about the photo

Downtown Temple,NH

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 Boston Marathon Experience

Prior to Monday, I did my best to treat Boston like any other race (mentally). I didn't want to get too worked up about it, and I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself. I really just wanted to have a good race and enjoy the whole Boston experience.  I was well rested, no injuries to speak of and generally felt ok come Monday morning. I slept well, had my usual pre-race breakfast (Dunkin Donuts coffee with a sausage-egg-cheese on an english muffin if you really had to know) and headed down to the 99 restaurant in Nashua for the Gate City club bus. No stress, no worries. Our bus parked right at the athletes village in Hopkinton, arriving around 8:30am.
About the only thing that concerned me a bit was the sun. I was expecting overcast skies or at least partly cloudy skies. All I saw were blue skies everywhere. The one and only time I ran Boston was a beautiful, cloudless day and I burned to a crisp. I never even considered suntan lotion. Oh well. The temps were perfect though, a little cool, probably mid to upper 40's at the start and very breezy. We were told to expect cross winds.
I really only spent about 1/2hr at the athletes village before I headed down to the start (about .7 miles away). This was perfect. No sitting around doing nothing for hours on end. We arrived, I changed and off to the corral. TONS of porto-potties were right at the start with NO LINES. By 9:30 I was in the second corral, about 1-2 telephone pole lengths from the start. I was ready to go.
At 10am we were off...sort of. I barely heard the gun and the crowd moved like a big slinky. A quick little shuffle and then we stopped. Shuffle some more, and stop. Finally, on the third slink we stayed in motion and about 40 seconds later I crossed the starting line, officially beginning my 2010 Boston Marathon.

