In this Boston Marathon report, cofounder Matt shares his experience running the 2016 event, including why it is so easy to start too fast.
Race: Boston Marathon
Runner: Matt U
Location: Boston, MA
Results – 265th place, 2:45.13
3 Bests – what aspects of the Boston Marathon did you like the most?
- The energy. So much excitement and energy on the course, from the runners, the volunteers, and the spectators. It is a true running spectacle.
- Well organized. Everything was smooth and easy, except my actual race!
- The course is not a difficult course and it’s possible to run fast on it (I didn’t do that, but it’s possible!)
Not so much – What aspects of the Boston Marathon didn’t do it for you?
- Weather wasn’t awesome. With a point to point course, if the wind is wrong, it’s wrong the entire time. The headwind wasn’t horrible, but it was there the entire way. It was also in the 70s which made for more challenging racing conditions. These things aren’t under anyone’s control but for this year in particular, this was the only downside.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about the Boston Marathon?
- Not sure if it’s weird, but with all the security present, and the recent history of the bombing at this race, I did find myself thinking about safety out there. I wasn’t inhibited or worried for any particular reason, but it was a unique experience. As I was suffering in the latter stages of the race, I thought about only making it through safely and that my family made it through safely – thoughts get a little wonky when suffering like I was, and this kind of thinking is not my norm, but in this case, I actually had thoughts about safety which is a new one for me.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
- I still finished decently despite making poor race decisions early and having to hang on. First, I went out too fast. I had a target heart rate range I wanted to be in and within the first three minutes I was much higher than the target. Even though I tried to get it back in check, that was only for a brief moment. I eventually stopped checking heart rate, thinking that the day was special and that I didn’t need to worry about it. It came back to bite me shortly after the halfway point. I was able to keep a decent pace until hitting the hills after 17. The hills with dying legs were a killer and my pace slowed substantially. I was able to keep running and keep a respectable pace though. It was one of my first marathons in a long time where I was merely thinking about ending the misery. I was hanging on for dear life and am simply glad to have finished without having to have suffered longer!
- Dave was able to get us a place to stay near the start line prior to the race with a charity group. They had an entire house with food and drinks so we could wait inside for the 2+ hours prior to the start. I’ve stayed in the athlete village before and it’s not bad, but this time around, it was nice to be able to chill out in a house, with multiple bathrooms.
Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the Boston Marathon to help the next runner
- As best you can, don’t get too caught up in the hype early and stick to your race plan. Everyone always says not to go out too fast. It’s so easy to go out too fast! I’ve done it twice now!
Aesthetics – is the Boston Marathon a pretty course?
- It’s not pretty as mountains or oceans can be pretty, but for a city marathon, the scenery was good. More suburban early, finishing with the big city. People lined nearly the entire course so if they’re part of the aesthetics, than it’s one of the prettiest races out there.
Difficulty – is the Boston Marathon a tough course?
- Depends. If you’re a flat-lander, this is a tough course. If you’re dying in the second half, it’s a tough course. If you’re moderately used to hills and you’re racing smartly, the course isn’t that tough.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
- One of the best organized races out there.
Competition – is there a strong field?
- It’s in the World Marathon Majors series. It brings out the best. Plus, you have to qualify for this race which shifts the entire bell curve to the faster side of things.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
- You have to qualify (or do a charity fundraiser). Registration is in mid-September and it goes in order based on qualifying times. You have to be on it to get a spot and you have to get the qualifying time before that! It’s a straightforward process, but it requires fast running and timely registering.
Review the Boston Marathon Aid Stations
- Tons of them. They were nearly every mile and there were cups on both sides of the road. There was enough to get multiple cups. This was particularly helpful in this year’s race as I could take cups and dump cold water over my head and body.
Weather and typical race conditions
- Spring in Boston. Could be cold, could be hot. There could be a headwind or a tailwind. It could be perfect or storming. Be ready for anything.
Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
- If it’s cold, having gear that you can ditch at the start is important, and there are no drop bags. There is a lot of waiting around before the start of the race and if you’re not prepared, it could be a tough start if you’re shivering and cold.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends?
- Julie had Paavo with her so they weren’t trying to get around. My guess is that spectators could reasonably get to 3 or 4 spots along the course depending on how they were getting around. Julie was able to be at the halfway point and then at the finish, using the T to get downtown.
How are the awards?
- Big $ if you’re a big shot. For the rest, there is a finisher’s medal.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give the Boston Marathon and do you recommend that others run it?
- Run this race if you have the opportunity. It’s a unique life experience and being part of such a big, historic event feels special. I encourage everyone to try it once if they can get in.