Another Boston ‘death march’

When I first saw the forecast on Wednesday, my first thought was: “those poor runners.”

Back then, it was for 72 degrees. That was nothing. Now it’s up to 90 for Monday’s Boston  Marathon.

I don’t necessarily feel bad for them just because I know many will end up in a medical tent or with an IV (been there), but due to the fact that so many runners train in the cold and wind for months only to have their big day dominated by the heat. Not to mention the cost it takes for time off and travel just to get to this point.

It’s a good idea to throw out goal times or attemps to re-qualify for next year’s race at this point. Just get through it. And start drinking water. NOW.

Fortunately, there is another option. Not running at all. Actually, that’s always an option.

But because the BAA was big enough to decide on Saturday to allow runners to sit this one out and defer to next year, obligation is taken out of the picture. And if you’re in good shape, just pick a “backup” marathon. There are plenty to choose from. Just in New England, there are six planned through the Memorial Day weekend: Burlington, Vt.;  Lenox, Mass.; Sugarloaf, Maine; West Springfield, Mass.; Providence, R.I.; and Bennington, Vt.

I’m running Bennington on May 20. Come join me.

The last time Boston had temps like this was 2004. I know because I was there.

I held back and ran 30 seconds slower per mile than I had originally planned, and I still nearly passed out after the race. I walked most of the final six miles. I remember seeing a runner I knew at about Mile 22. I was walking and he trudged by, still running, but very slowly. I asked him how he was doing.

“Hurtin’” was his only reply.

I ended up needing four bags of IV fluid the next day because I was still dehydrated and nauseous. I remember another friend calling it a “death march.” Luckily no one died that day.

I’m actually glad not to be running this year. Up until a few days ago, I was envious of those who were getting ready. Not anymore.

I’m not sure what I’d do if this was my year. Would I defer to next year? It’s so hard to just give up without even trying. I’m sure I would scale back my pace, knowing what the run in ’04 did to me.

I spent a couple of hours on Heartbreak Hill yesterday interviewing runners, and most were concerned about the heat. But not Thomas Cunningham.

The San Franciscan, who ran the Oakland Marathon just three weeks ago in 3:11, is here for his 10th Boston and 50th overall 26.2-miler. He told me there’s “no doubt” he’ll break three hours. His best previous marathon was seconds over the three-hour mark.

He was even talking about a possible 2:50. I’m rooting for him. But I just want to see him finish safely. A PR is great, but so’s your health.

The frustrating part about all this is that it’s supposed to be 65 on Wednesday. And even that’s above normal. But that would be so much better than what’s to come for Monday.

It’s 8:30 a.m. and already 62 degrees. Time for a run.

If you decide to run tomorrow, be smart about it. If not, there’s always next year.


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