Dead Runners society race report
102nd BAA Boston marathon
- monday 20th April 1998.
One year earlier I had qualified and now I was going to run in the world's greatest marathon (IMHO), Boston! I wanted to run it properly unlike in 1995 when I fell apart after Heartbreak Hill.
Just watched the Boston Marathon coverage taped off Eurosport, this has me to write my Boston report. Shelley was very impressed by Fatuma Roba and now wants to run like her!
Friday 17th - 3 days to go.
I awoke in Grenoble, France where I was doing
some science stuff for my PhD at a big
european laboratory. The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility is a
very impressive place where you can do some good
science but in my case our experiment
could have been scheduled more conveniently. Did 2.5 miles slow on the bike path by the Isère river before breakfast.
There was still a day to go for our
experiment but I had booked my Boston flights before I knew we
coming to France so my colleagues were going to do the last day without me. Off to Lyon Airport to fly back to London. Change planes in London and off to BOSTON!
Arrived at Logan airport in the early
evening, my suitcase didn't make it thanks to British Airways :-( (British Airways,
breakfast in London, lunch in New York,
luggage in Sydney). Filled in the lost luggage forms and off to the hotel on the subway. I was going to be staying with a
bunch of George
Parrott's Buffalo Chips clubmates, unfortunately the great George couldn't get the qualifying time this year so he wasn't coming.
It had been a long day so I after I had checked in I went straight to bed.
Saturday 18th - 2 days to go
Woke up at 3am and never really got to sleep again, still on UK time. No sign of my suitcase yet :-( At 9.00am I met up with the Buffalo Chips for a run, I had to wear some of my race gear which I had carried with me in my hand baggage from London. We went for a gentle run from the hotel along the Charles river, it was pretty windy out there but the wind was in the "right" direction for the race :-) About 4.5 miles nice and easy, a little further than I wanted but it was a very pleasant run with the Chips.
After breakfast off to the expo, got my
number and bought some running gear so I
would have a change of clothes should my suitcase not arrive. Back to the hotel to find my suitcase had finally
arrived. I spent the afternoon eating
bagels and watching the weather channel looking for the
"right" forecast for monday, it looked promising.
6pm off to the DRS dinner :-) This was great,
loads of pizza and pasta and really good
company. For the dinner I was sat with Josh and Maryanne Knight, Tracy Tabata and Karl Watanabe, we discussed Jim
Puckett's run in Boston (did Jim ever
mention that he qualified for Boston? :-)). I got to meet some DRS friends I had met before at encounters as well as
meeting some more DRS
friends for the first time. I can't remember all the names but I was privileged to meet 3 "DRS legends", Kim from Gainsville, Hizzoner Dennis the Mayor from Oregon and Robert the Lobsterman from Austria. I also met two more members of the "Dead Romantics Society" Andrew Duffy and Anne Davidson who aren't going to be in St. Louis as they will be on their honeymoon :-) I told everyone that I was going for 3h10(optimistic)-3h15(realistic) in the race, Karl and Pat Mitchell told me they were going to do the first 5 miles at 7 minute pace before speeding up. A great evening with some serious carboloading, thanks to Janet and Robin for the organisation.
Sunday 19th - 1 day to go.
Up early to take the subway to Cambridge! Met up with deads Andy Leonard and Julie Hardwick on the way to Cambridge Common for the now traditional DRS day before the marathon run. I bought some postcards from Cambridge to send to my family and friends back home.
Met up with the deads for the run, Connie
Chan was going to lead the bunch round
and fellow Cambridge resident Doug Dodds was going to bring up the rear.
Jogged along slowly near the front of the bunch
through Harvard square and along the
Charles river, another very pleasant run of about 4 miles. On the way back we went through Harvard University which
looked just like home, very
impressive buildings covered with bits of paper advertising student events.
Doug kindly let me shower and change at his home before driving us to Robert Nagle's house for the "NagleBagelBash". Near Doug's house in Cambridge there is a road called Oxford Street which seemed rather strange to someone from my Cambridge! Just like in 95 Robert and Kristin put on another excellent bash with loads of deads in attendance. We watched some old Boston marathons on tape, I looked out for myself on the 95 tape but I was just out of sight behind the Kenyans in the lead :-) Before we left we saw a video of Robert's "Eco-challenge" adventure race in Australia which Robert's team won. This was amazing and rather humbling to be in the presence of one of the greatest adventure race athletes in the world. To see what Robert and co go through in these events made the Boston Marathon seem like nothing, our worries that it might rain in the race tomorrow seemed really trifling after that. Back to Boston on the subway with Pat, Karl and Erika after the bagel bash.
