Thursday, May 21, 2015

Boston Marathon Recap-My Dream Race

Where do I start.  It was a long road getting to Boston.  When I qualified for this race I did it by taking 43 minutes off my previous PR.  When the bombings in Boston happened I made a goal to get to Boston and run that race as soon as possible.  I qualified that following year and got to run my dream race on April 20.  It didn't happen without a little speed bump in the road.  Back in January I ran a 100 mile ultra.  Around mile 80 of that race I experienced some severe pain to my shin.  I finished the race but sustained a stress fracture in the process.  Just 14 weeks before Boston, I had to take time off of running, end an 1140 day run streak and see if I could even make it to Boston just hoping my injury would heal in time to help me compete.  I didn't wait long and that same week I started cross training.  I rode the bike, did the elliptical, swimming, pool running and started lifting weights.  My friend Em from Em's Gym really helped me a lot by designing a strength training program for me that I could do while not running.  It helped me get through my injury, kept me sane and made me stronger.  5 weeks later on February 10th I was cleared to do some light running again.  I started with run walking every 3rd day and eventually went to running every other day.  I was really cautious while coming back and if I felt any pain at all I would take and extra day off.  This was a lot different for me considering at one time I had run for 1140 days in a row.  I needed to get used to doing this and not worry if I was losing fitness by taking an extra day off.  I would rather be able to continue to run than be out for more time so what my injury taught me is to be a smarter runner.  It also helped me to be a smarter running coach as well.  Once I got back to marathon training I had about 7 weeks to get ready.  I never did any back to back running days during that 7 weeks and about 4 weeks before the race I finally added in one speed work day.  I was cautious about doing too much too quick.  I knew it wouldn't take long to get it back but didn't want to do too much too quickly.  I was hoping to get in just 1 20 mile run leading up to Boston but managed to get in 3.  My peak training week got to 46 miles.  Most marathons I train for had been up word of 80 miles. I felt about as well prepared for the race as I could be considering the injury and not much time to train.  During my training I did no hill work so I didn't aggravate my injury.  I knew that was a risk going into the race with Boston being as hilly as it is but my main goal was to get the best training I could while still getting to the starting line healthy.  The week leading up to Boston I did a faster paced tempo run and felt some pain in my shin.  Rather than run anymore I decided to take the week leading up to Boston off and just hope it was good to go on race day.  By race day the pain was gone so I had made it to the starting line as healthy as possible.  

Melissa and I got to Boston on Friday so we could enjoy as much as the city as possible.  We got to stay with our friend Tonya and her hubby Josh.  They were the most generous people we have ever met.  Tonya would take up into the city before she had to go to work then she would pick us up when we were ready to head back for the day.  Such a wonderful person and a wonderful couple and we sure miss them.  

We went to the expo on Friday and I got to meet Jody from Cross My Heart Fitness.  She is such a wonderful person and it was such an honor to meet her.  We talked for a while and then went on about our ways.

The following day Melissa was running the Boston 5k.  This was her first race back from her injury and had a goal of under 30 minutes and she did it!!  She crushed it actually!! I was so proud of her!!

Later that day we had planned on meeting up with Kate from Running on My Mind and her hubby.  We spent the entire day with her and her hubby first to the Samuel Adams Brewery, then to lunch, then back to the Boston Expo(where I got to meet Nathan from Beast Mode Running) and then to a Boston Red Sox Game. This was the first time I had ever met Kate in person but it was like we had known each other for years.  We all had such a blast together and wish it didn't have to end.  It just makes those meetings that much more special. At the game we ran into Jody again from Cross My Heart Fitness and I saw my friend Melissa.

Sunday Melissa and I took a tour of the city by bus and saw some of the sights but it was a lot of resting and not much walking so I could be ready for the early morning on race day.  We also had planned a meet up with several running page administrators from Facebook.  That was a really special meeting and everyone was so awesome and nice!!  I was especially excited I got to see my good friend Kat again from Smushtush Running and Fitness.  I first met Kat at the Nanny Goat 100 in California last year.  She is just super.  I sure missed her.  The whole meet up thing was just crazy awesome.  People you follow and now you are standing right in front of them talking like we are best friends and always have been.  The group clicked and it was really cool.

Tonya dropped Melissa and I off at the busses to take me to the start of the race.  Melissa hung out in Boston and waited for me to run and saw some of the sights.

