The Boston Marathon this morning was an overall awesome experience. My wife and son and stepson spent the night in a hotel in a small town about 15 miles from the start line after making the 4 hour drive yesterday from Milford Pennsylvania. The roads in Hopkinton were open until 7:30 AM so my wife drove me to within about a quarter mile of the start area and I walked to the school to wait. I found a spot to sit on the lawn down in a corner that was in the sun and somewhat out of the wind. I was glad that I had some long pants to wear and felt bad for the freezing people that didn't. I chatted a bit with a couple of other runners that were sitting around me and I ate a banna and drank some water. I thought it was funny to see how a lot of people were checking out everybody else's # on their bags to see how they were seeded.
The weather couldn't have been better with temps in the low to mid 50s and a favorable wind. The wind was pretty nasty in Hopkinton but once the race got down into the trees I didn't feel it much. Three different times during the race I actually felt a tailwind blowing hard enough that I could feel it hit my back but each time it was quickly gone. I also noticed crosswinds and even headwinds at times but I think most of the wind speed was at or below my running pace so it felt like no wind at all which at times actually made the 50 deg weather feel hot. I was sweating a lot and was actually dumping cups of water on my head to try and cool down. I guess I was just used to training in the cold Idaho winter and extra cool spring this year.
I was very ready to go by the time 10 o'clock rolled around. We made the long walk to the starting corrals and packed into them. My number was 3077 so I just missed the 3rd corral. In the 4th corral I had 3,000 runners between me and the starting line. The elites were only a short distance away when they were introduced but I couldn,t quite see them over all of the heads in front of me. After a short wait and the National Anthem it was time to start. They removed the ropes separating the corrals and everyone began to walk forward. It was very crowded. I've never been in a race before where the gun goes off and you are just standing there. Finally we were walking and 1 minute and 40 seconds later we were jogging over the start mat. The pace finally started picking up a little but my main focus was just trying not to trip and fall. The sea of bobbing heads going down the road and out of sight ahead of me was awesome. The first mile has the steepest downhill and I was only able to manage a 6:55. It seemed like over the next couple of miles the crowd was still running slower than I wanted and I started doing a lot of zig zagging to get around people. It was impossible to run tangents in that crowd. I tried it once or twice but figured I was using more energy to get throught the crowd to get across the road [to take the inside on the curves] than to just stay with the flow. I think by the time I hit mile 4, my Garmin was already reading .07 miles long. The early miles felt good and my pace was always faster than expected. Whenever I checked my Garmin I was seeing 6:30s when I was expecting to see upper 6:40s. It felt easy so I just went with it. The section past Wellesley Girls college was everything it had been described to me and the roar in my right ear from all the screaming girls was crazy. And no I didn't kiss any coeds but I did give a few high fives. The whole race route was basically a huge party And I high-fived a lot of kids along the way.
I hit the half in 1:29 and knew it was going to be tough to hold a good enough pace to go sub 3. Mile 15 is where I started to slow a bit. I thought sub 3 was a real possibility early on but now I knew there was no chance especially knowing the Newton Hills were still to come. I started getting some major GI discomfort at this point and nearly lost my bowel control. I think it may have been from eating a little too much fruit during my carb loading yesterday and the GU I had taken at the half may not have helped. The rest of the race I was fighting to keep control of my bowels and I never took another GU but I did eat some bananas pieces and an orange slice. I thought a lot about stopping at a POP but never did. My whole body was beginnig to feel more discomfort from the fast early pace. Mile 15 was the first mile over 7 at 7:02 and it was just slightly uphill. From that point my focus was just to beat my PR of 3:05:25 from St George. Miles 17 through 21 with the 4 Newton hills were tough for me. I was feeling the effects from going out faster than I probably should have so I just relaxed and took the hills easy so I would hopefully have something left for the last 6 miles I felt like a lot of people were passing me going up the hills and I wanted to go with them but I kept telling myself it would pay off later not to push and I know I did pass a lot of them later on in the race. I forgot that there are 4 climbs through Newton and when I crested the third ohill I thought I had just finished Heartbreak Hill. We had even driven the route yesterday on our way into Boston. I thought it didn't quite look like I remembered and I kept waiting for the downhill on the backside. It was a bummer when I finally realized that Heartbreak Hill was still to come. I did finally get there and took it easy like the other hills. It was good to be finished with the major hills for sure this time.
Going through Boston College was pretty crazy too but I don't think they quite compared to Wellesly. This is the point at my last Marathon that I really started to die and was running close to 8 min pace. This time I felt the best I have in the last miles of a Marathon. I had a lot of discomfort but it didn't seem to be getting worse and I think it was the first time in a marathon that neither my calves or quads were cramping at this point. I ran miles 23-25 in 7:06,7:06, and 7:03. Whenever I needed a boost I just raised up my hands and the huge noisy crowd would cheer even louder. I passed a ton of people through those last miles. The last couple of miles before turning onto Hereford Street seemed a lot longer than when we drove it yesterday. Finally I could see the runners ahead making the right turn and I knew it was close. After running one block up Hereford it was a great feeling and one I had only imagined to make that left turn down Boylston Street for than final 600 meters of roaring crowd to the finish line that you can now see. I knew I would never find them in the crowd but knowing that my family was part of the cheering crowd added to the adrenaline. I ran the last .42 at 6:18 pace. I threw my hands up as I crossed the line and was so glad to be able to stop running.
Because of the poor tangents I was forced to run throughout the race, my Garmin had the last stretch at .42. I finished in 3:03:24 for a 2 minute PR. My next goal over a PR was to finish under 7:00 pace. My Garmin had me at 6:56 with the extra nearly quarter mile of distance but officially it's right at 6:59.6 so just barely got it. I am very happy with that time and pleased that I didn't completely die in the last few miles and I finished about 1200 spots ahead of my qualifying number. I was in the top 3.4% of my age group which had almost 2,000 start the race.
It seemed like I had to walk forever and finally was able to go in the basement of the John Hancock building to a restroom. I apologize for this part but it was such a major relief to finally just let go and I felt like I just lost several pounds. I normally try to be quiet and discrete while in a stall but there was no holding back this time and I just didn't care. It's the only race where I have carried my cell phone and it was a great help in locating my family. I was so happy to see them and a little jealous that they got to watch Geoffery Mutai run down Boyleston Street and cross the line in the fastest ever marathon time of 2:03:02 and also see Ryan Hall get his 2:04:58. They also got to watch the epic back and forth battle between American Desiree Davila and Kenyan Caroline Kilel for the women's win. But I felt bad for them having to wait so long in the cold. My poor wife was freezing.
I'm actually going up and down stairs much easier than after any of my other marathons.
5K splits: 20:59, 21:01, 21:35, 21:32, 22:36, 22:55, 22:15, and 9:42 last 2.2
Congrats to Paul Peterson 17 overall and 3rd American.