Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boston Marathon Race Report

By taking great risks you can reap great rewards…or great misery.  Time will tell


After months of training through what I consider the worst type of weather most of the time (35 degrees and raining), heck I even did a 21 miler in that weather.  I was ready to toe the line.


Friday afternoon I picked up my number and managed to get out of the expo and only spend $5 on GU.  Saturday I headed back into Boston to work at the expo where I handed out the tech t-shirts to the official entrants.  Everything went well and this time I got out of the expo without spending a dime.  So far so good.  On Sunday my plan was just to take it easy and hang out.  However I needed to coach my daughter’s softball team practice in the morning.  No big deal because it was sprinkling so it was a very short practice.  Later on Peter Floss and I drove back into Boston to drop one car off across the street from the hotel we would be using after the race.  We were there and back in 1.5 hours.  The weekend leading up to the race went like clock work.  Sunday night I managed to fall asleep by 9 as usual but was wide awake by 2 AM (as usual).  I did manage to get back to sleep by 3 and woke again at 5….Perfect.  I felt good.


I cleaned up, downed a protein shake, downed 3 Advils and was out the door.  First stop was the Country Store to purchase 3 news papers for the bus ride.  Second stop, the bagel shop for 2 multi-grain bagels.  Third stop was to Matt Carrols house for the scheduled 6:05 pickup.  Fourth stop, Mike O’Connor’s house for the 6:10 pickup (I was late by 2 minutes).  Last stop was back to my house were Peter Floss was waiting to drive us to the bus.  We loaded up his car and were off to Lowell to pick up the Greater Lowell Road Runners (GLRR) bus.  In a short time the bus was rolling and we were in Hopkinton in no time.  Taking the team bus is absolutely the best way to get to the marathon.  In addition the team rents a couple of rooms at the Park Plaza hotel so after the race you can get cleaned up and have something to eat and drink.  Anyway we arrived in Hopkinton at 8:15, late by my standards but they wouldn’t let me drive the bus.  For the first time in 20+ years of taking the GLRR bus I got in the team photo, ugh, I hate these things.  Next I headed over to where the BAA buses were dropping off people.  I was looking for a good friend, Melissa Weiksnar who was volunteering.  Melissa is one of the most determined people I know and has been working on a Boston qualifier for a couple of years now.  I’m sure she’ll get her chance one of these days.  I really wanted to find her because she tragically lost her daughter, Amy, the day after Christmas.  I wanted Melissa to know that I would be thinking of Amy as I past by BC where she was a student.  Unfortunately, I was unable to locate her and headed back to the bus to get ready.  At, 9:05 it was “GO time”  I was all changed up into my racing gear, gloves, and pin with Phil Riley’s initials on it.  Phil had passed away the prior week.  Phil was coach of the Stoneham track team and was out on a run with the team when he suffered a heart attack, a week later he was gone.  Phil was 58 and was a highly competitive runner.  I had running 100’s of times with him and his wit and knowledge of running made the miles go by fast. Phil was a coach, mentor and most of all a friend.  I will truly miss him. Other things I had with me were a bottle of Gatorade, 3 GU packets, 3 Advil’s, a throw away shirt and a 50 gallon trash bag on to stay warm in.  As I was leaving the bus who was standing there?  No other then Melissa!!   I was so happy to see her and gave her a big bear hug and told her that I would be thinking of Amy.  We also decided that we needed to get together for a run after I heal up from the race.  She wished me good luck and I was heading off to the starting line with a smile on my face. 


I started the ½ mile jog to the starting line.  Now I’ve been doing this race for more then 20 years so I know the quickest way to get from the high school to the center, but the police wanted me to take the LONG way.  I wasn’t buying it and just ran on past them.  I wasn’t going to go any further then I need to that day.  I got to the corrals and located #3 and was the first runner to enter it, in fact I was the first runner in all the corrals.  I took a seat in the front and just relaxed.  At 9:30 it was time to take the 3 Advil’s and wash them down with the Gatorade.  Soon there were runners all around and the excitement was building.  I met a whole bunch of first time Boston participants who were really fired up and were looking to go sub 3.  I thought to myself that sub 3 was a little rich for me and a 3:10 was a better target based on all my training.  Well we’ll just have to see how this plays out.  The national anthem was sung and 2 fighter jets did a fly over a few seconds later.  I think they were in Boston in 3 minutes.  Oh to be young and fast!!!   Now it was really GO TIME!!!  I ate one of the GU’s and stuffed the other 2 in my gloves for later.  I ripped off my trash bag and threw off my shirt.  I was ready!!!


