Monday, April 27, 2015

Triumph Over Tribulations: 2015 Boston Marathon Race Report

These Boston Marathon races don't seem to get any easier. I'll start with how fortunate I feel to run, and how sweet it was to get back to Boston for the fifth time. There were some fantastic memories and accomplishments I will hold onto my whole life, but there was a bit of a cloud forming before I headed out to the Boston Marathon weeks before the rain clouds that awaited all the runners.

I posted the first couple of days in Boston so I won't repeat that, but this year was unique in that it was my 13th overall marathon, fifth Boston, and first time my wife wouldn't be able to see me race. She had good reason as she's in the final weeks of her final project at school (second time around) and was just not able to go. As a result, I brought my high school senior son, Jesse along for the trip. While he looks up to Dad, he's not a runner, but we had a fantastic time taking in a lot of Boston, and he even got to join me for the Runner's World party Saturday night before the race meeting running dignitaries such as Bart Yasso, Mark Remy, and David Tratner.
Emotional Moment Picking up My Bib

The other new twist this year is we didn't stay at the condo we normally hang in Beacon Hill as I'd booked the (somewhat) newly remodeled Marriott Courtyard in the theatre district. Great hotel staff, super comfortable room and beds only a few minutes from the Commons in the Theatre District across from the Wang Theatre. The "downside" was that Friday night, the club noise was more than a bit much disturbing my sleep and while Sunday night started out calm, there must have been a concert or club that woke me up at 2AM. Sleep was (as usual) choppy at best the night before the race with the clubbers contributing to this. I met a woman who stayed at the W Hotel around the corner that had the same issue last year, but hotel management was able to book her in advance on the backside of the hotel away from the street noise.

On Saturday, I went for a morning shake-out run on the Charles River which ironically, I'd never done before, but before we go there, I need to rewind the tape a bit to one month earlier. My training had actually gone quite well considering I was bouncing back from a major accident last July and only started running again around Halloween (appropriate.) I had just "notched" my first 20 mile simulated training run and felt absolutely fantastic and ready for Boston around seven weeks out.
Remembering 2013 Victims

A month out I had traveled to Seattle for work and had a couple decent runs, but a bit sluggish. Not unusual as my energy can tend to ebb and flow a bit throughout training. From Seattle I flew into San Diego for the weekend and was destined for Palm Springs for the following week for a bit of a Spring Break. With heavy feet, I took off for a Saturday tempo interval run in Ocean Beach and met an old section of buckled sidewalk that sent me tumbling...hard.

I was worried about my ribs as they still will ache at night when I sleep, but I took the brunt of the fall with my hands and right knee. I continued with the run, but my back started to cease up on me. I went though the motions, but it was more laborious than it should have.

Dad and Son at Runner's World Party
The following morning in San Diego, I couldn't walk without pain, but after moving around a bit, my alpha male decided to go ahead with my 16 mile run. It felt okay, but again, I was tired, and more than a bit sore. Things seemed to get better that week in Palm Springs, but the trip home, the pain had moved to my hip. The following weeks

I started to take a day off, then two days off as the hip pain was not going away. What should have been my last long run, we substituted a long bike ride. The hip hurt just as much so the last 2-3 weeks was almost completely absent of running as I was concerned about getting to the starting line.

Fast forward to the Charles River run. My hip hurt the whole week leading up to my trip out to Boston. Not serious, but nagging. I hit the physical therapist, massage therapist, and chiropractor at least five times before heading out to Boston. I ran a mere three miles on Saturday, and while I enjoyed the river and the Commons, the hip was not right. My energy was not there at all. One of the few stops I wanted to hit at the expo, was KT Tape for a professional tape job on Saturday afternoon before visiting Runner's World and talking to their developers about a new running app coming out this summer (way cool!) The tape job seemed to help a lot, and gave me a false sense of security. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and I had to go to the Dr. for Strep throat. I knew that meant I had to get a shot which I was scared to death to get. I tried to convince my mom (not making this up,) that if I ate my Wheaties, I'd feel better. It didn't help, and I got the shot.

At this point, a number of bloggers were hitting me up for impromptu meet-ups. Being more than a bit of a social media slut, it was ironic, as I was not feeling social. I did not want to face all the questions of how are you feeling (post accident,) and how do you think you're going to do. The upside was, I spent the time with my son. We hit the expo, Faniuel Hall (where Jesse got to see Dad perform with Mr. Yo-Yo, one of the street performers.) Jesse also got to take in Record Day (big deal for the resurgent vinyl collectors) at Newbury Comics and we laid low on Sunday taking in a movie off the Commons.
Feeling effects of rain and 21 mph wind

As the week went on, the forecast for the marathon did not waiver much at all; heavy headwind and rain throughout. I brought a variety of clothes for the race, but "mind games" kicked in Sunday night with lots of online chat and googling with fellow runners, "what are you wearing?" My run coach had been communicating with me within the 48 hours leading up to the race and I asked her last minute about wearing tights as I was still dealing with a wonky hip and thought it would also help with the cold. My PR in a marathon was in similar weather and I wore tights for the same reason and that seemed to work out well. Robotics finally kicked in as I laid out my race clothes and temporary bag which held my dry shoes and some of my other pre-race stuff for Athlete's Village in Hopkinton

Two doors down from the hotel was a Abby Lane which had salmon on the menu (my usual meal the night before a race,) and had a chef featured on Hell's Kitchen. Jesse and I had a quiet dinner and continued having conversations I will remember for a long time including laughing about Pahkah (Parker in thick Bostonian accent) who we met a couple days earlier sharing his life of crime and love of women.

