Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boston Marathon 2012

First time in a while writing a blog post on here. This will be a fun one, but hard to capture all the fun and excitement that the 2012 Boston Marathon had to offer.
Running the Boston Marathon, for various reasons, is a marathon that many runners shoot for. I remember my first year of training for a marathon with Lucas Reece, he would often mention the Boston Marathon. With this race requiring a qualifying time to enter, I knew this would be something I would shoot for evnentually. With the qualifying time for my age group/gender being 3:10 and my first two marathons being 3:30, I obviously had some work to do. Thankfully, I got hooked up with Pitty and Tommy in the marathon training class, who have much more running talent than me, and tried to stick with them on a majority of the long runs. Cody would occasionally join us and we would try and hang onto them. I remember just trying to settle in behind them and thinking about nothing else besides finishing the run for however long we were out for. With the help of these runs I was able to get 3:06 at Eau Claire/Grandma’s marathon which “technically” qualified me to register for Boston. However, this year was a little bit different. Due to the super high registration rates for the Boston marathon the previous year, the BAA established a priority registration system where registrants who beat their specific qualifying time by 20 minutes could register first, then 10 minutes, then 5 minutes. Unfortunately having a 3:06, I missed any early registration privileges and had to wait until all of the priority registration rounds had finished before the general registration would begin. Having to wait several weeks after submitting an entry, I got an email saying I was officially accepted into the race.
With having a couple of races on the schedule still for the remainder of the year, I put the excitement of going to Boston on the backburner and focused on training for Honolulu. After pacing Adam in the HURT 100 several weeks after Honolulu, I got back to Minneapolis and put together a training schedule for Boston. My training time spanned from 1/30-4/15 and I was pretty excited to not have any races in between that (however wish I did now to get a little more race experience leading up to Boston). I kind of merged a training plan that Chris Lundstrom put together for me for Honolulu with a bit of another training schedule that Professor Ingraham wrote for me back when I did Eau Claire. It feels nice to write your own training schedule however, I actually like having the blind confidence in somebody else telling me what to do everyday. It seems like I have a little more obligation/convinction to stick to something else somebody tells me to do, rather than if I only have myself to be accountable to. Maybe this will change as I get more confidence with putting together training plans.
Initially, I planned on making the training plan include triathlon training but after a stressful jaunt at the library of writing out all the swim/bike intervals for the 3.5 months I would be training, I forgot to send the file via email and lost what I put together. Not wanting to redo the work again, destiny and/or laziness determined that I would mainly be just running the next three months but that was more than fine for me.
Looking back at my training schedule for Boston and some notes I would scribbled in, I did not stick to this plan like I have to others in the past. Again, this could be because I wrote it myself, rather than having Chris/Stacy do it or it could just be me getting burnt out of having these detailed schedules to follow. Regardless, also not having any running partners with similar goals made it difficult as well. A great example of this is how I would do many of the beginning long runs with Jeremy who was training for a 100-mile race. We would often joke about despite how different our events were, we still did a bit of training together.
Hearing from various sources how tough the hills were at Boston, I tried to include more hill workouts with also some emphasis on downhill running (Boston is a net downhill). Doing these runs in addition to some occasional impulse runs led me to having sort of a bum knee for a couple weeks and really limited the amount of quality training I was able to do. Surprisingly this “injury” was one of the first problems I had since started running and it was pretty frustrating to not be able run freely like before. After slowly progressing to be able to run at a decent clip with no pain, I had lost a good chunk of training and confidence about a month out from the race. Also spent some time out in California with Brando over spring break which lead to some fun but sporatic training.
My run 3 weeks out was a scheduled 22 miler and it was on the same day as the U of M Half-Marathon that Chris holds for the Marathon Training class. I decided to go out for 5 before, run the half with the class and do 5 after. The half time was 1:32 which isn’t very impressive but I wasn’t too worried as I was just coming off a semi-injury. I don’t feel this was that good training run for me though because pretty much everytime in a marathon, I can hold whatever pace I start out at until around 18/19 then start slowing down. In hindsight, it would have been much more smart to have scheduled my long runs with pick ups at the end, rather than just having a tempo in the middle.
