||Monday, April 19, 2004
||Run - Marathon
||Male 25 - 29
||255 / 17950
||It was a little warm
Continued from here: http://www.trirats.net/view_result.php?racerid=79
My flight got in to Boston at a quarter to seven, Saturday evening. From the airport, I took the T then walked a few blocks to get to Jeff's place. By the time I arrived, the festivities were in full swing. I spent a few hours eating and catching up with friends. Eventually, I headed to Woburn, MA, with the brothers Fuller: Scott and Doug. I'd be staying with Scott.
Sunday included a walk around Woburn (as Scott and Doug were out on a bike ride), eating lots of food ("You know, that's a lot of food," said the waitress, taking down the order. "Don't worry, I'll eat it all," said aaron. "Don't worry, he'll eat it all," said Doug and Scott.), a quick pass through the marathon expo to pick up my number (that might have been the scariest part of the weekend, but I was able to escape the madness unscathed), a little bit of grocery shopping (Scott was out of bagels) and dinner and a video. One last sleep, and then it was Monday morning.
Doug took me in to Boston to catch the bus out to Hopkinton. By having a race number below 4000, I could take any bus until 8:30. I arrived at 8:00 am, and there were a couple thousand people waiting in line. With a constant stream of buses, the lines moved quickly. Until 8:20. When they stopped. Completely. No more buses. Just 600 runners who were supposed to be heading to Hopkinton.
It seems that there were a few reasons for the situation, including the Boston Athletic Association underestimating the number of buses needed and some complication with a Patriots Day parade. The result was that we were kinda stuck. I had planned on hanging out with friends in Hopkinton, and getting a bit more food and drink. But for two hours, I sat on the sidewalk in Boston with a small bottle of water and no food. I was pretty amused. After all, this wasn't a "goal race" for me. I just enjoy the marathon, so I treat it as a fun run. This just added to the adventure. "Would the brave runners make it to Hopkinton in time for the start? Stay tuned to learn the answer!" But there were quite a few folks who were less amused.
Somehow, the race organization came up with a few MTA buses to get us out to the race start. My bus arrived in Hopkinton at 11:40 am. That gave me 20 minutes before race start. As anyone who has been in Hopkinton on race morning can tell you, moving around town in the 20 minutes before the race is not the smallest challenge of the day. In fact, 20 minutes --- when they're the 20 minutes before the race start --- is barely enough time to get from the Athletes Village at one end of town to the corrals at the other end of town. I had 20 minutes to get from where the bus dropped me off to the other side of town to give my "finish line" bag (which contained all my luggage for the weekend) to the buses that would transport them back to Boston, then to find my way to my corral. I dropped off my bag, and I had 10 minutes left. I took a short cut to get to my corral, and found out the hard way that the starting configuration had changed. Whereas I should have been able to run three quarters of a mile straight to my corral (corral #1), I found myself at the back of a sea of people stretched across the road. No way to get through. Corral #20.
"Five minutes until race start!" they announced. I turned around, ran as fast as me little leggies could carry me, cut over one block, and found my way to the corrals closer to the front. I ran past corral #5, then #4, then #3, then #2. "Two minutes until race start!" They had removed the barriers between the corrals, and put them precisely where I wanted to go, so there was no was to easily get to where I was supposed to be. I asked a few volunteers if I could hop over a barricade, then mixed in with corral #2. I was talking with a volunteer, working out whether it would be possible for me to get up to corral #1 when I remembered that I had run a 50 miler two days prior, and that I really wasn't concerned about the extra 20 seconds it would take for me to reach the start line. After I decided that I was happy where I was, and was reveling in the contentment of having actually gotten to where I needed to be (with less than two minutes to spare), I realized that with all the sitting around and running around I had done, I was quite thirsty. And if the starting gun hadn't sounded just then, I might have done something about it.
Even though there were a thousand people in front of me, it only took a couple hundred meters for us to get up to a comfortable speed. With all the excitement of the morning and the crowds at the start and the adrenaline of the race, I didn't pay attention to when exactly I became completely saturated with sweat, but I think it was somewhere around the first mile marker. No worries, I only had 25 miles left.
