First off, for all those who said they were stalking me (AKA: getting text update or following my progress online during the marathon) thank you very much. I have heard stories from people I work with, go to church with, and even my kids school teachers. Also, my mom had her students do some sort of graph of my progress.
Truthfully, I think she had them do the graph to give her a reason to have her cell phone out while teaching.
You go into events like this with visions of what the day will be like. For me, it was temperatures in the mid 40s, a tail wind, and overcast skies and running your best race ever. Obviously our visions of what we expect, don’t always work out the way we think they should. Race morning was 42 degrees but the real feel was in the mid 30s, windy and rain.
Race morning arrived with the alarm going off at 3:00 in the morning. Yep, awake at 3:00 for a 10:00 race. As expected, really didn’t sleep too well the night before. We needed to leave Meghan’s house early because Meghan and Kelli needed to board their bus to athletes village at 5:45.
Pre-race photo with Meghan Irvine and Kelli White.
As you can imagine, the roads into Boston at that time of morning were empty. After we parked, Tina and I walked with Meghan and Kelli to the hotel that they would leave from. From there we wished Meghan and Kelli good luck and headed towards Boston Common where gear check was at as well as where runners loaded onto the bus to head to Hopkington.
The weather for race day was not very promising. Calling for highs in the mid 40s, winds out of the east (head wind) at 20 mph with gusts up to 30mph, and rain.
Tina and I arrived early at Boston Common and just found a bench to sit in and wait until it was time to load up the bus. I had made contact with a running friend of mine, Chad Ganger, who was with Ed McCollum heading to Boston Common. The plan was to meet there and ride the bus together. For those of you who know me well, I am not very patient. I am the type of person who expects to be early. My worry started to kick in for probably no reason at all, I messaged Chad that I was going to go ahead and get on the bus. In the crowd of 30,000 runners on this day, I never did see Ed or Chad in Boston (sorry guys). Nerves were obviously starting to get to me as I used the port a potties 4 times while in Boston Common.
I have heard people say they hate the bus ride up because they have you go up in an uncomfortable school bus. I actually enjoyed it. Got the opportunity to talk with runners from all over the country about running. The common questions were, how many Boston Marathons have you run before? How many marathons have you ran? Where did you qualify at? Where are you from? How did your training go (typically asked if they know where your from had an awful winter)? And of course, what’s your goal for today? People from all over the country, all kinds of professions, all with one goal, to run well at the Boston Marathon.
Athlete village was more of the same. People from all over the world, talking about running. Really, we didn’t spend as much time in athlete village as I thought we would, maybe an hour and a half. While there you could get your photo taken by the famous “It all starts here” sign as well as a couple other places. I already put my money down to buy my race photos, so I was taking any opportunity that I could to get my picture taken and get my money’s worth. Also in Athletes Village, I used the port a potties 3 more times (bringing the total to 7). At 9:05, the first wave of runners were called to start heading to the starting corrals.
The walk to the corrals from athletes village is about a half mile long. On the way right before the corrals were tons of, you guessed it, port a potties. I figured I better make one more stop (total of 8 at this point). Once in the corrals, I needed to go again (that’s 9. there is a reason I am sharing this with you, I promise). We were in the corrals by 9:30 with the race beginning at 10:00. Once again there were more conversations with runners. One guy was from Chicago, another from Edmonton. The one from Chicago had about the same goal as me, and I thought I would hang with him for a while.
My Goals for the race: 1. Run a new PR under 2:55 (6:40 average). 2. Run under 3:00. 3. Run a BQ time.
For those who are not familiar with the course, the Boston marathon is unique in that it’s a point to point course with a net elevation loss.
After introductions of the elite male runners and the national anthem, the gun went off and we were on our way. At this time, there was no rain and light wind. There was only one problem at the start, I had to pee again. I swear, I really didn’t think drank that much water. Also at the start, I lost contact of the guy from Chicago I thought I could run with and pace with. I am not sure if he got ahead of me or behind me. The corrals were so crammed and it was impossible to move side to side. I was basically going to have to run my own race.
I have read and been told many times, when it comes to Boston, don’t push the opening miles. It will kill you later. All the people in front of you will slow you down, consider it a blessing. The first 4 miles are downhill, a couple rolling up hills but noticibly, you lose a lot of elevation. But I kept it easy, maybe too easy. First mile was 7:01. Ok, that was too slow, but really I couldn’t help it. It was just that crowded that I couldn’t move faster. Second mile I was able to pick it up and ran a 6:37 mile. At the end of the second mile, there was some relief, a port a potty. After a 40 second pit stop, I was back running. Probably tried to catch up too much at once and ended up running the third mile in 6:48. Considering the added pit stop, which I did not stop my watch, this was way too fast.
Truthfully, I haven’t looked at my splits too closely until now (while writing this blog) and now I am kicking myself.
Mile 4: 6:25, mile 5: 6:38, mile 6: 6:23, mile 7: 6:28, mile 8: 6:36, mile 9: 6:45, mile 10: 6:35.
That was far from the plan, especially miles 4, 6, and 7. They say seconds in the beginning of the race equals minutes at the end. How would this all play out later? It was also around mile 8 that it first started raining. The rain lasted for a couple miles. At this point, I had already threw off my hat and gloves.
