Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bobby's First Boston Marathon

STC member Bobby Smits raced in the 2012 Boston Marathon on April 16th. This was Bobby's first Boston Marathon, and quite an accomplishment as it is a great honor to qualify for this race. This years race was extremely challenging with temps in the 80's. Average temps for Boston in April are in the 50's. Bobby put in a very respectable time for a tough course with difficult conditions. Congrats.

Bobby's race report is below:

My Boston trip started Saturday morning.  My dad flew in from Milwaukee earlier in the week, and he and I started the drive up around 0700.  We stopped in Philly to meet a friend of my dad's for lunch and got to Boston around 1900.  Checked in downtown, and went out for beers and nachos.

Sunday am went to the expo to pick up my bib (no pick up day of race) and shopped around a little.  Back to the hotel for a pretty lazy day.  I wanted to get to Boston a day early so that I could pick up my bib without freaking out the whole drive up.  But sitting around the day before was pretty over rated.

Monday, up at 0545.  Brought a box of frosted mini wheats with me b/c that is what I always eat for breakfast, gathered my gear and headed out the door by a little after 0600.  The hotel lobby had all sorts of gatorade and power bars out - free - which I thought was cool.  I grabbed a gatorade, and while hard to pass up free anything, I never really eat power bars, so not the day to try.  The lobby had a ton of people in it.  Very unusual for that time of day.  Very exciting.  I walked the .5 mile or so to the to the Boston Commons, where the bus pick up for transport to the starting line was. (The marathon is a 'point to point' course, so the starting lining is 26 miles from the starting line)  Again lots of people out walking just like me.  I get to the busses, and it is just like a Packer game let cannot walk anywhere, it is just a mass of people.  And there are literally hundreds of school buses lined up (Patriot Day is a holiday in Boston, no school).  I am fortunate to get on the first round of buses and am on my way.  Along the route I see the exits for the cities we will run through, and it is pretty daunting because it took just under an hour to drive there.  Get to the 'athletes village' which is a high school and all its grounds.  The have huge circus tents up.  I find a spot and sit on the ground.  Immediately upon arrival I feel dumb, because almost everyone is stting on a garbage bag.  I think that is a good idea, oh well.  I consol myself with the knowledge I am wearing my $10 sweat pants and sweatshirt from a thrift store which I will throw away when I head to the starting line.  Even though it is in the 60s, it is still cool especially sitting on the ground.  I again comfort myself that I am really smarter than all the warm people, for I am 'pre-cooling' my body before the race, so my core temp will not rise as fast of their's.........yeah right.

I have 3 hours to to hang out, race time is 1000.  I notice a lady right next to me with University of Wisconsin-Madison shorts on.  We chat and it turns out know some of the same people.  Small world.

At about 0930, they call my corral to head to the starting line.  Bib numbers are assigned based on time.  The first 9000 in wave 1, 9000-18000 wave 2, and 18000-27000 wave 3.  Each wave has 9 corrals (1000 each).  I am in corral 4.  I ditch the thrift store clothes and head the 1 mile or so to the starting line. Out of the shade of the tent, it is wicked hot, and I am sweating immedialtely.  Not a day for PR's, but we are all running in the same thing. I hit the porta john and and head the final 300m to my corral.  I am about to enter and I realize I do not have my water bottle (I run with one in hand, I can not drink from a cup and run without choking).  It is 0955.  I run back to thte porta john, find my water bottle, and get into my corral at 0958.  They are playing the national anthem.  And then the gun goes off, time to run.

The race starts on a 2 lane road without a shoulder, so it is narrow.  It starts down hill, so I have a view of all the people in front of me.  The entire street is packed with people running.  Pretty amazing.  I am just jogging.  With all my training, my original plan had been for 6:45 pace.  With the heat I know that was off, and planned to just run by feel.  I had my garmin on, with avg pace as the prominent display.  No HR.  No total time.  Just current pace, avg pace, and distance.  I start out around 7:10 (training pace for my long runs 7:40).  It feels easy.  People are passing me so I figure that's good.  I settle in. It's nice.  By mile 6 people are walking.  And these are all 3 hour or faster marathoners.  I think its lame, and keep going feeling good.  My post race analysis of my 5k splits tell the story for the race (I was not following them during the race)

5K - 22:23
10K - 22:31
15K - 22:15
20K - 22:07 (13.1 split 1:33:57)
25K - 22:06 (15.5miles)

