Put together some thoughts about the Boston Marathon that were way too long to post on Facebook. Not sure how much general interest there is in this, but here you go:
This was by far the busiest winter of my life and I just had a lot going on between graduate school, work, and coaching, so training was a challenge. Not to mention, this was a brutal winter weather wise with all kinds of storms that made getting out for 20 plus mile long runs a bit of a chore. Nevertheless, I was thrilled with the way everything went, all things considered. I averaged in the 85-90 mpw range from November until April and got in a 20 plus long run almost every week.
I also managed to string together some great races throughout this training block, with PR’s in the 3k (8:56), the 5k (15:36) and half-marathon (1:10:42). I also ran a solid training run at Stu’s 30k where I averaged 5:50ish pace for around 18 miles. Probably my biggest regret training wise is that I didn’t get in enough workouts at my marathon pace (more on that later).
Another aspect of the training that went surprisingly well is that I managed to emerge at the end of all this without any real injuries. I say it’s surprising because I did a piss-poor job of properly stretching/foam rolling/ice bathing and generally doing the little things that I tell my own athletes a good runner needs to do to stay injury free. This was primarily a by-product of my lack of time, but as I get older it’s going to get more and more difficult to get by without a good stretching routine.
I was visited by this weird knee spasm thing that sprang up in my last marathon training block. On occasion, usually when walking up stairs, I’ll get this little flutter on the inside of my right knee. It doesn’t hurt; it feels like there’s a butterfly trapped inside my leg flapping his wings. Maybe it’s a psychological thing, but I didn’t feel it at all in the race.
If I’m being honest, I thought much more about the starting line logistics than I was about the actual race. I did the Philadelphia Marathon in 2012, which is a big race, but for that one I was staying at a hotel within walking distance of the starting line. For Boston, there were a lot more steps. Plus, I was without my phone for much of the day, never a good feeling for a technology-addled person like myself.
Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch; I got dropped off in Hopkinton, stood in line for a bathroom for some 20 minutes, got on a bus over to the high school, stood in another bathroom line for some time before abandoning it, and then finally we were “allowed” to head to the starting line. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get in much of a warmup as most of the side streets were blocked off. I ran around the town common for about 5 minutes, then did some dynamics and strides before heading to find a decent place at the starting line.
I had to push my way past a number of people but I finally settled into a spot with a group of guys who were looking to run around 2:30, right around the time I wanted. There were various handshakes and well-wishes (as well as some dudes just straight up peeing on the ground, pretty gross) and then we were off.
I don’t remember too much of the first ten miles or so, I was basically just trying to find a good spot. I went out a tad fast for the 5k (17:31 or so when I wanted to be in the 17:40’s) but nothing disastrous. I wasn’t able to find a solid group and just shut my brain off like I’d wanted to, though; I kept moving from group to group, hanging on to one group of guys for a mile or two then drifting to another.
After going through the “Scream Tunnel” in Wellesley, I had a debacle and managed to get my Power Gel all over my shorts. Long story, but basically I made the foolish decision to put an opened gel back in my pocket so I could grab a cup of water. Then I ended up with one of my pockets being extremely sticky and gross. So that sucked.
I hit the halfway point in 1:14:46, on pace for a sub-2:30. I was feeling pretty good too! By the time I made the turn onto Comm Ave, though, I was starting to feel it. I had been running in the 5:40-5:45 pace pretty comfortably, but I started to slip a bit and by Heartbreak Hill, well, suffice it to say I was having some pretty dark thoughts. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually contemplated dropping out of the race at one point, but then I thought about how stupid it would be to stop a marathon with 6 miles to go and I trudged on.
Miles 22-24 were definitely the hardest for me, but I was able to (reasonably) pull it together for the last two and finished strong. Overall, finished 136 in the field of roughly 36,000. I thought if I ran really well I’d have a chance to sneak into the top 100, but I’m happy with my time and my race strategy.
Photo Cred: My brother.