I’m keeping this picture until I earn the right to get rid of it. Soaked, in a lot of pain, determined to finish I was in the last couple of KM’s of the Boston marathon – the hardest I’ve done to date and the one that reminded me more than any others, of those simple truths that marathons never cease to remind you of. These are mu thoughts just after the day itself
The day itself started well – up at 5:50, walked to the bag drop, all of which is in school buses just past the finish line. Then a walk to the buses on Boston Common that take you up to Hopkinton and the start. W set off around 7, about 45 minutes later arriving. Lots of water / moisture in the air, the weather being cool and overcast.
Everybody was then sat in a massive marquee, finding space to park on a plastic bag / heat blanket and chat. I met 2 guys from Portland, a Scot, a Mexican who now lived in Walton (Fernando) and a Dutch guy. My survival blanket was good – definitely need trousers next time – L/S top alongside something to sit on pre marathon. Walked up to the start line around 9:40 – 1km walk, Didn’t get a chance to mediate as planned, busy chatting and taking everything in. Minimal stretching / mobilisation. Wore Soar vest, Satisfy shorts, Alphaflys & Soar socks. Bit of light drizzle as the Star Spangled Banner was sung and off we went. Pretty noticeable downhill drop (the profile never really connecting / translating in my brain) from the off. Roads pretty narrow so took around 3km to settle into larger similar pace blocks. Ran well for the first few KM’s. not looking at watch, running to feel using 5km markers. Little faster than intended, but felt conscious, in control and absolutely fine. Calf and achilles holding up well through first 15k. 19:54 for 10-15k, which triggered both excitement at speed & nervousness at speed. Around 16k top side of left quad begun to tighten, which then got progressively worse and would never resolve.
Half way through 1:25’28 and was now curious how far I had in me like this. Running through the Wellesley scream tunnel was nuts. You could hear a couple of minutes before reaching. Around 26k Newton Hills and was time to ease back. And the beginning of the end. Slowed up on the hills, but begun going backwards from where I was, lots of runners beginning to go passed me, which got more and more pronounced as the hills went on. Got to 30k and was now in a lot of pain, legs seizing up and quads shot. 2k of this until top of Heartbreak. Had a great moment as Amrit ran past, squeezed my hand and carried on up passed me. I reached the point where I knew that continuing being so miserable was pointless. I’d been prepared to walk the whole thing 4 weeks earlier – having got within 10k I’d broken the bulk of most of the distance so walk / run it was. Walking for around 300m, running for another 1-1.2km. This helped, as quads done. Cou;dn’t really walk properly as str
Which put a massive smile on my face – but in al honesty wasn’t really that welcome. Gradually got to the end and smiled across the finish line in 3:13’39, utterly, uuterly done. In fact more battered than after any of the previous 5 marathons I’ve run.
Several things came out of this – none of which were surprising, all good reflctions:
- You cannot replicate road running / the mechanical stress on a bike and lifting weights. My experiment worked in terms of getting me strong, but wasn’t able to get me to the strength that I wanted.
- Be humble or get hurt. By failing to show the Boston course the respect it deserved I left myself open to breaking down. The majority downhill element of the course for 16 miles needs to be run with respect, otherwise it gets in your legs, trashes them and leaves you done.
- At no point did I want to step off the course. At no point did I want to DNF. All I could think of was how to finish. This resilience was very encouraging.
- Having someone at the end to meet you and look after you never gets old. Jen was brilliant at this as always.
- Start / end. Both issues. London is good for me as I know the city well enough to not have to hang around either end. I still don’t know why there is so much waiting around at the start. The best marathons for finishing (for me) have been the ones where I haven’t had any of the bag drop collection. Something to bear in mind for the future.
- Fuelling was good – even though was starving at the end mentally I was on it the whole time. It was my physical shape that let me down.
- I’m glad it’s done and I can step away from marathon training for a few months.