Last Chance for Boston Marathon Race Report
At mile 21 of the Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon last month, I decided to return to Ohio to run the Last Chance for Boston Marathon in February. Since that time, however, my training had been lacking. I considered running the half marathon with Meredith, but when she set her sights on a 1:37, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pick up. I decided to switch to the marathon distance to be able to run a slower pace.
The weekend was a lot of fun: I arrived in town on Friday afternoon and Meredith picked me up at the airport. We went to Easton (the local shopping center), and her husband Dave met us. We then headed to Olive Garden for some pre-pre-race pasta with Helen. We had some great laughs, and then I headed back with Helen, as I was spending the weekend with her.
On Saturday I had some running around to do: I was switching realtors after my house having sat on the market for 6 months with little success, so we checked on the house, stopped by the realtors, etc. We grocery shopped for the morning (bananas, gatorade, water, bagels) and stopped by the race expo, and then settled in for a quiet afternoon and watched the Sex in the City movie. As we were getting ready for dinner, I got a text from Meredith saying she wasn’t feeling well and they were skipping dinner.
Helen and I headed out to the Florentine restaurant, where we met Andy and Jen, Brian and Bridget, and Doug and Lisa for some pasta. It was fantastic to see the whole gang again! After a few hours of food and fun we headed home.
The next morning Helen and I prepared for our race: 26.2 loops around a one-mile loop. I’d done the half marathon before, but this was my first try at the marathon distance. I had in my mind that I wanted to try to stick to an 8 min pace, because even squeaking out a tiny PR would be great. However, having only run 1-2x a week for the last month left me wondering about the feasibility of my plan.
The weather was perfect for a race: it was just above freezing at the start. We met with Andy, Jen and Doug, who were running the half. Dave was there as well; he had a 110min run to do, so he was running the 10K event with a warmup and cooldown. Sadly, Meredith was nowhere in sight.
We started out well, and within a half mile Helen had pulled away. I kept my eye on my watch, pulling myself back when I got going too fast.
The joy of a simple loop like this is that you get to know the nuances of the track, and the spectators. There was a fantastic family at about .65miles that had numerous props. Every time you passed, they were wearing different hats or wigs, and the daughter was singing or dancing. It was a great break from the monotony of the course.
The race is a bit odd as it has you do the .2 at the beginning of the race, so they can use the same finishing line for all the distances (there are 5K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2 distances). I hit 13.2 at 1:45:31, feeling pretty good.
As I’ve said before, mile 16 is a “check-in” point for me during a race. I had slipped over 8 minutes for a few miles, but overall I was still doing well. And then, the wheels started falling off…
Doug had run the half marathon, and he jumped back in to run a few laps with me. We chatted, and I just felt like he was pulling me along. I just wasn’t turning my legs over as fast as I had been. At mile 18 I saw Helen up ahead, and caught up with her. She had lost count and thought she was on lap 16. I assured her that wasn’t the case, we were both on 19. I tagged along with her for close to a mile, and then she easily pulled away from me.
With a couple laps to go, Doug offered to run again with me, but I told him I just wanted to finish it off. I wasn’t particularly sore, or tired, I just was in a slower gear. The laps still seemed to be ticking off fine, and it felt pretty good when I knew I only had a couple more to go. I stopped to stretch a bit in mile 24, where a spectator asked if it was my IT band that was hurting. I said it was my everything 🙂 He tried to console me, saying he’d run 8 marathons, so he felt my pain. I smiled and responded that I knew the pain: this was my 24th!
After so many laps on the inside of the track, I nearly missed the finish line at the end. I dodged over, and was presented with an award for first in my age group. Confused, I told the woman she was wrong; Helen was standing in front of me, having finished perhaps a minute earlier. I asked her what award she had received: 3rd overall! So I did place 1st in my age group, 4th overall woman. Rather than plaques, we received what appear to be coasters. Hey, they’re practical!
The weekend and the run were just what I needed. Helen and I are race buddies to the end, and it was great to feed off her enthusiasm. We’re already figuring out what to run beyond Boston!