This Mark Rice's Race Report for my 4th Boston Marathon (Boston 2012).
The heat really spiked on race day and broke records for a Boston April 16. The high was 87 (F) and weather stations reported that it had already hit 87 as I crossed the finish line. It was a grueling race.
BACKDROP (as of this race): I started running (beyond light exercise levels) in 2008. I’ve run 6 marathons total and 4 consecutive Bostons (2009-2012). My PR is 3:26 (Drake Well Marathon in Titusville, PA).
PRERACE: We arrived in Boston on Saturday and went to the Expo. The new Expo location made the Sunday visit very inconvenient (we used to go there post 5K race on Sunday morning). So we just got it out of the way on Saturday. That made me side-step the expo and just focus on the pickup… and I forgot about the poster. Such is life. The FE at Beer Works was nice. I really enjoyed talking with such freaks as Hackker, MichRunR, KiwiRunner, Peter, DBR, Royboy, WTH, Curly, and many more.
On Sunday and Monday AM, I didn’t worry so much about the weather because I go by heart rate and that adjusts for heat somewhat automatically. I wanted a PR, but knew the heat would likely slow things down. I planned to adjust as my heart rate went higher. That was not to be.
RACE DAY: When I arrived at Athlete’s Village, I had to visit a port-a-potty which absorbed almost ALL remaining time because of the incredible lines that I’ve come to expect.
I prepared very well this time, with strong training, a good taper, and good carb loading without overdoing it. Race morning felt very good even though it was somewhat warm at the start. I could not even make it into my corral because it was too crowded. I’ve never had that happen. Maybe too many had snuck in who didn’t belong there.
The wave 2 gun fired and the ropes were dropped. The runners naturally compressed making it hard for the large crowd of us who were still not in the corral, but no matter, we made it in eventually… it was likely similar to being in corral 4 or 5 instead of 3 (where I was scheduled). We walked, and were jogging by the start. Not ideal, but not too bad. The crowds were thick for the first 5 miles and slowly thinned a little by mile 8 or so.
The big problem for me was that my heart rate belt never worked … the battery apparently died and I could not go by heart rate, a very disappointing development. So I was left with going by feel and pace, and had to estimate the effect of the heat. I maintained a strong effort and attempted to adjust for the heat as best I could. The heat began to affect me around the half. But the HR training really gave me a good calibration on my feel and pace for different conditions, even if not as accurately, so I didn’t panic. I probably still went out too fast, but it was harder to detect than in training because of the heart rate belt failure. But it still felt like a reasonable level even if I could have done better.
I can’t say enough about the volunteers and fans along the way, with extra water, hoses and the like! That is what kept the race tolerable. They may never know how awesome of a support they were, especially this year.
By the later stages I was very hot and beat up. The last mile, all I could think about was “slow is fine… just keep on running until the end.” I didn’t have a sprint in me on Boylston (like I usually do); I just brought it home with persistent determination, not worrying about time. As always, the finish line was exhilarating; I did it. I then began to tingle and get a little dizzy, indicating how high of an effort it was. (What I wouldn’t give for my HR information.) Felt quite good after a slight recovery (took in salt after the finish in the med tent just to be safe… in case my light headedness actually got worse).
I posted 3:35:32. That was faster than last year’s Boston (in which I fell apart at mile 23 or so), but ~9 minutes off my PR of 3:26. When I saw the race winner’s time (also 9 minutes slower than last year’s win) that really calibrated my self evaluation. I felt great!
Directly after the race I went to The Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) and picked up my awesome mug. Loved the named areas and the course profile. THANKS BOSTON BEER COMPANY!
The next day had some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), but could usually appear to walk normally even though I noticed a little periodic limping... mostly from calves. My Saturday run showed that almost all soreness was gone.
Redemption will be sweet (update: see the Tupelo "redemption run") but Boston 2012 will always be a fond memory when I was in the toughest environment to date, and worked out a reasonable performance. 83rd percentile overall; not bad for a 51 year-old geezer.