Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston - Act 2: The Race

Tom, Erin and I got up plenty early, and left plenty early, worried about crowds, but everything was smooth, The subway wasn't full and we got to the bus loading area early. We saw huge lines, but it appeared that there were much simpler ways to get in line. So we just slipped on in and got on the next bus. We weren't cutting! People just didn't know any better.

So we were feeling good and settled in for the over an hour bus ride to Hopkinton. We all brought our phones and were getting FB updates on who was arriving and who was behind us. Some people chatted on the bus. Others were focused and silent. When we got there we found a short potty line and knocked that off. And then it was down to the massive tent. It was a lot of people, but not overwhelming. We found loopster Bonnie, and settled in to camp Loopville. A few FB posts later, and about ten of us ended up hanging out there. It was great fun to share the pre-race excitement with a bunch of awesome loopsters. Took my mind off being nervous I think. I also happened to spot OntheBusRunning so he joined the group. So glad I got to meet him and share a little of his amazing day.
I ate a second whole bagel, and drank gatorade. One more trip to the potty lines of about 20 minutes, and then it was time to go! Most of us were in Wave 2, so we did the 3/4 mile walk to the start line together. Every step was more exciting. We're checking our bags!!! There's the corner!! Let's all pee again!!! OK, time to get in corrals!!! OMG!!! It's the Boston Freaking Marathon!!!!!!

As we walked up the side of the corrals, loopsters peeled off with last wishes and hugs. Corral 8 - see ya Tom! Corral 5 - good luck JJ! Corral 4 - Lady Cap and I head in, but first wish the best to MTF, Quick Runna and Corc. And get a photo.
OK - about 3 minutes to go. I feel relaxed, but excited. I try to warm up a little with hops and running in place. I don't have a real goal for this race. I just want to run it, soak it in, and finish running down Boylston. OK, sub 4. My plan was to just run my usual long run pace. I expected it would be just under 8, so I would try to hold it as long as I could, hopefully get to 20 at sub 8 pace. The rest of the way, I expected a big bonk, but did not care.

Off we go! All corrals just go with one start, and it took about 2 minutes to get to the start line. By then we were running, and cheering and high-fiving. It was crowded, but most of us were the same pace, so it was comfortable. I felt good. About mile 1 I passed MTF, and said a quick hello. That would be the only loopster I saw on the course all day. First mile was a nice downhill, not too steep, followed by a little rise that was just enough hill to get my breathing going. I was still in warmup mode, and it was a little wake-up call. Mile one: 8:06 Perfect.

From there I was in a groove and just cruised. The fans were great. I must have slapped hands with 500 people altogether, mostly little kids. I was smiling and making eye contact with fans, which got me more attention.I was soaking it in. Weather was perfect. Pace felt good. I ran the tangents as much as I could in the crowd, which helps keep me focused.

Miles 2-7: 7:48, 7:46, 7:34, 7:51, 7:39, 7:36

A little too fast. But it was downhill, and I was trying to hold back. I wasn't working hard. I tried to find Loopster Lauren at mile 6 or 10K, but it was very crowded and I had no luck. But that kept me occupied for a mile. A FAST mile. By this point, my left calf which bothered me last week, was feeling tight. I wore my calf sleeves, and I think it helped. It got tight, but never cramped. Still, by mile 8 I was already feeling tired, like I knew that I couldn't keep this up forever. I was trying to ease back, but the 7:45 miles just kept coming.

Miles 8-12: 7:45, 7:38, 7:37, 7:48

I started checking my time at the actual mile marks (since G was adding a few tenths), and kept track of how much time I was "banking" under 8 minute pace. For a while I thought about holding on to a BQ, but my gut told me that I did not feel nearly as good as LA, and it was just a matter of time before I gave that time back. And there were those famous hills ahead...

By mile 12 I was already thinking "just hold on until...". First it was the half marathon mark. Then it was mile 15 because there was a big downhill after that. Then it was 30K. I knew that a lot of people were tracking my splits, so I wanted to put up a good mark at all those spots.