I also learned, it is very easy to get distracted in Boston while running the marathons. There are crowds like you have never seen at a race before, giving high fives to the kids along side the course, and trying to move amongst all the other runners. It became so much of a distraction that I forgot about the fuel that I planned on using at mile 8 and remembered it at mile 11. Oops.
Everything you have ever heard about running through Wellesley is true, although I have been told that the volume and crowd was less than usual due to the rain. But for a first timer like myself, I didn’t care. They call the course along Wellesely College, the “scream tunnel,” and for good reason. Wellesely College is an all girls school and you can hear them screaming from a mile away. When I first heard them, I just thought, you have got to be kidding me. You couldn’t see them, but man could you hear them. Wellesely college is also known for trying to get kisses from runners. For this reason, since they are lined up on the right side, I stayed left so that I wasn’t cut off by some guy trying to get a kiss. From Wellesely to mile 15 is just small rolling hills.
Mile 15 probably has the steepest drop on the whole course. You drop about 100 feet in elevation right before the climbing begins. Mile splits for miles 11-15: 6:40, 6:32, 6:38, 6:39, 6:48. Amazing, the most loss of elevation in a single mile, and it was a slow mile. By about mile 12 though, I knew things were not going very well and it could be a struggle. At the halfway point, I was at 1:27:05, 25 seconds ahead of goal pace.
At this point, it’s still raining and it would be until the end. My hands are numb, I am struggling to grab water at the aid stations, and having trouble seeing.
Mile 16 starts the infamous Newton Hills, a series of 4 hills over miles 16-21. My goal at this point was to relax on the up hills. If the time slips some, that is fine. Mile splits on the hills were 6:36, 6:57, 6:59, 6:57, and finally 7:27 up Heartbreak Hill. Obviously, Heartbreak Hill was an ugly mile for me. At this point my legs are dead. It was really only a matter of how long until I hit the wall. At the top of Heartbreak Hill is Boston College. Warning to anyone who runs Boston in the future, don’t take water from anyone who is not at an official aid station. More than likely, at least at Boston College, it’s beer. May not sit to well in your stomach. No I didn’t take any, but I could smell it as I ran by.
Mile 22 was run in 6:50. Them finally, as we entered Brokline, it came, I hit the wall. During the 23rd mile I walked for probably a quarter of a mile. Whatever chance there was of breaking 2:55 was gone. 23rd mile was completed in 8:20. Usually when I walk, it means that the rest of the way would be run walk.
I got going again and finished the race running, didn’t need to walk. Final mile splits were 7:18, 7:10, 7:15. Nothing fast but I kept moving.
Before getting to mile 26 was the most famous turns of all of running, Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston. As loud as Welesly was, Boylston was unreal, and the elite runners had been finished for almost an hour. It was nuts. I was looking for Tina as I ran down Boylston, and for some reason I had it stuck in my head that she would be on my right side. Turns out, she was on the left. Never saw her, but at least she saw me.
Finishing time was 3:00:43, so I missed out on my first two goals.
After crossing the finishline is where the long walk begins. First Then water (thankfully the volunteers had the caps already off because I still can’t feel my hands were still numb). Then they give you your medal and take some photos:
Then they give you a poncho to keep you warm (really wish this came before the medal) I had to ask the woman help because I couldn’t feel anything and couldn’t get my arms through the arm holes:
At this point, I must not have been looking to good because 3 or 4 nurses asked me repeatedly if I was ok.
Then it was a long walk back to Boston Common to pick up my gear and meet Tina. They provided changing tents for all the runners. On an average day, this would probably go pretty smooth but with the rain and cold, everyone wanted to change, and it was packed full.
Tina and I had some time to kill before Meghan and Kelli finished, so we went and grabbed a late lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.
cant think of a better way to celebrate than with Red Velvet Cheese Cake. While at dinner, we got text alerts of how Meghan and Kelli were doing. Both ran impressive times for themselves, especially considering the conditions. Meghan ran a 3:44:07, and Kelli (first marathon ever) ran a 5:16:14.
Questions I have been asked since finishing the marathon:
Daddy, Did you win? Ok, this one came from our daughters back at home. Simple answer, no, which was then followed by the questions: Why not? Maybe I should stop running the local 5k’s and 10k’s and lower my kids expectations.
How did it go? Quiet honestly, it was one of the greatest weekends of my life. The experience of being in Boston for the longest running marathon was unreal. Along with that, I got to spend it with my wife, Tina.
But it was also the most miserable time of my life. The weather was brutal. I don’t remember ever being so cold.
Are you happy with your time? Yes and no. I didn’t hit my goal, and weather obviously played a part in that. But also, there were parts that I just didn’t run smart. I believe I was ready to run a 2:55:00, it just didn’t happen. However, it is hard to be disappointed with running a BQ time in Boston.
Will I return next year? Well, I do have a qualifying time, but the answer, unless something drastically changes and we win the lottery (which we don’t play), the answer is no.
Will you return to run it again at some point? Assuming that I keep up my training and maintain qualifying times, it looks like maybe in 5 years for the 2020 marathon would be the most realistic chance of returning.
This was one of the most miserable (weather) experiences of my life, but at the same time, one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you once again to all those who supported me along the way, especially my wife, Tina, who has to put up with my running schedule and me constantly talking about this race. She put up with a lot.