The Most Challenging Boston Marathon In 40 Years

The Most Challenging Boston Marathon In 40 Years

The Boston Marathon 2018
Race Report By FatBird Anthony Sum

 

This is my second Boston Marathon – I attended my first Boston in 2016 and have since been able to qualify for this prestigious marathon every year all the way to 2019.  This time I was pretty much traveling alone and staying in a hostel to really get down onto the ground and meet different folks and experience some aspects of Boston which I would not have been exposed to if I were to go with a packaged tour.

 

Race Expo

I arrived a day earlier this time just to have a bit more time to spend at the race expo.  This year’s race expo was a lot bigger than my last visit in 2016.  I managed to buy some coveted Boston Marathon souvenirs and sample many of the running products.

There were very good discounts on the final day of the Expo (with 50% off from Skechers Boston shoes and more) as I found out from my room mate later.  As I promised myself that I would not be back for another Boston race until I enter a new age group in 5 years’ time, I decided to do a little bit more souvenir shopping than what I normally do (which is very minimal to say the least).

Hostel Hospitality

Another first for me was to stay in a Hostel (recommended by fellow Boston Qualifier PS) which I was pleasantly surprised with the coziness and hospitality support for runners and marathoners.  I also got to meet a bunch of very fast runners from HK and US which was quite fun.  The value of the stay was excellent and I would recommend it should anyone come to Boston on their own for running or just sight-seeing.

 

Shakeout & Conditioning

I went for a morning shakeout run in day 2 along the Charles River.  The weather was great and warmth provided by the good sunshine.  I saw many runners preparing for their race on Monday, including Meb Keflezighi (which incidentally I saw running at Charles River in 2016 as well).  After the nice 8km run, I enjoyed a hearty breakfast provided free by the Hostel and the options was just great for me.

 

Pre-Race Pasta Party

My first trip to Boston Marathon in 2016 was on a travel package which included carbo-loading dinners and transportation to race sites and overall race management.  This time around, I had no welcome dinner, and so I decided to try out the free Pre-Race Pasta Party for all Boston Marathoners at the City Plaza.  It was chilly cold and we were all freezing while queing to get into the Pasta Party.  There were some complaints of people having to stay out in the cold risking hypothermia in the very cold Boston weather.

After waiting for about 45min, I finally entered the City Plaza to be given a carton food box, and a few scoops of vegetables, Pasta, and some cutup sausages. We were then ushered into the hall and it was a challenge again to look for available seats.  Of course, there was the main highlight of beer and entertainment for those who were in the mood for get some energy into their system.  I had my quick fill and got out back into the cold towards the Hostel in double-quick time.

I would say it was not too enjoyable an experience, especially in that cold weather.  Definitely not worth my time, but still it was a good experience for me.

 

Race Day

The weather as forecasted would be one of the worst in Boston Marathon’s history, and it was proven right.  Snow, Rain, Head and Cross winds and temperatures of 0-5C make this the worst conditions at the Boston Marathon in 40 years.  Right from the start when we queued up for the buses at Boston Common to bring us to Hopkinton (Start Point), it was raining and temperatures were freezing with the drafts from the wind.  It was really miserable for anyone out in the open, but the spirits were high among the thousands of runners, many of them going for their maiden Boston Marathon race.

I went with my HK room mate on that bus which took about 45min to Hopkinton.  When we reached the start point, it was a mess at the tents provided – the grounds were all muddy, and there was hardly any place for runners to gather.  The weather was freezing, and I was just staying quiet hoping to get to the start of the race without getting frozen first.

Race reports already had it that all the elites and top runners were decked out in jackets for rain and wind protection, something that is hardly seen among the top runners in any marathon race.  They even had 2 bibs for the elites to place one each on their race singlet and one for their jacket.  Most of them ran through the whole race with their jackets and head wear on.

I was considered underdress although I did put on a non-waterproof jacket to keep myself warm at the start.  Soon it was time to enter the corrals, but it was rather chaotic as nobody could hear the announcements as they were hiding away in the tents.  I rushed to the start point in my Wave 2 and Corral 3 grouping, just in time to run off with everyone.

