Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Boston report - part 1

Home at last after yet another Boston adventure. Don't know quite where to start, so how about the end first. Here are my results:

Not what I'd trained and hoped for and how I got there is a bit of a long story, in fact I wrote most of it by hand in the car on the drive back today with my new friends Bruce and Jim. Bruce, whom you saw in the photo with me on Sunday was the 4th New Brunswick runner with a time of 3:07. He had a good 1st 1/2 but faded in the 2nd half and said he might have gone out too hard with the leaders in the 1st corral. Jim was also top 10 with a 3:20 and was quite happy with his result but said (like all runners will) that he could have done better.

My story began at 5:15 when Bruce and I woke up for a light breakfast of cereal, coffee, juice and bagel before scooting down to the subway station and then to the Boston Commons where the buses pick up the runners. There was a light rain and the temps were moderate in the 40's, which was warmer than expected. We were on the buses by 7:00 for the long ride to Hopkinton. Once there we were lucky to get into the high school gym where we were able to lie down and relax for about an hour in relative comfort of warmth and dryness. There was even an unexpected discovery of porta-potties with short lineup that will be remembered for future events here. Around 9:20 they started chasing the runners out for the corrals and we made our last minute preparations with extra layers that could be removed and the final super protective garbage bag layer on the outside (plus bags over the shoes to protect the virgin Mizunos).

Dumped the gear at my bus (buses are numbered by bib#s) and made the 1/2 mile walk down to the start in a steady but almost warm light rain. It was now about 9:40 as I consumed my last drink of gatorade and saved the wide mouth bottle for convenient discrete usage before the start. Arrived at my corral in no time and moved toward the front to do a few stretches and final clothing adjustments as the final announcements and anthem played. Then to my surprise, Peter, who is the brother of one of my co-workers taps me on the shoulder and introduces himself! We both knew that we'd be in the same corral but I've never met him but I guess my famous Canada shorts gave me away! We had a nice little chat and I tried to give him a few pointers about the start but from his good finishing time of 3:25, I think he was quite prepared. It was feeling quite warm in the crowd and the rain was lessening a bit so the garbage bag got dumped about now.

Finally the start, though I don't remember the gun. Peter and I stuck together for a bit as we shuffled ahead taking about 3-4 minutes to get to the actual start line where you could finally start to jog along at an easy pace. At this point he sort of floated away looking back once or twice but I just waved him on as it would take too much effort to try to stick together. The crowds were surprisingly good in the starting area despite the weather and it was a good feeling to finally be off on the nice downhill 1st miles.

It's hard to remember the details of each mile but from the very beginning of this race I simply did not have a good feeling. Instead of the easy jogging, light on your legs effortless feeling that you almost come to expect (or hope for) after a decent taper and good training, from the very get go this marathon felt like 'work'. There was no pop or spring in the legs, the hamstrings felt tight and heavy and I just had a worried feeling. My plan was to do a cutdown first six miles with 1st 2 at 7:45, then 2 in 7:35 and finally 2 in 7:25 before settling down to 7:15's. This seemed to work for the 1st 10k but on reaching about 6 miles the realization began to set in that this was not going to be my day. The final clue was my average heartrate which had now pushed into the 150's or close to 90% of max and a level that I knew would be impossible to hold for long. The goal now became one of trying to maintain an even effort, keeping the heartrate below 150 and one of survival to the finish line in one piece. And only 20 miles to go! This is not going well...

The next few miles were uneventful as we wound our way through Framingham and Natick with the usual supportive cheering crowds at each street corner. The weather continued to be milder than expected but the gusty winds made it feel chilly and I was glad that I'd kept my windbreaker that could be zipped up when needed. However, the Canada shorts were still on display and the cheers for that helped to keep me moving along. The next big event, of course, was the cheering girls at Wellesley, also know as the scream tunnel. What they lacking in numbers this year seemed to be made up for in volume as the noise could be heard from about 1/4 mile away. Many were holding up signs for free kisses and hugs but I enjoyed lots of high fives and cheers of 'Go Canada' instead. Shortly after it was the quiet of mile 13 and the reality of my 1/2 split of only 1:40. There were still a few downhill miles ahead but the hopes of increasing or even maintaining this pace were quickly fading by now.

More analysis and part 2 coming up in the next episode. Right now I need another good sleep as the recovery progresses well.

9 comments:

Fran said...

Congrats on toughing it out. Looking forward to the rest of the report.

DawnB said...

At the half you knew your chance of a PR was not going to happen but you stuck it out. And finished pretty strong in my book. congratulations!!! that is the only ending to the report. Not your best not your worst, don't over analyze focus on the next one.

Mike said...

As a veteran runner it's tough when you're stuck with a lousy hand right out of the gate. I'm glad you toughed it out (I don't think you'd have it any other way), and I look forward to hearing about the rest of the race.

Bob Gentile said...

way to go Mike, I am a newbie runner so no words of wisdom here other then I read a lot about other race reports and how you just NEVER know when u start a race, what mysterious things that will show up from time to time...

oh well.. ONLY a 3:29 which is friggin amazing to me and many others...

also as my friend Jen said... I just ran the freakin Boston Marathon--lol

right Mike U ran the Boston Marathon with the best of the best... that alone is huge!

and you will ENJOY many more in the future!

Phil said...

Great effort Mike! I was so impressed with your pace under the those less than optimal conditions. You rocked the course.

Thomas said...

Following your splits I thought that at least you had a decent first half. Maybe not, judging from your own comments.

Marc said...

Mike, it appears to have been an off day for many. Yeah, it really is lousy when you have that 'feeling' at the start, but kudos on seeing it through to the finish despite it all, including the weather. It was all I could do to get out to walk the dog in that mess, never mind run a marathon. Well done.

Sorry to have missed you, I changed my plans with the impending storm and opted to hunker down at home.

Michael Jay Dotson said...

We do all we can in the preparation but sometimes we just don't feel "on" when the gun goes off. Way to tough it out and give the race everything you body would allow.

Mark said...

Oh Canada! You "soaked" that one for what it's worth.

It's cool to read your story depicting such perseverance known of those from the hardy north.

Congratulations on your Boston Marathon!