100th Boston

100th Running - BAA Boston Marathon

I finished in 4:08:35 according to the Boston Herald.  Less 9:00 to get to the start, which will be deducted from official results when available for use as qualifying time for next year (I didn't make it, needing a 3:20) is 3:59:35 - just under four hours.  Much better than I had any right to run.  Felt good to great the whole way with no cramps.

The ritual

Got to Boston on Friday afternoon from Syracuse and stayed the night with Cathy's aunt.  We drove downtown and picked up my number (18243) and walked the expo for about an hour.  We came in a day early to avoid the crowds at packet pickup, and there were no lines, so I felt my strategy paid off.  We drove into Cambridge Saturday afternoon and checked in.  Cathy and Mandy took a nap while I took the T to the expo again to look around.  There was a pretty big crowd in the expo, but no waiting lines at packet pickup.  I thought that was strange.  Anyway, I took the T home and we went back on the T to dinner.  We walked around in the rain Saturday night and got a little wet getting to the restaurant, but we had a good meal.  Sunday morning we took the T to the expo center to meet Bob and Tom at noon at packet pickup.  After a little while we all found each other.  Again, there were no lines.  Tom was trying to register teams, and hadn't been told that team registration closed April 1.  He was a little miffed, but they let him enter the teams.  Then we tried to go to the expo.  It was complete insanity.  At the table across the entire back wall of the expo center, they were selling official memorabilia.  And it was 6-10 deep the entire length of the table, with people trying to buy tee shirts, hats, etc.  Anyway, we split up,  they went and got suck-up souvenirs, and I bought a new pair of Asics.  Then we met again, and had a nice quiet meal in a restaurant 2 blocks from the expo center.  There was no crowd and we got right in.  In fact, we didn't wait at all for any meal the entire weekend and that surprised me a great deal.  With 40000 runners and 1.5 million spectators I expected delays.  Anyway, we walked down Boylston to Tom's hotel, then took the T home.  It was still very cold and very windy and raining a little.

That night Cathy and Mandy and I walked to a little pizzeria in Harvard Square and had supper.  Then home, and tried to sleep but couldn't very well.  Kept trying to remember to do certain things in the morning.

The day of

Got up and went to the lobby for my race day coffee.  I had been avoiding caffeine and using it only for competition.  Other chemical preparations included continuing the 800 mg. Ibuprofen 3X per day.  I also took several potassium supplements the day before and of, and a double dose of CitriCal, a calcium supplement advertised to eliminate cramping.  I also took the prescribed dosage of Twin Lab PhosFuel, which is 1 capsule 4 times a day for three days prior to the event.  Since the pre-race dosages, I've had none of any of those.  Anyway, I got my coffee and went upstairs to repack my bag for the 4th time in twelve hours.

Having agreed to meet Tom in the lobby of his hotel to catch a bus, I left my hotel about 6.  Walk to the T, and runners ride free today.  So I got on the red train inbound, and we went about half a stop and stopped in the tunnel.  The driver announced that there was a broken down train on the tracks, officials were on the scene, and we'd be there for awhile.  But that only lasted about 3 minutes and we were going again.  Got to Tom's hotel, had some more coffee in the lobby, called to make sure he was awake, and met John Holm and Marty Robb in the lobby.  Tom came down about 7:15 and we walked to the bus lines.  The line was the width of Boston Common, but moved along and we had plenty of time so we weren't aware of the wait.  On the way to Hopkinton we saw some of the advertised roadblocks to keep bandits away.  The closer we got to Hopkinton the slower we went, but we eventually got there.  At one of the many stops several of us got off to use the woods.  At the school, there was a very long line to get out back.  We stood in that for 20-30 minutes and finally got into the field behind and to the left of the school (not the normal place).

I visited the woods first, and we changed and got ready right away.  No naps this morning - it was already after 10 and we supposedly were going to start toward the start at 10:45.  Anyway, we got all our stuff together and decided to head over.  Many people were doing the same, but the crowd all moved along in orderly fashion.  We got onto the street again, and marched toward the baggage busses.  Tom, John and Marty split off to their corral and I went along to mine.  I was actually closer to the starting line than last year, and I could see the flag and hear the announcements.