It was raining still and my shoes were wet (after I took off the plastic bags used to cover them, something learnt from the experienced runners used to such weather conditions).  I tried to get warmed up in the first 5km downslope segment but yet avoiding from running too fast.  It was challenging to get the body and legs to kick into action as it was shivering cold.

By the 7-8km, the rain seemed to have abated and as I felt slightly warmed, I threw off my jacket – which was a mistake.  The headwinds started attacking at 10km and then all along till the end point.  I was looking for cover among the bunch of runners, and they too were swerving around to look for cover behind one another.  My hands and fingers were numbed from the cold and I had trouble feeling for my gels and electrolytes.  I spent loads of time fumbling with my waist belt and mini poncho which I had on and that really got to me.

This time, the Wellesley Girls at the 20km mark was a thinned down force, although the screams were just as loud.  I was struggling to keep up with the pelting rain and cold winds at the point that I didn’t really hi-5 that many of the supportive girls.  My hips and legs were having problems firing and I felt my strides shortened as I had trouble lifting my feet.

I took my usual hydration and gel ingestion, and the energy levels were being sustained.  The Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill came to me as a welcomed break from the long downhills which I felt added on to the stiffness of my legs.  But, it was mainly the chill factor that took a toll on my lower back and glutes.  My body was contorted with my hips forced back.  I could hardly run tall although I did try very hard.  My legs didn’t feel they belonged to me and were just going haywire with erratic short strides causing me to having to put in lots of effort just to maintain balance on the feet landings.

From the 25km onwards, my race was essentially shot.  I was just gunning to complete at all costs.  I told myself I would not DNF no matter what, although it looked tempting with so many of the runners visiting the medical tents set up all along the way.  The supporters really encouraged us and they sympathized with us having to go through those horrendous weather conditions.  They did their best to lift our spirits, but we were so focused in just trying to keep moving out there.  Once we stop, the race would be over.

The last 10km was the worst I have ever encountered in my 15 years of running marathons.  My paces dropped from 5min/km to 6min to 7min and even to 8-9min.  I was just shuffling as my legs were so stiff they could not bend at the knees at all.  I was not in pain nor was I fatigued.  The cold was just too much for my body, and I was lucky not to get into any hypothermia disruptions – there were many who had to DNF due to this, including elite marathoners.

The final 5km was a real struggle.  At some points, I stopped to walk as my legs just could not be lifted.  Even walking was a problem, but I had to keep moving just to get some warmth generated.  The run to the finish at Boylston Street was just pathetic for me as many runners from the waves behind overtook me.  I staggered to the finish after mustering all my senses, and literally collapsed into the arms of a Volunteer Marshal.  I asked if I had finished, else I would continue to run on.  He confirmed that I crossed the Finish line and helped me to get my heat blanket.

I was just plain shivering and my mind was just set on walking the 1km back to my Hostel as soon as possible.  I bypassed all the photo stops, food and goodies handout.  I staggered all the way to my room in a zombie-like state, and just slumped down when I finally arrived.  I quickly took off my wet clothing and went for a hot bath.  It took 20min for me to warm up before I felt much better.

It was surely the hardest marathon or run that I have ever done.  My room mates and media reports later would confirm that many elites and runners have suffered and dropped out of the race.  I was just grateful that I completed in one of my worst marathon timing (4:02 nett) to get my beautiful Unicorn Medal, something that many all over the marathon world so covet.

The overall Boston Marathon race organization was immaculate, even in such adverse weather conditions.  All the great stuff from the race pack collection and expo, transportation to start-line, race day crowd and entertainment, hydration and fuel support as well as post-race gear-checks and warm blanket / food distribution were as good as in past editions.  The race jackets, tees, and medal have larger logos this year which was a plus factor for most of the Boston Marathoners.

 

Trip & Race Experience

It was a very good experience this time at Boston Marathon 2018.  I have learnt valuable lessons which will put me in better stead when I tackle the New York Marathon later this year as well as the other World Major Marathon races.  The most challenging Boston weather conditions have toughened me mentally, and to some extent, physically.  I believe it has developed my tenacity and propensity for ‘pain’ tolerance during tough race conditions to be able to compete and complete in future challenging races and even in everyday life’s challenges.