Mile 13 was Wellesley, of which I had heard so much about the wall of sound and the girls offering kisses. I was definitely looking forward to it. However the noise, while loud, was not as deafening as I anticipated. I've heard louder places many times. The girls were great though. There must have been several hundred signs saying why I should kiss them. I was enjoying it thoroughly, and pulled over twice to lay a sweaty wet one on some lucky coed. That was fun.

13 and 14 were 7:45, 7:44, and I hit halfway in 1:42:08 (nearly 3 minutes banked).

15 I finally felt my energy levels dropping, yet the pace held at 7:56, and mile 16 was 7:50 with the help of a big downhill. Then the first of 4 Newton hills.

I slipped into a shorter stride, and plugged on up without working too hard. Soon I was over and thinking that wasn't so bad. But I was getting tired. My feet hurt, a lot, and my legs hurt. It was just kind of overall pain starting to whisper to me to stop and take a break. I set the voice aside for now. Soon I happened upon a runner from California and we ran together a little. She was suffering like me. I had happened upon her during LA, and now here we were again at Boston. I really hardly knew her before (she coaches CC at my kids high school) but after today we were friends. I went ahead, but we hooked up again at mile 25 and after the race.

17 and 18 were 8:19 and 8:31, both had a pretty good hill. 19 had no hill and I managed 8:19 again. And at 19.3 I hit the third hill and finally gave myself permission to walk a little. But the walking really didn't feel much better than running, so I kept going up and over and got to 20 with an 8:56. 2:39:40 at 20 - still 20 seconds under 8 minute pace. I called it a victory and felt pretty good about my race. Surviving the last 10K would take care of itself. I would get my sub-4. Seriously, I was happy and content in the midst of big-time pain with over an hour to go. I stopped and walked right after the 20 mile mark.

But it still had to be done.

Mile 21 was heartbreak hill. It was a nice little hill. I ran some of it, walked a little, and crested knowing that the rest couldn't be too hard... Mile 21 was 10:12

I kept plugging. I knew Loopster Scott would be at 22.3 so I looked forward to a friendly face. By now I was trotting at about 9 minute pace, and walking a little every half mile or so. I would walk enough so I actually did feel better, and then started up again. I managed to see Scott and said Hi and had an orange and smiled and kept on going.

Boston College was louder than Wellesley,and especially loud because some guy in Captain America gear passed me then so they were going crazy. That was fun. I was hurting, but with the walk breaks it wasn't too bad, and I was still smiling and enjoying it. The fans were great, and I think they liked me because I was one of the only smiling runners!

Soon I saw the Citgo sign, and it didn't seem too much longer. Miles 22-26 were 9:36, 10:23, 10:14, 11:30, 11:14. The last two miles I could only run about two blocks without a break. But at least I wasn't cramping. I could still run.

At mile 25 I was surprised to see my DW and Mrs TO! I thought they were further back and I had missed them. So I pulled over for a hug, but she wouldn't put down the camera.

And then I shuffled on.


She also got these photos: MTF
Brother Elias



Turning on to Hereford I saw my local friend again. She was gallowalking as well, but we vowed to run it in. However she had to walk a little more so I lost her.

Then it was one last left turn on to Boylston and I could see the finish. This was it! Dream come true! The crowd was loud. I was soaking it in, smiling, got choked up a bit. I managed to run it in at a respectable 9:25 pace for the last .44 miles, probably faster at the end. And of course I had to give it one of these...

Yes!!!  3:45:28

And here you can see my walk breaks:

garmin boston

And then the pain, the cold wind, and big crowds made the next few minutes pretty brutal, but I eventually made it to my bag and got some clothes on, after figuring out how to bend my legs and get to the ground without dying. I found QuickRunna24 at the bag bus, so we got to share a moment, and eventually we hobbled over to the group meeting area where I found Corc and Whitey.

It was about 2:45.

1 comment:

  1. I'm behind on post #2, but did read #1. My heart just breaks over the whole situation in Boston. I spoke to TO a couple days after the whole incident and it was so hard to listen to his account.

    I remember that long, long walk from the finish to where I could get my bag, that was brutal! I'm so glad you got the opportunity to be around such incredible people you enjoy - I'm sure it make the experience so much easier to have loved ones around.

    Woohoo - Boston! Well done, sir! :)