Beginners and Beyond

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Ridiculously Long Boston Report with a Bunch of Pics (Read 234 times)

    Like several others, I ran Boston last Monday.  If you want a Reader's Digest version, I blogged about it here.

     

    The condensed Reader's Digest version is 3:23:41 - a PW - in my third marathon and I had the time of my life.  Now for the book.

     

    Boston is to runners what Augusta National or Pebble Beach are to golfers.  Everyone wants to do it at least once.  In March, 2012, I ran the Wrightsville Beach marathon with a goal of running under 3:10.  My reason for that goal was that my BQ time is 3:30 and I wanted to beat that by more than 20 minutes so I could register on the first day.  Mission accomplished in 3:08:31 (I think).  On the day Boston registration opened, I registered.

     

    As I started planning my trip, I wanted to fly in and out of Boston and stay downtown.  In a development that pissed me off at the time but that worked out extremely well for me, the last flight I could find out of Boston back to Charleston, West Virginia, was at 4:30.  I wasn't confident that I could finish the race, get cleaned up, get to the airport, get through security, and make a 4:30 flight.  I forgot how easy it is to get through security with a military ID so I could have done so but, in retrospect, am glad I didn't.  Instead, I booked a flight leaving from Providence at 6:55 p.m.

     

    I arrived in Providence around 11:00 p.m. Friday night.  I checked the "wildcard" box on my rental car knowing I would get at least a compact.  Instead, I got a Mustang convertible for the same price as a compact.  Note.  If you want a Mustang, spring for the V8 rather than the V6.  This was a sixer and while it was fun to drive, it didn't leave your heart in your throat the way a V8 would nor did it have the rumble we all love.

     

    A second development that pissed me off was that I couldn't find an affordable place to stay in downtown Boston.  If I could have found anything for less than $150 per night, I'd have taken it.  Instead, I booked a Residence Inn in Dedham for $115 per night because it was only 1/4 mile from the commuter rail and I wanted easy access to public transportation.  Ironically, on Sunday evening, I located a place in downtown Boston for $125 and was kicking myself that I didn't find it sooner.  Of course, had I booked there, I would have been stuck in Boston so both the flight from Providence and the hotel in Dedham worked out for me.

     

    On Saturday, I didn't do a heck of a lot.  I slept late, took public transit into Boston and wandered around for a while.  Eventually, I made my way to "The Publick House."  I have no idea what I ate but I had a Mischief Belgian style Pale Ale from The Bruery, a St. Bernardus abt 12, and a Celebrator Dopplebock - all on tap.  Pubs like this with world class beers on tap are what I miss about living in or near a large city.  Of course, I found a 354 square foot apartment for sale in Boston for $212,000 and that's significantly more than I paid for an 1,850 square foot home so I guess everything has its advantages and disadvantages.  But damn those beers were good.  Caught public transit back to my hotel and crashed.

     

    On Sunday, I decided to drive into Boston.  Another mistake that worked out well.  I drove around forever looking for a place to park.  I finally found a lot and the guy said it was $40 to park there.  Are you kidding me?  $40?  Fuck you.  I decided to drive back to my hotel and take public transit back into Boston.  Instead, I saw a bunch of spaces open around Boston Common and you don't have to pay the meters on Sundays.  So, I parked there and walked a mile or so to the expo.

     

    You can't imagine how excited I was when I saw the John Hancock Boston Marathon sign.  That was the first time it hit me that I am really going to run in the Boston Marathon.  This is the payoff for all of those days pounding the pavement when it's 95 degrees or when it's 40 degrees, windy and raining, or when sleet is blown into your face or when you head out the door at 10:00 p.m. because you haven't had a chance to run that day and it's the payoff for doing crap like 6 mile tempo runs and 7 x 1,000 when you'd much rather run easy that day and it's the payoff for the suffering I went through in the last six miles at Wrightsville Beach with the temps approaching 70 and humidity around 100%.  This is why I did all that stuff.  And I am here.

     

     

     

     

     

    The expo was huge.  I'm used to running small races.  I have no idea why this expo seemed so big but I have run the Indy Mini several times and even with 35,000 there vs. 27.000 here, this expo seemed ginormous.  I loved getting the chance to listen to Josh Cox and Desi Davilla although I stupidly didn't get a picture of either one.  DOH!  The jacket is a hundred bucks and yes, you will buy it.

     

     

    So, expo done I head back to my car, drop off my stuff, and then go walking around.  I'll be damned.  Boston even labels the alleys.

     

     

    I had no idea where to eat but I made this decision.  I'll just go walking down the street and I'll look for a restaurant that appears to have been there for a long time.  Roughly 75% of restaurants don't last a year so if one has been there a while, it's probably good.  I found a hole in the wall pizza joint and I was right.  The food was delicious.

