Update 4/25/08: Pictures have been posted:
Update 4/24/08: I've identified the guy in the red shirt that helped me pick up the pace in the last 4 miles. His name is Evan Kimber from Signal Hill California. Even though I crossed the finish ahead of him, he actually beat me by 12 seconds. He's a fast ultra runner too, placing 2nd in the Avalon 50 miler in January at 7hr 23 min. Evan, thanks again for the motivation and great finish.
We flew into Providence airport and after a long commute arrived at our hotel on Wed. night about 6 pm. We had not eaten a meal since 9:30 am and went out to a buffet for dinner. After a good night’s sleep without cats and dogs, we went for a run on Thursday morning and then to Boston Common. We ate lunch at a Subway in the theatre district and noticed Emerson College so found the bookstore and purchased Emerson (our last name) shirts.
Friday morning we ran again, went to the expo at Hynes Convention Center, picked up our packets, and wandered around for several hours enjoying all the free samples. Hugh purchased an SPI (small personal items) belt and headband and I bought a Nathan water bottle. We went to the food court in the mall for lunch and then back to the expo for more samples and shopping. I purchased an official Boston logo sleeveless running shirt. We also had the gait analysis done at the Mizuno booth. They assessed that I was wearing the proper Mizuno shoes, the Alchemy and could also wear the Inspires. We got our pace bands from Nike which you can insert into a really comfortable bracelet. This was a little different than the even effort slower start pace band I printed earlier. I ended up writing each mile from the earlier one on the back since it was easier to see and I wanted to stay with this pace plan. After leaving the expo, we walked around and ate dinner a few blocks down the street at Uno’s Pizzeria and the made our way back to our hotel.
A few in our Columbia group had arrived late Friday night and Sat. morning we had a text message from Darrin and Melanie wondering about how to get around when I woke up. I decided that I wasn’t going to run on Sat. since some in our group wanted to run on Sunday. I felt like I really needed a day off with all the walking we had been doing. We called Darrin and Melanie and then escorted them to the expo and then went on a long walking tour heading towards the North End. We headed back and went to the Bill Rodgers Running Store while we were shopping in the Quincy Market. Then we went back to the hotel and everyone met for dinner at Not Your Average Joes. I had the salmon, grilled asparagus and salmon. The food and service were excellent.
Sunday morning several in our group met to run 3 miles before heading over to watch the Women’s Olympic Trials. After the trials, Hugh and I went back to the expo to look at a few things and it was extremely busy compared to Friday. We ran into a few more Columbia people (Brett, Elly, and Phil) that had arrived later Sat. night. I purchased a red and black Adidas Boston Marathon wind jacket like Munashe had already purchased the day before since I preferred it over the official blue and black jackets. Hugh had his gait analyzed at the Saucony booth which is brand he normally wears. They determined he was in the right shoe and also could wear a new one they have. I also decided to get a SPI belt since Hugh had already used and liked his belt. The pouch in this belt expands to a larger size and will hold a quite a few items. You can also attach a race number to the belt. We then went back to the food court for lunch. After lunch, Hugh purchased a couple gels with caffeine he felt he would need later in the marathon and a pair of running shorts. We exited the expo fairly quickly since it was difficult to walk around with the large crowds. It was definitely a good thing we went on Friday when it was easy to look at everything and not solid mass of people.
We went back to our room and I took a short nap since I was feeling tired. Hugh wanted to go to the pasta dinner which is included in the registration fee and I felt up to it after the nap. The dinner was excellent and included lasagna, penne pasta, pasta salad, lettuce salad, drink, and then on our way out we got to fill up a bag full with goodies for dessert.
Went to bed around 9:30 pm and planned to get up at 5:30 am. We both slept really well and I felt rested when I got up. Hugh, Maria, me, and other couple from Canada shared a taxi ride to Boston Common to ride the bus. We boarded our bus fairly quickly at about 6:55 am, but it was a long ride. When we arrived at about 9 am we dropped our bags off onto the drop bag busses and then walked to Main Street to where Tom’s friends live a couple blocks from the start and waited until closer to the start time to go to the corrals. They had a nice spread of food and drink and bathrooms with no waiting. Those of us in the first wave left to walk over to our corrals at about 9:30. On the way I spotted John Kerry just a few feet away. I waited with Matt Dreier in our corral. Darrin was somewhere in our corral but up closer to the front so we didn’t see him.