As I woke up, I once again went through my mechanics and having gone through the Boston
Fifth Unicorn Secured
Marathon logistics before was an advantage. There was however slight panic when the woman on the elevator asked why I was just heading out as her friend went over at 6AM. "Am I late?," I thought, but knew I'd looked over and over the schedule so this can't be the case. This is also the same guy that got on the math convention bus on Friday. I was on time and loaded the bus without a selfie as I'd left my phone with Jesse. I rode with Anne from New York and we seemed to have similar goals. I'd go out conservative, and see if my pacing from the previous month would still be there in mile six. As we got closer to Hopkinton, the large school bus' windshield wipers started as did the rain. Earlier in the week, we thought the rain might not start until one p.m. when I'd be well into the course. As expected, the tents in the village were completely packed with runners trying to stay dry.

Again, being in my "zone" and I guess you could call it a loner mood, I found a small patch of grass to set up my space blanket. I only had perhaps a little over an hour to hang out there, and took care of one last trip to the bathroom before the lines got long. Robotics kicked in for the rest of the activity leading up to the gun going off for the second wave. My strategy was more than a bit flawed from the start. I can't seem to lower or set appropriate expectations in a race, and had it in my mind that I'd PR'ed in similar conditions and the rest probably did me good. The hip felt okay with the KT Tape, and Nike compression tights keeping things in place. The first part of the course is "screaming downhill" and a number of times, I had to slow myself down, but I was largely following my coaches plan, but running more of a PR pace than conservative pace. I would pay for this later.

My plan called for treating the first 16 miles as four x four mile runs. This seemed to be working well and I seemed pretty good certainly up through the "scream tunnel" in Wellesley (all girls college who go absolutely nuts with signs of "kiss me".) As is my traditional, I hug the iron tube fencing and did not stop for a kiss. I was focused on my race. At this point, everything was pretty much soaked. At some point, I put my gloves into the waistband of my tights as they were soaked. The Dri-Fit Nike pants eventually became water-logged as did my arm sleeves. In retrospect, I should have considered the fabrics with something more repellant and light-weight as my sleeves were more of a blend for warmth; not wet. I was second-guessing the tights.

As I entered the last of the Newton Hills, fatigue set in, and my times were slowing down dramatically. I fueled plenty, but that was not it. Self-doubt started to kick in way too early. Bad math kicked in, and I wondered if a BQ (which I thought was a given at 3:30) was still possible. I hit "Heartbreak Hill" and I stopped to walk. This was not something temporary, I'd hit the wall hard, and early in the course. The final six miles were a bit of a blur and an ugly mix of walking and jogging. The wind picked up, and I was freezing. I saw a fellow runner who was wrapped in two silver blankets and I grabbed one myself at the next medical tent. I had never really noticed the medical tents before, but I noticed every one of them. I wanted to stop, but did not want to DNF...not in front of my son. I felt embarrassed to walk, but my body couldn't run. I cried. A lot. I'd say I was a hot mess, but cold was more like it.

By the time I got close to Hereford, I started to run again. On pure adrenaline, the crowd was willing me to run and to finish. My son was not at the bridge at mile 25, and we discussed that Hereford and Boylston would be a good place for him as well. In the back of my mind, I wanted him to see me run around that corner. I'll look at my Garmin later, but there's not much point. I know I gave it all I had for the final stretch down Boylston. My fifth unicorn secured in my slowest marathon ever, but perhaps the hardest earned one I've earned.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds like a tough day... but y'know, they can't all be butterflies and rainbows, otherwise, how would you really appreciate the great ones, right? Congrats on pushing through a tough race in tough conditions. You'll come back stronger because of it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well done on gutting it out to the finish. It was definitely a tough day for many including me. I didn't quite run the race I wanted, but I'm inspired by your multiple trips to Beantown and hope to make it back numerous times myself.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome to see you including your family! Our son is 3 and we just registered him for the Disney Marathon kids race.

    Sometimes the hardest ones earned, are the ones we learn the most from.

    Congrats and keep on running!

    Stacey
    Mile 22 Bags - Carry Your Achievements with You!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ty, this is Anne who sat beside you on the bus (from NJ). Your experience sounds more like mine last year. It was inspiring sitting beside you and I kept thinking that you had Pr'd in similar conditions. I did not run for a PR. I ran conservatively as last year I slowed considerably for the last 6 miles in the heat. Like everyone, I was pretty cold for the last few miles but I didn't notice the wind so much and I actually ran my second fastest marathon and 8 minutes faster than last year. Thank you for the inspiration and personally I reckon you were awesome to be able to run at all considering what you had gone through.

    ReplyDelete

About Me

My photo

Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine