2013 Boston Marathon
Before I go on...
My best friend Mike, drove me to the start. The time at Athlete's Village was mostly taken up in the port-a-potty lines. They should make a large open trough behind the prototypes for the guys... this would cut down the lines tremendously. The usual pre-Boston Marathon excitement was very strong and talking with other runners during the bus ride to Athlete's Village was again fun. I finally jogged to the start line (about a mile) and arrived minutes before the start. Mike took pictures (THANKS MAN!). The excitement was palpable, as it is every year. We were ready to participate!
I planned to target about 164 or 165 BPM (Beats Per Minute) which is about 78% HRR for me. In my last race (a PR) I averaged 164, so starting at 164 (with a plan to creep up from there) was aggressive. I wanted this effort to be on the edge and purposefully risk lightly hitting the wall. Whatever the HR hands me at the finish line is what I'd take.
The Start - Mile 4
This was my first start in wave 1. I was in Corral 9 (the back) and the crowd was much thicker than I expected. Regardless, the race was on! Normal race jitters were still in me, but I was settling in by the end of this steepest stretch. It was a reasonably fast pace, but more conservative than my conditioning would allow for downhill (which I had practiced a lot). The crowd thickness necessitated times of light braking for runners with sudden changes and runners side-by-side that were not going their qualifying pace. I avoided most weaving and resolved to just conserve energy as best I could.
Mile 5 - 14
I was feeling strong and the miles clipped by more quickly than they often do in a race. The crowd was amazing. Every year I'm just so impressed and motivated by these people. They know running. They understand us. They are generous. It is just unbelievable. Around this time, my right leg had some pain... patella tendon. It never went above a 4 out of 10 though, and after about 5 miles, it went away. So it never affected me (I did not slow down). Nice to see Santa again at mile 8, then around mile 9 I saw all the water which I enjoy every year. I also enjoy the scream tunnel around mile 12. This section is often so inspiring. The pace that my HR yielded was aggressive through this section; I stuck with it. (For optimum performance, this could likely have been slightly slower, but I was purposefully aggressive.)
Mile 15 - 16
I was looking for the steep drop, and there it was, along with the significant climb that follows it. I maintained my HR governed pace, going faster down the hill and slower up the hill. I've learned to trust this tactic even more since I've been using HR, starting in late 2011 (just over a year).
Mile 17 - 22
The Newton Fire station! ..A milestone in the race. Turn right. I was looking forward to the hills (knowing I was not going to blast over them, wasting energy like I did in 2009-2011). I also knew that faster paces lay just beyond the hills, and I looked forward to that. These went by uneventfully and were powered by the spectators. Heartbreak hill was longer than I remembered it. :-) But I was OK. No walking this year.
Around mile 22, I felt a "soft bonk" coming on... the aggressive HR I picked was just a touch too much. I detected it early enough to recover and then maintain. So I recovered a little during mile 22 and then maintained a good effort for the remainder of the race. I was not leaving any effort out on the course though.. I pushed hard the entire way. That felt rewarding.
Mile 23 - Finish
Watching for the Citgo sign. Spotted it around 23.5. I realize that Hereford (at turn close to the finish) is a long way off, but was still glad to see the sign. I felt tired, but better than I have in the past. As in each year, the fans pushed me along with their incredible support. I was noticing the wind more than before. I'm not sure if it's because I was more tired or that it was really worse. I'm not used to a head-wind in Boston, yet we just have to deal with the "cards in the deck." It sure was better than 2012 for a faster time. Other than the wind, the weather was perfect for me. I slowly increased effort from mile 23 to the finish. It felt good to have a kick left at the end, but I'm sure I could not have maintained that for very long.
I stopped my watch and saw the PR time. What a feeling! ... and at Boston in my 9th marathon!
So it went as planned in a sense. I pushed to the edge and almost over the edge. But, using heart rate monitoring, I was able to catch it in time, recover a little and then maintain. I believe in HR more than ever.
I strongly recommend heart rate training and racing.
This my HRR % for this race. Other than a slight dip around mile 22, it was a strongly consistent graph, so I'm very happy with it.
VERY INTERESTING: my Pensacola race was flatter and matched my best pre-race flat runs. I wanted to see what training runs best predicted the hilly Boston race. This Boston race more closely matched my best MP training runs for similar hilly conditions (whereas the best flat runs were 5-10 seconds/mile faster and thus did not predict performance in this hilly race). This is what I should expect... I had an HR governed hilly training run that yielded a 7:22 pace. Boston, being hilly, yielded a similar 7:21 pace.
For the most part, I'm very pleased with these splits. Again, I planned to push to the ragged edge, and I sure did. While the results might have been faster with slightly reduced efforts at the start, this was a planned gamble and it still yielded a PR. With a little more training, I will be able to leverage this same level more effectively.
These half splits show that the effort was close to even with an expected upward drift in HR. One might conjecture that the second half did not drift up enough and maybe a slower first half would have paid off in the second half. The pace certainly was slower, by 26 seconds. This was a positive 5:48 split. I would have been happier with a 2 minute positive. But given how aggressive my plan was, I'm happy with this. (The top 10 elite men each had a positive split... averaging +1:58.)
Race Results as published by the BAA (www.baa.org):
The new medal is larger than the older ones and uses a simpler unicorn design. I'm so thankful to the BAA for assuring that those who could not finish received their medals anyway. Time after time, the BAA has shown themselves to be a class act all the way.
I will always remember those who died. I will always think of those who were injured. While I may never have the honor of meeting them, my heart goes out to all families involved. On patriots day in 2014, I will be in Boston, running this great race, and will be thinking of all of you.
© copyright - Mark W. Rice