April 20, 2015.  The day I have been waiting for.  Race Day!!  The bus ride over to Hopkinton I was pretty quiet.  Maybe I was still in disbelief that this was happening.  I don't remember much about the bus ride over.  It started to rain just after we got there.  There was a lot of waiting around before the race.  Once we go the OK to head to the starting line it was a little bit of a walk.  I kept making my way to the starting line and before I knew it,  it was time to run my dream race.  I had no plans, no time goal but just to enjoy the experience in my first race back from my stress fracture.  It was cold and rainy at the start but I didn't care.  I was at Boston, running this race.  This was really happening.  I couldn't believe it!!  First 5k I was crazy fast.  I tried to control my pace and just couldn't.  It was downhill and I said whatever happened would happen.  I'll finish and whatever time I get, I get.  At the 5k point I was at 22:52 (7:21 pace)  The momentum continued onto the 10k mark at 45:37 (7:20 pace).  From there it continued to the 15k at 1:09:02 (7:24 pace).  If I was properly trained these paces would feel completely comfortable for the entire race but I could already tell the fitness I had lost during my injury and the lighter mileage during training was starting to take its toll on me and I was slowing a little.  I crossed the half way point at 1:38:56 (7:32 pace) and knew at that point I couldn't continue at that pace, especially with the hills about to happen.  It was cold and the rain was coming down.  I usually warm up in a race but in this race I never did.  I never got warm, was cold the whole race which added to the misery.  My clothes were soaked and it was cold.  The crowd was amazing and loud.  I was giving high fives to everyone which helped keep me pushing along.  The Wellesley College crowd was unreal.  I think I got high fives for 1/2 mile, got a kiss and kept going.  I was feeding off the crowd now.  The hills of Newton were trying to get the best of me but I wouldn't let them as I continued to feed off the crowd, raising my arms in the air wanting them to yell as loud as they could.  I had several people yell, hey, It's the Run Nerd.  I went over to some, got hugs, kept going.  I was starting to get choked up again.  All my cross training while injured had allowed me to get to this point in the race and nothing was stopping me from finishing.  I continued on but I knew I was laboring and as each mile happened I got slower.  The faster pace in the early stages was coming back to haunt me now.  Before I know it I'm powering up Heartbreak Hill.  It's really not as bad as everyone says.  I've run harder and steeper hills than this before.  I powered up it and once I got to the top I felt like a new man.  I had this renewed energy, almost like I had conquered a mountain.  The last few miles of the race were a blur but I remember the crowd energy, and seeing the Citgo sign I knew I was close.  The emotion started to flow and I couldn't contain it any longer.  I cried a lot that last mile overcome with emotion.  I crossed the finish line crying.

Marathon #29 and my first Boston Marathon was complete!! In my first race back since my stress fracture I finished with an official time of 3:34:14 and overall pace of 8:10 which was good enough for my 5th fastest marathon ever. I did what I knew I would do early on in the race and let the excitement and the adrenaline take over in the early stages of the race and went out way too fast and paid for it in the later stages. It was so cold and the rain and strong wind made it very difficult, especially in the later stages of the race. I felt pretty good through about the first 17 miles. The scream tunnel at Wellesley College was so loud. It was unreal how loud that was. Simply amazing!! I even got a kiss on the cheek from one of the girls there that helped give me an extra boost of energy. High fives to as many people as I could and the fan support was like no other I've ever experienced!! There were many tears throughout the entire race but I really lost it when I saw mile marker 25 with Boston above it. Heartbreak hill didn't break my heart because once I got to the top I knew I had it!! I gutted through the run and finished strong and had one of the best race experiences of my life.   My number one goal was to finish like it is in every race and I did just that. 29 for 29 now!! Thank you all for all your support. It was incredible and overwhelming. I appreciate it so much. I couldn't do it without my wife Melissa. She is the rock behind the run nerd!! I've already qualified for 2016 and you bet I'll be back next year!!

The walk back to gear check was almost a mile.  It was painful.  I was so cold and shivering.  Several medical personal asked if I was OK but I told them yes.  I continued on and finally got my gear and once I got it on I started to warm up but I was so cold and shivering after the race that it took a lot out of me.  We found a McDonalds and I went inside and got warm, got a sandwich and started to feel better after that.

The course is challenging but I now know what to expect.  It is definitely a course that a PR is possible at with a few challenging hills but nothing as terrible as everyone says.  I'll be back next year and that will be my goal to PR at Boston.   Can't wait to be back!!

Up next is the Kettle Moraine 100 miler where I will be pacing my friend Ashtyn from Fit Life with Ashtyn in her first 100 miler.  Can't wait!!