Friday, April 20, 2012

Boston Marathon 2012 Race Report

April 16 , 2012 - the day was too hot for racing, sunny and 70's at the start, rising into the upper 80's.
During training my goal time for this race was 3:30 - requiring an average pace of 8 minutes per mile.  I finished with 4:30:29, 45 minutes slower than in 2011.
There were many warnings from the BAA about the hot weather.  They recommended only highly trained runners participate and to abandon time goals.  And they offered deferment/guaranteed entry for next year.
Considering the hot conditions I decided to start at 8:30 pace and adjust as needed.  By 5k I realized that pace would not work, so I purposely slowed by taking more time at water stops.  I had to continue slowing throughout the race. I added walking some between stops and then walking whenever I was too hot. Each mile took longer and was becoming more uncomfortable for me.  There were fluid stations every mile with gatorade and water.  As the day went on and got hotter, the drinks got warmer.  I was soon 2 or 3 cupping every water table - dump a cup of water, drink a cup of something, dump another cup of water over my head and upper body for cooling.  One time the "water" running down my face tasted like gatorade.  Oops!  My first thought was whether anyone noticed what I did.  I quickly used a couple extra waters to rinse.
Runners also had several opportunities to run through misting tents and fire hydrant sprayers to help keep cool.
By midway my quads were hurting and any slight downhill stretch was painful. The Newton hills from miles 17 to 21 tired and slowed me even more.  About mile 20 it seemed I was no longer sweating.  Before arriving at each water stop my arms would be dry.  But I felt ok to continue.  No headaches, dizziness, shaking.  No serious cramping.  My skin recovered from a pinch test for dehydration.  I considered checking at a medical tent but didn't want to risk them taking me off the course.  I had invested a lot of effort to get this far and didn't want to leave without finishing and getting the medal.  It seems foolish now as I put these stubborn thoughts into words.

Walking again, thinking constant forward progress.

For a long time I had been looking forward to the end of the hills where family and friends were watching.  I made sure I was running as I approached the spot in case there was a camera was ready for pictures.  Finally I arrived, found them near where I expected at mile 22 and stopped to talk with Rose and Keith and the others.  Rose offered water to pour over my head - I suppose I didn't look so fresh.  And then I went on to face the last 4-something miles.
More run-walk effort made slow progress. I realized if I could or would run more, I'd get done sooner.  At last I reached the final mile with only 2 turns before I could see the finish a few blocks away.  I managed to run without walking from the end of Boyleston the last whatever that is (half mile?) at a little under 9 minute pace.  I felt some emotion welling up as I ran along this last stretch in front of big crowds making big noise.  Crossing the finish gave simply a feeling of relief.
This marathon was difficult in such a different way than others I've run.  The conditions were the biggest challenge, not the distance or a time goal.  Early on when I realized I had to slow down to manage the heat, I surrendered any time goal.  When I checked my watch it was either to see what the total distance was or out of curiosity over my ever slowing pace.  My goal was only to finish safely.  Even that was not easy.

Even with this year's challenges, I am still very glad to have done the Boston Marathon. There was awesome support over the entire course from race workers and spectators acting as unofficial volunteers!


5k splits recorded by BAA:
0:26:21, 0:54:07, 1:22:21, 1:52:50, 1:59:12, 2:25:18, 3:00:31, 3:38:49, 4:15:58
mile splits from my watch:
  829,   828,    824,     821,     844,     858,     916,    917,     904,     900,     944,    1001,     942,
1007, 1103,  1012,   1149,   1130,   1123,   1142,  1305,   1142,   1239,   1147,    1108,   1103,  348 (828 pace for 0.45mi)

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