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The Loop

Boston 2019




People are asking, "How was your race"? How'd you do?" and I have to pause because I don't want to say, "Well, I missed all my goals and ran 4:06" because that really doesn't tell the story. Boston 2019 was a fabulous time, as Boston always is. It is really not about how the race went. It is about soaking in the atmosphere and being part of a running carnival. Walking the streets surrounded by runners in their Boston jackets. Feeling like part of a secret club that you were lucky enough to earn your way into, that has been given control of a major city for the weekend. Sure, much of that is silliness in our heads, but it is palpable nonetheless.

So, how'd I do? I did great. I got to run with 26,000 awesome people and get yelled at by 100,000 more. I got to have the same feeling that I did in New York of being a rock star, despite just being a guy jogging down the street at 8 minute pace, and slower. I enjoyed the hell out of it, so, yeah, I met my goal.

But I know you want details, so I'll break it down for you.

I flew across the country on Friday - a trek that took 14 hours after one flight got diverted and delayed and I missed my connection. But I eventually got to Boston and met up with Carissa and Adam. We rented an Airbnb apartment in an old building within walking distance of the finish line that looked like this.


We had the 2nd floor of that corner building. It was basically a studio, with a 2nd bed in a room the size of a closet. But it was fine. It was great to have them to hang out with all weekend.

Saturday was a busy day. Carissa ran the BAA 5K so I did a little shakeout run with her and watched the race. Then I hit the expo in the AM and picked up a few souvenirs before we all went to Fenway for the afternoon Red Sox game. It turned out sunny and beautiful and we had front row seats in right field just past the bullpen.


Later we met up with Loopsters Ken and Glenn for dinner before finally getting some rest.

Sunday was less busy as we mainly just ate and rested. Watched Tiger win the Masters, and Adam introduced me to Game of Thrones. Carissa whipped up a spaghetti dinner for traditional carb-loading. Then we laid out our gear and planned for the race.

All week, the forecast had been for rain. First it was cold rain. Later it was warmer rain. And thunderstorms. But as it turned out, the rain came early and was done before race time. Unfortunately we had to walk to the bus at 7:30 while it was pouring down and we got drenched. Shoes and socks were soaked through. Oh well. The smart people wore throw-away shoes and carried their race shoes. Never thought of that. Happy to spend the hour on the bus with this crazy chick.


Once we got to Hopkinton it was dry, but the fields were muddy. Not too horrible though. Plenty of time to take care of business. Carissa took off for her wave 2 start and I had a little time to myself.


Then the long walk to the start line. I always like that. It's like a little parade where we can shake off the nerves and celebrate being there. Then we get into our corrals and there's a few minutes to converse with strangers that are (mostly) all smiling and excited. Wheeee!!! It's Boston!!! And then we're off.

So my plan was just to run at comfortable pace. Not too fast. So I wanted the first two miles over 8, preferably closer to 8:30. Then I figured to settle into a pace about 8:00. Definitely wanted to avoid sub-8s in my usual (futile) quest to not go out too fast. Hoped to get through 16 close to 8 minute pace and then just see what happens after that. And that's basically what happened. I wanted to break 4, because, well, it sounds better! But I also was treating it like an ultra, where time didn't really matter. I gave myself permission (ahead of time) to walk on the uphills and enjoy the journey. And that's what happened! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Everything felt good as we started running. None of the injuries that have irritated me over the previous months even made a peep. Knee fine. Ankle fine. Hammy fine. Feet fine. First two miles were 8:16 and 8:11 as I ran with the crowd and relaxed. Then the splits dropped as we kept going downhill. 7:51, 7:46, 8:06, 7:52, 7:51, 7:57, 7:51, 7:56 through ten miles. I hit ten in almost exactly 80 minutes. I felt good. But not great. Not like I was itching to go faster.

Carissa had put my name on my shirt with cut out duct tape letters, so I got to hear people cheering for me for about ten miles before the letters apparently fell off after I was sweating too much. It really helps hearing your name constantly. I also did a lot of high-fiving and smiling at people. The sun came out about this time and it started to warm up.


Still felt pretty good through 13 and into Wellesley. 8:02, 7:48, 7:58 and halfway in 1:44:53. Just under 8 minute pace. The Wellesley girls were as loud as ever. I didn't stop for smooches, but I slapped hands with a hundred of them and soaked up the energy. I was feeling the fatigue come on, but I knew I was doing better than last time (2017) when I started bonking by mile 14. I was starting to bargain with myself about when I could take my first walk break. Definitely wanted to get through 16 and a big downhill there.

