I have a sign in my bedroom.
"Some people race to see who's the fastest. I race to see who has the most guts." -Steve Prefontaine
I probably should say something profound about that, but I don't really have the energy. So instead, I'll explain what happened at Boston. Going into the race, I heard a lot of people talk about how everybody prepares for Boston's uphills, then gets killed by the downhills. To prepare for this, I did a lot of downhill intervals. Most of Boston's downhills are roughly a 2% grade, give or take a bit, and that was what I was doing around 1/3 of my intervals on. I knew exactly how fast I could go down a hill without having shot legs at the bottom. Also, I kept in mind that I turned into a full time runner a year ago. I ran a 2:20 in Chicago on about 6 months of being a runner instead of a skier. Now, I have a year under my belt. I'm about 10 lbs lighter and just about everything about my running fitness is much better than it was for Chicago.
When race day came, I felt prepared. It was hot, but I thought that since Colorado had a few weeks of 80s during March and April, I would be okay. I told myself that my race plan was to go out at the correct pace and run my own race. I understood that Boston is a big race and I could potentially go out far too fast, so I went out slower than I knew I could, just to make sure I didn't go out faster than I wanted to. Within a few miles, nobody else was running with me. I told myself that they would be back, but that I just had to keep up a good pace and jump in with them once they caught me. If nothing else, it would give me a few miles of my pace before I tried to run theirs. At the time, I thought that if anything I should be going a little faster, because going down a hill doesn't require a great amount of effort, especially if you are ready for it and know how to run the downhills. I was trying to not pay any attention to the fact that I was leading because it's a 26.2 mile race. I figured I could let the crowd pump me up during the last 6 miles.
As it turned out I probably wasn't as prepared for the heat as I thought I was. It started with stomach cramps. Badness steadily moved through my entire torso. Then it moved into my extremities. I tried to double down on both drinking and pouring water on myself, but my digestive system wasn't receptive. In the two days since the race, I have yet to actually feel hungry. I told myself that I was just going through a rough stretch, needed to run my own pace for a few miles, and then I'd get back into it. I've done enough mountain running that I felt confident on the uphills and downhills, which is most of the course after 15 miles.
As it turned out, the rough stretch lasted for roughly the last 20 miles. I think I started swerving a bit around mile 23, but I'm not sure. After the race as I rode the subway back to the hotel, I almost passed out. It wasn't my day, and I'm at peace with that. If I would have run conservatively, I may not have had as bad of a result, but it still wouldn't have been my day. I would rather have a really bad race while trying to run a great race than just a pretty bad race while trying to just have a pretty bad race and nothing worse.
Every great race I have ever had has been the result of taking big risks. That is the only way I know to have great races, and the day I am unwilling to risk everything in a race is the day I need to find something else to pour my heart and soul into. I try to run every race like it is going to be great, because if it turns out it wasn't my day, it wouldn't have been my day anyways. If I'm going to run aggressively, I have to accept that there will be some bad races, accept those races and try to learn from them.
I have working theories as to what went wrong. The heat definitely hurt me, but I'm not sure if that was all. Because of the heat, I made sure to drink a lot before and during the race. Another theory that I have is that my stomach problems were because I drank more than I was used to before and/or during the race. I will continue to think about what exactly went wrong, and intend to learn from it.
If I can figure out how, I'm going to disable comments on this post. Apparently there is a lot of drama on some message boards, and I'm trying to stay away from it. I find that if I don't read all the bad things people I've never met have to say about me, then I'm a happier person for it. I haven't read the message boards about my race, don't intend to, and don't really want a bunch of e-mails about the same type of comments on my blog.