Boston Thoughts (Cross-Post)

Above: Last turn in mile 25

After each race, I do my best to add some type of post-race reflection. Though I have added some commentary already here, I wanted to reflect and generate a few more thoughts about this race. First of all, I must say that I think it sucks that the new course record will not count as a world BEST. 2:03.02 is just and unreal time. Congrats to the male winner, Geoffrey Mutai, for shattering the previous best of 2:03.59. By the way, that record was set on a very flat and fast course. And, it was set by a runner who was allowed to use a rabbit to pace him. Boston, on the other hand, is not a fast course; it is not a slow course either. One would be hard pressed to find a runner who thinks Boston is not a challenge.

For the weeks leading up to this race, I had been adjusting my goals; I wanted to have a great race, but I also wanted to be realistic, too. As I left the athlete’s village, I felt a sense of panic creep in. My Garmin GPS watch would not turn on; it was dead . I was very confused at this point; I knew it was fully charged. My friend and buddy, Jeff Le, told me not to panic; he advised me to find another runner who was aiming to race the course within the confines of my pace goal. Sure enough, as I approached my starting corral, I could not find anyone seeking to run my pace. However, one of the runners told me (note: 2 minutes before the gun) that he also had problems with his Garmin. All I needed to do was reset it. I had no clue how to do that; he showed me how, and boom — it came on. Wow!!! That was a close one. I would have run that race without any sense of pace. One might compare that to flying a plane without any navigational instruments.

The start was very crowded. Though my goal was to run a conservative pace for the first mile out of Hopkinton, I did not anticipate running mile 1 at 7 min 19 sec. In truth, I had little choice unless I wanted to be really aggressive towards the other runners; I decided to use mile 1 as a warm up. By time I reached mile 2, I was on cruise control. I knocked off both 2 and 3 at 7 minutes 4 sec per mile. Once I reached the 5k (3.1 Mile) mark, I was easily running a 7:05 pace for that mile, but was clockedofficially at 7:09 per mile pace. Much of that was due to the slow first mile. As I expected, all felt very easy. The crowds were amazing. And, they were very loud.

Mile 4 7 min and 3 sec pace

Mile 5 7 min and 6 sec pace

Mile 6 7 min and 3 sec pace

Once I reached the 10k mark in Framingham, I kept thinking that I am holding back way too much; it was feeling very easy at this point, as it should. In my head, I kept hearing two voices . One voice stated, okay Carson, it is time to push the pace a little more. This is nothing. The other voice stated, be very careful Carson, it is early and you do not want to struggle to finish this race. I listened to the conservative voice. Thus, it was at the 10k mark that I elected to run a very conservative race. Though the weather was great and we had a tail wind, it was still warmer than I wanted. I dropped my hat back at mile 2, but kept with the gloves. For some strange reason, my fingers tend to remain cold far longer than the rest of my body.

I am still feeling great as I head toward the 15k mark. My confidence was high, though I knew the Newton Hills were still in front of me.

Mile 7 7 min 3 sec pace

Mile 8 7 min 6 sec pace

Mile 9 7 min 4 sec pace.

The thing that most amazed me about Boston were not the Newton Hills, but the hills or inclines that defined the course throughout. As I raced into Natick, my legs were felling a bit heavy; in part, some of that was in my head. I started thinking that I had not tapered enough. But once I moved past my anxieties, I settled back down. I do recall reaching mile ten and saying, wow this race is going by pretty fast.

Mile 10 7 min 8 sec pace

Mile 11 7 min 12 sec pace

Mile 12 7 min 6 sec pace

Mile 13 7 min 9 sec pace

As I headed into Wellesley, I could not help but note what seemed pretty fast and flat turned quickly into a nice long uphill run. This came just as I approached the “so-called” hot girls of Wellesley College. Many of them were lined up screaming and holding signs that stated “kiss a Wellesley girl.” I did not see that happen. And I can assure you, the last thing on my mind was to kiss a co-ed the same age as many of my students.

I hit the half-marathon mark at 1 hour 33 minutes and 47 seconds. I was okay with that. And, I felt like I had much more to give. But, things went bad as I approached miles 14 and 15. I believe it was at mile 15 in which I had no choice but to make a stop. Number 2 was calling my name. I thought, this sucks big time; I cannot believe this is happening. I trained to deal with digestive matters. I always stated that I am willing to go number 1 on myself, but not number 2. This stop cost me a good 2 minutes. I was pretty frustrated, but I did not let it get me down. I thought to myself that I would just try to make it up later in the race.

Mile 14 7 min 9 sec pace

Mile 15 7 min 6 sec pace

I gained some speed after mile 15. There was a nice descent, but it left my legs screaming some. After the mile 15 descent, I headed toward the more difficult part of the course. From 16 to 21, there was a total net gain on the course. And it was at this point in which the real racing started. In essence, I hit 3 nice size hills before the infamous Heartbreak Hill. I did not think it was too bad. I reached the top of it at mile 21, but man my  paced slowed a great deal.

Mile 16 6 min 49 sec pace

Mile 17 7 min 14 sec pace

Mile 18 7 min 18 sec pace

Mile 19 7 min 7 sec pace

Mile 20 7 min 20 sec pace

Mile 21  7 min 40 sec pace (ouch!!!!)

It is clear that I am struggled just a bit by mile 21; however, just when many start to wonder if the wall is near, I was feeling pretty good; I honestly felt strong as I headed toward Brookline and past Boston College. I must say, those folks at BC can cheer. As I raced forward, I could tell my legs were heavy; still, I knew I had plenty left to finish strong. I could hear the cheering as I entered downtown Boston. And, I could see the Citgo sign, thus I knew the end was near.

The last stretch was tough, but nothing I could not handle; I wish I would have run the last few miles faster, but I was a bit tired.

Mile 22 7 min 11 sec pace

Mile 23 7 min 14 sec pace

Mile 24 7 min 7 sec pace

Mile 25 7 min 13 sec pace

Mile 26.2 7 min 20 sec pace

I raced to a finish of 3 hours and 10 minutes; I ran roughly a 7:14 pace. In truth, I wanted to do better. But I am left full of energy and emotion from a race that I know I can build upon. I cannot recall a race in which Ifinished with so much energy. Janette told me that I look like I could do a few more miles. I doubt that. I suspect with more training, and some adjustments, I have no doubt that I can get under 3 hours and push toward a high 2:40 low 2:50 time. I didrequalify for Boston 2012. I think I have a chance at getting in under the new rolling system.

As you can see, I am excited about achieving this goal just 13 months after aiming to reach it, dating back to the Little Rock Marathon. Here, I ran a course time of 3 hours and 42 minutes. That is about 8 min 30 sec per mile pace.


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