Post-race analysis; how I qualified for Boston

I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I love saying it. I love writing it. I needed to finish the Phoenix Marathon in 3:30. I ran it in 3:28:28 yesterday. Today I went through all the numbers and analysis and re-lived the entire race mile-by-mile, turn-by-turn!

Last night, we celebrated with a few close friends and my mom-in-law’s delicious Indian food at my house. Julie was here from Nashville and the Whoopie Babes were here with Mitch, Nancy and Megan for dinner last night. I was tired and sore but had some champagne.

My left big tore is swollen and very sore this morning. It may have a mild infection under the toe; it feels quite tender to the touch. My body too is very sore. Walking is a chore and going down stairs is sheer torture. I have stayed home all day and rested just trying to recover. I hope tomorrow is easier.

I had a chance to analyze the race numbers today. I didn’t realize it but I flirted with disaster a few times. My heart-rate was a bit too high for a few miles. When you do this, there is a real chance of bonking. Bonks come on suddenly and without any warning. Your body just shuts down. No matter how strong your mind is, when you body simply can’t function, there is not much you can do.

As you can see from the above table, my heart-rate was a bit high for about half the miles in the first half of the race (click or tap on the image to zoom in). Fortunately, it wasn’t high by much. With regular nutrition, hydration and a lot of luck, things came together quite nicely.

Here is my Garmin data.

I ran the race pretty much on schedule as projected. You can see that after being a few second behind after the first mile, I was ahead of schedule for most of the race (although not by much). A minute ahead of projected time is nothing. You can gain or lose a minute at any time. A small cramp, having to use the restroom, equipment malfunction, tripping over something, chafing or even taking a wrong turn can do it. These are just minor incidents that can happen. Of course, if you bonk because you have used up too much sugar or have miscalculated your nutrition, your race performance is over!

So what do I attribute as the main factors for qualifying for Boston? Here they are (in no particular order):

  • A training schedule customized to your specific abilities and potential; designed by an excellent experienced coach (e.g. Camelback Coaching)
  • A course that suits your running style (the Phoenix Marathon is mostly slightly downhill)
  • Mental strength and a general belief in your own abilities (confidence is a good thing but don;t flirt with cockiness; be humble and respectful of other runners and the course itself)
  • Managing heart-rate, pace and nutrition during the race (patience is key)
  • Luck (goes without saying)
  • Favorable weather (temperatures in the 50s with overcast skies and low humidity can help; so can a tailwind although today the weather was mixed)
  • Improvising during the race (today’s key was drafting, drafting, drafting)

I am still on cloud nine today after qualifying somewhat unexpectedly. All the training and hard work over the past few months and years payed off nicely yesterday. Tomorrow, I go back to training. Next week is relatively easy.

My next race is Ironman Cabo on March 30, but I will enjoy next week basking. Registration for the Boston Marathon opens sometime in September. Just because I qualified doesn’t mean I will get in! I still need some luck that the race doesn’t sell out before my number comes up. Running the Boston Marathon is on my bucket list. I am now one step closer!

6 Replies to “Post-race analysis; how I qualified for Boston”

  1. Congrats on the fantastic finish time! I ran the race too, but hit the wall at mile 22 (as in my last 2 BQ attempts!), finishing 3:44. Came across your name in the race results and googled hoping to get in touch with you for some insights…thanks for the detailed post. In comparison, I was hardly hydrating and had one gel thru' the race. Will try again next year:)

  2. Congratulations on running a marathon on a single gel in 3:44. That's incredible! With proper nutrition and heart-rate management, I'm sure you will easily shave 20+ minutes.

    It is tough to have the discipline to run a reverse split; the temptation to run faster and bank miles during the first few miles is too great!

    I would recommend hiring a coach. Mine is Bill Wilson of Camelback Coaching. He is really good and will give you all kinds of coaching on hydration, calorie-intake, pace, heart-rate, cadence, etc. etc. along with training plans for marathons (and triathlons).

    All the Best!!

  3. Thanks Gaurav. I will target the 2015 PF Chang marathon…when do you recommend that I contact your coach to prepare for the race…Aug/Sept?

  4. I would call him right now and ask him when the best time to start training is. He may have you do a couple of warm-up races before you "A" race.

  5. G … WoW .. congrats buddy … looks like you turned out a fab race. Punched the ticket to Boston … awesome !!!

  6. Thanks Gerry! My fingers are crossed that I will actually get to run Boston in 2015. I qualified by only a minute-and-a-half; I will need to wait to see if I get in!

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