Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Boston Marathon - 2007

Race Report – 111th Boston Marathon – April 16th, 2007.

For the non-runners reading – I’m only writing one race report so there is a bunch of stuff in here my running buddies might find interesting that non runners will not-feel free to skip ahead when needed.

Started at front of corral 5 – bib number (=course rank) 5376 out of ~23,000 people registered – 20348 finished..

Followed carb load plan with 3 days of 70-80% carb calories, then starting at 6am on the bus ride to the starting line with 3-16 oz ultra fuel drink w/ 300g carb, 2 power bars, 32 oz water, 24 oz Poweraid. (planned coffee too but forgot to get it). During race I carried 32 oz Poweraid (16 at start and 16 handed to me at 1/2 way) and 4 gu packs used at 5, 10, 16 (just before the hills), 22 (hills are done final stretch) and forced down Dixie cup water and Gatorade frequently - rarely got more than a couple swallows - found it helpful to fill mouth, swallow than breath vs trying to suck down as poured into mouth and coughing for the next quarter mile. Overall I’m figuring I got ~1800 calories pre-race and ~700 calories during the race – turned out to be plenty – probably could try cutting this back some and still be ok but I wanted to be absolutely sure to not run out of energy. Success as measured by NO Port-a-john stops during race and energy to the end!

Race Start 10 am - steady rain not too cold. Seemed warmer than 41 I heard - plan was 7 minute first mile (slow warm-up first mile). Turns out I had little choice in the matter being lined up with the 7:15 mile pace qualifiers like me - passing was impractical in large scale – only a few here and there. Ended 7:13. Rain was gone before mile was done. There had been so much pre race drama about the weather with forecast ranging from snow storm,30 mph head winds to downpours to warnings about hypothermia and on and on – but turned out to be pretty good marathon weather except for the headwinds in places.

Race plan was to maintain 6:48 pace thru first half - to take a shot at sub-3 hr (6:52 pace) counting on some slowdown last half - without exceeding 165 bpm HR - about 85%HRR (max to min heart rate). I found I hit this a few times preventing me from maintaining pace target. Ended up a few seconds per mile below plan most of first half but maintained control. Typically headwind was minimal with shielding by trees and houses and the density of other runners. Occasionally a clearing would give medium to strong headwinds – guessing 10-25 mph. Tried to find people or groups to draft for these periods however I was generally moving faster than those around me so it was hard to find people to draft that didn't slow me down - but I did get some limited benefit from this strategy.

Crowds were generally not any more than Houston this first half - weather kept a lot of spectators at home which left many disappointed but not me - I came to race - crowds were just a perk.

Wellesley girl’s college was very loud with volume starting at mile marker 12 - I think they are actually at 12.5 - how can they yell for so many hours?

Cousin Doug and family (they live in Wellesley) cheered me and Doug even ran a quarter mile or so with me just after the half – a welcome distraction from my tunnel vision despite my difficulty in being very conversational - and gave me my second Powerade - I was worried I'd miss them but meeting and drink handoff worked perfect.

First hill of 4 – for some reason it seemed all the hills had a pretty strong headwind - I attacked it much faster than pace I planed for hills. HR monitor started chirping at me for exceeding 165 bpm which was music to my ears - race plan had been to go to whatever felt ok after 16 miles and no longer be restrained by HR and the chirping meant I was pushing it to next level.

Between hills I found it difficult to keep pushing - I had mental demon telling me >160 HR was not sustainable for me last miles of the marathon because I couldn't maintain that at Houston slowing considerably at the end.

2nd hill was attacked much as the first - I passed A LOT of people on the hills (This Houston boy CAN run hills).

Same issue between hills - didn't make up time I wanted to.

Around 3rd hill was the 30k point and I did the math thinking I needed a 42 minute 10k (so much for in race math abilities – actually needed 41 ½) minute 10k pace to knock down get sub 3 – with my PR for the 10k at just under 40 minutes I knew this to be impossible – but how close could I get. I knew it unlikely to expect to speed UP at the end of a marathon – no one does that – it’s a wonder to maintain pace at the end. Attacked hill 3 then on to heartbreak hill.

Again attacked the hill passed a bunch of people with a big headwind. What I found to be especially helpful on hills was to be watching my GPS watch instead of looking up the hill for the top. I had a lamininated course profile in my glove pocket that told me the exact mileage of the start and finish of each hill so knowing the hill would be over at 20.89 miles I kept telling myself - only .26 miles to go - which seems an insignificant distance - I can power that much longer.

