Monday, May 2, 2016

Race Report: 2016 GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

After nearly a year of letting go of running specific goals, I found myself toeing the line of the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler for the 1st time in some semblance of shape.  But before I get to the race, I wanted to give a background of how and why I approached the past year.

After Boston last year, I took a much needed break.  For nearly 12 years, I've been pushing to go longer, faster and be stronger.  And while I've enjoyed every second of it, I felt the time was right to let go for a bit.  We can't always be progressing in a straight line and I wanted my step back to be on my terms versus burnout or injury.  So my Summer consisted of running as much or as little as I wanted.  On average, this was 3-4 days a week and mileage typically in the 20-25 mpw range.  Enough to keep my mind and body happy, but never so much that I felt I had to will myself to run.  For fun, I ran a 10k in the early Fall and finished about 3 minutes off my PR.  That was the wake up call I needed to start changing the direction of my training.  A solid 10 lbs heavier and race specific fitness largely gone, I needed some focus.  So I set some initial process goals - mainly being the goal of returning to running 5-6 days a week on average.  It didn't matter if it was 30 minutes, but I wanted to re-establish good habits that serve as the foundation for solid training.  By the end of Fall, I had established a good routine, developed some consistency, and raised my weekly mileage into the 30-40 mpw range.  Early winter, I set a goal of running a half or 10 mile race, so I started laying out the training plans.  Personally, I struggled to get back into the mindset required to perform workouts.  When an easy run was on tap, I was out the door running without thought.  I developed a plan that I knew would prepare me for a race, but when a workout was planned, I noticed I was finding ways to talk myself out of doing it that day to do it "tomorrow", as if tomorrow was any different.  For the past several months, I have had to will myself to get in the workouts.  Some weeks I got them in, while others I simply couldn't get myself to a place mentally to get it in.  I didn't want to force it, so some weeks I focused on the consistency goal and just made sure I ran a lot in the weeks I didn't do a workout.  I trained with the mindset of "something is better than nothing" and that go me through most of those tough spots.  Throughout winter, I managed to average most weeks in the mid 40 mpw range, with a few weeks in the 52-55 mile range.  I knew I had a good foundation of mileage under me and a fair bit of fitness capable of getting back to racing.  I had a couple of key tempo runs in the month or so leading up that led me to believe I was capable of running near my PR pace (6:30/mi).  I had a 6 mi steady tempo averaging 6:36/mi on a rolling course and a 4 mi tempo a few weeks after averaging 6:30/mi on the same course.  Both workouts were done comfortably with the intent of pacing 10 mile/half marathon effort.  So after some conflicts with a different weekend of a planned race, I signed up for the GW Parkway Classic the week of the race knowing I was race ready.  I've run it a number of times before and knew I'd enjoy running it again, as it is one my favorite area races.

After parking in Alexandria at the finish around 5:45 am, I boarded the bus headed south to Mount Vernon at the start.  I got there by about 6:40, which was the perfect amount of time for an 8 am start.  I sat down for a bit so I wasn't standing the whole time (I remembered in previous years my back being sore from standing so much) and just soaked in the atmosphere.  It was cool (50F) and the sun was up, setting the scene for a nice day ahead.  Around 7:15, I ran a short warm up and a few 30s race pace pickups totaling about .75 mi.  After that, I mostly just hung out near the start area by sitting down.  With about 15 min till race start, I got back up and did some more dynamic stretching and strides.  There didn't seem to be many folks interested in lining up in the 6:00-6:59/mi pace area, so the race staff had us all move up closer to the start.  I found myself about 4 rows back from the start line.

Miles 1-3
Right at 8:00 am, the horn sounded and off we went!  With a race often described as a "net downhill", everyone assumes a flat and largely downhill course.  The GW Parkway course is not flat, nor is it largely downhill.  It has lots of different hills and very few flat spots, but it is a fast course, especially at the start.  Mile 1 is where the majority of the downhill elevation loss occurs.  I knew it would be fast in the first several miles, so I was prepared for a slight positive split on the race.  I found a pack of some of the GRC women and a few other guys after the first few minutes when pace seemed to stabilize.  We were still running downhill, but folks who went out too fast pulled back, while others continued pushing past us.  It seemed like these women and those around us were all hanging at the same effort, so I felt like it would be a good idea to latch on to a group rather than find myself running solo.  We hit Mile 1 in 6:17 and my breathing was very controlled, so I knew it would be fast but my effort was steady.  I knew Mile 2 had a few rollers, so that pace would slide back some, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't pushing too much this soon on the up hills of the rollers.  The pack I was running with was still largely together, but on the 2nd uphill, I let them go.  It was a tough decision, because I knew hanging with a group would keep me pushing, but I thought it might have been a little too soon.  Hard to tell in hindsight if I regret it, but I would like to know what would have happened if I stuck with them.  Shortly after, one of their girls dropped past me and it seemed the group was breaking apart.  I was in no man's land at this point, but my focus was on keeping them in visible contact.  Mile 2 came through in 6:25, still a bit fast but the effort was in a good spot.  Mile 3 was mostly flat but ending with the start of more hills, so my goal was to get in a steady rhythm and ready myself for the middle miles, which are the toughest.  I clocked Mile 3 in 6:31 right on goal pace.