14-16 were 7:55, 8:14 and 7:49. And then the first of the Newton hills. It's not too steep but it's long. I downshifted and switched to training run mode. I told myself I could run over this first one at least. So I did.


Got to 17 in 8:44. But by the time the 2nd hill started in mile 18 I was ready for a break and started to walk. My stomach had been uncomfortable for some time now. I made the mistake of eating THREE Clif bars before the race. Plus a bagel and a banana. And apparently whatever is in those Clif bars was creating some chemical reactions in my innards. So not only were my legs worn out, but I just didn't feel like running because of my belly. I started looking for port-a-potties but there were none about. Walked most of the 2nd hill because I had switched to Ultra mode and just didn't care anymore. Still happy though. Enjoying the people and the experience. Mile 18 was 12:27.

I did some running mixed with walking for the next three miles over the rest of Newton. I had mentally checked out and thought about walking it in and it seemed fine. Hell, I've done it before! The upset belly just made the idea of running sound not fun. Mile 19 was 10:46. Finally I found an open p-o-p and went in, but it was a fruitless effort. Still clogged up I guess. I wasted over 2 minutes in there and then headed back out. Mile 20 was 15:20!

But then relief came in the form of some eloquent flatulence. I let go with some lengthy tooting (silent, but also deadly), and suddenly felt like running was a much better idea. Grateful for the 20mph breezes (which were mostly behind us (ha)) the brown cloud soon parted. As I reached heartbreak hill in mile 21 I was chatting with another walker and we both decided to run. I made it most of the way up. But I did stop for photos at the top.


Mile 21 was 14:00. But it was all downhill from here. Sure I was still sore-legged and spent. But I could run. So I got into a decent trotting pace and the walk breaks started to get farther apart. Mile 22 was 11:19 and I calculated that I wasn't going to break 4:00, but if I could keep moving I could still break my 4:11 disaster from 2017. So I kept moving. Mile 23 was 11:50 and 24 was 10:13! Flying! Seriously these last three miles were this year's highlight. Instead of suffering and shuffling like almost all my marathons, I was running! Albeit slowly. It was a nice surprise after feeling like crap a few miles back.

Now on my 3rd Boston I knew the course better and that helped with the visualizing. I knew what was coming up and I kept trucking. Mile 25 was almost all running in 9:45. I knew I had it in the bag now. I was smiling and enjoying the huge crowds. The cloud cover had returned with some cool breezes (cold front) and then it started to rain with about a mile to go. It felt great. I took one last walk break as we dipped under the road before Hereford. And then I ran it all the way in - something I couldn't do the last two times. Mile 26 was 10:35 and the last .46 miles on my Garmin were 8:59 pace!


Turning left on Boylston and running those last few blocks in a deafening roar was superfantastic. So much fun. I had my arms up for the finish and then my calf cramped with literally two steps to go. Hence the wince in these pictures. And then the smile.




Done! 4:06:32. We'll call it an age-group course record. 

Hobbled the mile back to our place. The usual glorious shower. No chafing. No blisters. Pretty medal. We all went out to celebrate at the top of the Prudential. 52 stories up for a beautiful view.



Life is good.



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Thanks for the vicarious race! I'm wondering who ended up with a duct tape "B" on the bottom of a shoe.  Great job enjoying the experience without stressing about time - the best way to run.

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I love this post! I love that you still enjoyed your race and are proud of it, even if you didn't hit your goals. I must say, you are BRAVE for risking a shart out there, but I know that had to have felt great! HAHA! Eating THREE Clif bars AND the other stuff was definitely risky. Thanks for the report and sharing your race! Well done Bangle!

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Great summary, and I particularly liked the first two paragraphs.  For those of us who are aging past even our second prime (if such a thing exists), it's a constant struggle to find the joy in running and racing, however we can.  But it is possible, and you seem to have found it, at least in Boston in 2019.

P.S.  You just started Game of Thrones?  You have a lot of catching up to do!

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Funny how the things I'll remember most about this weekend have very little to do with the actual running and everything to do with making memories with a really good friend. 💕 Congrats on another (!!) Boston finish and sweet revenge on that 2017 race. 

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The marathon is so much a microcosm of life. Even if things aren’t going to plan, you can (and should) still enjoy the heck out of it.

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I like how you think of the walk to the starting corrals as a parade to shake off nerves. I remember it as a march to a firing squad. Apparently I’ve got to work on my mental game.

So no beer from BC guys? Bummer.

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silent but deadly. 

I desperately hope there is a blog out there somewhere about the awful fart another Boston runner 'ran' into. 

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