Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston bust - 3:04:12

I'm not sure even where to begin. I've had a couple days to think about my run and numerous thoughts have crossed my mind. I did re-qualify for Boston if I wanted to run it next year. This was a new personal worst for me excluding my first marathon that I DNF'd. I'm disappointed with the results, but the worst part is I don't even really know why it went so bad. I did beat Minnie Mouse though (more on that later) I thought I was in shape to run a ~2:50 or better and I hit the half at 1:25 and things were falling apart before mile 15 and with 11 miles to go, I was no longer running for time, but just to finish. Last year when I ran Boston, I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill around mile 21 and I thought I was going to break 2:45 and I started down it and my legs just couldn't respond. This year I went out easier and my quads were toast before I even got to the Newton hills.

We arrived in Boston on Saturday and was on the same flight as several fellow Kenyan Wayers who I had trained with some - Guy, Andres, Monte, Jiyhe. I arrived at my hotel and saw Jeff, another Kenyan Wayer and I found out that a large group from the Kenyan Way was staying at the same hotel. At the marathon expo, Team Hoyt had a booth set up and Dick Hoyt was there and I got a signed bobblehead of Dick and Rick Hoyt. If you've never heard of them before, they have an amazing story. Rick was born as a quadriplegic and his parents refused to institutionalize him and pushed for him to be integrated into society. His dad (Dick) started running races pushing Rick in his wheelchair and they have now run over 1000 races together including 6 Ironman triathalons. The video on the website might put you in tears.

Sunday I took it pretty easy and stayed off my feet for most of the day. On Sunday evening I was in my hotel room and we were watching a show on the weather channel about the Badwater Ulramarathon through death valley and they talked about this guy that dressed like a fairy in a pink tutu and ran a bunch of races and I thought to myself- I would probably give up running if a dude like that ever beat me.

I woke up Monday and walked about 10 minutes to where the buses were loading for Hopkinton and I got on a bus a little before 7:00 am. After a few minor delays we arrived in Hopkinton and the weather was pretty nice out. It was sunny out and in the mid to upper 40's. I had forgotten to bring sunglasses to the start with me, but I hadn't really planned on wearing them during the race anyway. I found a large group of Kenyan Way runners and hung out with them before the start and I was feeling pretty good about the race and relaxed. The only real complaint I had about athletes village was that they must have used the world's thinnest toilet paper in all the port-a-potties. I don't think it even qualified as single ply. It was more like 1/2 ply or 1/3 ply. I would have to use one hand to turn the entire roll with the other hand very gently pulling the end of the tp away from the roll. If you just grabbed the end and pulled it, it would break off and then getting it going again was kind of like when you have a roll of tape that sticks to itself and it is kind of hard to pull it off of itself. The other funny thing is they had a bunch of military or national guard people around the athletes village and some snipers up on the roof of the school. I guess they were there to take out people who were cutting in line at the port-a-potties. It seemed to work though since I didn't see anyone cutting in line and I didn't see anyone get taken out either.

I started to head over to the start line about 45 minutes before the race to give myself plenty of time. It was warm enough out that I just went with a singlet and gloves and didn't wear arm warmers or a long sleeve shirt which worked out fine. One thing I didn't think about beforehand was that if it was sunny out, I could be out in the sun for 3 hrs in the heat of the day from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and I ended up getting a nice sunburn on my arms, shoulders, back of the neck and face. That didn't ruin my race, but it sure didn't help it either. I started out fairly easy and was able to stay in the 6:20 - 6:25 pace for the first four miles which were downhill. I felt pretty good the first part of the race and was determined to keep it relatively easy and not push it hard until the end and I really wanted to run a negative split marathon. I was sticking right on my plan and went through the half in 1:25 and I still felt good at that point. I knew that a 2:45 was pretty much out of the question, but I thought that with a relaxed 1:25 first half, I should be able to run a faster 2nd half and I was hoping that I would beat my 2:48 from last year and maybe even PR.

