That is probably the hardest, most painful race I've ever run. I was a few minutes off my 2:45 goal, but I ran the race exactly how I wanted to run it and I'm thrilled with the results. I was just about 1 minute off of my PR from Houston in 2008, but considering the hills and wind, this was definitely a better race. I'll give a more detailed mile by mile description at a later date and put up some pictures after we get back to Houston, but I wanted to hit the highlights here. I started out reasonably easy and made sure I didn't get caught up in the excitement, adrenaline rush, and big downhill the first 4 miles and go out too hard. I was shocked at how big a pack there was. I've seen the marathon in tv in Houston when the main pack starts going by the cameras where it is just a wall to wall sea of runners, but I've always been ahead of the main pack. Today I got to experience the thrill of being right in the middle of the pack for the first 5 or 6 miles. We had a pretty good headwind the entire race, but it picked up as we got closer to the finish and the pack thinned out. The weather forecast yesterday was predicting it to be about 10 mph at the start and 15 mph by the time I finished and that seems pretty reasonable to me. The temperature was in the low to mid 40's the entire race which was perfect for racing, other than the wind.
Early on the pack was big enough, there were people ahead blocking the wind, but after Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 it had thinned out pretty significantly and we got to battle the full force of the wind. I hit the halfway point in 1:23:15 which was 30 seconds - 1 minute slower than what I was thinking of doing before the race, but I was happy with how I felt. My hamstring was sore, but nothing that was slowing me down and I felt really relaxed and strong at that point. I had my small tube of icy hot with me and I put a bunch on my hamstrings and quads in mile 16 before we started up the Newton Hills. I felt really strong through the Newton Hills and was passing people left at right. My goal had been to get to mile 21 past Heartbreak Hill and be able to break 2:45 if I could run 6:00 even pace the last 5 miles. I was right there on my goal and I think I needed to run 5:59 pace and I felt so good going up Heartbreak Hill I thought I was going to do it.
Then I went down the hill and my legs just felt like jello and it hit me that there was no way I was going to do 6:00 pace over the last 5 miles. I slowed down quite a bit over the last 5 miles and stopped for about 25 seconds at a medical tent to get some more icy hot since I had accidentally dropped my tube after I put it on the first time. I don't know if I made up the time by being able to run faster or if I wasted 25 seconds, but my legs definitely felt better the last couple miles coming in. Boston is definitely a great experience. The crowds were awesome and there were almost wall-to-wall crowds lining the sidewalk the last 4 miles of the race. I can't retire from marathon running yet since I still haven't achieved my quest for the elusive 2:45 marathon. It was an awesome experience and I will definitely want to do it again. I will note that I was closer to my PR than Ryan Hall was to his, so I think in a handicapped race I would have won today. Haha. And Robert Cheruiyot, the defending champ DNF'd so technically I beat him too. Ryan Hall had an impressive 3rd place finish and Kara Goucher finished 3rd in the women's race, only 9 seconds behind the winner. She was leading a pack of 3 in the last mile or 2 but unfortunately just couldn't quite hang over the last stretch.