Monday, April 20, 2009

Adventures in Boston

Sometimes a plan doesn't always come together. While things didn't go as well for me as I had hoped, I'll gladly trade that for my ultramarathoning buddy John O'Connor doing well and successfully running not a double Boston Marathon, but a quadruple in order to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. It was a real honor to be able to do part of his run with him.

Also on the scene were Ian, Emma and Carter, who helped crew for John during his entire run. James was also there for a big chunk of it, and it was my plan to do a little over 30 miles with him but unfortunately things didn't pan out for me.

I met up at James' relatives house in Natick a little after 11pm, located just a few blocks away from the Boston Marathon course about 10 miles into the route. From there, we gathered our stuff and awaited a call from Emma, and at around midnight we were off to join John and the crew as they began the second leg of the Boston Marathon course heading towards the finish. Once at the finish, James and I had planned to wait for our buddy Stephen, who had planned on running a double starting at 5am.

Unfortunately, as James and I were getting ready, I realized I forgot my heal lift. Hmmm. I figured I could probably do the run without it and be okay, and improvised by making a homemade lift out of folded up newspaper. This flat out did not work, and I learned the hard way how much of a difference the heal lift makes for my running.

I started out okay though. We met up with the entourage and John was cruising along comfortably at around 11:00/mile pace. His energy was great! A friend of his who is a police officer led the way for us on his bike, stopping cars when needed and providing peace of mind knowing an officer was always there.

Ian, Emma and Carter also took turns running and driving their car. The vehicle team would zip ahead and meet the runners every 10-30 minutes or so, along with some other friends of John in a separate vehicle.

It was great to be able to run the Boston Marathon course and do so in the middle of the night when only the occasional car would pass by. Provided a good preview of sorts and it was fun to imagine the mayhem that would be ensuing hours later. I hope to qualify for Boston and run it next year, a monkey I'd really like to get off my back. I'm confident I can do it, just need to get in some marathon specific training and not ride on the ultra training. In other words, limiting the distance on longer runs and incorporating more speed work.

Anyway, it was a blast running with John and the others. The mood was jovial and the banter covered the usual entertaining topics. However, throughout the run my foot became less and less comfortable. By the time we reached heartbreak hill, it was apparent the PF had flared up and wasn't going to go away. Damn! I really kicked myself for forgetting the heal lift. I also have been a little lazy the past few days about stretching and strengthening for the PF, and I think those two factors teamed up on me and brought on a flare-up. However, I think it's forgetting the heal lift that accounted for most of it though. Foot will be fine though. Should be back to "normal" in a day or two, of that I'm confident.

So, not far after heartbreak hill I called it a night and rode in Ian and Emma's car and helped out with crewing. By the time they got to the finish line around 4am, James made the logical choice of not waiting around for Stephen, as we were all pretty cold during the run (temps in the lower-mid 30s, but it seemed colder). James wanted to keep moving, as just standing still for a few minutes brought on shivering. Stephen was cool with this, and opted not to do the double. He has had a nasty cold lately, so this was probably for the best. However, he did great in the marathon, finishing in under 3:30 despite that.

I stopped crewing during the return trip to the Boston start line when we reached James' family house in Natick. By the way, his family was great! Very friendly and awesome hosts. Big thanks to them for feeding us and letting us rest there.

After a small nap, we awoke and watched the elite women. Fun to see my friend Devon among them. After they were off, we walked over to the course and cheered her on as she flew by and went on to finish in well under three hours. Excellent performance, especially with the headwind that all the runners faced throughout the run.

As the other runners approached, Ian, Emma and Carter joined us, as did Dora. Ian and I developed games like calling out runners' names that had them written on the fronts of their shirts, but doing it with runners on the far side of the street. If you got them to acknowledge you, points were awarded based on how far away they were.

Big congrats to everyone who ran Boston! A few blog buddies did the race and already have reports up (check out the links on the sidebar). You guys rock!

Ran 12.5 miles @ 11:03/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (opted not to wear the strap)
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower-mid 30s, clear.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, sleeveless shirt, beanie, gloves.


middle.professor said...

Congratulations on working the night for a great cause.

Luc said...

Great job, Jamie! That's horrible about the PF, but great that you kept it positive throughout the night. It's amazing how crazy that place must have been only hours later. :)

I know you'll be able to qualify for Boston next year. Just convert your ultra training miles into seconds off per mile and do the math. Maybe that's my computer brain working too hard though? Great report! :)

Love2Run said...

Boston is the best. See you there next year!!