April 19, 2006

Boston marathon

3:04:04. First mile was the slowest (7:30), followed by the two quickest miles (6:40 each) and then they all settled between 6:55 and 7:05, except for over the hills from 16-17 and 20-21 which were around 7:15 a mile.

As has been widely reported, that's some marathon course ... If one was to race the course it would indeed be tough since the large net decline in the first 16 miles exacerbates all the normal temptations to go out too quickly. Yet I think that since the first 16 miles are net downhill, and the last 10 are up and over, for little net elevation change, your best time on the Boston course would actually come from running positive splits, with the second half perhaps a minute or two slower. I wasn't racing, and was in fact holding back on the last downhills, and my legs are still a little beat up two days later.

It's also not an original observation to note that while you don't want to lose too much ground going up and over the hills, you also need to save yourself some for the last 5 miles as it undulates down. If you were going for a good time you could not just rely on gravity from the top of Heartbreak Hill. So, yeah, the Boston marathon is a more challenging course to run well on than say, Chicago or Christchurch, but you still drop 500 feet and [maybe] get a nice tailwind. A personal record is a personal record, but I wouldn't want to claim a Boston time as my best unless it was at least a couple of minutes quicker than an officially record quality course.

It's also fair to say that the course is historic, not scenic. The first 10 miles are not that pretty, and must have been even uglier back in the day when people lived in black and white if you can believe the photos. It gets pretty after Wellesley. And I am not talking about the screaming Wellesley girls. That's all they do, scream. Even though you read about how you can hear the Wellesley girls from 1/2 a mile away, you are still surprised when 1/2 a mile away that's what you hear. Screaming college girls. As I was running past the Wellesley girls I did a little math ...

How long are they screaming for? How do they keep it up? Do they sub out at some point? Here's the math. Elite women go through pretty quickly, probably in the space of about 10 minutes. Then you have the elite men starting around 1pm (1 hour approximately from the noon start), and then it's a stream of runners for at least 40 minutes with the new wave start (end of wave 1 is about 3:30 qualifiers, so assume some are running slower than 8 minutes/mile and you have 1:40 to get to Wellesley). So, that's 40 minutes of screaming. Then they get a break and the wave 2 runners come through just after 2:00pm and they must be coming through for at least another 40 minutes. How do they keep up all that screaming?

Another aspect of Boston that bears note, at least this year, is this: they put Peeps, yes, Peeps, in the finishers' bags of food. As far as I could see, both yellow and pink ones. This has been much discussed on that democracy of the common runner, letsrun. I thought it was kind of cute, given that it was not just Patriots' Day, but Easter Monday as well.

Peeps. No better note to conclude on.

Posted by robe0419 at April 19, 2006 03:33 PM | TrackBack
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