As we were waiting, the sun came out and it started to feel warmer. I took off my Jingle Bell Run shirt and deposited in one of the bags off to the side of the corral. After the National Anthem, it wasn’t long before our corral started to move. I had a signal on my GPS standing in the corral and then it went out a few minutes before the start. I decided that I could pace without it and wasn’t going to worry about it. I felt very relaxed and just wasn’t going to worry about anything at this point. We ran over the starting mat at about 2 minutes. My pace band was for 2:58:30 so I figured if I met this goal, I wouldn’t see the clock under 3 hrs. I hoped my chip time would be anything under 3 hours and was giving myself and 90 second cushion.
Matt started a little faster than me but I could see him in my sights for a few miles. It was amazing to see the sea of runners ahead from the first 2 corrals. It was pretty crowded too. At this point I really had no idea of my pace but figured I was going faster than I realized. After the first mile I see Darrin and we pass back and forth for about the first 3 miles after water stations since I was slowing down a little more. My first mile ended up being slower than planned at 7:15 probably due to the crowd of runners. I had planned to run it at 7:01. I made up the pace on the next mile.
The sun stayed out and it felt pretty warm. I stayed over to the right side in the shade wherever I could. I tried to run each mile using my pace band and was pretty close without using my GPS which was not getting a signal. I’m hoping Hugh got a signal since I knew he was counting on it for his pace. I keep clicking off the miles which seem to be going by quickly. The crowds were loud and encouraging along the course and water was easy to get to. I heard at a water station yell they have plenty of water unlike Chicago.
I see Tom May at mile 4. He had started in corral 2, but had some injuries and missed a few weeks of training. He seemed to be doing very well though and having a good time. The space in the road opened up more as we went on. I started talking to a guy that said it seemed like everyone had started out really fast this year. He said he was targeting a 2:55. I ran with him for about a mile to slow myself down and then decided to pull ahead since I was still feeling really good.
I wore my Long Run Lunatics shirt which Melanie had specially made for the group. It had Long Run Lunatics, Columbia, MO on the front and Boston 08 on the back. I had a lot of people yelling Long Run Lunatics or Lunatic at me along the course.
At mile 11, I see Mike Tripp over at the water station but couldn’t get over close enough to say anything. I looked back several times but didn’t see him again. I hoped he was okay since he had started in the corral ahead of me. About mile 16, I saw Matt Dreier from behind and he isn’t moving very fast so I ask if he is okay since obviously he isn’t. He says he having a really bad cramp. About a couple miles later I pass a guy that looks like Munashe. I turn around and it is him. He is looking good and I said hi. I found out later he had slowed due to his shin splints which had been trying to recover from recently. He had also started in the corral ahead of me. He was in some really intense pain after the marathon and had to go to the medical tent. I feel like I am passing a lot of people which is feeling good. It just didn’t feel good to pass the people I knew should be ahead of me from Columbia.
During mile 21, I am expecting Heart Break Hill which I really wasn’t very worried about. After we passed it I wasn’t even sure that was all, but then we started to go down hill so really it wasn’t too bad. I guess taking the first half a little easy paid off. I could see a lot of people slowing on the hill and again was passing a lot of people. I can see if someone started out too fast or was starting to feel fatigued how this would be a bad time for any kind of hill, but it wasn’t that bad. I ended up running that mile faster than planned too. Some of my miles were going slower and some faster so I figured I still on pace for a sub 3.
I then started to think about how it might even be possible to see the clock actually less than 3 hours before I finish. I was a little worried about pushing the pace too soon. I had been feeling pretty comfortable up to this point. I catch a guy in a red shirt after at about mile 22 and he is getting the crowd going. He speeds up as the crowds get loud and I stay with him. I decide if he is going to run like this I will try to stay with him until the end since I am feeling great.
