Seeking Boston's Return to Boston
|Marathon Sports at the finish line on Boylston|
I repeated my pattern of getting to the east coast a few days early for work and the shear weight of the event started on my flight on the anniversary of the bombing. I was able to catch the tribute service on my way from Denver to Boston on CNN. I wouldn't exactly call myself a Biden fan, but it was hard not to get "fired up" about the marathon with the Vice President's words, "we own the finish line."
|Bib #12611 not #1261|
|Me and Meb|
Outside those events, from Saturday night on, we pretty much kept to ourselves as we dined at our favorite restaurant in Beacon Hill at Toscano's. Insane food and hospitality from the Beacon Hill area residents. We also stopped into the Seven's pub and new Tip Tap Room in the same area. As always, this area did not disappoint as a comfortable area of Boston to stay in that was walking distance to the Boston Commons which is the bus area for the race.
On Sunday, I was feeling nice and rested. This was a confidence boost as I felt healthy going into the race on Monday, but had been feeling fatigued the last month. While the area got snow earlier in the week, the
With the last trip done, the time on my watch seemed to spin by fast in the afternoon. I got my finish line pictures then it was back to the condo for a dinner at home, bath, and early to bed. Earlier in the day, I also posted my #100DaystoBoston video which you can catch HERE if you didn't happen to see it.
|Blogger Rock Stars|
My new best friend for sleep is the JBL Flip speaker I bought my wife for her birthday. Load up a 2-3 hour "Spa Relaxation" video on YouTube and send to the JBL and you have a very peaceful setting for a good night's sleep. Another good sign was that I slept solid both Saturday and Sunday night which seemed to be a first for any marathon. Our condo was a short walk to the Commons on race morning and the mechanics of getting ready, eating, bathroom, and getting their were fairly routine.
The only curve that I didn't seem to catch until Sunday night was that "bag check" was not happening in
|One of our favorite hangouts in Beacon Hill|
The Commons was abuzz with activity and several news crews set up to cover the largest Boston Marathon since the 100 year anniversary. Security was not quite as tight as I expected in the Commons as I boarded the bus without showing my bib. This might explain the high rate of "bandits" this year (a whole other blog topic in itself.) Security was much higher around Athlete's Village and throughout the race and I never felt unsafe or uncertain at any point.
|Our home while in Beacon Hill|
Once in the Village, I got into my "zone" preparing for the race which is ironic that I'm heavy into social networking, but become pretty quiet leading up to a race. Experience and auto-pilot set in as I set up my mylar blanket near the baseball infield and went about my last bathroom breaks.
Once in the Athlete's Village, you started to get a sense of the enormity of this year's marathon with roughly
34,000 runners lining up in Hopkinton. Once I got through my routine which included a banana and some coffee, I started to make my way towards the exit area and was able to run into a few online race friends including Maddy from DailyMile, Phaedra from Blisters and Black Toenails, and Facebook follower Kathy. Thanks for Kathy for capturing my only village picture this year since my phone was hours away from updates and off my mind.
My run coach's plan suggested a 7:35-7:45 pace for the first eighteen miles but okay if I "dipped down" into a 7:25 pace on the early downhills. I held to this plan religiously and reminded myself that this was "running slow" compared to many of my training runs. This seemed to help. It was apparent early on that the crowds this year were more intense than any other year and literally had people cheering the entire length of the course. The other thing that was apparent even in the village before we left, was that it was going to get hot. With that in mind, I (right or wrong) decided to "hug" the edge of the course trying to stay in the shade as much as possible. While wrist Garmins are never entirely accurate (sorry Garmin,) my course mileage was way off fairly early into the race which started the runner's math problems much earlier in the race. Runner's Math? That's the inability to count usually in the later stages of a race (18-20 mile mark.)
|My Garmin data showing elevation, pace, and the heat we ran into.|
Hugging the edge of the course wound up being 26.42 miles on my Garmin--whether I ran longer due to not following the tangents remains to be seen, and no, this is not the start of the "this is why I didn't hit my time goal" excuses. That comes later.
