Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Boston Marathon: the big day has come !!!!
So I was very "trepidant" to see if Boston would have confirmed the good shape that I was feeling in training and in the latest races.
Already many have written about the foul weather, wind, etc, etc ,etc.
2 considerations of mine:
- the weather improved so dramatically in the last minutes before the race and during the race that actually the "slower" runners enjoyed much better weather than the faster ones. It was amazing: we arrived at the village in such an heavy rain and rain and suddenly after 900am the rain tapered off and also the wind subsided.
- many runners got "psyched" by the weather and probably lost motivation and concentration. It is not a blame, but really we got so many crazy news before the race that it was difficult to maintain serenity about racing 100% anyway. Personally on Sunday I felt very depressed, because it looked like running a reasonable race was almost impossible. At the starting line I put fears aside and made the consideration that at 38 years old, It could have been my last chance to run a fast Boston Marathon, especially because my preparation went very smooth, so difficult to be so lucky in the future. I decided then to run anyway at the limit and see what would have happened in the final Miles.

I wore a HRM and it gave me a real good help. With all the ups and down in the first 15 Miles, it is not easy to maintain a steady effort and do not burn out in the small uphill rebounds (do not believe those who say that the first miles are totally downhill: there are plenty of ondulations where my HR was dangerously rising).
I kept myself in the range of 165 +/-4 for the first 15/16 Mile (my maxHR is 197) and took care of : a) drafting as much as possible (hehe...) to avoid the wind and spending mental energy for pacing
b) follow the hydration plan (drink every mile, alternating Gatorade and water) and got my Carbo Gels at Mile 10 and then Mile 14 as planned
c) dry out my gloves and hat with a good squeeze after any of the several downpours. I was wearing a double layer of jerseys and was really a good move because I did not feel the chilling wind in the final miles.

I passed the 10k in 37'xx and the HM in 1h19'50" ...definitely much faster than any of my race plans, but the HRM was telling me that the effort was reasonable anyway.

The hills:
there is a real hype surrounding those hills..... I purposely slowed down the pace even more than necessary because I was already in good advance on my target pace and you can simply kill yourself by just running 5 seconds/mile too fast on a hill. The time lost can be easily recovered in the transition and the downhill section ...
Th wind was blowing SSE, so as soon as I turned into Commonwealth Av, it was right on the face and gave us a hard time on all the hills and the final 5 Miles ...
On the hills I was pushing around 175bpm, up to 180 . I tried to avoid going over 180 because I know that I start a lot a Lactic Acid build-up over that.

When the hills are over, legs still ok, but the wind was really blowing right in the face now.
In the last 6 Miles there were many "casualties": I passed at least 30 runners. I noticed that most of them were wearing only a singlet. My feeling is that the chilly wind was draining too many energies for them.
My last miles: I had still good legs and I knew to be in ahead of any of my race targets. Basically the best possible conditions for running the last miles of a marathon. You feel really great and taste the reward for the months of hard training.

I finished in 2h42' ... so good ... I cut my last marathon time by 10 minutes.
at 38 years old, I go much faster of when I was in my 20s, only because of smarter training !!!

If I can give to this post some kind of usefulness also for other readers, I can summarize what I learnt from the past 4 months of preparation plus the race:

- the philosophy of 2 big Workouts works very well with my level of "good amateur" runner. Many running programs are only reduced version of programs for elite runners. Others are really too bland and would only bring you to run 26 Mile, not to race 26 Mile

- the big Workout of the long run WITH MP or LT intervals can really make the difference on how you keep the pace later in the race

- I avoided completely any anaerobic workout and was really great: In the past I felt like a dead for many days after some heavy workout and I did not perform in races because I felt like having "no batteries".

- I personally view the HRM as a really useful training tool: wearing it during training gives you a lot of information on how you are progressing and keep your training effort in the target, independently of external factor such as temperature or weather or hills. For the race day, It paced my effort in a difficult course such as Boston until the moment when you have to simply "give it all"

- in the past I have not too much in love with carbo gels, recovery drinks, etc. I must reconsider myself after following a different approach for Boston.
I took 4 carbo gels during the race and I was still full of fuel also in the last miles. For Long Training Runs, both the performances during the run and the recovery improved greatly

- What would I do different for the next marathon (if any) ?? do more Tempo Runs and hills repeat.

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