Although I did not get to meet up much with our Singapore counterparts, I had more time and exposure with new friends and fellow marathoners from all around the world.  It was interesting to compare and contrast their practices and preparations for training and racing marathons.  These Boston Marathoners were all united in updating one another the latest weather status, sharing their various methods of running in such wet and cold conditions, chatting about the food and training they do back home.  They were all so focused in achieving their racing goals.

There was so much I have learnt from them and there will be much more to learn from my future participation in international marathon races.  I look forward to my next World Marathon Majors race in New York where I should be better prepared for from my Boston Marathon experience.  All who wish to hear or find out more about my Boston Marathon 2018 learning can PM me separately.

 

Till my next Boston Marathon in 2023!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ops Kookaburra Kick Off: Training For Good Times

Ops Kookaburra Kick Off: Training For Good Times

Operation Kookaburra, the 12-week structured training program to prepare marathoners for the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM18) on 1 July kicked off smoothly at the Singapore Sports Hub last Saturday evening.

After an early evening bout of showers, the Kookaburra trainees joined the larger group of Sundown Marathon Pacers and trainees for a combined long run into the popular East Coast Park training routes.

The Kookaburras led by their respective trainers were segmented into different training groups to Train For Good Times at GCM18.  A briefing of the 12-week program overview with weekly training schedules and guidelines were given to arm the marathoners with the necessary knowledge and commitment to meet the training requirements.

Comprising of weekday Tempo Runs, Hills, Interval Training, Easy Recovery Runs with guidance for the them to execute on their own following the training plan, the Kookaburras were also to meet with their FatBird trainers for weekend long runs (basebuild, marathon pace, optimal pace) to hone their running economy for better performances at the marathon distance.

Many of the Kookaburras who signed up for this structured training are new to running at GCM and in cool weather marathons.  The Kookaburra training will also provide the necessary preparations for these runners to excel and achieve their targeted Personal Bests and Boston Qualifiers at this IAAF-certified Gold Label Marathon.

The kick off long run training saw the Kookaburras run 21km at Marathon Pace (MP) without too much trouble.  A few of them have not done such a distance in a long time, and were glad to have achieved their training objective with the help of the Kookaburra trainers.

As the weeks progress, the distance and intensity (pace based on HR Zones and RPE) will progressively be scaled up to strengthen the Kookaburra’s strength and speed endurance over 21.1km and 42.195km.

We look forward to the next face-face group training long run with even more Kookaburras coming on stream to build up our common objective for Gold Coast Marathon 2018 – To Run Good Times!

 

Sundown Marathon 2018 – Lead Up Run #2

Sundown Marathon 2018 – Lead Up Run #2

The second Sundown Marathon 2018 Lead Up Run saw a capacity crowd of runners turned up at the Marina Barrage for their first night long run training.

Led by the ever reliable Sundown Marathon Pacers from Team FatBird, there were the returning participants from the first Lead Up Run as well as new participants looking to do a good long run workout as part of their buildup for Sundown Marathon race on May 19.

Also joining in the run were the Sundown With Love Ambassadors and charity beneficiaries who were there to support the run for a great cause.  Adrian Mok, MD of Hivelocity on on site to give a opening address to welcome the Sundown With Love supporters, the Sundown Pacers as well as the Lead Up Run participants.

After a nice group photo session, the participants were led on a warm up routine of body looseners and activation drills by the Sundown Pace Leaders.  The Sundown With Love beneficiaries were flagged off for their run, followed by the main core of participants in the respective Half Marathon (2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h, 2:45h) and Full Marathon (4:00h, 4:30h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h) pace categories.

The dark clouds in the horizon gave way to clear skies and cool weather as the respective groups of Lead Up Run participants headed along Gardens By The Bay and onto East Coast Parkway for their 14km (HM) and 27km (FM) long run.  The first 3km-5km was a buildup from BaseBuild Pace and transitioning into target Marathon Pace (MP).

The beautiful sunset along GBTB set the stage for a night of cool and enjoyable running as the respective pace groups moved smoothly though the connector and onto ECP via the Green Metal Bridge.  There were already families and friends setting up tents and BBQ pits for their weekend festivities as our Sundown Runners ran along the Park Connector with dogged focus on their targeted paces.

