Tuesday, April 19, 2011

115th Boston Marathon - Monday April 18, 2011

On Monday April 18, 2011 I ran the Boston Marathon.

The weather forecast called for a high temps starting in the low 40's F and increasing to 60F by the afternoon, winds were brisk from the South South West. I decided to wear my Sugoi Shorts with a White Adidas T and a White Sugoi Running Cap. My nutrition plan was the same a STWM, first Gel before the race then again at 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32 and 38K. Eload Caps were scheduled at 16K and 34K. I decided to wear my "Nathan 10K Running Belt" and carry my Water Bottle. The belt was the only thing that would hold my Verizon Cell Phone and my iPhone. I need the phone to call my wife when I was done and the iPhone was my MP3 player, Camcorder and Camera all rolled into one very small package! The one thing that I didn't plan for was a head cold..yup I had a bug. It started coming on day before we left. It was the classic head cold , Friday it was swollen glands and a scratchy throat , Saturday it was a sore throat and Sunday I was completely stuffed up and couldn't breath. Its not like I could wake up on Monday and decide I would skip the race...I would just have to tough it out!!!!!!

Monday morning I had the alarm set for 4:45 am. After getting less then 4 hours of restless sleep I was up at 02:00 am. Had OJ, Coffee and two packs of Quaker Oatmeal. This would be the last solid food I would eat until well after the race. I soaked in the tub for nearly an hour trying to clear my congestion and it really helped. When I headed out to catch the Bus to the Boston Commons at 5:00 am I was feeling much better.

The Westin ran buses to the Boston Commons starting at 4:00 am. I was on the second bus of the day arriving at Treemount St at around 5:30 am. It was freezing cold with and incredibly strong wind. I was beginning to question my clothing strategy. Over top of my running gear I wore and old heavy sweatshirt an old pair of lined wind pants. I also had a garbage bag and News Paper to sit on at the Athletes Village . We waited outside for nearly 30 minutes before we boarded the Bus that would take us to Hopkinton. AT 6:00 am the first fleet of buses left Boston. We headed out I90 to I495 getting off on the famous 135. The bus ride was a bit intimidating, it was close to an hour before we arrived at the Athletes Village. I was happy to be on the second bus because there were no lineups and I was able to scope out a spot that would provide some shelter from the gusty cool winds. I had 3 hours to kill so I laid out my garbage bag with the news paper inside and laid flat to keep out of the wind. Cranked up the iPhone and didn't move for nearly an hour. I was so cold I started to shiver, I was beginning to question my apparel and was longing for my running jacket back in the hotel room. At around 08:00 am the majority of the 27,000 runners had arrived. I moved around a bit and grabbed some coffee in a desperate attempt to warm up. It wasn't until 09:00 am that I stopped shivering! The village was a festive atmosphere , helicopters were hovering over head and there was lots of media personal running around doing interviews.

Made my last porto potty trip about an hour before my 10:20 start. I was standing in line with a 21 year old from Nantik. This was his first ever Marathon. He got in because he knew someone and had a rather ambitious 3 hour goal. He based his prediction in the fact that he had run an unofficial 1:30 half. I asked him where he was starting and he was in the 3rd wave last coral. I wished him good luck and advised him that he would probably need to pass the entire 3rd and most of the 2nd wave some 18,000 runners to achieve his goal ...this was good comic relief! They started calling the second wave around 09:40. I made my way to the corals just in time for the first wave to go off at 10:00 am. I was very fortunate to be in coral 3 at the top of the hill a couple of thousand runners in front of me at about 6 thousand behind.

At 10:20 the race started. I was feeling pretty good, not too stuffed up so I decided to head out at a 5:00 pace. My goal was to reach 20K with out feeling too taxed. It would be really easy to go out too fast , the first half was quite easy and I was able to maintain my pace. My 5K splits were 25:04, 50:07, 1:15:07. At 16K I was starting to feel a bit tired and I knew that my goal was going to be a challenge so I dialed it back to a 5:30 pace. My thought was to get to get to the start of the hills around the 26K mark feeling like I had some fuel in the tank. Wesley College at 21K was fun living up to its noisy reputation. What I didn't realize was this was just the start of a very loud 20+Ks. Managed to get through the start of the hills OK. I was getting passed on the downhills but was regaining on the uphills still maintaining an average 5:30 pace. At around 28K the real problems began. My legs were feeling like cement and I decided to walk the hill to recover. The moment I slowed down I blacked out and almost lost my balance. I knew I was done and that the next 14K would be hell. At 29K there was a really long down hill followed by a somewhat flat section. I was able to run the 29th and 30th K in 5:56 and 5:32. After 2K of running I hit the next significant hill at the 31K mark. This was my second walk of the day , when I reached the top there was another long gentle downhill that I was able to run logging another 5:32 K. One more big one to go , Heart Break Hill at 32.8K , repeated the walk up logging a 7:48 K and the 6:28 on the down side. Getting through the "3 hills" killed me. I was able to keep moving along reasonably well until the wheels totally fell off with about 4K to go. This is where I had my worst moment of the day. The crowds were huge and very loud at this point, I backed out again and the crowds looked like a Spiral Galaxy and the the noise sounded like a jet engine. This is by far the worst running hallucination I have ever had and it scared me. It took a long long time to go the final 4K. I would pick a spot ahead to jog to then take a walking break. I never made it more then a few hundred meters without having to stop. I was really trying to compose myself to be able to run the final K down Boylston. The 42nd K was my slowest of the entire day done in 9:17..it really was the death march to the end. I bounced back a little bit and was able to complete the last 500 meters running crossing the finish line at a 5:43 pace.

My wife was near the finish and she said that I was quite unstable and zoned out. She could have reached out and grabbed me as I went by but I didn't see or hear her.

Now for the kicker.... I can't wait to go back! I really don't know what happened out there but I do know I can do much better. I am running Mississauga in a few weeks and I am looking for redemption!


EJ said...

Great report Ron. I kinda wondered if the wheels fell off or if you had stopped for a few beers. I was hoping it was the latter however blacking out is not good so it's amazing that you finished. Much, much more exciting then 5km at lunch though;-)

chris mcpeake said...

Way to go Ron,
Running sick is tough.
Glad you still had a fun weekend in Boston

Vava said...

What a monumental experience! Great job on not only getting to your first Boston starting line, but to your first Finish as well! I can only dream of such an achievement and have all the respect in the world for those "weekend warriors" who make it. Awesome stuff!

Anonymous said...

Hey Ron, I know what it like. MY first Boston in '93 was hot and I nearly passed out each time I slowed to a walk. Had visions of going to medical with less than a few k to go. Good to hear you're goign to get redemption in Mississauga. I'm doing the half so we might find each other at the start.