Thursday, March 29, 2007

Boston Marathon Race Strategy: and Stuff

On Sunday I did my last long run in preparation for the Boston Marathon. I ran 28 miles (48 K) and rested for two days afterwards. This week is relatively easy and then on Sunday I crank out my last hard work-out - 14 one-mile repeats - before starting my taper in earnest.

Jeff Galloway e-mailed me a race strategy for Boston. It makes sense, but I'm not sure it will allow me to set any new personal bests...


I wanted to give you a plan for Boston, with some observations. Because you lost some training during your sickness, I will suggest a conservative pace. This can pay off significantly at Boston because the last 6 miles are dowhill or flat.

Overall: Running BAA is the closest thing you can do to running in the Olympics. This may be the only time you run Boston, so please savor it. Enjoy the weekend of activities. If you pace yourself conservatively enough, you will enjoy the people you're running with, and get a big kick out of the crowds along the way.

Because of the crowds, it would help to be positioned as far ahead of your group as possible. When you get to the staging area, ask the officials where you will exit toward the start. Rest near this area. Read the section in my book about preparing for the wait at the start. Bring along an air mattress, some reading material. Something to eat as you wait. If it is cool, wear some "throw-away" clothing to keep you warm while in the staging area

The first mile is usually fast--because it is significantly downhill. Don't overstride. After the first mile you will be on a two lane road and it will be very crowded for about 8 miles or so. Don't fight this, just talk to people and go with the flow.

I recommend taking a 40 second walk break after 4 minutes of running. You'll have to be flexible because there are few sidewalks during the first 5 miles. Take a walk break when you can, at approximately this ratio. If you can do so without a lot of effort, shoot for 8:30 pace for the first 5 miles. If the crowd is too thick, don't fight it.

Between 5 and 8 miles the crowd should start to open up. if you are feeling good, you could pick up the pace to as fast ast 8:10 per mi until 20 miles. When in doubt, however, go slower. After 20, you can pick up the pace. The next 3 miles are mostly downhill. Keep your feet low to the ground with a light touch and a relatively short stride. Your run-walk-run ratio could go up to (run 6 min/walk 40 seconds) at this point.

During the last 3 miles, you can run as you wish. If the temperature is cool, you can have a strong finish, with crowd cheering--a wonderful day.

Remember for every 5 degrees above 60F, slow down by 30 sec a mile.

Have a good week, Jeff

First off, this is good advice. But... And it's a big but, at this pace I can't even see myself re-qualifying for Boston in Boston, because the average pace for a 3:30 marathon is 8:00 per mile, which I pulled off last year.

I received my Bib number in the mail yesterday for Boston and it was kind of depressing. Last year my Bib number was 10486 - you can look it up - and my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon was 3:29:39. And that was a race where I ran a very controlled pace to ensure that I achieved my goal of qualifying for Boston. At the time I didn't want to push my pace and risk blowing up. But at the time I seriously thought I had five or six minutes in reserve.

In Boston last year, I went out too fast and barely managed to re-qualify for Boston with a time of 3:30:38. But most people will tell you that coming within a minute of your personal best time in Boston is a pretty decent race. And I took a certain amount of pride in finishing well up in the pack. My Bib number this year for Boston is 11783 and I have been bumped from the first wave start to the second wave. For some reason this feels like a demotion.

I am telling myself that just being in Boston is reward enough, but I just feel old and slow...

I must also say that I have had two days of root canals and that is not adding to my rosy view of the world. I broke two teeth in a restaurant when the "boneless chicken breast" turned out to have a bone in it. One broken tooth exposed the nerve root, which developed an absess and... Simply put, my entire fucking head hurts like a bastard and I don't think my face could throb any more if I beat myself repeatedly with a sledge-hammer. Lately it seems like it's been one thing after another. This is also known as life.

So Scooter, I am definitely going to Boston - I had already paid for my registration, airfare, accomodations and car rental months in advance - but at this particular moment in time I can't say I am looking forward to it with any enthusiasm.

I hate whining and this Blog feels like a monumental whinge. I am tired, my head hurts and once I start to taper I am sure I will become more enthusiastic.

I tried a little shopping therapy yesterday and purchased the latest Polar RS800sd, but not even that is making mke feel any better. I even ponied up for all the Adidas Polar gear, including the training shoes that you insert the foot pod into to. Now normally this kind of endeavor would make me as giddy as an eight year old girl, but I seem mired in the muck like Oscar the Grouch.

At times like these, I wish I was still drinking!


Blogger M. Tate said...

Jeff seems like he is giving you cookie cutter advice for a first time Bostoner. So perhaps he is also wrong with his pace guidelines. Because of course we all know you are supposed to enjoy your first marathon, perhaps the same applies to Boston?

Anyways I hope your body starts to relax a bit. This is the time where you cruse and enjoy life. The hard part is over.

3:38:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Just stay near the front edge of the wave and use the hole between them as your space. Meantime, let's try to get together up there. I was struck by Galloway's "This may be the only time you run Boston, so please savor it," since we know that that's NOT your situation. I once fell asleep during root wife says I can sleep through anything! Be well, don't sweat the small stuff. Remember, you'll've run in the two most different Bostons ever - the first wave start and the first non-noon start! You're a part of history.

11:26:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Sorry too hear about your teeth. That sounds painful. Did they give you some kick-ass pain killers?

As for the race strategy, it seems pretty conservative for a great runner like you. Are you going to be patient enough to stick with it?

3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...


I am going to take what my heart rate gives me.

With a thirty minute window to get up to speed.

5:16:00 PM  

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