Miles 4-5
After studying my previous race reports, I knew Miles 4 and 5 were the tough ones that could make or break your race.  The majority of the elevation gain is in these two miles and if you push too hard, you have a long 5 miles left to go on tired legs.  It was around this time, I was running alongside another female pretty much stride for stride.  We didn't say much, but mostly alternated between one of us leading out front.  It was around this time that I started feeling the headwind, which was forecast to come straight out of the N, so in a south to north race, that means a steady headwind.  Nothing crazy like Shamrock level winds, but enough to make you work harder than if it weren't there.  I ran steady through the uphill and tried to open up on the downhill to gain back a little time, clocking 6:34 in Mile 4 and 6:37 in Mile 5.  At this point, I was on PR pace (65:04) as the running time on the race clock read 32:32.  I just needed to hold on to have a solid race result.

Miles 6-7
Mentally, I was in a good place as I came through the halfway mark.  I was on PR pace and I knew Mile 6 was largely downhill, so I thought I would be gaining some additional time to offset expected losses with some later hills in Mile 8 and 9.  I remember running downhill a fair bit and felt like I was moving fast, so I was expecting to see a 6:2x split, but was surprised to clock a 6:30.  This lead to my 1st rough spot in a place I thought would propel me.  I knew the next mile or two would be slower than average, so I panicked a bit mentally.  However, my mantra for this race was "Be the best you today".  I knew I was going to get to a point in the race where I would question myself.  In any race, this happens.  You just have to be prepared for it.  Essentially, my mantra meant that I needed to let go of my previous (faster) self, stop comparing, and stay in the moment of my race results now versus where I used to be.  I will get there, but it doesn't have to be today.  I was still running with the same girl but at this point, my goal was just to stay with her, holding on her to pace.  My next goal was to get to the 5k marker, which meant it was time to push a little more.  Once we got there, I got a surge of excitement and passed her and encouraged her to come along so we could keep working together.  She stayed on my shoulder for a bit, but seemed to fall off pace at the next hill and I didn't see her again until she finished after me.  I pretty much ran the rest of the race solo, which I think caused me to slow more than I would have if I was still working together with someone.  With the surge, I clocked 6:37 for Mile 7.

Miles 8-9
While Miles 4-5 are the toughest in elevation, 8-9 are the toughest mentally.  Mile 8 is gradually uphill as a false flat, so you feel like you're going faster than the pace shows.  I used Mile 8 to ready myself for the last big push on the course in Mile 9.  I just held steady to the effort, which in hindsight is where I probably lost my shot at a PR.  With less than 3 miles to go, I could have likely pushed harder here, but I settled a bit.  The headwind really started to be stronger and I was running solo.  When I saw 6:41 for Mile 8 and knowing Mile 9 was more uphill, I realized my PR was gone.  So with the .5 mi grind up the bridge over 495, I pushed hard enough for the first time at the race where I truly felt out of breath.  I tried to rally on the downhill off the bridge to gain back some time, but the downhill runs right into the last kicker of a hill - 1 short steep block.  Mile 9 clocked 6:43.

Mile 10
After hitting the last mile marker during this last short steep hill, it was time to go for the finish.  I flew down the hill and prepared for the nearly mile long grind to the finish line straight ahead off in the distance.  It was at this point where I took stock of where I was in the race time wise and made the call to hold steady rather than go for broke.  With previous miles of 6:37, 6:41, and 6:43, I knew I needed to run a 6:00 final mile to get close to my PR.  I reminded myself that I was still on target to finish less than a minute from that PR time, which was run when I was in peak marathon shape and 10 lbs lighter.  To be in that ballpark and having run solidly to this point made me feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.  So I ran strong through to the finish with a final mile of 6:26 - still faster than average and pushing, but this allowed me to somewhat enjoy the last .25 mi which was lined with people.  Since I was running solo, I had a lot of people cheering me home.  I simply tried to relax and soak it in as I crossed the finish line with my 2nd fastest 10 mile time.

