The Boston Marathon is a special event. It is the event that most recreational runners aspire to. Myself, like so many before and after, thought the paces required to qualify for the event were out of reach. Eventually the gap between my ability and the race standards was small enough that I started to believe that I could do it. In 209 I qualified for the first time. My first Boston Marathon experience was 2011. This year marks my third and my best experience to date.
In 2011 I arrived at the race excellent physical condition but my mind was troubled. I had a difficult race primarily because I didn’t run properly for the course. In 2013 I didn’t take my training seriously and had an extremely difficult day. Although I had low expectations that year my results were even worse. This time around I took training seriously. I followed a slightly lower mileage training plan than I usually do because of commitments with my job and family. With the help of my family I was able to train properly. My only true failure in my training was not working on downhill running enough. In fact I did almost no downhill training even though we have a treadmill capable of a 3% decline in the garage.
With the help of my love, Amber, I made it to race day healthy and well rested. I can’t say that I was happy however. Stress from work and a busy schedule coupled with tapering and carb depletion was wearing thin. I was very stressed but I didn’t realize just how stressed until weeks after the race.
Sadly I was not able to ride the bus with my friend Isaac as he was violently ill for the entire weekend. Isaac is an incredibly impressive individual and, for that reason, I was not surprised to see him at athlete’s village. Having consumed little more than flat soda and saltine crackers for days he decided he’d run the race. That is Isaac. …I was feeling sorry for myself earlier in the week due to carb depletion! The Boston Marathon never fails to humble me. The determination and hard work that participants show is nothing short of incredible. At times I feel “fast” but when I’m in that group of athletes I feel like I do not belong! Participants are placed in corrals based only on their qualification time. I ran a 3:04 and was in the 7th corral! 6,222 participants had qualification times faster than mine (I’m assuming bibs started at 1…they may have started at 1000). Though humbling these things were not terribly important to me. I wanted to run a good race. My goal was to qualify for 2015 so that, if Amber qualified, we could run it together. I knew it would be a challenge but I also believed I could do it.
I was worried that the unfortunate events of 2013 would overshadow the feel of the race. I’m happy to report that no such thing happened! Security was heightened and it was strange to see heavily armed military personal on roof tops but predominantly the race felt just like Boston did in previous years but with even more crowd support!
I do not remember very much from the course this year. Amber had planned to spectate at the 10km marker but I could not find her and assumed, correctly, that the transit system was too busy for her to get to her planned spot on time. The second location I was supposed to see her was much later in the race. I asked her to be on the left side of the course. As I approached that mile marker I realized that spectators were not allowed on that side! I searched and searched but I could not find her.
In previous years I blew up in the Newton Hills. I was scared this would happen again but as I ran them I had a huge smile on my face. My legs were strong! I had run the first part of the race correctly and was not falling apart! I was so happy to have “beaten” the course. As I ran up Heartbreak Hill a song that I recently discovered started playing from my play list (I had strategically placed it). The song lyrics, taken out of context, applied to my feelings about the race. “All of us are in; Now let this nightmare; For all of us begin”. Generally the marathon becomes incredibly difficult at about mile 20.
In the latter miles of the race with a worn out body struggling to maintain pace I listened closely to my music: “Will you carry me down the isle that final day?” This song makes me think of my grandmother’s funeral. The song is not morbid; it is uplifting. I started thinking a lot about her. I looked at the crowd and saw a relatively small sign that had four letters on it: “Gram.” I could feel my throat close up as I began to get emotional. I had to force the feeling away as it was too difficult to breath.
I had hoped that I would see Amber with my best supporters (Mom, Dad, and my sister). She was not there but I was able to see them and got a huge mental boost! I smiled and gave them high fives. A stranger took pictures and emailed them to my sister. Finally I rounded the corner onto Boylston. The finish line was in sight but still so very far away. I glanced at the watch and I questioned if I could do it. I dug deep but there wasn’t much left. It seemed no matter how hard I pushed I couldn’t go any faster. I crossed the line in 3:08:32. I did it! I qualified again!
I had a feeling of conquering the course and loved having my family there to share it with. The Boston Marathon is like no other. There is no place else that I feel like an athlete.
Split Time Distance Avg Pace Summary 3:08:32.0 26.43 7:08 1 7:25.2 1.01 7:19 2 7:03.4 1.00 7:05 3 7:01.4 0.99 7:05 4 7:03.8 1.02 6:57 5 :03.1 0.01 8:25 6 7:12.5 0.99 7:17 7 7:12.2 1.02 7:02 8 14:16.7 2.00 7:07 9 7:10.5 1.00 7:09 10 7:09.4 1.01 7:07 11 7:10.5 1.01 7:07 12 7:04.8 1.00 7:03 13 7:04.1 1.00 7:04 14 7:03.5 1.00 7:03 15 7:10.5 1.01 7:06 16 6:47.3 1.00 6:47 17 7:16.1 1.01 7:11 18 7:20.7 1.00 7:20 19 7:11.8 1.02 7:03 20 7:34.1 1.03 7:23 21 7:52.3 1.00 7:53 22 6:58.7 1.02 6:51 23 7:22.6 1.02 7:14 24 7:00.7 1.00 7:01 25 6:14.7 0.85 7:21 26 1:07.4 0.15 7:37 27 8:34.3 1.25 6:50