Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2007 Boston Race Report

I just got back from Boston today. I can truly say that facing the brunt of that Nor’easter has given me a new appreciation for the weather here in Portland...rain and all. A Northeast storm takes it all to another level. Literally. Being the eternal optimist, I was still hoping that "the weather" would completely pass by the start of the race. I flew in from Portland on Saturday evening and met Deb who was flying in from SoCal. Having checked the forecast, we knew the storm was expected to hit on Sunday so we took the opportunity to drop everything at the hotel and made a last minute decision to hit the North End for dinner. We went to one of our fave spots, Cibo for dinner (awesome if anyone is in the area)and Caffe Vittoria for some java and yummy cannolis before calling it a night. The North End was hopping as everyone in town probably realized that it might be a long time before the weather was that nice again.

As expected, the storm hit on Sunday. As we waited for the T to take us to the race expo that morning, we got hit with some seriously icey wind / rain. Having lived in Oregon for awhile now, I don't mind rain at all but those Nor'east winds can definitely take all of the fight out of you. We hit the expo and wrestled with an umbrella in the wind / rain while walking around town a bit, had lunch before shutting it down for the night. I was pretty much glued to the tube for several hours watching the weather forecasts for Monday morning. It didn't look too great initially but they were predicting the worst of it to pass before the start of the race *yes*.

I set the alarm for 4am race morning and when I woke up, the wind was howling and it was raining buckets…Victory At Sea conditions out there. Not the kind of morning you want to face when you are racing. I'm glad I brought most of my crap weather gear and ended up dressing for a typical inclement weather bike ride vs. run. I had trishorts on for wind protection, full thermal tights, thermal long sleeve top, gloves, wool socks, and goretex jacket. Deb asked me several times if I really wanted to head out there as it looked really bad, but this is what we do right!? She always supports me in whatever I choose so with her in my corner, I knew it was all good. Even with all the layers, I was still shivering as I waited for the T to move the runners to the bus shuttle stop. We then had to sit in the rain before taking the bus out to Hopkinton for the race start. It was pretty miserable out there as the wind was still howling and the rain was coming down pretty hard. Not the typical upbeat mood on the bus out to Hopkinton as we all wondered how the day would turn out. They had tents set up for the runners out on the grass but they were pretty muddy and the wind was slashing through them. I saw some people sneaking into the school gym and was able to squeeze my way in before they shut it down to any further people. I was very lucky to get into the warm, dry gym because the thought of spending several hours in the wind was not good!

I laid out in my spot on the gymnasium floor and chatted up a few people and relaxed a bit after cursing my poor planning, once again, as I forgot to bring any reading material or my ipod. I’m glad they moved the start up to 10 am though, as it was time to head out for the race start soon enough. Another plus was that the weather forecasts seemed to be spot on as the rain seemed to be letting up a bit and the wind wasn't as gusty. I was very suprised to see all the volunteers and crowd support out there- those locals are a hardy bunch! I squeezed my way up to the 4th corral and jumped in for the start. My plan was to use my garmin to keep my pace in check over the first few downhill miles of the race. I figured i could maintain 7:30's pretty comfortably and after a few false start/stops we all made it over the start line and started running.

My goal was to go out comfortably, run the downhills VERY conservatively, and try to keep as close to a 7:30 pace to hit my projected finish time (more on that later).

A good bit of adrenaline here...Boston always has an amazing start. Even though I was up in the 4th corral, a mass of people had already spread out as far out as you could see. Here, once you got even a slight bit of open space, it is easy to push it a bit on the downhill and destroy your quads without even realizing it.

I "thought" I was doing well. Pace felt comfortable, EVERYONE was flying by me in the first 3-5 miles (I probably should have had one of those slow moving farm equipment signals on my back) but stayed loyal to my garmin and was clicking off the 7:30's. The weather ended up being AWESOME through the first half of the race. It felt like a typical training day in Oregon as the weather seemed to improve as the day progressed. Granted there were some exposed spots where you'd get slammed with some harsh headwinds but I just looked for any human shield who happened to be in my area code to "block" until it passed. I actually overheated so had to stop at one point to take the jacket off and used the stop to refill my bottle also. I felt much better with the jacket off and the tights were probably overkill too but I'm sure if I didn't have all the gear on, the weather would not have turned in our favor...such is my luck! ;-)

After suffering through the heat at Boston the last couple of years, this was a welcome change. I could just imagine the 2K plus runners who didn't pick up their bib numbers kicking themselves as the weather actually ended up being perfect running weather. If you check my splits here (bib #4167), I was right on 7:30 pace. 5k, 10k, 15K, 20K, 1/2 Mary..still averaging 7:29 pace...I was feeling good. I got a nice rush running through the "Wellesly Scream Tunnel". The women of Wellesley College were out there cheering us on and you can't help but get a lift from all that energy. It's truly amazing how you can start to hear the faint roar when you are still nowhere near the college only to get enveloped into a wall of sound as you run by the loooong line of women cheering you on at the top of their lungs. Very cool.

Not sure when it happened but beyond Wellesley, I started getting some pain in my left forefoot that had me a bit worried. The one thing I did not want to do was injure myself even further doing this race. My quads started protesting at this point which really bummed me out too. Steven and I have done several runs out at Hagg Lake which is much hillier, both up and down, then the Boston course and I have finished 20 milers out there pretty strong without any quad pain so not sure how Boston can just destroy you when there really aren’t any significant up or downs. I think it is just a combination of the consistently rolling terrain and the adrenaline from the race. You can get yourself into a world of hurt without even realizing it. I thought I had learned my lesson in past years though and was running the downs conservatively but now, in hindsight, I’m thinking I probably could use some help on my downhill form. I was worried about my left foot and probably applying the brakes which, in turn, loaded up my quads. At 25K my pace dropped to an overall 7:38 average and it was all downhill from there. Each successive 5K was pulling my overall pace down as my legs turned to wood. After Heartbreak Hill, any downhill would just destroy me. It was pretty demoralizing too as everyone seemed to be catching a second wind through all the crowd support here in the last 4-6 miles of the course. I was having a hard time maintaining an 8:20 pace here and to make matters worse, we got hit with some serious headwind in certain sections.

