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(English) The 2018 Boston Marathon

It is with great excitement and some expectations that I return for the second year in a row to Boston to run the marathon. In 2017 we had a good heat stroke that blew up many runners. For my part, I had prepared myself mainly on a treadmill in a heated gym, the heat felt during the race had not penalized me then.

As we do not change a winning method, I put the cover for 2018, substantially the same preparation. The volume is much lower than in 2017 (3 to 4 runs per week this year, compared to 6 to 7 per week in 2017) but the key workouts are going well, I think I can be a little faster by one or two minutes on my 2017 stopwatch.

I have no defined objective except to enjoy the race, here my strategy is to start on a basis of 4min / km (2h50min finish) on the first 21 kilometers, then, if all goes well then I would try to accelerate again to make the second half a little faster than the first to pass the line under 2h50min.

The pace of 4min / km is easy to control, it is exactly 15km / h, each 5km must be done in 20min. every 10km in 40min etc… 1h for 15km and 2h for 30km… So very easy to follow its evolution without having to note and consult all these times of passages.

I arrive in Boston on Friday, a beautiful 20 degrees Celsius, withdrawal of bibs, I meet friends that I had not seen from Hawaii, we are making up for lost time and already the weather forecasts are alarming.


the guy behind seems very happy
On Saturdays the temperature peaks at 10 degrees Celsius, I go sightseeing to visit the city and its surroundings (MIT, Harvard).

On Sunday it is between 0 and + 2 degrees, with some snowflakes! The forecast calls for a marathon with a 100% chance of rain from start to finish, and the temperature between 4 and 7 degrees. I tell myself the temperature is ok, not ideal, but once you run it will be fine.

So Sunday night I go out to buy a poncho so I can stay dry before the start to get rid of it later on the start line.

Monday, light breakfast at 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m. I get on the bus, 8 a.m. second breakfast, 9:30 a.m. I arrive at the starting line under heavy rain and a wind (head-on) with gusts at 84 km / h, pure happiness!

A beautiful day ostia, cuddly!

The elite runners are in place, ¾ of them have gloves + jackets, this is the first time that I have seen pro athletes take the start of a race so dressed, they who heat up very quickly! I tell myself that they will surely swing their clothes on the course because they do not pay for them. Many are those who are in shorts and sleeveless t-shirts and chatter their teeth, shivering everywhere when we still have 30 minutes to wait in this rain without moving. For them, I know that their race ends here, they have so much hope to perform to leave dressed like this, but they do not realize the effects of the cold! (I won’t realize myself until too late that I haven’t adopted the right dress code either).

30 seconds before departure I get rid of my poncho, and with my friend Justin we start our Boston 2018 adventure! Of course both feet have been soaked for several minutes but I will not change shoes + socks on the starting line like other runners because in any case the process would have to be repeated every 5 minutes.

The atmosphere is pretty good, everyone knows that nothing can be done about it, it’s raining it’s cold that’s how you adapt. The only negative point is due to the organization (26,948 runners) you have to be present at least 30min before the start and wait in the rain in the cold.

Well no, things are not improving

I see the 30th wall coming up a few meters from the mark, I see my stopwatch display 02:01:20 I tell myself that I am more than a minute late and that in any case this delay will only be s ‘aggravate. I have already given up the fight against the clock in my head. I decide not to hurt myself, and to stay lucid to keep a minimum of pleasure. I also need to drive 5 hours after the marathon in the rain to get back to Montreal! Just before the 30th I stop in a portable toilet to relieve my bladder. Once in the cabin I have the impression of being on a battered boat. Several times I say to myself “no you are on dry land, it does not pitch”. But my legs try their best to dampen this pitch I visualize the cabin placed on the grass in order to convince myself that no, it does not move but nothing to do if I do not hang on to the wall I would fall. In short 2 or 3 minutes of lost but which make me realize that the situation is not optimal!

I return to the pack of runners, pass the 30km mark in 02:03:55. Justin is in front and I don’t even try to catch up to him. For the last 12 kilometers, I will manage to maintain an endurance / recovery rate, between 4min20sec and 4min30sec per kilometer. I would know for the first time what runners hitting the wall go through. The feeling of being overtaken without being able to do anything, and just save the furniture! I’m still doubling quite a bit. There are many who have been hit by this wall much harder than me. At kilometer 34 or 36 comes a refreshment zone, I reach out to catch a gel, my fingers do not close and I hit the 1 by 1 gels that fall under my eyes and the gaze of the volunteers without being able to catch 1 alone . I understand then that I am frozen.

it has not improved

The 40th kilometer arrives, I pass it in 02:48:38. Last year I only had 500 meters left to go with this time! Still 2195 meters to go and I tell myself that “saving the furniture” can mean going under 3 hours. I do the best I can, wince a lot and finally manage to cross this liberating line in 2h59min22sec (Strava announces 2hrs57, because it removes the still time from the pee break).

good rhythm until the 25th, then the pee break of the 30th weighed down the average!

I find Justin who finished 5 minutes before me, then we get our things back to hope to change as quickly as possible, but with this concentration of runners nothing happens quickly. I chatter my teeth to break them and shudder like I’ve never remembered, but we reason with each other and we take our pain patiently, then finally I get my things back, I find a heated bus to change my feet in the head.

Gla Gla Gla

I won’t stop to take a photo, won’t find any of my friends, I’m going straight to take the metro, find my car and on my way to Montreal and we forget that. I am still satisfied with my race, even if disappointed with the conditions but above all frustrated to have followed such a long and restrictive training to not be able to convert all of these efforts into performance that makes us so proud.

The times are really slow for this 2018 edition! 2:15 for the men (an age group wins the event well ahead of the Kenyan or US elites) for the women it was run in 2:39 (they were aiming for 2:20).

Stiff and proud of my medal
Cold analysis:

I am looking at the data recorded by my watch and to my surprise my cardio did not go above 140bpm! Worse yet, my heart rate for the marathon is 122bpm! A digestive walk rhythm of a festive Sunday! There I suspect that I should be hypothermic (very slight) before departure. Normally for me a marathon, I run it between 150bpm and 160bpm. For Boston, the body went into preserve / save mode as a natural survival reflex so I couldn’t put myself in danger. Here the strategy was to arrive fully covered (over-jacket and over-pants) and throw everything away at the start, keeping a windproof, rainproof jacket plus gloves throughout the race. Possibly have a thermos of hot tea with either (which should also be balanced).