     

    I made my way back to my hotel and in the shopping center next to the hotel was a place called the Yard House.  They didn't have the quality level of beers as did The Publick House but they did have over 100 on tap so I was able to sample a couple.  You will note that I haven't said a thing about carb loading and that's because I didn't carb load for this race.  I intended this to be a fun run and figured I didn't need to load up for it.

     

    My training has been pathetic as far as marathon training goes.  I have been fairly consistent with my mileage this year running 50-60 miles per week with not a lot of very low mileage weeks but I don't think I've had a single 70+ mile week this year.  That compares to my BQ marathon cycle when I had several 70-80 mile weeks and a couple of 90+ mile weeks.  Moreover, I only had two 20 mile runs and both of those were jogs with no quality work and I struggled through them.  I was expecting to suffer a bit in this race due to my lack of training and I exceeded my expectations.  It got fairly bad before the end.

     

    I drove to the end of the parking lot at the last "T" station, parked my car, and headed in around 5:30.  I came off the subway and just followed the crowd to the buses.  Wow.  They run 27 buses at a time.  I figured that if they put 50 people on each bus, it takes 500 bus runs to get 25,000 runners from downtown Boston to Hopkinton.  The ride takes about an hour.

     

    Once in Hopkinton, you get to sit around for freaking ever and I froze.  Just froze.  I have never been so damn cold in my life.  The excitement of being there rapidly turned into, "when are they going to start this damn thing?"

     

     

     

    One of the things I don't like about mega races is this.

     

     

     

    Those lines led to one of the grossest things I have ever done anywhere.  I went in one of the port-o-potties and pooped.  Unfortunately, I only then discovered that the particular port-o-pottie I was in was out of toilet paper. I grabbed a few scraps from the floor and used them.  I did not want to get back in line and resigned myself to being a bit uncomfortable.  Then, as I was walking toward the starting line, I discovered that someone had left several napkins on the ground.  Great except that there is no place to go.  So, I used them while walking and dropped them into a trash can.  Grossest thing I have ever done.  By far.  But it accomplished the necessary task.

     

    You have to walk about a mile to the starting corrals where you get to stand around for a while longer.

     

     

    Mercifully, the gun sounded at 10:00 and we were off.  I squealed like a little girl as I approached this sign.

     

     

    The crowd support in this race is phenomenal.  For 26.2 miles, there are people lining both sides of the course.  I took this picture just past Mile 1 and it illustrates what it's like most of the way.

     

     

    Did I mention that I stopped and took a picture of every mile marker?  Well, I did.  I won't post pictures of every single mile marker but I do indeed have them.  Oh.  Did I mention that I didn't train well for this race?  Yes.  I did mention that.  At some point, I felt a lot more fatigue in my legs than I should have at that point in the race given that I wasn't running at race pace.  I was generally running about 7:20-7:25 when I was running and averaging about 7:45 with my picture stops.  Beyond the lack of training, I had a horrible intestinal bug in the week leading up to the race.  How bad you ask?  Maybe you didn't ask but I'm telling.  Between 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 7 and 8:00 p.m. that same day, I went to the bathroom 22 times.  Monday wasn't much better and I was very weak through about Wednesday.  The week of the race, I ran a whopping 5.2 miles.  So, between lack of training, an intestinal virus, and a couple of days that involved more beer than would be optimal, I started feeling fatigue way too early.  Like this early.

     

     

    Then again, I was really, really glad not to be this guy who was the first person I saw walking.

     

     

    But, I went to have fun and fun I had.  This lady was dancing to Donna Summer so I stopped and danced with her for a minute or so.

     

     

    I took a picture of Santa.

     

     

    I kissed a bunch of girls at Wellesley.

     

     

    As if to emphasize that I was doing this for fun and not for time, somewhere in here, I managed to hit something that stopped both my Garmin and my Timex Ironman.  Thus, I have no idea what my splits were between Miles 12 and 14 and since the Ironman was stopped, I had no idea what my chip time was.  All I knew was gun time from the clocks at the mile markers.  I stopped my Garmin and turned it back on at the 14 mile mark but it was off by about 100 yards the rest of the race.  No matter as it still gave me my pace.  I didn't bother with the Ironman.

     

    The following meant only that I was going to need more mental toughness than I thought.  The Newton hills are no shit.  I was starting to feel uncomfortable by Mile 15 and the Newton hills hit right after that.  For the next five miles there is little flat ground.

     

    Nevertheless, I still stopped and took pictures at every mile.  A couple of times, volunteers asked if I wanted them to take a picture of me.  Well hell yes I did.

    This one is at Mile 16

     

    And I loved this sign.

