Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston Marathon Race Report

Earlier today I had the pleasure of running the 114th Boston Marathon. It was a great experience!

Having run Boston last year, and being disappointed by my inadequate preparation I incorporated significantly more hills and mileage into the preceding four months of training. My improved strength was clearly evident on Newton's hills, as I avoided last year's walk on the steepest section of Hearbreak Hill.  Additionally, in climbing hills I followed the advice by an experienced Boston-area coach who spoke at the Expo on Sunday.  He recommended that while climbing you should relax your abs, swing vigorously your arms, shorten your stride, and gaze a maximum of 15-feet ahead (i.e. however tempting, don't look-up to the top of the hill - since seeing the full height of the challenge can cause even a strongest runner to begin walking!)

The weather was a bit of a disappointment, though it was far better than it could have been! The temperature was between 52 to 56°F, with relatively clear skies and initially cross winds from the north, which unfortunately became more of a headwind as the race progressed.

I was very happy with the results as I amazingly managed to exactly tie my prior 3:19:37 personal record that I'd recently just set February in Austin! Having never tied a P.R., it was on the one hand frustrating (since even the slightest added effort along the 26.2 mile course would have given me an improvement to my personal record), but, on the other hand I was content since had I run even one second slower I would have been upset.  So, all in all I'm thankful for having done as well as I had, despite Boston's tough course, and particularly in overcoming my nagging right Achilles problem.

On reflection some things worked well while others did not. In the many areas that went well I credit my:
  • Improved training , specifically the added mileage with good hills-specific training through generally following the excellent Kenyan Way training program and coaching by Sean Wade;
  • Running on my Newton shoes, which I'm convinced help owing primarily to their light weight, their minimal heel, and the 'spring' action of the forefoot lug;
  • Increasing my consumption of Gu's Roctane Vanilla/Orange to one packet every three vs. four miles, without bearing any adverse stomach-related side-effects. I'm convinced that the highly glycemic mixed sugars, combined with caffeine and amino acids, pay dividends in mitigating glycogen losses from the active muscles while enhancing my concentration and motivation.
Conversely, I had two distinct improvement opportunities:
  • Though I generated a pacing band beforehand, having every intent to use it, during the race I unfortunately reverted to running the course 'by feel' rather than with discipline. I inappropriately ran excessively hard during the first half marathon of the largely downhill course owing to my being overly ambitious in imagining a 4-minute P.R. potential. The adverse result of this fast downhill running was predictably felt in my quads which wouldn't permit me to step-up the pace on the excellent downhill segments running into Boston.
  • Similar to my recent Houston Marathon experience I was excessively dehydrated upon completing the Boston course. This was despite drinking four or five ounces of Gatorade every two miles. Had I drunk double this amount it would have more closely matched my high sweat rate, and would have strengthened me in the late miles.
As was the case last year, the Boston Marathon spectators were hugely appreciated owing to their being unbelievably supportive and LOUD! While particularly true in the larger towns and cities along the course, and especially so at Wellesley College, I never felt unsupported along the entire course. The volunteers - of which there were literally tens of thousands - did an absolutely first-rate job, and bring huge credit to the most prestigious of marathons. I highly recommend the Boston Marathon to all serious runners!

Me crossing the finish line - exactly tying my marathon personal record!

Final results: Overall #4520/22645 (top 20%), Males #3994/13112 (top 30%), Males (50-54) #263/1868 (top 14%)

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