The 2009 Boston Marathon has come and gone and I managed to survive it. It was amazing to think that all of the months of training came down to that one day, but it turned out that all of the work paid off. This was not the long suffer-fest that I had envisioned a marathon to be. The first third of the race was a blur. I had a fair amount of adrenaline going and some residual "what have I gotten myself into" feelings, so I spent most of my time making sure I was keeping a slow, steady pace. The middle part of the race was the toughest. I was having a hard time keeping a steady pace, there was a pretty good headwind, and it seemed like the mile markers were getting further and further apart. It was also at this point that I realized I was averaging ~10 minute miles and my dreams of a sub four-hour first marathon would not be coming true. Once I let that go and reorganized my goals to finish without walking and in less than 4.5 hours I started to feel better.
Then, as I neared Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the fun began. As I mentioned in my last post, I knew once I made it here I was home free. As a bonus, this is where I started seeing friends and coworkers who did a great job of cheering me on and even occasionally running a few steps with me. After NWH, I felt strong on the first two hills on Comm Ave, despite some quad cramps. Then about halfway up Heartbreak Hill I saw my good friend Heidi who prevented Heartbreak Hill from breaking me by running a few steps with me. Once I got to the top I knew I was home free and it was just a few more miles and one failed high-five attempt with my father-in-law (who knew it would be so hard to jump after 23 miles), and I was home free. The last mile of the Marathon was the fastest mile I ran, which felt great. Then it wasn't two minutes after crossing the finish line before I saw my wife waiting for me. What an experience.
My final time was 4:21:10, which was a little slower that I would have liked, but respectable for a first marathon. I think I did a poor job pacing myself, mostly due to inexperience with the distance. I really liked the program I used. I completed a marathon in a respectable time and I only averaged 10 miles per week with the majority of these miles done in 800m to one mile increments at maximum tolerable pace. I had longer distances planned, but chose to scale back the mileage even more because of some knee soreness. Also, down the stretch, I didn't do a great job getting in all of my workouts. So I was not confident in how I would handle the later miles or how I should pace myself. So for the race, I averaged just under 10-minute miles, but did my last mile in 8:06 and never felt like I was hitting the wall, so I clearly held back more than I should have. At the start of this I said to myself that I would run this, check it off my list, then stick with 5-10k runs. Now that I know I can do it, I want to go faster. Did I just become a runner?