Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mt. Agamenticus

I spent a chunk of the morning helping out at the Mt. Agamenticus Fat Ass 50K, but after things settled into their routine and it wasn't as busy, I got in a loop of the 7+ mile course with my buddies Ian, Emma and John.

I had run here a good handful of times before, but never on the these trails. Wow, they were awesome!!! Really rugged and hilly, and go through some really neat sections of forest. I'd definitely like to come back here more often, today was a real eye opener as to what this place really has to offer in terms of scenery and challenging terrain.

Run felt great, and I enjoyed the banter as we ran along. They were on their third loop when I joined them, and everyone was looking very strong.

Ran 7.3 miles @ 13:09/mile pace.
Rugged trails.
Insanely hilly.
Mid to upper 50s, partly sunny, humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ticks and Trails

I explored some new-to-me trails today around the town I teach in. I had seen the trails from the roads before on the commute to and from work for years, but finally checked them out today. Pretty nice, but badly eroded in spots from ATV's (law says no ATV's until after May 15th, but there ya have it). Still a good little network and I'll hit them again I'm sure.

One section of trail was a bit grown out, and along here I managed to pick up a few passengers. Actually, seven ticks, to be precise. None were embedded very deep, so easy to pick them off. One was huge though. I'd never seen one even come close to being that big and at first I thought it was a spider. Previous host must have been 'roiding.

As for the run, felt very sluggish... no doubt the result of not getting much sleep this whole week, thanks in big part to the Bruins/Habs series and of course the Red Sox. Easily fixed by forcing an early bed time though.

Ran 5.3 miles @ 9:19/mile pace.
Technical trails, some roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 60s, partly sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Barefoot in the Park

Got in my first barefoot run of the season today by running laps on the soccer fields near my school. Felt great and as usual with these runs, I used it to focus on my form (they're also good for recovery runs). Only one other guy about, a friendly older gentleman hitting some golf balls, but there was plenty of room for both of us.

Weather was very spring like today with highs around 70 degrees and the sun shining. Great to run in the warmth. Likely will hit the trails tomorrow and take a rest day on Friday, per my recovery plan.

Ran 4.1 miles @ 8:33/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Around 70 degrees, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10K of Roads and Trails

Hit a pretty fun route today, with the first half on roads which goes up the Oak Street hill (a doozy) followed by a steep downhill. After that, took the railroad trails back.

Legs felt great today and the quads feel back to normal. Didn't even feel any soreness on that steep downhill, which was a good sign. Still, kept the pace easy which is what all my runs should be for another week or so.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 8:15/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (wonky data, despite cleaning the strap yesterday.. grrr)
Paved roads and railroad trails.
Very hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

If You Don't Like The Weather...

TMR about to do some trail maintenance.
Photo stolen without permission from Maureen Sproul.
... just wait a minute.

Or in this case a day.

Yesterday, our Trail Monster Running group did maintenance work on the new Bradbury-Pineland Corridor trail, which will connect two of our favorite running areas. That was a lot of fun and a rewarding experience. In fact, we had so much fun working on it, we didn't think twice about the temps in the upper 30s while a constant cold rain which mixed with snow fell upon us.

Fast forward 24 hours later to this morning, with the sun shining and temps already in the mid 50s by 9am. That's about when I was out the door and hit the trails in the woods out back. Simply incredible weather, especially in contrast to yesterday. It was in the mid-60s by the time I returned.

I took a different section of trail for the first few miles, and lost the trail for a bit but after some bushwacking I found it again. Not too much later, I came across a sign posted by the U.S. Forest Service and red tape strung across the trail. The signed said the trail was indefinitely closed because of "unauthorized trail maintenance", along with sternly worded warnings of fines for ATV'ers caught on the trail. Interesting. Clearly targeted at that group based on that and other language, but a bit vague for trail runners. I'll definitely avoid that section in the future, just to play it safe.

Run itself went well. I'd say my quads are 95% recovered from Boston, but was happy to keep the pace very easy and just enjoy being out in the woods. Looking ahead, will just play things very chill the next several weeks so I can maximize recovery for the Pineland Farms 50-Miler at the end of May.

My general mileage plan is the typically prescribed marathon recovery schedule:

First week after: 0-25%
Second week: 25-50%
Third week: 50-75%
Fourth week: 75-100%

The only "problem" is that there are six weeks total between Boston and Pineland, so a bit of a reverse taper going on as a whole, but all manageable by playing it by ear while leaning towards being cautious to ensure fresh legs for Pineland but also maintaining fitness levels. So, pretty chilled out between now and then, which will be a nice break mentally and physically after a pretty stringent regiment for Boston.