At this point I was basically running on rims as the wheels had completely fallen off. Not a pretty sight and I was never more happy to see the finish line. To give you an idea of how destroyed my quads were, my last 2.2K was ran at an 8:40 pace! Usually you have something left to give back to the crowd but I surely did not. I got passed by a ton of people in the last mile.

Official finish time was 3:28:26 at a 7:57 average pace.
50 seconds per mile slower then my qualifying marathon in February. A very humbling day out there to say the least but that is the Boston Marathon. I feel very lucky to have finished the race. No excuses, definitely can't blame the weather since it was pretty good except for the few spots where we couldn't hide from the wind. There's always next year right?!

After a quick shower, Deb and I headed out to the North End for a nice dinner for a great ending to a tough day at the office. The weather seemed to get worse on Tuesday and was pretty bad today as we were leaving Boston.
*It's that brutal, icy wind I tell can cut you right to the core!!*
Deb and I still had fun running around town on Tuesday though. It was a bummer as we boarded our separate planes to go home but loved the time we got to spend together.

I also appreciate all the "votes of confidence" on my predicted finish time. *Group Hug* ;-) Unfortunately, we can only have one winner and that would be Curly Sue. She predicted a finishing time of 3:28:48!! Uhhhh, not sure if she is psychic but that is 22 seconds off my actual time. Pretty amazing, I'd say. Shoot me your address Su, you are a winner!

Sorry for the looong post but I appreciate you all following along. I hope all is well out there and your days are getting warmer!



Blogger Jessi said...

Great race report! Now rest up and get ready for Hagg Lake in 2 weeks! :)
Seriously, you kicked butt. I know it's all relative, but I'd love to run sub-8s on a 10k, let alone a marathon. Nice work!

10:04 PM  
Blogger stronger said...

Nice marathon!

7:27 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Good run in some frigid weather Mike.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Nice job Mike.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Crash said...

Mike - wicked run! I'd love to be able to run a 3:28.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

Excellent job, my friend.
Get some rest because we start cranking it up for Ironman Canada as soon as you are recovered from your Beantown run.
See you Saturday.

1:48 PM  
Blogger SkiRough said...

Awesome race report! Mike sounds like you enjoyed the weather :) 3:28 in perfect weather would be something to be proud of.

Way to kill it in beantown! :)

8:02 PM  
Blogger JeffM said...

Great report and a great race! I love the description of the Wellesley girls cheering.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Papa Louie said...

Good job on running Boston in the crazy weather! It was a good humbling learning experience.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Great race, Mike! Even while running on the rims, you're still WAY faster than many of us. :)

6:36 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Great report, Mike! Given the conditions, you performed very well. Hope you have a few days of rest before hopping back on the IM training wagon!

7:26 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Great report and great effort. Sounds like weather wasn't the factor it could have been, good thing. Hope you can get the left foot back behaving again, soon.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Great report Mike - sorry it took me this long to get here.

Ugh. What a tough race. Not completely shocking based on the weather and your tenuous injury situation going in, but still - I've been in races like that and I know it sucks when the wheels fall off in the final miles. So I can sympathize.

The good news is that you should have plenty of time to recover before hitting the training hard for IM this year.

Great effort, dude.

8:30 AM  
Blogger jgirl said...

Mike! What a story! What an experience!

You are amazing...all of the work that you have done, right up to the end of the race. It sounds like you have embraced every moment of Boston, the good, the bad and the ugly...oh and had some fun while you were there too (yeah!). It is good to have good people in your corner!

Honor the work, my friend and as importantly, honor the rest! Welcome back :-) ~j

8:58 AM  
Blogger robtherunner said...

Any Boston finish is a feat in itself to get there and get the job done. Sorry to hear about the second half, but great attitude all the way through, at least from reading the report. I wonder what you might have been saying out on the course. I hope the wounds heal quickly.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Mike, I told you to leave that anchor you've been lugging around since IMC at home!
Pretty solid race you put togethor inspite of the conditions and recent injury. Even the best of the best were 6-7 minutes behind their PB's, which is pretty much bang on what you ended up doing. Not too shaboo!
Now rest up and gearing up for IMC.. man that's going to be here quick.
Cheers bro.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Spokane Al said...

Mike, great race and an excellent report. It sounded like a real challenge just figuring out what to wear and looks like you nailed it.

Good on you for another great Boston experience.

6:51 AM  
Blogger olga said...

I think I liked your Boston report the most:) May be because you never cursed the weather, or because you were not very "deep down" into trying to solve what had happened in a second half with your quads. It happened. Who knows?
You'll run 3"10 next time:) Congratulation!

8:51 AM  
Blogger qcmier said...

Great job. By the way, thanks for the link to the Pfitzinger training plan. I may modify it a bit because I've never approached that kind of high mileage.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Great job! That's so awesome you did Boston. I can't believe people didn't show up b/c of the weather? You were certainly rewarded for sticking with it. I was thinking of you on race day, especially with the race report. Sorry to hear about your quads. You still had a great time overall and should be proud of yourself. I wish I could run anywhere near that pace (or a minute slower)!

8:35 AM  

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