A week from today Brent, Alaina, Gisele and I will be on the plane flying to Boston. I feel so honored to be a part of this historic running event. The road to Boston hasn’t been easy. I’ve had one failed qualifying attempt and a qualification that didn’t lead to a spot. But what has been most challenging is the hours and hours of training. The ten mile pace runs after an exhausting day at work, waking up at 6AM for Saturday morning twenty milers, and squeezing yoga into my busy training and work schedule to build flexibility and strength. Despite my pre-race nerves I need to remember that the goal was always to get to Boston. This is the (long) victory lap. Of course I want to push myself and do my best, but showing up on race day has always been the priority. I get to be a part of this!
I’ve been asking for pacing advice from friends and course advice from Boston Marathon veterans. The #1 course advice I get is “You’re going to want to start fast. The fast downhill will kill your quads. You’ll crash on the Newton hills, and the final downhill portion is going to be incredibly painful. Start SLOW.” I’ve been warned over and over again about just how unique and difficult the course is. It got me thinking how Boston compares to San Diego, the course where I first ran a Boston qualifying time.
These elevation profiles look similar. Starting downhill, evening out, hills around mile 20 and a slight downhill to the finish line. San Diego’s twenty mile hills look much more intimidating, and I was able to escape the dreaded wall. What was my strategy? I fueled early and started slow. Despite the excitement I started with 8:20s, cranked it up a notch around mile fifteen, and went crazy for the last 10K. Passing runners on that awful mile twenty hill gave me more energy and pumped me up. It made me feel stronger and able to push through the final six miles. Comparing these courses gives me confidence. I’ve done this before, I can do it again.
The big question is at what pace?