Scott Mindel’s phone battery gave up while his friends were trying to reach him on Monday.
Unlike his phone, the Ballston Lake native never ran out of juice.
On the contrary, he said he’d never felt better over the final five miles of any marathon, and the product was a big personal-record 2:22:25 at the Boston Marathon, good for 30th place overall and 17th among American runners.
The congratulations came first; the calls of concern — many unanswered because his phone was out — came later, on what was the most somber and terrible day in 117 years of the race.
• Area runners, spectators shaken after near misses. Click here.
• Boston's beloved day, dissolved in chaos and tears. Click here.
• Boston sportswriter gives first-hand account of bombings. Click here.
• View videos from Monday's explosions (warning: some footage may be graphic). Click here.
• Neighbors recall 8-year-old bombing victim. Click here
• 3 dead in Boston marathon bombing. Click here.
• Metal in bomb victim's leg similar to BBs: doctor. Click here.
• Map shows where bombings occurred. Click here.
About two hours before two bombs exploded near the finish line, Mindel said his time was a good indication that the early steps in his quest to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials are on pace.
“I’m really happy,” he said at 1:45 p.m., over an hour after he hit the finish line on Boylston Street. “I wanted to run a 2:22, and the plan is to have three opportunities to get the [qualifying] time.”
The 26-year-old Mindel, a former star runner for Shenendehowa High School and the University of Cincinnati, needs to run 2:18 or better to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
He placed better at Boston last year, 19th overall, but it’s all about time for him, not place.
He knocked almost five minutes off his 2012 finish (2:27:15), a significant improvement and a good sign that his training is producing the desired results.
Mindel, who has secured a minor sponsorship with Saucony, ran the first 10 miles with another Saucony runner, picking up another runner he recognized at the eight-mile mark.
He made a move at 10 miles and took aim at a pack in front of him that helped pull him through the half marathon in 1:10:37, right on schedule.
“I don’t know what it was, something just clicked,” he said. “Without saying anything, I just moved away and tried to catch the group in front of me.”
Mindel said he felt strong through the Newton hills and up Heartbreak Hill, then a serious moment of doubt happened about 21 miles into the 26.2-mile race.
“I got a really bad cramp in my right hamstring and hopped a couple steps to work it out,” he said. “I was pretty worried, because something similar happened last year. But it’s mostly downhill from there, which helped, and my strength training came through. Once I got my leg straightened and back in rhythm, I felt the strongest I’ve felt in the last five miles of any marathon.”
Mindel attributed his increased strength to pushing himself harder during his long training runs.
“My training is definitely better,” he said. “I’m doing more mileage and more long distance works. It gave me a lot of strength to handle running fast when I’m tired.”
Mindel’s 2:22:25 paces out to 5:26 per mile.
He said his last mile was around 5:20, and “I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast for the last mile.”
Mindel still has a long progression to work his way through before 2016.
Monday’s race, though, was a terrific move in the right direction.
“If I got 2:22 here, I wanted to get to 2:21 in the fall,” he said. “Then next spring, try to get under 2:20. By ’15, I want to be under 2:18, so I’m right on pace.”
Kristina Gracey of Albany, a resident at Albany Medical College, posted a Boston PR of 2:58:38, followed by her husband, Dan, in 3:33:04.
Kristina Gracey was the 111th woman to finish. . . .
Mindel spearheaded a fourth-place finish by Willow Street AC in the team standings. Also scoring for Willow Street were Thomas O’Grady of Latham (2:29:27) and Chuck Terry of Albany
(2:39:39). . . .
Emily Bryans of Delanson was hoping to be among the top masters finishers, but pulled out of the race at about 17 miles because of a hamstring problem.
“It’s too bad, because she was ready to roll,” said Brian DeBraccio of Scotia, who had his own problems with an Achilles, but still managed to finish Boston for the 16th year in a row, in 3:25:11. . . .
DeBraccio’s streak is impressive, but 61-year-old Daniel Larson of Queensbury has taken that idea to a whole other level, and finished his 38th straight, in 3:39:27. Larson has started 44 straight, dating back to his undergraduate days at Yale University, and has failed to finish just once. . . .
One runner happy with his time was Mike Roda of Albany, who ran 2:30:05 in his Boston debut.
The Team Utopia runner didn’t quite manage to get that 2:30 he was after, but took over three minutes off his previous best, a 2:33:26 on an easier course in the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon last fall.
“I got a PR, so I’m happy about that, but it’s maddening, in a sense, because I was so close to being under 2:30,” he said. “It’s a fraction of a couple of steps. But I’m super-happy.
“It’s an awesome sight coming down to the finish. You could compare it to Yankee Stadium or something. It’s a great feeling because the fans are so intense.”
The effort took enough out of Roda that he decided to stay in a hotel in Newton rather than drive home, and it was there that he saw TV news reports of the explosions as the story unfolded.
“It’s a terrible day, with everything going on,” he said. “Everybody’s calling each other. It should only be about the running, but it was a numbing experience. I ran a great race and want to celebrate, but more importantly I want people to be OK. That’s kind of what I take away from it, that it became a somber occasion.” . . .
Nancy Briskie of Schenectady, another Willow Street runner, had a terrific day, running a 3:12:38, good for seventh place in the women’s 55-59 age group. . . .
Some former Gazette Stockade-athon champions showed up in the results.
Fernando Cabada, the men’s winner in 2009, finished 16th overall in 2:18:23, and 2002 men’s champ Chris Hartshorn ran a 2:27:58 for 59th.
Eileen (Combs) Ferguson ran a 3:43:06.