     

     

    By now, I was struggling and I wasn't the only one.  I saw a lot of people walking in Newton.  I still don't get it.  The folks running around me ran anywhere from 3:00-3:15 to get to Boston.  They're not top runners but they're not joggers either.  There is no reason they should be blowing up before Mile 20 yet plenty did.  I just don't get it.  Fun run or not, struggles or not, I was damn sure not going to give into the temptation to walk.  That's just giving up in my mind.

     

    I laughed my ass off at this sign.

     

     

    Finally, I managed to make it to the top of Heartbreak Hill and, much to my surprise, I am still managing to smile.

     

     

    Despite my growing discomfort, I managed to maintain roughly a 7:30 pace through this portion of the race.  I was quite surprised to see that after the race.  Indeed, my per mile split for Miles 1-12 was 7:32 while my per mile split for Miles 14-26.2 was 7:34 so I feel very good about that.  That includes an 8:25 split between Miles 25 and 26 but I think we went through an underpass and Jeepus doesn't like those things some times.

     

    From this point on, the course is unbelievably packed and you can smell the beer for miles.  Patriots day is huge in Boston and my guess is that people start drinking around 9:00 a.m.  Somewhere after Mile 23, I stopped for my second time to take someone up on their offer of Free Beer!  This time, my stomach rebelled hard.  I actually started cramping and was in a significant amount of pain.  I wondered if I would be reduced to walking.  Fortunately, the discomfort passed and I continued.

     

     

    The Citgo sign let me know that I was nearly there.  I kept debating whether to stop at Mile 26 and take a picture.  I did.

     

     

    My only regret is that I didn't take a picture closer to the finish line but I was trying to finish strong and my competitive nature kicked in.  So I kicked it in and finished strong.

     

    I did take two pictures right after I finished.  The first shows the difficulty and the joy of the marathon while the second shows someone who kept everything in its proper perspective.

     

     

     

    Will I go to Boston next year?  No.  This was a fairly expensive trip once you add up rental car and hotel and flights and food and race fee and a $100 jacket.  I simply can't justify spending that kind of money on myself rather than on my kids.  If they were grown and gone or if I made a lot more than I do, well then, I could justify it.  I try very hard to strike the right balance between work, family, and running and going to Boston next year doesn't fit within that balance.

     

    With that out of the way, I had the time of my life.  It was wonderful.  If I could afford to go to Boston every year, I would.  Before going to Boston, I thought that what made it special was the tradition and the fact that you have to qualify.  I was wrong.  What makes Boston special are the people of the Boston area.  For 26.2 miles, they line the course.  There is never a point along the entire route where you don't have crowd support.  Despite my intent to jog and despite my lack of preparedness and despite my intestinal virus, and despite too much beer the couple of days before the race and despite no carb load at all, and despite wearing my 11 ounce Nimbus rather than my 7 ounce Wave Ronin's, the crowed dragged me along to a 3:23:41 which beats my BQ time by 6:19.  There is no way I run remotely that fast without that support.  It was cool to BQ in Boston but, given how many people will want to run Boston next year, I am not at all certain that BQ - 6:19 would get me into the race.

     

    On another thought, I have repeatedly asserted that your cumulative mileage over a long period of time matters much, much more than getting in some long runs.  I continue to believe that.  It would be exceedingly difficult to design a marathon training plan worse than mine.  Still, I have been running for five years, I have been very consistent with speed work and with 50-60 mile weeks this year even if I haven't had many weeks of big mileage.  I think I could have run about 3:15 without all of my stops and my PR is 3:08.

     

    I was extremely lucky that I didn't get stuck downtown.  After the race, my right toes started cramping.  They cramped so badly I screamed and sat down in the middle of the road.  An EMT helped me into a wheelchair and removed my shoe.  I spent a few minutes pulling my toes back as hard as I could.  He wanted to take me into the medical tent but I refused.  Given that my rental car was at the end of the Orange line on the Boston subway, and given that the bombing happened about 10 minutes after I got into my rental, and given that Boston closed public transit, I would not have been able to get out of downtown.  Worse, my phone was in my car so my family couldn't have reached me.  Normally after a race I hang around for a while and talk to runners.  After Boston, I made a beeline for the Orange Line because I was freezing.  It was about 45 degrees with a stiff wind and all I wanted to do was get warm.  Between flying into and out of Providence, selecting a hotel 10 miles south of Boston, refusing medical treatment, and being freezing cold, everything worked out for me and I am exceedingly grateful for that.

     

    For several days, I felt guilty for having such a great time.  Then I decided that I will not feel guilty.  Racing is a celebration of all the time and effort we put into our training.  The people of Boston celebrated with us and I'll be damned if I let a couple of idiots steal that from us.  So I will celebrate Boston rather than mourn for it.

