There is really one race you to you need to run as a marathoner. Boston. This was my very first Boston.
I qualified in October of 2013 and it was a long wait until my turn came around. In anticipation of the Newton hills, I did all of my long runs in Barrington on hills more severe than the race. I also ran more than I ever had for a spring full and found a happy medium between the Pfitzinger 55 and 70 mile plans. I had a good cycle (no injuries) with the exception of a couple of work heavy weeks dropped two weeks into the 30mile range. I did all of my long runs. I tried to run some of them glycogen depleted.
Two prep races did not excite me about my fitness. A hilly March Madness Half resulted in 1:40:13. The Shamrock Shuffle 8k ended in 35:24. Neither got me excited about my fitness although I did not taper for either. I plugged my times into Greg Maclin's calculator and it spit out 3:36:00 which was using the fairly aggressive setting. That is 8 minutes slower than my qualifying time. I had no idea how to pace Boston.
I met Amanda on the bus ride to Hopkinton. She had traveled all the way from Adelaide, Australia and a 30 hour plane ride to get to Boston. Just another cool part of the Boston experience. We were both in the second wave. I relaxed in the Athlete's Village and made the customary bathroom stops. It's basically a series of tents that we all huddled under to keep warm. They had all the necessary stuff in case someone needed some last minute supplies or Shot Bloks. I was impressed that the loudspeakers were playing Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc. Tough to get psyched if they were playing Beautiful Day by U2 and according to the weather it would have been a lie. My wave was called and we began the .8 mile walk to the start line. As I stood in the 7th corral unbelievably I had to hit the bathroom again. I dumped my K State sweatshirt and old softball pants that were keeping me warm. We were off and I crossed the start line at 10:30.
I put the crowbar in my wallet pre-race for $5 and printed out two of Greg Maclin's pace bands. One for 3:30 and one for 3:35 because I just didn't know what kind of shape I was in. The first mile was beyond slow (8:49) but only because I needed to make a bathroom pit stop. Honestly, I don't know where all the liquid came from. Then I was able to settle in.
The crowds were awesome. In the rain, they cheered for every runner as if they knew them personally. I felt the gusts of headwind and tried to tuck in occasionally behind another runner. The rain was annoying but I've run a marathon in a monsoon before so I didn't mind it. I was clicking off the miles with very little effort. Mile 11 came and I had to go again and found a tree in the woods along with about five other runners. I really didn't drink that much in the past two days but apparently I was super hydrated.
11 8:03 12 8:20 13 7:58 Half 1:45:46
We approached the Wellesley scream tunnel at the half way point and I wasn't about to kiss any of the girls here since I have daughters that age. It seemed creepy to me. I did give almost all of them high fives as I ran. It made me forget about the wind and rain for a bit and gave me a jolt of energy. It was here I made a conscious decision to back it off slightly. I worried as the Newton Hills approached that I may not have enough for the finish. The weird part is that I welcomed the upcoming hills. All of the downhill running at the front of the race, I thought the change in muscle use would be good for me. My stomach behaved. No issues as I took three Hammer gels and got water and Gatorade occasionally throughout the race.
I saw my family a at Mile 16 and sprinted over to give my wife a quick kiss.
Quick detour to acknowledge the family
The first of the three Newton hills begins at Mile 16 and the last is at 19.3. None of them were very difficult and maybe that was my training. My quads were very cold at this point and maybe it was the hills having some effect on them as well. The cheap cotton gloves I bought stayed on for the rest of the race.
Heartbreak Hill wasn't very tough either for me. A bunch of us runners cheered loudly when we saw the woman holding a sign saying we had just conquered Heartbreak. Mile 21 8:34. It was all pretty much downhill from here. I decided to run on feel at this point and it felt like I was running faster and easier than the splits turned out.
22 8:03 23 8:19
The Citgo sign was now in sight. The crowds got louder. The crowds got deeper. I kept raising my arms to get them to cheer louder. I actually caught myself saying out loud to no one "There will be no fade today!" Not sure anyone heard me and/or cared about what I said. At Mile 24 I checked my watch and it read 3:14:xx and I thought for a brief moment I had a shot at sub 3:30. Umm, race math this late in a race is dangerous and I forgot about the extra .2. I was passing a bunch of runners at this point. While passing a runner and looking next to me to make sure I didn't bump them I stepped ankle deep in a puddle. I didn't care and tried to push the pace.
24 7:54 25 7:59
Final push on Boylston and my fastest mile of the day
Right on Hereford and left on Boylston. My family saw me one last time right in front of the expo center but it was so loud I had no clue they were there. The atmosphere was beyond electric at this point. My last 2k was at 7:51 pace. My Garmin claims I did the last .2 miles at 6:54?
I crossed the finish in 3:32:18. As good as I felt, I think I underestimated my fitness. In my tenth marathon, I have never run this consistently all the way through. Maybe I could have re-qualified here but I didn't care as enjoyed every step of the race. Boston, I'll be back.