The 2 hydration points comprising of iced cold Pocari Sweat were the Check Points that the runners looked forward to as they traversed the miles looking quite effortless.

The Half Marathoners turned back at Marine Cove (7km U-Turn) in good pace, while the Full Marathoners proceeded on to their U-Turn point at the Sailing Centre (13.5km).  As the runners transitioned from BaseBuild to Marathon Pace, the strides were quickened as the runners settled into their respective zones.

The HMers remained consistently steady on their return leg to finish strongly to meet their training targets. The FMers also ran strongly within target paces.  There were a small percentage in each FM groups that slowed down slightly after 20km, but still maintained a slower but steady effort to complete their 27km within regulation time.

The Pacer leaders conducted a group static stretching for all participants to aid with their adaptation to training and avoidance of DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness).  The Sundown participants were happy that they completed their targeted long run mileage in target MP.

Overall, it was a fruitful and satisfying Lead Up Run execution for all who came and participated.  Special thanks to the Sundown Organizers for providing the logistics support and Pocari Sweat for supplying the much needed isotonic hydration that helped all Sundown Pacers and Runners complete their night run mission.

All the participants and Sundown Pacers will now look forward to the third and final Lead Up Run on 21 April @ Sports Hub.  It will be the longest run of 19km and 30km to aid Sundown Marathoners’ final preparations race night.  Those who have registered for the Sundown Marathon and are keen to leverage on the lead up run training sessions can get more information and registration HERE!

 

Photos from FatBirds Chin, Rand

 


Operation NightHawk Night Marathon Training System

Runners preparing for the Sundown Marathon and other marathon races (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Boston, Taipei) in 2018 are encouraged to sign up for NightHawk Marathon Training to benefit from structured group training led by qualified and experienced Team FatBird marathon trainers.

 

Training Program details and registration HERE!

 

Team FatBird also has a Corporate Run & Marathon Training Program to prepare employees and running clubs of companies and institutions for local and international running races.  Write to info@teamfatbird.com OR Check Out Program Details Here!

 

Sundown Marathon 2018 – Lead Up Run #1

Sundown Marathon 2018 – Lead Up Run #1

As part of preparations for Sundown Marathon 2018, Sundown Organizers have tasked Team FatBird to organize a series of 3 lead up (training) runs led by the Official Sundown Marathon Pacers to help Sundown Marathoners with training and pacing for a good run on race night.

There was a good turnout for the first lead up run session of 12km for Half Marathoners and 22km for Full Marathoners @ Rhu Cross (Below Sheares’ Bridge) on Sunday morning.  The team from HiVelocity, Pocari Sweat and Sundown Pacers were out in full force on site to support the 100+ enthusiastic runners who sacrificed their Sunday morning sleep-in for some serious buildup training towards their Sundown Marathon targets.

After registrations, the participants were allotted their respective Pace groupings to meet their respective Pacers.  Team FatBird conducted the training and route briefing before the Sundown Pace Group Leaders led the participants on a 10minute dynamic stretching and running drills to activate the important running muscles.

The participants were raring to go after the good warm-up session.  They were flagged off in groups with their respective Pacers to the whistles of encouragement by the Organizers.  As they approached ECP via the Gardens connector, they were mindful of the training objective of this lead up run – a faster-finish long run starting at Basebuild Pace (Marathon Pace+20s) for the first half of the distance, and transitioning to Marathon Pace (MP) on the return to the finish.

The different Pace Groups of Half Marathon (2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h, 2:45h) and Full Marathon (4:00h, 4:30h, 5:00h, 5:30h) were running in unified formation led by the Sundown Pacers.  There was a hive of energy and an air of confidence in their running, all looking very strong indeed.

As they passed the 2 intermediate hydration points with Pocari Sweat isotonic and water, the runners took the opportunities to re-hydrate and replenish electrolytes while taking very little stoppage time in order to maintain their target paces.  All the pace groups did well to keep to their respective tight-knit formations as the HM participants turned back for the finish at the 6km mark (C4 Shelter).

