Thursday, April 20, 2017

2017 Boston Marathon

I decided to give Boston a go on Saturday as I headed into the city to pickup my number.  We were spending the Easter weekend down south of Boston anyways.  I figured I'd go in and pick up my shirt at least...since I paid for Boston (registered back in September).  Initially I was going to train for it and that slowly died over the course of the winter.  20 mile workouts are a bit much on the treadmill for me and I slowly stopped doing anything that remotely looked like a marathon training plan.  My races this year haven't been great and I just talked myself out of going and struggling through 26.2 miles.  But when I went in to pick up my bib, I got caught up in the whole thing again and felt differently about it. I felt like I should just do it.  I was going to go and just 'run' it if I was going to run it.  Not try to go out and run 5:42s like my original plan was going to be.  I figured if I did run it, I'd be good with going out at 6 min pace and just try to treat it like a long hard tempo and try to survive.   That's basically what I did, and I'm grateful I did it.  I think it was a good decision for me.  I came to this conclusion when I was jogging down to the starting corrals and then when I lined up and watched all the elites come out.  Then when the anthem was sung and the jets flew over...I got pretty overwhelmed in the whole thing and was happy to be part of the moment at that point.  There was no question. I was very happy that I made the choice to be there. I had pretty much accepted that if I ran 2:40s I'd be over-the-moon thrilled. If I ran 2:50s I'd be ok with it and wouldn't be disappointed in the least.  I wanted to finish and at worst just qualify for next year.  Most importantly though, I just wanted to go out and accomplish the feat of running it, as I had planned on doing since September.  I didn't want to take the easy way out and just not go.  It wouldn't be fair to me or to a lot other folks who couldn't go even though they wanted to be there.  Guys who got hurt over the winter during the build up... people who just missed qualifying...people who no matter how hard they try, cannot qualify.  I just wanted to go and take advantage of my opportunity to run this race and not take it for granted.

Obviously the course drop in the first bunch of miles makes it difficult to NOT run too fast.  I was a bit under 6s (not too much but still under) for the first 10 or 11 miles. I constantly backed off.  I was just running within myself and amongst a slew of other 6-min pace guys trying to behave themselves.  I felt good until about halfway and then I started to feel it just a little bit.  But nothing bad. I kept thinking of it as a long run.  I had no pressure on myself which I think was a huge advantage.  I just wanted to finish if possibly under 2:50 and had that in the back of my mind as my main goal.  I knew I was well ahead of that and just kept up a similar tempo for as long as I could.  I didn't care at all who was around me...who was going by me...who I was going by.... etc.  I just kept enjoying the run, high-fiving kids along the way, and making sure I took water and Gatorade at every stop.  It got a little warm but I was fine with that typically.  It was nothing like 2012.

I was under 60 for 10 and that feels pretty easy on the Boston course...My half was 1:17 and change. I went through 20 mile split in 2:00:30 and was pretty surprised.  I had 1:59:35 on my Garmin's 20 mile split... That was on the way up heartbreak hill (maybe a mile from the highest point?)... so I had slowed a bit but was still right at 2 hrs or just under...crazy.  Miles 15/16 and then obviously heartbreak hill after 17 have some uphills so my pace started to creep up a bit but I was still feeling pretty strong.  I was getting increasingly aware that I was going to finish and I was getting pretty emotional about it.  The crowd is amazing.  I saw a lot of familiar faces and heard my name here and there and it was just a great feeling to be a part of it after almost talking myself out of not being there.  I started for a brief moment to love running again.  It felt like running in it's purest form for me.  It felt like it was the pinnacle of running in New England and I was right there in the middle of it.  There's nothing like it in running at least that I've experienced, for a guy like me who never had aspirations for going to the Olympics or even the trials.  It's pretty much the biggest stage I can run on and I was there for a few hours on Monday.  Sure I had thoughts of getting older, slower, and some flashbacks to the glory days of running...I had some dumb thoughts about how this could be my last race.  I had thoughts of all the good and bad things that you think of when you run marathons.  During the highs and lows, all sorts of crazy things pop into your head.  But I just kept looking around and seeing and hearing all the people yelling and screaming for me and the other runners as we passed by and it really made me appreciate what I've been able to do.  I think this is just what I needed to make sure I don't lose sight of the big picture.

Obviously the last 10k I was just about finishing.  The downhill after mile 21 or so didn't treat my legs so well.  My cardio was a complete non-issue. I don't even remember being in any distress 'fitness-wise' but my legs were a pile of crap.  I could have probably carried on a conversation at that pace by my hips and feet and hamstrings/calves were so tight I was just hoping to be able to keep it under about 6:30s for the way in.  I wasn't cramping or even close...but just sore and tight.  My legs are just not used to running 26.2 miles.  My base allowed me to be able to run 6:20s for the last 10k without any issues.  The last couple miles felt incredible.  When I made those last couple turns and then saw the finish line, I was close to breaking down emotionally.  Thinking about what has transpired in that race since I last finished it in 2012... thinking about how close I was to maybe never doing it again and how close I was to skipping it.  I had made it.  I was close to breaking 2:40 (relatively speaking) as I came through in 2:40:37.  I was 198th overall (including the elite women).  I was also the 3rd NH finisher.  That's not too bad considering.  Only 24 people (all men) beat me that were older than me.  That's a good sign for next year.  2:40 is about what I have in me with just 'running' every day.  Maybe in the fall I can go a little quicker and run under 2:40 as a master if I do the appropriate training.  It kind of makes me want to do it again.  A road marathon is tough.  More so emotionally and psychologically than physically for me, but certainly it's physical torture as well.  It's not like anything else I've done.  But it's the thing that makes me feel the most accomplishment out of anything when I complete it.  Especially Boston.  I've now started 5 Bostons. I've finished 4.  Two of those 4 were huge blowups and my two slowest marathons ever.  1 was good (2:30:00 in 2009).  1 was a DNF at 15 miles when I was crushing it (2011 when I was 1:11:01 through halfway).  This one was my 2nd best Boston which is crazy to think about, but it's true...

