Finally. My 15th marathon and I get to participate in the 115th Boston Marathon. It was worth all the hassle, the money, the 4am training runs, and asking my wife to watch the kids just a little longer while I run even more. It lived up to the hype. Traveling with the Ship of Fools was also a treat. It seemed from the moment we arrived at the Austin airport I was running into someone I knew.
I have participated in large marathons prior but this was something different. I felt like every person I encountered was happy I was there. They knew this was a big deal and didn't care if their town was shut down for a couple of days. I'm sure plenty of people were not in that boat but they kept it from me. And the towns, those small little towns along the route, came out in droves and were genuinely happy to see a Texan come through. I loved that the grownups cheered me the loudest when I took the time to run to the side of the road and high five their little ones. Just amazing.
I would like to leave this report with just that sentiment - the energy, the crowds, the townspeople, but, alas, I have to speak about the actual performance in the race. I ran a quite respectable 3:34, but I was trained up for about a 3:15 with 3:20 being my fall back goal depending on the weather and difficulty of the course. I wanted to heed all the advice and go out slow so I stayed back a couple of corrals and ran the first 18 miles or so with Joe T. - the conservative/negative split king. He seemingly runs only "strong finish" marathons and when I stick with him I usually have success. Despite the perfect conditions (fastest marathon ever was run on this day), I was in trouble early. My legs just didn't feel right - even after 5 miles. I finally had to let Joe go, crested Heartbreak (mile 20.5) in decent shape but then my old nemesis came back. My left hamstring cramped up and the last 5 miles included the very familiar cramp-avoidance dance. In past races, this really got me down, but those Boston crowds would not let me. I wore a Run Tex shirt (local Austin running store) and I was "Tex" all day. They wanted this Texan to hang in there and finish strong. Even my sister, who came all the way from NYC just to see me finish, said I had one of the biggest smiles she has ever seen at mile 25.5.
I have since come up with a thousand possible reasons why I did not perform up to my training but truly I approached this weekend like it could be my last time in Boston and have no regrets. That being said, to be a rock star in Boston again does have its appeal and I have a lot more work to do in the marathon department if I want to return. The "laurel resting" is over.