Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A question about Boston

First of all, congrats to all the people that safely and happily finished Boston on Monday. I was watching MissZippy and Impossible is Nothing as well as some others with the online split tracker. That was fun! 

Those two slowed up from their cool-temp plans and did what they good  (had to work plenty hard I'm sure even so.)

The thing I don't get though is why anybody (that is not hoping to win something) would "race" under those conditions.

Being a marthon maniac I understand about running races for fun, without time pressure (and marathons are particularly challenging even without a pace goal) and this seems one of those times.

I mean, does a mountaineer waiting to climb Everest wait for the worst possible storm to make the climb as difficult and dangerous as possible and show others how they can persevere?  Not on purpose they don't.

I reserve my PR attempts for near optimal conditions. I don't see the point of hurting badly when you can't possibly do your best time. There are gray areas where the conditions aren't perfect but you might be strong enough to tough out a PR...and so you give it a shot...that I get. 

Frankly, if I qualified for Boston (which I hope to do when I'm in the age 60 group with a 3:55 in 2.5 years at CIM) I will consider actually running Boston  to be a really big "victory lap"..I would not try to PR there at all. There's too much fun to be had slowing down just a touch and seeing the sights and sounds, taking lots of pictures, etc.

What do y'all think about this? Am I a wuss?

Would you have tried to run as fast as possible for conditions on Monday, pushing as hard as possible? Or would you have just done whatever kept you reasonably  comfortable?


  1. Not sure what exactly I would have done if it was my FIRST Boston. I bet I would have gone as hard as I thought I could. There aren't guarantees about ever getting in again, and there's a certain prestige with re-qualifying at Boston itself.

    But...having done it one time...I would not want to waste my money on a vacation, so I would run- though as an easy run and just use it as training for another race later. I think a lot has to do with opportunity. For many of the boston runners, there is also an honor of saying you ran without missing a year.

    But going all out?- Not sure anyone did yesterday. All out, YES, but not anywhere near goal pace.

    1. You hit it on the head for me as well. I agree.

  2. I would certainly have run for fun only and would do so at many other races even in perfect weather. I will never race a first time race but rather go back for a fast one at a later stage.

  3. I schedule my marathons (when I do multiples) and approach them in a way that I figure that at least one will give me a PR opportunity. If it's not there beciase of weather conditions, minor injury, whatever, it becomes just a race for fun.

  4. It's heartbreaking, I'm sure, when these types of things happen. I once ran a marathon in Tucson with headwinds that would kill the average person trying to run 26 miles. I gave it my all, despite 30 mph headwinds for 17 straight miles...I spent way too much money and time to not give the race my best. I managed to PR, and it's my current 3:45 marathon PR, but I know I could have run about 10 minutes faster without that crazy wind. But that's part of this whole running gig: there are no guarantees on race day. So do what you can and that's all you can do. If I trained to run it hard and couldn't afford to do another a few weeks later, then I'd run it hard and just see where I landed. I guess if I got there and had an extra found bank account with more money than my current bank account, then I'd run the race easy and come home and regroup and find another race I could do in a few weeks, before I lost conditioning and had to start from scratch with a whole new training cycle.

    1. You make a good point...but I think fighting a headwind is less dangerous than running in 85+ degrees. You might have the strength to deal with one but pushing through the heat is not only dangerous but basically impossible without massive acclimation time.

  5. "Does a mountaineer waiting to climb Everest wait for the worst possible storm to make the climb as difficult and dangerous as possible and show others how they can persevere?" Well, the likely outcomes of climbing Mt. Everest and running a marathon in 80 - 89 degree heat are significantly different as are the probability of a very severe outcome happening. However, to stick with your analogy, a mountaineer or marathoner is not likely to actually wait and choose to perform in the worst possible conditions but they just may decide to go for it given the conditions that are handed them. If I were to choose the conditions under which I would attempt a PR then it would be about 50 and overcast on a windless day on a slightly downhill course. My PR goal was out the window the moment temps broke 70 but my desire to run Boston as hard as I could for as long as I could was still available to me so that's what I did. I don't mind breaking down during a race becuse even as unpleasant as it can be it serves me well when I'm doing my ultras. I've learned a great deal about what I can and cant do, how my body reacts and exactly what I need to do to rally. In the condition I was in by the end of Boston I could have easily rallied but a marathon is just too short. In a 100 miler I could have slowed and continued what I was doing through the heat of the day and by the time evening rolled around I'd be refreshed and running through the night.

    No, you aren't a wuss. I don't view our off beat lifestyle as Marathon Maniacs as a measure of toughness. For me at least it's more like being an explorer, an adventurer. "To boldly go where no man has gone before!" It makes me smile.

    I do run many races just to kick back and enjoy a nice supported training run, enjoy the scenery, the people, the totality of the experience but sometimes I also have a mischevous heart and I follow it to stupid places.

    As they say un ultrarunning magazine, "Run gently out there."

    1. Well, you are one tough dude S.Baboo.! Your perspective is very different from somebody 'only' runs marathons 8)

      I assume you did hear what happened to MM #2? He ended up in the hospital (he's going to be fine now).

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Oh, it's so hard to say what I would do...I agree with everyone here...but you never know what you will do until it actually happens to you!

    With my personality, I would probably have tried to do the best that I could possibly do for those extreme conditions...and that most likely would have been to just finish ;) to me it's about Mental toughness over physical toughness...but it seemed that on this day inparticular...the body forced the decisions. At that point, I would be their to hopefully enjoy the ride!

  7. I've seen some bloggers have 2 marathon categories for PRs, the first being Boston PRs, and then all the other marathon PRs. Most people try so hard to get there, and it is their 'A' race and they want to do well. Also, since I only run 1 to 3 marathons/year, I want to make each one of them count, especially if I'm paying big bucks for the experience. I understand your point, but if I was there, I would probably try to adjust my expectations and pace down several notches, but still try and finish as fast as I could with the conditions.


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