On April 18th I ran my third marathon — the Boston Marathon. Through a strong spring training cycle I hit a PR of 2:46:33 (6:22 min/mile pace), slightly missing my ambitious goal of running a sub 2:45 marathon. Below is the summary of my training, assessment of the race, and my plans for what’s next…
Coming off Berlin with 2:49…Boston is harder but I still wanted a massive PR…
Before running the Boston marathon, I ran two marathons — the NYC Marathon and the Berlin Marathon. After crushing my goal of running under 3 hours in NYC (2:54) and trimming 5 minutes off that time in Berlin (2:49) I was determined to see what I could accomplish in Boston. My pre-season plan was to run a sub 2:45 marathon (6:18 minute per mile pace), which required shaving 4 minutes off my Berlin marathon time at a significantly harder course.
- 2019 NYC Marathon → 2:54
- 2021 Berlin Marathon → 2:49
- 2022 Boston Marathon →????
Boston Marathon Training — Freeeezing Cold
Boston preparation was the hardest training cycle leading up to a marathon. Not because of the running itself but because of the winter conditions I trained in. This was my first ever spring marathon which meant waking up to run in 12 degree weather, freezing gusts of NYC wind and constantly losing feeling in my fingers. A brutal physical and mental test.
The worst part about Boston Marathon was training in NYC frigid winter weather.
Boston Training Cycle Focused on 3 Things….
During my training for the Berlin marathon, I sustained a hamstring set back which prevented speed/tempo sessions and ultimately affected my race performance and ability to reach my goal. A key focus this training cycle for Boston was smarter training and recovery to enable quality sessions (tempo/speed workouts).
- Quality Sessions — The biggest opportunity for performance gains was speed/tempo workouts. My training volume changed weekly and mixed different workouts to stress muscles and energy systems while allowing others to recover.
- Hills — The Boston marathon is known for challenging hills late in the race. Therefore, most of my runs took place on Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges and Central Park, which incorporated elevation.
- Resistance Training—In March I felt knee pain, and also a hamstring strain after a 20 mile run. I followed Colin Griffin’s exercise routine incorporating weighted unilateral step-ups, RDLs, heavy deadlifts and lots of glute work which strengthened my quads/hamstrings, removed any pain and built more resilient legs for Boston.
NYC to BOSTON— Race Weekend Begins
The alarm sounded. 4:30am showed on the clock. Lindsay and I boarded our 7am flight from JFK to Boston. Upon arrival, we jumped in a taxi to the Boston Commons. The city was dressed in blue and yellow in anticipation of the 126th running of the Boston Marathon and the weather was a crisp 65 degrees.
The Most Prestigious Marathon in the World
Over 30,000 runners from around the world every year come to Boston to run the oldest, most respected 26.2 mile course. It’s every marathoner’s dream to qualify for Boston and test their mental strength and physical endurance on the course. We arrived on Friday , three days before the marathon and nestled into our room conveniently a few blocks from the finish line. The warm sun and energy from the city made it perfect to venture to the expo and get my bib.
When we arrived at the expo, I walked up to the wave 1 counter and told the lady my last name “Martuscello.” She grabbed my bib, looked me in the eyes and said, “Congrats on making it here.” These words stuck in my head throughout the weekend. I was so dialed into the upcoming race on Monday that I forgot I even qualified to be there.
Uh Oh…I Started to Feel Sick!
Friday afternoon I ran 5 miles and my breathing felt restricted, throat felt sore, and my mouth became very dry. My mind started to get concerned that I was getting sick. I immediately went to Walgreens and bought two 10-packs of Emergen-C, Cepacol throat lozenges, Tylenol and three bottles of water.
2 days before the race my throat was sore and symptoms of sickness arose. I forced my mind to believe that getting sick was not an option. I just needed sleep and hydration.
I guzzled down 18 packets of Emergen-C and slept eight hours each night leading up to the race. I pushed the idea of getting sick out of my awareness. Whether I was sick or not, I was running the race.
A Beautiful Boston Race Day!
I woke up Marathon Monday — April 18, 2022 — the brisk 40 degree weather put chills down my body. I boarded the bus to the starting line in Hopkinton. The 50-minute bus ride from the finish line to the start line showcased the true distance of the marathon.
