Wow, what a fun race!
This will be brief for now, but here's a recap:
I think I had mentally thrown in the towel on a 2:45 goal before the race even began for 2 reasons:
1 - I was sweating already just standing in line to get to the start at 10:40
2 - I was slated to start the race at the VERY BACK. Behind 26000+ other runners. I could tell that was not going to help my chances.
So I decided to just go with whatever felt good and enjoy the experience fully. And I did.
It was definitely hot, I was dumping water on my head after the first 2 miles in.
But it didn't bother me, I was really enjoying it actually. I loved the run, and loved being out in the sun among millions of people running. It was gorgeous.
But I could tell it was sapping the energy and making me slower throughout. I was glad I went out conservatively, because I had plenty of energy the last 10K and was able to really enjoy bombing the long downhills to the finish. That was a lot of fun.
I realized with about 4 to go that I was going to possibly not even run under 3 hours, so I kicked it into gear a bit and was able to squeeze in just under.
The 2 factors going against me on achieving my time goal, were definitely big factors.
As an example, my time of 2:59:42 placed me 516th overall this year. That would have been 1477th overall last year. Ummm, yeah, I would say it was not ideal conditions this year. Though the two years were probably polar opposites since last year was the fastest ever.
The other huge factor was starting at the back. Because this was my first official marathon I didn't have a qualifying time, so they placed me behind everyone.
I was able to jump into the 3rd corral fortunately, and bypass about 6000 runners, which helped. But that still meant I had to weave through 20,000 other runners in front of me throughout the day.
It took me a mile just to get to the front of my wave and have a clear road to run on. But within 2-3 more miles I had caught up to the previous wave and from then on it was a literal see of people to run through. Mostly I could run clear by staying to one side, not running the tangents. But this put me in the sun the whole time, and added to the length of the course. I clocked 26.5 miles on my watch due to all the weaving and running the longest route possible for the most part.
The 2 biggest challenges with the crowds were 1 - the aid stations, and 2 - the overall speed influence.
It was kind of weird passing people the entire time, kind of draining mentally actually. Because people just kept getting slower and slower, and trying to maintain a fast speed among people that are walking and just barely moving was kind of odd...it felt like I was being held back by the energy in one sense. I wished at those moments I could have started with people at my pace, but I got over it pretty quick. I was too set on enjoying myself to care really. I had a grin on my face the entire race I think, it was just a lot of fun.
The aid stations were definitely not helping my times though. Usually I had to slow way down, and it got worse through the day as more people were dying off and walking through the aid. It was hard to keep a momentum and rhythm going, so I just went with it. I just slowed down at every aid station, doused with water, drank gatorade and water, then would pick it up again for the next mile.
Good times! I have to say I loved my first official marathon and think it's really cool to have had it be Boston. I'd love to go back and run that race again now and actually start with the proper wave.