching and a full heart.

To date, this was the crowning achievement in my running life. This was a last minute decision to run this race on a rare opportunity (thanks TriToy). The course was great, the crowd support was unbelievable. There was not a single gap in crowd support from mile 11 to the finish. This race is so well organized, it must be a model for other major races.

In the end, I finished in 4:17:23 as my official time. I even managed to run fast enough counting for my last corral and second wave start to finish before the live TV feed of the finish was cut off at 3:00 - so my wife and 2 sons actually got to watch me cross the finish line on TV from their hotel room in Marlborough. How cool is that!
What would you do differently?:

Err, train.
Post race
Warm down:

Post finish, wandered around getting food and water and my medal. Again, the organization of this event was amazing as even though there were 20K+ runners, the finish line was smooth transition.

As for the blister on my arch, upon getting home and peeling my sock off, that sucker extends the full length of the arch. Almost a full day later (when I'm writing this) I can barely walk b/c of the pain.

As for the sun, I have a wicked sun burn and my legs are a little sore, it was the all night shivering from this horrible sun burn that hurts worse then the soreness in my legs. Live and learn!

Event comments:

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Last updated: 2008-04-02 12:00 AM
04:17:23 | 26.2 miles | 09m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Course: First half very much downhill. Newton Hills. Flat from BC in.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
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] 5