This was my second attempt at qualifying for Boston. The first attempted ended with my time coming up 2 minutes and 15 seconds short at 3:17:15. Now that I will be in the 45-49 age group bracket for the Boston 2017 I get an extra 10 minutes, so a 3:25:00.
Going into the race I was pretty confident that I would be able to hold at least 7:30s for the first 20 miles. At that point I would reevaluate how I was feeling, but at least I would have about 6 minutes in that bank at that point. I would just have to hold 7:49 the rest of the way and I would be in. Well, that was the plan anyway.
The weather race day morning was going to be cold. A little colder than I had actually hoped for. I like it cold, but I didn’t want it so cold that I was going to have to wear running pants. I got to the race early and walked over to the Tsongas Arena and back to get a feel for how cold it was. I finally decided when I got back to the car that I would go with shorts and my long sleeve tech shirt and one other shirt that I would throw away if I got to warm. I think the temperature was 37 and the high for the day was going to be around 43.
Looking around at the start of the race as we are all lined up I noticed the pacer holding the 3:15 sign. I know that is about a 7:27 pace. I feel like I’m close to that, but then I read the back of his shirt and they have taken into account that to qualify for Boston this year you needed a BQ-2:30. That means this guy is going to run a 3:12:30. I know I’m not going to hit that, if I’m having a good day 3:15 is possible. I decide that I’m going to try to keep that group in my sites for the first half of the race.
The race starts and it is pretty crowded until the half-marathoners break off, but not to bad. There is a guy next to me dressed as bacon as we run. EVERYONE keeps yelling to bacon, “Yeah bacon”, “Bacon is awesome”. It was really pretty funny, but around mile 5 bacon disappeared. During those first few miles we were going at a pretty good clip, average 7:21 for the first 5. I had made a decision to take a Gel every 4 miles this year instead of every 5 like the previous marathon. I made sure they had more sodium in them and also made sure to drink at every water stop. I was determined not to have my calves cramp up like last time.
I was feeling pretty good and the miles were just ticking by. The next 5 miles (6-10) were 7:27 and I fell a little behind that 3:15 group, but I could still see them. They were probably about 100-150 yards ahead of me. I was ok with that though, I needed to run my race and stay in my zone. Another 5 miles go by and we cross the bridge to head back out and the crowd is getting thinner, people have either kept up with the 3:15 group or they have dropped way back because it was just too much for them. I’m averaging 7:25 for these 5 miles (11-15) and still feel pretty comfortable.
Running out toward the bridge the second time there is a group that fell off the back of 3:15 and they are chatting and discussing strategy and I thought I heard them say they were going to try to average 7:30s the rest of the way. I’m thinking great. I can do that! The problem is they are slowing more than that and they are all in the way. Running out to the bridge all you have is a little shoulder to run on. I finally decided I need to be away from them and take off around them and get out in front of them a little bit. I don’t see them again. However there is a young woman that was running just a few yards ahead of me for a while and she was also stuck behind them. When I made the move apparently she did too. When she catches up to me I joked with her that “hey my pacer is back!”, because she was doing a great job of just ticking off the miles and I was hardly ever having to look at my watch.
The next 5 miles (16-20) were tough. They were into the wind and on the road with busy traffic. I couldn’t wait to get over the bridge. Average pace was 7:30 according to my watch. Unfortunately at this point it seemed like my watch was off on the distance a little bit. Not enough to have me overly concerned, but I knew that I was really about 5 seconds slower overall than what the watch was telling me. As I crossed mile 20 they a picture of a wall painted or chalked out on the ground. I didn’t really care for that. Really, we need that psychological nonsense while we are running?
Twenty miles in. This is the point when I thought, just 10K to do. Don’t do anything crazy like pick up the pace, don’t skip a Gel, don’t skip a water station. Keep on ticking off those miles. This strategy was working pretty well, until around mile 22 and 1/2 when I my left quad started to tighten and I thought to myself just relax, don’t get excite, it will pass. Well, it never really went away, but it didn’t get any worse either. Miles 21 and 22 were both 7:30s so still rolling along.
Mile 23 I kind of caught up with a group and we rolled through a water station together and as we came out I was feeling good. A little too good as I’m running along with this group I look at my watch and it says 9:30 pace. Holy Shit! Am I lying kid? Luckily the entire mile wasn’t over and I picked up the pace and managed to get it back to 8:07. It would be my only mile that was over 8 minutes. My pacer friend had fallen behind and I wasn’t paying attention. Luckily I didn’t lose too much time. I rolled through the last 3 miles at 7:35, 7:35 and 7:32.
It wasn’t until I crossed the last bridge with about a half mile to go that I finally let myself believe that I was going to qualify. After my last experience I just wanted to cross that finish line. Total time was 3:17:57. A BQ-7:03!!! I’m thinking 7 minutes should be enough of a buffer to get into the Boston 2017 Marathon.
I want to thank my family for coming out to support me and be there at the finish. Also thank you to coach Fernando Braz for preparing me for the race.
Here is the Garmin and Strava uploads, because if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen. As you will see the distance was a little off. Says I did 26.45 miles.