2014 Boston Marathon: Taking Back Monday
On a fittingly perfect New England day, 36,000 runners, along with the entire city of Boston, reclaimed what was taken from them a year ago: Marathon Monday. We routinely hear how sport has the power to unite and heal, and Monday’s Boston Marathon was the perfect testimonial as to why there is no equal to sport’s power. Being able to return to participate in such a meaningful sporting event this year was both an honor and a privilege.
As for my personal performance, I’d give myself a B+. I ran 10-seconds faster than in 2013 and it’s hard to be too discouraged about finishing 12th at the Boston Marathon, especially given the field was much deeper than last year when I placed 10th. It also marks my third consecutive top-13 finish at a major marathon (12th @ Boston 2014, 13th @ Chicago 2013, and 10th @ Boston 2013), but my inability to hold it together over the final 50-60 minutes of that race is why I can’t possibly give myself a better grade.
I did exactly what I set out to do: be aggressive and put myself in the race. My 5k time this year was almost :45 seconds faster than in 2013, and for nearly 20k, I ran with the main pack. My half marathon split of 1:05:21 was :40-seconds quicker than any of my previous marathons. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say the pace was a little quicker than what I was hoping for; in fact, I knew I was in trouble just before the hills. However, the alternative was to run the entire race solo and I considered the faster pace with company a better option. It’s one of those decisions that can only be made during the race. Did it cost me a faster finishing time? Probably. Would I do it again? Absolutely.
I learned way more about racing, and myself, by taking that risk. I finally have a good understanding of where my ‘red line’ is for the marathon and that’ll undoubtedly help me this fall. But the best part of taking that risk and running with the main pack was that I somehow found myself involved in some of the racing tactics that might have led to Meb building such a big lead.
When Meb and JB made their break, the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners were content to let them go, slowing the pace down to almost 5:20 at times. This allowed myself and Jason Hartmann, who had fallen off the pace at the time, to re-engage with the main pack. I can’t speak for Jason, but when we caught up to the group, my thought was to just keep maintaining my pace; I find it much easier to lock into a rhythm and run than to have the pace yo-yo, especially in a marathon, where energy conservation is at a premium. As Jason and I made our way to the front of the pack, Ryan Hall looked at us and told us to take it easy. He knew that if any of us [Americans] were to poke the hornet’s nest and infuse some pace at that point in the race, it would allow the top runners an easier opportunity to catch Meb and JB. So we played along with them and ran the pace they wanted to run. As a result, Meb was able to extend his lead to over 90-seconds. By the time the top guys decided to pursue the chase, it was too late. Even the best runners in the world couldn’t cover that kind of a gap. There is a more detailed account of what happened on Letsrun.com, if you are interested.
All the credit in the world goes to Meb, who went out there and won that race with his own aggressive and fearless running. It’s been 31 years since there was a US champion in Boston and it was more important than ever to have an American win this year’s race. And Meb delivered! Trust me when I say that the last few miles of that race were painful, but when I found out after the finish that Meb won, I could have done a damn cartwheel – and I can’t even do cartwheels! He’s the consummate professional in our sport. There’s a reason why, at age 38, he is still around. Clearly he’s talented, but Meb is also incredibly smart about how he takes care of his body, doing all the little things. If you have some time, check out the series ElliptiGO did with Meb leading into this year’s race. Meb Minutes was a weekly series of videos that gives an inside look into Meb’s preparation for Boston. It covers topics from his mental approach and training philosophy to workouts, cross-training and “the small things” that have made his career long and successful.
But I also left Boston with a ton of respect and admiration for Ryan Hall. He knew how important it was to have an American win this year. And he also realized, with how the race was playing out, that we could maybe help give Meb a shot. His selfless actions speak highly to the kind of person Ryan Hall is. He’s taken a lot of criticism these last two years, but our sport is much better with Ryan Hall out there racing.
I’m a little more beat up than usual, which is probably a result of over-extending myself so early in the race. Marathoners often joke about how if they could predict their finish time prior to the race, they would often run differently – as in, it would have been better to run 67 minutes at the half and not 65:21! As a result of the soreness, I’ll work back into running and workouts a little more cautiously. The focus for the next few months will then shift to some shorter races, before pacing the Eugene Marathon in July, and then ultimately finding a fall marathon.
I’ll be back in Ohio this week as a guest of the Capital City Half Marathon and I hope to see some familiar faces!
It’s been a great few years of racing for me and I truly appreciate all the support I get from everyone. I am beyond blessed to have the backing of so many great people and there’s no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many helping hands along the way.
Boston Marathon mile splits – presented by Garmin
Trackback from your site.