Sunday, April 29, 2012

Boston Marathon 2012

I wrote this a few days after Boston but I've only shared it with a smaller circle of people up to now figuring after some time I would perhaps be able to be a bit less "negative" about the whole experience.  I don't consider myself to be a negative person and most every race I've done poorly in I've shook it off pretty quick.  A couple weeks has gone by now and I can't say I feel much different.  The raw emotions of the day have diminished and I share a certain bond with other "survivors" of the 2012 Boston Marathon.  I would still do it again even in hindsight mostly because of the times before and after the race - and the spectators at Boston came out in extraordinary force to help us along in this record heat ...... well here it is:

kayry vs Boston - kayry 3, Boston 1.

I'm prompted after finishing this year to ask such basic questions like why do I race these things. I really struggled answering that question for this race. I thought as long ago as January of bailing
on this race because I could not find my inspiration for it. This is my 4th Boston and the first 3 had me in love with this race. 2007 was the nor'easter storm year and my first Boston ever - what's not to be excited about for that and I was near tears crossing that finish at 3:01:01 - I get nostalgic with the thought of that perfect race on many levles. 2nd Boston 2008 was the year to kick butt on Lance Armstrong who'd been in my crosshairs for 6 months and three marathons - despite not quite the perfect race it was so awesome to beat him by more than a mile at 2:42:36. 2010 was a 26.2 mile party celebrating a LONG time on the sideline finally back running after ever so long logging mostly zero's for over a year and the Boston finishers medal after about 6 weeks of ramping up from zero and 150 miles of biking the MS150 the two days prior - the 3:10 at the finish was pure delight saying I can run again with near that same 2007 feel to it - a perfect experience.

With that backdrop 2012 had little hope to living up. I grasped for some motivation but there was no goal for this race that seemed could live up to the past. After a great effort at Houston in January achieving most all I wanted from coming back again from a shorter outage in early 2011 I looked ahead to Boston and kept asking myself what was my motivation for Boston? This is my 17th marathon (or more) event and I've always had some (sometimes lofty) goal that gave me inspiration and a lazar locked drive to train and race but it just wasn't there this time around. A few weeks after Houston I jump into a 50 miler because that inspired me more than training for Boston even
though I knew it would sabotage some of my Boston potential. A couple weeks before Boston I took on the challenge to try my best to help a team win Texas Independence Relay with disregard to whether that helped or hurt Boston - and we won which was awesome! For Boston I was grasping for straws. Training seemed to start coming together towards the last few weeks despite all efforts to sabotage it and I started to dream of a great race in Boston - some fire for this race was finally starting to grow - I know that running a all out effort race is in itself rewarding and picking off what seemed like low hanging fruit - the 2008 time of 2:42:36 - seemed within my grasp.

Then the forecasts starting 10 days out move from pretty good (50s) to not so bad (dry low 60s) to could be worse (dry low 70s) to this is going to suck (80s). You might think living in Texas that I'd be good at running in the heat but any who have raced against me in the heat know I'm easy pick'ns especially as the distances get longer. I'm not really certain if that a physiological disadvantage because I'm a pretty heavy sweater - or mental because I feel little inspiration when it's hot to do well - it literally seems to sucks the running life out of me much more times than not - or more likely a combination of both. But living in Houston I do race much more than I'd like in the heat and I know exactly how tactically to get top performance out of a race like that - but knowing and doing are quite different things. It's hard - any marathon all out is hard - but adding the heat is a very different kind of hard. I've read a lot of race reports of hot Chicago races or even things like Badwater and it does
nothing for me - there is not the slightest desire to do that. Maybe because I suffer in the heat so much living in Houston that I know that suffering all to well and don't like it. But here I am - 10 am at Boston with the announcer claiming it's already 80°F, I'm sweating and the race hasn't started yet.

Race plan - Pre-Hydrate, electrolyte load and fuel load as I would for any other marathon to be maxed out at the startline. Hydrate ~24 oz/hr - no less - a little more OK but only a little. Stay wet as much as
possible with dumping water on head, legs, neck, arms - everywhere - so the evaporation can cool you off. And keep the Heartrate from going too much higher than it would in a cooler marathon (~160 bpm for me). Pretty straight forward. I had my garmin set to vibrate when my HR hit 162 to keep things controlled - especially for the first half - I'd be OK with it buzzing continual for the last several miles if I felt the inspiration to go harder but early on the plan was to be controlled.

Here's how the splits played out:

1 6.05 152,
2 6.19 159,
3 6.30 159,
4 6.30 159,
5 7.03 159,

Pace is dropping but keeping the HR about where I want it to be - maybe a hair on the low side. Slower than I expected even accounting for the heat. As much downhill as there is in that first stretch and knowing how my recent HR vs pace goes in the Houston heat I was expecting faster. Sometimes I've seen races where the pace picks up for same HR after a few miles so maybe the speed will come.