Ran 7.3 miles @ 10:00/mile pace.
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s to mid 60s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Indian Cellar Land Trust

Post-Boston, my quads have been shot the past several days, but today I felt comfortable with going for a short trail run at a very easy pace to help loosen things up a little. Kate and I decided to explore the relatively new Indian Cellar Land Trust down by the Saco River. We incorporated a good amount of walking as we explored the trails, and ended up doing a big loop that goes alongside the river. Even when running, we just went really slow and took in the scenery (and kept our eyes out on where to go next).

Really beautiful area and fun terrain that's pretty technical. I was only a bit disappointed in the distance. We did the big loop trail and it only ended up being around 1.7 miles. However, it would be easy to cross the bridge at the parking area and run on the trails in the park on the other side of the river which would likely double the distance. I wouldn't mind figure-eighting those two sections in the future a few times, since the scenery is really nice (not to mention it'd be easy to go for a swim afterwards once it warms up enough). 

Ran 1.7 miles @ 14:57/mile pace. 
Technical trails. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower 50s, sunny. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, long sleeved shirt. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Boston Marathon Race Report

The race has come and gone, and I remain very happy with how it all went. I had hoped to break 3:10, but it wasn't in the cards yesterday. I'm totally okay with that, especially since I still got a new PR with a time of 3:12:41 and did it at Boston no less. So awesome to PR there. The event is just absolutely epic. So thrilled to have been a part of it and super stoked it all went very well. Below is a detailed account of the weekend. Sorry it's so long.

Sunday - Marathon Eve
After a drive of a couple of hours, Kate, my father and I arrived in Boston and parked the car next to the expo Sunday morning, a little after 9am. After picking up my bib number and goodie bag (by the way, the long sleeved tech shirts rock and are really sporty looking), I fought through the crowds in a quest to buy the Boston Marathon jacket I had been very critical of earlier. I guess I'm a bit hypocritical in buying one given that rant, but it's my first Boston, so I guess I have to have the jacket. If the printed logo begins to fall off, I'll just get it embroidered. Anyhow, low and behold Adidas didn't stock enough large sizes at the expo and despite getting there shortly after the expo opened that day, they were out. Great.

With that buzzkill along with the crowds, I just wanted to get out of there, so we headed out and walked down the street towards the finish line. A mile race was going on, and we were treated to some incredibly fast performances and that was fun to watch. Ran into a friend of mine Ryan down there also, and we chatted for a bit. After that we came across an Adidas tent at Copley Square selling Boston Marathon merchandise. Turns out the last large-sized jackets here just had been sold off the racks, but I asked a very nice and helpful employee if any were left in storage somewhere and he came back a few minutes later carrying a few and handed me one, saying these were the last ones. Whew.

Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel suite in Waltham. Given we had a full kitchen in our suite, we opted to have dinner there and Kate did all of the cooking, making us an amazing homemade pasta dinner. This was great because I knew exactly what I was getting. Her parents also joined us for dinner and were staying in the same hotel but just for the night, and it was great to also have them there.

That night, I slept really well and was thankful to get a full eight hours and wake up the next day feeling well rested and ready to go.

Monday - Boston Marathon Day

Kate and I after being dropped off. Note her shirt and
the moustache graphic. 
Kate, her parents and my father drove me over to South Street in Hopkinton via I-90, and we were fortunate to be right behind the police escort bringing the elite runners in and benefited from the police blocking the on-ramps as we drove by.

We easily reached the parking lot on South Street and I gathered my bag and bid them farewell, saying I'd see them on the flip side. After they were gone, I hit the porta-potties in the parking lot (no lines). I then boarded one of the yellow school buses that would take us to Athlete's Village.

Once there, I was in awe at the tens of thousands of runners that had converged into one spot to take part in the race. Wow! The positive energy of so many athletes in one spot is hard to describe. I soon found Jeff and Joe from our Trail Monster Running group and we hung out together until it was time. Some last minute porta pottie breaks (by the way, I've never seen so many porta potties in my life) separated us from each other and our corral numbers were called.

I dropped my bag off at the bus which would bring it to the finish, and then began the long walk to the start line. Kind of fun, and I had great time chatting with other excited runners along the way. I found my corral (my bib number was 6298 so I was in corral seven in the first wave) and there was plenty of room.

