“Life is just a place to spend time between races.” — George Sheehan, Running & Being: The Total Experience
I completed my third Boston Marathon in 2:48:32. This was just over a minute faster than my time in 2014. It was my eighth marathon PR, my fifth PR of the year, and my 12th PR since turning 50. It was my 61st marathon/ultra and coincidentally I came in 61st in my age group…
For “A” races, I typically develop a specific pace plan, especially if I’ve had prior experience with the course. The blue line below shows my plan for Boston 2015: it starts relatively slowly, then settles down to a 6:40 pace, with some allowance for the hills in Newton, and then ends at a steady pace.
My actual performance (shown by the red line) was a little different. I started out faster, based on the advice of Chris Solarz, who is now an 11-time Boston veteran and a very fast runner. He pointed out the first mile is a steep downhill, so why not take advantage of that?
I did this and saved about 30 seconds versus the plan. But I spent most of the race closer to a 6:45 pace (instead of 6:40) and fell a little further behind in the Newton Hills. Arriving at the finish line, I was about 90 seconds behind plan goal of 2:57.
While I did end up a little behind schedule, that may reflect the rain and some headwinds, or the fact I was just getting over a minor head cold. Also, this was my first time racing the marathon with zero calories. Last year, I took in about 120-140 calories during the race. I felt good this year and decided even if it cost me a little time, it was just as important to get the experience racing at high intensity without the supplemental sugar — the goal being to improve my capability to burn fat. (That capability would be very important for some upcoming adventures I had planned.)
Compared to 2014, I was really pleased with my performance. Not only did I start out faster, but I finished with a decent kick, running the final mile at 6:39 and the last 1/4 at 5:44, whereas last year I pushed really hard through the hills and then fell apart during the last few miles.
Even better, when comparing average heart rates in 2014 and 2015, I ran faster this year at a lower heart rate. Faster with less effort — that would be progress!
A final comment: The Boston Marathon is great fun because of the high-spirited locals and the chance to see running friends from all over. Here I am (in the back, wearing the black cap and blue shirt) surrounded by a bunch of super-fast runners, including Keila Merino, a woman who was undertaking a trans-continental run across the US a few months later, Chris Solarz (who holds multiple Guinness Records for extreme running events), and other people who are much faster than I.
New York, New York
Follow Kenneth Posner on his blog TheLongBrownPath.com