The first part of the B2B Challenge is complete, and I’m beyond happy with the result. My A Goal (a 3:00 marathon) coming in to the taper was quite aggressive. My PR was a 3:02:21 in St. George last fall, but that course is notable for its crazy downhill profile. That day was perfect. I ran the tangents. There was a tailwind. Boston is a tougher course. Running better there seemed like a long shot. But goals should be aggressive.
Training went well this winter, even through the coldest temperatures D.C. had seen in decades. I knocked out my training runs and nailed my 3:00 marathon goal pace during tempo runs. I’d had a sub-par race marathon in Austin, another hilly course, in February, that I was trying to get over mentally. A lot would have to go right for a new PR, and a lot would have to go right to break three hours here.
My taper went remarkably well, though holding back during those final runs wasn’t easy. Last week’s key workout was a 10-miler with two miles at marathon pace. I also practiced running in the rain and running in to a significant headwind at marathon pace. I didn’t know how handy the thoughts of those runs would be on Monday.
This year I went all out with my warmup getup for Athletes Village. I might have looked like a total idiot, but I had to be the warmest person in the tent. Michael and I hopped on the first round of buses to Hopkinton. We left around 6:25 and were off the bus by 7:15. I spent at least an hour relaxing, nearly asleep, under the tent. My nerves only started to kick in around 8:30. Somehow I remember the road to the start line being longer. This year, the distance between the tents and the corral seemed shorter. It isn’t. I’m crazy. Got in the corral around 9:40. We’d had a passing rain shower around 8 a.m., but there wasn’t much wind or rain at the start. I decided to try for my goal pace and assess that pace and the weather after the screams at Wellesley, when maybe I’d be feeling optimistic.
The one mistake I haven’t made at Boston in the last three years is going out too fast. I have to be OK with a slower first mile. This year was no different. My 6:58 pace felt incredibly easy, given the downhills and crowds, and I knew I would be going faster soon. The next few miles ticked off perfectly: 6:42, 6:43, 6:42, 6:49, 6:36, 6:40. I kept on like this through Wellesley — past Wellesley. I took my GUs on time. I sipped Gatorade when I needed it. I even held my goal pace through a downpour during miles 14 through 17. Everything went well. I could have done without the headwind and the downpour, but I dealt with it.
The one thing I could have done better this year, and the thing I could probably stand to work on in every race, is running the tangents. Boston is a point-to-point course with only four turns, so I’m not losing time on the corners. I did tend to weave a bit more than I needed to. I would get frustrated and dart around a slower runner or a walker, especially at the end. That adds up. My final Garmin reading came in at 26.3.
The Newton hills were tough, but I knew I’d lose some time there. Once I crested Heartbreak, I did a quick calculation, in kind of a half-math, weird, what is 8+7 what I don’t even ugh math, thing and realized I would certainly be setting a Boston personal record. I would need to walk to miss it. I then tried to reason my way through whether breaking 3:00 was possible. Well, if Heartbreak is mile 21 and I have five-ish miles to go, how fast do I have to run? How far off is my Garmin? Can my legs hold this pace? Would I need to go faster? Probably would need to go faster than seven-minute pace. But there’s a lot of downhill and cheering. I’ll try?
Miles 22 through 26 felt windier than the rest, but I tried to will my legs to run through a final kick. I couldn’t quite hold my goal pace for the final miles, which would have brought me under 3:00. I ran 7:00, 6:58, 6:53, 7:09, 6:53 (for the final .3). At the 25.6-mile marker, I figured I would need to run a 6:00-mile to end up under 3. I would have to settle with a 3:01-something, but I’d definitely push it all the way down Boylston. Coming down Boylston is always my favorite part of the running year. Coming down Boylston with a shiny, new PR (3:01:26) is even better. I came in somewhere between my A and B Goals, and I’m pleased with how well I ran, given the wind and rain. I’m sure I can break 3:00 in the fall on the right course.
After the race, aside from a few stomach issues and minor knee aches, I felt pretty good. This week is about recovery and relaxation and getting my mind and legs in a good place for Big Sur.
— michael wardian (@mikewardian) April 21, 2015
I ran half of Ten-Mile Tuesday long the Charles this morning before we left for San Francisco. I’ll finish up my miles on the West Coast, and I’ll look forward to a week of recovery running.