Race Report 2019

I gave it all.
No regret, no excuses, no surrender.
I was so close to my A goal that I was disappointed at the end but I got over that soon.
I made a perfect execution and that’s so important for the future; yesterday a PR was not in me, as simple as it is.
Let’s start from the beginning…
I slept well, even if a little short (jet lag not recovered, for sure).
Weather forecasts stated that the marathon should be dry but I would got rain loading the bus.
Well, exiting the hotel the rain started but it was not heavy.
After the ride on the Blue Line and then the Green Line, it looked like no one wanted to get out of the Arlington station.
The rain had become heavier and heavier.
I waited a little, chatting on the stairs with other italians and then I decided to go out to check the bag and load on bus.
Wet, wet, wet…
Warmer than last year but annoying to say the least!
Loading the bus, the driver looked at me and she said that she remembered me from last year!
Honestly, it’s hard to believe but I took it as a good start of the day.
What a long ride…
Eventually I got to the Athlete Village and I was able to meet some friends at the red dot.
It’s so nice to feel like we perfectly know each other even if we meet no more than once per year.
Sadly, my language barrier got worse and worse in a crowded place like a tent @AT so I couldn’t interact as I would but it has been a great pleasure to be there, nevertheless.
Wave 1 had already left when I arrived so I missed the Mikes.
We left soon after and then the slow walking to the corrals.
The start decibels were low (or I was very distracted) and the walk approaching the start line became the usual crowded and frenzy run.
The target on my watch was set to my PR (3:10:35) but I know that I should be slower than the intended pace in the first miles (thanks Greg Maclin).
I had logged only one hilly run in my training cycle for this marathon and I must run in good form the downhills.
My legs had no springs…
I was slow as wanted.
I tried to relax arms and shoulders.
I was easy but I didn’t feel that I could go easily faster as it happened previously in training.
May be I was just a little nervous…
My right calf was not behaving.
It happened also in training and some minor changes in my running form had helped; let’s try it now…
I’m running a conservative pace while going downhill.
At mile 6 I did a perfect drop in the basket of the cup from which I drinked the Gatorade.
I fired guns in the air like a cowboy and I heard a voice from behind: “Congrats. You’ve 20 more of that to do”.
Uh oh…
In the flattest part of the course I got a little faster because I thought it was the section most similar to my training runs and I wanted to benefit from it.
I felt ok but not in one of my best days and my right calf was not putting me into trouble but it was on the edge.
There was some more space between runners and it was easier to identify who is pacing regularly.
As usual, girls are at the top!
Men look like sprinting and slowing, aggressive and unconsistent all the time.
I noticed a girl who was pacing close to me since some miles and I asked her what was her goal.
She took away the earbuds and told me between 3:05 – 3:10.
Not far from mine and she offered to pace together for a while.
While we were chatting in front of Wellesley College, an older woman told us that it looked like we were aiming to similar target.
In fact she was running a little faster and we let her go.
Only many hours later I recognized her: Joan Benoit Samuelson who was going to finish in 3:04, 40 years after her win in 1979 (her bib number today)!
Even if I was trying to be regular and conservative, running down to Newton Lower Falls and then up the bridge on motorway I left behind the good pacing girl.
Newton Fire Station and the hills.
I felt ok but not great.
I was regular and controlled.
Never overstriding downhills.
I was doing my best and the watch predicted a finish time 1 minute faster than my PR.
I was regularly drinking my liquid gels in which I trust.
May be this was one of my biggest error…
I was easily on top of the Heartbreak Hill.
I remember not to push too early running down to Boston for not burning the quads.
Muscles were suffering and I felt without energy.
If I have had in me a great sprint to the finish line as in 2017 I could achieve a major improvement in PR.
I didn’t need it.
It was not one of my best days so I just had to keep the pace.
It was no more easy.
It was getting harder and harder.
I was in trouble.
Do you know what?
I was also feeling thirsty.
A lot.
I sweated a lot, from the start, and I drank my liquid gels and only 2 or 3 Gatorade.
Not enough and now I was desperately seeking more hydration.
I trusted my liquid gels for energy and I might be right (not sure of it, anyway) but they didn’t provide me the liquids I needed.
Miles were no more passing by.
Keeping pace was getting almost impossible; muscles are in pain and my body has no energy.
My heart rate increased constantly while my pace slowed down.
The background of my watch changed color; the predicted finish time had got over my PR.
Less than 2 miles to go and I decided to walk on the bridge over the motorway.
In fact, my legs were better there than during the downhills but I had no more fuel and I felt my head light.
I started running again and I found my way to the finish line.
The timing mat just before the finish line let the speaker call my name and it was so rewarding!
Just after the finish line I got the congrats from Tom Grilk (CEO of the Boston Athletic Association), while we made eye contact!!!
WOW!
A great way to finish!
But I want more…
So I walked back and I told him that, even if sweated, I wanted to shake his hand.
Surprise and then a smile were on his face and I greeted with a pat on his shoulder!
Ok, 3:11:24 means I missed the PR by 49 seconds but it’s a strong BQ so I will be back speedier, tougher and smarter next year to get it.

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