Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The PR That Almost Didn't Happen! by Scott Kennedy

By now everyone knows that it was HOT in Boston, so here is another take on the race and the heat that crippled most people and by all accounts should have crippled me. Jose F., Todd J., and I were supposed to run Boston last year, but we were shut out of the registration. So a year later along with my wife we finally headed off to Boston early Saturday morning. Having a wife who spends a lot of time on US Air, paid off with a first class seat to Beantown.
Now this must be how Ryan Hall feels when he heads off somewhere. We made it into town around 11 and were headed off to the hotel to get rid of our luggage when we got off the wrong stop. Well just so happens that we were at the expo and packet pick up. That was a ton of fun to get around with luggage in tow. We got our stuff and then continued on our quest for the hotel. Shopping at the expo would wait till we could unload. After a quick lunch at Boston Common (we saw a lot of interesting people and interesting conversation by local park dwellers), we headed to the expo and loaded up on all of our Boston Marathon gear. We met up with Crazy Leg founder Paul M. at the expo. He was the first to try and get in my head that a PR wasn't going to be possible on Monday with the weather. I had sort of already began to rethink my race plan, but not so far as not to try for a PR, merely a smaller one. He gave me a quick you must be crazy look and headed off. Then the emails from BAA started pouring in about the heat and warning people to "just enjoy the experience". Really? Have I trained for 15 weeks to come to Boston and enjoy the experience? NO! Sunday was a pretty quiet day around the hotel. Jose, Todd and I headed out to do a short run over to the mile race that was going on around the start line. That was a cool experience. I haven't really seen many elites run before. I think the high schooler who ran 4:20 something probably looked like he was working the hardest. First two time winner too. After the race, we headed back to the hotel to get off our feet. At this point I should have turned the Blackberry off. More emails from BAA and one from Paul for all of the Crazy Leg group. He really should have just sent it to me, because that was who he was talking to. A quick Facebook message to Caleb B., who I had planned to log some miles with during the race, about our race plan. He wasn't changing, so then the decision was made for me...I'm going for it. I've trained for this and I have bonked before including Boston 2008, so here we go. Dinner Sunday night was awesome...Go eat at Lucia's in the North End. The 5:30 wake up call led to turning on the news and seeing that the temperature was well above most marathon temps.
Oh well too late to turn back now. We headed to the buses and met up with some others from Charlotte. The bus lines were quick and we were on our way to Hopkinton. The ride seem to fly by this time. Before I knew it we rolled into athlete's village. All the pre race rituals were done and it was time to head to the start. That has to be the longest .7 miles ever. I settle into the front of my corral and tried to find some shade and water. A few minutes before the start I moved back in the corral with Caleb, Dalena, Brad and Justin. National Anthem and bang, the race starts. At least for those in the front. This is one of the few races were I actually have to wait to cross the start line. Kind of a weird feeling. The first mile went by pretty easy as Caleb and I settled into 6:20 or slightly faster pace. This is were we wanted to stay through the first half, hoping to come through at 1:23. We had to weave through quite a few people who must have been out to enjoy the experience. Boston is one of those places that you really have to control the early miles, large crowds and downhills can really spell disaster again see Boston 2008. The first water stop was like 485 at 5:00, but we made it through with out rear-ending anyone. I think I got a little excited after this and ran some uneven and faster splits, since I seem to lose Caleb. I tried to rain these back in through the next few miles. We met back up again around 8 or so and continued on our 2:46 pace through 10 or so miles.
Miles 10-13 sort of flew by at 6:13-6:20 pace. Then the screaming tunnel was just around the corner. Wellesley College was just down the street. I remembering being loud from before, but I don't remember hearing it from .2 miles away. That was a great boost at that point, because I was feeling a little fatigue at that point. It was at this point in '08 that I had an idea that it might not be my day. Miles 13 and 14 go by with out incident. At during mile 15 my giant mental wall was coming the first hill over Hwy9. It was here in 2008 that I knew that I had a long 10 miles to Boston. So once I was over that and felt ok for 15 miles into a marathon with 80+ degree temperatures, I knew that I had to get from here to Newton as efficently as possible, so I tried to just control the pace around my goal pace and get plenty of water and Gatorade.
Here we go, next up the Newton Hills! Hill #1 wasn't too bad, again this is all relative. Hill #2 is much smaller than the others. Hill #3 was the hardest of them all I think, Heartbreak is just more famous. Then Heartbreak. The whole time that I am running up Heartbreak at 7:45 pace, I kept thinking of Ryan Hall's Garmin split of 5:00 min/mile for this mile. I just don't see how that is possible that late in a race. Seeing the large stand up sign declaring Heartbreak over was a welcomed sight. Time to see what I had for the last few miles into Boston.
The WALL was starting to creep in now. Some quick math using 7:00 pace I knew that I was going to be close to 2:50 at the finish. So when the next two miles went by under 7, I started to believe that it might happen. Math at this point of the race is way to hard, so I tried not to get to excited. At mile 24 I passed my wife who had spent the day with some other Crazy Leg spouses and friends. It was nice to see her out there and get some more encouragement. I knew I was really going to need it at this point. Each up hill was getting harder and harder and these were nothing compared to what I had already been through. I just tried to use each down hill to make up what I lost on the up hills. That Citgo sign taunted me in the distance, you see it and then you don't and finally mile 25 is done. Time to see what is left in the tank and get to Boylston Street.
I quick check of the watch and I knew that it was going to be really close to getting under 2:50. Then it hit me...the right hamstring was starting to turn into a huge ball.
I thought I was going to turn into one of those Youtube videos of people staggering to the finish line. I opened up my stride as much as it would let me and headed for the line. It is amazing how you can run and run and it doesn't feel like it is getting any closer. I finally made it. 2:49:28. A new PR and made my goal of breaking 2:50 in the marathon.
I hated seeing so many people dissappointed with their performance, especially first time Boston runners, but the heat was terrible and Boston is a different kind of course. Anybody who finished that race has nothing to be dissappointed about. Heck there were Kenyans who get paid to run that didn't finish. That's pretty important when you need to be a low 2:03 marathoner to make their Olympic team. Mutai maybe sitting at home in August. The Boston Marathon is a special event. From the time you land to the time you leave you know you are apart of something special. Anyone who can qualify needs to do it atleast once. Time to adjust to new goals, and distances. I won't be going back to Boston in 2013(Boston is my Olympics, so see you in 2016 when I get a new qualifying time, one good thing to being 40), but those of you that do, just remember...There is no way that it can be the Hottest Boston Marathon ever two years in a row. Keep Running.

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