While here, I chatted with more runners about race strategy and what we hoped to accomplish. Then, the announcer began giving us three minute warnings, two minute warnings, etc. and the conversation began to be replaced with nervous silence and anticipation.

Hopkinton and Ashland - We're Off
The starting gun went off and it only took about four minutes for us to cross the actual start line. Not bad. My plan was to run the first five miles or so relatively conservatively, around :10/mile slower than what I hoped. I would have liked to have averaged around 7:10/mile throughout to break 3:10, so that meant running 7:20/mile pace for the first five.

The main reason for doing so was to conserve some leg energy, specifically the quads, for the end. It's significantly downhill those first four miles in particular, and so many runners contribute to wrecking themselves by getting too caught up in the race and going out too fast here.

I stuck to that plan of being careful the first several miles... for the most part. The first five miles I went 7:35, 7:14, 7:18, 7:15 and 7:15. I got down to cruising speed and hit 7:09 for that sixth mile, and was now on to a long relatively flat stretch that contained only very small, rolling hills for the next several miles.

Worth noting that just after the first mile, I heard somebody yell "J-ROCK!" for the first time. I had used white medical tape to spell that out across the front of my singlet. I figured it would be cool to have the crowds shout my name as I ran by and it was nice to hear my plan working.

Framingham - Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer
"Your world frightens and confuses me..."
I was now in my rhythm and felt a bit more relaxed and was in my groove with the pace. More yells of "Go J-Rock!" or something similar. Cruise control, and it felt comfortable. More elbow room now, but I was still amazed at how crowded it was. Looking ahead, there was a sea of runners in colorful outfits of every spectrum of the rainbow as far as the eye could see.

The crowds of runners is something I'm simply not used to at all. The biggest races I've done have had about a 1000 people in them. When I qualified for Boston at the Mt. Desert Island Marathon last October, aside from passing or being passed, I was alone the whole way. Sure, I was capable of the task at hand with this bigger race, but it was still an unfamiliar environment. This got me thinking about the old Saturday Night Live skit, the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, and how alike our predicaments were. That being said, being around so many runners doing the same pace wasn't really a hinderance and there were never any real issues with it. It did make running tangents pretty difficult at times, but not impossible.

At around mile seven, I heard a couple of people yell "Go Jamie!". Since they used my actual first name and not the nickname across my singlet, they obviously knew me. It was Noel, who works in my school district, and her daughter Maddy, who I was a camp counselor of sorts for last summer. Thanks ladies!

Not long after that, I heard another voice call my name. This time it was from a runner, and I turned to see Jeff! That was great. He was several corrals ahead of me, but he wanted to just run a 3:30 since he was riding off Nordic skiing for fitness from this past winter and hadn't got much running in (he ended up with a 3:15) so I knew there was a chance I might see him. Glad that was the case. We ran together for about a klick, and then he let me go ahead.

Natick - T-Rock
The great crowd support continues, and I am still cruising along comfortably and feeling great. I high fived a few little kids who I could see were thrilled whenever a runner took the time to do so.

I was really enjoying the crowds energy here and heard somebody yell "Go T-Rock!". Odd, it says J-Rock on my singlet. At first, I guessed that the idiot couldn't read. But then I heard it again, "Yeah T-Rock, looking strong man!" Wait a minute... I looked down on my singlet and the curvy part of the "J" was beginning to peel up. Crap. I managed to fix it some, but not entirely. As a result, throughout the rest of the race, half the people would yell "T-Rock". This annoyed me at first, but then I thought "ah, so what. It's the thought that counts". Just concentrate on the running there, Skippy.

At around mile 10, I recognized the church where Jeff had used the bathroom during the beginning of our training run on the course two weeks ago. This was nice, as there was no more virgin territory. I'd be able to recognize landmarks from here on out and recall the mental notes of the critical parts of the course.

Wellesley - Tunnel of Screams
Loud. So loud. Ear piercing, in fact. The girls from that college really know how to scream their lungs out. It was unreal. It was never in my plans to steal a smooch, but I did swoop close and gave a few of the girls high fives, nearly going deaf in the process.

What I thought was really cool was after the scream tunnel... you could hear them clearly for quite some time afterwards. Kind of surreal hearing their screams gradually fade off as the distance grew, and the sounds of our footsteps once again becoming the norm.

The course continued through the town of Wellesley for quite some time afterwards. It is here that the half marathon mark came up. I nailed it in 1:34:33. Yep, on track to where I wanted to be, but the Newton hills were coming up and I knew there'd be some slow down there, but I had hoped it wouldn't be by much. I had also hoped to make up for any slow downs on the subsequent backside downhills if the quads held up, but would have to see. I was starting to feel a little tired here, but not more than one would expect at this point in the race.

