I came to Boston to run and to remember. I didn’t make it into the Marathon so I signed up for the 5k. I decided that if I was going to travel all the way to Boston for a 5k I was going to go Boston Strong.
I stayed up to late the night before the race at the Red Sox game. I kept thinking I would go home but then I kept thinking of a lame reason to stay longer – I thought they sang Sweet Caroline at the 7th inning stretch but it turns out it doesn’t happen until the middle of the eighth inning. Anyway, I didn’t get to my hostel until 11:30 and the sleeping experience in the shared 6 person room also was less than ideal. I swear that one of the guys had swallowed a subwoofer. It was rattling the room.
The positive side of the poor sleeping conditions was that it was easy to wake up on time and get going. I left the hostel at 6:30 and jogged the mile to the T stop. The ride to Boston Common was uneventful. Pinned on my number – didn’t really talk to anyone. I did start to get worried about checking my backpack since I forgot that there was extra bag security this year. This turned out to be a valid concern since they made me unpack my pack and put all my contents into a clear plastic bag. Then I couldn’t fit everything into a clear plastic bag and they wanted me to roll up my backpack but it isn’t the kind of pack that rolls up. The BAA guy was very good about helping me out though and he let me stash my pack under a volunteer table. However in all the confusion I didn’t remember to eat the second half of my energy chews and I probably wasted some energy / mental focus on the whole bag check ordeal.
I had debated over what to wear since it had been cold in Boston. But it warmed up so I went with my Brooks Seattle Running Club singlet and Saucony running shorts. I wore my Brooks Pure Connects as they had worked well for the last 5k I ran.
I did drink about 10 ounces of some kind of flavored water before the race that had a few carbs but I definitely would have liked to have downed the last half of my cliff shots before the race.
So I had a few things working against me. But I had some huge things working for me. I had trained well leading into this and had a huge emotional chip on my shoulder to run like a mad man. I had been getting 1 to 2 strong hill workouts and a track workout each week for the past 6 weeks or so and my milage was in a good range so I felt strong.
I felt so strong that I had a crazy ambition to run a sub 17 minute 5k. Crazy because in early March I ran a 5k hard and PR’d at 18:08. Taking a full minute off my PR in the 5k in six weeks sounds impossible – but this was Boston – surely it would give me super human strength. And the last course I ran was a tricky course. So my official goal was to go under 18 minutes but my secret goal was to go under 17.
The feeling at the starting line was pretty cool – everyone was a bit emotional to be back and to run in Boston again. I had worked my way to near the front and could see the elites warming up. Folks were talking about their races and who was running the Marathon on Monday. They announced that their were 10,000 entries in the race – by far the biggest 5k I’ve ever been in. I looked behind me and there was a sea of people.
When the gun went off the crowd I was in surged forward – I think I found about the right folks to be around as I wasn’t getting passed too much or passing too much at the start. Despite the huge number of people I was able to run pretty free.
I had decided to just wear a watch rather than use my phone GPS since I wanted to soak things in and to save a bit of weight. My strategy was to run 5:30 miles for the first two and then run all out with everything I have left for the last 1.1. This was a bit of a silly strategy since I don’t know that I’ve ever run a 5;30 mile before – sure I was confident that i could run at least 1 5:30 mile since I run 5:45 miles in training sometimes.
I found some people I thought were in about the right pace group to chase. I focused on a woman that was wearing a running kit from the Seattle company Oisille. We hit the first mile pretty much on target. When I clicked my watch I was at 5:32. I felt like I was running fast but I wasn’t blowing up.
The course had more hills than I expected. There were a could significant rises and falls – it was still faster than the course in March but it wasn’t completely flat. It also had quite a few turns in it.
The mile 2 marker was right around the Marathon finish line, so it was an emotional experience for me. As I ran through I noted the two locations where the bombs had exploded last year.
Oisille had pulled a bit ahead of me so I suspected my pace had fallen a bit and when I checked the watch it confirmed my suspicions – 5:41. My secret goal was starting to feel out of reach. I was starting to have a hard time maintaining my effort and I was breathing pretty hard. However, now it was time to put the hammer down. As I crossed the Marathon finish line I dug deep and tried to find some more speed.
The next half mile was pretty good. I wasn’t passing anyone but I also was holding my own. Maybe with the right kick I could pull of the sub 17. But then my body started to rebel a bit. I have not gotten a cramp or side ache in a race before but I was getting one now. I was in pain with each stride. I tried to run through it but it was hurting my pace. A few folks that I passed earlier in the race pulled by me on the final straight away. Oisille finished 10 seconds ahead of me. I kept running and gave it my all – I didn’t get a mile 3 split on my watch – just a final split for the last 1.1 in 6:14 – at the end the watch read 17:27. I didn’t hit my secret goal but I was overjoyed at PRing by 40 seconds.
As I walked through the finishers chute and got my medal I was overcome by emotion. I looked up into the beautiful blue sky and just started crying. I sat down by a tree for a few minutes and said a little prayer of thanks. I’m not sure exactly what I came back to Boston to find. I am sure that I found it.
Can’t wait to race the main event in 2015.
A special thanks to Carrie who really made this trip possible. I know I’m being a bit selfish to come out here alone for four days while she watches the kids. She is an amazing wife and I’m so grateful that she is patient with my crazy.
Official Time: 17:25 Overall: 80/8640 Gender: 60 / 3531 Division 8 / 478
I connected with Oiselle on twitter it turns out she and her husband have a blog about balancing ruuning and family: http://www.azparentsontherun.com/
Here’s a link to the official race recap.
Didn’t get any photos – but here is one from my friend Bob who also ran the race – and is running the Marathon on Monday.