Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boston Race Report

Alarms start going off in our hotel at 4:45 a.m. Monday. Quick showers, grab gear, head out. To get to the race start, Chad and I have to take a shuttle to the subway, then take the subway to another bus that will take us to the start. We’re out of the hotel by 6, on the second bus by 7.

The efficiency of the Boston Marathon should be noted and celebrated: hundreds of school busses lined Boylston by the commons; runners were loaded in and sent on their way in less time than seemed possible.

But the bus ride is very long. When you sit on a bus for over an hour, the idea of running all the way back starts to seem pretty daunting. And the bus was cold. The weather was holding in the low 40s that morning, but since the sun wasn’t up yet (yikes), that was okay. A 10 a.m. start time is a strange thing.

We finally make it to Hopkington at a little after 8. First stop is the bathrooms, which probably took 20 minutes. I sit down and get my chip and bib on, throw on my headphones and start mentally getting ready.

Pre-race song list: Beyonce - Diva, Ludacris - Move Bitch, DJ Unk - Walk it Out, Dashboard Confessional - Reason to Believe.

I start shedding layers -- not much fun considering the temperatures and my race outfit of sports bra and split shorts. My bag goes into the bus (crossing my fingers my iPod, phone and cash all meet me at the finish), and I head for another bathroom stop.

I make it to the start a little later than I wanted, starting with the 8000s instead of my 7000s. Figure the bathroom stop will be well worth it, since I would have had to stop during the race instead. Since it’s chip timed, going to the bathroom before and starting late doesn’t hurt my time -- but stopping in the race would.

Going across the painted start line gives me a little thrill. Here I am, in Boston, running the marathon. The weather is good, my training has gone well -- now all I have to do is run well for less than 3.5 hours and I’m finished.

My loose plan for this race was to go easy until the half, around 7:20 pace, then try to pick it up after that. I wanted to run easy through the downhills, trying to preserve my legs for the hills towards the end.

Miles 1-5: 7:39, 7:24, 7:19, 7:17, 7:29. (5k split 23:17)

The first four miles are steeply downhill, and I was packed in pretty tight. No reason to try jetting down the road shoulder to go faster, just settling in for a long trip back to Boston. I notice I’m sweating by the two mile marker. I’m pretty much on pace, or at least close enough, and I tuck in behind two girls who look about my age and speed. I don’t talk to them, but being behind them keeps me from trying to pass people ahead of me the whole time.

Miles 6-10: 7:21, 7:13, 7:21, 7:17, 7:21. (10k split 46:20)

This is still feeling okay, I’m happy with my choice of apparel. I chuck my gloves a little before the 10k point. It’s probably 50 by now, but the wind hasn’t started to pick up yet. I see Alicia Heyne, another Louisville runner. She’s a few yards ahead of me, I call hello, she waves and keeps going. “Hm, guess she doesn’t want to run together,” I think to myself. I’m loving the crowd and looking forward to the halfway point and the tunnel of sound that is Wellesley College.        

Miles 11-15: 7:31, 7:17, 7:22, 7:31, 7:33. (HM split 1:37:20)

Here we go through a couple small hills, but any hill is big in a marathon. Just past mile 12, you can here the girls of Wellesley screaming -- from a mile away. Running through there is incredible, kisses or no. The energy is amazing. But shortly after the halfway point, my stomach starts doing weird things, and I start thinking about throwing up. The internal debate is, stop and puke versus slow down and not puke. I opt for the later, not wanting to dehydrate myself by throwing up. I back off a little and brace for the hills.

Miles 16-20: 7:31, 7:56, 7:54, 7:37, 7:36.

Ouch. There’s a few little hills they don’t mention that lead into the bigger ones. Pretty big one at 17 (obviously), and I’m still thinking about throwing up. I’m pretty miserable, but I let the fans carry me along and hope my stomach settles. This is the worst section for me mentally every marathon anyway, so I’m just trying to hang in there.

I see Alicia again at 20. She’s starting to struggle. NOW she wants to chat. I talk to her for a few minutes; we relish that there’s only a 10k left. Her sister is supposed to be watching right around the area, but I don’t see her. I hope Alicia did. She was fading and I was starting to pick up steam.

The winds, by the way, are picking up. Cups are blowing all over the place at the water stations.

Miles 21-26: 7:45, 7:18, 7:27, 7:15, 7:09, 7:06.

Hello Heartbreak Hill. Long time no see. I drag myself up to the top -- I don’t walk, even though I see a lot of people doing so. I congratulate myself with a little fist pump at the top, no joke. Cresting that hill is what I needed to get back in the game.

In these miles somewhere -- I was starting to lose track of where I was -- some BU friends yell for me and so does my friend Chris, whose girlfriend was running too. I start passing people, pushing a little, trying to keep my legs from giving in. I’m dragging myself from water stop to water stop, pretty sure I won’t PR but knowing I would be pretty close to my time from Memphis.

Up one last hill at Fenway park, knowing I’m nearly finished but that there’s still a mile to go ... I try to speed up but there’s not much left, but still, I’m passing people like crazy, which is a good feeling. I hook the right-hand turn onto Hereford Street, which is a short, steep hill, then the left onto Boylston. The crowds are roaring, there’s just 400 meters between me and the arches at the finish. I got down to 6:15 pace in the final bit, but it took a lot.

Just 68 seconds slower than Memphis. Had wanted a PR but it wasn’t my day for one. I make a new friend in the finish chute, which gave me someone to talk to while we gathered our mylar blankets, gave up our chips in exchange for medals, tracked down our gear bags and in general, shuffled to our families and friends.

I find Chad at the “Q” section of the family meeting area, and I’m freezing. My teeth are chattering. I’ve pulled on pants and a sweatshirt to no avail. We head for a friend’s hotel, where the hotel security guard offers me a couple of towels to use as blankets. I find a heater to sit on eventually, but then we still have to make our way across town to our hotel. Sigh. It was nippy out, with the storms moving in.

Alright, this is getting ridiculously long. Will post separately about general thoughts on the race and the trip overall later!

Official time: 3:16:16
Female: 335/9302 (top 3.6 percent!)
Overall: 3891/22849 (top 17 percent)


Anonymous said...

and again, YOU ROCK TRACY!!!
great job!
love mom

Anonymous said...

Awesome race! That close to a PR at Boston is something to be proud of! Way to go! Marcia

Ed Hammerbeck said...

That's amazingly consistent. Your split times are incredible. Good job!

Mir said...

I'm so impressed by your last 10K...great race!!

pinkskittlesfun said...

That is insanely impressive!!! Hopefully I'll be able to make it up to Boston to watch you run the next one if you plan to!

johnking said...

great race report...steamboat is steamboat spring CO.

alicia said...

Awesome job Tracy! Your time was great! I accidentally stumbled on this blog. I didn't know you wanted to run together you should have said something crazy! :) See ya around!