The FM participants continued on towards PA Campsite (22km U-Turn).  On the U-turn, all the pace groups shifted into higher gear and transitioned into a faster pace (Marathon Pace) and maintained their effort and paces all the way to the end point.

The Lead Up Run participants were duly rewarded with Pocari Sweat drinks and bananas upon completion to replenish their electrolytes and some carbs and protein to kickstart the recovery process.  Special Sundown towels were also given to runners to soak up their perspiration of a good workout.  The 10min static stretch conducted by Pacer Trainer Beverly for all participants was enjoyed with a sense of satisfaction.

A short debrief along with some tips of pre-race and post-race nutrition, marathon training buildup was conducted by Team FatBird trainers.

The session was completed with a Pocari Sweat lucky draw which had 3 lucky participants walking with interesting prizes.

All the participants and Sundown Pacers will now look forward to the second Lead Up Run on 31 March @ Sports Hub.  It will be a night run covering another part of the Sundown Marathon route to better condition and prepare Sundown Marathoners for the night race.  Those who have registered for the Sundown Marathon and are keen to leverage on the lead up run training sessions can get more information and registration HERE!

Photos from FatBirds Therese, Rand

 


Operation NightHawk Night Marathon Training System

Runners preparing for the Sundown Marathon and other marathon races (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Boston, Taipei) in 2018 are encouraged to sign up for NightHawk Marathon Training to benefit from structured group training led by qualified and experienced Team FatBird marathon trainers.

 

Training Program details and registration HERE!

 

Team FatBird also has a Corporate Run & Marathon Training Program to prepare employees and running clubs of companies and institutions for local and international running races.  Write to info@teamfatbird.com OR Check Out Program Details Here!

 

Sundown Marathon Training Week #2 – Night Long Run

Sundown Marathon Training Week #2 – Night Long Run

The NightHawks were at MacRitchie Reservoir for week #2 of Sundown Marathon Training by Team FatBird – this week it was their inaugural night training run at the Mystic Reservoirs route.

The Sundown Marathon being a Night Marathon race require that Night Long Runs are a key component of a structured training program for conditioning and preparing marathoners to perform well in the different set of challenges presented by running in the night, especially in the humidity of Singapore.


Week #2 of Sundown Training saw the NightHawks embark on their first of a series of 6 night long training runs.  The mission for the NightHawks were to cover the enchanting Reservoir routes of 15km (HM) and 24km (FM) in a faster-finish long run.

The trainees along with the Sundown Pacers were to pace themselves from BaseBuild Pace in the first half transitioning to Marathon Pace on the return of the run in their respective pace groups of varying target marathon goals.

The cool and windy night made for very comfortable running along the forested-flanked roads covering MacRitchie, Peirce and Seletar Reservoirs.  Armed with light-coloured apparel, lights, whistles, the various pace groups were quite visible and attractive as they moved through the darker parts of some of the routes.

When the final group (5-hour) returned back to the start point at MR Amenities Centre, it was well within the 3-hour time-on-feet maximum.  The various pace groups, led by experienced marathoners from the Sundown Pacer team, did very well to hit the right pace targets given for the night training.

Overall, it was a very smooth and effective night conditioning training for all NightHawk participants – it was all evident in the pacing and completion times, management of effort, as well and a sense of giving a solid effort without feeling drained by the workout.

The NightHawks and Sundown Pacers were given a debrief as well as some preparation tips for their first test of their pacing abilities at next weekend’s first Sundown Marathon Lead Up Run.

We look forward to having Sundown participants join Team FatBird and Sundown Pacers for their first training run (out of a 3-part progressive build-up) in their training journey towards achieving their targets on race night.

 

The NightHawks Aced The Mystic Night Run Training!

 


Operation NightHawk Night Marathon Training System

Runners preparing for the Sundown Marathon and other marathon races (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Boston, Taipei) in 2018 are encouraged to sign up for NightHawk Marathon Training to benefit from structured group training led by qualified and experienced Team FatBird marathon trainers.

 

Training Program details and registration HERE!

 

Team FatBird also has a Corporate Run & Marathon Training Program to prepare employees and running clubs of companies and institutions for local and international running races.  Write to info@teamfatbird.com OR Check Out Program Details Here!