Pistill eftir Pál Inga Jóhannesson: PB í rigningunni í Boston

birt 21. apríl 2018

Hlaup.is fékk leyfi til að birta pistil Páls Inga Jóhannessonar um þátttöku hans í Boston maraþoninu síðastliðinn mánudag. Páll kom fyrstur Íslendinga í mark í Boston maraþoninu á 2:52:43. Rétt er að vekja athygli á því að pistill Páls er á ensku en hann er engu að síður skemmtileg lesning fyrir alla hlaupara.Páll Ingi er Íslendingur búsettur í Kaupmannahöfn, þar sem hann starfar sem stjórnunarráðgjafi og markþjálfi. Þessi frábæri hlaupari sem verður 44 ára seinna á árinu, hætti að reykja og byrjaði að hlaupa skömmu fyrir fertugsafmælið sitt fyrir næstum fjórum árum. Páll Ingi hleypur með hlaupafélagsskapnum NBRO Running, sem hefur veitt honum gífurlegan innblástur, hvað hlaup og annað varðar. Nú hleypur Páll Ingi helst daglega og gjarnan milli 100-130 km á viku. Löngu utanvegahlaupin standa hans hjarta næst, en síðastliðið ár hefur hann þó aðallega keppt í maraþoni og hálfmaraþoni.Hægt er að fylgjast með hlaupaævintýrum Páls Inga á Instagram undir notendanafninu life_catalyst og hlaupafélagsskapinn NBRO Running er hægt að finna á Facebook, þar sem dagleg samhlaup má finna sem viðburði. Öllum er velkomið að koma og vera með, sama hversu hægt eða hratt fólk vill hlaupa. Í hópnum er oftast hægt að finna hlaupara á svipuðu róli að hlaupa með.

Íslenskt hlaupaveður í Boston.I have never really done a race report before, but thought I had to try to put some of this epic experience around the 2018 Boston Marathon into words. It''s a lot of words and I''ll hope you enjoy it!When you qualify for Boston Marathon and especially when you qualify for the first wave of runners, you''re certain to get a real early start on the day. Alarm sounded at 4.45 am and all of the sudden the decision from the night before to wait with packing your to-go bag seemed ill advised. Managed it all, along with downing some old-fashioned oats and a banana, and out the door for the 10 minute walk to the metro station.Weather was windy with only slight rain which ignited some hope of it not being as bad as expected by the forecast.Although I had scoped out the assembly grounds for the bus ride to Hopkinton, I hadn''t checked the location where I was supposed to meet my racing buddy Mads. That meant spending 25 minutes racing around midtown between a couple of Starbucks'' before finally surrendering to the solo experience and checking in my finisher bag.Weather seemed a bit worse. More rain, strong wind gusts, shoes and gloves already soaked. Hopes got a dent.Trying to stay warm before the raceStanding in line waiting to be let in the waiting area for the bus ride, I got a little impatient and explored ways to cut the line.

Didn''t have any luck with that, but my exploration was rewarded with me finding Jannie and René from my running crew.

This made my bus ride much more fun and René is also just boss at fastening bibs. That''s my worst discipline when it comes to running, so he really made my life easier! I also appreciated the pack of white chocolate macadamia cookies that served as my second breakfast.

Didn''t see much of the weather on the bus. That was mainly because all the windows were all misty from the rain and cold.

When we finally got to Hopkinton we got off the bus and were steered towards Athletes Field, which for the occasion has been turned into something reminiscent of a refugee camp. There the cold and weathered masses huddled and lay inside the tents. Everyone was wearing clothes they would throw away later, so it really looked what you''d imagine a bunch of refugees or homeless taking shelter from the rain. It was amazing to see in how many ways plastic bags can be used to cover your body and not to mention your shoes. Knowing that this misery was chosen by each and every person there made the situation even more incredulous.Some people were more prepared than others with tarps and blankets to make this waiting game more bearable. I even saw a guy carrying like a pound of petroleum jelly. He was definitely on top of his lube game. I was not, I forgot to lube. As for René, Jannie and me, first we stood for a while inside the tent before sitting down for the remainder of the hour and a half wait.Rigningin lék svæðið í kringum rásmarkið grátt, eða brún öllu heldur.

Trying to stay warm despite conditions being wet and miserable. Fifteen minutes before the walk towards the starting line I started moving to get the blood flowing again and some life into my body.

The weather was really miserable at that point and you just knew you''d be moving from bad with shelter to horrendous without shelter for a run back to Boston.

