Boston Marathon 2016... WOOF, rough day for the OFBOC!
We knew the forecast, we knew about the challenging course, but we still weren't cautious enough and paid the price. Man, I really thought it was my day! I was feeling great for so long, but I fell apart not long after and my second half ended up being close to a copy of CM unfortunately. On the plus side, although I could feel my recent left leg discomfort throughout, it held up and really didn't affect me.
Boring stuff first for historical purposes in case I ever choose to do this again: We left Rob's in Quincy a little after 5:30a, got to the gear check sometime around 6. Traffic wasn't bad at all really. Through the security checkpoint and on the bus by 6:20 which got us to the Athletes Village around 7:40. Next time would bring a garbage bag or something to sit on, though I used my start area bag and that was fine. Pretty empty to start, short bathroom lines, but got full pretty quick. Moved out of the village at 9:05 and made our way to the start. Headed straight to the start line bathrooms and were in corral by 9:45 in time to see the elites marched out and hear the national anthem with the Blue Angels flyover. Met up with Spencer in the corral for a few minutes of chatting! Bagels at around 6:30 and 8:30, Clif bar around 7:30, ~60oz water total from wake-up to start plus some Gatorade, caffeine ~9:10, GU 5min before start. On course, GU at ~7, ~14, and ~20. Drank at every water stop (after every mile except 1), mostly water but Gatorade here and there.
THE RACE DETAILS:
As for the race, Rob and I were ultimately shooting for sub 2:40 but we wanted to be slightly over pace through 16 (aiming for 6:10/2:41:40), give the hills what we could give them, and then hopefully have enough in the last 5ish to sneak under 2:40. It seemed like the most conservative way to get to 2:40 so we thought we were being smart... but alas. We ran together for the first 8ish with a leisurely start and it was awesome, but apparently Rob picked up a stitch around then (and also felt we were going too fast) and dropped back slightly. I probably should have as well but I was really feeling good and mentally insisted on sticking to the plan. The watch splits were a little faster than the "official" of course, so going by the course clocks I had nailed a 6:10 average by around 12 and kept it up until 16. Quick, but with the downhill, really seemed reasonable.
And then the fun part...
The first hill really wasn't bad, just a small one followed by some downhill so I still felt very in control, but it was also on the 17th mile where I caught up to Jarrett and I'm sure that gave me a boost I should have ignored. Still felt like I was holding back a lot though. First warning sign was probably on the next hill; legs felt a lot heavier on that one. Made a conscious effort to slow down through the hills after that, namely to stop pushing the downhills/flats. Figured even making it through that section at 6:30-6:40 pace would set me up fine with the time I had built up before -- heck even the rest of the race at that pace would give me a sizeable PR still. Stayed slow on the mile that had a really small hill (19?) and thought I was being smart. Heartbreak was tough but I just kept telling myself "keep moving, don't walk, downhill soon." The next mile was definitely nice, lots of downhill there, and I really thought that I'd be able to cruise in at 6:30 pace to close out the race but the next mile took a sharp turn. Stopped and walked a bit for the first time on mile 23. Rallied a bit on 24, I think maybe still stopping real quickly to drink the Gatorade at the aid station, but 25 was tough again and walked again a bit there. I think I stopped to drink again on 26 but otherwise ran the last 1.2mi. Felt like I walked a lot more than that but that's what the GPS says!
THE SUMMARY AND TAKEAWAYS:
So... that was rough. The heat was pretty deceptively killer (I think "officially" 68 to start, 73 to finish). I REALLY thought I was taking the right steps... our plan seemed reasonable, I drank at EVERY water stop (every mile except mile 1) and splashed myself with water a lot, and yet, I still crashed and even spent some time in the medical tent afterwards. Charleston training helped I'm sure but I ultimately really should have been more conservative... I really would have been happy with 2:45! Oh well, I think I'm still ultimately ok with going for it. 2:40 was a stretch goal for even ideal circumstances but I still want to say on the right day I might have been there, maybe just not on this course, but very possibly not.
The energy was infectious and the course was generally great though... Boston definitely lived up to the hype. We definitely had to work to stay slow at the start; was very easy to get moving without realizing it, especially being surrounded by so many fast runners. Fans were awesome and lined the ENTIRE course. Unfortunately my worst parts were the most populated sections, but probably the best cheers came after you started running from a walk anyway. I'm glad to have had the experience, but I'm not exactly dying to go back just yet (but that's not Boston's fault!).
THE BOTTOM LINE
End of the day, even if it's not the race I wanted, it was still a hard-fought PR and I think a good race relative to a lot of the field. My bib number was 1893 so that was more or less my seed place and I finished 702nd (and not with much faster of a time than my Q time), so I can't complain TOO much about that. Again, 5 months ago, I wasn't sure if I'd even be able to finish this race so I have to be happy about how far I've come.
Now... where from here...