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RE: Wired's Nicholas Thompson on Boston: "It’s a terrible course if you want a personal best." Agree or Disagree
I am always advising people that Boston is not set up to run their best race. If everything works out OK that's great, but aiming for a PB should not be the main goal (some people keep 'Boston PBs' separate from 'lifetime PBs"). Weather, wind and hills are the most obvious reasons but I think there are a few more subtle factors at play.
- The logistics of race morning. Getting up really early, busing out to the start, hanging around the athlete village for hours, and being in the corrals for 30-45mins before starting are all less than ideal.
- The 10am start (or later if not in Wave 1) is also something that most weekend warrior runners are not used to. Most people run earlier or later in the day for the vast majority of their training. Consider 3hr marathoner - a 'normal' marathon starting at 7 or 8am has them finished by 11am; at Boston that same 3hr run is between 10/10:25/10:50am to 1-2pm, which usually has the most heat, wind and intense sunlight of the day.
- The runners I coach all live and train in winter climates. Unless we get a really early spring there is little to no heat acclimation. Even a normal April day feels overly hot and unusual.
These little things taken on their own may not amount to much, but taken together they become something significant. Some things can be practiced or dealt with (ie. planning some long runs for later in the day and rehearsing race morning) but for many race day is the first time all of these variables are thrown at them and it can be enough of a tipping point to make PBs rare...even if they are in prime physical shape to run their best.
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