After awhile he falls back but I keep up the faster pace. Then I see him again and he gets the crowd going and we are flying by people in mile 24. Since I met him at mile 22 I started running 6:30-something pace. I’ve never felt this good near the end of a marathon. It was downhill quite a bit but most were slowing. I see the 1 mile to go sign, but don’t remember the Citgo sign everyone else mentioned. Red shirt guy catches back up and motivates me again with the crowd. I see the finish line ahead and keep pushing. I leave red shirt guy behind and am racing with another guy. I hear my name and look and Melanie and Nicole are over on the left. I see the clock and cross when the clock is actually 2:59-something. My chip time is 2:57:47 which is a 4:11 PR. My first sub-3 and first negative split ever in a marathon. I talk to the red shirt guy and who is from California and mentions a friend of his just moved to Columbia.
I took my time going through the finish area thinking Darrin wouldn’t be far behind me. I see him before I get to the chip removing area. He had met his sub-3 goal as well finishing about 2 min behind me. We found our bus to pick up our drop bags. Across the street I spotted Melanie, Darrin’s wife while he is getting his bag. Then we see Tom May as well. He ended up running a 3:12. Phil called while we were all talking and reported he ran 3:10.
I head over to the finisher’s exit area about the time I expect Hugh. After waiting awhile I figured I may have missed him so went to the family reunion area. It was really getting crowded in that area but not too many people in the Es. After about 5 minutes I see him and he is jumping up and down so I figure he must not be hurt. He ran a 3:31 which was a PR for him as well and qualifies him for next year. He was very happy with his time.
We start walking and then ran into more of our group including Maria who ran a 4:01. We see Brett, El Presidente of the Long Run Lunatics. He had run a 3:15:59. His Boston qualifying time is 3:15:59. I was just amazed that he had cut it that close. He said he didn’t realize it was that close when he finished.
We all made our way back to the hotel and then decided to meet at 6 pm for dinner which gave us an hour to get ready. We went to Not Your Average Joe’s again since we liked it on Sat. and it had the room to seat us. We called 2 taxis and 5 people left in the first one so we had 5 left. The next driver said his insurance only covers 4 people and wouldn’t agree to take 5 so Hugh and I decide to go alone. I tell him I am feeling good enough that we could run/jog since it is only 1.7 miles. We make it there in 17 minutes and our table was seated about 5 min after we arrived. We split a large Pizza and had Caesar salads as well.
After dinner, we mentioned the Friendly’s ice cream place we had gone to on Sunday afternoon so Brett, Elly, and Phil walked with us back to the hotel and stopped there along the way. The manager waited on us and was an amusing experience. She was difficult to understand and the service was slow. The ice cream was good though. We all headed back to our hotel and many of us planned to meet at 8 am for a recovery run.
We woke up at 7:30 and I was walking okay. I decided not to take any Ibuprofen. We ran the 4 mile loop that Hugh and I ran on Friday. After the run, we packed our bags for the trip home. We had to catch a bus, take the subway to the commuter rail which would take us to Providence, where we were planning to take another bus to the airport.
This plan went smoothly until our commuter train was 25 minutes late. We were going to miss the earlier bus we planned to take so decided we better take a taxi from the train station to the airport. The bus ride would have cost only $1.50 each, but the next bus would have us there less than an hour before our flight which I wasn’t sure would be enough time. Conveniently, after we exited the train station a taxi that had airport on it was available. We were there in 15 min and had time to catch our flight. It was $30 well spent just to not worry about missing our plane. We made it through security quickly and had time to eat dinner. Then we flew to Baltimore to connect to our flight to St. Louis, and drive back to Columbia. I ended up typing almost all of this report at the airport and on the plane.
I really enjoyed the group marathon trip and didn’t miss home quite as much having our running friends around. I think next time though we will fly into Boston to avoid some of the headache of getting to Providence airport. I am glad we came early and went to the expo on Friday so would want to at least arrive on Friday or Saturday for the next Boston trip. Sunday the expo is just too busy and I would not enjoy it. We’ll likely go if a group from Columbia makes the trip next year.