Prioritizing Presence: 2023 Boston Marathon Race Report

Rolling with a pack somewhere around Mile 16.

This year’s 127th Boston Marathon was my sixth time running the annual Patriots’ Day event. It’s going to take some time for me to process this one but I can say that it was the most fun, best executed Boston I’ve ever run. It’s such a hard race, even when it goes well.

I had three goals going into this one: 1. Find joy in every mile, even if/when it sucks. 2. High five at least three kids along the way. 3. Thank volunteers at every opportunity. If those seem like a competitive cop-out, so be it, but after 2021’s literal shit show, where I was so focused on outcomes that I wasn’t fully present for the experience, I knew that my legs would do what they were trained to do if I got my priorities straight.

The highlight of the day for me was sharing so many miles with Levi Miller and Fernando De Samaniego Steta, two of my closest friends, not to mention my two most frequent training partners for this cycle. Fernando got out ahead of me and Levi in the beginning but we caught up to him a few miles into the race. The three of us rolled mile after mile together through 16 before separating in the Newton hills. We also shared the most comical but memorable post-race-group-hug-to-keep-warm shuffle back to their hotel in the pouring rain but that’s another story for a different day.

Going into the race I knew that I had sub-2:30 marathon fitness, I just wouldn’t know if it was sub-2:30 Boston Marathon fitness until I got out there. Early on it was clear to me that sub-2:30 likely wasn’t in the cards and that the worst thing I could do was to force my hand. (Trust me, I’ve tried. It never works out. The marathon, especially Boston, is undefeated in this game.) So I committed to racing smart, making good decisions, and trying to keep the effort as steady as possible through the hills so that I could race hard over the final 5-mile stretch to Boylston Street. That plan worked out well. I moved up throughout the race and passed more people than I could possibly count. I’ve run six Bostons and this was the first time I felt like I was actually racing the last five miles and not just surviving them. It was a lot of fun. I really wanted to negative split the race but ended up with the most even halves I’ve ever run here—1:16:43/1:17:31 for a 2:34:14 finish. (If you’re a number nerd, you can geek out on my Strava data here.) Not my fastest Boston but the best I’ve ever raced it.

It was also the best I’ve ever fueled for the marathon distance. I took a Precision Fuel and Hydration chew 20’ before start, started with (and drank down) a bottle of PF, ate four PF30 gel during the race, downed another bottle of PF at Mile 16, and drank water at every other aid station on average. In total, I took down 720 calories and 180 grams of carbohydrates from the start of the race to the end. Energy and stomach were both great throughout. (Note: PF&H is one of the morning shakeout’s annual partners. If you’re interested in trying Precision Fuel & Hydration products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)

All in all it was a really special day along the course, maybe the most energetic Boston I’ve experienced in all the years I’ve attended this race. Unfortunately, as it was brought to my attention a couple times last night, not everyone was allowed to bring the same energy and that’s a bunch of bullshit. I remember running by this cheer station and it was going off—in the best way! Exactly what you want as you’re about to buckle down and bring it home. No threats to runners, just loud love and endless enthusiasm for everyone running past. I understand the need for public safety at a big event—there were plenty of police officers monitoring various sections of the course—but to physically barricade a group of mostly Black and Brown folks for making noise at a marathon is ridiculous, unacceptable, and worst of all, racist. I hate to wrap up this recap on a negative note but it’d be wrong to ignore this issue and not address it.

Thank you to everyone reading this for the interest and encouragement in the buildup to this year’s Boston Marathon. It meant a lot and kept me going when the going got tough. To my wife, Christine, I’m forever grateful for your love and support in everything that I do. To my training partners, this was a team effort. Thank you for letting me be a part of the squad. And to the athletes I coach who also raced, even if I didn’t see you out there, you were on my mind throughout the day and inspired me to practice what I preached out there. I’m not sure how many of these I have left in me but this is one I’ll enjoy and cherish for a while. I smiled and gave out a bunch of high fives and said thank you a lot. The rest took care of itself.

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