Somewhere between mile 13 and 16. In the 16th mile, there is a pretty good downhill and then the 5 miles of the Newton hills begin. As I got to the first downhill, my quads started hurting like they had hurt last year going down heartbreak hill except this was 5 miles earlier. I had felt that same pain before and instantly I new that my race for a PR and fast time was done. There isn't much more demoralizing than realizing you have almost 11 miles to go and it is all going to be very painful. I quit looking at my Garmin for the most part and just focused on staying relaxed and keeping going. Another problem I had is that I laced my shoes too tight because I was worried about them being loose like they had been on a couple of my training runs and around mile 16, I could feel it digging into my foot. A little after mile 17 I had to stop for a few seconds and loosen the shoe and I saw I had a nice bloodstain on the shoe from it digging into my foot. After I loosened the laces it didn't bother me the rest of the race though.

The Newton hills were miserable this year in contrast to last year when I felt really strong going up them. I kept trudging on and saw my time slip further and further away. Going down heartbreak hill I looked up and saw the back of a Kenyan Way singlet and saw my friend Shawn Emerick just ahead. I told him good luck and finish strong. With a little over 3 miles to go I stopped for a minute to down a bottle of water and a couple orange slices that a friendly spectator was giving away. I don't think that I was staying well enough hydrated during the race even though I was trying to get fluids at every other mile. I don't think the lack of good hydration had anything to do with my quads being destroyed in the first half of the race. Shortly after I started running again I noticed that Jace was just ahead of me and I put in a little surge and told him I'd try to stay with him for a bit. That lasted all of about 15 seconds until I told him I didn't have it in me.

With 3 miles to go I jsut kept thinking it was like running a lap at Memorial park and then I would be done. Somewhere with a couple of miles to go, I get passed by a guy dressed like Minnie Mouse. I just didn't feel like I had anything in the tank and I wondered if it was worse to get beaten by Minnie Mouse or a guy in a pink tutu dressed as a fairy. When I hit the mile to go mark I tried to pick it up a little and started catching a few people and when I was half a mile out I really started cranking it in. With around a 1/4 mile to go you make a couple of quick turns and then get on Boylston and can see the finish in the distance ahead. The crowds are packed 8 - 10 people deep along the road and just roaring and I could see Minnie Mouse up ahead and I started sprinting as hard as I could. I kept getting closer and I caught Minnie Mouse with about 200 yards to go and I kept pushing it in for my 3:04 finish ahead of Minnie.

If I had a bad race and I didn't feel that I had been training enough or if I had gone out too hard or had really bad weather conditions I wouldn't be as disappointed, but I had a lot more mileage and my hamstrings were much better than before Houston when I ran 2:54 and I fully expected to run faster than that, especially considering the good whether conditions. I did 20+ mile long runs up on the hills in Conroe as well as a lot of hill work around the cloverleafs. I got a massage on Friday before the race, but that was 3 days before. My quads were really sore when the therapist worked on them so I don't know if that was a sign that they were in trouble before the race or if I just wasn't recovered from the massage and that hurt my race.

I'm going to take a couple weeks off of running and I may take a little while off of racing and concentrate on improving my flexibility and strength before I start training hard again. My quads are still in agony today and I shuffle around pretty slowly and avoid stairs as much as possible.

My dad ran his first Boston marathon and finished in 3:48. He was hoping to run a little faster, but still did pretty good for his first Boston.


  1. Geoff you crack me up...I literally spit cheerios out as i read the sentence about 'give up running if i ever got beat by a guy in a tutu'...and the push you made to beat Minnie? awesome.

    i know you are disappointed so i wont say anything to make it better, because nothing i say WILL make it better...relax, regroup and come back with both barrels blazing.



  2. Hey man, proud of you for pushing through pain and demoralization out there. You ran your butt off, for sure. If nothing else, congrats on beating Minnie. I'll have to do some soul-searching to figure out what WOULD be worse...getting beat by a guy dressed as a fairy in a tutu or by Minnie Mouse...this could take a while to figure out. :)