Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Run A Perfect Boston Marathon

I asked my friend Ben to contribute to the ole' blog when his wife told me he felt he ran his perfect race last week in Boston.  Ben is a 2:37 marathoner, an ultra marathoner, a doctor, and father to five kids.  Here are his thoughts on Boston, along with his training plans and tips for successful racing -- but you'll have to stay tuned for those tomorrow.  For now, read on about how to finish Boston with pep in your step!

*  Side Note:  a 2:48 marathon = 6:25 mile pace.  

At Boston, I really tried to discipline myself to follow the recommendations you always hear for all races, but that everyone says especially apply to Boston.  That is, to not go out too fast and to back off until after the Newton Hills.  The "racing" doesn't start until mile 21.  

For me, I knew I could run the first half at 6min/mile pace.  I'd done it before at other races that are more forgiving at the end (St. George).  But I knew that when I ran Boston before, four years earlier (3:02), I totally faded at the end and didn't want that to happen again.  So my plan was to run 6:25 average pace over the first half which would put me at 1:25.  Then, I'd keep the same effort through the next 8 miles, which included 4-5 miles of the famed Newton Hills, culminating in Heartbreak Hill.  Finally, I'd see how I felt for the last 5 miles of downhill-flat, potentially fast terrain.  If I could come in under 2:50, that would be an awesome day.

Weather on race day was about as perfect as you could get.  Temps in the high 40s at the start, high 50s at the finish.  Nice consistent tailwind the entire way.  For this race, I decided to go without an MP3 player because I really wanted to get the full Boston experience, including all the sounds.  

It was interesting that over the first 6 miles, probably 500 runners slowly passed me.  My splits for those miles were: 6:20, 6:19, 6:19, 6:20, 6:30, and 6:24.  I felt I was right on pace and totally relaxed (maybe 80% of maximum effort).  During the next 10 miles, I felt like I kept a constant effort, but I noticed no one was passing me anymore.  Still feeling pretty good.  My splits for those miles were: 6:21, 6:31, 6:31, 6:31, 6:34, 6:28, 6:31, 6:30, 6:33, and 6:22.  

I think by the time we got to the hills I still had enough energy that I could move up them pretty quickly while still remaining pretty relaxed.  Splits for miles 17-21: 6:44, 6:46, 6:33, 6:44, and 6:51.  Then, the payoff for being disciplined in my pacing earlier in the race began.  As soon as we started going downhill and as soon as I allowed myself to start "racing" I realized I'd finish strong.  There was more in the tank than I realized.  I'm sure I passed 500 runners in the last 5 miles.  Splits for those miles were:  6:06, 5:52, 5:52, 5:59, 6:01, and 5:55 (last .2 miles).

The morning of the race I ate a waffle, oatmeal, banana, and chocolate milk (?700cal) 4 hours before the race.  I had more chocolate milk and a cliff bar and another banana 1 hour before the race.  I ate one powergel 10 minutes before the race.  I ate one powergel every 30 min for the first 1:30 of the race and then no other carbs until the finish.  I drank water at all aid stations.  No gatorade.  I didn't walk through any aid stations.  Kept my head wet and cool with water at each aid station.

Ben crossed the finish line at Boston in 2:48.  Nice work, compadre!

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