Rode the taper until Boston and found myself leaving Minneapolis on Thursday to meet Uncle Mike out there. We would be staying at his super nice friend Paige’s house for our time out there. She was more than accommodating for the race, driving the route the day before the race, and doing pretty much anything she could to try and help out. It was tough to stick to my semi-decent eating habits once getting out to Boston as we went out to eat for every meal. Trying all the different foods in a new place is fun, but maybe not the best idea leading up to a race. With the excitement of being in Boston for the first time, having the nerves of a marathon coming up, and not eating the typical UDS food that I do in the dorms, my bathroom schedule was pretty off, and left me feeling sluggish on the remainder the taper. I really take for granite how much I get to move in a day here at school and how structured everything is. Walking up and down the stairs to UDS, walk/biking to classes, ect. I definitely feel that I will try to be more active in my next taper.
After driving the course and picking up the race packet down in Boston, we went out to eat at a restaurant near Paige’s house that served pasta.
Had a large portion of it and before I knew it I was in bed trying to sleep. Luckily, my “friend” Jing had introduced me to the book “Hunger Games” and I had finished the first one and was reading the second that Paige had borrowed to me. This allowed me to focus on something else other than my anxiety for the race. Despite doing the marathon distance 14ish times, I always feel a bit uneasy thinking about how tough the following day will be. After getting to sleep around 12:30am and waking up 3/4 times throughout the night, we got up at 5:00am (sorry Uncle Mike and Paige!) and got ready to head out to Boston. Despite the race starting at 10:00am, we had to drive to Boston, then waited in line to take a bus from Boston->Hopkinton where the race starts. It was wild to see all of the other runners waiting in line to catch the bus. Thankfully, again I had my book to save me from any unnecessary nerves overwhelming me. I remember one of the volunteers came up to me and asked what book I was reading to pump me up. I replied that I was reading Hunger Games to calm me down (definitely recommend the books if anyone hasn’t read them!).
I got on the bus and was struggling through having the heater right under me pre-heating me for the cook to come later in the day, accompanied by another runner who saw me reading and claimed she would not bother me..which then led to me having to listen about her Ironman stories (Cody your joke is so true about Ironman). After 45 minutes or so on the bus, we made it to Athlete’s Village in Hoptkinton and there was already a ton of runners hanging out and trying to find some shade to sit in. Already it was beginning to get warm and I could only imagine how warm it would get later in the day (forecasted to 88degrees). I spent some time hanging out in the shade and ate another bagel and drank some water/gatorade mix. Having the race start this late was new to me as most races usually start around 8:00am (Honolulu 5:00am). This meant there would be time in between my initial meal of a peanut butter bagel and a banana once waking up and the race. We all hung out for a bit until our wave and corral was called off. About 20 minutes before the race I got up and headed over to the starting line. Found it was a little tough to get out and warm up like I usually do for races but I figured I needed to conserve as much as possible so settled with less than a 5 minute warm up with just a few pickups. We were all herded into our corrals and we heard the elites being released. It was super cool hearing the announcers talk about some of the famous Kenyans I have heard about before and the dude Mutai who set the world record last year running it in 2:03 (cripes!)
