I’ll admit, I’d been negligent. No blog posts for 4+ months. But how can you blame me. Work had been HECTIC – and is only getting worse. Training took up the rest of my free time. All I wanted to do on my ‘off days’ was to rest, veg, and, unfortunately, shop. Ten pairs of shoes later (this is a topic for another day), I’m ready to write my 2016 Boston Marathon recap.
I have to admit that I wasn’t as inspired about running this year’s race as I was last year. Last year was my first Boston, and it took years and hard work to finally qualify to run Boston. For me, once I’ve achieved something it is no longer as special. However, since I qualified again, I ‘had to’ sign up.
In an attempt to make things interesting, I decided to shoot for a faster time – 3:30. So I trained for a 3:30 pace. Yet, for some reason I couldn’t get excited even though I was hitting the majority of my training paces. I was just going through the motions during training.
Four months later, burnt out from work, I found myself in Boston calm and ready to get the race out of the way so I could start my Portugal vacation. The only thing that had me concerned was the race day weather. Thanks to last year’s 40 degree temp and rain, I was able to run a PR; so naturally, I was hoping for another cold race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Race day morning was 60 degrees and getting hotter as the morning progressed. By the time I had lined up in the corral, I could feel the sun burning my shoulders. At that moment, I should have backed off on my goal of 3:30, but I thought, ‘hey, I’ve been training in 60 degree SoCal weather, I’ll be fine.’
We were packed like sardines from the start, and there was no way I could even speed up. The first mile was a 8:29, but after that, I was able to pick up the pace.
Mile 2 – 8:15
Mile 3 – 8:09
Mile 4 – 7:53
Mile 5 – 8:03
Mile 6 – 7:49
Mile 7 – 7:51
Mile 8 – 7:57
Mile 9 – 7:53
Mile 10 – 7:52
Mile 11 – 8:05
Mile 12 – 7:57
Mile 13 – 7:54
Mile 14 – 7:59
Mile 15 – 8:12
I felt great running at that pace, and then the unthinkable happened. Calf cramping hit me like a ton of bricks, and stopped me dead in my tracks. That’s when I knew I had gone out too fast and I was in trouble. It was either quit running and start walking, or stop to stretch out the cramps. I knew there was no way I was going to walk 11 miles and prolong the agony, so I made the decision to stop to stretch before resuming. I had to do this a few times before I got to mile 17 where my ‘super fans’ were waiting for me. At one point, a very nice lady spectating on the side was helping me keep my balance as I was stretching my calves.
Mile 16 – 8:43
Mile 17 – 8:43
Along the way I saw runners dropping like flies. I saw from the corner of my eye a female runner literally genuflecting mid-run, hitting the pavement because of leg cramping. I knew this because it almost happened to me. There were others collapsed on the sides of the road. The scene was unreal. The heat was getting to all of us. I was pouring water over my head at every water station to prevent overheating.
When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, ‘BAM!’ – my quads cramped up, and I had yet to scale Heartbreak Hill. All the uncontrollable muscle contractions made it nearly impossible to run.
Mile 18 – 10:15, I can’t remember the last time I ran a 10-minute mile.
Luckily, I am not one to panic. I’d like to think that I’m pretty level headed, and able think things through to find a solution.
I decided I was going to mentally control my muscles, as absurd as it may sound.
Running uphill stresses the quads, and downhills stress the calves, so I started repeating to myself ‘relax the quads, relax the quads’ as I was going uphill, and ‘relax the calves, relax the calves’ as I was going down. I felt like I was conducting my own Lamaze class on the course.
It apparently worked, because I was able to pick up the pace a little.
Mile 19 – 8:36
Mile 20 – 8:31
Mile 21 (Heartbreak) – 9:05
I knew once I scaled Heartbreak Hill, I was good because the rest of the course is a gentle down slope.
Mile 22 – 8:33
Mile 23 – 8:37
Mile 24 – 8:31
Mile 25 – 8:30
Mile 26 – 8:34
Mile 0.2 – 3:32
Final time: 3:40:33.
Three minutes and 43 seconds slower than last year.
Missed my goal of 3:30 by 10 minutes and 33 seconds.
But, I qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon, where I will redeem myself.
Oh, this year’s race was capped by a trip to the medical tent at the end of the race. The good ole asthma acted up, and unfortunately I had pitched my inhaler at the start of the race because I didn’t want to run with it for 26.2 miles. The medical tent was crazy busy and I never got the chance to get an inhaler treatment as I was too anxious to get back to do laundry before flying out to Portugal in a few hours. After waiting for 15 minutes…
Me, to the EMT: I’m sorry, but I don’t think I want the neb treatment.
EMT: Are you sure?
Me: Yeah, I need to catch a flight.
EMT: Where are you off to?
EMT: That’s nice. So you’re going to pass out on the plane instead huh?