Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paying the Price (again)

They say that 'old dogs can't learn new tricks' and perhaps in my case that just might be true. I accomplished my goals in yesterday's Boston marathon of having fun and enjoying the experience but paid the price in terms of going out too fast (again) and dying even before the hills (again) and crawling home to the finish at a survival shuffle (again). But I have to say I had a wonderful time doing it and as soon as the pain in my legs subsides I'll be planning how to repeat the experience again in another year (maybe).


My 5k splits over the past 6 years are remarkably consistent in their pattern and general slowing right from the get go. As Thomas just said, "Mike, you still don't know how to run Boston." He's right, I typically get to the 1/2 way point and fall off the cliff in the same manner each year. Note that the red-line in my greaph was for 2004 was the heatwave with temperatures in the 80'ies at the start.
You can read all about our journey to Hopkinton in Thomas's post but here we dropped him off at his corral about 45 minutes before the start with plenty of room to get to the front. The weather was on the cool side and we were shivering until in the corrals with lots of other warm bodies around.

I met up with my cousin Jerry and some other running friends from New Brunswick in my corral and look to be ready to rumble in this picture. When asked what my pacing plan was, I replied "going out slow at 8:00 pace and save it for the hills and the end". Ha! That didn't last long. After a 1st crowded mile in 7:53, the next few were 7:23, 7:30, 7:24, 7:39, 7:36 and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. It felt absolutely like jogging and with people streaming by me I kept looking at my Garmin in unbelief.
Just before the 10 mile mark I hooked up with this lady (I can hear Andrew raising his eyebrows already). With her green singlet and flaming red hair, I though she just had to be from Ireland which was why I started to talk to her but it turned out she was Canadian. We had a great conversation for a few miles and I found out she is running her marathon in honor of her mother who died suddenly this past Easter weekend. Her mother who was also a marathoner was a great inspiration to her in the way she lived and her faith in God that she passed on to her. I stayed with her until the Wellesley girls scream tunnel where I got distracted doing my video etc. The half went by shortly after in 1:40, predicting a 3:20 with even splits (ya, right).

Shortly thereafter, as per usual the wheels started to fall off and holding anything even close to an 8:00 pace became more than I could manage. How you can go from running easily at 7:30's to struggling to hold 8:30 is just beyond me. Mile 15, 16, 17 came in at 8:13, 7:46 and 8:32 to start the 1st of the Newton Hills at the fire station. My legs were now toast before even starting the 1st 'official' hill and the rest of the race became a simple struggle to maintain forward motion. It's hard to explain the feeling exactly of what the legs felt like at this point, a soreness that slowly increased to a throbbing pain, quads that became rock hard requiring massaging on the run, calves ready to cramp at any point, and a near overwhelming desire to stop and walk.

Miles 18, 19, 20, 21 in 8:41, 8:15, 8:35, 8:58 as I navigated the Newton hills and Heartbreak with only the final downhill miles left to complete. By this time my quads were so shot I was just putting one sorry foot in front of the other and hundreds, even thousands of people streamed past me. The last miles were even worse with splits from 8:30 to 9:17 in the final very painful mile. However, I still found time to take pictures and video clips of the crazy, crazy crowds and even the final glorious steps through the finish and relief to finally be able to stop.
I met up with my cousin Jerry at the finish. He ran a MUCH smarter race (his 1st Boston) letting me go out like crazy and then passing me at the 25k mark then finishing in a strong 3:27 as planned.
Thomas and I met up at the buses and then made our way to the Boston Commons at a nice slow walk. After a coffee and doughnut, we then both tried one of the locally famous Fried Dough from a streetside vendor. MMMMM, heartstopping fat, sugar, blueberries and more sugar!!! Thomas had one too ;-)
And then on 'home' to our wonderful hosts for a fine meal, great drinks, good company and certainly more good times. The memories of this fine weekend will only be good ones. I feel so lucky and blessed.

Have a wonderful week! Signing out from Boston!

18 comments:

Jamie said...

Great report Mike! Glad you guys had fun. I was looking for you and Thomas around mile 10, but so many people made it difficult (and the amount of attractive ladies running the race made it even more difficult to concentrate on finding you guys). Great job out there. I hope to be running it next year, so hope you have plans on doing the same.

Michael said...

Great report, it's funnt to think how close we all were at the finish. Thanks again for Saturday, I really enjoyed myself. As for the race, it was everything that you had said, and although my race didn't go according to plan, I made the most of the day.

One day, one day, I'd like to come back and have another go.

All the best in the weeks and months to follow, make sure you rest up first though. Take care!

bricey said...

Mike well done. It clear from your report that Boston is more of an experience than a race and a great one at that!! Enjoy the recovery. I'm still amazed that you can find the time to take photos during a race and even more amazed that you can keep you hand steady!! Enjoyed the report and the graphs!!

Grellan said...

Well done again Mike. In relation to the graph - I think you'll just have to accept that it is the shape of your "Boston curve".

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

In spite of your struggles over the second half, it sounds like you had a great time in Boston. Rest up and recover well!

Richard said...

Great report. Your pacing strategy sounds like something I would (or have) done. I feel your 8:58 pacing pain. Keep the faith.

DawnB said...

great report, look like you all had a great time. congratulations on completing yet another Boston.
Enjoy your rest.

Andrew said...

Wow Mike, sure wish I was there with you guys. And yes, my eyebrows went up and I was laughing when I saw the photo of the redhead. You are unbelievable...

"Hello there, I suppose you are from Ireland?"

"No, kind sir. I am from Canada."

"Are you now? Perhaps we should run together and you can tell me all about yourself..."

No wonder the coach only lets you out occasionally.

Ewen said...

I can't wait to see the video of the flaming redhead and hear her Irish accent ;)

Sounds like a brilliant weekend Mike - all of it except for the last 20k of the marathon.

I know you'll keep coming back - and one day you'll get the pacing right - just like the elite ladies did this year.

Bruce said...

Despite the wheels coming off, again, seems like you had a great time. Well done.

Bruce said...

Despite the wheels coming off, again, seems like you had a great time. Well done.

Mark said...

fitting title for a tough windy day

as always - great photos!

for some reason there seemed to be a larger influx of Canadian runners this year? especially fast ones like yourself.

Thomas said...

I had a great weekend, and in no small part thanks to you. I hope you had a good journey back home, my own was ok but very long. I'm glad to be back home now, though.

Niamh said something like "next time I'll come with you" - who said anything about next time? Not me. But, you know, I have that funny feeling ...

All the best.

E-Speed said...

Never did see you at the start. Sorry the day didn't go as planned for you, but glad you enjoyed yet another Boston Experience!

Michael Jay Dotson said...

Great report and great photos as always,Mike. Even though I couldn't run it this year, your report puts me there in spirit at least. Your enthusiasm and spirit inspires me.

Dusty said...

Awesome race report! Thanks so much for all the stories!!!

jeanne said...

great meeting you mike! excellent report! congrats again. :)

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