Monthly Archives: April 2011

Boston post-race

This will be the last post about Boston, I swear. After the race it took quite a while to retrieve my checked bag and meet up with Steve and Mike. There was a family reunite area that was organized by letter. However, it was in the middle of a city block and was incredibly crowded and hard to move. Once we met up with Steve and Mike, we dealt with a huge cluster of people trying to get to the T. Eventually we made it back to the hotel where this immediately happened:

That Samuel Adams IPA was so delicious that I got another one to take up to the room. Gotta replenish those carbs!

The other reason I needed another one:

Normally I do not do ice baths. Ever. However, I knew that my quads took a real beating during the race, and knowing that I would be running another marathon in less than 3 weeks, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to promote recovery.

How was it you may be wondering? It was cold. So cold my feet were hurting pretty bad. I managed to stick it out for 15 minutes. I followed my ice bath immediately with a scalding hot shower, after which I was still shivering.

James wanted steak for dinner, so we went to Flemming’s.

I got a salmon salad that was actually quite good.

The smorgasbord included roasted potatoes, mini peppers, asparagus, deviled eggs, and shredded lettuce with a delicious tangy sauce. Pretty random, pretty tasty. The point of this meal for me was really just to ingest nutritious food before dessert.

Before Mike left to fly back home to Philly, he recommended we go to a place called Finale for dessert. You guys, it was a gourmet dessert restaurant! Obviously I ordered the biggest and most diverse option on the menu, the 9 piece dessert sampler with a side of molten chocolate lava cake.

Drool.

Sorry about the poor lighting, but I will give you a tour starting with the top left. Brownie ice cream sundae, crème brule,  chocolate whoopie pies, pumpkin cake, chocolate tower, mango & berry sorbet in a homemade crispy bowl, apple cranberry pie, boston crème, and cheesecake in the middle.

Aaaaannnnd…the chocolate lava cake with a side of espresso ice cream and candied walnuts:

I am not kidding when I tell you that lava cake was in the top 5 things I’ve ever eaten. For real.

Let’s just say I ate until I felt ill and it was worth every bite. I could barely stand up and walk by the time we left. And with that, my glycogen stores were replenished.

Steve got some great photos of the race right at the finish line.

The men’s race was a sprint to the finish. Or maybe they were just racing to get some fried dough.

Ryan Hall making the final kick on his way to the fastest marathon run by an American.

Tuesday Morning we woke up to a chilly, rainy, windy day. We are breakfast at the hotel, lounged around for a bit, and headed to the airport. There was only one photo-worthy happening all day.

At the airport bar, I saw ice cream on the menu. I also saw root beer which can only mean one thing. They brought me a bowl of ice cream in a giant glass and a bottle of root beer so I could assemble my own root beer float. I haven’t had a root beer float in ages, and really don’t drink soda ever, but this really hit the spot. I think the root beer float may have to become a post-race tradition.

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2011 Boston Marathon

Or It’s not the up-hills that will kill you…

From my Garmin:

Going into the race I knew that Boston was a net downhill course. I didn’t realize just how downhill it was. I figured it would mostly be gradual and barely noticeable, but from the start of the race it was down, down, down. Of course what goes down also goes up, and there were a few minor up-hills over the first few miles too. Conditions were ideal, sunny with a high temperature of 60 degrees and a tailwind. I knew I had to concentrate on not going out too fast, which is what I always do. If I was going to survive the hills later in the race, I had to play it smart.

Elevation profile from my Garmin:

Even though it was very well-organized, the start was crowded. My first mile clocked in at 8:18, which was pretty good. My goal pace for the race was 8:00/mile, which would put me just under a 3:30 finishing time. The energy in the small town of Hopkington was electric. It was such a small town feel for such a big city marathon, and there were plenty of spectators cheering us on. From mile two on, I was able to drop just below 8 minute pace. I couldn’t believe how consistent my splits were, mostly between 7:45-7:55/mile. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up, but I told myself that this is the Boston Marathon and I have to go for it.

I lost James pretty early on at a water stop, but he was always in my sights up ahead. Sometimes I would catch up to him, then we would get separated for a while. He mentioned how weird it was that we never made any turns on the course. I though about it, and it actually messed with my head a little bit. We were going to be running in a straight line for miles and miles. And miles.

