Monday, April 25, 2011

Boston: PR. PR. PR. Total meltdown. PR.

I'll elaborate shortly...

Road races aren't nearly as exciting for me to run or write about, so this will be relatively concise race recap, but don't be fooled, running the Boston Marathon was a lot of fun and I'm happy to have been part of the experience.

Due to bad weather on the east cost my first flight (yes, there were two... I now know to go direct next time) experienced turbulence like I've never felt before, so much so that the pilot got a round of applause from those on board after safely landing in the horrendous storm that hit Baltimore on Saturday. After appreciately arriving on the ground in one piece, it was time to kill some time for 2 hours until my next flight to Boston. This two hours proceeded to get delayed to 7+...
In order to keep my consecutive days streak alive, I changed into my running gear, found a TSA agent who could watch my bags, and then proceeded to run laps up and down the terminal near the baggage claim. Based on my best estimation, I ran over 2 miles in the airport. (I'll leave the looks I received to your imagination.)
Finally, around 2am, I arrived at my hotel on the outskirts of Boston and called it a night.

Sunday included packet pickup, a Red Sox game with Matt, and lots of good food and beer mixed in.

Race Day
Even though the race doesn't start until 10am, Marathon Monday begins much earlier for the 20000+ runners participating. Up before 5, Matt and I had a cab waiting for us by 5:25, in order to get to the buses that would take us out to the race start. By 6:15 we were all on board and heading west. Once in Athletes Village (really just a big tent city), we had 3 hours to kill before race start. I immediately got separated from anyone I knew and proceeded to sit around freezing my butt off in the wind and on the water-logged grass. Finally, after enduring this misery for about an hour, I discovered a sign for pre-race massages inside the highschool gym and decided to check it out in hopes of warming up for a few. Score!

The line in the gym was long enough that I was able to sit in the warmth for the next hour and a half without ever having to actually receive a massage - which seems like a bad idea right before a race anyway.

The start is about 3/4 of a mile away from Athletes village and soon we were all being herded over like cattle. Unless you're an elite, there's no way to do a pre-race warmup once you are in the corrals, so I jogged to the starting area to loosen the legs a bit.

Being one of the lower numbers - 1232 - I was in Corral #2 near the front, and after the elites were off, it was only 23 seconds before I crossed the starting line. Compared to the 1 1/2 hours the last competitors have to wait to get there, I can't complain.

Now to explain the title of this post:
Boston is a road race. Boston is mostly a downhill course. Brooks had super slow PR's in all distances under the marathon. What this means, is that Boston had huge PR potential for me... and I lived up to it... sort of.

PR #1
Pre-Boston 5k personal record: 19:07
Boston 5k split: 18:07

This is the steepest downhill section  on the course, so I pretty much expected a PR here and only went about 5-10 seconds faster than anticipated for these miles.

PR #2
Pre-Boston 10k PR: 39:49
Boston 10k split: 35:57

This one shocked me because not only does the course not have as much downhill here, but I actually gained speed from my 5k split. At this point my pace was around 5:47, but hey, I felt good and was barely working still.

PR #3
Pre-Boston half-marathon PR: 1:26.xx
Boston half-marathon split: 1:18.58

Not only did I destroy my previous half-marathon PR, but I had taken a poo break along the way, and stopped for the obligatory kisses from the Wellesley girls. Had I skipped this, I could have easily been in the 1:16-high range. Anyway, my legs were finally starting to feel worked, so I decided to back off a bit in hopes of maintaining a good clip to the finish and going sub-2:45 still.

Total Meltdown
Easier said than done. When both legs decide to cramp at the same time, it's not a pretty sight.

I grenaded.
Imploded.
The wheels came off.
Disaster struck.
Epic fail.

However you describe it, it was a full blown collapse. I was still running decently for several more miles and I went through 20 miles in 2:04.xx. This still put me in position for a sub-2:45 IF it wasn't for the fact that I could no longer support my own weight at this point without fiery bolts of pain shooting up my calves and through my hamstrings with every step. I stopped to stretch a couple times and resumed the straight-legged limp/hobble to the finish with tens of thousands of people witnessing my demise. It felt like man, woman, and child were passing me like I was standing still, but I kept pushing.

PR #4
After I started to see all my A and A+ goals slipping away, I got to the 1-mile-to-go sign and realized my hopes of even going sub-2:50 were now in jeopardy unless I could muster a 7:30 mile or faster. In a final push that hurt every bit as much as finishing a 100-miler, I managed to pull a 7:07 out of my butt for a final time of 2:49.37!

It wasn't a pretty sight, but all in all I'm very pleased with my time. So many road racers seem to have the attitude that ultrarunners only do the long distance stuff because they have no leg speed, and it's nice to disspell that myth from time to time. Look at guys like Nick Clark and Andy Henshaw... elite ultrarunners with marathon times in the 2:30's and 2:20's.

Would I ever do Boston again? Probably not, but this doesn't mean I regret the experience. I enjoyed the energy and the excitement that enveloped the whole city last weekend, but it made me appreciate the solitude of running for hours in the wilderness that much more. It seemed like thousands of people running the race were just doing it so they could wear an overpriced Adidas jacket with the marathon logo on it and brag to everyone about their accomplishment. I genuinely apologize if I'm being a running snob here, but I'm guessing I'm not the only person who's done this race and gotten that same impression.

Now it's time to hit the trails!! Collegiate Peaks 50 miler is next on the docket in less than two weeks. Until then, here's an older Decemberists song that I couldn't get enough of during my Boston weekend:

10 comments:

Andy said...

Great Job Brooks! I can't even begin to fathom a time like that for 26.2.

Nick said...

Brooks - you rock dude. Two miles in the freakin' airport, that's dedication brother (you f*^%in' loser).

1:18/1:31: that right there is a thing of beauty.

Andy's CR is soft at CP. I think you should be looking to run 3:10 or so for the first lap.

Brooks said...

Nick,
I'm no expert, but I think I know sarcasm when I hear (read) it!

3:10 for the first lap would lead to epic meltdown #2 in a two week span!

See you up there, man... looking forward to it.

Brett said...

Congrats! I saw you for a quick sec, laughed as I knew exactly who had to be running a road marathon with a handheld and a tricker cap. The roads hurts. My "feeling like shit" occurred after about 10k ;-)

PatrickGarcia said...

No, I'm with Nick, the course is basically flat so 3:10 should be no problem.

And WTF, don't throw us all under the bus. I only do the long stuff because I don't have any leg speed, so there! Take that Kansas' greatest 44 mile national champion!

Brooks said...

Patrick,
You my friend, are lying... you're a fast S.O.B! Oh, I'd prefer Mr. Kansas Ultrarunning Champ of the Century if you don't mind.

Good job last Saturday. I know you didn't have what you'd call an 'A' race, but you looked strong out there and got some good training miles out of it.

BLOS said...

On on to Collegiate in a few weeks. I'm stoked! Boston was epic!

I didn't know Decemberists were on your playlist, I've seen them multiple times in Denver...

Beth said...

Wow, congrats on those huge PR's! You are supa fast!

Derrick said...

Congrats on Boston!

Way to keep the streak alive. Love it!

Alex Gillespie said...

Cool. That was an ultra bonk and funny to read. I ran the London marathon the day before as my marathon debut and lost 10 minutes in the last five miles with wicked cramp . I even had to stop to stretch 200 meters from the finish! An amazing half marathon PB.