Mar 272011

Yesterday was the day of the big 21 mile long run from Hopkinton to Boston College in Boston.  The Boston Athletic Association assisted in organizing the police, water stops and the staggering of the start times so that everything would go smoothly.

All the charity teams met at Boston College at 7:00 and were bused to Hopkinton around 7:30.  There were a *lot* of buses and I heard from several people that there were over 500 charity runners registered to partitpate in this last and most important training run.   The mood on my bus seemed pretty low key, even though one of the coaches tried a couple of times to rev everyone up.  After a few half hearted cheers in response to “IS EVERYONE EXCITED!!!!” the coach settled back into his seat as the bus took off.   The bus ride took a long time, and considering a lot of it was spent on Route 90 west it started to sink in just how far we would be running today.

When we finally disembarked in Hopkinton it became evident that a miniture madhouse had descended on the tiny little town.  Not only were the official BAA charity teams there, but many, many other runners were congregating on the village green stretching and getting ready.  It seemed excruciatingly cold at a balmy 22 degrees.  Most of us were dressed correctly for when we are all warmed up with running, but the time spent standing around for a few minutes highlighted just how cold it was.

The coaches for the Childrens Hospital team started us on our active stretching routine and soon we were doing our sychronized dance on the village green as other runners looked on with amusement.

All of the sudden the stretching was over and ourg group was being motioned by the Hopinkton police to begin our run.  We streamed across the road accompanied by a choras of beep-beep-beeps as everyone started their GPS watches and heart monitors.

After my flameout 2 weeks ago at 16 miles I was determined to slow the pace down and see how things went.  I settled into a 10:15-10:30 pace and headed down the road.  This was my first time on this part of the course, so it was very nice to just take in the sights and enjoy the scenery.  At first a lot of the faster runners sped by me but after a time that became less and less as we all sort of spread out according to our pace.  By midway through the run I would be aware of someone coming up behind me and it would be 5 or ten minutes before they caught up and passed me.  I will be curious if the actual race is similar.

There were water stops every 2-3 miles staffed by volunteers.  At every stop there was water, gatorade, candy and some porta-potties.  I found there was a surprising number of people all along the route sitting in the cold cheering on the runners.  One thing that is different in this run versus the actual race day is that you have to stop and drink.  You can’t take the drink and walk and then discard the cup.  So that does eat into your time considerably.  I think it is hard to easily factor out the time, but I would say that walking at a 16 min/mile versus standing still at 10+ stops probably costs you 5-10 minutes.

After 2 miles into the course we entered Ashland and around mile 4 we entered Framingham.  Framingham was pretty big and industrial and seemed a jarring difference from the rual feel of Ashland.  They had to use police to help us navigate through the town traffic lights.  After about 8 miles we entered Natick.  I found that every once in a while I would slowly catch up and pass some runners who were struggling and that occasionally some extremly fast  runner would blaze by me.  I finished the first 10 miles in 1:47 and was midway between Natick and Wellesely.  By mile 13 I was in Wellesley proper descending sharply though the town streets.  Here they did not employ police to make things smoother and there was quite a bit of waiting for traffic lights and dodging cars.

I was also starting to struggle a bit and debated whether I should start adding walk breaks in.  I thought I would just push it but by mile 14 I was starting to feel very fatigued so I started walking briefly every 4 minutes.  It was really too little too late and pretty soon my pace was slipping to 11:30 and dipping into the 12’s.  By the time I hit heartbreak hill at mile 16 I was really struggling and had developed a very painful cramp under my right rib. I had to stop and rub it vigorously for a few minutes before I could continue.  When I saw that I was jogging up the hills at the same pace that people were walking I decided to join them.  I was pretty disppointed in myself, but this was not the “wall” I hit on the 19 mile run, this was more manageable.  Over the next 5 miles I averaged 13:20 min/mile walking the hills and jogging the flats.  I finished at mile 21 in 3 hours 47 minutes feeling pretty completely exhausted.

So I have to figure out how I want to approach the marathon in 3 weeks.  I feel that if I don’t change anything I could complete that additional 5 miles even though it would be pretty painful and probably extremly slow pace.  I do think the safest bet would be to go back to how I ran the majority of my long runs and walk 1 minute out of every 8 or so.  That might really help with leaving some gas in the tank for those last 5 miles.

I really enjoy those early miles and look forward to the day when I can run the entire distance without stopping.  Maybe in the next marathon!

 Posted by at 7:30 pm

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