The race seemed to be flying by faster than I could absorb what was going on. My pace felt effortless, almost surreal. We passed through several more small towns, and before I knew it I was entering the “scream tunnel” at Wellesley College. Wellesley is an all-girls college, and they were out in full force. The noise was deafening, and I couldn’t help but have a huge goofy grin on my face. Many of the girls were holding “kiss me” signs, and I saw a few runners take them up on the offer. The level of screaming and noise reminded me of mile 21-22 of the Chicago Marathon when you run into Chinatown. If you’ve experienced that you know what I am talking about. This section was exciting and also downhill, and I knew I was moving pretty fast. That mile was 7:39, and brought me to the halfway point around 1:44, a minute ahead of schedule.

Around mile 16 we came to the first of the Newton Hills. With every foot fall I chanted to myself run strong, run strong. There were two smaller hills before Heartbreak Hill just after mile 20. I could feel myself losing form on the hills, so I started chanting little steps, run strong, little steps, run strong. I made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill (my slowest mile of the race in 8:30) and I knew it was mostly downhill to the finish. I looked for Steve and Mike who said they would be cheering somewhere around Heartbreak Hill. I found out later they were there, but I never saw them and they never saw me Sad smile 

By this point I started to know what everyone meant when they said it’s not the up-hills in this race that will kill you, it’s the down-hills. My quads were starting to feel the effects of the pounding, but surprisingly not as badly as I anticipated. With 5 miles to go, I looked to my right and there was James. I hadn’t seen him for many miles, so it was funny that we were suddenly right next to each other. We were able to push each other a little bit through the final miles which was good.

I can’t even describe how fast the rest of the race went by. Normally the last few miles of a marathon are torture for me. Usually I am feeling the effects of going out too fast, I have slowed considerably, and I contemplate walking the last 3 miles or so. Not this time. Somehow I was right on pace and still going strong. Don’t get me wrong, my legs were hurting and I was ready to stop, but I knew deep down that I could finish strong. With one mile to go, I looked at my watch and saw that I had to run a sub-8 min mile to reach my ultimate goal of breaking 3:30. My chant had changed to don’t think about it, don’t think about it. I dug deep, gave it everything I had, and let the incredible cheering of the crowds carry me to the finish line.

When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, I knew I had done it. I can’t quite describe the feeling of many months and even years of working my butt off in training culminating into this one moment amidst a sea of other runners in Boston. What was once an impossibility had become a reality and I was living it at that moment. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t help but cry tears of happiness. I will never forget that feeling. It was better than finishing my first marathon, better than finishing Ironman. I got my finisher’s medal and tried to wrap my head around the whole thing. A week later it still doesn’t quite seem real. Boston was truly the race of a lifetime, and a dream come true.

 

Official stats:

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Boston pre-race

Marathon Monday started with a 5am alarm, which turned out to be unnecessary. I woke up at 4:59, typical. There was a minor coffee emergency on Sunday night when I realized that both of the in-room coffee pods to use with the coffee machine were decaf. Um, that’s not gonna help. Turns out the hotel ran out of regular coffee. After a serious slight  freak-out on my part, I realized that the CVS Pharmacy that was attached to the hotel would be open for seven more minutes. I ran down and spent nearly $10 on an 8-pack of Starbucks VIA instant coffee. Crisis averted.

Upon waking, I used the coffee maker to produce some hot water for my Starbucks. As I drank my coffee, I made up a peanut butter bagel to go. I have never had the experience of being awake for over five hours before the start of a marathon, and wasn’t sure exactly how much to eat and at what time. I decided I would eat the bagel on the bus to the athlete’s village around 7am, and I brought a banana to eat closer to race time. I put on my race clothes, bib, and warm clothes, and was ready to go.

James and I walked the few blocks to the T and boarded with a bunch of other runners. It was a short ride to Boston Common where we needed to get on the bus to the start.

There were masses of runners everywhere and what seemed like hundreds of yellow school busses.

