Running on Tilt

Dealing with Boston

Hot marathon incoming

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It seemed like a belated April Fool’s Day joke when, at the beginning of the week, the long-range forecast for the Boston Marathon showed a high of 80 degrees. Great for spectators, terrible for runners. Things got better, then they got worse. showed a high of 63, which would be manageable for the long race, if not ideal. But then a day later accuweather showed a high of 84. Now all sources predict temps to hit the high 80s, which isn't even great for the spectators anymore.

The training is done, so now it's just mental prep. Time to summon the forces of denial.

First off, the forecast could be worse. A tailwind is projected. It won't be terribly humid.

It would be far more challenging to run Badwater.

A marathon is known for testing your limits. But then again, so does an enormous pile of dirty dishes, a stubborn infant, or dealing with Time Warner Cable.

I am determined to enjoy the race. If enjoying it is the goal, rather than, say, fixating on breaking three hours, I'll run a better time. How to enjoy it? Well, assuming beach weather, I’ll find a hat to protect me from the sun, or perhaps even a visor. There will be many opportunities to drink free water and Gatorade, and to pour water over my head. I’ll try to run at a pace that I think I can endure for 26 miles, being mindful that such a pace will feel slow at the start.

I'm four-for-four in medical tent visits after colder weather marathons, and I'm making it a goal NOT to visit the medical tent during or after this one, unless I really must, of course.

Before running the NYC Marathon in 2010, I shared Glen Redpath’s advice about not ruining your race in the first two miles. I followed his advice, letting runners speed ahead up and down the Varazzano Bridge, but I still started competing too early and was left with too little at the end. To enjoy this race I'll need to hold in the reins for longer.

From what I gather, the course has three distinct stages: the first 16 miles, which are favorable, the hills, which aren't, and the last five miles, which are favorable. For the first two parts I'll think about form and try to find a happy internal place. If my legs and faculties are intact after the first two parts, I’ll attempt to race the third part.

Our last CPTC workout for the Boston marathon was an 8-mile sustained run, with the middle four miles at half-marathon pace and the first and last two miles at marathon pace. When I first read the workout, I wondered why the last two miles would be at marathon pace. Downshifting to a slower pace at the end of a workout is contrary to the usual way we do these things. By the time I got to those last two miles, it made sense. The marathon cadence was slower, but I was gliding at a good clip and passing other runners who seemed to be putting in more effort. This is how I'd like it to feel over those last five miles of the race.

Given the conditions, it is a stretch to believe I will feel that way, but at any rate, it would be fun.