It Wasn't Easy, But David Shull Ran the Boston Marathon
The Stow resident said the race was "brutal" but is looking forward to the next marathon.
It was so hot in Boston April 16 that 4,000 people dropped out of the Boston Marathon before it even began — but not David Shull of Stow.
And although he said there were plenty of times he felt like he could literally drop during the race, Shull finished in just over four hours.
"A person has to meet a specific qualifying time at a certified marathon for their age group in order to even apply to Boston. I qualified by running a 3:08 at Cleveland in 2011," he said. "The unusual heat at Boston affected me so much that I was over an hour slower than expected. I had hopes of breaking into the 2’s."
Shull still finished 9,705 overall and 6,748 in the men's category out of a total of 22,480 runners. More than 900 runners didn't even finish the race.
"This 'race' in one word: brutal," Shull, 42, said. "It was brutal due to the heat ... in the mid 80s. I also put race in quotes, since only the professional runners were racing. For the rest of us it was an experience."
And what an experience it was.
During the first half of the race, Shull helped a man wearing a Batman shirt retrieve his lost shoe.
"We were in the middle of the path so I turned around and started yelling 'Split! Split!' and waving my arms over-head. He was able to get his shoe back on without getting trampled," he said. "I thanked Batman for all he had done for our fair city and we had good chuckle as we shuffled toward our mutual destiny of crossing the starting line of the Boston Marathon."
Shull said he was keeping up a good pace, but kept trying to pull back the reigns because of the heat.
"At the half-way point, I could tell that the heat was affecting me more than I had anticipated or remembered from my youth. My pace was down to 9:00/mile and it wasn't exactly by choice. Then by mile 18 I was down to a 10:00 pace and it just kept dragging down," he said. "I kept evaluating myself for symptoms of heat illness. My skin was salty and I didn't think that I was sweating enough. I kept drinking and using the GU gel about every 30 minutes, but I just couldn't get a good sweat flowing."
The spectators that lined the streets included families, residents and the occasional group of fraternity boys who offered everything from beer to pretzels to fruit and water, said Shull.
"Some runners took them up on the offer [of beer] ... not me," he said. "The ladies of Wellesley College were a treat. You could hear them way before you saw them and when you were by them it was deafening. All of them were screaming support and begging for kisses. My pink Susan G. Komen shirt was a hit, but I didn't go for any kisses like the guy in front of me did and I almost ran him into the ground."
With the last leg of the race in sight, Shull said he was between a mix of jogging and walking.
"At one point I was walking and it was in the area of my hotel. I didn't know it, but my wife was there on the side yelling right at me. I never heard her and she was probably 10 feet from me," he said.
At mile 18, Shull said he had really crashed.
"I so desperately wanted to be running, but even jogging at a slow pace would upset my stomach and force me to walk, lest I become the star of YouTube the next day for puking on the course," he said.
(Shull said he didn't end up throwing up until after the race was over.)
After crossing the finish line, Shull said he just managed a smile for the camera, chugged half a bottle of water and willed his stomach to settle down.
"I heard a spectator yell out to the person next to me that he wasn't a virgin any more. I looked at the runner and verify, 'this is your first marathon?' ... 'yep' ... 'dude, I swear they only get better after this one!'" Shull recalled.
But, Shull did something many would not attempt and finished a race that many could not.
"It may seem strange to be proud of your slowest-ever marathon time, but I earned every second of it," he said.
Shull plans to run in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 6 and then will begin training for a 50-mile race in Michigan in October. If the 50-mile races go well, he said he wants to try the 100-mile local Burning River race.
"I am part of Boston's history now and years from now it will pop up in conversation, 'Yep, I've been to Boston ... it was back in 2012' and the other person will marvel at how that was the year of the heat ... hopefully," Shull said.