Final Time: 1:05:41
Overall Place: 65/3297
Age Group (35-39): 7/372

Post Race Thoughts
Over the past six months, I've struggled to push myself past my comfort zone in running, which is a key element to racing well at any distance.  Crossing the finish line only 37s off a PR I consider my best distance race result (ie longer than 5k) brings a huge confidence boost of where I stand fitness wise.  To go from running a 10k nearly 3 minutes off my PR last year, to running the first 10k of this 10 miler 2:20 faster than that, shows I've made some serious gains back in my fitness.  I do plan to return to racing marathons at some point, but I want to continue to build the foundation so that I am able to return to the level I left it at.  I'm apparently closer to it than I thought and part of the equation is obviously working to lose the excess weight I've been hanging onto.  We'll see how the rest of the Spring/early Summer goes as far as any potential Fall plans, but with another training cycle or two, I know I will be on the right path.  For me, the struggle continues to be in mentally coaching myself through getting workouts in and a marathon is only going to increase the mental demands.  I know I can do every workout I've assigned, so it isn't a confidence issue.  It is the gradual reshaping of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.  When you take extended time off, you lose that edge.  That seems to be the most difficult element to get back after a break from racing.  Focusing on pushing for an hour was a big step in the right direction and one that I'm proud of.

Since it has been so long since I last ran this race, this ended up being a 5:24 minute course PR.  Just shows the progress made over the last 5+ years of my running, not so much that I had such a great performance this time versus other years.  Its always fun to go back to races you haven't done in a while and crush a performance that at time, seemed like a big deal.  And since I started running this race 9 years ago, I've dropped more than 8 minutes off that time.  A needed a solid race like this to give me a sense of where I stand and what I need to focus on.  A great start, but I have lots more work to do!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Boston Marathon

For the better part of the last five years, the Boston Marathon has been something on my radar.  Initially, it was a goal to work toward a qualifying time, then it became a goal within reasonable reach, before ultimately being a goal to chase and capture finally at the Shamrock Marathon.  Thousands of miles run, 6 marathons prior to qualifying (though Boston would be my 9th), and who knows how many shoes; and it was finally here.  My chance to toe the line with the most fit people in the world, yet somehow it felt surreal as though I didn't belong.  I did afterall qualify just like everyone else, but seeing people all around you with year after year of qualifying for Boston humbles you a bit.  I went into the race with an open mind, both due to my lack of experience on the course and also because I wanted to run this race the one way I would be proud no matter the result - fearless.  Somewhere along the way as the weeks inched closer to race day, I developed a mantra: never settle.  So while standing on the start line with everyone else drew feelings of questioning whether or not I belonged there, I knew it my head that no matter what, I was going to race the Boston Marathon with all I had and never settle for anything less.

So let me back up a bit and start with the beginning.  Running the Boston Marathon means heading toward lots of friends and family, so we decided to make a longer trip of it all and make our way up north on Wednesday, stopping in Philly to cut up the drive north by a bit.  This was our first trip as a family of four, so we knew the driving part would take time and didn't want to force the kiddos in the car for too long at one time.  Our hotel was right in Independence Square in the old city, which proved nice for some short sightseeing with the limited time we had.

Family of four selfie!
 The next day, we made the rest of our voyage north by way of western Massachusetts to see some family.  While there, I got in some taper runs on seemingly never ending hills, including my last workout of 3 mi at marathon effort.  This basically amounted to running up and down a mountain to the bottom of a ski resort and back.  It would have been great training for Boston, if only I wasn't tapering and looking for some more flat.  Trust me, there wasn't much of any to be found.  Amazing as it sounds, I also got to see some areas that still had snow!  Nevertheless, I still got the work in and we enjoyed our time in the Berkshires.

Checking out the finish line!
Next stop on the tour was our final destination - Boston!  Technically, we were staying outside of Boston with friends in Natick, but shortly after arriving, we made our way into Boston to the expo.  The whole area, from the finish line out to the expo and the several streets that parallel Boylston were just a mob scene, but in a good way.  So many people out to support the marathon festivities and soak in the atmosphere.  There were kids races, photo ops, vendors, etc.

