Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 121st Boston Marathon

2:53:35. fading from mile 7...
This year's Boston Marathon was one that I truly was under-prepared for. Arguably, that statement would have been false if I hadn't fallen ill with a sinus infection and a stomach flu right before the race. It was completely in question as to whether or not I would toe the line on Monday the 17th. On the Friday prior, I was thinking about going to a hospital. By Saturday evening my intestines seemed to be regularizing, Sunday it was better but still not fully normal. Let's just leave it at that. Sunday morning I felt so weak from all of what I was going through I couldn't run a full mile and just jogged around the hotel parking lot of maybe all of 8 minutes covering possibly .75miles. That was my first attempt at a run since a short, slow, dizzying 3mile jog in a nature preserve six days earlier.
But as on Sunday evening I felt "almost normal", so I figured, this is as good as it gets and I have to try.
Another large motivator was my team. Knowing the guys we had going into the race, I figured I would be an important player in our best chance in the team competition. But Most importantly my housemate/teammate, Brendan Conway. This was his first Boston and we had traveled together to the race. In my first Boston Marathon I didn't go solo. I wasn't about to bail on him. It can be overwhelming figuring out all that crazy city marathon stuff early in the morning, and everything is better with a teammate!
Ready to go, ready or not! Brendan Conway on the left, Yours' truly on the right.
At the least, I would start the race and go as far as I could. Caution be damned! So, we left our hotel, moved the car to a train station, hopped on the T that brought us to Chinatown and walked down to the bag drop on Boylston St and then back over the the street between the Public Garden and the Common. After a little while, we were on our way to Hopkinton! Right now, I can't recall a whole lot of what we talked about along the ride, but yea I was worried. I tried my best to put on a happy face. We both knew I was a big question mark, would I finish? would I end up in a hospital?
As the time came to leave the Athlete's village, we walked/jogged toward the starting corrals and found a couple of our teammates Woody Kongsamut and Brian Weitz also waiting to jump into a toilet one last time. Woody broke off early, then the remaining three of us moved the rest of the way up toward the starting corrals. We were each in separate corrals and so I wished them luck and ran off to the last toilets to be found before the start, did what I could in there and hoped for no incidents along the way. I did see a few familiar faces that have a tradition of gathering in that small park right before the start. More good luck exchanged (By the way Patrick Walsh, if you're reading, the guy from Seattle was Jarrett Kunze and I found him moments after we parted, small world indeed).
Entering the first corral, I shimmied my way forward a bit and found the aforementioned Jarrett Kunze, another GSTC stud. I asked Jarrett, "What's the target?" He says, "2:39/40." I tell him, "I'll try to hang." I knew when I said it, that this was a bad decision for me, but this wasn't going to be a banner race for me either way. So as I am a fool, and I did a foolish thing. The race started and we were jammed up by a lot of wild action all around us, and surprisingly, we hit a slow 6:20 first mile, both of us knowing this too slow, so we picked it up into the downhill, by the 5k mark, we were back on target for a 2:39.
It was warm and I felt hot and not happy, over the next 5k I could sense this pace was not truly mine to keep, I warned him I was going to probably slip back, my 7th mile was 10 seconds off the 6th and I thought "hold this pace and you're making honest work of it", my body simply didn't agree. I held that pace for the 7th and 8th mile and then it was a bad time that got worse along the way. All in all, I've had worse days, but it sucks knowing you are doomed with 19 miles to go. (I'm smirking as I type that). Sadly for Jarrett's part, I passed him around the 18th mile as he was walking up one of the infamous Newton Hills, for him the wheels came off in vicious fashion.
So, yea, I fought the good fight, and it just wasn't my day. I didn't stop for anything, but I was passed by a lot of people and that is a humbling pain that sometimes you must suffer in this sport. Like the truckers say "Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes You're the bug!"
There was a lot of dumping of water over my head along the way, smearing cold water under my arms and on my thighs, whatever I could do along the way to stay cool. As usual, the crowds were incredibly supportive and supplemented the aid stations with wet paper towels, orange slices, bottles of cold water, ice cubes, ice pops. Incredible, absolutely incredible. I love the Boston Marathon, love it! Take a look at splits and images below. I finished 2nd man on our team by 1 second, so that is amusing. This was one of my worse results among the seven times I've raced here, bearing zero shame in it. Again, I didn't think I could even start, I thought I would cramp up or pass out sooner or later, but it was like Hanukah or something, with enough in the tank for 1 mile I managed to run 26.2. Interesting thought-my first go in Boston was ten years prior to this year's. It doesn't feel like it's been that long...but ten years is more than a blink. I'll be back for #8 next year and my 5th in a row! Hope is alive, 2:29 is still possible. Perhaps I'll be slaying another Unicorn in September...let's have a talk with Pat McCloskey about that.
It was hot out there for a guy who was dehydrated for 3-4 straight days. 
good start but it was all a bluff

slower slower, death march city

Ladies and Gentlemen, We have lift off! That's turning on Hereford, almost 26 miles deep and I can fly!

Giving it all that was left, a proper marathon kick, as you do.
Count em! That's 7, and I ran each one of them MYSELF!

A bit closer, 07', 10', 12', 14', 15', 16', 17'  I ran each race, I deserve 7 medals because I ran 7 marathons in Boston. See how that works? Nuff said. ;)
Congratulations to all my running friends who competed, it is a difficult task no matter what happens on race day. Thanks to the many friends and strangers that cheered for me along the way, it put a smile on my face when I felt like I should quit running altogether in certain moments.
Now if my lungs clear up from this Upper Respiratory Infection, maybe I'll have some other spring/summer races to talk about. Stay tuned!