From the top going down. The mental battles were intense. Finally what won out mostly was "this is the BOSTON MARATHON!!" with that no half efforts for any stretch allowed. After crossing that mental milestone - I stopped looking at the watch - and pushed with all I had. I had jogged this part of the course Saturday and the familiarity of the milestones helped. The HR monitor chirped at me continually since over 165 - I had planned to turn that chirp off after 16 but found the chirping somehow motivating and I figured I was never near another runner for long enough to be an annoyance to others. I didn't dare look at the watch as knowing my HR could only make me want to slow down. I downed the last gu and a few gulps of water and ran by all the remaining water stations. My legs burned but all felt healthy. I kept plowing on.

There's the Citgo sign!! Meaning 2 miles to go. I knew I'd have the Shirley crew cheering me there (Sister and kids). Keep on keeping on. Most all around me are slowing and I am passing people like crazy here. By the time I got to Citgo sign I had found the practice of closing my eyes very tempting - they felt so comfortable closed. I forced them open to look for my cheerers. Found them and managed a hearty smile and wave - it was great to have them here - and also know only ONE mile to go.

This was a tough mile but I didn't let up and kept on passing people enjoying my watch chirping at me, and enjoying the brief shuteyes.

Overall from 35k to finish averaged 6:40 pace vs 6:57 average before – unheard of to do the fastest miles at the END of a marathon. As it turns out I DID do almost a 42 minute pace 10k at the end.

Around a couple corners and I'm running on the right side looking for Susie and the kids on the final stretch. Still pushing but did not want to miss the moment to see them - they have been SO supportive thru all the miles to get here and that moment to the finish was as much theirs as it is mine. I got and gave a big cheer when I saw them. Dad too turns out was there but was covered up by Ryan's GO DAD!! sign.

There is the finish line less than a quarter mile away. I couldn't muster the all out sprint this time but pushed in with a very fast run still passing a few more. I managed to do the last ½ mile at 6 minute mile pace.


There was so much emotion at this point I nearly had to stop and cry in happiness. I walked a little then turned around to see what runners were coming in behind me. I can't see bib numbers from the back as I'm passing people. All I could see were 1000s and 2000s and an occasional 3000. Few if any 4000s and no 5000s (again my bib # 5376). I stood and watched for a couple minutes looking for a kindred spirit who had passed so many, it was so much fun and so rewarding but didn’t find any.

Downhills I was worried about - barely noticed them - ran down at higher speed without issue.

All I heard from so many was you can't PR (personal record) at Boston - course is too hard. I got a 9:39 PR in BOSTON down from 3:10:40. I didn’t make the sub-3 hr but got 90% of the way there on a tough course in less than ideal weather and feel GREAT about that.

We all walked like penguins to getting a foil windbreaker, chip drop/metal pickup, a food bag and back to the bus to get my bag of stuff from the start – changed into warm cloths and cleaned up a bit - the emotions thru that walk were always right at the surface.

Saw the family. Susie runs and gives me a big bear hug and we share a few victory moments together - it was special - about 3 seconds later the rest of the family joins in. Legs by now have walked a mile or so and were surprisingly refreshed so, a bit giddy, I went ahead and jogged a bit with the kids and jumped on things playing around feeling great. Got back to the hotel lobby and the rest of the family – Grandma Sue and 5 yr old niece Alexis – rang some marathon cowbells and got the whole lobby into a round of applause – we need more cowbells. It was so special to share this moment with everyone. It was very special to have my Dad there - no matter how old I get I still want to please my Dad and share great moments. It was special to have Shirley and kids there - the perfect cheerleaders. It was special to have Susie there - she has been there every step. And of course Ryan and Kaylee - I hope they are proud of their Dad and learn the lesson - you can do anything with some dedication and hard work.

Here’s the numbers:
Weather Conditions made for the Slowest winning times in 22 years (front runners have no one to draft).

Official Time: 3:01:01Pace: 6:55
Overall: 1008 (Started ~4000th taking out unassigned bibs and noshows)Gender: 961 (47 women in front of me).Open Division: 731 (men under 40)
Masters Division: 206 (40-50 – missed this group by 3 days)
Total : 1008/20348 4.95%
Male : 961/12373 7.8%
Open : 731/9059 8.1%
Master : 206 / 7061 2.9%
US : 867th /17793 4.9%
Texas : 24th/711 3.3%
Houston : 6th/118 5.1%
Kingwood : 1st/3

Background Marathons:
1/2006 – Houston Marathon 4:28 (10.22/mile pace – all out vomit inducing effort) – first marathon – ecstatic to FINISH.
6/2006 – San Diego Marathon – got sick DNF (did not finish) stretch goal was 4:15.
1/2007 – Houston Marathon 3:10:31 (7:15/mile pace)

Boston for me lived up to all anticipations and way more!!!!
Now I can turn 40.