In the evening I went with the Buffalo Chips to the pasta party at Faneuil Hall but we got there to see the line go all the way round the block we fairly soon decided to go elsewhere. I was pleased to meet a British soldier in full Redcoat uniform at Faneuil Hall relaxing after a hard day keeping these uppity colonials in line. I understand that at this time of year they re-enact the battle that started the Revolutionary War which makes it a dangerous time for we British to visit Boston :-) We got our photograph taken with the Redcoat and I told him to keep up the good work. Off to an Italian restaurant for some more carboloading, for some reason the place was full of runners. Twice all the marathoners were wished good luck for tomorrow as we ate which got a big cheer. The food was really good but I was feeling a bit bloated after all the carboloading. Back to the hotel to tape up my toes with sticking plasters and an early night.
Monday 20th - Race Day
This was it, the BOSTON MARATHON. In London 12 months earlier when I made the final turn and saw I was going to run 3h15 I shouted out "I'm going to Boston". And now I was going to run it again and hopefully run better than my 3h19.36 from 1995. Room service breakfast didn't come so I had to get a couple of bagels and eat them on the bus out to the start.
Travelled out with the Buffalo Chips, it
seemed like a an awful long way out to
Hopkinton, especially as we had to come back on foot. About 8.30am we
arrived at the Athletes Village for some serious
hanging around in the big tent
periodically getting up to join a queue for the toilets, met up with Matt
Sissman in one of these queues. This year the
water tower was out of bounds so
the deads couldn't meet there. It was pretty cold at first but the rain soon stopped. Met up with Karl and Pat in the tent, at 11.00am Sam Underwood took me for an interview for Mark O'Leary's Wild Wild Web show.
After my "fifteen minutes of fame" off to the baggage buses. Walking down to the start I met up with Josh Knight, in 95 I started in the same corral as Josh but not this year. Feeling pretty nervous by now, got to corral number 3 about 25 minutes before the start. Sat down and did a bit more stretching, by now I was getting nervous. 10 minutes to go I took off my old sweatshirt and tracksters I was using to keep warm and there were race helpers there to take your rubbish away. In my racing gear I was shivering but this was more with nerves than with the cold. Almost on cue at 11.58 the large Stars and Stripes which was hanging limply at the start unfurled as the wind picked up and pointed the way to Boston.
12.00 BANG and we shuffled forward, crossed
the line in 36 seconds and we were running the Boston Marathon. First mile was pretty
slow with all the crowds but after mile 1
(8.11) I was running properly. I could see a "carpe viam" ahead and I soon met up with Kevin Johnson from Maine,
Kevin said he was a friend of my eurodead
pal Paul "PJ" Henney, after 1 mile in the London
Marathon last year I was running with PJ! I ran along with Kevin until the 2 mile drinks stop and then I lost sight of him. Felt pretty uncomfortable in the first few miles on the steep descents. By 5 miles it was a bit less steep and I was feeling a bit more comfortable, 5 mile split 35.46 with the previous 4 mile splits of 6.52, 6.48, 6.55, 7.01. The crowd support had been loud and enthusiastic all the way so far.
6th mile took 7.01 and into Framingham, just
after the 10k point the Patty Wagon and
Obi-Wan Kenobi came zooming past after taking the first 5 miles easy. Felt OK and moving along well, next 4 miles took
7.01, 6.55, 6.53 and 7.01 to reach 10
miles in 1h10.37, By now there was a Buffalo Chips runner running near me, we kept passing each other, he wasn't
in the party staying in our hotel so I
didn't know him. I would get ahead on the ascents and he would come back at me on the descents. Right leg was feeling
a bit sore by now but still going well, I
knew from my run in 1995 what was coming so I wasn't thinking of a finish time. The next 2 miles took 7.01
and 6.54 before
Wellesley :-) Just like in 95 the young ladies were suitably raucous and it was a fun few minutes but I knew there was a long way to go. 13th mile took 6.56 and I got to halfway in 1h32.14, only 28s slower than my Berlin time but Berlin was flat instead of downhill. 7.05 and 7.10 miles to reach 15 miles in 1h45.43, so far so good but I knew what was coming.
