April 29, 2008

Boston Marathon race report

As most of you know, this was not my “A-Race” of the year, and it was really really weird going to a race that was everyone ELSE’S big race of the year, but not my own. I guess it took a lot of pressure off of my performance and anxiety for this race. (Let me clarify - it wasn’t that I didn’t care how I did in the race, I truly wanted to race well and feel good, it was just that IM Wisconsin was a bigger race in my mind and my focus of this training year)

So, going into Boston I had a few distinct goals in my head of what I had wanted to accomplish. All of which were marred by the fact that I didn’t feel as prepared for Boston as I did for Philly last year in 2007. (I had an entire year of solid IM base underneath me in prep for Philly and I only had about 4 months of base for Boston) My goals were sorted out as such:

  1. Have fun - always the most important goal
  2. Requalify for Boston - needed a sub 3:10
  3. Break the 3 hour barrier
  4. PR - which meant a sub 2:55:17
  5. Beat Lance Armstrong
  6. Best Ian Webber’s time (friend of mine that is in my running group) - 2:51:23
  7. Go sub 2:50 (2:49:59)

Now, I only broke 4 out of 7 which isn’t that bad in hindsight, but I think if I had raced this one a little smarter, I might have been able to have a legitimate crack at attaining all of them. Everyone warns you about the Boston course and how “not to go out too fast” and I even got a text from Travis Money (T$) race morning before the gun went off that said just that… most of you that know me well realize that some things I have to figure out for myself. J

I went to the doctors on Thursday and was diagnosed with a viral upper respiratory infection and there was nothing I could take to make me better. I was only hoping it wouldn’t affect the race. I left on Saturday afternoon after volunteering with Brian at the Muddy Sneaker 20k down in the High Tor wilderness on the south end of Canandaigua Lake. That was a fun time and really nice to give back and see how much effort it takes to set up and execute a flawless aide station (we did aid’s # 1+3) Immediately after that, I hopped on the I-90 and began the drive east making a stop in Cato, NY to pickup a dear friend Sarah who was going to be my travel buddy and conversationalist for the weekend to keep me awake while driving J This is Sarah and me in Cato:We departed and made it FINALLY to Boston around 7pm or so and found my hotel and went to dinner. Sarah found it rather funny that I ordered a beer with dinner, but I told her that I drank before Philly too and if it was the Ironman, I probably wouldn’t, but since it was just Boston, I would relax with a brew. As a random side note, this was the pattern of the bedspread in Woburn, MA at the Red Roof Inn. (I'm glad I didn't vomit just looking at it!)Hitting up the Women’s Olympic marathon trials the next morning was really cool. Not exactly something I would have seen on my own, but I had forgotten that an old college teammate of mine Melissa White was running and ended up placing 15th in the trials. (not too shabby SUNY-G!) She’s in the Brooks Hanson’s singlet on the very left in the photo below:

So enough of the random pre-race stuff, I saw a few friends (Cason Jasey!) got a race shirt at packet pickup that was WAY too big for me (as usual) and had some good fun hanging with people for meals and just mainly throughout the days and hours leading up to the race. But, let’s get down to business.

Now I was registered as bib # 1991 for the marathon. This has its benefits and curses at the same time. Obviously the benefits are pretty cool in knowing that it took me only 10 seconds to cross the starting line after the gun went off, when some people it takes like 13 minutes, but also being able to start in a corral that was up near the front.

Race morning came without any hitches and I made it to athlete village without any problems. We were transported to the start via bus and this was a picture taken just moments before boarding the busses to take me to Hopkinton, MA.

In Athletes village, I wandered looking for anyone I knew and found no one. It was getting a little late (my wave went off at 10:00am sharp) and I decided to get into the line at the porta potties. Now remember how I was saying that a low bib was a curse? All I wanted to do was take care of my pre-race “business” and I was in line to do so. A couple behind me saw my bib and began asking me questions like, “so what kind of qualifying time do you have to run to get a bib that low?” and all these other questions. I was forced to make awkward small talk with the people and the husband was one of those “close talkers” and got right up on you when he talked to you. It was not anything bad; I just needed to do the obligatory pre-race poop and get to my corral.

I exited the porta and began looking for my corral. I was running a little late and ended up jogging to the starting line as it was farther away than I thought and we were the first corral and first wave (so I was RIGHT behind the elites) I was looking for my friend Dan Verdi, seeing as he was bib 1252, but couldn’t locate him. The gun went off and I had on gloves, a t-shirt and spandex shorts.

As soon as the gun went off the sun came out and the forecast had called for overcast skies and like 55 degrees. It was still a little cold, but it was sunny as hell and I had left my sunglasses and sunscreen in my dry clothes bag. (Rookie mistake) I never heeded those warnings about going out too fast and just started running. I clipped the first mile in 5:56 and needed to slow down BIG TIME.

At about 3miles in I came up on a small little group of about 20-30 runners and thought to myself, “oh we’re all running together, that’s nice” and it wasn’t until I had passed them that I realized that people were packing around because Lance Armstrong was in the middle of that group… Dan Verdi passed me about a minute or two later and we chatted and he said he hadn’t seen Lance yet and I told him to turn around because he was about 50 feet back! I wished Dan well and he took off and I wondered to myself if I was going to be able to hold off Lance for the entire race (how cool would that be?!?!)

I was going thru each kilometer in about 4:00 exactly and was pacing this really well thru the first 15k. Then the single K markers vanished and my pacing left. I went thru 15k in 59:05 minutes and remarked to a guy next to me that I ran that faster than my buddy Brian had done a stand alone 15k a few weeks ago. I said to him, “oh Brian’s gonna be pissed!” (sorry Brian Matthews)

I held that thru 30k (1:59:53) and was pacing really well. Wellesley College was really fun to go thru and this guy from Finland next to me was goofing off and making muscles to thousands of screaming girls and he said something to the effect of, “I’m moving here, girls in my country pay no attention to me!” It was funny. But anyway, thru 30k was really good and then the Newton hills started.

The last 12k of this race, I was in a world of pain. My Psoas major muscles (the part of your hip flexor that drives your leg upwards…) was killing me and each step was pain. The wheels were officially starting to fall off. Miles were ticking by slower and slower and at mile 23, the Lance Armstrong freight train BLEW by me and I just watched him get smaller and smaller as he pulled away from me on the road.

I crossed the line in 2:53:39 and that was good for a 1:40 PR and I found out later that it qualifies me for the NYC marathon (so I don’t have to do the silly lottery system) I was pleased but utterly exhausted. Post race was great and I recovered in less than a week.

I gotta get back to training now as IM WISCONSIN is right around the corner, but I wanted to get that up there as a memory of the first Boston that I have legally done. Cheers folks, see you out on the bike now that the weather is better!!! :o)

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