Newton - The Hills
At around mile 15.5 there's a huge downhill that is really steep. Here we go. Now the course gets really interesting. You see, after this big drop, the Newton Hills begin. The kind that go up. I began to feel my quads getting a touch sore on this downhill, so I decided to be careful and my pace slowed down to around 7:20/mile. I didn't want to burn out.

The first hill is before you make the corner on to Commonwealth Avenue, and didn't seem so bad on the two previous recon missions. It required more effort than I had hoped though, and the pace stayed in the 7:20s for another two miles. With nine miles to go, I had to be careful. Despite the pace drop, the effort still felt consistant, so a bit of an even trade based on the terrain.

I turned the corner on to Commonwealth Avenue and began the climb up the second hill. The crowds here were HUGE and very loud, which was great. Several more shouts of "Go T-Rock" or "Go J-Rock", depending on artistic interpretation.

Photo courtesy of
Not too much later I heard someone shout my actual name, and I turned to see my uncle, John. He ran alongside me for a bit as we exchanged some chit chat and he snapped a few pictures. I cleared that second hill and enjoyed a bit of a downhill.

Climbed the third hill, which isn't so bad, and then approached the fourth and final climb: Heartbreak Hill. The crowd here was incredible. Loud and encouraging, really getting the runners pumped up for the final big climb on the course. Pace was slower, but I noticed I was still going at an above average speed compared to those around me, passing more runners than were passing me. Kept that in mind and stayed positive.

Ah, the summit. I was there and the downhill began and I remember smiling here. Sweet. I got up the hills and was still feeling relatively good. I was still passing more runners than were passing me. Lot to be proud of here, so I enjoyed the high. The pace picked up some on the downhill despite the sore quads. They were still handling it okay for the most part.

Now came Boston College on the right. This was easily my favorite crowd section on the course. They were loud, drunk and rowdy but at the same time positive and encouraging. That was the perfect mix. Their youthful energy was contagious. And, knowing the tough uphills sections were over and I was now going downhill with only five miles to go was great.

And if that wasn't enough, shortly after the Boston College crowd, another crowd appeared: the Sanford Cross Country team I help coach! I was zoning out when I was snapped out of it with calls of "Yeah, Mr. A!!!" and looked over and saw them all screaming their heads off. That was a huge lift. I yelled back that they rocked and pumped my fist enthusiastically into the air. Really great to see them!

The Final Four Miles 
The pace averaged in the 7:30s for the final stretch. My quads now felt like merciless trolls had beaten them with war clubs, but they were still functioning. I knew I could tough it out and be okay. However, another concern came about, as I could feel my left calf panging, threatening to cramp. This scared me a bit, but fortunately it never did cramp up.

At mile 24, I glanced at my watch and did some rough calculations. It would take going just under 7:00/mile for the final two to break 3:10. I surged up to that pace some but then thought "no way"... not unless you really want to explode, so I backed off.  I knew I'd still PR and was fine with that, but I had to keep pushing.

The crowds grew exponentially thicker and louder with each passing mile. I could see the Citgo sign looming in the distance, knowing that it roughly marked mile 25. I remember seeing that ever present colorful sea of runners which really underscored how much farther there was until I made that right turn on Hereford.

My quads continued to hurt, but could still move. The calf still barked a little, taunting me that it could cramp up at any moment. Mind over matter here, and I tried to will it all away and did my best to keep the pace up as I watched that Citgo sign grow closer and closer. A small uphill from an overpass and there was Fenway Park off to the right. I wondered how the Red Sox were doing (thankfully Dice-K came through and they won big).

At last, up ahead, I could see the current of runners making the sharp right on to Hereford. Soon I was there and did the same, and there was Boylston Street just ahead. Sweet! The crowds now even thicker and even more intense, yelling and screaming their heads off. It was nuts! I loved it.

Finally, the left turn on Boylston and the finish line in view in the distance. I did my best to give something extra here but I didn't have it. I still pushed the best I could. For the past mile or two, I was dodging more and more runners who had bonked or cramped up and this final stretch was no exception. I remember one guy in particular who was really suffering, seemingly from leg cramps, I patted him on the back quickly as I ran by, shouting encouragement to him in an effort to get him going. I would find out later that it was here that my dad, Kate and her parents were stationed and were cheering me on, but I missed them. Very, very loud here.

