3rd Boston Marathon in a row for me today. I had a pretty good training cycle and a solid taper. I was battling some knee tightness but lots of icing this week right up until the night before the race seemed to help. Had normal nutrition and pre-race prep.
Woke up race morning pretty dizzy. My ear had been bothering me all week, but had seemed to be less annoying the last 2 days. But I woke up and could feel something was off in there. There was also a massive storm front moving through so I wonder if the pressure change threw me off. Looked up some vertigo techniques online and tried some of the maneuvers, seemed to help a little bit, but was honestly considering what would happen if I had to drop out during the race because of the dizziness. Not a great start to the morning.
Massive thunderstorm came through about 6:30, glad to wait and let it pass before going to the Hopkinton South Street lot (different this year than my previous years where I went to the normal drop point in Boston Common. Got to the village as the rain was winding down and went under a tent to stay dry. Hit the porta potty about an hour and a half before the race, changed out my shoes about 45 minutes before walking down to the start line. Hit another porta potty right before the race and got into the corral and ready to go. Dizziness was better - probably helped the storm system had passed and I was moving around. Race started extremely packed in. I was in corral 5 this year, which is farther back than my first two years - I wanted to go for sub 2:50, so my plan was to hit the first half in 1:23-1:25 and see what happened. However, I had to weave a lot the first mile or two to get some space to keep this 6:30 pace. Here are my splits:
1 - 6:34
3- 6:30 (shortly after, 1st 5k - 20:21, pretty close to goal pace)
6- 6:25 (10k- 40:37, 20:16 2nd 5k)
9- 6:26 (15k - 1:00:47, 20:10 3rd 5k, still rolling pretty evenly at this point)
12- 6:24 (20k- 1:21:02, 21:15 4th 5k)
HALF MARATHON - 1:25:25, projecting just under 2:51 at this point, I felt strong, but was cautious. I noticed the humidity was super high since the rain had passed and it was still in the low 60s, the cloud cover helped, but I was sweating a lot as early as mile 3 or 4, I started taking extra fluid at aid stations and dumping it over my head early on, wanted to prevent dehydration like in 2017, I think I might have overdone it though - my stomach was super full even 6 or 7 miles in, I couldn't seem to find a balance
15 - 6:37 (25k - 1:41:11, 20:09 5th 5k, extremely even 5k splits to this point)
19 - 6:47 (30k - 2:01:54, 20:43 6th 5k, the Newton Hills were noticeable this year and my pace did slow some, but I was still feeling okay - stomach was pretty full as I was probably overhydrating, but still holding it together at this point despite the slight slowdown with the hills)
20 - 7:32 (Heartbreak hit me harder this year)
22 - 6:14 (back on the horse! or so I thought) 35k - 2:23:08, 21:14 7th 5k, still a little slippage, but starting to find it again, however, at 22.5, when it looked like I could still bring in a 2:52 or 2:53, I got this massive side cramp and doubled over in pain, I never stopped running, but the pace slowed considerably as I hobbled on, it was at its worst for about a mile then started to recover, though never regained my pace nor did the pain fully subside. I tried to take some extra gatorade around 23 or 23.5 mile marker and it seemed to help some, but I was hunched over still for about a mile. In hindsight, I think I overhydrated with water and washed out my salt (hyponatremia), that caused the side cramp. Next time some salt tabs might have helped. I think the sun coming out in the Newton Hills also led to the humidity ultimately taking its toll. Either way, I didn't hit the wall, my body simply fought me from this point on. It was disappointing but I kept moving and trying to work through it)
23- 6:56 (uh-oh was all that was in my head with the side cramp starting)
24- 7:28 (usually a faster mile on Boston course but was dealing with the worst of the cramp here)
25- 7:12 (40k -2:45:34, 22:26 8th 5k)
26 - 7:08
last .22 (actually watch had 26.37 since tangents are impossible at Boston) - 2:26
FINISH - 2:55:15, 6:41 avg pace
Overall, I am really happy with the result of 2:55:15, only 5 seconds slower than my PR. It was a humid day and a lot of people struggled with cramps. I've had the side stitch I got today before on training runs and it stopped me dead in my tracks on those occasions. Today, it was an identical cramp but I never thought of stopping, I ran through it. I think it was either a breathing thing or more likely, low sodium. I will experiment with salt tabs on warmer/humider days. I was really wanting a sub-2:50, and even after that didn't seem feasible, I was holding onto the though I'd go 2:52 possibly, and this was as late as 22 miles in, the wheels came off so quickly in this race, a half-mile later and I was hobbled by the side cramp. In hindsight, the "wheels" never actually "came off", it wasn't a full-on blowup, I still kept the paces close and recovered some, it was just enough of a slowdown to cost me 2-3 minutes overall and cost me a PR. Regardless, I am still happy with the effort. 2:55 is a good time on a challenging Boston course and especially given the conditions. It is a Boston PR for me by 3 and a half minutes. All things considered, I am happy to have finished and have done so in a good time.
I stayed with my strategy of going out aggressive and seeing how long I could keep it. My half splits were decent - 1:25:25 in the 1st half, 1:29:50 in the 2nd half. Even though it felt like I gave up a ton of time in the 2nd half, I still kept it under 1:30. My 5k splits were encouraging through 30k, especially the first 20k. I was progressively inching faster but keeping my mile times super steady. Lots of good takeaways from today's race and another reminder of the respect the marathon commands.