Blatur frá fyrstu sekúndu - eins og allir hinir.Army of scarecrows in the rainGetting the call to start moving to the starting line was actually a relief. Finally, after many hours, getting to the bus, driving with the bus to Hopkinton and the long wait at Athletes Field, it was time to get doing what really brought you to the US. Chasing that Unicorn! After walking through a muddy field (was not happy about the look of my badass black on black Zoom Fly''s), through a parking lot and then down a street towards the starting corrals. I marched almost the whole way with René and together you could feel tension rising! The rain poured down and the wind was relentless. No one among the hundreds or thousands of runners made a move to remove any of the protective layers of clothing and plastic. It looked like an army of scarecrows lurching forward in an organized march.After goodbyes and good lucks with René, who was starting in two corrals in front of me, and a mad dash to a porta potty for a final call of nature, then back to the corral. I got back just in time for the National Anthem, so to the sound of Star Spangled Banner I removed the now wet sweatpants and hoodie, that had provided some insulation up to that point. Freezing, I put the thin plastic poncho back on and faced the starting line. I was standing at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Ready, we ready!I knew with the forecast and the weather up to that point, that there was a real possibility of a DNF. The certainty of that I would be able to finish the race, somehow, didn''t hit me until almost two and a half hour later, at around 37K.

Running by heart rate - not pace
Preparing for the race, I actually spent some time the evening before looking at videos on YouTube about running Boston Marathon and different race strategies. In short, the race strategy I settled upon was this:

  • Ultimately, with the given conditions, finishing the race was more important than race time. I did however hope to have a shot at a sub-2:50 marathon.
  • I''d run a very controlled race, which meant going by heart rate rather than pace, keeping my effort at a lower HR level that I''d normally do in a marathon.
  • I''d take it easy on the wild downhills in the beginning to not blow up my quads and be punished later on.
  • I''d not care about pace up the four hills in the Newton area, the last one being the famed Heartbreak Hill, but just do a controlled ascent minimizing lactate build-up.
  • I''d use the first kilometer after Heartbreak Hill to recover, then go all out for the last 7-8 km until the end.

I''d also made some last minute considerations to what to wear during the race. Normally, I just race in split shorts and singlet, but opted to wear a long sleeved shirt under the singlet and a hat. I stuck with the splits - can''t run a marathon without splits! More important though, was the shoes. I had planned to run in Nike Vomero 12''s, which is the shoe I''ve done most of my milage in this year, but chose to race in my brand new Zoom Fly''s, bought the day before. It was a shoe that I''d taken for a short 7K spin late afternoon on the day before the marathon and that was actually the entirety of my experience with that shoe model. The reason for this was, that I reckoned the lighter and less fabric''y upper shoe would absorb less water making for an easier ride. Still think it was a great decision, despite the risk of running in new shoes and a completely new model.

It didn''t take long from the sound of the starting gun until my corral started moving. On the starting line, I hit my watch and started running. The start was somewhat chaotic and it was a bit hard to find room to maneuver, and that resulted in relatively slow first couple of kilometers, despite the steep downhill. Shortly before the Mile 3 sign, I reckoned I was warm enough to throw the plastic poncho I was still wearing. That felt good and the race was on!I remember thinking, as I crossed the 10K mark in 39:45, that it actually wasn''t to bad out there. The rain was heavy, but seemed to have subsided a little and you didn''t feel the wind too much as trees shielded the route somewhat. The headwind got heavier the next 5K, but I remained optimistic as things still weren''t too hard. Got through 15K in just under an hour, still thinking I had a shot at coming in under 2:50:00.The NBRO SpecialIf there''s a reason to run Boston Marathon it has to be the spectators. The crowds along the route were amazing. Really and truly amazing! They lined the roads almost from start to finish, cheering each and every participant on. Of course I couldn''t resist doing the NBRO Special 4-5 times along the way, mostly on the first half of the course, taking the outside line in a corner playing up to the crowd. They absolutely loved it and I loved the energy of it! It was really amazing!At 17K something changed. It may have been the tree cover vanishing, the wind and rain may have picked up or the route turned more into the wind.Einbeitingin í botni, þó blautur sé.

It may have been all these things, but I just knew that the fun run was over and the rest of the race would be a grind! I sought shelter trying to draft other runners, but apart from maybe a full mile once on the course, it was hard to find someone that had the size to shelter me, running at the same pace and not loosing pace on the rolling hills on the route. My Boston Marathon was therefore mostly a solo effort.

The noise at Wellesley College
You hear a lot about Wellesley College prior to the race and even a full mile away the ‘wall of sound'' is unmistakable. I tried to manage my composure and get ready for the experience of hundreds of screaming collage girls.

Getting to Wellesley I announced my arrival by taking a position alone in the middle of the road. NBRO Running was there! My move grabbed their attention fully and they really turned it up a notch screaming their hearts and lungs out as I ran along the fence, high fiving the whole row all the way past the college. Their shouts of encouragement (and other things) is one of the most vivid memories from the race!

Shortly after Wellesley, I passed the half marathon mark in 1:23:57. I only saw the 1:23 on my watch so the hope of reaching my goal was still intact. I don''t have so many particular memories the next 5K as I was trying to conserve energy for the biggest test of the day - the hills of Newton.

