Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boston Report - part 2 - the downfall

Well, maybe not a total downfall but things certainly were going downhill in a hurry after the 1/2 way point. It's two days later now and I'm still clueless as to what the %$@* happened to my legs. As I said before, there were signs early on that this was going to be tough day and it's a long way to the finish when that happens. I think back to Wineglass where everything was so easy, holding back for miles, hitting the 1/2 and still holding back, hitting 20 miles and still feeling great. Oh well, those are the runs you never forget and alway hope for.

Monday, however, was a day that I'd rather forget. Back to the race report; the conditions were actually fairly decent in the middle part of the course with some shelter with all the trees along the narrow road. There was at most light rain on occasion and gusty winds now and then but never a constant downpour or really strong headwind that we had feared. It certainly was nothing like Andrew and I had trained in a few weeks ago on one of our last Sunday runs or anything like the 'Cruel and unusual punishment' endured at KV Marathon in Oct. 2005. And of course the body and legs were not co-operating at all.

The next stretch that I can remember is the bit from 13-16 miles which is generally downhill though Wellesley and Lower Newton Falls. The crowds were again very good, appreciative, calling out names and handing out lots of goodies. I picked up a sponge to wipe my face with and then a treasure bag of jelly bean candies that provided a nice little sugar boost just before Hells Alley. This is the long open stretch up from mile 16-17 over route 128 which is all uphill and to me is the hardest part of the whole course and is barely mentioned in most course descriptions. There is also a Powergel station along here and I opted for a double latte flavor that nearly made me puke (shoulda stuck with chocolate). The turn at the fire station was crowded and noisy and the 1st official hill went by fairly easily despite my condition and feeling of doom. Actually, now that I think about it, the section hills from mile 17-21 actually were nice to me in a strange way. I was very tired, felt very slow, the legs were sore but not aching and running up was a nice change of pace. Everything was by heartrate and by setting my rpm max at 150 it was challenging to slow down and shorten the stride enough to hold it there. I didn't pass many people but also didn't get passed much either and felt good to see the miles finally counting down a bit. Heartbreak Hill itself was almost easy compared to the rest, but more likely it was the thought of "Only 5 miles to go and all downhill" (I wish that was really true, but it's not).

The last five were more of the same slow slog as my pace continued to slow like my friend Bruce. It looks like I was actually able to pickup the pace in the last 7k but perhaps this was more a result of the gradual downhills and trying to not get passed by every single runner on the course. This chart below shows our 5k split paces and demonstrates the slowdown with the hills and an increase at the finish as the horses can smell the barn.
What do I really remember about the last stretch? Not that much. The crowds were again loud and vocal, there was a huge party around the Boston College area, some of the fans were very funny with how they seemed so into the cheering and yelling. Maybe just jumping around to keep warm? I kept looking for the giant Citgo sign that marks the last mile of the course but it kept well hidden until the 24th mile. Then you run another mile with everyone telling you just one more mile, while you know it's not one mile until you are beside the giant marker along the road.

Finally, the last mile and still feelings of doubt, pain but knowing that I was going to make it without having to walk it in. It had really been a godsend that we had driven the course a few days before and I could remember the last few turns and twists in the route. Along this point before the final turn and straightaway on Boylston street I peeled off my jacket to reveal all my Canuck colors for the victory lap. It's an amazing finish and every runner should experience this last 1/2 mile of cheers and glory at least once in their running career. Nearing the finish I had a special treat as my name, town and country were called out on the PA. It gave me the energy to raise my arms and pump my fists. My main feeling as I finally crossed the line was not of disappointment but one of relief that it was finally over! What a long day and it's sooo good to stop and just walk slowly.

In the finish the area it was cold with the gusty winds and we moved along slowly gathering up a space blanket and then lined up to get our chips removed and receive our medals. At this point I began to feel woozy and nauseous and realized that I'd better sit down before I crashed to the ground. The volunteer was nice to offer me his chair as he removed my chip. It was difficult to get up after a little rest with my head between my knees but I managed to wobble on and find some food which helped to perk me up. The buses were a mess with crowds all trying to get their gear at the same time and but found Bruce waiting for me as we had planned. Again felt woozy but once we had our stuff and was able to change into warm clothes things started to improve. Once seated on the subway things were looking up even more. More water, chips and a cup of coffee later I was all charged up and ready to go.

That night it was another fantastic meal with my wonderful hosts but I'll save that for another post when I've got the pictures to go with it. Suffice to say that we are treated like royalty in Boston by our amazing hosts in Waltham. It might take another post to really figure out what happened with my race. All that training, 20 milers almost every weekend, speed work, hills etc and I need answers as to why. Time to review the training logs a bit.

Have a great week! The ice cream, brownies and beer are great!!


Bob - said...

Well Sounds ALL good to me, U had to GRIND out this race... and that's just the way it was meant to be :-)

You know it Mike from your experience and all that you have seen and read, even the best of the best have races that they really can't explain "why" they didn't have a full tank , when they trained so hard & planned so well now you got one in Lovely Boston! Great report, good details!

Thomas said...

Kudos for pushing through and never giving up. Maybe it was nothing more than an off day? We all have them from time to time, and if it happens to fall on race day, too bad.

Phil said...

Mike .. I doubt that you'll find a answer to "why" in your training logs. You are in fantanstic shape, and you've done eneough of these to know that this kind of crap happens.

You ran a great race at a pace most of us can only dream of. I can only imagine what you'll do at WineGlass this year.

FreddyBeachPete said...

Hey Mike,

I appreciate you having left a comment on my blog already. I've now posted a LONG race report so have another look. I 100% agree that the final stretch on Boylston made every cold, windy, February training run worth it. Congrats on your performance.

Jamie Anderson said...

I was following you and four other folks online. Sorry to hear it wasn't the performance you had hoped for. Races are funny like that. The only problem with marathons (and ultras) is that we don't get the chance to do them as often, so sweet revenge has to wait. Still, you had a respectable time and in tough conditions. At least you didn't DNF from going out to fast unlike one dumba$$ that I know really well. :-)

Bruce said...

Sorry to hear the race didn't go as you would have liked. You fought hard though right to the end. As the others have commented, put it down to an off day. You'll find the answers.

Dawn - Pink Chick Tris said...

It may not have gone as planned, but you still did it! Sometimes that's all that counts. That and more

PS. I tried to leave a comment last week but couldn't. Dang blogger!

D said...

When everything goes right in training, it is mind boggling when this sort of thing happens during the marathon.

I was tracking you and thought you might have been working through some issues. I'm interested in what your thoughts are after reviewing your logs.

Congrats on finishing with a very respectable time considering the elements and the fact that you started out with that bad feeling.

Great race report!

Olga said...

I often ask myself the "why" question...and rarely do I find an answer. You trained super-well, and you had a day that, besides conditions, had soemthing else in it. But you ran it. You ran your Boston! Don't try to "rather forget", cherish it. Congratulation on a finish!

Unknown said...

Congrats on another Boston finish even though it wasn't what you hoped for. Enjoy the ice-cream and beer.

Bruce said...

Thanks for the comments Mike, Yeah I've done one half marathon back in October last year. Finished in a time of 1:49 which I was pretty happy with for a first timer. Am building for another in about three months time.