Sunday, April 27, 2008

Boston Marathon 2008 - The Bloody Bib

I made it all the way through the Boston Marathon. My finish time (3:30:53) and pace (8:03) was on the slow end of the range I was hoping for, but I finished it, never stopped running, and made it to the end only slightly bloodied and moderately battered.

The weather was quite good. The clouds seemed to clear away almost exactly as we got started, and the temperatures climbed into the high 50s within a short while. I actually found it to be a little too hot -- I found myself grabbing cups of water and pouring them over my head by mile 10, which is not something I expected. While high 50s and sunny isn't exactly hot weather, it's hot running weather by my standards (apparently).

Of the four marathons I've now completed, this was the most draining and difficult, but I can't blame the weather. I started out at a slow pace, hoping I would develop confidence about my shin splints, post-flu weakness, and most of all, work past the calf cramping trouble I had in the Portland marathon last fall. While I did successfully avoid shin splints and cramps, by mile 18 or so, any confidence I might have gained was lost in the overall lack of energy I was feeling. Those last eight miles or so were a very difficult slog, and I could have sworn they tucked a couple of extra miles into the space between mile marker 25 and the finish line.

The trouble wasn't the course, although heartbreak hill (and the two or three hills leading up to it) certainly did catch my attention. Considered solely as a 26.2 mile course, this wasn't difficult.

My trouble was motivation. As I waited for the race to begin, I was feeling more dread than anything else. I couldn't fix my mind on any kind of competitive goal; I couldn't make myself really, truly care about my finish time; I had no "eye of the tiger" to bring to the situation. I just wanted to get going and get finished, and my overall slowness reflected that.

I was happy to see that I had developed enough nipple chafing to have bled all over my shirt, all the way through to my bib. My Boston marathon bib has real, honest-to-goodness marathon blood (and sweat and Gatorade) on it! It's so much the better keepsake for that.

From start to finish, the crowd support was amazing -- people lined the entire course and cheered in numbers. The highlight was passing by the campus of Wellesley College near the mid-point, where a good 100 to 200 yards was taken up by a succession of raucusly cheering co-eds, holding out their hands for a "high five" and even holding "kiss me" signs. That was truly inspiring and fun. (Update: This was the famous "Wellesley Scream Tunnel"). It was also fun to "high five" dozens of kids along the way, from the first mile all the way into downtown Boston. The people of the area get behind this event to a degree I did not expect. I kept waiting to see the crowds thin out but they only got heavier and more spirited as we reached Boston.

My time did not qualify me for next year's Boston Marathon, and I don't think I'd sign up even if it had, nor do I have any further marathons on my calendar. For now, I am content to stick to the shorter running events. Running the Boston Marathon was a fantastic experience that I am glad to be looking back on, one that I'll treasure more and more as the more painful and harder moments recede from memory.

My full Boston Marathon coverage:
One Tip
Bloody Bib


mikesdak said...

oooo....nipple chafing and college co-eds? You are a wild man!

Incidentally, you do realize that Wellesley is Hillary Clinton's alma mater.....

Laura said...

Dale, congratulations on finishing the Boston Marathon and welcome back. You were wicked missed.