This was my third consecutive year running the Boston Marathon. I qualified for Boston at the Steamtown Marathon in October of 2009, running a 3:30:26. That BQ was good for both 2010 and 2011. My BQ time was 3:30 and I needed the extra 59 seconds they gave you.
My first Boston Marathon was in 2009 and it beat me up badly and I ran a 4:47. I did better in 2010 running it as an easy fun run for a 4:12. This year I trained much harder doing some 80-90 mile weeks and running more hills. I hoped to possibly run a 3:20 marathon. This was an aggressive goal considering my PR was 3:30:14.
We arrived in Boston Saturday afternoon. We checked into our hotel in Waltham, and met some friends for dinner. It was nice to see my LVM21 friends! We ate at a great little restaurant named John Brewer’s Tavern where we have eaten in previous years.
I woke up early Sunday morning, and met my friend Jeff for a jog. We ran the last two of the Newton Hills. I got a picture in front of the John Kelly Young At Heart statue. After Jeff dropped me back at the hotel, we got ready and caught the T into downtown Boston. We headed to the expo. I got my bib # and race packet. Then we explored the expo. I would have liked to have spent more time there, but we had reservations to meet friends for lunch. We left the expo, and headed for the Charley’s where we have eaten the previous two years. This year they were very slow. Lunch chewed up more time than we planned. My friend Mike still needed to go to the expo to get his race packet. But before we went there, we stopped at Marathon Sports and he bought a Boston Marathon jacket. Good thing! It turned out they were sold out of jackets at the expo. My wife surprised me by buying me new jacket as an anniversary/Valentines day present. We headed to the expo, and I managed to get Mike on the local news by telling the news lady that he was the famous white runner from Kenya. Mike got his race stuff, and we cruised through the expo. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long as we needed to catch a T back to Waltham as we had 6pm dinner reservations.
We had yet another get together at The Chateau restaurant. I ate the Toasted Ravioli. I was a little worried about the amount of cheese I ate. I was hoping it wouldn’t cause me issues during the race.
Then it was back to the hotel. I got my race gear together, set my alarm for 5am, and went to bed. I got some fitful sleep. The alarm went off at 5am, and startled me awake. I got up, showered, and headed down to the hotel business center to play on the internet for a few minutes. Then I headed back up to the room, and got dressed for the race. I chose to wear my Brooks shorts, and a Brooks singlet. As for shoes, I wore my Brooks T-6 Racers. I also wore one of my HeadSweats Ironman finishers hats. I had my race bib pinned to my singlet. I wore a Fuel Belt tri belt to carry six Carb Boom gels. I wrapped a 3:20 pace band around my right wrist and pinned 3:25 and 3:30 pace bands to my singlet. I would try to run a 3:20, but was prepared to run 3:25 or 3:30 as backups. I also had my mp3 player loaded with music.
My wife drove Mike, Jon and I to Hopkinton and dropped us off within walking distance of the high school. It was just a short walk. I got some pictures, then settled in. I brought a fleece sleeping bag which I laid out on the ground. I stretched out and got a little bit of sleep. I also managed to visit porta potties several times.
I was in wave 2, corral 4. At 9:40 I was scheduled to head to the start line for a 10:20 start. I stopped at a porta-potty for one last visit. Then I dropped my bag off at the bus which turned out to be bus #25. That was a good sign as 25 is my lucky number! I headed down to the start. My heart rate monitor strap was sliding down, so I quickly stopped at a Polar Spring booth and soaked the strap with water. This worked. I arrived at coral 4 with only a minute or two to spare. I never heard the starting signal, but people were moving, and I went. As we crossed the start line, I started my Garmin 305. I started running. Then I started my mp3 player. My pace band had me running the first mile at 7:32 pace. But there were so many people, that I finished the first mile in closer to 8 minutes. The course was just too crowded. In the next few miles I continued to lose time to the 3:20 schedule. My heart rate was a little higher than I wanted to be at. I planned to keep my heart rate at below 159. But my heart rate was staying in the 160s. I tried to keep it below 170. I decided that a 3:20 marathon was not going to happen today. I managed to hold pace for the 3:25 marathon. I tried to drink Gatorade at every water stop. I missed it at the first couple stops as other runners would grab the cup I was going for, or the volunteer would suddenly pull it away as I was to reaching for it. I also swallowed a Carb Boom gel every four miles along with some water. I tried drinking while running, but this wasn’t working well. So I started grabbing the cup and slowing to walk just passed the water stop, drinking the Gatorade, and starting to run again.
