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Boston Marathon 2012 Race Report – The Year of the Deferral

I don’t know really know where to start with this blog. I could go a lot of different directions, the city, the weekend, the vacation but I think I’ll focus on the actual marathon. I am starting to get a little removed from the race but I will do my best to recount what happened.
Pre-Race:
Woke up about 5:15 or so and I know that sounds super early for a 10am gun time but with the race starting 26.2 miles away from the finish line in Hopkinton it takes a long time for the BAA to bus everyone out to the start. Lindsey decides to come with me to the bus pick up point and I am glad she did. We walked to get coffee and oatmeal and then over to the Common to get in line. It was like my first day of school with Lindsey snapping pics the whole time as I wait for the bus. On the bus at about 7 and off to the start I go.
I had been toying with idea of giving it a go in week and days leading up to Marathon Monday but as the race day forecast became clearer my decision was made for me. The heat was going to make attempting to race a very bad and very dangerous idea. My new plan was to try and enjoy myself as much as you can running a marathon in 85 degree heat and take it easy out there, not doing anything stupid. 
 It is one thing to run a marathon in high heat when your body is more acclimated to the climate but coming off of winter training there is no real way to have your body ready to correctly manage the heat when it is 85 in Boston in April! Either the early morning shade from downtown Boston hid the true temperature or it got a lot hotter in the hour or so I was on the bus because when I got off the bus in Hopkinton the heat hit me like a punch to the face.
Mile Splits:
1 – 7:06 I have been out to Hopkinton now two times before the race so I knew what the start was like but to actually run that downhill with thousands of people is pretty cool and to run it instead of drive makes the downhill more noticeable.
2 – 7:24 Downhill some more
3 – 7:19 more downhill…at this point I still trying to find my rhythm and decide what feels good today.
4 – 7:12 I got to enjoy a little bit of uphill here from what I remember.
5 – 7:25 I see my first causalities of the heat…I instantly think “oh shit”. Wave 1 runners at Boston do not start walking at mile 5 but then again I was like maybe they had a cramp or something. After I see a couple more it is pretty obvious that the heat has claimed their first victims.
6 – 7:23 At this point I snagged a small bottle of water from a spectator and decided to run with it for the majority of the rest of the race. This did not bother me as I am used to carrying a handle held bottle during my long runs. This decision I think would proved to be a real day saver for me as I needed water through out the course…not just at the official stops.
7 – 7:17 – Getting hotter 
8 – 7:35 – HOT
9 – 7:23 – Still getting hotter 
10 – 7:32 – Not having fun in the heat…no shade.
11 – 7:33 – The only thing memorable about this mile is it had some shade cover from the Pine trees leading toward Wellesley.
12 – 7:35 – Wellesley College, every runner always talks of the “Wall of Sound” that the girls from Wellesley makes…it was loud but at this point in the race I just found it annoying. Couple people around me enjoyed interacting with the co-eds but most guys kept far left away from the crowd.
13 – 7:55 – Half point is in the middle of downtown Wellesley. I distinctively remember the heat being oppressive at this point in the race. No shade at all.
14 – 7:45
15 – 7:45 The course goes dramatically back downhill at this point as we run into Lower Newton Falls. I remember noting course had dropped drastically and thought to myself…well you are going to have to climb out of it at some point.
16 – 7:45 – Grabbed a bag of ice from another spectator and remembering what I read about Heat training in Lava Magazine I kept the ice for a couple of miles and used it to cool my palms instead of instinctively just dumping it on my head.  I really think it made a difference in how I felt…granted  the next couple of miles where up hill but I think cooling my palms really helped control my body temp and allowed me to keep a nice pace for the “hilly” miles. I will be storing this mental nugget for Ironman Wisconsin…which I am currently planning on running in 100 degree heat based on how the weather has been thus far in 2012.
17 – 7:42
18 – 7:51 – From a hill standpoint this is the most challenging hill of the day to run up…at this point it was actually a nice change of pace from all the downhill running. Lots of walkers on this hill….I mean a lot of walkers. The heat was just too much for a lot of people.
19 – 7:47 Another hill. More walkers. I kept plowing ahead but I can feel the heat and the climbing taking a toll…my stride is shortening at this point.
20 – 8:10 3rd successive hill is starting to take its toll. I am trying to push the hills like I know that I can but it is a delicate balance to keep a good pace and make sure my heart rate stays in a comfortable range…I’m not taking any chances in the heat with a day like today.
21 – 8:40 Heartbreak Hill…worst mile spilt of the day but not the hardest hill. In my opinion the toughest actual hill to run is the first hill in Newton. I think it is the one that goes over the interstate but that one is the first hill so I was freshest. I remember this hill kind of felt like it went on forever.
22 – 8:07 – Ah over the hills and downhill from here…for the most part…it took me a little bit to settle back down after all the hills.
23 – 8:18 
24 – 8:22 – I skipped a water station at this point with it being two miles to the finish…that was a big mistake.
25 – 7:43 – By the time I hit this mile…my singlet was dry…I am not kidding it was dry and my mouth was screaming for some water. In the span of one mile all the water that had accumulated on my body from mile 1-24 had evaporated and I am talking about a lot of water.
26 – 7:52 – Turn on Boylston and start looking for Lindsey and my parents. They had staked out a nice place right by the mall so I knew where to look. Spotted her right where she said she was…got a high five…thought about stopping but decided I better drudge the last .2 to the finish line.
Finish: 3:24:53
Watch clocked in at 26.59 miles. Assume that is due to weaving on course to hit water/Gatorade/hoses/oranges…anything to try and keep cool.
Post Race:
At the end of the race the B.A.A keeps you moving through a long chute of activity… so I collect some food (which I wanted no part of at the moment), Gatorade, water, my medal, picked up my gear check bag. . It may have been annoying at the time to keep moving but it is absolutely the right thing to do after the race. The last thing you want to do after a long hot run like that is sit down and let everything sieze up on  you. I do remember briefly sitting in a wheelchair, not for aid or anything, but to untie my shoes. I think during the run all the downhill pounding and heat my feet swelled a bit and felt like they were going to explode in my shoes…it was pure relief.
It probably took me a solid 35 minutes to walk the .5 miles back to Camp Hein on Bolytston. The amount of people on the street was overwhelming and I started to freak out a bit but luckily the crowd broke up a bit right before the mall and I was able to rejoin Lindsey and my parents.
Marathon over.
Highlights of the race:
  • The organization of the B.A.A…second to none with how they run this event…everything is first class.
  • Race Spectators…I thought Chicago was amazing but Boston is a whole another level. It was incredible. They really get into it and without the kindness of the spectators handing out water, ice packs, sprays from the hose, oranges I really think the causalities on a race day would have been a lot worse.
  • Fire House Water Spray stations
  • Boston College…blew Wellesley away.
  • Seeing Lindsey on Boylston.
I don’t know when we will go back. Lindsey has the deferment for 2013 and I already qualified again with my February race in Birmingham but I highly doubt it will be 2013 when we return.  We will return I am sure…I’d like to run it two more times personally: Once with Lindsey since we were unable to do that this year. (Someone had to go and be seven months pregnant) and once I want to race the course.  After running it this year…I really like the course and I think it provide a nice challenge to see what I could do on it.
One thing is for sure is I’ll keep chasing smoke to earn that BQ…because that is what it is all about to me. It is about earning that time and then enjoying the reward of being a Boston Marathon qualifier…regardless of whether or not you make the journey to Boston every year… but I will say it feels nice to have earned my Unicorn medal.

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