Race Report: Boston’s Run to Remember

Race Date: 05/25/14

Time: 7:00 AM

My State of Mind:  I was in a pretty good mood heading into the race. I was well-prepared to leave the house when I got up, since I had packed and planned well the night before. Getting up, out the door, and into the parking lot all went off without a hitch, so I was very calm and relaxed.

Once the race started, I felt pretty good too – energetic, excited, positive!

What About the Pack?: I positioned myself at the start in the middle of the 8:30 pacers. Most people around me seemed to be very positive and upbeat. Most also seemed to be there for the enjoyment of the race (having fun). Because this was a Memorial Day race, many were dressed in red, white, and blue or camouflage, depending on their background. I was surrounded by individuals like myself as well as groups of 2-4. 

How Was the Weather?: It was 52 degrees when I got in the car to leave for the race. By gun time, it had climbed to about 56-58 degrees. There was no rain but there was a slight breeze off the harbor and the sky was overcast. The lack of direct sun combined with the mild temps made for pretty ideal running conditions for me, since I tend to overheat. 

Course Conditions: The course was flat overall, with a couple of climbs near the beginning and the end. The first 3-4 miles were very congested, making it tough to get a good foundation pace upfront. The roads were dry with only a puddle here and there.

Rate the Race:  I give the organizers a 4 (out of 5) for the set-up of the race, primarily because it was confusing to find food and (for some runners) medals at the end. At the finish line, racers were diverted immediately left and into the World Trade Center, which happened to be jam-packed when I arrived. We were like cattle being led to slaughter as we all just followed the disgusting, sweaty runner an inch in front of us. Without wall-to-wall runners in the hall, I can imagine how this might have seemed like a good way to organize things – water along the right-hand side, Gatorade along the left, medals in the back. The problem with this set-up – where’s the food?!? Immediately behind the guy handing out medals was the exit door. I looped back into the building, pushed through the new line of thirsty finishers waiting for their water, and asked where to find food. I was directed to push through the Gatorade line to find the food behind the Gatorade tables. When I managed to find the giant boxes of bagels and bananas, I overheard a number of runners nearby asking each other where to find the medals. It was confusing.

What I liked about the race: I really like the people around me running the race. I like the course – pretty, historic, and largely flat. The course is also along roads I know well, which helps my mental running game. I also really appreciated the proximity of the parking – adjacent to the start/finish line. I only had to walk about a quarter of a mile to get in my car after the race.

Race Objectives: I wanted to start out a bit slow and then build into running negative splits. I managed to keep my pace on the slow side at the start, but the crowded field meant my pace was far slower than I had anticipated. Similar to my experience in the Mohawk-Hudson Half Marathon (2013), it became herculean to try to make up the time I lost with the super slow beginning.

Race Outcome: I had hoped to run a PR at this race. I missed it by 1:04, which is frustrating because I could have approached the course in a more organized/efficient way in order to close such a small gap. I missed a PR because my mental muscle was not strong enough. Grrr.

Race Pros:

  • Plenty of porta-johns at the start, finish, and also along the course.
  • Plenty of water stops
  • Cool medal (looks kind of like a police badge)

 

Race Cons:

  • The temperature hovered near (below) 60 degrees with a threat of rain and the start line is next to the water – I’m sure I’m not the only person who would have liked a Mylar blanket – I was really cold on the way to my car. 
  • Even though the parking was super convenient, it cost $17. I also had to pay $17 to park the day before when I picked up my bib.

My Take Away:  

Honestly, I signed up for this one because it was in Boston. I love Boston and I never get to run there anymore since I moved to the burbs. As I trained though, I etched out my objectives a little more, and by the time I was standing at the start, I had a goal in mind: PR. I’d be a fool to set this goal for all or even many of my races – I’ve never been faster than average. On the other hand, I knew this would be a flat race, and as the day drew nearer, it was clear that we would not be running in blazing heat or sun – BIG BONUS for me. Also, I’ve never done this particular half-marathon, and since it’s one of the major races held in Boston each year, it is on the list of must-accomplish races for me. And finally, the race is put on by the Boston Police Department and the Boston Police Runners’ Club to honor Massachusetts Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty by celebrating their lives and giving back to the community. The proceeds from the race benefit community and kids’ programs of the Boston Police Runners’ Club.

This was, overall, a great event. The expo the day before had plenty to make it mildly entertaining for young kids during packet pickup, and since the race is in downtown Boston, there’s also plenty for your family/kids/support network to do when they aren’t cheering you on.

The course itself is good – tame hills at the beginning and at the end, and nothing but flats in between. The field was a bit crowded, particularly at the beginning. The drawback here is that it made it tough to control my pace during the first coupld of miles, as I had planned to. It was well-marked and had plenty of water stops and porta-johns along the way.

The race seemed well-organized too. The information provided via email ahead of the race was critical, and made everything much easier. For example, the course map was provided, allowing me to preview the hills, and race day parking details were also included. 

Lessons Learned:

Once I had determined (the night before the race) that today was the day I would go for my PR, I needed a strategy. I didn’t really have one other than my usual strategy of staying near the sides of the road, trying to run the tangents, and “just keep going”. I had also planned to run the first two miles at around a 10:00/mile pace, in order to save energy and run some faster negative splits.  This was not a well hashed-out plan. Obvi. 

This was my fourth half-marathon and it was my second-fastest. I feel good about the progress I’ve made in just a couple of years. Overall, this is a pretty flat course, so in retrospect, I feel like I should have been harder on myself during the race – I stopped too many times along the course. I feel like improved mental muscle could avoid that in the future. I stopped a few times to stretch my right hamstring/glute; I stopped once to attempt a porta-john trip, then bailed after standing in line for 30 seconds or so. I stopped once to skip a super slow song that had ended up on my playlist by mistake – in the moment it felt like I couldn’t run another step with that song in my ears. I should have just sucked it up on that one.

 

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