Only once did I complain about the weather on my way to Boston. Shortly before Newton, when a particularly brutal gust of wind slapped what felt like gallons of water across my face, I kinda exasperatingly said: "Ah come on! You can''t be serious!" Other than that it was just what it was - the weather - no more, no less. That mindset made it a non-factor in a psychological sense, but still I was feeling all the physical effects.

The hills of NewtonThe hills of Newton are four, with the first one coming shortly after the 26K mark. Wasn''t too hard, especially not the long, sloping downhill that followed. Then the real test begins. They hit you hard at approximately 28K, 31K and at 33K the famous Heartbreak Hill. The race organizers kindly provide you with pace for the mile 21, which ends on the top of Heartbreak Hill. My pace for that mile was 4:30 min/km, but going up that big hill I was all the way down to 4:50 min/km compared to a race average of 4:03 min/km.After the first two hills, not quite sure where I was on the route, I asked one guy from the local running crew, The Heartbreakers, how many hills there were left. He said two and sped on past me. I pushed on and when I reached the top of what I thought was the last hill, I asked one of the aid workers as I ran past if that was Heartbreak Hill. When she smiled ‘Yes'', I did my little yelp of happiness and pushed on. It was all downhill from here to Boylston Street.On the steep downhill from Heartbreak Hill I really began to feel my quads. I was feeling the wear and tear from the hills and the weather. I was so cold and drenched with water, that I was way past the point of caring. To give an idea of how drenched I was, my split shorts, that really don''t have any fabric to absorb water, were so wet that they kept slipping down on my butt from the weight of it.Bleytan aðeins farinn að rífa í.

I really don''t remember much else from the race until I crossed the finish line. I tried to push on, but had a hard time keeping pace. So instead of increasing speed the last 7-8 kilometers, I lost a little pace. I just didn''t seem to be able to turn the dial up and had to fight just to maintain speed. I remember thinking during this phase of the race, that now I just wanted to get to the finish line.

I do remember, around 36K, when a male runner in a red tank top collapsed in front of me. I stopped up shortly to make sure he was all right, but ran quickly onwards, leaving him in the good hands of a spectator and a policeman. The runner had a big heart and tried to get up, but his legs just didn''t want what he wanted. On the run again and maybe a mile later I got the knowing that I''d be able to finish, somehow! Otherwise these last miles from Heartbreak Hill are just a haze.

A new personal best
As I turned the last corner onto Boylston, I really couldn''t enjoy this last stretch. My watch already showed 42,2 km and I just wanted to cross the finishing line. The stretch on Boylston Street felt long. When I finally crossed the finish line, at 42,6 km by my watch, I was just happy that it was over. I was cold, wet and well spent. I had done the best the day had allowed and completed the Boston Marathon in 02:52:43. A new personal best by more than four minutes.

Allt heimsins veður verður að engu þegar maður fer yfir endamarkið í Boston maraþoninu.

I didn''t quite hit the goal I aimed for, but I really can''t be unhappy about the race. I executed well on my strategy, but couldn''t finish faster after Heartbreak Hill. This was truly an epic experience and an unforgettable race. I earned my unicorn and I''m happy as to how I did it. I couldn''t really ask for more.

I stumbled onwards after the finish line, finally really grasping how wet and cold I had become. I was handed a water bottle, then a bag of refreshments, before getting to the place where a nice lady put the coveted unicorn around my neck. I thanked her and trudged onwards, where another nice lady, not very tall, helped dressing me into a waterproof poncho. Then I was sent marching to the gear tent, where I quickly was handed my belongings from before the race.

With my bag in hand, I finally found my racing buddy Mads, or rather, he found me. We shivered together as we made our way towards the warmth of the Trackhouse, sharing the first impressions of the race with each other.

American effectiveness and experince at its best
It must be said, that the organization of this race is really great. There was a fluidity in things, that just scream American effectiveness and experience in hosting such huge events. All the helpers and service people are kind, welcoming, smiling and always ready with a helping hand. No one is ever in doubt of their role, everything has been thought of and taken care of. Big up to the organizers and my heart goes out to all the helpers doing such an amazing job.

I want to leave a big, hearty thanks with the people from Tracksmith, who opened their house and their hearts in a big way for us during marathon weekend. It was really special having their premises to gather on and celebrate after the race. Special kudos to my favorite baker in the world, the delicious Hearth Baking Co., who did a pop-up at The Trackhouse all weekend. One fun fact is that Linden & True Coffee also did a pop-up at the Trackhouse. That Linden is the husband of Des Linden that won the woman''s race.Closing words. I''m so grateful for my running crew NBRO Running for their continued inspiration, love and support. They are truly amazing bunch of people and I even get to travel the world with them!

Also big thanks for all the messages, encouragements and high-fives received in the last day! You guys make the hours put into this so totally worth it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Dream big and remember to lube up!