Rarely in this event we call life do we get to live our dreams. We often settle for something not so bad for fear of not reaching our aspirations. On Monday, I lived my dream: running the Boston Marathon. Afterall, the title of this blog is The Long Road to Boston.
I was not prepared for the hills. Still had a good race. 3:21:03.
Training went fairly well this cycle. I spent November, December and most of January building a base after the Portland Marathon. At the end of January, I began a 12 week training program of my own design. Sometime next week I'll do a post about the plan. What worked, what didn't, etc.
My paces were much faster than for Portland and my average mileage was higher. I got in three months of 200+ miles. I nailed my speed workouts and tempo runs. I only got in 3 of 5 planned 20 mile runs. The last two turned into 17 and 18 mile runs.
My one tune-up race went very well. I ran a 1:24:36 at the Mercer Island Half Marathon (a hilly course too) four weeks out from Boston. With that time in hand, I decided my goal would be 3:03:24 (7:00 pace).
Race weekend was great. My older sister and I flew to Boson Friday night. Late Friday night. Left the airport at 10:15pm, landed in NY at 6:30 am. After a 3 hour lay over, we hopped a short flight to Boston.
After checking in at the hotel we went to the expo. It was awesome! We walked around for a few hours, saw the legend Bill Rodgers and met Josh Cox. Then we wandered to the finish line, took some photos there and of the churches nearby. Then, it was off to dinner.
We ate at Paparazzi. It was a great dinner. I got to meet a lot of talented runners, including marathonmaiden, sarah, kmh and alison whom I know as members of the dailies crew on RWOL.
Later that night, I thought about going after sub-3. I know I have the speed to run that. Sunday, my sister convinced me that I've trained well and its Boston so "Go big or go home". New goal: sub-3.
Race day I was nervous/excited! I caught a shuttle from my hotel to the buses and then made it onto the third wave of buses to the athlete's village. There, I got a bagel and banana. Drank some Gatorade. Took a pic of The Sign ("It all starts here"). Hung out with kmh and marathonmaiden. Kmh left for his coral first. Five minues later, marathonmaiden and I headed out to our coral. I had arm warmers on and she was in a tank top, so I gave her my throw away sweatshirt to wear to the start. We talked strategy for a few minutes and then we were off.
I ran the first mile slower than goal pace, 7:09. It felt great to just cruise and get into a rhythm. About a half a mile later I hear "Nick?" There's lots of Nick's. Couldn't be me. "Nick *insert my last name*?" Holy crap, who out here knows me? I turn to see Geoff, an old high school friend who I haven't seen in 6 years! We ran the next 4 or so miles together. It made those opening miles go by quickly.
I sped off later to make some headway into my race. I passed the halfway point right where I wanted to be, 1:29:44. I noticed my quads getting a little tight/sore. Then I slowed a little. Then the hills came and I slowed A LOT. I basically walk/ran from mile 16 to the finish. I just plain did not do the hill work I needed to, particularly downhill work, to prepare for the course. Or, so I think. More on this later.
Around mile 18, another member of the dailies crew ran by me. Asked if I was ok. I told him I just didn't have it for the hills and thanked him for asking. He continued on to run a 12 minute PR in 3:03:xx.
As I turned onto Boylston, I saw kmh. I drew upon some well of energy, still don't know where it came from, to move my legs a little bit faster. I crossed the finish line with him. What a feeling it was to cross the finish at Boston with a friend!
I then got all the usual post race goodies (water, Gatorade, food, medal, blanket...) and my gear check bag. Then I got my phone out and called my Mom to tell her about the race. Then I called my sister so we could meet up (she was at the finish line watching me). The I called my wonderful, amazing fiancee who has supported me and my running more than I could ever thank her for.
My sister bought me pink rose (to match my pink shorts). She took some pics of me, a guy offered to take a pic of both of us. On our walk back to the hotel, countless numbers of complete strangers congratulated me. My favorite conversation:
Man: "Congrats on the race"
We pass each other.
Man's son: "Who was that?"
Man: "I don't know but he just ran 26 miles"
Man's son: "Wow"
Post race thoughts:
Oddly enough, I'm not too sore today. Sure, I can feel my quads and calves a bit but I have no problems with inclines or stairs. I was even able to use my foam roller today. That all has me wondering if my quads really were done, or if it was more mental than physical.
I knew that I might crash by going after sub-3. But I didn't want to settle. Often in my high school running career I would start really slow for fear of not having the energy to hold pace or finish the race. I always had a huge kick since I didn't spend all my energy on the course. I settled. As my running has continued through college and into my graduate studies, I've learned that you have to take chances. We can not reach our goals and live our dreams by sitting on the sidelines and holding back. If we don't fall, we can not learn how to pick ourselves back up. While I did not run the sub-3 I wanted, I'm happy with the way this race turned out. I met some great friends, literally ran into old ones and accomplished one of my dreams. The road to Boston may have been long, but it is not a dead end. Its just a stop sign. Now I'm making a right hand turn and hoping that I come across that stop sign again in the future.