We waited probably about 15 minutes for a bus, not too bad. The bus ride took a little over an hour. I used that time to eat my bagel, relax, and take in the scenery.

We finally arrived at the athlete’s village and headed straight for the port-a-potties. After that long bus ride my bladder was full! It was very chilly and windy out, and the ground was wet from the rain the day before. Lots of smart people brought garbage bags and tarps to sit on. We were not so well-prepared.

James and I took a bit of shelter from the wind next to a fire truck.

James is much faster than me, and qualified to start in wave one, while I was in wave two. The day before the race, he decided to drop back and run with me since he hadn’t been doing much in the way of training. I was very happy to have someone to run with, especially since James has pretty much paced me to all of my marathon PR’s, including my Boston qualifier last year.

With about 20 minutes before we had to leave for the corrals, we checked our bags and hit the port-a-potty one last time. We left the athlete’s village around 9:45 and headed for the start. Everything was really well-organized, and we were able to enter corral number six without a problem. We chatted with one of the volunteers about the race, baseball, and cheese as we waited for the 10:20 start. Before I knew it, the race was underway. Then it hit me. Holy crap, I am running the Boston Marathon. Soak it all in right now, this is it...

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Boston day 2

I am still trying to gather my thoughts about the marathon, but in the meantime, please enjoy a recap of Sunday, day 2 in Boston. After sleeping in, we headed out for an easy 2 mile run just to keep the legs loose. It was really nice out in the morning, so we were hoping for a beautiful day. After the quick run, it was time for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I had a waffle with banana and strawberry slices, and one poached egg on the side.

 

Please pardon my face here, I was really excited about the waffle. It was delicious.

Next we hung out in the hotel room for a little bit, and it started to rain outside. Luckily the rain was short-lived, but it became slightly chilly. James left to go to the Red Sox game, and Steve and I stopped back at the race expo to run in and buy a hat that I wanted. While we were there I found another sweatshirt that I couldn’t resist.

By the time we finished at the expo (after several free samples of various products) we had to high-tail it to the MIT campus to watch my brother compete in a burger relay. Yes, burger relay. He was part of an alumni team with his old fraternity brothers. Each racer had to run a lap around the track, scarf a cheeseburger, and run another lap around the track. There were four racers on each team for a total of 2 miles and 4 cheeseburgers. Here’s a pic of Steve and myself waiting for the race to start.

We had to wait around for a while because Mike was in the third heat. The race was entertaining and disgusting all at the same time. The racers looked pretty rough after their second lap with a stomach full of cheeseburger. Finally it was Mike’s turn to race.

He opted to go bare-chested for aerodynamics. He made his way around the track pretty quickly and it was on to the burger.

He had a really hard time with the first few bites because he couldn’t breath heavily and eat at the same time. Before long he got into a pretty good rhythm.

All gone!

Mike looked a little uncomfortable as he came in for the tag-off after his second lap. His total time was just under 5 minutes, pretty impressive if you ask me.

Thank goodness that’s over.

Unfortunately Mike’s team did not win the race. He declared it the first and last time he would compete in such an event. By the time the race was over, I was freezing and had a headache. It looks like it was really warm outside, but there was a chilly wind and we were outside for so long I was actually shivering. We found some couches in the MIT student center where we just hung out until it was time for dinner.

We went to a pizza/Italian restaurant near MIT. Despite the burger relay, Mike found his appetite for pizza.

I had margherita pizza for my pre-race dinner. The pizza was very good, but dinner ended up being a bust because Steve never got his fettuccine alfredo. Apparently the kitchen was so screwed up that they couldn’t even manage to boil noodles. The waitress felt terrible and offered to make him a pizza, but by then everyone else was done eating. It was totally ridiculous and unacceptable, but she did take a large pizza and Steve’s drinks off the bill. He ended up ordering room service back at the hotel, poor guy.

After dinner all I did was lay out my race stuff for the next morning and watch TV until I fell asleep. Stay tuned for the race recap tomorrow!

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Boston update

Just a quick update before I pass out from mass food and dessert consumption.

The marathon was nothing short of amazing. Seriously, the best race ever. I finished in 3:29:40, just managing to squeak in under my ultimate goal of breaking 3:30. I couldn’t be happier with how it went, it still seems sort of surreal. I might actually think it was a dream until I try to sit down and my quads scream at me.