Packet pickup was a breeze with virtually no line, despite the place buzzing with people all around.  The BAA did an excellent job with staffing sub groups of number ranges so nobody had to wait to get their number or shirt.  After grabbing the essentials, it was time for the expo.  Now, with two little kids including one 8 week old, I was not planning to spend much time at the expo.  From doing some previous scouting, I only had a few places I wanted to hit up, including the official Adidas store.  Amazingly, the lines moved quickly and I was in and out in only a few minutes.  The rest of the expo was crammed with vendors and honestly, not impressive compared to other expos I'm used to.  I had heard such great things of the Boston expo, but I wasn't impressed compared to NYC or Marine Corps.  Major nutrition vendors were only selling their products rather than sampling and there was little room to walk.  Intersections of people caused mass chaos simply to move and based on what I saw, it simply wasn't worth the time, so we left.  I'm sure I missed a few free things here and there, but it wasn't worth dragging the kids all over the place for it.  The end result was less time on my feet and I think everyone was happy to get out.

The rest of the day, as well as Sunday were largely spent hanging out locally in Natick, eating carbs, and giving the kids a break from the constant car trips.  I made one trip to the local Marshall's to pick up some throwaways given the downward spiral of the forecasts, which I thought was a good choice of attire (kids xl Bruins hoodie in below photo).

Race ready!

I woke up race morning before my alarm (as per usual) and felt great.  We had arranged for a friend to drop me off in Hopkinton, which was only a short 15 minute drive from Natick vs trying to head in to Boston for the buses.  While I missed out on some of the pre-race experience, I also got to sleep much later.

Just trying to relax, stay warm and dry
I arrived at the Athlete's Village a little after 7 am, which was around the same time the Wave 1 buses would have been arriving.  When I got there, it was pretty empty, which gave me plenty of time and space to find a good spot to hang out for the next few hours.

As I discussed in my last training update, I had found a crew to run Boston with that was all shooting for around the same time goal (sub 3 hours).  We agreed on a meeting spot, so I found a spot that allowed me to sit undercover, against a pole, and also view our meeting spot.  Somewhere along the way, it began raining.  While the announcers said it was a passing shower, everyone in the vicinity of the planned meeting spot was gone because it offered no cover from the rain.  It was at this point that I started to think I might be running the race solo.  I had been chatting with a few of the people sitting near me under the tent, so that helped pass the time as I continued to scan the athletes entering the village to look for my friends.  Only a short while later, I got up to use the portapotty and found my friend Erin (who I qualified with at Shamrock) along the way.  We waited together for a while and started to wonder if we'd find the three others that were part of our group.  He and I both had Wave 1 assignments, but we were planning to move back to Wave 2 to start together, since one of our group was in Wave 2.  We agreed that if we couldn't find them, that it would make more sense to start in Wave 1 since the weather would get worse as time passed.  It was only 5 minutes later that Nicole found us and we met up with the rest of the crew - all set to start together in the front of Wave 2.

We took advantage of first call for our Wave and made our way toward the start line, knowing there was another block of portapotties awaiting our arrival.  The next chunk of time was spent  continually in lines to get "everything" out.  Once we all felt clear, we made our way to the actual start.  By the time we got into our corral, there wasn't more than 15-20 minutes until the start.  With about 5 minutes to go, I removed my throwaways.

Quick tip - hold on to your throwaways as long as possible.  There were collection bins starting with the exit from Athlete's Village all the way into the corrals, which would mean an extra 30-40 minutes hanging on to those extra layers.  On a day like we had, you'd burn an awful lot of glycogen shivering.  Best to hold on to them as long as you can.

Before I go into the actual race, I want to cover my race plan.  Going into the race, I knew my fitness was at an all time high after the simulator long run our crew ran and a handful of other workouts.  The goal of the crew was sub 3 and I felt I had it in me on the right day, but I was (rightly or wrongly) hesitant.  However, I had an opportunity to see if I had it with a group I knew vs trying to run my race solo within my comfort zone.  In the days leading up to the race, I repeated my mantra to myself over and over - never settle.  So my plan was to go out with the group, hold on for as much as I could, and see how the day goes.  Their plan was to start the first 2 miles close to 7 to ease into the race and then run close to 6:45/mi, factoring in the extra weaving of the course, to net a sub 3 time.

