Quick results - 2:30:21, 23rd place overall, 8th American
Well, I ran 2:30:21 today, so considering I thought my race at Philadelphia last fall was a complete disaster, you'd think I'd be pretty bummed about this one, right? Nope. This was a tough day, a historically brutal Boston Marathon, and I'm actually not disappointed.
I'm just going to go through the whole thing from start to finish, partly for my own record-keeping. I want to remember all of this.
My buddy Greg (who we were staying with in Cambridge) dropped me off ~6:45 at Copley Square... I boarded the elite bus and we drive out to Hopkington shortly after. Our bus was surrounded by about two dozen motorcycles who had blocked off every on-ramp on the Mass Turnpike. It was pretty cool - as if one of the other world marathon majors was going to attack us or something.
We got off the bus there were members of the media taking pictures as we walked into the Korean Church. This was unlike anything I had ever experienced and it was only going to escalate... in a good way.
Everything we needed was in the gym area of the church/school. Chairs and exercise mats to lay out and stretch on. They had Gatorade, food, etc. The talent level in that room was off the charts. I just hung out, mostly kept to myself, although I chatted with a few other runners - Scott Mindel (who I ran against in high school), and Camille Herron. Uta Pippig came over and asked me if I had run Boston before and when I said I hadn't, she asked if I had any questions about the course. She ended up spending 15 minutes giving me the most detailed course description ever - she is like an encyclopedia. My favorite part of the pre-race was that Joan Benoit couldn't decide which singlet to wear. You'd think after her storied career and experience, she'd have those things down by now. :-)
At about 9:15 I went out and jogged a mile on the little 200m loop that they had sectioned off for us. You could hear the low roar of the 27,000 runners nearby, but couldn't really see them.
At about 9:45 they brought us all outside behind the church. I did a few strides with some of the best runners in the world. Yet through all of this, I wasn't getting nervous. I felt calm and ready. I felt like I belonged there.
With 5-10 minutes to go, they "parted the seas" and the 30-40 of us made our way alongside the first corral and up to the starting line. As we were walking up, everyone was afraid to be the first one, and I found myself all of a sudden at the front. I turned around and Geoffrey Mutai was right behind me. I put my arm around him and said "Geoffrey, they are chearing for YOU, not me, you gotta get in front of me, brother!" He said "OK man." So that is how we made our way up to the starting line - Mutai, ME, then everyone else. It was incredible. The runners in the first corral were cheering and giving us high fives. Helicopters were circling overhead. They were like a hundred police officers and race officials. An unreal setting. In that moment I felt like my hard work was already paying off - just to be a part of this kind of scene - to be considered an elite athlete at the Boston FREAKING Marathon. Its something I wish everyone could experience, because its really a cool thing.
We all did a few strides and the first timers (like me) commented on how the first 100 meters is REALLY downhill. Like, impossible to run it slowly.
The announcers introduced the top 5 runners, then we lined up. I figured what the heck - I'm just going to stand next to Mutai in the middle of the starting line. Its not everyday you get these kind of opportunities, so that is exactly what I did.
The gun went off and guys ran like idiots, as I expected... since most of us had numbers on the front and back of our singlets, I could see lots of #s in the 50s-70s chasing the lead pack. I immediately fell quite a bit back, yet looked at my Garmin after 2-3 minutes and I was running 5:00 pace. I dialed it back immediately. First mile was 5:13. Perfect.
The lead pack quickly disappeared, and I found myself running alongside Mike Cassidy (#23). We decided to work together and try to hit 1:10ish for the first half. We ran together for a few miles (maybe until 8K?) and then I never saw him again. Other than those 3-4 miles, I ran solo for the entire race. I'd pass people (and ended up getting passed by a few at the end), but otherwise ran completely by myself - just like all my hard workouts!
But the crowd - ohhhh the Boston crowds. Wow. Just unreal. I started hamming it up for them right from the start. All it takes is a little wave and some fist pumps and they would just go CRAZY. They helped me a lot. And I was surprised at how many people knew my name - there were a ton of "Go Jake Krong"s and people yelling out "Amsterdam NY!" (my hometown). Whoever you all were out there, if you are reading this - THANK YOU!
Back to the race. Miles 2-9 were 5:19, 5:19, 5:14, 5:25, 5:16, 5:14, 5:23, 5:23. At 6.5 miles Andrea was there (along with our friends Greg and Sarah) and they had a gatorade bottle and cold wet sponge for me. This was very helpful. I was taking a sip of Gatorade at every aid station (getting most of it in my eyes, despite wearing sunglasses), and dumping 1-2 cups of water on myself. I was soaked early, but it was so hot, you had no choice.