I will be back in the next couple of days with a full race report and pictures of the most amazing celebratory dessert(s) ever.

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Boston day 1

Yesterday was my biggest page view day ever here on the old blog. THANK YOU everyone for your support! It means the world to me!

We arrived in Boston on time (imagine that), and were greeted with friendly signs at the airport.

Instead of hopping in a cab, we decided to take the subway (aka the “T”) to get to our hotel. We purchased our “Charlie Cards” and hopped on the blue line. After a few stops we had to switch to the green line. Don’t I sound like a pro already?

Turns out we got on the slightly wrong green line (wrong letter), and when we got off we were at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were playing and the whole area was super crowded. We ended up walking about a mile to the hotel, not too bad except it was COLD and WINDY yesterday. We got checked in, had a quick lunch at the hotel restaurant, and headed  to the race expo. Once again we needed the green line, and after walking to a closer T station, we hopped on board. After  several stops, we found we were headed in the wrong direction. No matter, we rode the sucker to the end of the line and got a scenic tour of parts of the city before the train turned around and took us in the right direction.

We finally made it to the expo, and first on the list was number pick up. This was pretty quick with no lines.

After that it was race shirt pick up, also quick, and then we headed into the expo. I do not have pictures of this portion of the day because it was do or die. I cannot even explain how crowded it was in the Adidas official merchandise area. It was like sardines, you couldn’t even get to the racks. After much jostling around, I ended up with a pair of running capris and a sweatshirt. The one jacket and the one t-shirt I wanted were all out in my size, so I may have to order at least the t-shirt online. We made half a lap around the rest of the booths, got some smoothie and power bar samples, and decided that was enough.

We then met up with my brother Mike at Fenuil Hall Marketplace, which is kind of a touristy indoor/outdoor shopping and eating area. We walked around for a bit, got mochas at Starbucks (did I mention it was COLD and WINDY?), looked around in a few shops, and then decided it was time for dinner. After failed attempts to eat at Legal Sea Foods and another restaurant that had a 90 min wait, we walked to the North End, which is Boston’s Little Italy. We found a restaurant that had a 30 min wait and ordered a bottle of wine at the bar. Mike was all about the swirling of the wine.

It was so nice to sit down after walking around in the cold for so long.

We were seated at a table and had a nice Italian dinner. I wasn’t too hungry, so I ordered a garden salad and a mushroom, polenta, and fontina cheese appetizer for my meal. I was so glad I did this because the dinner portions were huge. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and pretty much crashed.

I slept in until 8:15 this morning, which is unheard of. I guess I was truly exhausted last night. I have already been out to Starbucks for coffee, and am currently waiting for Steve and James to wake up so we can go for a short shake-out run. It is considerably warmer today already, thank goodness. I think the plan is run, breakfast, then meet up with Mike while James goes to the Red Sox game. Mike is participating in some sort of “burger relay” later today with his old fraternity brothers at MIT. I suspect it is not to be missed.

More updated and pictures later!

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Off to Boston

Suitcase packed? Check.

Does anyone else hate packing as much as I do? I love to travel, but packing is my nemesis. True story: I procrastinated packing last night by scrubbing the kitchen sink and cleaning the top of the stove. This carry on suitcase took me approximately 2.5 hours to pack. What is wrong with me?

Reading material? Check.

Last weekend I hit up Borders going out of business sale and all of the books were 80% off! I got these for like $3-$4 each. I will also be catching up on Runners World and Running Times on the plane. Gotta get even more psyched for running!

Snacks? Check.

A variety of bars is a requirement. Don’t worry, I did not forget my peanut butter packets. I just had to pack them and my race gels in with my toiletries in a quart sized bag. I would not be able to take it if TSA confiscated my pb, so better safe than sorry.

Race day weather check?

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I *think* this is a tailwind according to the course map. If my calculations are correct, could it be more perfect?

I am hoping to have internet access throughout the weekend so I can keep you all updated. It sunk in yesterday morning that I am running the Boston Marathon on Monday…(!!!)

Off to the airport!

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