We began running and we were very congested. Despite the congestion, the people around me were pretty much all running for the similar time goals that I was so it was not like your typical marathon of having to run around everywhere at the start. It felt like for the first mile or so I just kept passing people so I wondered what kind of pace I was hitting. The first mile ended up being 6:52 on the dot (3 hour marathon) and I was pretty happy with how effortless it felt. It felt like such a slow pace and I probably would have put money that I could have sustained that for another 25.2 miles. I asked several people around me what kind of times they were shooting for and the 3 people I asked all said they were shooting for sub 3 but already had given up on the idea. I told them that I was also shooting for 3 and had not given up yet, but I will see them when they catch me after I blow up. Not even 3 miles into it, I was starting to get pretty warm and seeing everyone else around me wearing singlets or no shirt at all, decided I needed to ditch the shirt. I took the pins off my bib and redid it to my pants (easier said than done while running) and held on to my shirt trying to find someone who I could give it to that I thought might be nice enough to return it. After getting sick of looking for people and thinking of what to say, I went over to the side and asked a dude to remember my bib number and look me up on facebook (hoping he would look me up on the website then message me about the shirt) and I told him I would send him some money. Have not got a message back but whatevs. I need practice and getting rid of material goods and at least it wasn’t the TCRC shirt I borrowed Brando to run the OC marathon in (you better wear it Brando). It probably doesn’t help either that I bumped his iPhone out of his hand in the process of him trying to take a pic of my bib. Anyhow, it felt awesome to get rid of the shirt completely and not to have and carry it much longer. I was starting to heat up even more and was stopping at every water station to at least splash water on myself. I was still generally passing more people than was getting passed by and tried to settle into a pace. It was tough though because I would try to shift sides of the road with the turns and also try to find any shade spots on the road to hide from the sun that was only increasing in intensity. We went through several diverse towns with lots of people there cheering and the next thing I remember was rolling into Wellesley. Before even getting to the school, I heard super loud screams from far away and knew from other people’s stories that it was the Wellesley all-girl school. Once getting to all of the screaming chicks, there was so much energy. Pretty much all of them had signs saying “Kiss me, I’m from Vermont”
“Kiss me, I’m from blahblahblah”, there had to be over 300 off these signs and I probably used more effort than necessary reading these signs as I passed through but despite it going on for a several blocks or so, I managed get through without stopping (good/bad I don't know) and just had silly thoughts about how many people will be kissing them later. This was a little bit before the halfway point and I hit the halfway at 1:31 and felt alright, but was very aware of how hot the sun was, how hot I was, and how tired my legs had already felt. Despite knowing the pace would not last, I kept trying to stick with the same people who were around me and enjoy the course as much as possible. It was super helpful driving the course the day before with Uncle Mike and Paige, as everything I was going through was the second time. Being familiar to a course can be such an advantage. Makes me want to race Twin Cities soon after how much time I have put on the course over the last 5 years. My fuel plan started out pretty structured with having a gel every half-hour and an S-cap every hour, but ended up dropping a peanut butter GU (best flavor out there☹) and was left with 1 GU short of want I anticipated consuming so I fell into temptation of eating Freezepops being handed out by some kids. I was just too hot from the sun beating down on us from our right hand side that I decided to just start consuming whatever I thought would help cool me down. They tasted too good. I probably had 5 of these throughout the course. At mile 16.5 or so I was able to grab 3 more GUs. At this point I was getting increasingly warm and noticed many people were dropping pace from what they started at. These areas started to be really filled with hollering fans on either side of the road and it so different from any other marathon I have done. Monday (Patriots Day) is a holiday in Boston, so many people get the day off of work/classes and come out and watch the race. This combined with the race going through 3+ large colleges kind of allows one to think of how nuts it actually was. It was pretty encouraging to hear how sincere people were about their cheers. I remember trying to pop my last S-cap at about mile 22 and so I put it in my mouth seeing a med-tent ahead of me thinking there would be water there, only to find Vaseline and other useless things there. For some reason I kept the little pill in my mouth for the next quarter mile or so, as I felt the contents begin to hit my tongue and cheek. After drinking water and doing my last GU, almost puked from the