Monday, April 16, 2012

Wilted...Like a Flower! 2012 Boston

Despite my best efforts, I ended up becoming a victim of, rather than a witness to the carnage that was the 2012 Boston Marathon.  Going into the race, I decided to go out at 6:30 pace, and if it felt too hard (due to the heat), I'd back off and just enjoy the ride.

With temperatures forecast to reach 85+ degrees, I diligently hydrated, stayed out of any heat and took it easy all weekend.  I ran around 30ish  miles all easy, in the week leading up to the race.  On Monday morning, I woke up pretty confident and feeling pretty good.

After taking the bus from Hopkinton State Park to the athletes village, I relaxed for a couple of hours, having my usual pre race food, remaining calm, and somewhat excited.  By 9:10, they called wave 1 to the start.  I dropped my bag in the buss and walked the ~1 mile to corral 1.  A few guys I run with/race with were there and we all discussed our plans.  Plans ranged from taking it easy, to going for it anyway.  I fell somewhere in the middle.

At 10AM, the race was off.  I already knew the heat was going to suck, I was sweating just standing in the corral for the 10 minutes before the race.  Boston certainly lived up to its reputation with great spectators.

Mile splits that I took:
6:19, 6:23, 6:31, 6:28, 6:37, 6:35, 6:52

I went out just a tad fast, since it is quite downhill early.  I did reel it in though and sort of settled in.  Aside from the official course water, all kinds of people had their own water to hand out, oranges, towels, etc, etc, etc.  It was actually really cool (not temperature wise).  I made sure to stick to my rough plan of taking a few sips every stop, and grabbing a second cup to dump on myself.

I even took some unofficial stuff, and for the most part, through the 10K, felt reasonable.  Then things started to go south, fast.  I went through mile 7, having decided to back off 6:30 pace and just try and cruise in.  I figured, if I caught myself soon enough, I could still enjoy the remaining experience.  I shut off my watch after that, to try and just put it on cruise control.

My stomach and intestines slowly started tying themselves into knots, my feet started throbbing (probably from being swollen), and I started to feel "out of it."

By about mile 9, despite my chill pace, I kept feeling worse and worse.  Finally, I decided to walk for a little and see if I could gather myself.  Everything from that point on was a disjointed run-walk, as you can see from my official splits on the BAA website, with times of 8-9 minutes per mile and slower.

I started getting passed by some of my training partners/running friends and actually felt really bad that I couldn't even compose myself enough to run with them.  Every one that passed me tried to pull me along, and I just couldn't get myself going.  I am still very grateful you all tried!

The famed Wellesley girls got me through their section; you really can hear the screeching almost a mile away.  After passing the half marathon point, Dave P., caught up to me and tried to get me going again.  My left hip (and most of my leg muscles) were not cooperating with all the starting and stopping I was doing.  I stayed with him for a while, but it was getting harder to breathe, all while the cramping in my mid section was not going away.

Finally, I reached mile 16 and just had it.  I was getting dizzy, couldn't drink anything because it was just making me sick, sunburned myself pretty good (I rarely burn), and all in all, could not fathom death marching into Boston.

Thankfully my parents were there, and after sitting in the shade for 30 minutes (feeling even worse, but eventually getting better), felt good enough to at least limp to the car, go get my stuff in Boston, and go back to the hotel.

So now what?  Well, my first reaction was.."fuck this marathon stuff, I'm done!"  I've since back tracked from that a little.  More on that later...  And as far as my now unfinished business with Boston, I do have my fall NCR trail marathon time of 3:02ish, which is a bit borderline.  But, more on that later too.


  1. Dan - I watched your splits with a heavy heart. You ABSOLUTELY did the right thing. When I ran there, and I was not nearly as quick as you, I was also planning on going out pretty easy. First mile was, at 6:40, but because I had started fairly far back, I was weaving a lot, so by the time I found some more open roads, I clicked off 5:59, 6:05, 5:59, 6:10 before settling into 6:12-6:17 through 14 miles (1:21:22 at the half). I believed I was in shape for a 2:45, and knew to expect a positive split. This first half was one of the easiest I'd ever run.

    Then my body shut down...and I stopped a bunch...and it took me 2 hours to get to the line. It was miserable. 3:21:15.

    Your smart early splits were exactly the way to have approached the day, when you're racing, you're doing so against a number of factors, and yesterday you were racing the conditions. I was so sorry to see that you had to drop, we all know how much this race means to you. But I hope that you don't think for one second that you failed.

    I am positive that with your 3:02 you'll be fine for next year. Not many people chose to defer, so there won't be hordes of people guaranteed entry, and I think the new times are still just harder. You'll get it next year.

  2. I agree with Ryan that you did the right thing by dropping out. I don't think anyone's ever happy when they barely make it to the finish line 30+ minutes off of what they thought they would run. In a race as long as a marathon---in which you have significant potential to harm your body---if your body shuts down, there are only two smart options: (1) drop out or (2) take a serious lunch break at an aid station and jog it in, just enjoying the course along the way.

    Also, of everyone I was following, I think the decent-race:disaster ratio was about 4:1. Will Knox and Dave Ploskonka were the only two who came through [relatively] unscathed---one of them started at a pace 20+ minutes off of his best, and the other never stops running. I'd say you're in good company, man.