     

    Thank you to everyone for all of your support.

    Short term goal: 17:59 5K

    Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

    Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).


    Bad Ass

      Thanks for sharing.  Love the pictures and the experience.  Congrats!

       

      Oh, and did somebody just learned how to do marathons for fun????? Big grin

      Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner

      Blog

      "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

      lilac_jive


      Jess runs for bacon

        I have to say, this is a very unexpected race report, in a good way. I wouldn't have expected to see a fun RR at Boston from you, but it is so awesome! I love that you channeled your inner scottydawg. The pics are great and your energy is great!

         

        When you started about the most disgusting thing ever, I thought you just meant poopin' in the portopotty. I was like, really? Then I kept reading...oh the things we do.

         

        I'm really glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing Smile

         

        www.backuprunner.net

          What an awesome report and I loved the fact that you actually stopped to take photos at each mile marker. After reading of the pain cave from your past races it was amazing to see how  much fun you had during the Boston - in spite of the lack of training and illness. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to write that all down!

          Train smart ... race smarter.

          happylily


            Ridiculously fun RR! You rock for running a 3:23 and taking so many darn pictures at the same time. I hate you. Big grin I am so glad that you had the time of your life, you really deserved it for all the awesome running you have done in the past few years. It was your day to celebrate and you did just that! Loved the pictures, they made me smile as I remembered the beautiful morning we had on that Monday April 15th 2013. Will never forget that... Thanks a lot, Brad, for sharing such joy with us!

            PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013

                    Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013

            4 years racing, 14 marathons, 14 BQs     

              Wow, great report, amazing day. I hope someday I can run a 3:23 marathon while stopping to take photos of every mile marker, drinking beer & kissing girls. Or while not doing those things. Or maybe just do those things & not care about my time.

              Thanks for writing this.

              Dave


              just a simple cat

                " Racing is a celebration of all the time and effort we put into our training.  The people of Boston celebrated with us and I'll be damned if I let a couple of idiots steal that from us.  So I will celebrate Boston rather than mourn for it."

                 

                Hell yeah!   Great job!  and great report!

                 

                I  guess as you get more bodacious, you begin to lose more brain cells, because there is a limit to how much magnificence your body can house


                YAYpril - B-Plus

                  I really enjoyed reading your race report and looking at all the pictures. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. Thank you for sharing. Smile


                  Girl Parts

                    Aside from the details regarding the ass wiping, this was a fantastic read.  I love that you took pictures every mile - such a great set of mementos.

                     


                    Bad Ass

                      Yeah, I went from laughing to cringing within a minute, LOL.

                       

                      I have to say, this is a very unexpected race report, in a good way. I wouldn't have expected to see a fun RR at Boston from you, but it is so awesome! I love that you channeled your inner scottydawg. The pics are great and your energy is great!

                       

                      When you started about the most disgusting thing ever, I thought you just meant poopin' in the portopotty. I was like, really? Then I kept reading...oh the things we do.

                       

                      I'm really glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing Smile

                      Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner

                      Blog

                      "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."


                      Ball of Fury

                        What a fun race report to run!  I will try not to hate you for running that fast while taking pictures and drinking beer Big grin.  Oh and at least you had napkins and didn't have to use leaves....they are not soft!!

                        PRs:  5K 22:59, 10K 46:54,HM: 1:51:15

                        GinnyinPA


                          What a great race report.  I'm sure one of these days you will be back in Boston.

                           

                          Since you and HappyLily were so close in time, did you see each other on the course?

                          slowrunningjulie


                            Great RR! I am glad you had fun and it sounds like an incredible experience.

                             

                            For what it's worth, I share your love of destination races and also the concern about the expenses. The way I handle this is that DH and I both have "mad money" in our family budget. It's meant for things like lunches with friends, going out, etc. You know, fun stuff. All of my race expenses come out of my "mad money." I have to save up for a long time to afford a destination race and cut back on other things, but that is what setting priorities is about. I also travel for work, so I am able to use frequent flyer miles and my HHonors points at Hilton locations. I am currently saving for my next race in October - Towpath in Ohio.

                            Upcoming:

                             

                            July 27 - San Francisco marathon

                            happylily


                              What a great race report.  I'm sure one of these days you will be back in Boston.

                               

                              Since you and HappyLily were so close in time, did you see each other on the course?

                               

                              No!!! He said he'd be there for me and he left me at the altar. The story of my life. Big grin

                              PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013

                                      Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013

                              4 years racing, 14 marathons, 14 BQs     


                              delicate flower

                                Great report, LtH!  Now that's someone who knows how to just take in the experience.  You look pretty natural in that Boston Marathon jacket.

                                 

                                These Boston reports make me really, really want to run Boston.

                                proud sherpa

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