Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boston, What an awesome race!

Time: 3:31:45
Overall: 7778 out of 22849

What an awesome race!

Running in Boston has been my goal for the last 2 years. I’ve read so much about this race through race reports and comments that I felt I knew virtually every part of the course. My expectations were so high that I could only have been setting myself up for a letdown. But somehow the Boston Marathon managed to exceed my expectations.

The day started out with a 40 minute bus ride to Hopkinton. I got to the athletes village outside the high school around 7am. It was foggy and cold (high 30’s) and I had 3 hours to kill until race start. I sat around until 8:30 then waited in line at the port-a-johns. Around 9:15 I headed down to the corrals, stretched and hit the toilets again.

Being in the 12th corral or 12000+ runners behind the start line, I had no Idea when the race actually started. I just saw the thousands of bobbing heads slowly move forward. When I finally reached the start line the clock was at 7:45.

I studied the course so much that I thought I had a good idea of what to expect. It took a good ½ mile to get into a good running pace. After that it started moving pretty good. From the start it seemed that I was always passing people but no matter where I was in the race I was always running in a mass of runners. My pace was much faster than I intended but I felt good so I decided to keep with it if I felt comfortable.

The spectators were just amazing. I have read so much about this before but you really have to experience it. I don’t remember any place on the course where there wasn’t someone out watching. It was either people out in front of their house or everyone else in town in the town’s center. And unlike other races where the spectators just watch, these people were active participants. I started a good 10 minutes behind the leaders and these people were cheering like their football team scored a touchdown. The kids were great too. They always had their hand out for a high-5. After giving numerous high-5’s I realized that this gave me a good boost of energy.

Two of the highlights were running past Wellesley College and Boston College. Wellesley is the one part that people talk about the most. Nearly a ½ mile out I started to hear the screaming. The only thing to compare it to is a stadium full of teenage girls screaming at a boy band concert. It was nearly deafening when I finally reached the girls. They were 2-3 deep reaching over the barricades with hands out for a high-5 or signs asking for a kiss. I didn’t give a kiss but gave at least 100 high-5’s and 2 of the girls got a good grab of my ass. The BC guys started at the bottom of heartbreak hill. There seemed to be competitions on each side as who could shout the loudest. It was definitely great motivation to make it up the hill.

After heartbreak I had a huge sigh of relief. I knew there were a few small hills but the hardest part was behind me. At this point I felt pretty confident that I could run a sub 3:30. On the flats and declines I was keeping a sub 8:00 pace but the remaining small hills really took their toll. As much as I studied the course I really underestimated how difficult these last few small hills would be. After a small hill around mile 25 I knew I had little chance to get that sub 3:30 so I stopped looking at my watch and just ran with what I had left. The crowds over the last mile were incredible. Individually they weren’t as vocal as some earlier parts but the large numbers made plenty of noise. People were 3-4 deep on each side of the street. Those numbers made it louder than any other part of the course. On the final turn on Boylston St there was about 1/2 mile left the view was just incredible. I just can’t think of any words that would do justice in describing it.

The entire race was an experience that I want to live though again. It will never be the same as the first time but will still be better than any other race out there. Before running Boston I wasn’t sure if I would do this more than the 2 races that I qualified for. Looking back now I think I want to run it every year. If anything it’s great motivation to keep in qualifying shape.

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