Boston is tough.  There's a lot of pressure especially for New Englanders.  It's the race that everyone asks you about. 'Oh you run? Have you ever run Boston?' is a common question you hear as a runner in New England.  Or better yet, 'Oh you run marathons? Have you done Boston'?.  It sucks to have to say 'yes, I run but no I've never run Boston'... or try to have to prove that you are in fact a real runner without having run Boston.  That's the race that everyone knows.  So when you finally run a qualifier, you now have to spend the crappiest part of the calendar year, training for Boston.  The winter in New England can be pretty rough.  And when/if you finally make it through and get to the line, ready to go, you still have to pull it together for the next 2-3 hours+ and that part is easier said than done.  Boston is often a race that takes many times to get right.  Sure if you are Dan Vassallo, Dave Dunham, or some other stud, you can one-and-done it and conquer it on the first time....but most of the time it's a love-hate for people.  I find that typically no one really cares too much about anything else you run all year, but when you run Boston, people come out of the woodwork to follow your run.  Everyone starts tracking you, sending you messages,  calling you, etc.  I had a ton of emails, texts, etc.  People from family... etc. .. People I haven't talked to in a long while.  All of the sudden the outpouring of congratulations and inquires came in in the hours after the race.  If you don't run well, that can be very hard to take.  You don't want to get mad at people for telling you they are proud of you and amazed at your accomplishment...and you don't want to sound ungrateful or like a sore loser...but deep down it's tough to have to justify what happened if it didn't go well.  This is what scares people away from Boston typically. I know as more often than not, I have had to go through this.  This year, I think I've gotten over that as I don't really have expectations of PR-ing anymore.  I was 13 minutes slower than my best.  I was 5 minutes over my qualifier time.  But none of that really weighed on me then or now as I type this. I accept it.  But I also realize that 2:40 at almost 40 years old and with the amount of work I put in, is an amazing run for me.  And I'm grateful to be able to identify that now.  I've been close to hanging it up in recent months and now I feel like that's the wrong thing to do at this point. Maybe I'd be better off focusing on longer events now...but we'll see as the year goes on.  For now, I am sitting here recovering from Boston and feeling accomplished for finishing what I started.  I have to find a way to drop the extra 15 lbs I have put on though!  Why am I gaining weight still!!!

Oh yeah, our team (CMS) finished 9th out of 67 Men's Open teams. Not too bad!  The men's Masters team finished 15th of 72.  Calling all CMS masters guys for next year.... lets do this.  Try to squeak in your qualifier now somehow....

Garmin data:

Splits  Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace Best Pace
1 5:48.4 5:48 5:48 1 29 133 5:48 5:48 4:45
2 5:47.0 11:35 5:44 1 21 80 5:47 5:44 5:11
3 5:49.4 17:25 5:48 1 22 71 5:49 5:48 5:13
4 5:41.8 23:07 5:41 1 -- 70 5:42 5:42 5:11
5 5:57.6 29:04 5:55 1 44 34 5:58 5:55 5:27
6 5:50.2 34:54 5:48 1 -- 12 5:50 5:48 5:23
7 5:49.2 40:44 5:48 1 -- 7 5:49 5:48 5:34
8 5:57.7 46:41 5:53 1 35 24 5:58 5:53 5:29
9 5:57.4 52:39 5:54 1 10 23 5:57 5:54 5:39
10 5:58.0 58:37 5:54 1 20 -- 5:58 5:54 5:32
11 5:59.4 1:04:36 5:58 1 13 -- 5:59 5:58 5:41
12 5:55.5 1:10:32 5:49 1 17 75 5:55 5:49 5:25
13 6:05.0 1:16:37 6:04 1 26 14 6:05 6:04 5:28
14 5:59.8 1:22:37 5:57 1 22 19 6:00 5:57 5:31
15 6:09.3 1:28:46 6:06 1 43 26 6:09 6:06 5:34
16 5:56.7 1:34:43 5:50 1 16 129 5:57 5:50 5:18
17 6:15.1 1:40:58 6:14 1 71 -- 6:15 6:14 5:33
18 6:18.9 1:47:17 6:14 1 65 27 6:19 6:14 5:12
19 6:03.6 1:53:20 6:02 1 -- 29 6:04 6:02 5:39
20 6:14.8 1:59:35 6:11 1 48 19 6:15 6:11 5:32
21 6:39.8 2:06:15 6:31 1 93 7 6:40 6:31 5:51
22 6:18.7 2:12:34 6:16 1 -- 90 6:19 6:16 5:41
23 6:25.1 2:18:59 6:20 1 -- 53 6:25 6:20 5:35
24 6:24.1 2:25:23 6:21 1 29 61 6:24 6:21 5:37
25 6:24.2 2:31:47 6:22 1 -- 49 6:24 6:22 5:53
26 6:20.1 2:38:07 6:20 1 -- -- 6:20 6:20 5:19
27 02:36.2 2:40:43 2:23 0.43 -- -- 6:03 5:32 5:04
Summary 2:40:43 2:40:43 2:39:12 26.43 623 1,069 6:05


  1. Bravo! I hate road marathons but every year after folks run Boston my urge to participate goes up a little. But that means running a road marathon just to get into Boston. Maybe 2019...

  2. Thanks Seth. Yeah, I typically have no interest in Boston despite having started 5 of them now. But I really enjoyed this one. I may plan my years better around this race if I continue in the sport past this Summer! :). Hope you decide to run a qualifier!