Thursday, April 29, 2010

Twenty, Twenty, Bingo (2010 Boston Marathon Recap)

In the game of Scrabble, the phrase "Twenty, Twenty, Bingo" references a typical scoring pattern for a top level player. Twenty points on the first turn, twenty on the second, and on the third turn the player has managed his tiles well enough to play all seven to receive a fifty point bonus. Bingo.
I had hoped to apply this phrase to my race strategy at the 2010 Boston Marathon. How? Having raced the course the prior two years, I knew how difficult it could be in the final miles once I had blown up. The last 4.5 miles are mostly a gradual downhill and the route is surrounded on both sides by loud, drunk, and enthusiastic supporters. However, I've always hated this section because I've felt awful after the Newton Hills and I've held on for dear life as throngs of runners have passed me. This year I would make sure to start slowly and save myself for the last five miles (you can see me responding to one of the many mustache compliments in this photo taken by Zach Bouzan-Kaloustian). I would aim to run near 20 minute 5k splits, saving myself for a push at the end. The last 10k would be my bingo.
Twenty, Twenty, Twenty, Twenty...
A few days before the race began, my friend Ben from Adidas offered me a spot in a private bus to get to the starting line. This allowed me to relax out of the elements until the race started instead of milling around Athlete's Village for a few hours. When the gun fired to start the race I held myself back as best as I could. Hundreds of runners passed me on both sides using the lengthy downhills to carry them forward. I was not going to get sucked in as I have in the past.
By the time the course started heading back up the elevation chart shortly after passing the girls of Wellesley College I still felt fresh (other than an odd pain on the ball of my left foot that I could not shed) and I began to pass a lot of runners who were beginning to slow (you can see visual evidence of my relaxed pace in this photo from mile 20 when comparing my expression to those behind me).
My 5k splits looked like this:
5k 19:51
10k 19:54
15k 19:54
20k 20:10
25k 20:00
30k 20:43
35k 20:25
40k 20:33
Unfortunately, I never laid down a bingo (or in this case, a few 5:30 miles) to lock in a solid result. By the time I arrived at the downhills and huge crowds I was feeling better than I had the past two years. I was passing a lot more runners and wasn't getting passed at all, but I lacked any ability to speed up. The legs were gone. I still managed a new PR by about a minute (thus the car bomb with Jamie in the photo), running 2:50:42.
I suppose I should be happy to have run so evenly, but I can't help but to wonder what it will take to get over the hump. I've been stuck on results right in the low to mid 2:50's since December of 2007. Here's hoping I can make a large improvement in Chicago.
Wait, I did Bingo on the Day After
I did manage to redeem myself against Brian (pictured in agony after his loss) in Scrabble this year. He and Laura played host to me once again this year, as I stayed at Winthrop House at Harvard University. I met a lot of nice people and even got to race in the Harvard River 1.7 mile race, grabbing third overall just two days before the race.
Mile Splits
1. 6:30
2. 6:22
3. 6:19
4. 6:12
5. 6:28
6. 6:23
7. 6:18
8. 6:27
9. 6:27
10. 6:29
11. 6:35
12. 6:22
13. 6:25
Half 1:24:09
14. 6:23
15. 6:33
16. 6:25
17,18. 13:30 (missed split)
19. 6:29
20. 6:39
21,22. 13:12 (missed split)
23. 6:32
24. 6:30
25. 6:46
26. 6:44 (briefly ran with Josh Arthur who was volunteering at the last water stop)
26.2. 1:25

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