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2008 Boston Marathon Race Report

Boston Marathon - Finishers Medal

On Monday April 21st, 2008 I completed my first Boston marathon. I am a relative marathon newbie with having done three standalone road marathons while only racing in one of them because the other two I was injured. Being fairly new to the sport, I knew some basics of the Boston marathon but was still trying to grasp the magnitude of the event. Participating in the long weekend festivities quickly brought me up to date and I went “wow, this is a big deal!”.

Before I continue with the day, I want to give a special thanks to all of the volunteers and spectators that make this event what it is! They were amazing!

Race Morning

Boston - Hotel
Deer in headlights?

Wendy and Griffin graciously dropped me off near the race site at about 6:30 am in Hopkinton. Race organizers warned how bad traffic can be so I made sure I was there early so Wendy could escape out of town before it got real congested. From there I walked about .7 miles to the athlete’s village. It was a quiet walk within a neighborhood where I had some time to reflect on what I was about to do. I got a bit misty-eyed a few times but tried to remain as man-ly as possible.

Temps were in the low 40s so it was a bit chilly to be hanging out under a huge tent until the 10 am start time but so it goes when you need to manage 20-some thousand runners. Everyone kind of found their little spot on the ground and camped out. Some had inflatable rafts they laid on covered with blankets. The other extreme, one guy only had his running clothes on and a little piece of cardboard to sit on. I don’t know how he survived the morning. I had a couple 30 gallon garbage bags that I used to lay down on. I also was covered from head to toe to keep warm.

I decided to take a quick walk around to see if I could find my buddy Tim who qualified at the same event that I did. As luck would have it, I walked about 20 yards from where I was camped and he yelled out my name. We chatted a bit and before long, it was time to start staging for the race start. This began at about 9:10 am. You would think that this would result in a long time hanging out at the start line but it actually worked perfectly. Race organizers must have done this before. On the walk to the start line, we hit the loo one more time and then moved ourselves into the staging area based on our qualifying time. I was in corral five and Tim was in corral four. Each coral held 1000 runners. The national anthem played, I stretched a little bit, then it was time to run 26.2 miles.

The Race

Once the race began, it took a few minutes and I finally got to start jogging toward the start line. Once we got past the initial crowds, all I could hear was the beat of a drum. No, wait. That is the sound of thousands of runners tapping the pavement with their feet. It was a surreal moment that I focused on for a bit. For as far as my eyes could see in front of me, flowed a sea of runners. The entire road was completely ours for the next 26.2 miles to downtown Boston.

From looking at the map the course appeared to be a mostly moderate downhill run until mile 16 but to my surprise there were plenty of little uphill climbs as well. This surprised me a bit as I probably used more energy than expected during these portions of the route. Regardless, I was clipping through each of the early miles in the low 7 min/mile range. By mile seven I knew I didn’t have the “happy” legs that I needed in order to maintain this pace. I knew right then and there that this race was going to be a challenge for me. So I said to myself, “ok, don’t push the pace, keep a steady effort level, do the best you can, and enjoy the day”.

Mile 1-7 Splits (min/mile):

1 – 7:27
2 – 7:08
3 – 7:05
4 – 7:08
5 – 7:22
6 – 7:11
7 – 7:12

As I worked my way to the 1/2 mary mark, my splits slowly started to show my fade. I was physically wearing down. I completely accepted it and just tried to maintain my steady effort regardless of the dropping pace. As we passed through various small towns, crowds were large and loud. I tried to absorb as much of the energy as possible and high-five as many of the children lining the streets as I could. I crossed through the 13.1 mark in 1:35:54. I new at that point there was no chance in running a negative split in order to re-qualify. Throughout this run, my heart rate remained quite high, I don’t know if my monitor wasn’t working correctly but I was pumping in the low 170s versus 150s for this kind of effort. This was probably a marker letting me know that today was not my day for a PR.

Mile 8-13 Splits (min/mile):

8 – 7:18
9 – 7:12
10 – 7:25
11 – 7:32
12 – 7:24
13 – 7:36

Each aid station consisted of Gatorade first and water second. I stuck with my Vanilla Hammer Gel until I had the desire for some caffeine. Not desire, more like desperate need. I knew I needed something to give me a little boost so I was looking forward to mile 16 where the course would provide some gels that would hopefully contain the special ingredient. Fortunately the course gel had the much needed caffeine and soon after ingesting I felt a bit more hop in my step. Good things because I had just entered the rumored toughest part of the course which continued until mile 21.

My next short term goal was to get to mile 20 where Wendy and Griffin were planning to be cheering on the runners. I began to see other athletes that were hurting and they were walking the hills. I was able to maintain a slow but steady run up them. Plenty of runners were also gracefully passing me. As mile twenty finally arrived, I saw Wendy on the side of the road and immediately worked my way over to her and Griffin. I could use an excuse to stop. It was great to see them as we talked about the race a bit and how they were doing. After about 30 seconds to a minute later I was back running and a bit rejuvenated to try and finish as strong as I could on the day.

Mile 14-21 Splits (min/mile):

14 – 7:37
15 – 8:15
16 – 8:28
17,18 – 17:20
19 – 8:12
20,21 – 18:46 – stopped and talked to Wendy for 30 secs – 1 min

Boston Marathon - Tim 20 miles
Tim at Mile 20

Boston Marathon - Dave 20 mile1
Mile 20 – Running My Own Course

Boston Marathon - Dave 20 mile2
Still at Mile 20 – It’s Not Over Yet! Get Moving!

I started to get a bit more turnover in my stride and decided to ingest another caffeine gel. Well that was a bad idea because shortly later my stomach started cramping and running downhill with stomach cramps is not a lot of fun. I really had to throttle back my pace in order to keep the discomfort in check. I probably took in too many calories in too short of time. Oh well, keep moving forward.

An amazing aspect of the last five miles of the course is that it contained solid spectators the entire way. It was probably 3-5 people deep as well. If that doesn’t help bring you to the finish, I don’t know what will.

After about mile 24 the stomach issue had mostly settled, and I started to sense the finish line and my pace gradually picked up. I was almost there! As I passed through mile 25, I looked up and saw my buddy Tim walking in the middle of the road. It was hard to see he was having a tough day but it would be kind of cool for us to be able to finish together as we had trained together to qualify for this event. It was also nice to give myself another reason to walk. After a bit of walking and sharing our race stories I said, “let’s finish this thing”. We jogged our way to the finish line having not reached our goal but having just participated in one of the biggest marathons in the world, the Boston marathon. For the experience, I am grateful!

Mile 22-26.2 Splits (min/mile):

22,23 – 18:34 – stomach cramps around 23 – 24
24 – 10:24
25,26,.2 – 21:13

Finish Time: 3:33:55 (8:10 min/mile) Overall: 7670

Boston Marathon - Family Finish
The Family Post Race

Post Race Thoughts

  • The course was much tougher than I expected. The first half of the course took a lot out of me.
  • The hills from mile 16-21 were not as tough as I was expecting. This could also be due to the pace I was running at the time.
  • I still don’t think I have figured out how to properly hydrate during a marathon. I feel I was a bit too dehydrated at the end of the event.
  • The largest crowds I have ever experienced for an event I participated in. They were extremely loud and supportive as well.
  • I will be back!

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

2 Responses to “2008 Boston Marathon Race Report”

  1. on 25 Apr 2008 at 7:38 am Kim

    Good job Dave and great insight! Yes, please do it again b/c next time I will be there to cheer!

  2. on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:40 pm David Hanenburg

    Thanks Kim. I hope to be back soon!