The other thing I consciously focused on (other than pace and shade) was fueling and hydrating. Before the race, I took in my Generation UCAN (I wanna be like Meb.) I took in my first gel around mile 3 (forgot to take in at mile two,) and around every two miles I "dosed" something. I also hit every water station alternating with water and Gatorade with more water than the later. Fairly early in the race, I also started dousing myself with water as I went through the aid stations to try and keep my engine cool.
The "scream tunnel" of Wellesley did not disappoint and gives me (anyway) one of three giant "jolts." There were numerous "high fives" as I hugged the rail with thousands of girls screaming like the Beatles arrived to New York for the first time. The second insane crowd surge is around Boston College and the last is as you get close to Hereford as these areas are where you truly feel like a "rock star."
The other in-race advice from my coach was to virtually quit looking at my Garmin around mile 20 and to treat the balance as a 10K. I once again took to this advice and rarely looked down, but knew the hills and heat were taking its toll on me. I had a strong surge on the downhill coming out of the Boston College area (7:20 pace,) but my energy wasn't nearly what it was last year at mile twenty. Mind games, self-doubt, and really bad runner math started in too early as was the often thought of "I just want this over." I didn't pass Dean Karnazes or see Bart Yasso on the overpass as I did last year near the end. I knew my PR was not happening nor was a sub-3:20 marathon which was my goal. I knew I ran smart enough in the early miles to potentially have a course PR, but as I passed the Citgo sign (which looked a loooong ways off when I first saw it,) I knew a course PR was also not happening.
I hoped for that fourth crowd surge of energy when I turned on Hereford. I was tapped out. It was more than a bit disappointing as I was not in a happy "enjoying the moment" place especially down the home stretch along Boylston. My mind wanted to, but my body was miserable.
The "kick" I always have at the end of the race did not seem to be there at the time, but dipped below a 7:00 minute per mile pace in the last half mile. There were no walk breaks in this one. I finished with a respectable finish of 3:23:35. Like last year, I planned to meet my run team at the Loews hotel to celebrate our races and accomplishments. To be honest, I was a bit reluctant to meet them as I felt I'd failed. I know, I know...that's silly to say, but at least I'm being honest at least in terms of my race performance. As I began to meet up with fellow runners, there were a lot of the same stories. Someone in my group who is a legitimate 2:40 runner finished with a 3:05. Many more of these stories came out in the days following. There were some PR's, but more "missed expectations." My coach emailed as she sensed I was a bit down, "was a tough day to PR as many people ran great but about 5min off what we predicted." Tough consolation prize.
This blog was tough to write as the week started with so many emotions around the anniversary of the 2013 marathon. My body was also absolutely beat. Poor timing and more than a bit ironic, I had to fly to California for work the morning after I got back home. My mind by Friday (upon returning from California) thought I needed a workout so I hit the pool for a mile swim. My body was still deplete of any energy and cut the session short. Still tired.
What I have been able to focus on over the first weekend post-Boston and into the week after is that it is a privilege to be able to run even a single mile. It's a blessing to be able to run long distances and be good enough to qualify for Boston not just once, but six times as I did last Monday. There were lives lost last year that cannot run as they are no longer here, or they can't run a sub-four hour marathon because they have lost a limb. The city was as gracious as I'd ever seen it, and the love and pride I had back home made it all worth it.
What's next? I don't know if I will do a Fall Marathon or not. It's tempting to run CIM again to try and beat my goal of 3:20 on a "friendlier course." While my 3:23 is another BQ, I will register for the 2015 Marathon and hope to survive the registration "gauntlet." At the start of the year, I had four goals;
|At home with four unicorns...wanting five.|
1) Break twenty minutes in a 5K (which I did for the first time in March.)
2) Run a sub-3:20 marathon
3) Break 1:29 in a half marathon (my PR last year was a 1:29:18.) Eighteen seconds.
4) Improve my triathlon game.
Goal number four will give my body some much needed cross-training (rest,) and help me prepare for a couple target half marathons later in the summer. Otherwise, I'm still "Seeking Boston Marathon."
Footnote: Taking excerpts out of this blog report could make me sound shallow or somehow ungrateful. This could not be further from the truth, but part of any race report includes what went right and what went wrong. That's what makes distant runners so resilient; regardless of outcome, many try to improve, or chase that elusive BQ or PR. That's what is so great about the sport.