Thursday, May 28, 2015

Boston Marathon Race Report

I had high expectations going into my 5th Boston Marathon. My marathon training cycle went extremely well and my fitness and marathon-specific workouts indicated I was in shape to run faster than my PR (2:32:29), which was set just 4 months ago at the California International Marathon.  

When I saw the race day weather forecast to be cold, wet and very windy (headwinds), I started to get worried. I was concerned about my race being ruined by the weather. But then I thought, there's nothing anyone can do about the weather and we'll all be running in the same conditions, so I better stop whining.

I arrived at the Athlete's Village about 2.5 hours before the start of the race. Once I got there I headed to the "Hawaii House", which is an engineering firm's office/residence on Main Street where Hawaii runners and islanders gather to relax before the race. According to this article, the owner started inviting Hawaii runners in for breakfast in 1995 to honor his late wife who loved visiting the islands. I was first invited into the house in 2012 by a close friend who lives in Hawaii. Since then it's been a tradition to relax and hang out at the house before toeing the Start line.

Hopkington Start
When the gun went off, I stayed close to the right side of the road so I wouldn't get clipped or shoved by runners who shot out like they were running a 10K. I ran comfortably clicking off mile splits mostly between 5:45-5:50. GPS mile splits for the first six miles were 5:45, 5:47, 5:46, 5:47, 5:52, and 5:47 with a 10K split of 36:06 (5:48 pace). At this point, I was feeling good (as I should since it was still early in the race) running at the pace/effort that I had trained at. I didn't think the winds had much of an effect in the early miles. However, by around mile 10, I started noticing the headwinds. It was also at this point in the race when runners around me started stringing out.  There were still many runners near me, but they were either running slightly in front of or behind me. Instead of putting in small surges to catch up to some runners and draft off of them, I continued to run my own pace and race.

I hit the half-marathon mark in 1:16:13, which was right around where I thought I'd be considering the conditions. My coach and I initially thought that going out in 1:14-1:15 for the half would be perfectly reasonable, if the weather was good.  However, going out in 1:14-1:15 in windy conditions would have made for a long day.  From miles 12-16, I continued to put down splits between 5:45-5:50. My 5K split of 17:55 between 20K-25K was my fastest throughout the race.

After 16 miles came the infamous Newton Hills. This is the section of Boston's course that will make or break a runner. In last year's race, the Newton Hills broke me and I ended up jogging to the finish. I wasn't about to experience that again. I reflected back on all the tough training and long runs I did on rolling hills and ran strong (or at least tried to) up the hills. Splits for miles 18-21 were 5:54, 5:51, 5:55 and 6:15, respectively. When I saw a 6:15 split for mile 21, I couldn't help but think that my race was about to go downhill.

The infamous Newton Hills!

After I crested Heartbreak Hill, I tried to regroup and focus on using even the slightest downhill to propel me forward. There were signs of my legs coming back to life as I hit the next three miles (miles 22-24) in 5:46, 5:50, and 5:47 pace. However, things started to get really tough over the last couple miles. My legs felt very heavy and the arms/shoulders started tightening up. Mile 25 was a 5:52 split.  

1 Mile To Go

With "1 mile to go", I tried to kick it in another gear but couldn't go any faster.  I crossed the finish in a respectable 2:33:13, which is my 2nd fastest marathon time and only 44 seconds slower than my PR. Ironically, I placed 119th Overall in the 119th edition of the Boston Marathon.  I'm very happy with my Boston performance.  I ran strong and almost even splits on a tough and very windy day. 

2:33:13 for 119th Overall

Official Marathon Splits