Tuesday, April 19

Boston Race Report

The Start – wave 2, corral 4; setup in the front third.  My first Boston but marathon #16 in past 7 years.

My plan was to PR, aiming at 3:28 cutting a 2 minute margin from my BQ – PR last spring.  The goal pace was 7:56 but since GPS consistently under report paces by 4 to 6 seconds I would use 7:50.  The Data Tool lists my MP @ 7:48 based on a half marathon PR 2 weeks ago so I figured if I was having a good day I’d be reasonably safe.

Pacing strategy:  EN style

Miles 1 – 5 @ 7:55                (+ :05)
Miles 6 – 16 @ 7:40              (- :10)
Miles 17 – 21 @ 8:00 or slower based on max HR below 172 (+:10 or more)
Miles 22 on @ 7:50              (at pace or best effort)

Holding back from the start is always tough but being imbedded in a river of moving bodies makes it harder still.  Even so I managed to let the rabbits go mostly.  I even paused to pee in mile 1 resulting in an 8:18 mile.  The next 4 averaged 7:52 (a little too fast) but the 5 mile average was 7:57 – right on target.

The middle 11 miles were to be at 7:40 and 8 were within +/- 2 seconds – how is that for ninja execution?.  Overall average for this section was 7:41 – again perfect pacing.  I did begin to feel the downhill starting around mile 12 into Wellesley.  At first it was the lower quad just above my knees.  I knew it was going to hurt bad later on.

Heading into Newton I decided to be more conservative and held my HR down below 170 instead of 172.  My thinking was that the quad fatigue already spreading up my thighs and anything I can do to minimize the deterioration would be good.  I was hurting and it was going to get worse…. Despite that, I did manage to hold it together thru the hills, mostly.   Pace for the hills was 8:34, slightly slower than desired but managing HR and not burning all the matches was critical. 

As I started the decent from Heartbreak, the quads really started to light up.  By now the burning in my thighs  went from knee to hip flexor on every stride.  I longed for a flat road because the steeper the grade, the slower I ran – it just hurt too much.  Mile 22 @ 8:06 degraded to 8:29 by 23.  Now cramps were getting unmanageable and I was forced to stretch and walk in mile 24.  Pace had degraded to 9:53 and the wheels were off the bus.  Mile 25 was even worse with more cramps, stopping to stretch and walk it out – pace at 10:02.  I resorted to counting paces to keep things moving.  Count to 12 and start again.  Stay in the box…. 1, 2, 3,…, 11, 12…1, 2…  The final mile was at 9:09, pretty respectable after the previous 2 miles….

The bright spot in the darkness of the last miles was finding Carole in the crowd as I emerged from under  Mass Ave.  That made me smile and gave me what I needed to finish.

Final time 3:37:02 @ 8:17 (my Garmin had my pace at 8:10 reinforcing the 5 to 6 second under reporting)

Overall 9692 / 23879
Gender: 7395 / 13806
Division: 831 / 1924

Final thoughts
It was great to have the privilege to run Boston.  Not my best finish or a PR but it was my third best finish of 16 races.  I executed my plan perfectly for as long as I could.  In hindsight it may have been too optimistic but everything leading up to the race supported my plan.  Unfortunately my durability on the downhills did not.  On paper it looked like a fast course, I was wrong.

I liked the course, it was interesting to run in a crowd the entire way.  I had never run in a race that big before.  Fans were really something, especially the Girls of Wellesley.  Organization, logistics and support were amazing.   On the down side, I found the noise painfully loud at times and had me wishing for ear plugs.  It made it very hard to stay inside my box when the pain got bad.  

Bottom line – Mount Desert Island Marathon still rates better in my book for overall experience and scenery.

Friday, April 15

Chomping at the bit...

Getting psyched to go but need to pack yet.  Leaving in the AM and heading straight to the Expo…..


Run Strong!

Monday, April 11

You Call That Tapering?

The 115th Boston Marathon is in less than 7 days and I should be deep into my taper.  The thing is, I’m not.  In recent weeks I have cut my volume somewhat but have run 2 races and established PR’s in both.  This weekend should have been a bit easier in the final lead up but it didn’t turn out that way.

The workout schedule I built for myself had me going for 14 miles this weekend at an easy pace and not much else other than plenty of rest.  Well, Saturday came and the weather was so nice – like 60* and sunny –  I just couldn’t resist the temptation to go out for a ride.  It was the first time in 6 months I’d been outside on my bike.  The ride turned out to be a 32 mile ABP (always be pushing) lets see what you can do kind of ride.  It was awesome!  Not as fast as I had hoped but my cadence was 10 to 15 rpm higher than during the winter on the trainer and felt solid.  Overall the IF for the 116’ ride was 0.865 and I felt pretty spent when I got back.