The finish line now grew closer and as it did my smile grew wider. I crossed in 3:12:41, a new PR by 1m 53s, and at the most prestigious race on earth. Hell yeah, I'll take it!!! I was and still am so pumped!

Afterwards, the incredibly impressive organization of the Boston Athletic Association continued to show, with a very well organized procession line that made it easy for all of us runners in our delirious states to go through and get food, drinks, mylar blankets, and our drop bags before heading to the alphabetized family meeting areas. The volunteers were outstanding, all of them very friendly and helpful and they all seemed very genuinely thrilled to be there helping out. Ran into Jeff again here and we traded recaps of our races, both of us very stoked and basking in the glow of an incredible experience.

Fear the 'stache
As I approached the family meeting area, I went to the "A" section for my last name, and couldn't see my dad, Kate or her parents among the thick crowds of people at first. Then, I spotted the red-checkered Elmer Fudd styled hat belonging to my dad raised up in the air on a stick. That was brilliant, and I then made my way over and exchanged hugs with everyone.

We then found a not-as-crowded area and I sat down on a chair for a while before changing shirts and putting on warm-up pants. After chilling for a bit, we made our way back to the cars. Kate's parents were heading back to Maine that evening, but Kate, my dad and I headed back to our suite where we were staying another night.

Post race dinner!
Took a shower and John, JoAnne, Austin and Maria (aunt, uncle, cousins) came by and we had few drinks before heading out to a really awesome authentic Mexican restaurant and feasted like kings and queens. Great end to an already awesome day!

And now that is over, the moustache I grew out just for this marathon must be shaved. There's just too much magic inside, and it must be put away to a safe haven only to be retrieved when it's three full moons away from when it is needed next.
(Well, not really. Kate will kill me if I keep it any longer)

Official stats:

Bib number and finisher's medal

Unofficial splits (per the Garmin):
1 - 7:35
2 - 7:14
3 - 7:18
4 - 7:15
5 - 7:15
6 - 7:08
7 - 7:12
8 - 7:08
9 - 7:07
10 - 7:08
11 - 7:08
12 - 7:08
13 - 7:08
14 - 7:11
15 - 7:12
16 - 7:02
17 - 7:24
18 - 7:25
19 - 7:27
20 - 7:37
21 - 7:58
22 - 7:15
23 - 7:40
24 - 7:32
25 - 7:51
26.2 - 7:31/mile pace.

Other unofficial stats:
Ran 26.37 miles @ 7:19/mile pace (per the Garmin).
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 40s to around 60 degrees, sunny, tailwind.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, singlet.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New PR at Boston

Wow, what a great experience! That was seriously epic. I had hoped to break 3:10, but I came up a bit short. However, I set a new PR by 1min 52sec by coming in at 3:12:41, so I can't complain one bit. The experience was amazing. Really honored to be a part of it.

Full report in a day or two.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Boston Marathon Tracking

If you would like to follow my progress or any other runner's progress during the Boston Marathon, just go here for complete instructions: CLICK HERE

You'll need a bib number. Mine is 6298. I may do another post later today with some pics from the expo and what not. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beantown Awaits

Kate and I hit the trails out back for a short and very easy run. This was my final run in Maine. Picking my dad up at the jetport later today and then we're off to Boston early tomorrow morning.

With the race now just being two days away, the weather forecast should be pretty reliable and it's ideal: High around 60 degrees, sunny and a strong tailwind. Thank you, Marathon Gods!

Ran 2.2 miles @ 10:26/mile pace.
Some roads, trails, only about 10% covered in snow.
Mostly flat.
Lower 40s, partly sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Three Miles, Three Days

It being Friday and I have all of next week off, I felt especially hyper at work today. Being in the taper and having Boston coming up in three days only contributed. Struggled to keep the pace easy today as the brake pedal didn't seem to be working too well, but no harm done and at least it felt really easy.

When I wasn't bouncing off the walls at work, a couple of people told me my name was in the local paper along with others in the Sanford area running the Boston Marathon. Thought that was pretty neat. I headed down to the school library during lunch and made a photocopy. Pic of the article is below:

Ran 3.2 miles @ 7:37/mile pace.
Paved roads, paved paths, small section of trail.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Countdown Continues

The hours are now measured in double digits to the start of Boston. I am more anxious and ready to go than words can describe, but I'm also determined to run a smart race so I can get the time I want but more importantly, also enjoy the experience. The training has been solid, just have to execute properly.

Weather continues to look favorable for Monday. Looking like upper 50s to around 60 degrees, sunny and a tailwind. I'll take it.

