Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Race Recap: the failure that was a success

First, let me start by qualifying the title. I don't consider the race a failure. I'm not that guy who runs well but is always blathering about how he's slow. I have no illusions about being a 'fast guy' but recognize this run as a decent job and a major accomplishment. Certainly my best and fastest by 5 minutes. I just thought the contrast in the title was catchy, so if it's not totally accurate, whatevs. Poetic license.

Anyways, in so much as I did not meet the time goal I had set, the race did not go as planned. However, from the get go, the goal was a stretch and I knew it. The success came in that I laid it out going after it and I learned a lot in the process.

Also, let me say this: For those of you who haven't been out to Boston and have that as a goal, I encourage you to stay with the training, book the ticket, do what ever it is that you haven't done to help you get there. I'm not saying that every runner need aspire to Boston, but if you are considering it and there is something in the way, move it and get there. A very special place for a runner on Patriots Day.

Rode the bus 45 min out to the athlete's village staging area in Hopkinton with a guy who was staying at the same B&B as I was. Dude named Neil O'Brien(O'brian?), a great guy from Milwaukee who ended up running a 2:48. I'd link his blog but don't know if he has one. I could link you to his TripAdvisor review of the B&B?
Great to have company on the ride. It's a long trip even with the seamless logistical execution of transporting 27K runners 26+ miles across the state.
Even with someone to talk with the time spent on the highway driving from the finish line to the start can't help get in your head a little. Just a little. Here's Garmin's map of the run from the start on the left side to the finish in DT Boston. It's a ways.

Anyways, sit in the staging area for 2 hours then head to the runners corrals. Runners are segmented off 1000 in each corral, separated into two waves of 15,000 starting 30 minutes apart.

It's Patriots Day in Massachusetts so the race starts predictably with the national anthem. I had my hand over my heart in the port-o-potty line up simultaneously wondering why I felt patriotic hearing another nations anthem and whether I would make it through the line and to my corral by the time I was set to start. There were people peeing outside the johns but the race rule book said that doing so put you at risk of losing your start bib. I wasn't going to chance it.

Less predictable was the 'fly by' of two F-14 (F-16?) fighter jets immediately following the anthem. The coolest part was realizing that a plane can't hover and in a matter of seconds they went from unseen and unheard to screaming overhead, to out of sight again. Crazy fast. Cheriyot fast. Forgive me for not knowing the type of jet. In Canada, the military 'jets' we have are still biplanes.

My corral was 7000-8000. It was on a pretty serious uphill. That didn't jive with what I had heard about this being a downhill race. You couldn't see the start line from the corral but the PA was loud and clear and so was the crowd, also unseen as yet. What you could see was about 10-12,000 runners trailing off down the hill behind us and more streaming into the corrals behind them.

The gun goes off, and it's five minutes of shuffling before we actually cross the start line. I should say the timing pad, because there's also a start line painted on the road that says 'it all starts here'. I'm reminded that this race is legit by the huge ass boom camera that swoops down from 40 feet high to just barely above our heads as we cross the line, capturing the nervous excitement on the faces of the crowd of athletes. And then, you see the crowd, all the people of Hopkinton gathered on the steps of the Town Hall, or the Courthouse, or whatever it was. I can't actually remember whether the building was either of those things but it had the essence of them. It was grand, and old, and like only buildings like that can, it had gathered its people to its steps and its lawn and the people, the people they were psyched!

And it's only then that you see why everyone is always going off about the downhill nature of the course. The first hill is immediate and is so steep that the wheelchair start is half way down to prevent the chairs from flying out of control into the New England countryside, which is pretty much what I ended up doing
To be continued...


TRI-james said...

Nice prelude ...

Ward said...

Dude, congrats on your finish! 3:10 is solid!

kerrie said...

nice race!!!! however this race write-up is total BS....where are the rest of the details?

Ryan Denner said...

I grew up in Mass. Seeing that route makes a marathon look LONG.