Sunday came and since I did the 2 hour bike, thought I should back off the long run and do 8 miles with 2 miles at a tempo pace.  As the temp warmed to 44* under sunny skies, I headed out the door. It was a perfect day for a run.  After a mile to warm up, it hit the gas aiming at 7:30 (my HMP) and held on for 2 miles.  Mile 4 was a recovery mile and should have been my turn-around.  Miles 5 and 6 came and went but I just wasn’t ready to head for home yet.  Finally at the 7 mile mark I turned for home.  It was the first time looking at my pace since mile 3 and I was at 8:09 for the first 7 miles.  Way faster than I expected and realized that to run a negative split, I would need to run pretty hard – not something I was planning…..  Mile 8 felt comfortable at 7:45 which got me thinking “Hey, I can do this” so I continued to push, looking to hold my MP smooth and steady till the end.  I finished up with a 7:57 pace preserving my negative spilt with a 7:46 on the back half. 

Just as I got home, Sierra was messing with her bike and getting ready to leave.  I had told her before my run that I’d go with her if she wanted.  Well, looks like I had to hurry.  So, inside I changed into my EN bike kit and whipped up a smoothie to replace some calories – my first recovery meal.  We were on the road in about 20 minutes.  I could tell I was tired but I figured it would be relaxing ride.  We ended up going 20 miles in just over an hour and a half.  Now I was totally spent and in need of some serious calories.  My second recovery meal was a 1/3 lb burger on the grill with cheese and a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Thing is, my day was not over yet.  Carole was out back with the brush saw and wanted help.  My job was to go down on the river bank with the brush saw and cut all the brush between high water and the top of the bank.  Not an easy task because it is steep and slippery with all the round rocks covered by 4” of leaves.  Long story short, I got it done, mostly.  But I had nothing left afterwards.  It was all I could do to crawl up the bank and slump against a tree to sit for a spell. 

A little later on Carole made some pizza dough and I had my third recovery meal.  Home made pizza loaded with veggies and a big pile of cheese!  Yum!  Needless to say, I was useless the rest of the day….. so much for tapering!

Run Strong

Tuesday, April 5

Two Half Marathon Race Reports:

New Bedford, MA - 3/20/2011

"A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat"
This was my second time running New Bedford.  Last year I ran it with Sierra and set a PR by a 5:27 margin.  I had high hopes for this year as well and guess what......

I did awesome! I always seem to run well on a full moon.... weird I know but true so far. Boston is on a full moon too ..... just sayin....

Gun time temp was at 34* with a light E breeze at about 10mph. The day warmed to low 40's by the finish. The sky was a brilliant blue and no clouds. Race conditions were perfect. I raced more or less along the Endurance Nation HM pacing guidelines but I do pay a lot of attention to HR after the first few miles to make sure I don't burn too many matches and blow up. Basically I try to follow the pacing, but use HR as a governor.

So, in the end I was exceedingly happy with execution. The data tool has me a 7:30 for HM - a little too optimistic maybe.... but was able to finish in 1:40:53 @ 7:42. A PR by 3:34! My third half mary PR in a row - beginning with this very race last spring.

Stats: 719/2372 overall; 587/1366 men; 93/255 age group

Newmarket NH - 4/3/2011

I’ve run this 3 times before so I knew the course fairly well. No big hills, but a few of the hills that are there are steep. Miles 3 to 6 are on a dirt road, and with the 8” of snow Friday, I was concerned about muddy splash holes. Turned out much better than expected. No snow, no mud and only a few wet areas. Gun time temp about 41*, clear sky and NW wind at 10 to 15 mph. I was wearing sunglasses, shorts, EN tri vest, arm warmers and gloves at the start. The arm warmer lasted 3 miles, the gloves were on for first 4 and last 3.

Initially I thought lingering fatigue from Sunday’s 22 miles plus Wednesday’s 10 mile tempo would take the sharpness from my legs and I would be smart to hold back a bit… Na, it is a race, I had to go big. For the start, I lined up just behind the 7:30 Pacer – my EN HM pace. The plan was to hang on to the pace group thru to the end. That would give me my PR with a minute or 2 to spare. Not quite EN style pacing but…. as long as I could see the pacer, manage my HR and not overachieve early I believed I could pull it off. Heck, it’s only a half….. and a training run at that.

My HR was down for the early miles even though I jumped straight into 7:30 pace with a pace group. During the first few miles there were 20 or more runners in the pack. That diminished to only 6 or so by mile 8. By mile 9 I lost a few yards from the pacer and never could bridge back up. I ended up running 20 yards back the rest of the race, not gaining, and not loosing ground to the pacer. After mile 2, HR was stable between 168 and 172 for all but about 4 minutes on hills. Pace was fairly even other than 1 mile at 7:08 (gradual downhill at mile 11) all other miles were between 7:17 and 7:37. Finished strong with 4 of the original pace group.

Carried 20 oz water and 3 Gu. Took Gu at miles 4 and 9, augmented my water at 2 aid stations, and finished with less than 3 oz in my bottle. Perfect nutrition, hydration and run kit. Weather was impeccable. Overall outstanding race.

Chip time 1:38:46 @ 7:32; rTSS 159.3 (NGP @ 7:22) - 4th consecutive ½ marathon PR, this time by a 2:07 margin.

Stats:  104/1174 overall; 91/524 men; 8/67 age group - Best finish ever!

Boston, better look out 'cause I'm coming..... With 2 decisive PR's and feeling at 100%, I believe I have the fitness and courage to go big and PR at the worlds' most coveted race event.