My first Boston Marathon - what an experience!
Got to Boston after an early flight on Saturday. Went to the convention and bought the obligatory jacket and picked up my packet, couldn't believe all the people. Got whole wheat past at Olive Garden Saturday night. Sunday - drove the course with my family and my fiance. Was really nice to get to see it before running it, that actually helped a bunch. Ate white bread sandwich at Panera for lunch. Good thing the marathon wasn't today, highs neared 90! Made my normal prerace night meal at the hotel using the microwave and some ingenuity. Woke up at 5 am ate my normal pre-race turkey and white bread (canadian white this time) sandwich. Got to Boston about 6 am, dropped off the bag after spending some time deciding on which shoes to wear, finally went with the flats - it was that or the ds trainers. Took the bus to the athlete's village in Hopkinton and staked out a spot in the shade. Felt really good in the shade, but could already tell it was going to be hot in the sun, so spent most of the 2 hours in the village hydrating and relaxing. About 9:10, started the walk down to the start - really cool, kind of like going through the tunnel at a sports stadium before the game. Waited in line at the porta-potties and got in about 9:45, perfect! went up to the corrals (#3) and stretched and waited around til they introduced the elites, did the national anthem and had the flyover.
Took me about 1:15 from the gun to cross the start line, got going and it was just a mass of runners for the first 8-10 miles, never experienced anything like that before. Truly amazing, just a mass of humanity. The crowds were great from the gun, just nonstop people at almost every point, really helped to have so much support. I found myself giving many high fives, especially to the groups of kids waiting with their hands out - just too cool not to run by and give the high five! From the start, I could tell it was warm, the tailwind was strong but negated by the heat, if anything it actually made the run hotter. I took fluids at every station, grabbing multiple ones at each, and was pretty well hydrated before the race. Despite taking as much fluids as possible (including from random bystanders too), I still suffered from the heat. Started dumping water on my head and body at mile 3 and kept this up throughout the race. It helped as much as it could have, but overall, the temps in the mid-70s was just too hot for marathoning. Overall, I felt like I ran a smart first half, set myself up for a PR. My first goal was a PR, but after the forecast, I dialed my goal back to simply breaking 3. Really though, I was prepared for all scenarios and just finishing was not far off my radar. My watch deleted my splits again, but Boston keeps the 5k splits so I will include those here:
5k - 20:23, felt really easy, didn't go out too hard on the early downhills, I can thank the huge crowd of fellow runners for that as they checked my pace. It also meant that a lot of people went out at this sub-3 pace and many ended up in the carnage later on. But for me, my initial plan was to hit 20:30 5ks as much as possible (2:53-2:54 pace).
10k - 41:00 (20:37), right on my goal of 20:30s, still feeling really easy but I can already tell the heat will be a factor.
15k - 1:01:38 (20:38) continued on the pace still with no problems, warm but manageable, crowds were just awesome!
20k - 1:22:38 (21:00) hit a rough patch from 10.5-12 miles, just started to mentally question my effort and pace, I was happy with how I handled it though, I told myself it was a rough patch and that it would pass and it certainly did once I hit Wellesley, those girls and the "scream tunnel" helped bring me back into the race and refocus! I did start to scale back my expectations a little at this point though as the heat was wearing on me. Already saw people walking on the sides of the road
half - 1:27:15, on pace for a 2:54:30, but no way of running even or negative splits on this day
25k - 1:43:46 (21:08) still maintaining a pretty good pace through 25k, had a really good stretch here after the rough patch
30k - 2:05:21 (21:35) fading a touch, the heat is wearning on me and starting the Newton hills is looming
35k - 2:27:22 (22:01), still battling, really happy with how I ran the Newton hills, Heartbreak was really tough, just a long slow burn and with the battering I had already taken with the heat, it was especially tough, but I powered through it and passed a lot of people who were walking
40k - 2:49:54 (22:32) gave quite a bit back here, despite the overall downhill after Newton, I was just drained, probably from maintaining my pace through the hills, at about 22 miles, I hit a very rough patch. I was suprised because usually if I make it past 20 miles I'm good. I didn't necessarily "hit the wall" as I still maintained a rough proximation of my earlier pace, i never walked, and I didn't blow up, I just slowed considerably (probably to a worst of about 7:20 mile) I think it was a culmination of the hills, the heat and just the effort to maintain hydration, nevertheless I continued on
Finish - 2:59:53 , 6:52 avg pace overall
The turn onto Boylston is everything people say it is and then a million times better. I have never heard a louder mass of humanity just erupt in a roar, it was overpowering and amazing. Turning onto that stretch, I looked at my watch and knew I had to give it a burst to get in under 3. The Boylston crowds helped me do it and I finished hard, crossing in just under 3 hours. Not a bad effort on a hot day in Boston.
Walked through the finishing chute after the near-sprint finish, felt pretty woozy so had to stop and sit a few times. Wolfed down an energy bar a banana and an apple and 2 bottles of water, plus some gatorade. That seemed to help. Went and got my medal and space blanket (which helped, despite the heat, I was cold). Got my checked back and went to the family meeting zone. My family was there a few minutes after I got there, and it was a happy reunion!
I knew right after finishing that what I had just experienced and accomplished was special. The crowds were so amazing, I have never run a race with that kind of support - just awe-inspiring. The runners were awesome too - many times throughout the race, we were sharing water bottles and drinks, just passing from runner to runner - the spirit of comraderie at Boston is alive and well! I am very happy to have run a 2:59 at my first Boston. With the pre-race weather forecast, I was honestly just hoping to finish in the back of my mind. But once I got out there, I just trusted my training and ran my way to a very good time on a far-from-ideal warm day on a pretty tough course (Newton hills are the real deal). I also requalified for next year, and I think i will be back. Had to fly out of Boston and my brother did an amazing job of driving us to JFK (yes, went all the way to NYC to fly home on Monday night, not ideal). Next year, i will definitely stay monday night and get some sightseeing in on Tuesday.
This blog has been a testament to my attempt to get to Boston. I remember watching the race every year growing up and into my college years. Then after the bombings in 2013, I made a vow to finally qualify and go to Boston. Today I made that a reality and it was even better than I dreamed it would be. Now that I've achieved this milestone, I have many more to accomplish. Among them will probably be starting a Boston streak - see how many in a row I can run, make it an annual event. Today, I was reminded what I love about running - the ability to set goals, however high they may seem, and then slowly work your way up to achieving them. There are few other endeavors in life where this process is as tanigble as it is in running.