It’s hard to believe that the Boston marathon for me, is a thing of the past. It seemed months back I started a deliberate build up to this epic race and suddenly it had come and gone so quickly.
This is not a detailed overview of Boston Marathon itself, that I will write in the next few days. This is purely a self-indulgent race report on my own personal race. There were so many people who were graciously supporting me during this race. You where all in my mind and running with me every step of the way. This is to give you an idea of how the race went and then didn’t.
As I write this, if I’m honest I am happy with the outcome, albiet not the outcome I was running for. As the hours pass of course I’m beginning to doubt and ask if there was anything I could have done differently, but I do believe I gave it my best shot.
So, here we go.
The two days before the race saw the most stunning spring days. I completed rested my legs for those two days and could honestly not believe that the weather was going to turn out as the forecast predicted.
I climbed into bed with the legs feeling well recovered from all the walking I had done in New York and the week leading to this point. I tossed and turned all night. In the back of my mind I was nervous I’d oversleep. Yes, I have managed to turn off my alarm in my sleep to miss a race before and with Cindy not being there to kick me out of bed if I had a repeat of this, it was tossing and turning. Eventually it was time and I was up at 3:50. Scrambled some egg, had a coffe and then a shower. At 5:00 I walked out of the apparent and toward the bus stop to head down to Boston Common.
A short walk to Common, checked my bag in which consisted of a warm change of clothes and then onto the bus which transported us to the Runner’s Village near the start.
After two hours of freezing cold waiting and rain, wave 1 corral 2 & 3 were summoned to start heading toward the starting line (about 1 mile down). I managed to get a slow 20 minute warm up in and lined up in my coral.
The gun went and we well….just stood there. For a few seconds but for what felt like an eternity. I was happy with this. My plan entailed building up to and staying at planned race pace, 3:45p/km, for the first 8km’s. This meant I had to keep a close eye on my pace as it felt way too easy in these predominantly downhill first 8km. The rain had stopped and the wind wasn’t too bad. My long sleeve and gloves got tossed on the curb as I started to feel warm.
Damn! How I regret doing that now! First part of the plan, check.
The next part entailed keeping a comfortable race pace between 8 and 16km with a few short surges. This is a predominantly flat section and after the holding back and with the downhills a few surges where there to just loosen up the legs and change the muscles movements. The wind had gradually picked up and was blowing straight into us. I used the surges to latch onto and into buses of runners which had formed. Nothing like a water table to bust up a bunch of runners and seeing a long string of around 15 or so of us running directly behind each other in single file was quite amusing but most necessary into this energy sapping wind. The rain had also started up again and while it seemed it wouldn’t last, it did.
Despite wind and rain, second part of the plan, check.
In terms of racing plan and pacing things where going really well and I kept my mind ‘in the moment’ trying not to think about the finish line or how much further I still had to go, it was still a long way. The next part of the plan involved relaxing on the up hill sections and keeping things in check all the way through to the top of Heart Break Hill, approximately 32-33km in.
It’s in this third section, especially toward the middle and end of it that things began to get extremely difficult. The wind was strong and ice cold and the rain was soaking. On top of this my gut was not feeling overly happy and I ignored it hoping it would pass, it didn’t. Eventually I was forced into a loo along route and the nett result was a loss of around 3 minutes.
I came out of that and immediately tried to get back to my pace but my legs were just too cold and the moment I hit a slight hill I felt like I was running through cement. I had an ache in the bones of my legs from the cold, the kind of ache you experience in the middle of winter in Joburg when it feels like the wind is blowing right through you. I have never before been so cold on a run and I remember thinking that this is why the North (or maybe it’s South) pole marathon has such extermely slow record times.
I got to the top of Heart Break Hill and part 3 was complete, not quite as planned, but ok, check.
Onto the last section. 9-10km of downhill and flat, mostly. Up until around 25-28km I feel like I had run my perfect race, my splits where near spot on and I was on for a 2:40 finish. Things had veered a little off course but I could now capitalize. Only, I couldn’t.
There was nothing I could do to get the muscles in my legs firing. I tried to get a surge or two going with no real change in pace. I tried walking for a short while before starting off again at a faster pace but I was simply unable to get anywhere near what I needed. I managed to get it around 4:15p/km but that was as much as these frozen muscles would allow.
Eventually I staggered across the finish line in 2:52 and immediately found my body going into uncontrollable shivers. With the long walk to the tog-bag area and warm clothes I must have come close to becoming hypothermic. I was so cold my upper body was going into spasm and cramp with the shaking. I couldn’t even untie the draw strings on my tog-bag, seems my fingers had stopped working too. Eventually I managed to tear the plastic bag open. Once I had put on warmer clothing I slipped into the nearest coffee shop and could almost not hold the cup without spilling the contents. I can honestly say that I have NEVER been so cold in my entire life.
This marathon is a very bitter pill to swollow. I was in great shape, I came through halfway and 25km well in control and comfortable but in the end the elements gave me the hiding of my life.
This is without a doubt one of the most incredible marathons I have ever run and I will write up a report specifically on the marathon.
But, i will be home in SA soon and I will then begin my planning for my next race(s). I do however take a little solace in the fact that so far in all my international marathons (all tough in their own way) I have completed them in under 3 hours.
The support I have received from Cindy and from so many others has been truly humbling and I am so very greatful and humbled by that. Thank to each and everyone of you who took an interest in my build up to and in the race.
And although none of them will probably ever read this, to all the thousands of spectators who lined the entire marathon shouting their lungs out in the most horrible conditions, thank you, you will never understand what that did for each of us.
To my God and creator, thank you that you are always with me and thank you for the amazing opportunity to not only take part in this ancient marathon but to simply be able to run!