Archive for April 14, 2012

Well, here we are, Beantown, Bahstin, The Hub, The City on the Hill, The Cradle of Liberty …. also the scene of the crime from 2010. Boston.

Much has been made about this year’s race as “the weather” has moved to the forefront of the stories surrounding the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.

Springtime in New England is a fickle beast under the best of circumstances – but this year with a front arriving from the West on what appears to be race day – the temperature estimates for Hopkinton, MA where the race starts, range from 70 degrees to the low 80’s.

Further along the course in Chestnut Hill where the top of Heartbreak Hill resides by the time the first wave of runners arrive – including yours truly shortly after Noon, the temperature could be 85+.

Basically the worst possible weather for a marathoner.

So instead of fixating on Weather.Com, Weatherunderground.com and all the rest – I’m just going to try to relax about the whole situation.

There is not a damn thing I can do to impact the weather, but what I can impact is my race plan, my rest and sleep pre-race and my level of anxiety.

So what’s the plan for race day?

If it is warm, we will back off pace.

If by some divine intervention and somebody out there thinks it is unfair for us to have trained for 24 weeks all in the hopes of running our best marathon on Monday and the weather changes …

Then we will go for it.

Simplicity at its finest.

There is not much a runner can do about a hot day. It’s not a matter of being tough or pushing through it. The fact of the matter is that when the body’s temperature increases it recruits blood (and oxygen) to the surface of the skin to help cool you down. It is an internal mechanism to regulate the body’s heat.

When this blood and oxygen is forced to the skin, it is taken away from the muscles.

The muscles cannot work as hard as they would normally with this decrease in blood and oxygen – and the body slows.

Period. Fact.

So, the question becomes how much should I slow my pace to make sure I can sustain it for 26.2 miles and not end up on the side of the road walking up Heartbreak Hill at mile 21.

Nobody thinks they are going to end up doing that on race day. Guess what? Hundreds if not thousands of runners will.

The general consensus is to slow your marathon goal time by 5:00 minutes for every 5 degrees above 65.

So if temperatures are between 70 and 75, we will be looking somewhere around 5-10 minutes slower than our potential ability on a cool day.

If it does indeed reach the mid 80’s, well, we will be darn fortunate to break 3:20. This has the potential to be the hottest and slowest Boston Marathon in 116 years. They are saying only the famous “run for the hoses” Boston in 1975 will have been hotter, when runners were “saved” by spectators turning their water hoses on the runners from their yards on the side of the course.

If conditions cool a bit and settle in the low 70’s we still could accomplish our goal and PR.

At 70, the race plan will be to err on the side of caution and run the first half of the race around 1:33:00 instead of the 1:29:30 we were hoping for.

This would allow for a 1:34:00 second half of the race and a 3:07:00 target. Still a PR, still a solid time at Boston – just not the 2:59:59 we had hoped to take a shot at.

If we feel strong late and the winds shift bringing cooling temperatures as we crest Heartbreak Hill, I want to have a little bit left in the tank to race to the finish. If we are too aggressive early – our race will be over by mile 16 and we will just be in survival mode to the finish.

Quite honestly though, at this point that is a best case scenario. I’m basically praying for a miracle.

After the race in 2010, I met Bill Rogers in his Running store and he graciously listened to me talk about my first experience running the famed course from Hopkinton to Boston. What at the time seemed like the toughest race of my life, may very well have been a blessing in disguise.

I know now exactly how much that course can bite you if you do not respect it and attack the course with a sound approach. If anything, being overly conservative on a hot day will be the way to go and not try to force a bad situation.

On the other hand, if all this fretting is for naught and by some crazy freak occurence, we wake up to 45 degree temperatures and a tail wind – I know exactly what we are going to do and that is kick assphalt.

Two years ago, Bill Rogers told me I ran strong at my first Boston Marathon. Just wait until I stop in and see him on Tuesday and tell him about this year’s race.

Hopefully he’ll tell me that I ran “Smart” at this year’s race. If I do that, the results are just going to have to be “good enough” for me to live with.

Seems pretty fitting that our last dance with the marathon goes this way.

Nobody said any of this was easy. I just wish it were a little more fair sometimes.

Perhaps this is payback for me saying I wasn’t going to run another one of these. Certainly not another Boston. It feels good to have my 2013 qualifying time in my back pocket already.

Maybe the third time will have to be the charm for me when it comes to the #$%@^% Boston Marathon.