Warm beef stew would have been nice to eat after the windy, rainy and cold 26.2-mile foot race. In my 11 marathons, once I ran when temperature at the start was below 40℉. In my training, I have run against stronger wind many times and also in the rain a few times. But I have never run in a weather with all these conditions combined. Yes, I am accustomed to my temperate Northern California weather and obviously not trained in any extreme weather. The miserable weather reminded me of the complete opposite condition in 2012 Boston Marathon when temperature got to near 90℉ toward the finish. I remember having struggled in the heat, grabbing any water I can get from anyone along the course and pouring it over to cool down. While my shoes and socks got and stayed soaking wet, moisture evaporated off my body as soon as I showered myself. My time definitely showed the struggle, but I was glad I was able to finish. This time, I was not affected by the miserable weather too much in terms of performance, clocking 3:14:48, which is my third best marathon finish of all time.
Below is my 5K split with min/mile pace. Considering the course elevation, Boston is a difficult course to run negative split or maintain even split. The first 16 miles is mostly down-hill running losing nearly 400 feet and is easy to go fast. Having run four times before, I knew this, but still I ran fast in the first half. My goal was to finish in 3:15:00, running the first half at around 1:38.
The thing is though, looking back, I could have run negative split, but I was concerned my legs would cramp up if I went faster in the second half. It was cold and there was a little bit of headwind in the first half, but rain wasn’t bad at all. It was not until I passed downtown Wellesley when the rain became harder and I started to worry about cramps. So I kept my pace down but tried to hit 7:30 min/mile. Oh, by the way, the disaster of the day was the fact I left my Garmin at the hotel so I had to use the official clock at each mile mark… So, it was rather challenging to monitor my pace, relying on my muscle memory. I kept telling myself that that was how it was in the old days before GPS watches became available to the general consumers. Still stupid to have forgotten to wear the watch, I know.
Except for the last Newton hill in the 20th mile, I was hitting the target pace more or less, but the last hill and following down-hill made me nervous. I was doing well and not wanting to take a chance to cramp up by running more aggressively. Again, I had never run in this condition, so I did not know if my legs would hold up in this weather. What I knew was that my legs are getting extremely cold and tight and I did not want to have to slow down or stop. Down-hill running was also tricky because the road was slippery. Also, there were potholes and train tracks as we came into town and wanted to avoid stepping into. So the conservative running continued pretty much all the way until I hit the 25 mile (about 40K) mark. Last 1.2 miles has the hump at the Citgo sign and usually a tough spot, but I had energy left to run the rest under my target pace.
Though it’s the same course, every race is different. This time, the weather played a big role in making it different. So what worked well for me? I wore CEP calf sleeves and a cap this time. The cap was to avoid the rain hitting my face and also prevent the rain from taking body heat away through my head. I usually wear CEP running compression shorts but I feel the calf sleeves protected my calves from fatigue and also from losing body heat. I could have worn the arm sleeves, and I would if I were to run a cold race in the future. In terms of nutrition and hydration, I started to take NUUN electrolyte tablets a couple of weeks prior and kept drinking until the race day. As usual, I took a drink at every water station. Just because temperature was low and moisture was in the air, I did not change my usual hydration practice but kick it up a notch by taking electrolyte, which I think worked well. On the race morning, I had two P&J sandwiches, and I grabbed one of those Gatorade Carb Energy Drink in the Athlete Village in Hopkinton. I brought with me two mini Clif bars, one package of Clif Shot Blocks and a plastic bag with a couple of slices of plain wheat bread. I think I ate a tiny bit of banana when it was offered on the course. Thanks to all this food, I had a good amount of energy throughout and was not hungry at all when I finished. I want to think the lobster I had a couple of nights before and the cheesecake the night before also worked, because this can be part of my future race preparation plans. I might not recommend this to others, though.
There were not really anything that went wrong this time. If I had to say something, I would say that I now know my legs are strong enough to endure the cold weather and I should be able to keep my pace all the way. Of course, this is so only when I have good training in before any race. Also, I should put on my watch when I go to bed the night before so I won’t forget it!