Monday, May 9, 2016

Boston Marathon recap

Short version of my Boston Marathon experience:

My goal was to break 3 hours. I had a little cushion going through the half way point in 1:28:12. I slowed the pace down as I approached the Newton hills. The calves started to cramp up at 21 miles. The last five miles seemed to take forever, occasionally having to break up the running stride to release a cramp. It was so nice to reach the last turn – a left onto Boylston Street and finish up in 3:05:28. Despite missing the goal, it was sweet to finish this one up as the last Boston Marathon I started, I did not finish. A local reporter called me later in the week and put a story together

Long version, pull up a chair:

I volunteered at the Boston Marathon expo, held at the Hynes Convention Center, on Saturday with Krissy and the Central Mass Striders. We had a task of shirt distribution but we got shuffled into a short-handed bib number packet distribution group. I did not mind as the incoming runners are full of enthusiasm as we are the first point of contact for them. Before volunteering, Krissy ran the 5K with her sister and friends while I came in a littler later to get some GU in the crowded expo. Sunday, the day before the marathon, I ran easy for a half hour.
CMS volunteers
Monday morning, I got up to a 4:30 alarm after about five hours of sleep. Breakfast was a regular coffee, oatmeal, and Toll House crackers with Garlic Humus. I had a zip lock bag for my marathon race replenishment consisting of the following: 2 packets of Saltstick caps (3 in each packet that contain Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, and Vitamin D), 2 Vanilla Spice GU Roctane, and 2 Hammer brand Endurolytes capsules. The caps consist of Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, and Maganese. The Endurolytes and Saltstick products are used to replenish electrolytes that are used up in the race. I did not take any before the race, and looking back, I should have. I planned on taking them every 45 minutes in the race. I used everything I packed in the race. In addition, I picked one Cliff Gel at each of the three stops and consumed them on the marathon course. I got dressed into the racing gear and my well-worn red Lunarglide racing flats. I put on a throw away long sleeve t-shirt courtesy of the Larry Robinson 10 mile road race from 2001 which was donated before the starting corals in Hopkinton.

Krissy drove me over to the Lord Wakefield Hotel for a 5:55 bus pick up. I got on the bus and greeted runners from the North Shore Striders, Wicked Running Club, and Mystic Runners. I think Heather Lane sat next to me. She runs for Mystic and owns a 3:35 Boston qualifier. Brendan Ring and Paul Whitelam, from the same club, sat in front of me. We kept each other company, but I stayed mostly mute on the ride into Hopkinton. Once the bus parked at the school around 7:15, I jumped off and walked around visiting the Central Mass Strider and Somerville Road Runner buses – wishing everyone a great race. The temperature was a hot topic, with forecasts of 70 degrees by noon and then dropping off as we got into Boston. That is pretty much what I witnessed although did see a temperature drop from 61 to 60 as I approached it in Wellesley. The water I was drinking all morning was getting passed 45 minutes later. 

I was thankful for the plethora of porta johns at the school and on the bus. At 9:35, I headed over to the starting line corals looking for #2 within the first wave to start at 10:00. I met Michael Rushton from WA on the walk to the coral and talked about the replenishment we planned on taking as he grabbed a clementine from a neighbor. He is sold on simple sodium chloride, basically table salt. You can get them in bulk and they are far less expensive than Salt Stick caps and Hammer brand Endurolytes.

I settled into coral 2 and stood next to teammate, Nick Taormina (who would run a 2:59). The 15 minutes of standing went by fast. The gun went off and we stood patiently waiting for the first coral to cross the start line. Then we walked, then jogged, then started to run. It took me almost 45 seconds to cross the starting line, where I started my Garmin. I recall the down hills early and how crowded it was. It was too easy to want to speed up but I tried to hold back. I switched lanes and crowds constantly. It did not matter, it was crowded for the whole race. I bumped into teammate, Arthur Besse, and ran with him for a short conversation. I let him go.

I was soon joined by another teammate, senior (50+), Gary Cattarin. His presence was refreshing and welcomed as we both had the same goal; to squeak under 3 hrs. He had the 6:53 (3hrs) pace locked in his head, but as I found out after a few miles, we were running faster than that. I was concerned about the early 6:40 pace per mile but that is what I averaged for the first 10K. Gary took a bag of ice (from his wife?) on the side of the road and offered me some around mile 8. I melted it on my neck and dropped it down my back – the rest melting inside the singlet. I backed off Gary’s pace but kept him in sight all the way past the Newton fire station. I lost him in the Newton Hills and he went on to run just over 3 hours.
Smiling at Roger Perham at mile 12

I did my thing, acknowledging anyone I knew such as the North Shore Striders working at the mile 12 water stop or the Wicked Running Club at a GU stop later on. My half was split was 1:28:12, setting me up for the goal time but I knew it was not going to last. I backed off the pace on the approach of the hills in Newton – the first was going up and over Rt. 128/95. It was there after mile 16 did I really start to see carnage around me. Runners were showing signs of the warm day, cramp up and walk for example. Even myself, I was waiting for a muscle to cramp.

Jay Euzikonis and family caught my good side in the Newton hills

I was getting tired and felt my stride changing, reducing the stride length, within the Newton hills. This stressed my hips but I was pleased to reach Boston College (the heights!) where I dropped out two years ago. As I reached the Chestnut Hill reservoir (between mile 21/22), I felt the first deep calf cramp. I had hints of it coming in the previous miles. I swore pretty loud. I looked at the watch – exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes. The other calf cramped up soon after.

The next four plus miles consisted of damage control. Cramp, jump up, release the cramp, run, cramp, repeat a few times each upcoming mile. I was reduced to 8:00 minute miles at the end of the race which was not in the plan. I recall the temperature cooling off and a head wind in the last few miles. In addition, the sight of the Citgo sign was memorable, meaning Kenmore Square and mile 25 was close, but yet, far. The last 30 minutes of the race took forever.
Smiles for Krissy at 26.10 miles

The last turn onto Boylston Street and screaming spectators was a sight for sore legs. I ran toward the finish and found Krissy on the right hand side, first row. It was emotional. I smiled. She stood there for three plus waiting for me. I took a right and ran over to her. I was afraid of cramping up if I leaned over for a hug and kiss. I reached out and high fived her and the crowd in stride not trying to leave too much time ticking away on the running clock. I ran back out to the street and got back into the race still saturated with tired legs. I took my hat off before crossing the finish line. Man that was tough, but expected. No marathon is easy.

Boston Marathon, April 18, 2016
Distance: 26.2 miles
Official time: 3:05:28 
Overall place: 2,170

Stepping on the letter "N" at the finish (gun time shown on the finishers clock)
I funneled through the finish line area getting water, a heat blanket, a medal, and goody bag of food. I kept moving and walking forward. I was thanking every volunteer in site. I really appreciated them, all day since arriving in the corals in Hopkinton. A long walk around a block got me to the family waiting area and Krissy was there, waiting just a few minutes. I saw Dan Vassallo, waiting for his wife, Katrina, for a few minutes. He said I looked like crap in the flesh and I could not argue with him. In summary, I am looking forward to get back to this race next year. 

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