Beginning at the first aid station, I was drinking a lot. Normally in a marathon, I'll have a few sips of water and a few sips of Gatorade during the race. On this day, I'd drink a full cup of water and a full cup of Gatorade at every mile. It was a warm day. Every sprinkler, hose, or kid with a squirt gun on the course got a visit from me. The heat didn't bother me much, but the cooler I'd stay, the easier I'd run.
At the five kilometer mark, I realized that I was running at a three hour pace. Too fast? Nah, I felt fine, and the pace felt good. But at Boston, there are timing mats every five kilometers. Once I passed that first timing mat, anyone could look up my time, and see the projected finishing time of three hours. If I slowed down, they'd know it. So with that knowledge, I asked again: too fast? And again, the answer came back: Nah.
By the 10 km mark, I was starting to feel good. My legs were loosening up, and I was getting my groove on. Then 15 km and 20 km, no problem. Cheering crowds, screaming Wellesley girls, I was really enjoying the day. When I hit the half way point, the clock said 1:29-something. Then I ask: do I have another one of those in me? I thought back to the New York Marathon last fall, when I hit the half way point in 1:25-something, and said to myself, "the second half is going to be a little slower." I felt much different this time. I thought that there was no reason I shouldn't be able to do another one of what I just did.
I was looking forward to mile 16. Three more miles, and I get to mile 16, and the hills. It wasn't because I was really eager to hit the hills. I was just looking forward to moving on the the next section of the race. When I got to mile 16 and the uphills, I could start anticipating mile 21 and the downhills. So I got to the first hill, and just scooted right along. At the top, I reminded myself that there were three more hills. At the firehouse in Newton, the party was rocking as it is every year. I had eight more miles to go. People around me were starting to fade. I could see drooping postures, labored breathing and quite a bit of walking. Chug chug chug, I just took it nice and easy, saving my energy for later.
I crested Heartbreak Hill, and reached mile 21. You see, I am a downhill runner. I can run down hills like nobody's business. So in a race like Boston, where the last five miles are mostly downhill, I can finish strong. Mile 21 means exactly one thing to me: It's GO time!
I shifted into a new gear, and started pushing. The heat was starting to take a toll on folks. I was seeing a lot of walking and a lot of cramping. At mile 22, race time was 2:30. I had a half hour to do four miles and the extra credit. That seemed like enough. I felt fine. I saw the "Citgo" sign, and knew the end was nigh. Mile 23, mile 24, mile 25... Then the "One Mile To Go" sign. I had nine minutes to come in under three hours. No sense in not enjoying the day to the fullest. The weather wasn't ideal for running, but it brought out the spectators. The crowds are always great at Boston, but this year, they seemed to cheer just a little louder.
With a big, stupid grin, I soaked up the experience. With the final turn onto Boyleston Street, the road opens up to four lanes, with the wide sidewalks packed so tightly with people that you don't know how they breath. The finish line is in sight. The work is done, and this is the reward. And it was all the better since not only did I get in under three hours, but I also ran even splits. (Actually, I positive split the course by four seconds. First half net time: 1:28:41. Second half: 1:28:45.)
After finishing, I felt really good. No need to stop to catch my breath. That was a good thing, too, since I had places to go and things to do. I picked up my luggage, that had been transported from Hopkinton, I got massage, I snuck into a hotel's fitness room to take a shower, and I made my way to the airport. I had had a good extended weekend, but it was time to go home. I enjoy challenging myself, and I expected that the marathon would be difficult two days after a 50 miler. I was surprised at how un-difficult it was, and Boston is alway a great experience, so I was kinda sad to see it end.
Oh well, I'm sure I'll come up with something else to keep me challenged before too long.
For the sake of post race analysis, I like to keep my mile splits during a race. I never look at my watch during a race, but I always find in interesting to look at my splits afterward. Anyway, here they are: