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"LIFE ISN't about waiting for the storm to pass...
It's about learning to dance in the rain." --unknown
3M Half Marathon 2010
  • Type: Race
  • Date: 04/19/10
  • Loc: Boston, MA
  • Dist: 26.2 mi
  • Time: 04:30:27
  • Avg/Max Pace: 10:19
  • Avg/Max HR: Did not wear monitor
  • Avg/Max Cadence: Did not wear cadence sensor
  • Weather: 61°F-56°F, 47%-45% humidity, Wind: NNW 8-17 mph, Gusts to 21 mph, clear to mostly cloudy
  • Fuel: 4 bottle fuel belt with EFS, 1 with PreRace
  • Route Player
  • Race Photo Album

A few weeks before the Boston Marathon I was still having hip pain at the site of the stress fracture that occurred in 2009. The X-ray showed a callus had formed over the fracture site, so the orthopedist thought it was healed. However, since pelvic stress fractures don't always show up on xrays, the doctor ordered an MRI. The MRI revealed "evidence of subacute stress fracture" with edema throughout the pelvic region.

The orthopedist told me that I could run Boston without doing any permanent damage but that it would prolong healing and that it would be really painful.

I had no idea how painful it would be! So I'm happy to have finished the marathon, but I'm embarrassed about my time.

I was able to maintain pace for he first 13 miles, but I noticed the pain level building. By mile 14, the pain was intense. I had given up on my goal of requalifying and was just aiming to maintain 9:30/mile.

By mile 18, my hip was in so much pain that it altered my gait and I was running with a limp.

Although I have never quit a race in my life, I actually considered stopping. It took every ounce of willpower to complete this race.

The last 8 miles were excruciating. I actually stopped at one of the medical tents. However, they were not allowed to give out any analgesics (no Tylenol, ibuprofen, or Aleve).

"Recent medical research has shown that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, etc. may be harmful to runners' kidney function if taken within 24 hours of running...These NSAIDs are thought to increase the possibility of hyponatremia while running long distances due to their decreasing blood flow to the kidneys and interfering with a hormone that helps the body retain salt."*1

Packet PickupIn spite of my poor performance and the extreme pain, I loved the Boston Marathon. The crowds were incredible. Out of all the marathons I have run, this was the first one where every single part of the course was lined with cheering crowds. The course was challenging and if I was running it healthy, I would have loved it. There is nothing like running Boston, which has so much history. We took several sightseeing photos as well. We were unable to obtain many photos along the course, but the Race Photo Album has some good photos of the expo, Athlete's Village, and Ryan Hall and Meb at the end of the race.

I booked the trip through Golden Adventures and that made things so easy. Golden Adventures provided an airline group discount, a great rate at a 4 star hotel near the finish, and private bus transport to the start.

We arrived in Boston on Saturday and visited the expo to pick up my packet and timing chip. They used disposable timing chips, which sure made things easy. Packet Pickup was really well organized. I didn't have more than one person in line in front of me. The expo was absolutely huge. There were all kinds of vendors there. I did not intend to purchase anything.

But I actually found something I could really use: a running hat with built-in lights. This was a great find. Now that I'm working full Athletes Villagetime and have quite a commute, I'm running in the dark in the mornings. This lighted hat is ideal. It is made of a thin breathable material, perfect for a running cap. Plus it came in all colors.

Since Boston is a point to point course (Hopkinton to Boston), runners are transported by bus to the start line starting at 6:00 AM. For wave 1 runners, the race doesn't start until 10 AM. For wave 2 runners (my wave), the race didn't start until 10:30 AM. Once you're transported to Athlete's Village, you wait there until 15 minutes prior to your start time. Then you check in your bag and walk around 1/2 mile to your starting corral.

The Golden Adventures private buses provided several conveniences. They lined up right outside our hotel, which kept us from having to navigate to the loading point of the marathon buses. The private buses also left the hotel at 7:30 AM, which meant less time waiting out in the cold at Athlete's Village in Hopkinton. The buses also had restrooms on board.

Athletes Village (photo above) had tents, Gatorade, Port-a-Potties, Water, and buses ready for bag handoff. Because of rain the previous 2 days, the ground at Athlete's Village was wet. Many runners had brought either little pop-up tents, sleeping bags, or towels/plastic to sit on while waiting. I didn't know to bring anything like that, so I just kept walking around to keep warm. That's one of my lessons learned: Bring a large trash bag or towel to sit on next time.

It was cold at the start (mainly because of the wind) that I didn't want to part with my warmup-clothing and bag until the last minute. With about 15 minutes to go, they suggested we drop off our bags and make the walk to the starting corrals from Athlete's Village. They had baggage drop down to a science. All the school buses had ranges of bib numbers in the windows. You basically handed your bag through the window to one of the people on board. The buses then all line up after the finish for you to pickup your bag.

I was one of the few people there with a 4 bottle fuel belt. Almost everyone else drank the Gatorade offered on the course. However, I knew that if I slowed down or stopped at a water station to drink, my hip area would swell up and I would limp so badly that I couldn't get started again. I had to keep moving, so I needed to carry all my fluid with me.

The official rule book said that ipods/mp3 players were allowed but discouraged. I had mine with me, but the cheering crowds were so loud throughout the course that I wish I had left it at home. I really couldn't hear the music without turning it up really loudly. Plus it felt rude to tune out all of the cheering crowds. I'll know next time to leave the ipod at home for this race. The cheering crowds and entertainment lining the course were much better than any music on my ipod.

I wish now that I had brought what many of the other runners wore to the start line: a throw away jacket or shirt. It's a zip/snap jacket you get somewhere like Goodwill for less than $5 and then you take it off and leave it at the start line when the race starts. The discarded clothes are donated to charity.

The hills at the end were tough, but I don't think they were any worse then the ones on Indian Creek in Trophy Club. The series of 4 ascending hills were from about miles 16-21, including Heartbreak Hill. The weather had started warming up by that time. But clouds provided some cover from the sun. The wind was mainly a cross wind and it helped to evaporate the sweat.

Cheering crowds and entertainment lined the course. It seemed like there was Gatorade/water available every mile or two. There were also medical tents every few miles.

Even though I didn't do well in this race, I intend to return some day and master this course. My training was limited the last 16 weeks by the pelvic stress fracture. I was trying to "baby the injury" in order to get to Boston. I used a Boston Marathon training plan (from the book Run Less, Run Faster ) consisting of 3 days of key runs (tempo, track work, and long run) with 2 days of aerobic cross training. Many of my long runs were done on soft surface trails. The increased running distances had really aggravated my hip and ever since the 3M Half Marathon at the end of January, my pelvis was experiencing a lot of inflammation. It apparently had not subsided any by the time I had the MRI in early April.

I now realize that the soft surface running, although better for my hip, probably made the marathon that much more difficult. My body was not used to the pounding of the pavement for that long of a distance. All but one of my 20+ mile runs were on a soft packed dirt/cinder trail.

One other item of interest is that the marathon is one of the few sports where the average athlete can compete in the same event as a professional. Can you imagine what the NFL would be like if the average sports fan was allowed on the field to play? Anyway, it was really cool that I was able to run the same Boston Marathon as Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi. Above are their photos at the end of the race. Meb's hip seemed to be bothering him in the latter miles of this race. He had a hip fracture a couple of years ago and it took over a year and a half of intensive therapy and hard work to recover. Pelvic stress fractures are notoriously slow healers. Mine took 18 months to heal!

Elite runners have a lot of pressure on them. Running is their profession and determines whether they continue to receive sponsorship money in addition to prize money. The rest of us are just out there trying to beat our own personal records. The professional runners are out there trying to make a living in a sport that doesn't pay near as well as some of the others. Running only really rewards the winners. For some of the team sports such as football and baseball, the players still get paid according to their contract whether they win or lose. In running, you need to be in the top 3 of the World Marathon Majors to make any money.

I just read at the end of October 2010 that Ryan is breaking from his long time coach and track club. He's taking a break first and then it will be interesting to see who he selects as his new coach and his new location for training. He had reached a plateau and needed something different - at least that was my perspective after reading the article.

I wonder if running loses some of its appeal if it turns into a job...I think pro-athlete Kara Goucher has the right idea: "I won't always compete, but I will always run." She said that while being interviewed prior to the Boston 2009 Marathon. She loves to run and you could tell that from the interview.

Excerpted from Philadelphia Distance Run Medical Information, Edward Jasper, MD FACEP, Lewis G. Maharam, MD, FACSM