Run today was a mix of roads, trails and paved paths. Doing these runs at an easy pace is driving me a bit nuts, but still an enjoyable run and it was another gorgeous spring day outside.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
Paved roads, converted railroad beds, paved paths.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Two at MP

Taper schedule called for a couple of miles at marathon pace sandwiched between a warm-up and cool down. Cold, steady rain throughout the run, so I was thankful this run allowed a little more speed to help stay warmer (though I was well dressed for the weather).

Continue to feel great about Monday. No pains, aches, or anything physically to be concerned with. Just doing my best to maintain the proper mindset. That means not getting too caught up in the hype in the days leading up and sticking to my plan once I cross the start line. Looking forward to it all though, should be a very fun time. Excited to have what's shaping up to be a large contingency of family, friends and even the high school cross country team I help coach cheer me on. All the more reason not to blow it!

Ran 4.1 miles @ 7:27/mile pace.
Paved roads and paths.
Mostly flat.
Lower 40s, overcast, steady rain.
Saucony Kinvara, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taper Worms

Another perfect spring day today. Felt great to get outside and get in a short run. Continue to feel great and all systems go for Boston on Monday.

As of now, the weather forecast for race day looks nearly perfect. Lower 50s, sunny and a strong tailwind. Plenty of time for it to change between now and then though, but regardless, I'm ready and not too concerned about it. As my buddy Ryan says about the weather and races, "irrelevant". 

Forgot to pack my running socks today and ran in my work socks. That worked out fine. Thankfully I have tough skin on my feet. 

Ran 4.3 miles @ 8:03/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Lower 60s, mostly cloudy. 
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Elk Farm Loop

Opted for the loop that goes by the elk farm for my final double digit mileage run before Boston. It's very hilly, and features a nice long downhill which was great for fine tuning my form on the declines. Did just that and it went quite well.

I let the pace come down some today, but still kept it reasonable and comfortable and it never felt like I was pushing it. Really incredible day today, with temps in the lower 50s rising to the lower 60s and very sunny. The birds were singing and the snow continued to melt. Great day!

Ran 11.7 miles @ 7:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - Wonky data first few miles, but it averaged somewhere in the lower 140s after that.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 50s to lower 60s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, sleeveless shirt.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Morning Trail Run

Per the taper plan, another easy five miles on tap for today. Decided to switch things up and hit the woods out back. The trails are still coated in 80-90% snow and ice. Bit more than I expected, but looking at the forecast, there should be substancial melting in the next week.

The icy sections were pebbled though so the traction was very good, especially with screw shoes. Easy mentally to keep the pace slow, as not to risk anything stupid. Was hoping to catch some early morning wildlife, but no luck. Just a few ravens and a guy walking his border collie (neat dog).

Ran 5.0 miles @ 9:45/mile pace.
Mostly flat.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT (screwed), long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sunny Five

Winds were finally light today. First time in quite some time. It made the sunny, lower 50 degree temps seem much warmer.  Pace was scheduled to be easy, which it was, but I had to remind myself several times to slow down, especially in the beginning.

Another easy five on tap for tomorrow, and a run of around 12 miles on tap for Sunday. Next week, taper schedule has me only doing 20 miles leading up to the race. Can't wait to let'er rip on Patriots' Day!

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:54/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (wonky data)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Boston Marathon Race Strategy

I've never run Boston before, so like a good student I've been trying to do my homework. That's equated to running the last 15 miles or so of the course a couple of times. That also means asking lots of questions to veterans, reading race reports and advice in its various forms. Lots and lots of that. As those Schoolhouse Rock public service announcements said, "knowledge is power!"

One thing has become clear to me with Boston: You are running huge risks by going out too fast. That's true with any race, but seems especially crucial on this course. I've heard of several folks way faster and way more experienced than me going out too quickly here and paying the price. Seems like it's a combination of getting caught up in the hype of it being the big show and also those first four miles being pretty big downhills and the quads get hammered. When the hills start at Newton, many people are toast as a result.

Gary Allen, the race director of the Mt. Desert Island Marathon and a dude who has really accomplished a lot in marathoning (Boston included), posted a tip list on Facebook recently that I thought summarized very well much of what I've researched. Notice much of it is centered around proper pacing. He wrote:

1. As you've all heard don't start too fast. (stats don't lie 90+% of all runners at Boston start too damn fast and explode every single year.)

