Boston Marathon finished in 3:44 hours – far below (above?) my possibilities but it was very hard today (as you can tell by the 2 winners’ finish times, and by the fact that half of the elite dropped out). It was not so much the wind or the rain that made it hard for me but my legs were pretty finished after jogging up Heartbreak Hill at ~32 km. But I had not planned for a new personal record anyway and did not want to take any risk of having to drop out but just wanted to drive it home and enjoy the run as best as possible. So it was easy pace from somewhere around the 15 km mark.
The torture began at the buses in Charles Street where everyone had to line up until a bus was available for boarding so that we were already wet when boarding the buses. I had covered my running shoes with 2 thin plastic bags to prevent them and the socks from getting soaked prematurely but the bags tore on the way to the bus already. Bummer. Pro tip: next time use strong shopping plastic bags or some old marathon clothes bags.
The next one was the athletes’ village in Hopkinton which pretty much consists of a large lawn behind the middle school. As you can imagine, the lawn was completely soaked and by and large a mudhole (I’d say it will take a year for it to recover….). Unprotected shoes looked like sh*t after 5 minutes. At least I stayed dry from the above at this point because I wore my rain jacket and water”proof” cap. Back home, the shoes will have to see the washing machine … Using rubber boots for this part of the race would not have been unreasonable.
I had taken a late bus in order to stay warm and dry in Arlington station next to the baggage tents as long as possible. This resulted in being somewhat late in Hopkinton and just so managing to use a porta-potty and take off and discard my extra clothing. I reached my corral about 8 minutes before the start for wave 2.
Two pit stops during the first 15 km (why 2 I wonder – I usually need only one at ~10-13. Maybe it was the rain.) took me about 2 minutes. 2 more minutes were lost by my freshly purchased magnetic bib holders – 2 of the 4 stuck together after a pit stop and I could not get them apart with the soaked gloves. I would have been lost if 2 gentlemen (spectators) hadn’t helped me. Thank you guys!
The rest went basically fine – modulo the strong rain showers that occured every 20 minutes or so, and felt like water pouring from buckets. My rain jacket and every single part of my clothing was completely soaked after maybe 10 km. Heartbreak Hill is far less scary than expected. The Newton hills are generally hard to run. I guess this slowed everybody down.
After this point, the route is mostly downhill or flat, and the backside of Heartbreak Hill felt harder (particularly in the quads) than the uphill part.
Well, the rest was pretty much driving it home while avoiding cramps and staying alive and dedicated. In fact, I had zero cramps today which is unusual for me, YAY! Maybe the hard training paid after all.
The best part was the final 500 meters on Boylston street. The crowds were just incredible – my ears were ringing from the noise. The final 100 meters and the minute after passing the finish line were like an orgasm – I guess this is why we do it.
The audience was fantastic anyway. Due to the shitty weather, I had anticipated much less people at the course but no, the locals set up party tents against the rain and cheered away like there was no tomorrow (I suppose for some peoples’ voices there will indeed be no tomorrow…), handed out fruit and water, played music etc. Some of them even barbecued (which I found pretty mean because it smelled sooo good!). Probably the longest party on the planet today. 😉
Another patience exercise was having to wait for the baggage return. The wave 2 tent was overcrowded, and finishers were standing in the crowd, packed like herrings in a can, soaking wet to the bones, and shivering. I think it took me about 15 minutes or so to get my bag. I had checked everything I might have needed to get dry as quickly as possible, including shoes and a bath towel from the hotel. I had planned to change clothes in Arlington station but after leaving the finish area sideways (over the fence) I saw finishers in house entrances, changing. And then I saw one entrance that was open (there is a Yoga club inside, maybe 50 meters from the Arlington St. intersection) and 4 or 5 people were changing clothes. Voilà, this was a good one. It felt so good to change clothes inside, and be dry and warm after all this. Thank you guys for leaving the door open! Good I chose this opportunity because Arlington Station was overcrowded as well – no way to undress without some ladies reporting me to the police for sexual harassment (I am not 25 any more, mind you!). This is the US of A after all, where it’s okay for the president to threaten other countries on Twitter or for psychos to have guns, but not to display a picture showing a woman breastfeeding her baby. Sick.
Back in the hotel about 10 hours after leaving it in the morning. I don’t remember taking a shower ever felt better.
If you’re interested in my race statistics, go to the results section on baa.org. This link may change over time – they rearrange their website every so often.
One of the peculiarities of running a Marathon is that it is always a story. So much happens in 3, 4, or 5 hours. No 10k or half marathon can match this.
Two other reports that sound pretty similar: