Boston 2016 : Boston Strong


So on Monday April 18th 2016 i ran the marathon, i never thought i would run. I once said to a friend wouldn’t it be great to be able to say you had run both the London and Boston marathons.  I then ran my first two marathons, one of which was London, they both took me over four hours.  Subsequently i resigned myself to never running the Boston marathon.  But then over the years, as i learn more about running and improved my training, i gradually and sometimes rapidly brought my marathon times down. Going from 4 hours to sub3 at Manchester in 2015 (More about that later). And so it is was that i got into Boston and headed for the US of A.

I found Boston to be a great city, very clean, very green and with plenty of options for eating out.  I also found out that where ever you went to eat, you got as much free water to drink as you wanted. So carbo-loading and hydrating for this marathon seemed fairly straight forward.

Well that was until i released that my bus to the athletes village sets off at 6:30 a.m, the exact time my hotel (the Revere) starts serving breakfast…….brilliant hotel other than that, really comfy beds and a short walk to the expo, bus pick up and finish line. Perfect.

boston hotel

Luckily being a paranoid runner i had smuggled my own breakfast cereal and high protein milk into the US so i had at least something to eat before i headed to the bus. I topped this up with a protein bar which i had also taken across with me, a banana and a porridge pot that i bought from a nearby 7/11. Taking these things with me on the bus to the athletes village.

So the breakfast panic was over and as per my last post, i had trained as hard as last year in regards to running but added in a load of cycle session and increased my core work out.  To top this off, i recently run a 20 mile race at 6:29 pace. I had added hills into my runs and i had done numerous constant incline treadmill sessions. So it was safe to say i was feeling good ahead of this marathon.

But there was one thing, i hadn’t banked on, and it was something i hadn’t really considered until weather forecasts started coming out for marathon day, around a week before i was due to fly out………that’s right the weather.  Spring and Autumn are great times to hold marathon,  as you are more likely to get favorable weather conditions than summer or winter. Hence why most of the marathon majors are held at these times.

However, once forecasts of 18 degrees started coming out, i knew i might be in for a rough ride. I packed my run cream, but still hoped for a cooler weather front. As the days went by the forecast moved down to 15 and back up to 18 and one time 20 degrees……But on the day, I believe it was 18, whatever it was it was hot and dry.

The hottest day i had run prior to Boston, was 12 degrees and that only happened once. The UK is slow to warm up.  On top of this, the only times i have run a marathon on a hot day, where my first two marathons. Both of which took me over four hours, partly due to my poorer training and partly due to the heat. Which on both occasions melted me, and subsequently had me worried ahead of this marathon.

Temperatures and spirits high for 120th running of Boston marathon

Weather is heating things up for the 2016 Boston marathon

I tried my best to stay in the shade as long as i could, but knew as soon as we started running that things would heat up.

Boston marathon start

So we were off and i downloaded a customized pace plan from RunnersConnect, which was based on the Boston course and it called for a slow start……easier done than said when you’re in the mix and the gun has fired.  Although i did try and hold back, using other runners to slow me down, i still managed to complete the first mile in 6:33 pace, which was seven seconds faster than planned. I admit it, i did print out a 2:50 pace plan……

Things carried on pretty much this way and i covered the first 13 miles of the marathon in an average pace of 6:31. But i was suffering, it was very hot and the water stations, which are every mile at Boston were crowed. Each time you had to slow down or weave around runners to get a drink.  Before the marathon, i had thought that having drink stations every mile, was too much, but during i the marathon i was very grateful for them, as they became the best way to stay cool. I took a sip of water at each station and then threw the rest over my head. It was a nice feeling.

It was the second half the race where things went off track, having made it to 16 miles at 6:33 pace i was still on for my dream time. But with the heat taking it toll, i now entered the toughest section of the marathon featuring eight miles of constant up and down. Initially i managed ok with these, but as the hills continued roll by and sun continued to shine down on me  i slowed down. With miles 16-24 covered in 6:59 pace, i was struggling but i was fighting back with miles 22 and mile 23 covered in 6:35 and 6:45 respectively. I wasn’t going to give up on getting a good time just yet.  I wasn’t going to let nature or the course beat me, but as the below snap shows i was finding it hard going.

boston hard work

I pushed on, as any experienced marathon will tell you, you just keep going, you smash on through the wall, you get to the end anyway you can.

