The 106th Boston Marathon 2002

The 106th Boston Marathon 2002

Ah, Boston. Patriotism, Paul Revere, The Boston Tea Party – The race brings so many thoughts to my mind. A fast downhill point-to-point course. At least some people see it that way. My original plan was to go out at 7:00 pace for thirteen to fifteen miles. Well that part went fine. The other half of the run was supposed to be in the 1:25 range. That part didn’t go so well. If you follow my training log, you know that I have had some injuries this winter that have slowed me down in terms of training. Some days have been great while others have just stunk. It all started with a pulled hip muscle in February. It was bad enough five weeks ago that I considered not running Boston. I was depressed about my decision but I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. Within a few weeks my hip was fine (90%) and I was ready to crank up the mileage. Just when I thought things were going well, I pulled my left calf muscle. Can you say symmetry? Right hip, left calf. That is more then coincidence. Anyway – I run in the Moab ½ Marathon two days after pulling my calf, and I pull it again at mile nine. I jog in the rest of the way. I think my time was 1:38 or something. Not good. I take four days off. I feel much better. I run a 5 mile time trial. I felt ok. I ran for two hours the next day, ten more the day after. I take a day off and then run twenty miles. Sixty miles in six days. My twenty miler was one of the best of my life. I was ready. Nothing was going to stop me; except the calf, which kept annoying me on short runs. It kept feeling like it was going to blow up again. I ice it, I heat it. Repeat. I stretch it, I ice it and I heat it. Over and over. I go see Charlie at Massage Specialists and she works on it for fifty minutes. It was painful. This is now five days before the race. The marathon. Twenty-six point two miles. Long way to run on one leg, or two legs and one calf. I keep icing, heating over and over. I decide to just do what I can.

The day before I hit the RedSox Yankees game. RedSox lose. The weather is hot. I am worried that the race will be hot as well. Just what I need with a pulled calf: dehydration. I stayed at my friends in Hopkinton, Jason and Laurie Fromer the night before. Great Hosts! (Thanks!) I wake up on race day ready to go. Calf feels good, my nutrition is good. I have stretched out well, I am well rested and most importantly I was ready to go mentally. That was the key.

I look outside and see the rain and mist and cold, dampness and fog. I am happy. I run well in this type of weather. I get to the start line with three layers on. My DeSoto Zip Tri Jersey, my short-sleeve cool max shirt and my long-sleeve cool max shirt and a hat. No heart rate monitor though. I am in corral number two – where numbers 2000 to 2999 reside. I am number 2525. Not a bad place to start. At Noon the starter fires the gun and we are off. I am running in the Boston Marathon. How cool is that?

Well the downhill lasts about oh……500 meters before you head up the first hill. There are people hammering up these hills. I am thinking: “They are in for a long day”. I continue on hitting my miles exactly as I wanted. 7:23 first mile, then 7:11, 7:00 and by mile five I am at 7:00 pace. Hills: uphill, downhill, doesn’t matter. My pace is staying strong and consistent. I have a dull ache in my right hip, but it’ll go away, it always does. It really is going to be my day. I can see 2:58 on the clock. No sweat; except there are twenty-one long miles to go.

I am cruising through enjoying the pace and the crowds. They are awesome. I look at my watch and now I am at 6:57 pace. This is at mile seven I am happy. It’s all going just peachy today. I hit mile ten in 1:09.29. I hit thirteen miles at 1:29.30 and mile 15 in 1:45.00. Uh-oh. I am slowing down. Nope it was just the hill. Now that dull ache in my hip is really getting annoying every step is torture and I am having some real trouble on the downhill. I pop four Advil into my mouth. I hope this pain goes away. I am having trouble pushing off my right leg. This stinks. I am so ready for this race aerobically. My body doesn’t want to cooperate. Ugh! I hit the downhill at mile sixteen almost walking. I am thinking of dropping out. NOPE! Not going to do it. I’ll deal with the pain now but I’m not dealing with the pain of having a DNF on my record. I check my splits at 30k (18.6 miles). I just ran twenty four minutes for the last 5k. That is 7:48 pace. Crud! My pace is now 7:10 per mile. I was pretty even through here. ‘Better buckle up’, I tell myself. ‘Failure is not an option today.’ My hip feels better, the Advil is kicking in. I reassess what my goals are. I want to finish. I want to qualify for next year. I do some quick math and realize if I run 7:30 pace I’ll be within striking distance after the hills in Newton. I need a 3:10. At 35k (21.7 miles) I am running 7:13 pace. These were through the hills of Newton and including Heart Break Hill. I just ran the last 5k at 7:30 pace. I am going to make it! From 35k to 40k I ran 7:25 pace and I am on cruise control. I am not pushing myself, nor am I running easy. I am in that nice comfortably hard place. I keep running, hitting twenty-six miles at 3:08.11. I have 1:49 to run a quarter mile. I’ll make it, I’ll make it. In the last 400 meters I am passing a lot of people. I have plenty of juice left. I almost cramp 150 meters from the finish but I slow up and cross in 3:09.44. Done! I can stop running now.

In retrospect I see that I needed more downhill run training. I needed more long runs too. I had to two twenty milers all winter and one was back in January. I wasn’t trained properly for my goals but I made the best of it. The race was great. The spectators rocked and it is a race you should do if you get the chance.

I ran the whole race without having a potty break, which is a first for me. The more marathons I run the better I feel about my pain threshold, and my long-distance running ability. Boston in 2003, here I come!

Here are my splits. They are pretty consistent with one bad stretch thrown in there:
5k (3.1 miles) – 22.48
10k (6.2 miles) – 21.16
15k (9.3 miles) – 21.28
20k (12.4 miles) – 21.47
25k (15.5 miles) – 22.00
30k (18.6 miles) – 24.11
35k (21.7 miles) – 23.24
40k (24.8 miles) – 23.13
Finish – 3:09.44

Thanks for reading,
Mike

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