With 15 seconds to go they had not dropped the ropes dividing the corrals.  The runners started chirping at the officials, and with seconds to spare they had the ropes down.  The gun was fired, and we were off in a couple of seconds.  It took me 1 minute and 14 seconds to reach the starting line but I was in full stride in no time.  I was feeling light and fast.  It was at that point I decided to risk it all and go for sub 3 hours.  Now this may sound like a foolish decision but I felt I had the endurance, the question was, did I have the speed?  Also the group of people I train with on bikes and runs have a little side betting competition every year to see what order we’d finish in.  Now there are 70+ people in this group so there were a lot of opinions.  Based on how each of us trained the finish order should have been  Peter Floss, myself, Matt Carroll, Mikael Taveniku and last but not least Mike O’Connor.   Pete has been training like mad man.  He has been killing me all winter long on training runs.  Every long run we did he would finish 5 – 10 minutes a head of me.  By all logic Pete was the big dog to beat.  Matt had trained well.  As a matter of a fact he followed a marathon training plan to the letter.  He was ready to go.  Mikael is just plan tough.  He didn’t really train much but was in Japan the week before doing some special Japanese Monk ultra running classes  (LOL), so he was a mystery to us.  Mike, didn’t really run more then 5 times in the last 2 months.  How the heck was he going to be able to make it through this thing?  He had be injured and called me up on Saturday saying that he needed a lift over to the bus on Monday.  I was shocked, the last time he ran with me was 3 weeks before and he only managed 200 yards before stopping.  He was in serious trouble.  So that is how the logical order for our group was derived.   Then there was the smart money betting, which changed the order to Scott, Pete, Matt, Mikael and Mike.  I guess I just seem to get really lucky every year at Boston and always finish first for the group no matter how poor I trained or how good other people trained.  Time will tell.


What follows is my mile spits


Mile      Mile Splits

1          06:46.3  WOW I got off to a good start

2          06:29.5  That was fast but I’m feeling good

3          06:31.8  That’s a little more like it

4          06:21.6  SLOW down idiot

5          06:40.3  That’s were I want to be

6          06:29.3  Damn I’m all over the place today

7          06:34.2  OK can I just hold it at this pace?

8          06:42.1  I’ll take it

9          06:39.1  Good, now just keep it together

10         06:46.5  I’m slipping

11         06:55.3  Don’t lose focus

12         06:49.0  Working back in the right direction

13         06:58.9  Slipping again and I’m getting tired

13.1      00:46.0  At the half way point I was at 1:27:30  The last time I ran a half this fast was in 2005.  I was in trouble

14         07:36.8  I decided that the world was getting very dark and I needed to slow it down.  But this was bad.

15         07:39.8  OK I guess I’m stuck with running 7:30’s or worst

16         07:05.0  Down the hill and I started feeling good

17         08:01.5  On rte 128 was my buddies they handed me some Gatorade.  I was in tough shape.

18         08:04.0  Turn the corner onto Com ave and up the hill

19         07:44.6  Pulling it back together

20         08:57.0  I think I just lost four tires on the bus..NOOOOO  Now I’m starting to worry that Pete is catching me.

21         08:39.5  There goes the roof.  But I’m thinking of Amy to get me over this hill.

22         07:32.9  Amy carries me over the hill and down along BC.  I will finish this thing!!

23         08:13.7  I slow a bit but I’m pulling it back together

24         08:09.1  Hang on

25         08:41.4  That GD hill over the Mass Pike really hurts.  I stop for a second to regroup and my legs are jello.  I wobble a few steps and start running again.

26         07:50.0  I’m picking up a little speed

26.2      01:56.0  I turn the corner on to Boylston street and I wish I could say I was flying but it was more like a slog.


100 yards before the finish line I noticed a couple of timing mats on the far left hand side.  So I hung tight to the left and ran over them.  Just after I did I hear the announcer yell out “And here comes Scott Graham from Westford Ma.”  And the crowd goes wild (maybe not the last part, but they did call out my name).   I finished in 3:13:41.  I was hurting but I was able to keep moving.  Twice the medical volunteers grabbed me and wanted me to go to the medical tent but I refused.  I quickly got my potato people blanket and my medal and started running again.  It’s 4 blocks to the hotel and if I stopped I figured I might not get going again.  Once at the Park Plaza hotel I was able to make it up to out team rooms quickly and got one of the first showers.  Then it was onto the massage tables to loosen up the muscles.  As I was getting worked on Pete came into the room and once again I was able to utter the words that my buddies hate to hear from me “What took you so long”?  Pete smiled and said he had a tough day.  But then again Pete is a big boy and I can’t imagine how he is able to move so fast.  Next to show up was a surprise, Mike OOOOO.  Holy $&!# how did he do that?  He is one tough SOB.  Now we were starting to worry about Matt.  GLRR had a PC in the room and were tracking each of the runners.  The last time we saw Matt’s status was at the 30K mark, but that was an hour ago.  Something was wrong.  On and on our watch continued, until Matt finally showed up in the hotel.  He ended up cramping and dropped out.  That’s really too bad, Matt had done everything right and obsessed over every detail.  I’m sure he is more motivated then ever and will kill the course next year.  Mikael ended up finishing but also had a lot of trouble.  I guess he got some bad water or something because he puked the last 10 miles.  But he’s tough and finished. So nobody got the exact order correct but it was fun with all the smack talk that preceded the race.  


So now I have 24 consecutive Official Boston Marathons in the bank (25 if you count the 1st one I did as a bandit).  Every now and then I think back to that first race.  I was a newlywed and had a friend who did it every year and this guy was big and tough (a 250 lb lineman).  I figured if he could do it, I could do it.  Well I ran a 3:19 that year and after the race I was sitting in the middle of Boylston street in tears.  I was mentally and physically broken.  My mother and new wife were standing over me and through the tears I told them that I would never do something that stupid to my body ever again.  As my better half says: “Stupidity repeats itself year after year”.


So now I going to take it easy for the next 2 weeks then start my training on my next BHAG “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”, I’ve signed up for the Florida Ironman.  I can’t imagine how I’m going to be able to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.  I guess I’ll just have to toughen up.




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