|Someone took a candid of me as I entered Athlete's Village|
Heading into the Boston Marathon, I was feeling strong and confident. I was coming off of some very serious personal bests, namely the Houston Marathon in January in 2:59:31 and the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon in 1:23:54, plus a very strong course PR at my club's Langley 8K, a hilly and challenging course. I wasn't concerned with my poor showing at the GW Birthday Marathon Relay (we got second place with no shot of taking first or any real challenge from the third place team), my withdrawal from the Club Challenge Ten Miler due to tired legs, or my hamstring issue that forced me to take a couple of days off prior to our Ireland trip including my final true long run. When I stood in the starting corral, I felt pretty good. I knew a personal record was unlikely due to the temperatures, and coach and I agreed that I should keep my pace between 6:55-7:05, aiming for a 7 minute pace. That would have given me a 3:03/4 and a huge course PR and another BQ. In retrospect, I probably would have been better served holding a 7:10-15 and aiming for a 3:10.
The day began early as my father drove me to the start in Hopkinton. We left by 6:10 and he dropped me off a few blocks from the runner's village around 6:40, plenty of time for him to get back on 495 before they shut the road. I vowed to spent less time on the course than I would spend in Hopkinton waiting for the race to start. 3:17 < 3:20 so mission accomplished. I found a spot in the sun and laid down and relaxed. I chatted up with a guy near me, Chris, who ran with Capital Area Runners. This was his second Boston and third marathon. At 8:30, I met Derek Bailey, my friend from Houston, by the "It all starts here" sign. We exited the village, headed down to the starting line in our corral, and waited.
Derek and I devised a plan to race together. For the first few miles, we were talking to each other, getting into our rhythm, and grabbing each other water. I went over the plan which was to hold on to a 7:05 pace, nice and easy, survive the hills intact, and make a go for it the final five miles. We mostly stayed together in the first 10K, but I had to run my own race. In my head, I told myself to get through the first ten using my head, the next ten using my legs, and finish strong using my heart (the final 10K). The first ten went according to plan, and the plan stayed mostly true until the Newton hills. Someday, I'll be fresh when I hit those hills, but Monday wasn't that day, and rather than waste myself trying to maintain pace, I climbed them trying to just keep moving forward.
In the past, I knew I wouldn't have a good day in 2012 when at the 10K, it felt like the 20 mile mark in that almost 90 degree heat. In 2014, I think I made it to the ten mile mark before I started to negotiate with myself as I backed off the pace. This time, it wasn't until mile 16 when I knew coming in under 3:10 wasn't going to happen. I know they say there are four hills in Newton, but I somehow counted six. At the top of Heartbreak, I felt some freshness return to my legs and thought about picking up the pace. But, given that 3:10 was no longer realistic, I lost my motivation to put myself through any more struggling. I certainly didn't quit, but I didn't have the same positive view I had in Houston in the final miles. I'm confident that had one of my time goals other than to set a course PR been achievable, I could have willed myself to push it
What kept me going the final few miles was looking forward to seeing my family at Coolidge Corner. We scouted a spot on Saturday at the corner of Beacon and Harvard, so I knew exactly where to look for them. As I approached, I slowed to kiss them and say hi and demand a picture. My wife pushed me away, worried about my time, but you can see that in this video my father shot. They were just before the Mile 24 marker, and I left them at right around 3:00:00 on the dot, so I knew I could do about two and a quarter miles in less than twenty minutes, perhaps as quickly as 17 minutes. With my mind set on 3:17, I tried a few surges and with one mile to go, I had 7:30 to break 3:18. My watch had me on 7:30 ish pace for most of the mile, but when I turned left onto the final straight-away, I entered the pain tunnel and pushed my body across the finish line with time to spare. A 3:17 and a new personal course record!
After, I wobbled through in a daze, freezing as the wind had picked up and there was no more sun since the buildings blocked it out. I met my friend, went back to his apartment for a shower and change of clothes (gave them to him Sunday at the expo), and took off to the T (Back Bay to State and transfer to Blue to the airport and then a shuttle bus to the C Terminal). At the airport, my father and wife picked me up, we got food nearby in East Boston and a beer, and then we were onto the airport. I had time to sit at Boston Beer Works before our flight home to DC.
I received the following official email from the Boston Athletic Association:
Your finish time is listed below.
|In Gender||3870/14471 (Male)|
|In Division||2309/4807 (M18-39 Age Group)|
This gives me a chance to compare my results of my four Boston Marathons:
2012 - Bib # 4186
22:44 5K; 46:14 10K; 1:11:24 15K; 1:38:09 20K; 1:44:55 Half; 2:08:07 25K; 2:41:38 30K; 3:17:14 35K; 3:52:47 40K; 4:07:40 Finish. 10122 Overall; 6956 Gender; 2947 Division.
2013 - Bib # 4935
21:47 5K; 42:58 10K; 1:04:27 10K; 1:26:46 20K; 1:31:46 Half; 1:50:18 25K; 2:15:15 30K; 2:41:14 35K; 3:08:03 40K; 3:19:41 Finish. 5774 Overall; 4962 Gender; 2730 Division.
2014 - Bib # 6304
21:51 5K; 43:33 10K; 1:05:32 15K; 1:29:48 20K; 1:35:00 Half; 1:54:55 25K; 2:21:42 30K; 2:49:37 35K; 3:17:49 40K; 3:29:06 Finish. 9029 Overall; 7076 Gender; 3311 Division.
2016 - Bib # 4174
22:11 5K, 44:16 10K, 1:06:26 15K, 1:29:07 20K, 1:34:02 Half, 1:51:59 25K, 2:16:13 30K, 2:41:58, 35K, 3:07:43 40K; 3:17:49 Finish. 4438 Overall; 3866 Gender; 2309 Division.
I know I am getting better and smarter as a runner, but I would have had a faster race if I set my goal to 3:10 instead of 3:05. I should recognize I do not fare well in heat, especially if I have not had a chance to acclimate. Hopefully, future races give me the perfect 45 and overcast weather where I thrive! On to the next one...