So far so good.  Lots of fans.  Pretty amazing.  But also distracting.  I never felt like I was competeing.  Maybe it was the easy pace, or just all the distractions, but it was a very new experience.  Hard to just focus in and just run.  But I must say, as billed, the Wellesey girls are the best part of the race.  There college is right on the road we run on.  I could hear them their screams a half mile away - this is not an exaggeration.  They lined the street for a quarter mile.  Loudest part of the course.  I had read on a blog some months ago that running by there made you feel like a rock star......all these girls screaming for you.  I thought that was silly when I read it.  But running by, I thought of those words and once again became envious of the guys from Poison and Motley Crew.  All the girls hold out signs to kiss them.  "kiss me, i speak german"' "kiss me, i'm a readhead", hundreds of signs.  And so loud.  I tell you truely, think goal line stand at a football game, that was how loud.  And did I mention, all girls.  With the cohort of runners I was with, I did not see any one stop for kisses, but apparently many people do.  Had I know what the last 7k would hold for me I would have stopped for some kisses!!!!

The 'newton hills' start at mile 16.  There are 4, at mile 16, 18, 20, and 21 (heartbreak hill).  I knew I was not trained for hills.  So my plan was 'even effort' which means slower pace.  I did not want to spike my HR, or burn through the last of my precious gylcogen stores trying to prove I could smash the hills.  Truth, they weren't too bad.  I slowed to between 8:30 and 10:00 min pace depending.  Again the 5k splits tell the story.  Not great, but not terrible.  Expected.

30K - 24:06
35K - 27:04 (22mile)

I am running the famed heartbreak hill.  People are pulling up to a walk everywhere.  I am running, albeit slow, but it is not so bad.  I went back and looked, my HR maintained 160s as it had the previuos 21 miles.  Perfect.  Many people are passing me, but many are walking too.  I feel I do not need to walk and am reassured.  I get to the top and think 'not so bad'.  5 miles to go. 

While I did not feel i was in the tank after the hills, I could run no faster.  I finished up heartbreak around 9;30 pace, and never ran faster. Supposedly it is all flat and down hill after heartbreak.  Well compared to running by my house, I would call it hilly.  Around mile 23 I am hurting.  I am dreaming of a cold swimming pool.  I am taking on water at the mile marks and in between from the fans, slowing enough to drink, but not walking.  The water on the course was piss warm.  But water from the fans, ice cold and amazing.  We have a hill to climb over an overpass around mile 24.  I see a woman power walking up it in front of me.  I am sure I can pass her.  I cannot.  I see the mile 25 sign and wonder if I can finish.  There is a 25.2 mile marker sign along with a "1 mile to go" sign.  I hear a fan chearring "only 7 more minutes"  I laugh ruefully to myself and think, 'more like 10 buddy'.
We round the turn to onto Boyston street for the last 0.2.  I see the finish line, but I can't feel good about it.  I see people walking everywhere, and I promise myself not to be one of them.  Finally with about 50 yards to go, I finally know I will finish, I feel good for the first time in an hour, maybe even drop the pace down to 9:00 :).  I am done.  My thoughts, "Wow!  That sucked!"

40K - 30:10
42.2K - 13:38

Total time 3:27:40. 

Lots of walking after the finish line.  I find my dad.  We sit for a while.  Another mile walk back to the hotel.  That really sucked.  My dad and I went to 'Cheers' for dinner.  I was feeling remarkably normal.  They had already sold out of the special edition Sam Adams 26.2, I would have liked to try that.  Alomst everyone there had a finisher meddle on.  It was cool to be a part of it.

Again I started with a seed placement of 3308.  I finished 2743.  Hmmm.  Well, at least there were people who sucked ass more than I did.  It is hard for me to not be disappointed with a plus 19 minute half split. That is just not the way your supposed to run.  But it is what it is.  Over the last week my perspective is better.  It was a good, hard day.  While I may have been better walking to get myself back together again, I equate walking with quiting, and I am fortunate to have not quit.  I have also realized how very fortunate I was to run my first marathon in 3:01.  I did not appreaciate all the variables of a marthon until they conspired against me, chewed me up and spit me out.  Over all, while I fell short of nearly all my pre race goals, I would change nothing.  The course beat me, it is really that simple.  But that is oaky.  I loved all my training.  Being part of something so big was brand new to me, and very exciting.  The trip, the town, the race....all good.  If it was easy, it would have no value.................smits

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