The Boston Marathon Race



The race. The big race!  As we boarded the bus to the start, my fellow runners and I began evaluating the day: the heat, the wind, our understandings of the course. It was warm, but not terrible compared to the day before (85*). We knew it would feel warm as we ran but perhaps the wind would help?  It was a mix of excitement, nerves and hope. For so many of us it was our first Boston and we were looking do our very best.

I was among the hopeful, looking for the positives in warm weather, the tail wind. As we were shuffled from bus to bus, and make our way among the crowds in the athletes village, I made a friend with a fellow red bib. After filling me in on what the announcer had said about our corrals, Kevin went on to tell me about his 20 year streak of running Boston and shared the insider's secrets. He knew where the vacant porta-potties were, where to warm up and line up. It was a wonderful connection to make in the final hour before the race and I feel so fortunate for the serendipitous encounter. Boston is funny that way- all marathons really- how ephemeral your friendships are and yet they can greatly affect your race for better or worse. 

I ran a few mini laps on a side street near my start corral. Mini being 100m up one lane and back down the other. Yet there hundreds of us running these little loops and trying to incorporate strides on the straight-a-ways. I got in my corral and worked my way to the front. I only made it to about the third row, so I'd guess there were still at least 150 people in front of me, plus the ~2,000 people in the corrals ahead of us. I only had to stand for 15 mins before the starting gun. However it was 55 seconds before I actually crossed the starting line. And another 5 mins before I felt like I was running. In fact it was so crowded that I simply concentrated on staying upright. I didn't want to fall and be trampled even if the pace felt silly slow. From everything is heard it was best to hold back in the first 4 miles, so I was going to let the crowd do that for me.  But 6:36 in miles 2 and 3 was too slow. I wasn't frustrated but I knew it would be sometime before the crowds truly thinned out and this wasn't a PR day. I wasn't negative, just realistic.  It was time to concentrate on something other than pace.

How about Heart Rate?  Yes!  That's what I'll do, I'll just focus on heart rate. I knew the formula to be (220-age)x 88%. My math was a little rough but 160-165 seemed appropriate and close to that calculation (161 bpm is in fact the correct number). So that's what I did. I didn't know what to do, and though they say nothing new in race day, I figured I'll just do *this*.

I felt good at that range. My HR spiked when I splashed myself with cold water each mile, and I should have run the hills harder (160bpm is not very fast going uphill), but otherwise the marathon felt good and hard enough given the heat. I wanted to pick it up and Go so many times but I also didn't want to crawl into the finish. Finally at mile 25, with just over 1 mile to go, I put on the gas. I ran hard, through the rolling hills and up the last two rises to Boylston Street.

I managed a 5:52 average for the last 1.3 miles!  I guess you could say I left a lot on the table. It's funny and then, in the next minute, it feels kind of sad that I didn't race the Boston Marathon. I ran hard but nothing like I was trained for. And not to the best of my ability, even given the conditions. So much goes into training; it's hard to pin everything on one day. It's hard to have another race in the books that I feel needs an explanation. I'm nearly 39 and have only been slower with each marathon. That stinks!  I feel more fit and more ready for an awesome race and something in the proximity of my PR, but on paper I am just getting old. Ahh marathons... Bite me!!
My watch wasn't auto-lapping at each mile and I forgot to do it manually for several miles at a time.  But I am certain that I hit the Lap button at mile 25 and that "23rd Lap" is my last 1.2 miles into the finish.  5:52 average :) #littlevictories

So now I am contemplating ultras or duathlons. Go long and slow, with more time on my beloved trails?  Or keep the intensity in training and pair it with the beginners mindset that comes with a new sport?  Spend more time developing a love affair with my bike. We'll see.......