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Boston Marathon 2011 Race Report

19 April

Salt Anyone?

This was to be my first “real” race back post the bike crash of May 2011, when I broke my hip. I had qualified in 2009 with a 2:59:42, so my dream goal here this weekend was to go sub-3. At the end of the day, I fell short by about a minute but I am super pumped with my performance. Thanks to everyone for your support…if you want more details, read on!

The Training

Overall, this has been my strongest winter in a long time. The bike fitness is up there and while I am STILL a few lbs too heavy, my run has been very solid. I had some good long runs in the low 7s pace-wise, so I felt like a 3 hour race could be within reach.

The Planning

My personal history has been about 5 minutes slower than my PB (2004 & 2005), so I knew that I was asking a lot of my body and fitness. Given the fact we’d have a solid tailwind and that I was rested from training by spending my time packing the house, I thought what the heck.

I drew up a pacing plan to put me at the finish in 2:59 and change. Basically the goal was to hold back a bit over the first five miles, then solid running through the hills…not lose too much time, and then bring it home strong. For more details on my pacing strategy, you can read the full Boston-specific post here:

To be specific, my goals were:

Miles 1-5 @ 6:55 pace per mile.
Miles 5-16 @ 6:45 pace per mile.
Miles 17-21 @ 7:00 pace per mile.
Miles 21-26.2 @ 6:45 pace per mile.

It always looks so easy on paper, doesn’t it!

The Execution

I slept well and had a good breakfast. The ride out was uneventful until little Emma threw up in her car seat as we got to Hopkinton! So much for it being all about me…we quickly got her cleaned up and I got dropped off. I walked about 20 mins into town, and was surprised to find that the bag drop was up at the school…another mile away. I ran up there, dropped my bag, had my pre-race gels, ran to the start via a shortcut, hit a port-a-john and was in my corral with 2′ to the start — super close! Fun to meet Jeff from LA, one of the new members of Endurance Nation…what are the odds he’d be standing next to me?

You can see the chart for specifics, but here’s how it went for me.

First few miles it’s already hot and I am thinking of being conservative. I am trying to stay hydrated and run a bit slower than the goal pace here. I haven’t hit my stride but not sweating it. Really running cautiously on the downhills.

In the middle, the pack opens up slightly, but I still have no mojo. Still feel like I am chasing my paces instead of having them just slot in for me. Wellesley was awesome, and seeing my family just after Mile 14 was a huge boost. I was mentally out of the game, thinking I was done for a sub-3 but at halfway I saw I was at 1:30:23…which included a 27 second pee break…so I wasn’t totally done.

We hit the first hill at mile 16 and I was worried….but bam, my legs felt awesome! Flew up the hill and through the turn to Newton. But any downhill didn’t feel so good, and this would only get worse. I’d fly up all the hills past folks…only to be passed on the downhills like I was standing still. By mile 18, my legs felt like they do 2 days AFTER the race…and I knew this wasn’t good.

I kept on my paces, and actually did pretty well in the hills. When it came time to turn on Beacon and bring it in…I just could’t get the pace up on the downhills. Even on the slightest downhill I’d be passed…only to regain more time on the ups. By mile 23 I decided to go for it…but just didn’t have the smoothness in my stride.

Looking back on the data, I could have gone sub-3 with the right final 5 miles…but who plans on suffering on the DOWNS all through the end of the race?

The Wrap

It’s hard not to be so thankful at the end of the day. My amazing family supported me through the crazy training and on this special day. I got to see some new and old friends, and make a few more. I laid down a PR for Boston, only a minute off my best ever marathon, which came before my bike crash. The fact I can run is crazy; the fact I am running this well given everything is a true testament to the power of family, TEAM, and the amazing sport we all share.

Now it’s time to recover, sell this house, go to Disney…and THEN think about Lake Placid.

Thanks for reading!!!

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