Let me apologize as this is really long and way more info than you probably wanted... but I wrote up yesterday, so if you're are interested here's my recap of my first Boston Marathon experience.
My alarm went off at 5:15 am. I wanted to get up in plenty of time to make sure I had all my gear (even though I laid it out the night before) and to take a quick shower to loosen up. The family I was staying with was super nice, they drove me and my awesome friend Mariah (aka my moral support) to Boston Common at 6 am. By 6:20 I was loaded on the bus and en route to Hopkinton. I had a nice chat with the guy sitting next to me -- it was his third Boston, but the first he'd qualified for (he did the first two for charity).
We arrived at the Athlete's Village around 7:30 and like a good little marathoner, I hit the port-o-jons before the lines started. After that I had 2 1/2 hours to relax and digest my bagel with peanut butter. I'd hoped to meet up with a friend from the MCM, but she was on a later bus and with my cell phone about to die, I realized it wasn't to be. Checked my baggage around 9:00 and headed to the start line. It was awe-inspiring to be surrounded by so many great runners! Two fighter jets flew overhead to announce the start and we were off--sort of. It took several minutes to actually cross the start.
The First Half
First off, I used Greg Maclin's customized pace band for the race. I highly recommend him since his bands are customized to the terrain of the course. My goal time was 3:08:30 and I the band predicted a positive split of 42 seconds for the second half.
I had been warned by EVERYONE not to go out too fast---the first mile drops 130 or so feet and you can really kill your quads if you rush it---though the massive crowds keep you from exploding. I clocked Mile 1 at 7:30, 12 seconds faster than my goal pace for that mile. I lost one of the three gels I had pinned to my shorts at this point too! I tried to keep myself in check, but Mile 2 was also fast at 7:10. Turned out okay, though because Mile 3 was slow at 7:09. At this point I couldn't really believe that I was running this race. It was hard to take it all in because it was just so amazing! Mile 4, another downhill mile, took 6:56. I was getting a little nervous about my pacing so I did Mile 5 in 7:20 (9 seconds slow). Miles 6-10 were relatively flat withMile 6 my fastest of the first half at 6:53 and and the others at 7:05, 7:13, 7:07, and 7:13, right around my 7:11 goal average. Just after mile 7 we passed the famous Hansen Electrical Supply window where runners can "check themselves." Very cool! Of course there were tons of people lined up along the course, handing out oranges, water, and beer... Somewhere in these miles, I lost another gel so I was down to one until since. I shoved it in my arm-warmers so I wouldn't lose it! Mile 11 was almost dead on at 7:10 and at this point a girl told me that she was using me to pace her which I took as a complement. Mile 12 was downhill so things picked up to 7:00. After that, it was on to the famous Wellesley Scream Tunnel!!!! It was amazing seeing that many people out cheering us on! No, I did not kiss any of them---no time to stop---but it was still inspiring. Mile 13 was also almost dead on at 7:04. We continued through the town of Wellesley to tons more screaming spectators and I was 1:33:41 at the half and feeling good!
The Second Half
After the half, all I could think about were the infamous Newton Hills that start around the end of Mile 16. I did not want to run out of gas. I had the first gel and did my best to stay on pace. Mile 14 was slow at 7:09 but I had some time in the bank. Mile 15 was also 4 seconds slow at 7:15, but I refused to worry about that. Mile 16 was faster than the previous two, but still slow at 7:02 instead of 6:55! Now I was really starting to worry that I wouldn't meet my goal time. As the hills began my pace suffered. Miles 17-19 were slow at 7:26, 7:25, and 7:07. I was now getting gatorade at almost every stop, so that may have been part of it, but there was also some doubt creeping into my mind. I realized fighting that feeling was even more important that fighting the hills. Wouldn't you know it? I did Mile 20, the famous Heartbreak Hill, in 7:20, 9 seconds faster than my pace band time. It also helped that people were yelling "Go Dave!" (my name was on my arm) and "Go Georgetown" (I had my G-Town singlet on). Even so, Mile 21 was one of my slowest at 7:28. I knew I was going to finish but "just finishing" isn't really my style. What did I do? I dug down deep! Mile 22 I did in 6:58, 11 seconds faster than goal pace. Mile 23 in 7:11, 6 seconds faster! The area was far more urban by now and crowds were starting to swell here which just upped the excitement. Mile 24 was my fastest of the race at 6:52, 25 seconds faster than goal pace! From here on out you could see the famous Citgo sign and as I past it and Fenway with the hoards of cheering (and probably drunk) Red Soxs fans, I did Mile 25 in 7:07, 10 seconds fast. We passed a sign saying "1 mile to go" and as I looked at my watch I knew that no matter how slow I ran, I was going to run under 3:10 but I tried not to let up. I thought of all the great runners who had run this stretch before me running Mile 26 in 7:12. I really wanted to bring it home for the last 385 yards but I was feeling sluggish. After the first 200 or so meters (which felt like the longest 200 meters of my life) I found whatever I had left and sprinted (as much as a person can "sprint" after 26.1 miles) to the finish in 3:08:02! 28 seconds faster than my goal and a 1:53 PR! It was the greatest feeling of my life!
After a meeting up with my friend and my step-sister, eating a little and drinking a lot (of water, alcohol comes later) it was off to shower. On the train ride home I watched Run for Your Life, the Fred Lebow documentary to get myself psyched for New York in November. God, I love running!