Before we knew it, it was the final countdown - we all gave each other fist bumps and started the 119th Boston Marathon as a pack of five!  The first mile was a bit of a cluster, more so than any other marathon I've run.  Starting toward the front of Wave 2, you'd think people wouldn't be taking it out super slow, but there they were.  We didn't panic, so we each sort of found our own paths through while remaining in contact with each other.  By the time we hit Mile 1 our split was 7:30, which was pretty far off our plan of 7:00, especially considering Mile 1 had 100+ ft of elevation drop.  By the time we hit Mile 2, we started to find some openings as we rolled along the course, still keeping everything in check coming in at 6:59 and essentially just writing off the first mile.  I think what surprised me the most about the first 10k or so was how rolling they were.  Sure, there was a net downhill, but each mile had some sort of uphill if not a few of them.  While I studied the elevation map and saw some bumps in there, I really don't recall many race reports mentioning them, so I feel it important to note it.  You can't just cruise that first 10k effortlessly downhill like many advice articles claim - there's some work in there.

By the time we got to Mile 3 (6:43), we were on pace and running as a pack, still weaving around people, but with more space to move.  I believe it was around this point that it started to rain and the winds became more notable.  And while the most direct route on the weaving course was typically the middle of the road, I tried my best to stay away from the dreaded yellow line, which when wet, proved to be slick.  The challenge with the wind was that it never seemed to be coming from a specific direction.  I tried drafting off others around me from every angle and never seemed to find the right spot, which meant I was working a bit more.  Additionally, as the next few miles ticked by in a blur, I started to feel the effort become a bit more than comfortable at this point in the race.  I wasn't sure if it was to earn back some time from the slower than planned Mile 1 or because the weather conditions weren't as bad as they will soon be, but the next several miles felt a bit over my head - 6:40, 6:46, 6:42, 6:40.  As we clocked the 7th mile, I made the decision to pull back a bit.  I still wanted to be aggressive, but I listened to what my body was telling me for the past several miles.  The combination of the quick miles while running into a headwind was starting to push me over the edge.  In hindsight, I wish I would have listened a bit earlier, but its difficult to define the line between racing a marathon to your potential and crossing over the line to blow up.  Unfortunately, you only find out much later when its too late, which of those two options it was.

Cracking a smile for the cheering squad
 Mile 8 made our way into Natick (6:48), where I knew I'd get to see my family and friends.  At this point I was only a handful of seconds back from the pack, but I split off to the side of the road to make sure I'd see my cheering squad.  It was uplifting to see them all out there in the rain and I have to give them credit for sticking around to see me - it was pretty miserable!  With a number of little ones in tow, they left to go inside right after they saw me come through.

Not how I was hoping this would turn out, but you see me at some point
I was still clocking steady miles (6:50, 6:58, 7:03), while we began the slow and steady rise in elevation, which is another element of the course rarely mentioned.  Miles 9-11 are a slow false flat rise, where you can easily cause some worry in your head as your paces start to slow a bit with a touch more effort.  This didn't worry me, because I felt the effort steady within my zone.  It was around this time that I started chatting with a girl who had been running at my pace for a bit now.  She noticed our pack and the =PR= Race Team singlets and was asking where they went.  I told her that I had to back off, but was happy to find a running buddy for a while.  We stayed together for at least 4-5 miles I believe, crossing the 10 mile (?) mark mid conversation, but somewhere along the way, she pulled ahead for good.

Chatting away the miles
The next notable landmark was running through Wellesley.  Now, I've watched the marathon on tv a million times and heard others speak of how loud it is, but I can say without a doubt it was the loudest I've ever run through and that includes any point of the NYC Marathon.  Their screams were deafening and I think my ears are still ringing!  I saw some people around me really pick up the pace here, but I just held it steady.  As I neared the halfway point (7:03, 6:57, 6:59), I actually felt really strong and used some positive affirmations to compare how I felt now to how terrible I felt at this point during Marine Corps.  My 13.1 split was 1:30:40, which was about 4:00 faster than at Marine Corps (and my PR) and felt I had the energy to keep it going.

Pretty sure this was somewhere early in Newton
The next few miles were really just mental prep for the Newton hills.  You knew it was coming soon, but you weren't there yet, so I just cruised along to gather my strength.  Miles 14 and 15 (7:00 and 7:10) were a gradual uphill.

