On race morning, dark clouds hung across the landscape and the temperature hovered around 50 degrees. There was significant wind. Surprisingly, these conditions were better than what the runners were expecting to find on the morning of the 111th running of the Boston Marathon.
With a Nor’Easter making its way up the East Coast, the prediction into race weekend held that Monday morning would find an average temperature of 38 in Beantown. The rain was supposed to be coming down in stinging cold sheets while super strong winds were supposed to be knocking over everything that wasn’t bolted down. The weather was also the SECOND big change people were anticipating for this year’s race. In the recent past, New Englanders enjoyed their culmination to Patriot’s weekend by heading to center city Boston for lunch. Where else could you eat lunch, watch some of the best distance runners pour their hearts out on your streets, and then head in to Fenway to watch the Sox hit ’em over the Green Monster? This finely timed extravaganza had the B.A.A. Boston Marathon starting at noon for many years. In the recent past, spectators would actually be languishing from temperatures too high and sunshine too brilliant, as names like Uta Pippig and Cosmas Ndeti left their mark hub of New England. But Boston’s addition to the marathon world majors dictated that the race start earlier, thus the runners took to the streets this year at 10 AM.
The weather gods seemed to smile on the race organizers, and the start went off without a hitch. The pace was conservative through the entire first half of the race, as considerable winds hampered the athletes’ progress. But many stated that it was not as bad as it appeared. From the television coverage on OLN, it looked like the sky was as a dark as night. And as the runners moved past the 16 mile mark, the conditions DID INDEED worsen. The temperature dropped precipitously. There was constant rain, but by no means was it a deluge of water. But as the temperature dropped, the winds also increased – and right into the runners faces too! When all was said and done, our three PRTC boys ran bravely and made the team proud, posting fantastic efforts! To put an exclamation point on the effort, Ross actually PR’d in these conditions! As a gauge, though Boston is not the fastest course in the world, it normally takes a sub 2:10 effort to win the race. This year’s winner (who will almost assuredly capture the first ever marathon majors crown and pocket an extra $500,000) ran 2:14. When on considers that, our boys’ times of 2:23.51, 2:25.48, and 2:32.47 are nothing short of amazing! For a more detailed account of what happened with our guys specifically, we decided it would be best to hear it straight from their mouths
The weather wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be, light rains, and for the first couple miles, not that much wind. We had a good group going early on with Tom and Sinko from Delaware. We grouped up with Matt, B.A.A. runner Terry Shea, an Irish guy, and a Marine. The wind had picked up by ten miles or so, and we were trying to rotate the lead, but nobody really wanted to push it. I was feeling okay, but a little tired until we got to Wellesley. I don’t think cheering usually makes a difference, but I felt way better after hearing that roar. It really got everyone smiling, if a little deafening in the right ear. The half split was 71:01, just a few seconds slower than I wanted but okay.
Around 16, the Irish guy had gotten a few steps on us, and when I took my turn leading, I suddenly was alone. I spent the next few miles trying to catch that guy and stay even through the hills. Surprisingly, I felt okay after the hills, although they slowed me a bit, as they combined with the steady light wind and occasional gusts. At 20 miles, I really thought I still had a shot to qualify – the best I’ve felt at that point in a marathon! But the wind picked up (or felt like it did), and after Heartbreak Hill (which is no Heart’s Lane, thankfully) I pushed out a few more good miles. But the wind was relentless. I focused on catching people – some of the girls were really hard to reel in [editor’s note: the elite women start BEFORE the men for equalizer bonus purposes], but with 2 miles to go, I knew the time had slipped away again. But all in all, it was the best marathon experience I’ve had! Boston and the B.A.A. put on a great race.
The race didn’t go as I had hoped, but I was glad that I stayed healthy in training, gave it a good try, and at least got to the damn finish line. Ross and I linked up early on and stayed toward the back of a pretty nice group of 10 or so guys for the first several miles. The group slowly became smaller, mostly from guys dropping back, and Ross spent some time at the front. The wind varied a lot. Sometimes it was relatively calm, other times it was fairly strong in our faces or from the right. But it was much better than what it might have been, given the forecasts.
I didn’t pay attention to how much of the race it rained, but it was enough to stay wet the whole time. I never got too hot wearing a hat, gloves, and long sleeves. Around 8 miles or so, our group, now smaller, pulled up to Matt, who was running with 2 or 3 other guys. We came through the half in 1:11:03. After that, the group broke up a bit more. Ross got out in front, and I ran with Matt and maybe a couple other guys. When we hit the hills just at 16 miles, I knew I would have to run my own pace. The first 2 of the 4 hills went okay, but on the 3rd hill, my legs began to shut down. I revised my goals several times, finally settling on a goal of not stopping. I managed to achieve that one, but I’m looking forward to running my next marathon better prepared.
Our runners received plenty of support in Boston. Among the spectators were Bill Frawley, Kerry Martinson, Clarisse Haxton, Bart Borghuis, and Summer O’Leary. Another area runner, Veena Reddy (Bart’s fiancee) also ran a tough race, gritting out a 2:48.18! This performance placed Veena 25th overall in the women’s race, and 17th in the U.S. women’s championships. Great race to all four runners!