Miles 10-13 were 5:32, 5:31, 5:23, 5:27. I hit the halfway point in 1:10:19. Just what I wanted. Wellesley was fun - I flexed my biceps, blew kisses to the girls, got them going absolutely crazy. I'm sure some great photographs are going to come out of this part of the course! :-)
Honestly, to this point it was freaking easy. I felt like I was jogging the whole time. Other than my feet were hurting. They hurt bad from about 15K on - a by-product of running in the heat, I think. But it wasn't conservative enough. It was hot out, really hot. And there was no tailwind - it actually ended up being an east wind (headwind - although maybe that was better for keeping cool?). I could tell I was getting too warm, so I dialed back the pace a bit. I knew it would going to be tough to run even splits. I told myself the new goal was to break 2:21:46.
Miles 13-16 were 5:30, 5:41, 5:31. Slower, but I still felt OK. I felt like I was running the right effort. Greg and Sarah gave me another bottle and sponge ~15.
Somewhere around the start of the Newton Hills, I threw up a little bit in my mouth. My stomach wanted nothing more. Andrea was ~17 and gave me another bottle and sponge. As I passed her, I told her "this is getting really tough!"
From 17-23, the throwing up in my mouth became a constant battle. If you've ever done that, you know how you just can't describe how disgusting it is. I honestly thought about dropping out around 30K. But then a huge pack of people cheered specifically for me (turns out it was Derunzo)... and I said "F this" I can't quit! Thank you Derunzo, you pulled me out of a bad spell.
At the base of heartbreak hill, Emily Bates was waiting for me. She ran up with me and poured water on me the whole time. She kept me focused - thank you Emily. After cresting the hill, I knew I'd finish, and just went into "long run pace survival mode."
Splits for 17-23 were 5:51, 5:58, 6:02, 6:13, 6:23, 6:02, 6:14.
All through this stretch, and for the last couple miles, I was pouring water on myself about every quarter mile. I couldn't go longer than a minute without over heating. Luckily, there were little kids with cold water bottles every hundred feet, it seemed. I probably used about 50 gallons of water today - sorry environment! I was completely drenched from head to toe.
The last 3+ miles were a struggle. Unfortunately I got passed by 4-5 guys and just didn't have it in me to respond. I was probably in 18-19th place with 5K to go, but dropped back to 23rd.
The crowds carried me. Every though I didn't have the energy to play it up for them anymore, they were still amazing. Loud, really loud. Splits for the final stretch were 6:18, 6:45, 1:28 (I clicked it at the "1 mile to go" marker), 6:38. Not exactly a fantastic finishing stretch down Boylston Street, but I was just happy to still be upright.
I ran through the line, stopped, and saw stars. Two volunteers helped me walk to the elite tent. They said they were impressed that I could even walk the whole way, because they had to get wheelchairs for most of the finishers ahead of me!
I got a few bags of ice and put them on my head, neck, and feet. Sat in front of a giant industrial fan for about 20 minutes and got my core temperature back down. I got a massage, slowly drank about 4 x 20oz bottles of Gatorade, then made my way out of there and found Andrea. All the while, I got a ton of supportive text messages and phone calls. My Dad called and said Mutai dropped out and the winning time was barely under 2:13 and the women ran ~2:32. That really put the day in perspective, compared to last year.
I'm glad I stuck it out. 23rd place (8th American) at the Boston Marathon is pretty good. I can't be too disappointed, since we were running in historically tough conditions. You can learn something from every race, especially the hard ones. I obviously need to dial in the hydration/fueling strategy for the marathon (I only took one GU today - that was all my stomach would accept). In terms of eating/drinking before the race, I ate a lot more than I ever had before, and I felt really good in terms of energy at the start. I also really did a good job of pre-hydrating with electrolyte drinks. Andrea has been crucial in helping me out with this aspect of preparation. And a final thought... I think we need to stay in Utah or the west coast for my next marathon because flying east isn't working out for us! :-) I know I got myself in better shape this spring than I have ever been in my life - I'm going to switch my focus to shorter races for a while now and pop some fast times this summer with the aerobic base I've built. Then, re-visit the marathon in the fall.
Tomorrow we'll go out to visit Saucony HQ, then do some sight-seeing if my feet allow it. They are pretty blistered. Otherwise, I feel alright.
Thanks to everyone for the support! It means so, so much to me.
Thanks especially to Andrea and my parents. You guys are my rocks.
Greg took some fantastic photos... I'll post more as they pop up on the web - like I said, I think there are some good ones floating around out there from the start and those first 15 miles. If anyone recorded the webcast / TV broadcast, I'd love to see it when we get back to Utah.
|LET ME HEAR YOU BOSTON!!!|
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