The race

The start was much better than last year.  Last year, I was about 2/3 of the way back in 9000 people, so I had roughly 6000 in front of me.  It took 5 minutes to walk across the start line and another 4 minutes to begin running.  This year, I had 18000 in front of me.  At 8:30 of elapsed time our bin started and we were running right away, and at 9:00 after the gun we crossed the starting line.  There were two brief (1-2 steps) walking clogs in the first 0.1 mile, and then we pretty much ran at our own pace.

I was holding back and in a bad mood the first ten miles or so.  I was holding back by breathing 4/4 to make sure I would be able to finish.  And even that didn't convince me I would finish.  I planned to run that way the first 20 miles and then decide what to do.  I ran the first 5 miles in 1 minute under 9:00 pace, or 44 minutes running time.  The next 5 miles I ran at exactly 9:00 pace.  Not bad, considering my plan was to run 10:00 pace the first half and 11:00 pace the second half.  But I was running fine and felt good.  I was just in a bad mood, wanting everyone to just be quiet.  I had my fill of hype and I just wanted a quiet, peaceful long run.

The next 5 miles I ran in 0:30 over 9:00 pace.  Highlights in this section were passing the guy who was running backwards, but mostly the girls at Wellesley College.  You could hear them a half mile away, and it was a constant loud high-pitched scream.  Hundreds of them leaning over the snow fence slapping hands with all the runners.  Just past that there was a photo station.  I think I was smiling.

Miles 16-20 went a little slower, and included the Newton hills, except for Heartbreak, which is in mile 21.  I ran the fourth 5-mile block in 2:20 over 9:00 pace, so I had now dropped below 9:00 pace for the race.  It was during this section that I decided to stop caring about my pace.  I had no right to be running that good given the training I had been able to do.  I knew now that I would finish, and so I decided to just run 4/4 and keep going and enjoy things.  I started getting pretty happy in this part and really enjoying the attractions.  Especially good was a drum band on the left hand side.  There were about 16 percussionists and they were pounding out a jungle beat.  I also passed cow man when we went around the corner in Newton.

Miles 20-25 went by in 1:43 over 9:00 pace, so they were faster than the previous 5 miles.  And they included Heartbreak hill.  I was counting hills, and I must have missed one, because at the top of the fourth one, I asked the guy next to me if Heartbreak was the next hill, and he said we just finished Heartbreak.  So that made me feel good.  Didn't seem like a big deal to me.  I pushed fairly hard 22 and 23 trying to see how I felt.  After that I felt pretty crappy, definitely getting low on fuel and feet starting to hurt a little.  But no cramps.  Anyway, after 23 I decided to back off.  Then at 25 I figured I had a chance to break 4 hours, so I started pushing a little.  I ran the last 0.2 at about 9:00 pace.  Running around the corner onto Hereford, up the little rise and around the corner onto Boylston was a real rush.  The finish line was a mob scene.

A final statistic is that I ran the first half in 1:57:19 and the second half in 2:02:15, so no negative splits this year.

Many of us were angry with the BAA before the race for letting so many people in that it would be impossible to race.  People were calling it a parade, and nobody expected to be able to race.  Even the BAA suggested not trying to run a race, but to just enjoy the day.

After the race, I for one felt differently.  First of all, there was nothing to prevent anyone who wanted to race from doing so.  The start was better than last year's.  We ran at our own pace the entire distance - at least in the part of the pack I shared.  The race was impressively well-managed, and the BAA should be commended.  The only improvements could have been quicker bus unloading (although I don't have any idea how this could have been done) and quicker access to baggage at the finish line.  It took me 1:20 to get through the finish chutes and collect my belongings, most of it spent at the back of the baggage bus.  Perhaps walk-through access to the baggage busses with a checker at the exit would have been better.  Anyway, all-in-all the BAA did a great job managing the race.

I find from the newspapers that I finished 19,498th out of 36,811.  My postcard says I finished in 3:59:28 and 20374th place.  I don't know where the extra runners came from.  I didn't beat my seed, but considering that I qualified 15 months ago and 25-30 pounds lighter, without any injuries, I think I did fine.  I was fairly sore Tuesday driving back as far as Harrisburg, PA.  The plan was to drive all the way home Tuesday, but after about 7 hours I decided it was time to crash.  We found a motel and a diner and finished the trip on Wednesday.  I was not quite as sore on Wednesday, and Thursday I am already feeling better.

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