Monday, April 29, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013: A Belated Race Report

I wasn't going to write a race report, but after reading Scott Dunlap's totally kick arse report, I decided I wanted to after all. However, he nailed it. If you only have time to read one, read his, not mine. It's awesome. He did a great job. But without further ado, here's mine:

Check-in at the expo!
Table Setting
Let's just say I came into this race undertrained. Not because of injury or other things going on in my life; I simply wasn't motivated. I've made no secret both to friends in person and also on several posts on this blog that I'm burned out on road marathons and want to switch my focus back to trail running. Things are a little different now, but more on that later.

Anyway, said lack of motivation led to a training cycle where I only averaged 45 miles a week. Despite some successful races over the winter, I also didn't get in consistant speed work. The hay was not in the barn. Much of it was dead in the field, going to waste.

However, because of some good successes during the winter races and given how I felt on tempo runs when I did them, I mused that if I was having a very good day there was a chance I might PR (3:07:58). I might even break three. Unlikely, but I might. I also might blow up. More likely. My quads hate Boston's downhills with a passion. For them, it's the strawberry flavored milk of race courses. So, with that in mind, I'd be very happy to break my time from two year's ago (3:12:41) and the further under I got would be more gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Nearly perfect running weather on tap for the day, with highs in the lower 50s and even some cloud cover. Kate dropped me off on South Street and Hopkinton. It was around 7am when we arrived, so the traffic was wicked light. I boarded one of the yellow buses with only about a dozen other early bird runners on board and we made our way over to Athlete's Village.

However, I would skip Athlete's Village. I decided I didn't need a drop bag and last year, being on my feet while waiting in line for more than 30 minutes just to pee was a bit much. So, I just went to the start line instead. Great call. Plenty of porta-potties and room to move around. Disadvantage of this was that...well...not many other runners around. I was bored. But still, being able to use the bathrooms at will and not having to deal with crowds in general was a great trade-off.

Another bonus was that I got to watch the elite woman warm-up and start their race a half an hour before the rest of us, which was really neat. Hit the porta-potty again, saw Tim T. and Matt H. and then I ditched my ratty, discardable warm-up sweats to the donation bags and entered corral #6 (bib number was 5703).

First 10K
I told myself I'd go out slow for those first four, steep downhill miles to preserve the quads, but...well...7:00, 6:45, 6:47, 6:39. However, I will say that my quads held up better throughout the race than the previous two years, including last year when I went slow because of the heat.

Then, at mile 5, my Time Run Trainer GPS got off track and recorded the mile split well ahead of the actual mile marker. I chastised myself lightly for deciding not to take the splits manually. That was dumb. I then switched the display screen on my GPS to only show the race time, not knowing if the other splits were going to be off as well. I'd probably be better off not knowing my splits anyway and just run by feel.

10k to Half-Marathon
Started to sense here that I would not be able to hold a sub-3 pace so I slowed it down to around 7:00/mile. This felt right. Try to hold this.

I spotted Gary Allen, race director of the MDI Marathon (my favorite) and ran up along him. "Ceremonial run" for him (he finished well ahead of his projected time), as his 700-mile run to DC still had him a little beat up. We chatted for about a minute until I heard another voice from behind call my name. It was Maddy! Ran with her for a bit, but then let her go. She was in very prime marathon shape, having put in a fantastic training cycle, and ended up setting a huge PR and came pretty close to breaking three hours.

Scream tunnel at Wellesley. As usual, extremely loud and I took the left hand part of the road to save my eardrums. Cool tradition there, but I prefer to watch from afar. Watching guys slowing down, speed  up, slow down while trying to select a girl to kiss is pretty amusing.

Crossed the half marathon mark 1:31:13, but my legs were feeling pretty tight. Not just my quads, pretty much all of my leg muscles, but nothing bad. Still it had me concerned a little this early in the race.

Half Mary to Mile Sixteen
More downhills. Pretty uneventful. Just getting mentally prepared for the uphills at Newton. Can't remember much else here.

Miles 16-21
Trippy pic taken by Blaine on the Newton Hills.
The energy of the crowds going up the Newton Hills was fantastic as always. Loud, positive, encouraging... it's unreal. I love it. Heard Erin call my name followed by Blaine, who was spectating but ran up beside me and stayed with me for a hundred feet or so. I told him to tell Kate that though I was slowing down, I was feeling good and having fun. It was true, I was.