6 6.49 158,
7 6.46 159,
8 6.52 157,
9 6.50 156,
10 6.59 155,

Paces still are pretty darn low and motivation to push is kinda dropping off too. I'm thinking back to warm 100% humidity day just a few weeks prior running 6:50s at about 150 HR and something here is just off - not going to be my day.

11 6.58 156,
12 6.46 154,
13 6.54 154,
14 7.33 154,

Major race highlight as my Cousin at family who live in Wellselly bring pitchers of cool water to dump all over me and a bunch of ice to cool me off with and smiling faces to encourage me - I'm really feeling cooled off for a few miles after that - loved it!

15 6.56 157,
16 6.31 152, (downhill)
17 7.12 155,
18 7.20 154,
19 7.06 151,
20 7.39 149,
21 7.55 153, (heartbreak hill)
21 2.39 .17 136,

I added a split here as I walked from my Garmin's 21 mile marker to the course 21 mile marker and tried to motivate myself to charge the last 5 miles. I thought I'd kinda banked a little energy with some low HR running up the Newton hills

22 5.55 157,

Charging down the hill - watch is vibrating as I'm over 162 for much of the mile - feeling like I'm going to salvage something from this race.

23 7.18 156, With some walking
24 6.58 154, With some walking
25 7.49 152, With some walking
26 6.57 156, With some walking

Major Highlight that can never be bad no matter how the first 25 miles
goes.......right on Hertford.....left on Boylson.

26.2 1.54 .33 163 (5:45 mpm pace - tried to bet the clock rolling to
3:05 chip time - almost beat it)

Total 3:05:00 (Garmin 26.5)

Ok - Boston will always have it's moments - it's a great race. Before and after the race there were many great moments with friends both from Houston, Kingwood and all over the country and some family up in Wellesley - see pictures below.  Although all that was great I found myself really missing having my wife there for all those moments this year as she has been for prior Bostons - she's been lucky for me when she comes - but look what happens when she doesn't. Moving all those great moments to the side and only refering to the race - the final tally to me is that this was without a close second:

The worst race ever - of any distance!

I don't know how to say that strong enough.  I can't seem to find anything redeeming in this race.  I've searched for something I could say that had some meaning "at least ______" but I can find nothing to fill in that blank.  Of course many did much worse and many even could finish with medical issues and dehydration so I suppose I could say at least it wasn't THAT bad - but that's a pretty low bar - I'm in shape and heat acclimated and know how to handle the heat - there was little risk of that for me.  One think I can say - Boston yet again generates very strong emotions. My emotions are almost as strong to the negative as 2007 and 2010 were to the positive. I've been on the verge of tears for days now for this race and even had to stop and shed a few tears as I was writing this last paragraph.  Boston kicked my ass and that coming from a race I've come to love - hurts somehow extra. The feelings whether positive or negative certainly makes me feel alive - I learn a lot about myself running these things whether the outcome is positive or negative.  That's why I run these things - it doesn't always have to be a win to still be a deeply memorable experience - even a loss is way better than not playing at all. I have no idea when I'll do this race again but I can't see ending on that note - and whenever I overwrite this experience with another I'm certain yet again Boston will deliver some very strong emotional reaction.....I love this race.

Here's a few pictures:

My cousin Doug and family who live in Welleseley and cooled me off big time at the 1/2 way.

The Houston Striders Gang - got to hang out with them for Saturday Night dinner and the bus ride up to Hopkinton.

The Kingwood Gang - we had our own Pasta Party on Sunday Night (I don't think I've ever tasted such good Spagetti).

Sunbathing in Hopkinton before the race.  Prior years we'd be bundled up near freezing.

The Running Friends facebook group.

After the Marathon was done - I needed constant beer to get out of my rut - hanging with my roommate Jeff (sitting) and a few of his friends.

Fast forward a few hours - and time for more beer with the Running Friends facebook group - cool people.  You can see I'm such a sore looser I won't even wear the finishers medal and shirt like others but rather pick my CIM shirt and ironman hat - races I had more fond memories from.  I finally wore that shirt at a Relay race yesterday so I guess the sores are healing.

More beer - next day Neil and I went to lunch at Cheers.  Although no one there knew my name - it was pretty cool that most all in the photos above did - some really nice times hanging with all!

And always magical moments no matter how the first part of the race goes - moments of dreams.

Time to turn the page - this was my 17th marathon or more completed and I don't have another goal marathon in the foreseable future (at least for 12 months) so kinda a bummer to end this marathon chapter like this - but not all endings are happy - sometimes you just gotta turn the page anyway and look forward to the next adventure.  The next target for me is IM Florida on November 2nd - gotta get my swim and bike legs working again.


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