2. A good rule of thumb is make sure that lots of runners are passing you in the early miles.

3. Don't worry about your corral number as your chip time is the official time. (from timing mats to timing mats)

4. I watch for people from the corral behind me to start catching me (just glance at their bibs as they pass, they should read one digit higher than yours) if I see this I know I'm running smart.

5. The tide usually turns around 15K and all those who have gone out over their heads start to crumble.

6. Do the math and decide what you want the finish line clock to say and run 10 sec per mile slower than that over the 1st 10K. Be patient. (the alternative is to go 10 sec per mile faster which will result in 30 sec per mile added to every mile past 30K)

7. Don't treat Boston any different than any other race because if you make it bigger than life it will be. Instead just think of it as another race with a lot of people.

8. Don't follow the crowd. In other words many do not even attempt to run tangents. Unless you want to run 27 miles try to work yourself right and left as the course twists and turns.

9. Keep your head down in the early downhill miles. If your head drops back you hips go fwd and each stride will produce a braking effect which will result in massive quad fatigue.

10. Have fun!


That underscores all I've heard about being careful. I've just heard of too many people blowing up on that course and I don't want to be "that guy". Sure, the MDI Marathon was a hillier course, but thinking that the Boston course is easier is dangerous thinking.

I'd much rather go out :10/mile slower the first handful of miles and be able to run stronger later on. It's kind of the opposite of what I did at MDI, which was banking time knowing I would slow down on the monstrous hills at miles 21-25. I don't think that's a good strategy for Boston, where it's mostly downhill just past mile 20. You want to be strong that last 10k. If you go out conservative and have fuel to burn, seems like that's the place to use it.

So that's where my thinking is at right now. Any advice or comments are appreciated.

Light Interval Work

Light interval workout on tap today. Plan was to do six reps of 800M at 5k pace. Did well with that, aside from the first one being too fast, but then I settled down and got them right. Felt good to give the legs some turnover. Very energetic and springy today, more than any other day this week.

Been doing a lot of thinking on the race strategy for Boston. I'll detail that later.

w/u - Ran 1.0 mile @ 7:04/mile pace.
6 X 800M at 5k pace w/ 2:00 static rest. Splits of 2:50, 2:59, 2:57, 2:58, 2:59, 2:56.
c/d - Ran 1.0 mile @ 7:12/mile pace.

Lower 50s, sunny, breezy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mail Run

I had a small box I had to mail off, so opted to run with it in hand a little less than two miles to the post office. Sent it on its way and continued on with the loop. 

Did a much better job at keeping the pace in check today. Just chilled and enjoyed the run. Looking forward to a light interval workout tomorrow to give the legs some turnover. 

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:06/mile pace. 
AHR/MHR - N/A (totally forgot to wear the strap)
Paved roads. 
Moderately hilly. 
Upper 40s, partly cloudy, windy. 
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Taper Madness

It's starting to set in.

Last week wasn't so bad. Kind of enjoyable in fact. It was more of a step-down week and still enough mileage to keep me feeling somewhat normal.

Not anymore. During yesterday's rest day, I was feeling anxious to run and the legs were feeling springy and fresh.

That continued today, but only five miles were on tap. That's a bit like giving a starving fat man a small salad for dinner. As a result I went out a bit too fast. I reminded myself several times to slow down, but still the pace was :30/mile faster than what I would have liked. At least it felt wicked easy.

It's funny, because today felt like deja vu. So, I checked my training logs and I did the exact same thing at the exact same point in the taper last fall for the MDI Marathon. I was more disciplined the following day, and I will do the same for tomorrow.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:35/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (wonky data)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast, light rain.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Boston Recon: Part Deux

Really great run on the last 16 miles of the Boston Marathon course today, mainly because of the stellar company and all the fun we had. Runs like this are always an adventure, which for me is what makes our sport really enjoyable. Throw in fun folks to share it with and you have a recipe for an epic time.

My buddy Jeff agreed to join me for the trek and I managed to coerce some friends from DailyMile to come along as well. Brendan, from Brunswick, rode down with us and we met up with Maddy, who lives in the Boston area. Perfect crew for a day like today. Would have been nice to have Kate join us as originally planned, but she's been sick and did the right thing by staying home and resting. Thankfully, she's feeling much better.

Jeff, Brendan and I parked the car at the garage under Boston Commons. The plan was that Maddy would pick us up and we'd drive to Natick and run back to my car and I'd then drive her back to hers. However, the minutes were ticking by and no sign of Maddy. Turns out it was a miscommunication of where to meet, and dressed in nothing but running shorts and short sleeved shirts, we thankfully jumped out of the chilly morning air and into the warmth of her car and drove to Natick once she arrived.

