Boston UK Marathon
This was to be my 61st marathon and 13th of the year, unlucky for some as James kindly reminded me. Having ran Manchester the week before in a time of 3.09.51 my intention was to use this as a relatively easy training run in preparation for London next week.
Having searched for my passport and flight tickets I remembered that the only water that we would be passing over was the Humber, not of a flight across the Atlantic. It was an easy hop across into Lincolnshire for the more prestigious, but not as well publicised of the Boston Marathons.
The race was due to start at 9.00am, so James and I set off from Hull at around 6.00am, easing out over the Humber Bridge and lazily travelling South through the quite country roads of Lincolnshire, arriving at around 7.45am.
We had a quick chat with a couple of runners and I took a walk to get a better look of the local landmark, St Botolph’s Church, better known as Boston Stump. The car park was situated at Boston College, as was the finish line. On my walk I discovered Hussey Tower, only yards away from the College. This is the last remains of the manorial home of Sir John Hussey, a member of the court of Henry VIII.
On my return we had a quick stretch and a wander to the start line, which was at Boston Marketplace, a short 10 minutes’ walk away. A number of regulars were there, who we had a nice chat to, including 100 club members Rich, Nick, Teresa and Chris. Chris had arrived after a short 50 mile run in Fowlmead the day before. The guy is a machine and one of the most pleasant people you could meet.
Instructions were taken to make our way to the start line, so I duly positioned myself near the front, in the shade. It was a bit nippy, but I didn’t want to waste valuable seconds fighting the crowds at the start. Looking back I saw James, like a pussy cat, enjoying the morning sun.
I was confident of running a sub 3.30 and thought with a bit of luck I could probably manage a sub 3.20. The main aim was to take it easy, enjoy the event and finish unscathed and ready for London the next week.
As the race started we left Boston Marketplace and headed East through the villages of Freiston and Butterwick. Within the first couple of miles the field spread into a natural order, with the quicker runners drifting away and the slower runners falling back. The setting was beautiful, running through these rural villages each with their own parish church. The area oozes history. Wonderful support was given as we passed through, with locals clapping us on.
At each mile my watch beeped and on checking it showed a pace of between 7.00 and 7.15mm. This was quicker than I wanted, however it felt comfortable and I knew I was running efficiently, using very little energy.
A couple of runners flew past me as we went through Butterwick, at mile 5 and I thought there was no way they could be running the marathon, they were travelling way too fast. Sure enough as we approached mile 6, when the two routes split, they headed South and I continued East for half a mile, before turning to the North.
The route for the next few miles was very quiet. A couple of runners were about a minute ahead and I couldn’t sense anyone behind me. With music in my ears and the fields either side I continued along the country roads with the occasional farm, water station and marshals.
I could feel a slight head wind and guessed that I would have to work for the next few miles, however although my pace did drop slightly, I continued at around 7.10 to 7.20 pace up to mile 10, without wasting too much energy. I thought if I can continue into the head wind until the halfway mark, we would switch back and I can enjoy a back wind.
The marshall at mile 11 told me I was 17th, confident I could take the 2 runners ahead I started to dream of a 15th place finish.
My pace dropped to 7.25 for mile 11, however I wasn’t too concerned and was pleased to see the first 3 runners, who had looped and switched back. I said a quick hello to them as they passed in the other direction, however I think they were in the zone and flew by.
On reaching mile 12 the route looped back to the South and I knew that the wind would be behind me and continued to breeze along, thoroughly enjoying myself. Runners 15 and 16 were just ahead and I didn’t think anyone was behind, affording a cheeky glance over my shoulder I saw a chasing pack around a minute behind. As I was still full of energy, I was quietly confident they wouldn’t catch me.
For about half a mile, up to mile 13 it was my turn to see slower runners as we passed in opposite directions. I tried to give a cheeky smile to them all and offer a quick hello and well done.
I checked my watch at 13.1 and was happy with a time of just under 1.35. Worst case scenario I would 8mm for the second half and finish just under 3.20, however if I dropped to 7.30mm I would still get a time of under 3.15 and heaven forbid if I got a wind assisted negative split I could possibly beat my Manchester time and nip under 3.10 for the second week running.
Seemingly floating on air I gradually caught up and overtook the two runners in front over the next 4 miles, my slowest mile being 7.12mm and peaking at 7.01mm as I overtook them at around the 17 mile point. Shortly after I took another runner, taking me into 14th position.
We continued in a Southerly direction for another 4 or 5 miles, picking up the back end of the half marathon route, passing another runner in the process. I was still enjoying the journey and pacing comfortably at between 7.07 and 7.17 mm. I estimated I could possibly dip under last week’s effort if I could keep the pace and push on.
Unfortunately at mile 22 we headed North and then East and into the wind. I passed another runner, who was unfortunately spent and had started walking. At the same time a runner glided past me with very little effort. I later found out she was the 2nd lady and was taking it easy. Her pacing was impeccable and I was happy to see her go past so effortlessly.
For the next couple of miles my pace dropped to 7.27 and 7.30mm, and I realised that I probably wouldn’t get sub 3.10, however unlike Manchester I wasn’t working too hard and was still enjoying myself.
The final two miles were a bit of a grind, as we passed through Fishtoft and entered back into Boston. I worked a bit harder, still trying not to tire myself with London in mind and squeezed out miles 25 and 26 in 7.35mm and 7.28mm. I upped my pace a little over the last few hundred yards, eventually crossing the line on 3.10.49, with the garmin reading 26.3 and taking 12th position.
I congratulated the lady who had overtaken me on running so well. James skipped through shortly afterwards, clocking in at 3.14.09 in 15th position looking like he hadn’t broken sweat.
It later transpired that James had been in the pack chasing me around the halfway mark and the lady had split from the pack at mile 17, leaving the rest in her wake.
The support by the marshals was fantastic, at every conceivable intersection there seemed to be one, ensuring that the correct route was taken. Water stations appeared at what seemed like virtually every mile and were staffed by a number of volunteers and supporters, all cheering us on. I lost count of the number of portaloos around the course. No-one could have been caught short.
This was an enjoyable course with only 30 meters of elevation, from memory the flattest I have ever ran. Although we encountered a bit of wind, it wasn’t too bad and the scenery in the open Lincolnshire countryside was breathtaking. The weather was very kind, as goldilocks would say, it wasn’t too hot or too cold, just right.
I have recently found out that next year this event is to take place on the same date as Boston USA marathon (ie Easter Monday 2017). Any Harrier wanting a marathon PB should be putting this in the diary for next year. Weather permitting this is a banker.
Next up is the small matter of London Marathon. Now the question is do I enjoy it or push for a PB.
Good luck to you all in your running adventures, regardless of distance.