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Race Result

Racer: Amanda Shuman
Race: Boston Marathon
Date: Monday, April 17, 2006
Location: Boston, MA
Race Type: Run - Marathon
Age Group: Female 25 - 29
Time: 3:45:33
Comment: My first Boston marathon

Race Report:

Wow! This year has been speeding by. In March, as I was prepping for Boston doing my long runs, I kept thinking "Didn't I just run a marathon?" Well, that was in October at marine corps, but the long runs crept up on me in no time... and then, it was April.

My head wasn't really in this race as a "race." I was going to be happy with anything under ~4 hours. My race plan was simple: go out strong, stick to the pace as long as I can, and don't overstride on the hills (I'd been warned). Don't hurt myself, finish, finish feeling good, and finish with a decent time.

The week before the week of Boston, I was in California. So, that's where my head was. On my flight to Boston I was in the middle of reading when I subsequently spilled an entire glass of water on myself. As I made my way to the back of the bathroom to get some paper towels, someone said my name -- Aaron was on the same flight as me. He looked fairly relaxed (and dry). He said he scheduled a flight back to DC at 5:40pm the day of the marathon (!). (I sure hope he made it... I didn't even finish until 4:15pm.)

Once in Boston, I realized why my particular flight must have been discounted. Word to the wise: do not have an arrival time within an hour of the start of a Red Sox game. I waited three trains! I've never seen so many baseball fanatics in my life... I no longer believe the movie "Fever Pitch" (about a Red Sox fanatic) is an overexaggeration.


The Race Expo: Holy mother of jesus, I have never seen so many people buying hundreds of dollars of running gear at that speed in my life. This expo has everything and anything you could possibly want. It's too overwhelming. It must be taken in waves, with a break for water and the bathroom every 30mins-hour. In some ways it was more draining than the race itself... well, maybe not...

The Night Before: The pasta dinner... and lots of loud, big screen TVs. However, if anyone else ever does this: go to the dinner after 7pm. Apparently all the ansy athletes eat early. We saw the line at 5:30, it was about a half mile long and decided to go do something else for a while. It worked. No line at 7pm, a lot fewer people, and still plenty of food.

Oh, I watched South Park before going to bed that night. There truly is something about comedy the night before that calms me down and helps me sleep better.

The Race:

Although I was prepared to have to get up at the crack of dawn (that's partially a lie, I'm never prepared), it just so happened that my bus loading time was the last wave, 8:30-9:00am. Since I was staying in Brookline and not so far from the buses, I slept until 7:30am, a rare occasion on ANY race morning. (The truth is, had I not been in the last wave, I probably would have gone then anyways.) I ate my standard breakfast: english muffin + peanut butter and watered down half cup of coffee, and a water bottle. I packed another pb english muffin since I knew I'd have to eat at
"athlete's village" (really just a high school football field in Hopkinton) around 11am. My start time wasn't until 12:30pm.

The bus ride was forever. The guy next to me had to pee about 15 minutes into it. I was scared to see what would happen if we didn't hurry up and get to Hopkinton. It didn't help when the bus driver got lost. In fact, most of the bus was getting ansy at that point...

At the "village" (field), I walked around, went to the portajohn, took a nap, went to the portajohn, ate my muffin and drank lots of water, went to the portajohn, checked my bag, and went to the portajohn. It seemed like everytime I went, 5 minutes later I had to use it again.

At the start, I met someone who goes to my gym back home. As we got ready (t-minus 2 mins) the lady next to me says "is there a portajohn around." Before I can say something she's squatting and saying "sorry I couldn't hold it." Ah geez. Right under my, and several other people's, shoes.


Boston is a funny course. You're going downhill for several miles and you start feeling like you're going to PR. I was running 7:45 miles solid until around mile 10-12. But what amazed me the most about this course... spectators the WHOLE way.

The Wellesley girls were ear-piercing with their shouts. But they were also a boost to my spirits. I high-fived a lot of them and started shouting myself. D'oh! Must... conserve... energy.

Around or a little after the halfway point, I was still feeling fine, but I had taken my pace back to about an 8-8:10 mile. I didn't want to overdo it and not have anything left on the upcoming hills. The Newton Hills. They really aren't as bad as I thought they would be... the spectators were handing out all kinds of things at this point, which was convenient because I didn't have to wait for a water stop in order to take my endurolytes or gels. Lots of people were handing out ices and wet sponges, which also came in very handy.

Heartbreak hill: As I climbed this hill I kept thinking, I don't know why everyone thinks this hill is so difficult. It's nothing compared to the hills at home... And then, it's mile 21, and I'm taking that all back. The downhills following heartbreak hurt so bad on my quads... at first, it wasn't so bad... but it progressively got worse. A little bit after Boston College, some girl (probably drunk) jumped out in the middle of the course to give me a high-five. At this point, my one-pace-I-could-do-forever switch had turned on and I wasn't sure what to do: if I stopped, I'd never start again. I maneuvered around her.

Somewhere on a downhill as we approached the last two miles, a guy with a beer in his hand yells out "two miles to go! if I can walk two miles to where I had to park my car you can run these last two!" I don't know where this logic comes from, but I'm thinking the beer was somehow involved.

The crowd gets really thick at this point; 4-5 people deep at most places. There's a little bridge you run under and then up the other side. As I went downhill under the bridge, my right calf cramped. Ouch. I ran flat-footed up the other side and thought, if the finish is not around the next corner I'm not going to be in good shape. Luckily, thankfully, it was right there. Seems those last few miles really did me in -- I was on pace for under 3:40 until the last few miles.

Race nutrition: endurolyte starting at 45 minutes, then every 45mins-1hour, followed by a cup of water. Vanilla hammer gel every hour, followed by a cup of water. In total: 3 hammer gels and 4(?) endurolytes. (I only tried the on-course gatorade once, in the last 15-20 minutes of the race, at mile 24. I only took one sip and knew I wouldn't be able to stomach it if I continued. They used the new endurance gatorade, lemon-line flavor, and not enough water in it. Note to self: train with on-course gatorade in month leading up to the race.)


As a way to thank you in Boston, they make you walk another mile to get your heat blanket, medal, return your chip, get your bag, and give you food. Actually, I shouldn't complain since this was by FAR the best (or one of the best) managed races I've ever been involved in. In fact, not everyone walked. Some people had wheelchairs and Advil waiting for them on the finish.

I flew home that evening. I ran into, quite literally, 6 other people I knew from this area. We all took a little jet back to Dulles. It took my legs 3 days to feel good enough to go out for a Thursday evening bike ride.

- I should have done more interval training, but my schedule didn't permit it.
- I should have trained with the on-course gatorade flavor so I'd be used to it.
- Endurolytes are still a wise decision.
- I'm still unclear as to why my right calf likes to cramp late in races.
- Our weather was perfect - overcast and 50 degrees or so at the start, sunny and low 60s (?) at the finish.
- I prefer races with new scenery: my next marathon will probably be Big Sur or San Francisco :)

I had a good experience at Boston. I might do it again in the future, but I'll have to decide if the last few miles of pain (and somewhat annoying spectators) are worth it. I think I like secluded trails more than swarms of people and pavement.

I look forward to seeing you all at Columbia!