Reached the first uphill on Commonwealth. Then the second. Now...Heartbreak Hill! Or wait a minute...was this the second hill? I lost track. Got to the top....yep, it was Heartbreak! Sweet! It seemed less steep this time around. All splits were thankfully 7:XX/mile.

Now Boston College. Loud, drunk, positive and just all around awesome. I love this section. However, I was kind of in a down mood here and feeling tired so couldn't really enjoy it. If I had known my splits were still respectable at this point I might have felt otherwise.

Miles 21-25

Around mile 22, giving the thumbs up to my friend, Ryan C. 
Got out of my mental funk and was enjoying myself. I remember bonking in the heat here last year, so I  was thankful that I was feeling okay and trucking along. The Walking Dead were become more and more numerous, the result of the Newton Hills taking their toll causing runners to cramp up or bonk.

Calculations now running in my head. I knew at Cleveland Circle I would break 3:15, which was comforting. As I got closer to the Citgo sign at mile 25, I knew breaking my fastest Boston time from two years ago was a very real possibility. I decided I would focus on that.

However, with less than two miles to go, my left calf was threatening to cramp up. It would twinge, but then relax. Grrr.

Mile 25 to the Finish

Hi Kate.

Bye Kate.
My left calf continued to bark, and I was forced to slow it down a little or risk having it seize up on me entirely, which would cost a lot more time. Since the first twinge, I had downed two more Gu packets and two cups of Gatorade in an effort to keep it at bay. It sucked, because I remember thinking I have more to give here. Dang it!

Under the little overpass and then the right turn on Hereford is visible. Sweet. I remember feeling another twinge after I made the turn. Argh. Then the left turn on Boylston. I took a chance and kicked it up a notch here. How can you not? The final stretch, the finish line scaffolding in the distance, the roar of the crowds and knowing you're almost's awesome! Even my left calf must have agreed, it didn't even twinge and held up.

Made my way over to the right hand side of the road, where I knew Kate, my in-laws and Christine were stationed at the Hotel With the Flags, as they are every year. I don't know the name of this hotel, they probably do, but I just know it as the Hotel With the Flags. Spotted them, blew Kate a kiss as I went by and then focused on the finish line.

I crossed the line in 3:11:35, my second fastest marathon time ever. Given my lack of training and motivation, I was very happy with that. Very happy.

Quick rest before we hit the road. 
Immediately after finishing, I exchanged congrats with the runners around me, all of us tired, beat up but very happy. I love that vibe.

I remember thinking, yeah, I'm good with taking a few years off from doing Boston. This is cool and all, but I'm totally good with that. I don't want to take qualifying for Boston and the extreme honor of running this race for granted, but I was starting to get to that point. It was time for a break.

That changed about an hour and forty five minutes later, when we were on the road home. As we were pulling off the highway for lunch, we heard the first reports via radio of the blasts. A frantic two hours spent with family, friends, students checking in to see I was safe, me doing the same with friends who were still in the area. My phone's battery was draining like a bathtub. I don't feel the need to recount the rest, just thankful everyone I knew was safe and my heart goes out to those more directly affected.

But I'll end by saying this: I am doing Boston next year. I can use my MDI Marathon time for a qualifier and that puts me 6:02 under my BQ time, which will hopefully be enough. A lot more people are going to want to do it next year, plus Boston will likely accomodate for those who weren't able to finish in one way or another, so that complicates things but I'm confident I'll still get in.

And this time around, none of this half-assed training bullshit. I'm going to train my butt off so hard people are going to write songs about it. The fire has been relit and I'll have plenty of dry wood to feed it. That's my way of showing honor. And I know I'm not alone. You don't mess with runners.

Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:19/mile pace.
Official time: 3:11:35
Official place: 4032
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 40s to lower 50s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, singlet.


Eric Mauricette said...

Great recap Jamie. You wrapped it up well. You don't mess with runners.

Have fun with Trail Running through the fall and come back to the roads with a vengeance and make Boston 2013 Nasty. See you on the trails soon i hope!

Sparkplug said...

So glad you decide to write up your report. Read Scott's report and hoped you'd see it do as to feel ok writing yours up. Nice job out there!

Grellan said...

Thanks for the report Jamie - great result and Boston PB considering your training coming into the race.