I don’t even know where to start with my race report for Monday’s Boston Marathon. I guess all I can say is that it was, without question, the best run of my life. I’ve run three marathons faster, but none better, and I say that with absolute certainty.
I entered the race with no confidence, other than the fact that I normally run well in Boston. Before Monday, two of my fastest three marathons had been in Boston and I really like running on that course. But my previous six marathons have been 3:20, 3:20, 3:23, 3:19, 3:24 and 3:21. That 3:21 was on Saturday, too. So I’ve been on a slowdown, and I’m far from fresh. But it’s Boston, and I knew I had a LOT of people following me and I was determined to do well.
People asked me before the race how I thought I’d do. I said that if I had to bet on a time, I’d go with 3:18. But I also said that I would do whatever I could to make sure that I got absolutely everything out of my body that I could. Forget those past six marathons. I was still going to go for the sub-3 if my body would have allowed it.
I was talking to a friend of mine named Louis before the race and he was saying that the 20-mile mark is what separates the men from the boys. It’s at that point that you back down and fall off, or you step it up, fight through the pain, and get the most out of yourself.
I thought about that a lot today. I was determined to run without fear or limits, to fight through pain and make people proud. I got up to corral 3, took my place, crouched down to stretch my quads because they were killing me, and then we were off.
I got my heart rate up to 170 pretty quickly, making sure I could take advantage of the downhills the course offered early. Gunning for a 6:52 pace as a dream, a 6:00 pace might seem too fast. But that’s where the no fear and no limits came into place. I didn’t care, and it was all heart rate. I was willing to let it occasionally creep up to 173 or so. I knew every time I crossed those mats every 5K, a lot of people knew how I was doing, and I didn’t want to let them down.
I was about on the same kind of pace I was on last year, when I went 3:01:31. It seemed a little bit unreal, because I just ran a 3:21 on Saturday. But all of that didn’t matter, because my legs were turning and I didn’t focus on the “why nots”. I knew I was in a race, the clock was ticking, and I was free to pull as much out of myself as I could.
I started to feel the fatigue at about mile 5, but I focused on pushing hard and fighting through the pain. I kept thinking about how it was going to be a tough, painful run, but I really had an opportunity to have a good day.
Miles 1-5: 6:46, 6:41, 6:38, 6:38, 6:58
I kept running hard and did my best with my fueling and hydration. I felt fairly strong and locked into a good groove. I really felt like I was redlining, but I’m supposed to. There are a lot of rolling hills in Boston, and I think the speed from the downhills, combined with a bunch of gradual uphills, helped me to move through pretty quick. I felt like I was a tiny bit behind where I was last year, but I think I’m a lot stronger.
Miles 6-10: 6:50, 6:46, 6:56, 6:53, 7:00
As I started getting closer to the 1/2, I was hoping I’d be somewhere in that 1:28 range. I think that’s where I was last year, and I thought that would give me a fighting shot at sub-3. I was in pain, but didn’t really feel like I was fading. I hit the 1/2 in 1:30:01 on my Garmin (1:30:03 officially) and realistically, I knew sub-3 was out. You can’t negative split Boston with those four hills in Newton. You just can’t. But I told myself it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t sub-3 or bust. It was do my best or bust. And if my best was 3:08, then so be it.
Miles 11-15: 7:00, 6:46, 6:56, 6:58, 7:07
I wasn’t slowing down, but I had some slower mile times going through the hills in Newton. That’s what those hills will do to you. They’re about 1/2 mile or so each, and they’re fairly decent climbs. Not impossible, but they’re just tough at that stage of the race, especially when you’re well aware of their notoriety. I think I struggled up those hills last year, but I was pretty happy with my effort this time. I wasn’t necessarily fast, but I don’t think I went soft.
Miles 16-20: 6:48, 7:30, 7:29, 7:13, 7:26
After mile 20, we finally hit Heartbreak Hill. The last of the hills, and then it’s all downhill from there. When we got to the top, I thought of what Louis told me and I knew it was time to make my race. I had worked so hard and fought through so much pain and I didn’t want to let it go to waste. 6 miles, that’s all that was left. Time to just suck it up and not let the day go to waste. I start flying from the top of the hill and felt really strong.
I was powering by people, sucking a lot of air and really pushing it. I felt strong, and I felt fast, and I couldn’t wait to get to the finish. I was running at quicker than 6:00/mile at some points. My legs felt like they were turning themselves, but it was all adrenaline because I knew I was cooked.
I hit mile 23 and I started thinking about how it was looking like it was going to be the best run I’ve ever had. And I knew I just had three more miles to fight through to get there. I was super excited, because I knew I’d nailed my run.
With one mile to go, I knew I needed about a 7:15 mile to finish sub-3:04. I fought hard, powered up Hereford and then down Boylston. I felt fast, I felt good, and I felt on top of the world. I powered down to the finish of the best run I’ve ever had.
Miles 21-26.2: 7:40, 6:44, 6:47, 6:54, 6:50, 7:00, 6:35 pace for .43 (Garmin).
All in all, the best run of my life. I was so happy with this one from an individual standpoint. And I could tell by the feedback I got that it was a great run for Operation Jack. So many people were so excited by it all. Truly a great day.
After the race.
After the race, #2.
After the race, #3.