Monday, April 17, 2017

Race Report - 2017 Boston Marathon

Huntsville peeps chilling at the athlete's village a couple of hours pre-race.
Well, Boston didn't quite go as planned. In fact, if it weren't THE Boston Marathon, I'd say it was a complete bust. But since this is THE Boston Marathon, just getting qualified to be allowed to toe the starting line is an amazing opportunity and the reward in itself. I always felt the BQ to be more important then the actual participation in the Boston Marathon itself, but after getting my first finish last year, I decided that I would try to push for a performance close to a PR. While I do not like to place blame on factors outside myself, I will say that the second hottest conditions on record in the last ten years certainly didn't help. This was to be my wife's first Boston Marathon and my second. I won't talk about her race as I know she prefer I didn't, but I'll summarize how my race went.In 2016, I was lucky enough to re-qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon while running my first Boston. My wife was there to support me at the finish line. She had already qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon and knowing that I would travel with her to be there for her first Boston, I was happy to be able to join her in actually running it as well. The 2017 Boston Marathon also happened to fall on our 5 year wedding anniversary, so it would be the perfect anniversary trip for endurance junkies:-)

We kept monitoring the weather for the two weeks leading up to the race and for the longest time, conditions seemed to be perfect. Cool temps in the low 50s. While the forecast predicted only slightly warmer temps leading up to race day, the temps on race day ended up being much worse. 

I was in wave 2 corral 4 this year and my starting time was 10:25AM local time. My goal time was 3:05, which would require a pace quite a bit faster than the general goal pave of the wave I was running in. As a result, I struggled finding my pace right from the start. I was literally "stuck" behind thousands of runners and I along with many other runners tried to find my way through the crowd to "find" and settle into my goal pace. Well, that never happened and while that was initially due to high runner traffic, it really didn't matter in the long run. I was never able to get up to my goal pace and by the time I has the room to do so, I was no longer physically able to do so.

Without referring to my specific splits, suffice it to say that my race was over before I even hit the halfway mark. The picture below shows exactly how I felt for the entire second half of the race, physically battered and emotionally drained trying to get back on track. Instead, the race continued to deteriorate at a rapid pace. Essentially, I lost nearly a minute in my per mile pace at every split. It wasn't pretty.


This image best describes how this year's Boston Marathon went for me.
By the time I reached Heartbreak Hill, Dink Taylor had caught up to me and we both continued on suffering together for a few miles. Let's just say there was a lot of walking involved for me. I was exhausted, overheated, dehydrated,... I started switching sides at water stops just to take water and gatorade on both sides of the road. I could not wait to see the Citgo sign and even once I saw it, I knew I still had too long to go. I trudged on, shuffling and looking over my shoulder for other team mates and Huntsville runners to pass me. As it turned out, almost everyone I knew running this race as having a rough go, losing upwards of 20-30 minutes over their projected goal times.

Right on Hereford...
By the time I turned right on Hereford I was ready to make the final turn onto Boylston Street and towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon. No matter how bad you are feeling, once you hear the roar of the crowd of spectators lining the final quarter mile all of the suffering over the previous 26 miles is all but forgotten. Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon is one of the most special moments I have ever experienced as a recreational athlete.

Some medals are earned harder than others.

Now on to finding another marathon to get myself that elusive BQ I missed, so I can toe the line again next year.

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