Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keep Your Focus

Running with a concerted consistent mindset and physical effort the 113th Boston Marathon proved to be once again a tough challenge. This being my tenth trek of the race the "larger than life" experience has run its course. I've seen and heard many of the stories, know all the course tangents, hills, and how my body responds.

The goal: a 2:48 or at least break my masters PR of 2:49:13 from 2007. 2007 also last my marathon run. A sense of uncertainty loomed. But, not to overrule a hint of confidence, for having run the marathon many times faster it was certainly an achievable goal.

Not so fast, February I failed to run the marathon distance in Hyannis at an 8:00/mile pace, having to walk \run the last 10K. Later in March my half-marathon time was a 1:23:26 predicting the marathon to be 2:55:58, but, not necessarily on the Boston course. It was the beginning of March that Boston Marathon training resumed picking up from the first week of January.

I'll count my blessings as five weeks is not enough preparation for Boston! An extremely supportive family, a God given talent, a strong desire to achieve a goal and mental training are all a tribute to this year's journey.

So, how was the race?

Drive to Boston ($27 parking), take a bus to Hopkinton (couldn't wait to get off that bus), limber up and in the corral for the national anthem and F-15 flyover. Note, several key mental training factors here, one my wife also ran the race so being together right up to the start helped, second is being able to blend "Saving Private Ryan" symbols (national anthem, military flyover) and WWII GI struggles and sacrifices.

1. 6:32 -2:48 not achievable at this pace for a downhill mile, passed by 100s

2. 6:11 -a little too far in the other direction, chill out

3. 6:17 -starting to get to the sweet spot. 5K -19:40 -okay let's go for sub 20:00 minutes every 5K

4. 6:16 -still going downhill

5. 6:34 -first "real" hill

6. 6:23 -runners starting to thin and get their paces. 10K -39:36 on target

7. 6:23 -ugly but loveable section as its flat, tuck in behind to avoid the wind, poor group formation, took gel in prep for hill

8. 6:35 -another hill cruising. 15K -59:41 still under by 19 seconds.

9. noisy Natick


11. maybe a 22:11 as I must've bumped the watch taking off the gloves, sun warming.

12. reset the watch, lost time waddling. 20K -1:19:49 11 seconds under, gloves back on, looked for friends at 4, 9, 10, 12, did the cold\wind\economy keep them away?

13. 6:29 -reset the watch, screaming tunnel a bit much, they are over the top. 1:24:13 Half. Can I negative split? It would be my first but up for the challenge and feeling good.

14. 6:27 -that's the way!

15. 6:38 -reality sets in, this is work. 25K -lost 5 seconds

16. 13:03 -hill climbing over Route 128 takes alot of runners back

17. 6:41 -the "meat and potatoes" you gotta have strength for the Newton Hills. 30K -lost 24 seconds

18. 6:27 -watched teammate pass me and drink Coca-Cola, later catch but unable to hold

19. 6:44 -JK hill its more work

20. 7:00 -Heartbreak, dig deep work hard. 35K -lost 51 seconds, this hurt

21. 6:30 -easy on the hill down BC, glanced at gravestones

22. 6:36 -losing focus, feeling the tiredness. Cleveland Circle the Army troops are line marching with full packs, flashback to young faces sacrificing themselves in honor of our great country in WWII.

23. 6:22 -regained a new breath, focus and relaxation. 40K -lost 11 seconds

24. 6:31 -push it or you won't get there

25. ? one mile to go was 2:42:00? did it really take eight minutes on the last mile?

Finish 2:50:24 at a 6:30/mile average. Second Half 1:58 slower. 2:42:12 Age Graded Time.

Temperature ~45 with 10-20 mph head winds. Post-race massage along with immediate fluid hydration. I recall walking with the volunteer, after catching my breath, asking for water.

As I write this the legs and energy are better than any Boston I have ever ran. In the race its a matter of keep pushing to the redline point, never broaching, push your limit, reserve to the end to endure the course. The downhills were light not heavy and fast. But, this now good feeling leaves me wondering should I have taken a greater risk?

1 -Sudbury Resident

7 -Masters in Massachusetts

19 -BAA Runner
47 -Division
444 -Gender
472 –Overall

6 -BAA Masters Team

Amazingly Kyle posted another marathon PR. Congratulations!

Thanks to all for reading and your well wishes; maybe we'll see you here next year!


  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Mark ... looks like a FANTASTIC effort on your part. The 5k splits are impressive. I was worried with the shortened build up time you had this year. I think you really used your experience to knock one out of the park here. WELL DONE!

  2. Congrats Mark! Keep your head up; you ran a great race.

  3. Mark,

    Great race! You are the man! This is going to be a big year for you!

  4. Wow! You are amazing doing that given that your training was just coming around like it was. Perfect timing and course knowledge has it's advantages. Well done and hope to meet again. If you're ever up this way again drop in...

  5. Mark - absolutely fantastic job! Based on your limited training and the windy conditions, I figured it would be tough to get close to your Masters PR this time out.

    Can't imagine what you could have run had you been able to get in a full training cycle.

    Congrats, and please let me know when you're planning on giving classes on mental preparation! : )

  6. Mark, you are the man.
    I think if you broke both legs, gained 30lbs., and forgot your shoes on race day you could still put together an awesome marathon.
    That was a seriously impressive effort and due props to your SPR (Saving Private Ryan) training.

  7. Great run! You made it through as others cracked, good time taking into account the horrible head wind!

  8. Of all the runners I have heard about you had by far and away the best race. In fact, you're basically the only one who didn't fall apart. Take away the headwind and a new masters PR would definitely have been possible.

    One day I want to learn to run that course as well as you do! (yeah, right ...)

  9. Congrats Mark!

    Great, great race and report. I thought it was actually a pretty nice day to run and just wish I had better health. The nice thing is that from a breathing and energy standpoint I had nothing so I really didn't beat up my legs as much as the last 2 years.

    Only a month until my next marathon which is here back in Michigan. Revenge?

    Congrats again!