Boston 2017 recap


Qualified last year with a 3:11 time, but after that did mostly IM type of training with no real significant running volume. Started to get a bit more focused in the beginning of 2017, but for most part the volume was quite low – about 12 weeks at 43 miles per week average with a lot of bike workouts mixed in as I was also training for the Santa Rosa 70.3. As the result, my bike fitness got way better than what it normally is in Spring, but my run fitness was probably a bit less than optimal. Additionally, I started having some hip and hamstring tightness on the left side, and had a really hard time stretching it out. For the last 2 weeks before Boston I tapered off the run volume and replaced it with the swim volume feeling that it is the right move.

Day 1.

Got to Boston at around 4pm. Got super duper sore just sitting on the airplane. Dropped my stuff off at the hotel, hopped on the T and got to Hynes Center at around 5:30pm. It was crazy packed, the streets, the entrance, the expo – very busy as expected.

I’ve noticed that it was really really warm and humid that day. Not a good sign. Got my registration and my packet and shot right out of the building. Grabbed some groceries and then stopped by PF Chang’s in Cambridge for the fried rice combo.

Back in the hotel by 8pm and asleep by 10pm.

Day 2.

Woke up, ate a small breakfast with a sandwich and coffee. Next was my 2 miler shakeout run. Holy crap, was it hot and humid and windy at the same time! The temps were in the mid 80s and it felt sort of tropical. The first mile into the wind was pretty horribad, and the return was a bit better but not very encouraging. Was astonished to see a number of French speaking runners just powering into this muck the day before the race – and going HARD!
Got back to the hotel, showered, walked around Cambridge - which was almost completely shut down because of Easter Sunday. Took the train to Boylston to meet up with the member of my tri team also in Boston for the race. Ended up at a pretty generic Irish pub, had a sandwich and french fries. Back to the hotel at 4pm, lazed around for a bit. Got my gear set up for tomorrow, had plenty of fluids, and went to bed at 10pm. Did not sleep well at all.

Day 3.

Woke up at 5:30am, ate the usual PB and Banana sandwich with coffee. On the T by 6:30am. Dropped off my gear bag and headed for the bus with a bottle of Gatorade and 3 small Clif bars. Shared a bus seat with a gent from Oregon named Norm. Got to the athlete village 8am. Could have slept for another hour easily…
Hung around the tented area, ate a little, drank a little, chatted with a few runners. In the corral by 10:20am after a surprisingly long walk through the village – I was assigned to the Wave 2/Corral 1. It already felt warm – not as bad as the day before, but the sunshine was direct and definitely felt a few degrees warmer than the real temps. Humidity was also quite high. We kicked off right on time at 10:25am. My plan was to stick with the 7:14 min/mile pace for as long as I could until Newton, give up a couple of minutes there and then make it up from mile 23.
The first 2 miles were mostly downhill with one or 2 minor climbs. The crowd of the runners was very thick and we all moved in unison with very little space between the runners. The crowds were loud and insanely supportive. The entire stretch had almost no empty spaces where no one would be cheering. Held the pace quite well for the first 8 miles and was ahead of the schedule by 30 seconds. Decided to reward myself with a quick pee break. Started running again and was about 15 seconds behind at the next mile marker.
From the nutrition and hydration perspective, the strategy was simple. A cup of Gatorade every drink station unless I am taking a gel that mile, and small sip of water, with the remaining cup and a half of water dumped on the head, back and shoulders. I would eat a Clif gel every 6 miles and in case of cramps, I had salt tabs.
Started to feel a bit bad at mile 10 – the constant rollers were beginning to grind me down. I would lose 5-10 seconds on every uphill (and they were coming in all the time) and would not get all of them back on the downhill. Was trying not to get frustrated and kept my emotions in check. The mind was in a good place, and the tempo felt very very manageable. By mile 15 was about 68 seconds behind, and decided to take another pee break before we would get to the Newton hills.
I actually went through the major inclines without feeling fatigued or even noticing them very much. But the downhills were my undoing and I would give up 30-40 seconds per major hill. By mile 23 I accumulated about 5 minutes of debt and the legs were starting to give up the ghost a bit. I knew that I had enough in me to finish up at the pace about 30 seconds slower than the target, and I sort of let it go and started paying way more attention to the crowds and a few attractive female runners near me than to my watch. Lots of people were walking by then with cramps and heat exhaustion clearly visible. I had to get paramedics to check out a runner who was running figure 8’s in the lane next to me. I basically floated around for 20 minutes or so and once we turned to Boylston Street, I picked up the pace a bit to just finish strong. 3:16:54 was the finish time, enough to qualify me for 2018 if I want to go next year. Garmin file is here.
Walked to the gear tent, got my bag, changed, rode the T back to Cambridge, and hobbled over to the hotel room with a few other fellow crazy people from all over the world. Ate, showered, stretched and hopped back on the T for a dinner with Kevin and Carrie who wanted to celebrate. Lots of good food, probably more wine and desert than necessary – good times.

Day 4
Woke up, stretched a bit more, ate, Ubered to the airport – and off to the Big Apple!


  1. Boston requires a significant investment in training focused on running the rollers and downhills efficiently and fast.
  2. The weather can be a huge factor. In Boston it is likely to be all over the place and can change significantly intra day.
  3. A late starting marathon can throw your body a curve ball. It sure did throw mine off.
  4. In Boston pace and hydration can be the difference between a great run and a walk for the last few miles. Think through your strategy and stick with it. If you are feeling good after the Heartbreak hill, make it a race.

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