Apr 17, 2012

Boston Marathon Race Report

Did Not Finish. I think there is more to that statement than meets the eye. In my case it meant that I started out aggressive no matter what the weather conditions (89 degrees by 12:30pm). The BAA send out multiple emails stating take it easy and to not expect a PR. I can understand those statements and it seems logical. However, I didn't travel 2000 miles to take it easy and not attempt an ambitious time I thought I could do and still think I could do. It just didn't turn out to be my day.  I prepared exactly how I would for any race and I did everything within my power to be prepared.  However several factors may have contributed to this outcome: 1) 2 tough 50 mile races within 4 weeks of each other with the last one 3 weeks ago  3) A 26 mile trail run the week before. And that's all I can really think of but clearly it was enough.  As soon as the gun went off and I started running my legs felt weak and the pace I was running didn't equate to the effort I was feeling. Things like shortness of breath, hip muscle soreness after 5 miles, and just general malaise.  Soon after 5 miles at 6:27 pace I couldn't keep pace and soon enough 8 minute miles felt difficult and unsustainable. I knew immediately that something was wrong but I figured I could run the rest of the race easy. Totally wrong. I started to walk a lot more and just didn't have anything in my legs. It felt like mile 85 in a 100 mile race. This obviously didn't make any sense to me but there was nothing I could do. I started stopping at aid stations for extended periods amounts of time and it took all I had to start up again.  Mile 19 was when the wheels started to really come off; I started feeling very faint and couldn't even walk. I sat on the curb and within 5 minutes a red cross medic came over and started inquiring about my condition. I was soon helped to the tent and my vitals were taken and the one thing that stuck out at me in my semi-conscious state was that my systolic blood pressure was 88.  For someone performing any exercise it should only increase and mine was 15 points below my resting BP.  Any significant drop in blood pressure can cause fainting and dizziness because the brain isn't getting enough blood. I was yawning a lot and that's usually one of those signs.   What came to mind immediately was salt or lack there of.  When I recall what I ate in the past week the quality of food has been exactly what I need and I had been consuming a liter of Nuun (electrolyte mix) every day on top of another liter of plain water.  However, with the symptoms I was feeling a lack of sodium or maybe low blood sugar may have been a player. These are all speculations of course but my confidence has slightly been shaken so I need to find out what the cause of this meltdown was but I don't think it's dehydration.  After I started to feel a little better I encouraged a runner (a faster one by the look of his low number) to join me. We started walking together and then I suggested we run and walk for 30 seconds each. He was OK with that but after a couple times I couldn't run anymore and started to feel more faint. I sat on the curb again. A cop came over and signaled for another medic. The second one in 1 mile. I knew my race was coming to a close. I was guided to the tent and then I lied down not really improving after 10 minutes.  That was it for me.  Several runners and myself soon loaded into a van and were driven to a bus.  I was actually feeling worse in the car and needed to lay down to increase my BP. (It was amazing to me that no medic had any salt on them.) Anyway I lied down in the bus with my feet up. After 15 minutes I started to feel better and most runners we're anxious to pick up there bags so they were hobbling over to the train station. We boarded a unbelievably crammed train and two minutes in I couldn't stand up any longer because I thought I was going to pass out.  I dropped to the ground, exited at the next stop and lay down in the dirt with my feet up relieved to be out of that train. Turns out two other runners exited and started vomiting profusely. We all were laying around and boarded the next train, which, thankfully, was less crowded. Me and this Italian runner sat on the steps in the back corner and put our head in our hands and hoped we didn't experience symptoms. Turns out he speaks French so that's how we communicated.  The train ride was terribly long, hot and soon to be crowded but we finally made it to our exit. After picking up my bag, I got my ass to my flight which I was then worried I wouldn't make, but I did.  With this type of experience there are lessons one can take away:

1) Don't get greedy. I thought that a marathon wouldn't be a problem after 2 tough 50's. Clearly wrong.

2) More space between races. 3 races in 7 wks where I ask for my best effort is too demanding. I need to respect that and give my body and mind more time.

3) Giving it my all regardless of the conditions and outcome was the right thing to do. I'm not going to play it safe and give up on my goal.  That's the one real positive I'm taking away from this.

4) I will never travel by plane to run a road marathon. Never is a strong word but I'll just stick to the local scene with regards to road races.

I want to also congratulate everyone I knew running who toughed it out and finished the race: Ankur, Natalie, Mike, Rit, Su-Yang, Dan, and Crispin.

As far as the next race is concerned it will be Angeles Crest 100, my main event.  I was originally planning on Bishop 50 next month but after this I'd rather train only to make sure I'm fully prepared for that race. I'll give my whole system time to rest in these next two weeks and start to ramp up again.


  1. I like the attitude. Way to get after it. I tried the same when I ran Boston in '04. I'd just run a 1:30 half and wanted to PR and break 3:00, but it was 85 degrees and I ignored the advice that (1) it's Boston (uphill) so you don't PR, and (2) it was 85 degrees, and the race doesn't start till noon. I sucked hard and walked a bunch after a 1:35 or 1:40 half, finishing in just over 4 hours. In some ways I hate the course, in some ways I respect it for, I guess, sucking.

  2. Thanks. Way to gut it out at least. I tried walking but that was just as awful. When are you coming to the states and moving back permanently?


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