Short version: I ran a typical Ginny race: I went out too fast, slowed down at the end, but ended up with a time that was just about where I expected to be. My realistic goal was 4:05-4:10. My previous PR was 4:16:47, but I've worked really hard this cycle, and the HM I ran in March predicted a good improvement. There is a big discrepancy between what my watch told me and what the BAA is saying. I put in a request to change the official result. Per my Garmin, I finished in 4:05:08. According to the BAA it was 4:32:32. Big difference. They also had me starting 25 minutes early (at 10:50 a.m. instead of 11:18. I have contacted them, so hopefully they'll get it straightened out. (Official time was changed to 4:05:02.)
The forecast for today was pretty dire, 43 degrees, all day rain with torrential periods, and high wind. It was pretty accurate. What surprised me though was that for the most part, it wasn't that bad. I got to the bus a bit early but reached the village at about 9:45. It was a muddy quagmire, with snow around the edges and about an inch of water covering the ground .People were slipping and sliding all over. Fortunately there was a big tent (two actually but I didn't see the other one until we left) and I was able to get into the middle and find a place to sit and talk with another runner. I was shivering while waiting in the POP line, but okay under the tent away from the wind. When they announced that it was time for our wave to begin the walk to the start line, we got going immediately, but everyone was moving so slowly there wasn't time to get into corrals. It took about 50 minutes to walk the 3/4 mile, including one quick POP stop and a couple of minutes to take off my outer layers. (I had intended to wear an old rain jacket for the first few miles, but decided to go with a clear poncho instead. I had it on backwards, but I wore it the whole race. It added just a little extra protection from the wind, but I felt it helped.) The wave started while we were still a couple hundred yards away. No big deal, except that instead of being in Wave 4 corral 1, we were somewhere in the back of the wave, amid a lot of charity and invitational runners who were a lot slower than we were. I ended up doing a lot of weaving (total mileage of 26.57). The good part was there was no pack for the first few miles. Everyone was spread out from the beginning. That I appreciated.
Given the forecast, I decided not to worry about my time for this race, but just run by feel. I wasn't worried about the rain, but about the forecast headwinds. It turned out that that wasn't as much of an issue as I expected. There were moments when we were blasted, but a lot of the time there were buildings or trees that blocked it. Most of the time when I would feel the effects, after 100 yards or so the wind would dissipate. I never felt like it was a constant struggle against the wind and it wasn't affecting my breathing. The rain was a constant, but since I had a cap, it didn't actually bother me that much. I was wet, my feet were soaked, and I was always cold, but it was bearable. It did take about 4 miles before my numb feet warmed up enough to feel them and I had trouble opening my belt to get at Gus, but otherwise it was just a nuisance, not an emergency.
I turned off my Virtual Pacer and just tried to keep the pace feeling easy for the first few miles. I thanked a lot of volunteers, high fived a lot of kids, and just tried to enjoy the race. Well, my easy was a lot faster than I expected or intended. (9:01, 9:01, 8:57, 8:44, 9:07, 8:47, 8:51, 8:59, 8:54. It all felt really easy. At about 10 miles, I finally settled into a pace that was closer to my intended marathon pace of 9:10-9:20. The next miles were 9:09, 9:11, 9:10, 9:00, 9:13, 9:15, 9:14. The wind began making itself felt around mile 14 and we were getting more downpours. Then we began the Newton Hills. I didn't ever walk there, but I did slow down. At the base of Heartbreak Hill, some people were offering beer, which I accepted. I was due for some carbs about then. My stomach was not happy, but it was fun and a change from Gatorade. At this point, the muscles in my legs were really really tight and painful. 9:21, 9:33, 9:12, 9:35, 9:47, 9:42, 9:42, 9:48. I didn't walk, for once, largely because I was afraid that if I slowed down I might not be able to start running again. And it was much too cold to be going slow. I don't know how much the slow pace was because of the cold and how much was because of the early too fast miles. I sped up as we approached the finish with a 9:12 and 5:17 for the last half mile (9:16 pace.) So, according to my Garmin, my overall was 4:05:08, or a 9:14 pace. Since I had trained for 9:15 - 9:20, I felt good about this. Finding out that the BAA had a totally different time was not happiness, but I'm sure it will get fixed.
Of course, once I stopped after crossing the finish line, everything crashed. I began to shiver and cry. (Overload!) Every muscle in my lower body screamed. I got a heat blanket and a bag of food that I never opened, and went to meet Jim at the Family Meetup area. He was tucked under shelter, having received notifications that I was doing really badly, so he thought I would not be there for a while, but a phone call helped us connect. A nearby building had opened up the entrance area as a warming area as well as bathrooms to change in. That was really necessary because we were all pretty hypothermic. The heat felt wonderful and I would have liked to stay a while, but Jim had to wait outside in the rain, so eventually I forced myself to move. We took the T back to Cambridge (too many stairs!), had a burger and a beer, then went to our B&B for a very welcome steamy shower.
Anyhow, I'm glad I ran the race, though I was having my doubts yesterday. I told Jim that if this were any race but Boston, I would consider cancelling. I hated the idea of not being able to take advantage of the hard training I've been doing and it seemed to me it would be impossible to PR in these conditions. I was wrong. I did get to experience Boston in a unique way. Coldest and wettest race in 30 years. Over 2000 were treated for hypothermia, with 80 hospitalized. As I'd been told, the volunteers were great and though the hordes of onlookers were definitely reduced, they seemed to make up in volume what they lacked in numbers. I did get a chance to experience the scream tunnels at Wellesley, Boston College and on Hereford Street. I doubt I'll do it again, given the cost and the perennial issues with weather, but I'm very glad I did get the chance to see what it was all about. FWIW, I didn't think the course was that bad. Yes, I slowed, but a large part of that was my usual problem of going out too fast. I don't think I've ever negative split a race. For me, victory is not having to walk. It took four marathons before I could honestly say I hadn't walked, aside from getting water at the water stops.