2015 Boston Marathon Race Report

I have mixed emotions about the 2015 Boston Marathon.

On one hand I am proud of the race I ran. I ran with heart and was so excited to be back running Boston after 2013. The race inspired me to train hard and I went into it feeing like I was in the best shape of my life. I had a great weekend in the city with my wife and had several moments during the weekend that reminded me why I love all of the sappy Boston Marathon magic. It’s a bit like Disneyland. The Boston Athletic Association is just great at crafting a unique experience that draws the masses and gets people hooked on coming back year after year.

Photo Apr 17, 1 11 28 PM

Number pickup

On the other hand, the rainy, cold, and windy conditions made for a very challenging race. I feel like I was in shape to run a 2:45 marathon but I ended up running a full 9 minutes slower than that at 2:54. And it took about everything I had to run the 2:54. I supposed the smart thing to do was realize early on, or even the night before that 2:45 was unrealistic and tune my splits to aim for a 2:50 which would still be a 2 minute PR for me and still be a nice round number. But in my usual hubris I was committed to hitting splits aimed at 2:45. My plan was to hit the half at 1:22:35 and then negative split by 5 seconds despite the more challenging back half of the race.

The start went pretty well. I was hitting my splits with regularity and made up some of the time I lost on the first mile when the tightness of the pack prevented me from getting out quite as fast as I had planned. There was a big group of Mormon Missionaries at mile 8 and I gave them a rousing “Mormons Rule” shout that got them excited.

At mile 10 there was a huge Idaho sign that I remember from 2013 that someone must put up every year and I sang the first stanza of the Idaho State Anthem (And Here We Have Idaho!) to them as I passed by which they loved.

I hit the half about a minute behind plan at 1:23:35 which is not insurmountable I suppose, but more telling I was feeling pretty spent at that point. By running the easier first half of the course a bit slower I was supposed to be feeling strong for the back half – but I had just used up too much energy fighting through the wind.

Around mile 14 I started to get in a bad head space – considering just backing off the pace and taking it easy for the last 12 miles. At a water station I stopped to pop an ibuprofen and grab a drink and as I started up again my Seattle Running Club Brooks Teammate Derek Reiff pulled up beside me. Sheer pride and team camaraderie got me moving again and I locked on at least keeping him close for the next 10 miles.

At mile 18 I saw my number 1 fan Carrie and that was a big pick me up – but another temptation to back off and hang out with her a bit instead of pushing on. However, I kept going.

Derek was also suffering so I’m not sure how much we helped each other besides just having someone to lock onto. We didn’t really talk and mostly communicated in eye rolls and grunts.

The infamous Newton hills felt more formidable than two years ago. I still ran them but was paying a price for every step. After I crested heartbreak I didn’t have much in the tank to power down the back side.

My splits continued to spiral downward the last 2 miles. A guy that I ran the first 13 miles with caught up with me and yelled at me “Don’t you *@#&% quit on me now!” it got me roused to pick it up … for about 400 yards then my pace slowed down again.

As I approached the most historic finish in road running – the right on Hereford left on Boyleston I couldn’t find the adrenaline to sprint the last 600 yards. The wind and rain whipping down the concrete canyon was punishing and despite the enormous crowds and the finish line beckoning I’m sad to report it was the slowest half mile of my race.

But I finished and my 2:53:58 is the 2nd fastest marathon I’ve ever run despite the challenges of the day and the Boston course. It’s a 16 minute improvement on my 2013 Boston Marathon time, which is a testament to how far I’ve come as a runner in the last two years. When they set American Records at the BAA 5k on Saturday they mentioned that for a record to fall four things need to be just right. 1. the fitness of the runner, 2. the course, 3. the competition, and 4. the day. I think I had the right competition and the right fitness but I didn’t have the course or the day.

One other cool thing was that I finished right behind Joan Benoit Samuelson – 2x Boston winner and Olympic Gold medalist. I’m relieved that based on chip time I beat her by 10 seconds because it would be kind of embarrassing to get beat by a 57 year old woman. 🙂

Getting back to the hotel after finishing may have been even more of a trial than the race. I was wet, cold, the weather was getting even worse, and I was wearing hardly anything. They gave us a lifesaving poncho type blanket but despite that my body was shivering uncontrollably. I shambled to the family meeting area where fortunately my wife was waiting for me and she helped me get to a Dunkin Donuts where I could get a large hot chocolate and warm up. She gave me the coat off her back and got me to our friend Bob’s hotel room where I had an amazing shower. Bob was a huge part of the weekend and I’ve loved catching up with him during Marathon weekend the last three years. Also thanks to Brooks Running for the amazing gear. The Seattle Running Club Uniform was great to run in and the Racer ST5s are super fast and make me feel like a racer on the big day.

We are already starting talking about a trip back to Boston in 2016. Carrie has some friends running it that year and I have a qualifying time. Even with the tough race it was a great experience and an awesome opportunity to test yourself in one of the greatest American sporting events.

Track on Strava.

Gear Used:

  1. Brooks Rev III SRC Team Singlet in lime Green. Worked great really like the style and fit.
  2. Brooks Infiniti 3″ split shorts As mentioned – super short for me but I liked the freedom of movement they provided.
  3. Brooks Seattle Rock and Roll Visor I borrowed from Carrie at the last minute to keep the rain out of my eyes
  4. Brooks Racer ST5 racing flats. They make me feel like a Kenyan.
  5. Garmin Fenix 3 – really liking this watch so far. It was a splurge purchase at the Expo since they had them for 15% off.
Awesome Brooks gear! Choosing between the T Shirt or Singlet. Went with the Singlet.

Awesome Brooks gear!
Choosing between the T Shirt or Singlet. Went with the Singlet on the advice of my more experienced running friends. Less fabric to soak up the rain and catch the wind.

What’s Next:
Back off a bit for a few weeks and gear up for summer trail running season. I’m registered for the Cougar Mountain Trail Running Series which begins the second Saturday in May.

Advertisements

6 comments

    1. I’m not bummed per say – I would always love a PR but I do feel like I gave it my all and learned a few things. Could have probably sacrificed 2 minutes in the first half of the race for 5 minutes on the back half. My race calendar is a little nutty – I am thinking about which ones to really focus on and which ones to treat as good workouts.

    1. Thanks Eric. We need to get together sometime soon. Are you planning any tune up races before the Marathon? Are you running it along with Amber? There’s a fast half marathon in Snoqualmie at the start of May you should look into if you are. It’s a good time to see how the training is paying off and get in the race groove.

  1. Your drive and commitment to excellence in this one area of life are an obvious representation of the rest of what MATT HONG offers the world. From stellar barbecue to extraordinary work and family life, you believe in doing and being your best. I have to tell you, my friend, reading about your experience (and more importantly, feeling your genuine commitment to always progressing above what you have accomplished in the past) has inspired me to try a little harder to settle a little less for “average”, “good enough”, or “mediocre” in any aspect of my life.

    Also I appreciate your mentioning your sources of inspiration for the race. I found some profound metaphors to apply in my life as you mentioned your home-state roots (which I am happy to share as a proud Idahoan ;), your belief system, your wife and family, your teammates, and your fellow runners. All of these, as they interact with BLAINE HONE should bear similar influence on me and they do offer similar inspiration to me in my “races”.

    As I consider your thoughts, I feel truly motivated to improve my own pace in doing all I personally hope to accomplish. Thank you for the inspiration, Matt. And thanks for being who you are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s