A steep decent to 16 miles to enter Newton, 16th mile in 6.58 and then the Newton Hills started. In spite of eating constantly for the last few days I was feeling really hungry by now! The first of the hills felt like nothing, I expected it to be steeper than it was. In 1995 I felt OK at the bottom of the hills but I was sufferingly badly by the top of Heartbreak so I was a bit worried. 17th mile took 7.26 and 18th took 7.30, I was slowing up the hills but they didn't seem too bad. 19th mile took 7.26 and I could see signs for Heartbreak Hill. Got to 20 miles halfway up Heartbreak in 2h22.40 with the last mile in 7.37, it seemed a long way uphill after that and I was pretty tired when I got to the top but a lot better than in 95. I needed 7.25-7.30 pace in from here downhill to get a new pb, in 95 I gave up and jogged in from Heartbreak. Now it was time to see what I had left.
21st mile took 7.46 but I was pushing hard on
the descent, 22nd mile in 7.31 and it was
still just possible. I had just passed Pat Mitchell and he was not looking good :-( Feeling pretty tired myself, slowed
to a 7.37 in mile 23 then the Buffalo who
I had been running with came past which spurred me on to try and follow him, 24th mile took 7.26 but by then the
Chip was away :-( Running in as hard as I could by now, got to 25 miles in 3h00.45
with a last mile of
7.45 and I knew I had missed my pb. It would take a 7 minute last mile to get a pb in from here and I didn't want to go through all the last mile pain I suffered in Berlin. Right turn then left turn and into Boylston St at last and there was the finish, 26th mile took 7.44 and the clock read 3h08.29, I needed 3h09.21 net time to equal my 3h08.45 chip time pb from Berlin and it would have taken a Michael Johnson sprint to get it. Tried to pick up the pace at the end to get under 3h10.00 but it just turned over as I reached the finish in 3h10.03 net time.
Pretty tired on finishing, chip finish time was 3h09.27, my 3rd fastest marathon, 42s slower than Berlin. Still a really good run in superb conditions, really pleased with my time as I thought I would run 5 minutes slower, I didn't think I was in pb shape. Still had a little bit left in the tank, I felt a lot better than I did after Berlin or Boston 95. This time I ran Boston properly! Met deads John McErney(sp) and Susan Woods in the finish area before going to get some post-race refreshment. I met up with the Buffalo Chip and found out his name was Ernie, thanked him for the race. Space blanket, drink, off with the timing chip which was a bit tricky as I'd triple knotted my shoes. Got my kit bag and shuffled out of the finish area. At the finish area exit there was my hotel :-) The lobby was full of runners in space blankets, up to my room and turned on the TV to see Uta commentating live on the marathon. Had a really long shower and got nice and clean. The only thing the BAA got wrong were the post-race "goomies", the only thing which looked anything like edible was a peanut butter powerbar but this tasted so disgusting I had to throw it away after 1 bite, yeuch.
Got dressed and down to the lobby to phone Shelley and get some food. Met up with my Buffalo Chips friends, they all had good runs. Finally got some edible food from a sandwich shop in the hotel lobby. It was all over, I had run the Boston marathon and easily qualified for 1999 :-) We all went to Legal Sea Foods in the evening for a non-carboloading meal which tasted really good.
Tuesday 21st - the day after
Awake at 6am, still not got onto Boston time yet! Did 2 very slow miles round the Boston Public Garden before breakfast, felt rather stiff at the start but was OK until the far point of my second lap when it got to be really hard work. After breakfast I said goodbye to my Buffalo Chips friends before finishing packing. I still had a bit of time to kill before my flight home so I did a bit of shopping, I was able to walk OK round the streets near the hotel before heading off on the hotel for the flight home.
Wednesday 22nd - 2 days after
Finally got back home to the beautiful Shelley at 8.30am after a sleepless transatlantic flight. Went out for a 2 miler later in the morning, Shelley set off with me but I was running at Shelley's walking pace at the start! Back to reality after achieving both my aims in Boston. I had a good time and I ran a good time.
tony bell ageing student and marathon
cambridge university department of chemistry
Help, help, I'm being repressed!
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