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No personal record, no problem

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 23, 2012 04:00 PM

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100lindsay_kos.jpg Lindsay Kos is one of five Boston Marathon entrants testing the Polar RCX5 personal training computer and blogging about it for Boston.com.
It's hard to believe the marathon was a week ago. It feels like an already distant memory, though my still-aching quads tell a different story. I'm still feeling as proud, happy, accomplished, and relieved as when I crossed the finish line. My 3:09:28 finish was my slowest marathon, though I'll never remember it that way. Instead, it was the day I smiled for 26.2 miles straight and reignited my passion for the sport.

As race day neared and warnings from the BAA cautioned runners about the dangers of heat, I couldn't help but feel frustrated. Like thousands of other runners, I had trained all winter for this race and was in peak shape. It was beyond difficult to let my sub-3:00 attempt, almost literally, melt away. I chose to respect the heat and run at a slightly slower pace to ensure the experience was as positive as I could control. I didn't want to tarnish my first Boston Marathon experience by stubbornly attempting a PR and bonking.

We crossed the line and my face immediately lit up with a smile. We were off and running and I was determined to soak each and every moment in: something I rarely do while gunning for a PR. Even though our 7:00 pace felt comfortable over the first few miles, I didn't know exactly how my body would handle the heat over the distance. It was reassuring when I glanced at my Polar RCX5 and saw my heart rate staying steady in the familiar and comfortable 150s/160s.

We relaxed through Ashland and Framingham, but my friend and running buddy Alex wasn't feeling so hot and had to slow down around mile 10. I knew it was going to be a rough day for many, but I carried on through Natick. I high fived and cheered through Wellesley. I continued to grab water, ice cubes, and Gatorade at every single station. This was certainly the most hydrated I've ever been during a marathon, though the sugary sweet Gatorade did not sit well with my stomach and I had to make a pit stop at mile 13. I poured water over my head mile over mile, just to be dry a few minutes later. My quads started to feel off as we hit mile 16 and I slowed the pace to 7:15/7:20. I focused on simply surviving up the Newton Hills, and couldn't believe how good it felt when I crested Heartbreak Hill. The crowds at BC roared and I felt like a rockstar as I hit a 6:55 mile on the downhill.

I finally hit the wall around mile 23 and saw my heart rate climb into high 160s. I'm honestly surprised it wasn't higher, as I had regularly maintained 170s-180s in training and workouts. I felt myself working harder to push the pace, but struggling in frustration to do so. I actually made the conscious decision to stop trying to go faster and simply relax until I hit the finish. Time was out the window, so why make it stressful? I just wanted to relax and soak in every moment.

No feeling can compare to crossing the finish line on Boylston, not even the thrill upon completing my first marathon in NYC 2010. While this was my slowest marathon by 5 minutes, off my PR by 6 minutes, and off my goal time by 10-plus minutes, this was my favorite one to date. I feel thankful and relieved as I know it could have gone much worse, and did for many.

boston.jpgI ran a smart, conservative race and crossed the line as the 58th female finisher, a place that easily would have garnered a sub-3:00 finish in years past. While it's a bit frustrating to not have been able to cash in my training and have hit that time, it's a simultaneous confidence booster to know I'm right there. I'll just need to ramp it up again for Chicago in October: sub 3:00, I'm coming for you!

On Monday, I reminded my overly competitive self that running is about so much more than PRs; I run because I love it. A race can be memorable and exhilarating even if you don't race your fastest, and Boston was a nice reminder to myself and others to never forget that. Sometimes, it's not about the numbers, but instead about purely enjoying the run.

Thanks again for allowing me this incredible opportunity to share my journey and my race with you, Boston.com readers! To continue reading about my running, and for a more detailed race recap, visit my blog Lindsay Runs. I'll be taking on the Big Sur Marathon (at a casual pace!) this weekend as part of the 'Boston 2 Big Sur' Challenge.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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