My first Boston Marathon in 25 years and my 4th was an amazing experience. The crowds, the weather, the field, the support were orders of magnitude more spectacular than my last one back in 1986. I had a great time and enjoyed every minute of it. This said my "performance" was an utter disaster: 4:40, 1:10 slower than my qualifying time! I struggled mightily starting after 15 or so miles. I started in my assigned corral for a 3:29 while I was planning to run a bit sub 3:40 based on my training. Rookie mistakes of to fast an initial pace combined with something else?
I did a combination of no long runs (17 miles or more) since mid February and no longer runs in the Hoka One One Bondi B which I bought in mid February and wore at Boston. I did plenty of 10 milers at race pace. Hard to blame the shoes but they were definitely a factor as I am convinced that once my already minimal to begin with knee lift, forward body angle, and mid foot stride left me at about mile 13 I literally gradually slowed to a crawl as I was back on the soft heels of the Hoka. The few times I walked for water in the later stages I literally felt I was going to fall over backwards. This went on even after the race until I got out of the shoes.
The first 13 miles went almost exactly according to my plan for a 3:40. Probably a bit too fast the first 4 downhill miles with 3 of the miles just sub 8:00. Shoes and legs felt just great. Literally floating along. Low heart rate, smooth as can be, no road shock. After 10 miles things started to go south but I came through the half a bit faster than my goal pace for a 3:40. During mile 15 things started to really fall apart. This was the furthest I had run on "average" and certainly further than I had run in the Hoka One One Bondi B. My pace got slower and slower and there was nothing I could do about it. I was well fed, hydrated and with it all the way. No cramps.
Lesson: I started in my assigned corral based on my 3:29 qualifying time yet I was expecting to run 3:40. I should have started in the next slowest corral which is allowed. I started the race at a 3:29 pace which was to fast for my conditioning or goal. I should have moved back a corral as it is very difficult to run slower than the pack at Boston. This said I felt great and heart rate and legs were very much at ease the first miles.
Lesson: Obviously more long runs on hills and pavement. My longest run in February 19 miles was mostly on groomed snow trails in Park City.
Lesson: Should have run the Hoka Bondi B at near race pace on long runs or picked a different shoe. My longest pace run in them was 10 miles. Unlike "normal" shoes their low drop of 4mm heel to toe, and softness requires some real adaptation and strength especially when tired. I am not sure given my shuffling stride that I will ever have the strength to run them over 13 miles at race pace but I will try.
Lesson: More core work!
Lesson: Go with shoes you know. I ran the St. George Marathon this past fall in Saucony Kinvara also 4mm drop with no problems but St. George is is a sharply downhill course in the last half. Kinvara would have been a better choice for Boston given the firmer heel as might have the New Balance 890 with their more pronounced drop to get me forward in the middle miles. Well at least the readers of this blog now know the Hokas are a tricky beast!
I ran with the Nike+SportsWatch GPS and it was great. The screen was very easy to see in the bright sunlight even with sunglasses on. When considering that I did not run tangents all the time the 26.45 miles it showed indicated an accuracy of 99.05% which is excellent for GPS. I did not run the foot sensor in parallel.
I watched for auto lap mile splits and kept an eye on elapsed time as I went by course mile markers. Very useful while I was still actually running... It was overstating my distance a bit as when I approached mile markers I saw it mark laps 20-30 yards before the actual mile. After the first few miles it seemed to stay consistent at 20-30 yards. As things went far south I was unable to do much about pace so I really didn't watch splits. Likely as I got into Boston, and the buildings may have interfered with signal, it lost a bit of accuracy. I spoke to some Nike+SportsWatch specialists at the expo and will have more details in a next post.