Reaching the last two and bit miles, you find yourself back in Boston and here the crowds rival London. Both sides of the road where packed with loud cheering supports urging the runners home with cries of “You’ve Got this”, “Come on Preston” (i was wearing a Preston harriers top) and “Your almost there” helping to pick me and several runners around me up and on we went to the finish.  Runners left and right tried picking themselves up to fast finish, which i was great for me as i latched on to a few of them and followed them along.  A couple dropped back, a couple went off ahead of me. It didn’t matter as it helping me as i turned the corner for the home straight.

Boston corner turn

At this time point my body was more than happy to stick to the pace i was running, i had slight cramp in my right quad, although no where near as bad as what i had experienced in Manchester in 2015 when quads in both legs where cramping up (my new training system is working) and i was ready to stop running. But my mind said no, go for it, i knew my time was close to my Manchester time (so i thought…..more on this later). So go for it i did, pushing on to the fastest pace i could manage, which turned out to be 6:14, passing several runners as went on to complete the Boston marathon.

boston finished

The stress fracture at the end of 2015 with the race day heat and hills had all conspired against me, but they hadn’t beaten me.  The extra training, the joining a running club and the arriving in Boston three days early had all paid off.

boston finish time

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2:57:31, not my dream time, but a great time. Sub3 again and a PB of 23 seconds….or so i thought…………………

…………Whilst i had been in Boston, it had been discovered that the Manchester marathon course of 2015 was short. Now when i ran Manchester, i had recorded it as being short on my Garmin, but i hadn’t thought anything of it.  Smashrun had provided me with a interpolated time of 2:59:14 for the 26.2 distance but I trusted the course to be correct in length i stuck with my Garmin time of 2:57:54.  But now i know its short, i will adjust my time, which means my actual official marathon PB for 2016 should be 1:41.

Although to make things even more confusing i actually ran 26.47 miles in Boston with Smashrun giving me a interpolated time for 26.2 of 2:55:47 , which would be a PB of 3:27.  However as tempting as it is, to use that time until i hear that Boston was also incorrectly measured, I will accept that it was my own fault i ran 26.47 miles and a PB of 1:41 is good enough. It was tough conditions and a far harder marathon route than Manchester. Plus the only thing i did differently this year was to introduce extra cross training and join a running club. Which ever times i use, those two things delivered results. The experiment was a success. Running extra miles, really inst the only way to get quicker and if it hadn’t been so hot and if i had run the right distance i would be looking a bigger PB.

Admittedly i did spend a few days disappointed with my time, but then it sank in that Ive gone sub3 at Boston, that the conditions weren’t favorable and as recent as December i was worried that I wouldn’t be able to race at Boston.  In the end, 2:57:31 is a great time, and i am really pleased with what i achieved. That’s not to say i am not itching to race again, nature may have robbed me of a 2:50 finish this time, but i am not done with the marathon……i will be taking on 26.2 again next year with my additional core work, my additional cross training, my continued membership of a club and quite possibly an increase in training mileage……

One final blurb on Boston, if you get the chance to go this race, do it. Its really well organised, really well supported and it is a very special race. Boston is a really nice city to visit, there is plenty of sight seeing to be done and if you give yourself four days like i did. You will be able to do it all at a causal pace and run the marathon.

Oh and the girls of Wellesley are as crazy as everyone says!!! – Had to move away from them because the screaming was too loud to bare! But i guess it wouldnt be Boston with things like that. A fantastic marathon, one of the best i have ever done.

Thank you Boston, i enjoyed your marathon!






4 thoughts on “Boston 2016 : Boston Strong

      • The warm temps were deceptive. I went out my planned pace as well and paid for it the second half. Do you think you’ll run Boston again? I know it’s a big trip across the Atlantic!

  1. Yeah I think quite a few suffered in the heat over the last few miles. Well done on being brave and sticking to your plan, I know like me you’ll know you could of done better. But we’ve done Boston and that’s the main thing🙆

    Would I do Boston again…..hmmm yes I would. It was a very expensive one, but it was one of the best ever run in. Maybe one day, I won’t never again that’s for sure.

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