If you were to ask Alex White about this year’s marathon experience, he would call it “a gift.”
Last week, White ran the Boston Marathon for a second time. He admitted that he ran his previous marathons with little training. This year, however, he took his training seriously and started doing track workouts with Somerville Road Runners in order to perform better at this year’s Boston.
As White prepared for this year’s Boston, everything was looking promising. The scheduled weather was temperate. He set a timing record for 2 hours and 35 minutes, twelve minutes shorter than his current personal record. He had a good schedule. He was looking forward to running with members of his club. More importantly, he wanted to finish without being taken away in a wheelchair!
However, on the morning of the race, Murphy’s Law seemed to take over White’s efforts. The watch he wears in order to pace himself would not work. He had to run the race without knowing his time. At first, he ran OK because he started with a friend who ran about the same pace.
However, he had to go off-pace for a while.
Three miles into the race, he started to feel unwell. His digestive system gave him several problems. He had to take several unanticipated rest stops—something that would certainly affect his timing. After several stops, he didn’t know how he was going to finish. Alex’s quote from the video, “food is poop,” mocked him in his efforts.
After a few rest stops, port-a-potty stops (or “speedy dumps” in White’s words), his pace picked up. We shot this picture of him at mile 21. He even saw us when we screamed his name.
He joked in an email “Good thing this photo is of me in great despair…ha ha, but I love it-great shot for how I felt pretty much the whole race.”
At mile 22, Alex caught up with his friend. Once he realized how much he caught up, he started running with more confidence.
However, it did not happen easily. Alex admits to feeling dehydrated during the race. He estimated that he lost 10 – 11 pounds during the run.
Then, he saw the clock that read “50 meters to go” and he realized how well he paced. He did not know until that clock that he was nearly running his goal time and that he would cross the finish line. He started hearing “USA chants” as he ran. He said, “My stomach was destroyed, but my spirits were lifted.”
So he crossed the finish line and did not need to be wheelchaired out. Molly, from our podcast, waited for him at the finish line in Copley Square. He considered the finish “magical, everything worked out.”
White made his personal record of 2 hours and 36 minutes. He finished 160th out of nearly 27,000 participants. According to Alex, “I feel that PR was donated to me.” Though he credits that his training efforts set him up, he thought that his stomach was going to set him back. White claims that the day and its experience was “surreal, don’t know how it happened. Time floated, time melted.”
White attributes his good performance, even with adverse circumstances, to his training with the Somerville Roadrunners. Training with that group for the last six months really enhanced his performance.
What’s next for Alex White? He will be running the Chicago Marathon in the fall. He is also playing ultimate frisbee with the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance. His team’s name is “Driving Miss Daisy.”
Additionally, his quote “food is poop” is very popular with his running group.
In the lead up to the Boston Marathon 2011, my classmate Kristen Stivers and I pulled Alex White away from his busy schedule to ask him about his love for marathons. Alex ran the Boston 2011 marathon and finished it at an amazing timing of 2:36:34, breaking his previous record by 11 mins!