We reached Natick, but before we got started, Jeff had to use the bathroom. The best option appeared to be a church. He ducked in there for several minutes (giving new meaning to the phrase "holy sh--") while we waited out in the chilly wind. Jeff emerged and we were off.

Pace throughout the run was moderate and we had a complete blast. By far one of the funnest training runs I've had in quite some time! It soon warmed up a bit and the weather was perfect. The wind was at our backs the whole way. From what I've read, tailwinds are very typical for the course (which runs west to east), which is nice.

We chatted and goofed off throughout much of the run, but Jeff and I in particular did have multiple, more serious conversations about the course, particularly the hills and how to race them. I had been reading a lot recently about the uphill before you turn right on Commonwealth, when most consider the Newton Hills to really begin. Many say it sneaks up on you and gets overlooked, so I wanted to be mindful of it.

That uphill wasn't so bad. I had run it before last month but didn't remember it much. The other Newton Hills are much more challenging, so I can see how that first one before the turn gets overlooked. I paid particular attention to how long each of the three hills on Commonwealth Avenue were, and the distance between each climb. I noted in particular the seemingly long flat stretch between the second hill and Heartbreak Hill.

It was good to see again the mostly downhill stretch after Heartbreak Hill. Really important to have some gas in the tank and have strong quads to really finish strong for that stretch.

Worth noting that several aid stations were set up along the course for folks running the course. I had a handheld water bottle and didn't need any fuel, so didn't opt to use them, but really cool they were there. I had expected to see more people out on the course, but there were still a lot of people out there doing just what we were doing. A porta-pottie was even set up on the Newton Hills, sponsored by Saucony and adorned with signs that read "We Know Because We Run". Thought that was pretty clever. As any runner knows, porta potties are always a welcome convenience when you chance across them during a workout.

So, we finished and then headed to Hennessey's Irish Pub for some grub and drinks before heading home. Fine way to cap off the day! Thanks again guys for the great company and fun day.

Really glad I did this run. Maddy is also running Boston, and Brendan's training has been going nothing short of phenomenal and I don't have a doubt in my mind he'll be in it for next year. As for Jeff, even though he's registered, he had been saying he wasn't going to run Boston but... well, let's just say some wheels were turning in his head during the drive home. I'll leave it at that.

Ran 16.3 miles @ 7:46/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 40s to mid 50s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld water bottle.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Short Tempo Run and Diet

The taper schedule allowed for a short tempo run today. I was supposed to do this run yesterday, but flip-flopped it to allow an easy run in the snow storm.

Purpose of today was to give the legs some turnover and remind them of what it feels like to go fast, but at the same time not burn them out. It was work, but I felt pretty good. Pushed it, but not an all out effort. Battled a pretty strong headwind on the way back, which was an added challenge.

Been thinking about my diet lately. I generally eat pretty healthy, but will allow myself to indulge in other not-so-healthy foods here and there (chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, Cheez-its, cheeseburgers, etc.). Haven't eaten as healthy as I could have the past several days, and I'm looking to right that ship. I might allow myself a cheeseburger after tomorrow's 16-miler down in Boston, but other than that, I'm going to focus a lot on fueling myself better for the remaining two weeks to the marathon, especially in that last week.

Ran 5.5 miles @ 6:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/165
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Mother Nature's Cruel April Fools' Day Joke

Ah, April 1st. Typically it's warm out, the birds are singing and baseball season is underway. Not today, at least on the first two counts. Instead, a major snowstorm canceled school. Old Man Winter lives.

Woke up, and after a few cups of coffee I hit the trails a little after sunrise. They were coated with 4"-6" of unbroken snow, so it made for some pretty slow going. Pretty enjoyable run though. Because the snow was so wet and heavy, several branches and smaller trees were bowed over. On the narrower trails, it was hard to believe a path was even there at times.

While I'd rather be running in shorts in sunny 55 degree weather, I'll likely look back on this day with fondness this summer when it's hot, humid and I'm being mercilessly attacked by swarms of relentless deer flies. I'll take this over that any day (hey, perspective is everything).

Next up: breakfast, a nap, and the Red Sox season opener. Happy spring everybody, even if it's still February outside!

Ran 5.7 miles @ 10:07/mile pace.
Trails, coated with 4"-6" of unbroken snow.
Very hilly.
Lower 30s, overcast, heavy and wet snowfall throughout.
Adidas Adizero XT (screwed), long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.