40) Boston Marathon, Boston, MA, 17th April 2017

My 4th marathon major.


Originally planned as a goal race for 2017 to run a PR but entry into West Highland Way Race 2017 changed that and Boston became a brief road running foray in a trail running training program.

I was undecided as to how to run it ie whether to treat it as a Long Slow run or go for a PR and see how the trail running training did to my road speed.

10 days before I ran a 30 mile hilly trail run on the Saturday and felt good, running a steady pace throughout, then ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler on the Sunday on tired legs and still managed a PR. Having not destroyed myself and feeling good, I decided to not taper and switch my long run for the week to Boston Monday and do the shorter (12 mile run) on the Saturday giving me one day of rest before the race, then to just see how I felt.

We flew up to Boston on the Friday and checked into a bed and breakfast in the South End which was a perfect location as it was walkable to the expo, bus pick up and finish.

Saturday morning I woke early and headed out for a 10 mile run around the South Side. A great way to see the city and definitely loosened up the legs after the flight. Back at the B&B I then headed out for an easy couple of miles with Mrs P before breakfast. After a lazy breakfast we attended the expo, which was busy but fun.  A friend had said that it wasn’t possible to run Boston slowly because of the fans and race atmosphere and the Expo gave me a taste of what to expect.

Forecast for heat on Monday meant lots of talk around Boston of slower times and revising targets. Considered changing target time to 7:30 pace and just finishing. Mrs P reminded me that training in DC meant that I could run in heat. Great positive thinking, thank you!! Made up my mind to start at 7:00 pace and to just hold it as long as I could and see how things went from there.

Sunday started with a lazy morning then a wander around Beacon Hill and some relaxing in the park before heading to the pasta supper at City Hall which was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to meet other runners. Even the non-runners in the party enjoyed the experience and discussed plans for watching with other supporters. Having eaten our fill of pasta it was back to the B&B for an early night.

Race morning

Up very early. PB&J bagel and a coffee, then a coconut water on the mile or so walk to the buses. Rested on bus to start but didn’t sleep. Ate a pecan roll pastry. Felt ok, no nerves just excited to be finally doing Boston. Lying in tent, consumed another coconut water and ate a coconut slice. Lots of calories consumed pre-race. Used porta-johns.

Walked to start finishing off banana and used porta-johns.

National anthem and fly past. Corral walked forward.


start. Too quick. Bathroom stop in first mile. Meant pace back to 7 min miles. Kept sub 7 for first few miles. Feeling good but hot.

Running on gels every 30 minutes and taking sips of water and Gatorade at each aid station, with additional water tipped on my cap. Passed several people struggling in first couple of miles – assume combination of heat and problems with training. Amazing support lining the course.

Felt tired at mile 7 but focused on running each mile at a time. Focus on breathing as measure of effort and only looking at pace as watch beeped at mile markers. Mile 13 and half way felt ok and spurred on by cheering Wellesley girls. Focus on sticking with pace til mile 20. Easing back on pace on hills and focusing on breathing and heart rate. Still passing people. Relaxing on the downhills and quickening feet turnover with shorter strides.

Focus on getting to Heartbreak hill. Thought it was at mile 22 so only realized I’d run up it when I saw the sign at the top. Starting to think about finish time. And on course for PR. Carry on with pace. Aid station at 2:20 and starting to tire so took a caffeine gel earlier than scheduled. Felt good and still going strong, passing people struggling was a great confidence boost. Another gel at 2:40. Began calculating finish time and realized I was on for big PR but not sub 3. Wife and friend at mile 25 so kept pace til them. Wife urged me not to stop for kiss as doing so well. Still feeling good so pushed the pace. Sped through last couple of turns. Sprint finish and pushed really hard to keep time under 3:01. Finished in 3:00:57. And as everyone keeps asking, I’m not disappointed by those 57 seconds!!

Felt ok afterwards. Met support team in a bar / restaurant near the finish line. Refueled on a burger and sweet potato fries and a beer.

Learning points

Believe in your training and avoid negative talk(ing). Running on feel can help adjust pace on hills.

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