I had a simple plan this year. Start off relaxed and fairly slow (considering a downhill start) and see how I felt. If I felt good I'd keep the pace, if not I'd slow it down. I remember from past experience how the early downhills could destroy your quads and force you into a death march for most of the second half. I did not want a repeat performance this year. Time wise I was hoping to run under 3hrs. How much under was a big question mark, so I never really got into checking my pace trying to estimate a finish time. Run relaxed and enjoy the crowds and the incredible experience that is Boston.
So the goal early on was to run 6:35's. Surprisingly I didn't recognized anyone in my general vicinity and pretty much ignored everyone else. I didn't want to get sucked into their pace. As the first few miles clicked by I was pleased to see I was hitting my mark. So far, so good. I had worn a long sleeve t-shirt at the start over my singlet (a little chilly) but was able to toss it after just a few miles. I carried 5 gels (2 Hammer gels and 3 Honey Stingers) and 5 Hammer Endurolyte tablets. I would take one of each every 30 minutes or so. Ever since I started taken Endurolytes I've never had a cramp in an endurance event. Don't fail me now!
The wind was kind of weird all day. It seemed to come from all directions (except the back). It was pretty steady and early on was mostly a cross-headwind type direction from the left. So most of the first half  I ran along the crowd lines on the right hand side of the course. The crowds were incredible. 500,000 folks lining both sides of the course from start to finish. I really appreciated them this year and spent a lot of time high-fiving (is that a word??) hundreds, if not thousands of people (mostly kids). They seemed to enjoy it and I enjoyed it as well.
So for the first 6 or 7 miles I stuck to my 6:35 pace. By mile 8 it wasn't as easy to hold it anymore. Whether it was the sun, the wind or something else, I quickly realized I was starting to work way to hard, way to early. I was taking water and Gatorade at each stop (roughly every mile I think), but it was definitely heating up and so was I. So, I made the decision to drop the pace by 10-15 seconds per mile and regroup at the half way point. From mile 8 on I didn't look at my splits again until after I finished. My finishing time wasn't important anymore, I just didn't want to come limping in or more importantly, injure myself. 
I hit the half way point at 1:27:42, nearly 8 minutes slower than my PR and it felt way to hard. My calves felt like they were seconds away from cramping already. Not a good sign, with the hills of Newton coming up once I crossed over Rt128. 
Mile 20 (photo credit Scott Mason)
In reality, the hills aren't that bad. They're not very steep or long and are stretched out over 4-5 miles, finishing with Heartbreak Hill. Although my pace slowed a bit on the hills, it didn't feel like I was walking up them. I was still moving fairly well. I finally spotted a few familiar faces in the crowds, including Richie Blake and David Quintal. I remember seeing Bill Morse too but don't recall where it was.
By the time I reached the top of Heartbreak Hill I was really getting tired. My legs were stiff, my calves ached and now my hamstrings were feeling like they were going to cramp up as well. All around you can see wounded runners, grabbing calves and hamstrings that obviously cramped up. I did not want to join them and ran just fast enough to feel like I was moving ok but not fast enough to cramp up. A couple times in the last few miles my hamstring would twinge, firing a warning shot, telling me to slow it down (or at least not speed up). I still hadn't checked any of my splits since the 8 mile mark or so but I did check the clock at the 40k mark and did some quick (aka inaccurate) math. For some reason I had it in my head that it was about 10 minutes from the 40k mark to the finish. I thought the clock at 40k read around 2:52 so I incorrectly assumed I'd finish around 3:02. I saw no point trying to pick up the pace at this point since I thought I had no shot of breaking 3hrs. So I did what I'd been doing all day, I ran along the side of the course and high-fived anyone who had their hand out.
Kenmore Square - Mile 25
My legs were very close to cramping up several times. I'd get a little too excited and pick up the pace and wham!, a little tweak of the hammie to slow me back down. Then a funny thing happened. As I turned the final corner onto Boylston St, I could barely see the finish line and the clock. As I got closer I could see the clock reading 2:59:xx. What the? That didn't make any sense? I started to quicken the pace a bit but soon realized I wasn't going to break 3hrs. This last stretch takes FOREVER to run, and is much longer than it looks on TV. But wait, I forgot about the delayed start. My time didn't start until 30-40 seconds after the gun time. I had until 3:00:41 to break 3hrs. Well, by the time I figured all this out it was too late. I wasn't going to break 3 hrs today. I crossed the line with a net time of 3:00:15 (6:53 pace).
It was nice to see a familiar face right after I finished. Steve Moland was volunteering and snapped this photo not long after I crossed the finish line.I had no idea Christian Muentner was standing right behind me.
At the finish - (photo credit Steve Moland)
Our club had a couple of rooms at the Buckminster Hotel, right on the course in Kenmore Square. All I had to do was get back there for a shower, food and drinks. Well, when you finish the marathon, they make you walk 1/2 mile at least past the finish line before you can escape into the city (if you choose). I finally made it into the city and begin the walk back to mile 25. It took me 50 minutes to walk the roughly 2 miles back to the hotel. Thankfully (not) a Red Sox game was getting out so the sidewalks were mobbed with thousands of people, all going the opposite way. The Buckminster location was perfect. I got cleaned up and watched the marathon from the 5th floor, hanging out with friends and relaxing. All in all a pretty good day.

My splits for the day: It really was 3 races in one. I ran the first 7 miles at around 6:35 pace, the next 7 miles around 6:48 pace and finished up the remaining miles just over 7 minute pace. Thankfully I never really blew up, just slowed down.
In the end I have no complaints. I had a great time, enjoyed the crowds and I seemed to have come out of this with no injuries (I don't count sore legs as being injured). Now, not that I'm looking for any excuses, but I started feeling a little off not long after the race and into the next day. Today, as I write this I've been sick and in bed all day. The first time I've been sick all year.
Now it's time to get the legs all healed up and get ready for 7 Sisters!!!
1 0:06:35
2 0:06:34
3 0:06:37
4 0:06:35
5 0:06:43
6 0:06:35
7 0:06:35
8 0:06:48
9 0:06:48
10 0:06:48
11 0:06:48
12 0:06:42
13 0:06:52
14 0:06:48
15 0:06:58
16 0:07:02
17 0:07:02
18 0:07:11
19 0:06:57
20 0:07:18
21 0:07:23
22 0:06:59
23 0:07:04
24 0:06:55
25 0:07:06
26 0:07:06
26.2 0:01:26


Dan said...

Nice race Steve. Rest up, you'll need it for sisters! I may be there if the pain in my knee subsides in the next week.

Steve Wolfe said...

Thanks Dan. I'll need more than rest for 7 Sisters :-)

Tami said...

great job Steve