Nasty downhill before the start of the hills
But then came the sharp downhill in Mile 16 (6:57) to bring us to the start the hills.  It was on the downhill during Mile 16 that I got my first sense that those early miles had done me in.  While I was still moving without restriction, I started to feel the onset of some cramps.  I tried to push it out of my mind and focus on the start of the hills, hoping that the uphills would be fine.  I think of the four Newton hills, the 1st climb was the worst.  It's a double climb - first over 95, then a less severe up, before a 2nd bump up to finish up the long hill, the longest of the 4.  I ran a 7:34 mile, which included the climb and the downhill after and was content with the split.  I didn't push up these hills - I simply kept the same effort in the hopes that I'd be able to make time on the downhills.  Unfortunately, that is where I ran into trouble.  It wasn't so much the going up part that caused my hamstrings to tighten, it was the going down.  It's funny that everyone talks about their quads being shot, because they were doing just fine!

The other unfortunate timing was the rain.  Right in the thick of the hills is when the rain really started to come down.  One of my most clear memories on the day was grinding up Heartbreak Hill, with the winds whipping the rain into my face like giant pellets.  There was a point where I wondered if it was sleet, because it was stinging my face as it hit me.  Nevertheless, I pushed on the ups and settled for a slower decent on the downs.  During this entire section, I never once glanced at my watch, even as it beeped for each mile, because I knew they'd be slower but I didn't want to get discouraged in the midst of the toughest mental and physical point of the course.  My splits through the Newton hills were (7:34, 7:29, 7:26, 7:43, 8:09).  As you can see - Heartbreak, the wind, and the rain got me.

Grinding up Heartbreak in the pouring rain
 After cresting Heartbreak, I had a huge relief and knew the end was near.  Of course, I now had to navigate a ton of downhill, which was the least kind on my body now.  I did my best to push when I felt I could, but it certainly wasn't what I wanted to be putting out at this point.  I knew I was still close to PR pace, but each steep downhill forced me to back off even more and I slowly saw the PR time slip away from my grip by the time I hit Mile 24 (7:42, 7:54, 7:57).  I never let my mood sour however, because of where I was and the amazing crowd support as we went through Boston College and began to enter Boston proper.

Wishing I could run just a bit faster on these downhills!
The rain was really coming down at this point and there was nowhere to run but puddles everywhere.  I never felt cold the whole race, but in the last 5k I started to lose some feeling in my feet as they began to feel like ice blocks with each soupy puddle I'd land in.

Attempting to outrun the T
The last few miles were a bit of a blur, but I (literally) soaked it all is as much as I could.  About .5 mi away, I was finally able to spot the Citgo sign, which was a blessing because I didn't have to spend 2 miles staring at it.  I quickly came upon it, while navigating the last of the hills and the crowds began to thicken.
The dream is almost over

A few more minutes passed and I found myself entering the last moments of the race by turning right on Hereford (and up the hill nobody talks about), left on Boylston.  Now typically, that final turn leaves you in a slow motion state where you feel like the finish line will never come any closer.  Not the case for me - this part of the course went by in an instant.

Keeping a smile the rest of the way!
While I'm doubtful I was running the 5:55/mi pace my watch claims I was doing (but I'll take it!), I did pick up the pace.  And as I ran along, I looked at the crowd and made sure I had a huge smile on my face to soak it all in and thank them for being out there on such a tough day to spectate.  I made note of the 2 places where the bombs went off and said a little prayer for those still suffering from that day, but also felt thankful that people can still come out in full force, even on a crappy day, to celebrate our sport and all that the Boston Marathon stands for.

Official Time: 3:11:09

A much deserved celebration beer!
So while I didn't PR or even come close to my goal, I was proud to have raced this course aggressively and never settle.  For someone who has it nailed into their brain that the only way to run a great marathon is to negative split, I was initially disappointed to finish the way I did, but I have no regrets for the way I raced it.  Like I said earlier, hindsight would have me back off a bit sooner and perhaps salvage my race with a slight PR, but otherwise I am ok with how it went.  Heck, I managed to run nearly 2 minutes within my PR on a crappy day, on a tougher course, and oh - while managing life with a 2 month old (and a little maniac of a 3 yr old).  Some of my crew went on to finish sub 3 and I am over the moon happy for them and their well deserved accomplishments, but I need to put my race in my own perspective with my own life constraints.  And while I wish I could have PRd and/or run the race with them, my body wasn't ready for that yet.  I know my fitness is there.  I just need to execute better and likely enter the race under slightly different life circumstances.  Their performance in that weather on that course shows me that I have it in me, which is the motivation I need going forward to do it.  My overall stats also show me that I fared better than most of my peers relative to their fitness, as I started the race with a bib number ranked 7065 and finished 4886 overall.

A hard earned, but well worth it medal
I am thankful for the opportunity to race Boston and hopeful to return there soon and race the crap out of that course again!  Below are my full splits for those that are interested:

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