Over 10,000 of the top runners in the world gathered for the 10am start. I chatted with a few friends to pass the time. The energy was radiating at the start as people elbowed their way into the corral.
The sound of gun was like the start of Kentucky Derby. Runners bolted out of the start gate amped with adrenaline. It is common wisdom to not start out too fast but for Boston especially because the beginning of the course is a steep downhill. I resisted the temptation of bombing down the descending first couple miles and stuck to my plan of running a 6:20–6:30 pace.
Miles 3–7 — Attaining a Flow State
The sunny weather and energetic crowd warmed up my body. I ripped off my gloves throwing them to the side. I focused on my breathing and tuned out the other runners and turned my watch to clock to prevent obsessing over time. I kept telling myself this was another upbeat Sunday run, which forced my mind to a flow state.
Mile 9 — Painful Cramp at Mile 9
At about mile 9 I got severe cramping in my left abdominal region. The pain felt like a sharp knife in my abs. My mind worried about what this could mean for the rest of the long race ahead. I also recalled the Long Beach Half I ran in 2019 where I experienced a similar excruciating cramp and the pain subsided after sticking it out for a few miles.
I reached the next water station and picked up a cup of lemon lime Gatorade and in a matter of minutes the pain went away. I felt like a new man and continued on.
Mile 13 (Halfway) — Time to Turn it Up
I reached the half marathon point 0:45 seconds ahead of my planned time of 1:22. Mile 13–16 was a stretch of gentle rolling hills where I picked up my pace to make up time for the upcoming Newton Hills. Passing through Wellesley, college girls cheered along the right side littered with signs to attract runners. I witnessed two runners make quick pit stops kissing the college girls.
Newton Hills…The Marathon Begins
The Newton Hills is where the real marathon starts — four miles of insurmountable climbs deep into the race that crush runners’ momentum. I physically prepared for these four hills putting in countless miles at Central Park’s Harlem Hill and repeated runs over Manhattan, Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges.
I felt confident knowing 1.5 loops around Central Park is more elevation gain than the entire Boston Marathon.
I shortened my strides and swung my arms to build momentum on the uphill climb. As runners slowed up, I passed dozens and maintained a 6:20, 6:16, and 6:17 pace up the first three hills. I felt very strong. After each uphill climb the terrain flatten, which provided a much-needed recovery. The last and fourth hill, “Heartbreak Hill” was the steepest climb and slowed me down to my slowest in pace in the entire race (6:34). As I worked up the hill I heard “JASON, JASON, JASON” and lifted my head to be greeted by my beautiful wife. Seeing her face at this point in the race was like a boost of momentum needed at this stage of the race.
Mile 21 — Top of the Hill Surprise
Hitting mile 21 at the top of the infamous heartbreak hill was a bit of a relief knowing it’s downhill to the finish. It took a solid half mile to get my bearings back and get settled in before I picked up my pace. My mind was thinking I have one loop in the park left.
The Citgo sign is iconic for anchor signaling the race is nearing the end. However, it was a mirage at first as I continued running but the sign didn’t seem to get closer. I noticed a Central Park Track Club (CPTC) runner and locked in pace to stick with him.
As I approached the heart of Boston the crowd thickened along each side of the road. The crowd roared with energy and enthusiasm providing a boost of energy. The right turn on Haverford and left on the Boylston meant the finish line was ahead. I looked down at my watch and saw 2:44. I saw the finish line in the distance, but it felt a little out of 2:45 range. I dug deep to the finish.
Finish Time: 2:46:33 (6:22 min/mile)
Immediately after crossing the finish line, I felt good about my performance. Although I didn’t hit my stretch goal of 2:45, I am pleased to have shaved three minutes off my previous best time in Berlin. Hitting a personal best in Boston is not easy to do!
A Boston PR is the best Breed of PR
London 2022–In Pursuit of Sub 2:45!
I am running the 2022 London Marathon this October on behalf of the Meningitis Foundation. It will be *20 years* since my brother Matt died from bacterial meningitis so it’s going to be a special race! (12–04–02)