23 Aug 2014
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Brutal: A Beacon Hiller's Account of Running Yesterday

Joe Selvaggi says he's looking forward to his next marathon in a cooler place, "maybe the South Pole."

Brutal: A Beacon Hiller's Account of Running Yesterday

Even though Beacon Street resident Joe Selvaggi trained for the Boston Marathon for months, running upward of 60 miles a week since January, yesterday's heat made the race "miserable."

Selvaggi, 46, is a year-long runner and Monday's race was his eighth marathon. On Friday, he said he felt like a "tightly wound spring. I would love nothing more than to go out and pound out 15 miles." Even so, by mile three in yesterday's race he said he knew he was in trouble. 

Selvaggi was one of . To see how a particular racer did, search by name or bib number here

Here's Selvaggi's story, in his words:

You know that it will be a long day, brutal heat just makes it more miserable.

I had a range of time goals which went from requalifying for Boston (I needed a 3:25 which would be a great time), to a 3:30, which still would be good, to doing better than 3:40 to be considered a "real runner." I finished with a 4:19. Ouch.

My plan was to go out slowly and use my heart rate as an indication of my body's reaction to the heat. My target marathon rate is 148 beats per minute. By mile three, I was at 168 bpm despite running at a pace a half minute slower than my target pace. I knew that I was in trouble. I ran slower than I ever thought that I would. My wife, also a marathoner, met me at mile 18 and helped me suffer to the end. I feel good this morning and am already looking for a marathon in a cooler place, maybe the South Pole.

What people overlook is that it's not that heat makes running uncomfortable (all running is uncomfortable), it is that it raises your internal temperature and the heat can't escape. Your muscles start to cramp and fail to perform. Those of us who live and train here in Boston typically train in temperatures in the 30-40 degree range. One can always warm up. Cooling down can be very difficult. The heat gives an advantage to those who live in warmer climates due to their practice adjusting to the heat. Heat also favors small and skinny due to their better surface area ratio.  

I have six friends who ran yesterday. All had terrible times. One of my friends who was shooting for a 3:10 dropped out at mile 19.  

A great marathon can hook you for life. I feel bad for those who ran their first one yesterday who may have been turned off by a miserable experience. I stick to my point that marathons are like life, you can only control so much and the rest you must accept. I will keep plugging away and add yesterday to the war stories that veteran runners all have.

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