boston runner

a cyclist who swears he'll someday run boston in under 3 hours.

BAA Half-Marathon – 13.1 miles that changed everything

Ten years ago I watched the Boston Marathon for the first time and knew I had to try and run it some day. Now, after having run the last four Bostons, I understand it’s an experience words can hardly describe. Large crowds have always inspired me to race harder but there’s something greater at Boston. Running amongst 20,000 elite athletes who have trained so hard to achieve a Boston-qualifying time… the wave of energy pushes, pulls and empowers you. And then the charity runners who have trained just as much (or more) while raising millions of dollars for good causes – they’re the icing on the cake that is the Boston Marathon.

Since I began running 4 years ago, I’ve joked with friends that I’ll never run any marathon other than Boston (and perhaps Chicago?) And beyond running Boston, I haven’t aspired to race anything longer than the local Charles River 4-milers. I am a sprinter. Whether on the bike or in sneakers, ‘long distance” is simply not pour moi. Hell, I haven’t even felt comfortable saying I’m a runner. But this past weekend, everything changed. Apart from those 26.2 miles on Patriot’s Day, the BAA Half-Marathon was the most fun I’ve ever had running.

Fresh off a foot injury, I wasn’t sure what to expect at this race but knew I needed my A-game to beat running pals Barry Sussman and Beth Coughlin, with whom I’d been talking smack for months. My expectation was sub 1:30 and my “hell yeah” goal was sub 1:26. Race day strategy was to run ~6:45 pace w/ BAA teammate and local phenom Renee Knapp, while hopefully keeping Beth and Barry within striking distance.

Race day: the first 9 miles were comfortable, despite our faster 6:25ish pace. Beth was ahead of us but Renee assured me we’d catch her on the 2nd half of this out-and-back course. As we crested the hill and entered the turnaround at Franklin Park Zoo, we cheered for our friends ahead of us. We then turned towards home to the cheers of many more still making their way up the hill.

Renee was right. We caught our li’l blond rabbit just before mile 10. I pressed the turbo button, ran a 5:40 11th mile and then used every last ounce of energy to pick off guys until the finish. With 1/2 mile to go, I caught up to Mat Thoreson, an occasional training partner who used to ride (cycling) for the US national team. Mat was barely breaking a sweat and started to small-talk me. I mumbled “dude, I’m 6 minutes ahead of PR.” Matt got the hint, shut-up and dropped in behind me. When I began to fade a few hundred meters later, he took the lead and paced me until 200m to go. We cyclists stick together.

I sprinted home to finish in 1:23:26 (6:22 pace.) And for the first time ever, I didn’t just feel like a cyclist that runs. Finally, after nearly 4 years of running, I felt like a runner.

Categories: race reports - running