Monday, April 11, 2016

Race Fans, Take Your Marks! (How to Watch the Boston Marathon)

One week until race day. If you'd like to follow the action live or from afar, here are three ways to track me (and other runners) on Marathon Monday:
  • Text RUNNER to 234567 and you’ll be asked to reply with runners bib numbers. Mine is 27338. You’ll then get text updates with the pace I'm running and the time as I pass the following points:10-kilometers, half marathon, 30-kilometers, 35-kilometers, 40-kilometers, and the finish line.
  • Download the free Boston Marathon app via iTunes. Click "Participant Search" then find me by first or last name. During the race, you'll be able to see the same info as via text, in addition to a projected finish time at each mark. You can also follow the elite runners and up to 10 others - as well as access maps of the course and other race info.
  • Visit the Boston Athletic Association website at: They change this up on race day in a way that’s supposed to be easy to figure out how to follow
Runners set off from the starting line in Hopkinton in four different waves – beginning with mobility impaired athletes at 8:50 AM.  I'll be starting in the fourth and final, charity-runner wave, which sets off at 11:15.

At the advice of our coach, I am going to run this race without any technology on my wrist to track time or pace - so I can just pay attention to how my body is doing, rather than getting stressed out about whether I'm going too fast or too slow on any given mile. That means, if you're tracking my progress via any of the means above, you'll know better than I how I'm doing. To gauge what you're seeing, here are some ways I'm thinking about goals and pace...

  • If I beat 3:13 elapsed time, I'll be ecstatic. That would be a personal-best marathon time - ahead of my 27-year-old self.
  • If I beat 3:15, I'll do something I've tried three times and failed three times to do, which is to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Perhaps a little melancholy about getting slower with age, but still ecstatic.
  • If I beat 3:25, optimistic about a future qualifying run - as that is what my goal will jump to at my next age-break point (45 years).
  • Any slower than that, and I'll just feel ecstatic for having run the Boston Marathon.

Starting so far back in the pack, I don't know how long it will take to clear through runner traffic to where I can run at the pace I hope to run. But, we'll see on race day. And so will you if you're tracking me. The starting line logjam may drag me down. Conversely, the starting line adrenaline and downhills (see elevation map below - those first five run down, down, down) speeding me up so much I'm likely to crash later in the race,. Or maybe I'll find that right gear, and hold my pace steadily right where I need to be - or even pull off the elusive "negative splits" (a second half faster than the first).  The chart below takes those various distance milestones you'll see via text or the other alerts of, and plays out my future and current qualifying times, and personal best - 45 year old qualifying time in green, my current qualifying time in orange, and my personal record in blue - with elapsed time along the Y-axis, and distance and estimated clock time (ranges) on the X-axis:

Here's the course map (with more details on the course here):

If you're out there, be sure to let me know where to look for you.

Now - runners, take your mark, get set...

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