taste and all the other things I had consumed throughout the run. Around mile 19 I was pretty happy for how not tired my legs were but after the Newton hills did a series on my legs, I was again thinking of how I am going to hang on until the end. After heartbreak hill, my calfs started to feel crampy so I had to adjust how I was running a bit to avoid them from violently tensing up. Stopped by one of the college kid gatherings and drank some beer for the crowd (cold at least) Ended up having to go to the bathroom (2x) which unfortunately I am started to get used to during marathons but doesn’t help my time one bit. I remember as we approached the later water stations I would just hope for cold water because some of them we would receive what would feel like we were drinking bath water. Probably 3 times I grabbed a cup and wasn’t able to drink anything from it because the temp was too warm to force myself to swallow it. From 22 to the finish, I was carried by the super energetic and boisterous spectators and tried as much as possible to not slow down the pace. Getting nearer and nearer to the finish, my legs would just not let me go any faster and anytime I tested them to see if I could pick it up, they would begin to cramp up tightly, restricting me to progressively slowing down more and more with each mile. This gets pretty frustrating happening at every marathon and you would think with Kinesiology being my major and how many marathons I have run, that I would have figured myself out by now but still looking how to not slow down so much. Saw Uncle Mike, Paige and Christine at around mile 24 and Paige handed me a icewater filled towel that I squeezed over my head. This helped cool me down and I threw the towl back to them, with my calf cramping up just from turning and throwing something. Even though I only had less than a mile to go now, my pace was still getting slower and slower and I kept telling myself how mental it was but the calves were really not cooperating. I almost had to walk at some spots because the cramps were getting dangerously close to locking up and not releasing but the crowd luckily was screaming louder than my neural impulses were to my legs, letting me slog to the finish. I intended on backfliping at the finish because Boston always makes a “spectacular finish video” but if I had attempted that with how my legs were feeling, I would not have been able to type this blog up. Since I could not flip decided to roll across the finish.
Still will do it sometime though. What is strange too is even my biceps were cramping up, despite not using them for much during the race. I ended up finished at 3:14 when my goal was again 3:00.
Crossing the finish line it’s definitely mixed feelings with the relief ofbeing done with what just made you so exhausted, and when you look forward to an event for so long, and then you realize it is done before you know it.. it’s kind of a bummer. It was also pretty wild to be running on a course that has been run for the last 115 years with all the legendary runners who have been there, and just all the history in general created from that 26.2 mile stretch from Hopkinton to Boston. I anticipated this race for so long and it was gone in an instant! Having been through this experience several times now, I realize how important it is to enjoy the present. One of my professors today said how sport can be a microcosm of life and I totally agree. I often try apply what I learn through running to other areas of my life. Another lesson I learned from this race was to just roll with whatever happens because we weren’t able to control the weather but we are (to varying degrees {no pun intended} ) able to control how we react to it.
After the race, I went and got a free massage real quick while waiting to meet up with Uncle Mike and Paige at the family meeting spot.
We drove back to North Reading and I showered real quick, Paige had heated me up some of the leftovers from previous nights outings, and I ate them on the way to the airport. It was sad of how quickly everything was ending and I just wanted to (stop time and chill -Jaime) and enjoy the present more. Kind of crazy the treatment I got at the airport..first they saw the Boston medal and let me skip to the front of security, then when I tried to switch flights to an earlier one to MSP they not only let me but upgraded me to business class, then the gait worker announced and said “Would Boston marathoner Mr. Langen please run up to the gait”. Then on the plane the pilot congratulated the ones who ran it and everyone started clapping. Did not feel right to be recognized for running 26.2 miles while my buddy Jeremy had just finished running 100 miles that weekend! Congrats to him and best of luck on his gnarly bandit pursuit!
Overall, it was such a great weekend spending time with my Uncle and getting to meet his friend Paige. They were too nice to me the entire time and I owe them bigtime! It is also nice to be able to remember this race and have the opportunity to chat with other Boston marathoners about such a special experience we are able to share.
Now the new qualifying time is 3:05 so looks like I need to get to work soon here. Next race is Eau Claire marathon May 6th with the marathon training class!

1 comment:

  1. Loved the blog Jo....could feel the cramps!!! Onward to the next adventure :)