Things were going well. I ran passed the girls at Wellesley College this year, not stopping for kisses. The girls didn’t seem as loud this year.
Around the halfway point, I started getting a side stitch. It was seriously hurting me. I had side stitches like this before during a race, but that was at mile 23. I managed to suffer through them, then, and get my first BQ. But now I was only halfway, and started thinking my race might be over. I stopped and spent part of a minute stretching and rubbing my side. I started running again, and the side stitches subsided. I came to the hills around mile 15. I have been running a lot of hills around my house. I have also been doing a Newton Hill Simulation on my treadmill. Because of the hill training, the Newton Hills seemed much more manageable this year. Soon I was over the top of Heartbreak Hill. I was keeping an eye for my friend Jeff, but never saw him. Now it was mostly downhill to the finish. Only 5 miles to go, but I was getting tired.
The last five miles are mostly downhill, but there are still some slight uphill parts. I was no longer on pace to run 3:25, but should be able to break 3:30. The crowds were amazing and were really cheering on thee runners. I was getting tired and forced myself to keep running. I didn’t have any more to give to push the pace, but I was able to hold the pace I was running, or at least close to it.
I saw the Citgo sign and there were only a couple miles to go. I was busy doing math, counting down the distance to the finish. My GPS distance was off as always. At mile 24 it said I had run about 24.5 miles. So I was busy doing the complex math of adding half a mile and figuring out how far I still have to run. So I was turning on the Hereford Street. One more turn. I was scanning the faces in the crowds for Helen or anyone I knew. But there were so many faces. Then I turned onto Boylston. Only about a quarter mile to go. I ran to the finish still scanning the crowds. There were signs guiding us to the left or the right depending on which wave we started in. I ran to the right. I threw my hands into the air as I crossed the finish line. I stopped my Garmin 305 at 3:28:58. I knew I finished slightly faster than that. I knew it was a PR (personal record) and a BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time).
Right after I crossed the finish line, I slowed to a walk, and then sat down on a railing. After three and a half hours of running, I just need to sit. After a minute, I got up, and made my way through the finishers chute. I got some water and a Mylar blanket. I noticed that my right shoulder was hurting, especially when lifting my bottle of water to drink. I switched the bottle to my left hand. When I got my medal, I asked the girl if I could have a hug, and she gave me one. I got some food, but none of it appealed to me. I continued my way through the chute and got my drop bag. I saw a guy dressed in a full gorilla suit with a medal. I asked if he ran in that, and he said yeah. I asked what his time was and he said 3:40. OMG! 3:40 in a gorilla suit! I told him he was an animal. I ran into Jon who finished about the same time I did. Jon and I made our way to the family meeting area. Helen was waiting there and congratulated me. She got a text about my finish and said my official time was 3:28:52. My bib # was 12009, meaning 12008 people qualified with faster times than me. I finished in 7324th place overall. It was like I passed almost 4700 people! So I had a really great race! Jon’s wife and daughter were a few blocks away, though we actually had to walk around the long way due to closed roads. Actually it was more of a hobble than a walk. Soon we met up with Jon’s family. We hobbled to the T station and headed back to Waltham. We made a stop at McDonalds and I got an Angus 1/3 Pounder with Bacon and Cheese and a vanilla milk shake. Then it was back to the hotel to relax.
We met up for dinner with Jeff, Jon, Connie and Hannah. We had a great time. Hopefully I will be able to get in to the next year’s Boston Marathon.