Monday, April 30, 2012

Soccer Fields Sans Shoes

Opted for a short, easy barefoot run in lieu of my usual Monday rest day. Just wanted to keep the legs loose. Kind of boring just running laps around the soccer fields but I kept my mind entertained by thinking ahead to Sugarloaf.

Tomorrow's tempo run should be a pretty good assessment for the 'Loaf. I just haven't gotten in much speed work lately because of the taper and recovery for Boston. I'm confident it'll go well tomorrow though, given how I've been feeling lately. We'll see.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:40/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Very flat.
Upper 50s, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Legs Are Coming Around

Some light good news this morning, as I examined yesterday's run data a little more closely and discovered that I had turned off my GPS and forgot to turn it on for a good stretch at the end. Looks like I can safely add another mile to that run (already adjusted the logs). That mile was at the end and was pretty fast. Even throughout the run, it was a bit of a light fartlek, where I opened things up on the wider trails when they were uncrowded.

Then there was today, where I ran in the woods out back this morning. Legs felt super and I slowed myself down a couple of times but overall I just went with it. I think my legs would benefit with some quicker turnover at this stage and they could absorb it just fine. Felt really great out there. Legs felt fresh and springy.

Glad to have two good days in a row, especially with today. Very hilly, and while roughly half of it is fire roads, it's still really hilly and the rest of the loop is technical sections that are pretty rugged.

On a bit of a down note, came across on a guy riding an ATV who had lost his dog the other day and was out looking for it. It was obvious he was distraught over it. I told him the route I was running and that I'd keep a sharp eye out, and I did, but no luck.

Tomorrow is a rest day, or maybe just a few miles barefoot on the soccer fields. Either Tuesday or Wednesday will be a tempo run. Should be a solid week of training that will serve as a good tune-up followed by a two week taper to Sugarloaf, which was the plan all along. Stoked to be on track. Confidence is high.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 8:46/mile pace.
Trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 40s, sunny, breezy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, windbreaker (shed 1.3 miles in), short sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Runnin' and Cheerin'

A very fun day down in Massachusetts at the TARC Spring Classic trail races. Kate and several other Trail Monsters were running and I went down to cheer and crew for everyone. And when I wasn't doing that, I was hanging out a lot with Ryan, grilling sausages and having a few beverages.

I also went for a run, deciding to do the 10K loop in reverse. That was fun, as I was able to see all of the runners and cheer them on. A lot of the trail was single track, so I was mindful to be diligent about stepping way off the trail well before runners reached me. I didn't want anyone to worry "Is that dude going to yield to me when we get closer?"

I got a bit lost out there. It's not as easy following an unfamiliar course backwards as it is forwards and I obviously missed some signs. That was alright though, the bonus mileage was a bit nice and the legs felt pretty great.

Big congrats to Kate for finishing in a little under seven hours despite not getting in much training, and a bit congrats to Danielle who finished the 50K in 4:51:XX. Blaine also rocked it but I forget his time. Christine, Nathan, George and Ann also did well. Obviously a great race put on by the Trail Animal Running Club, who were awesome, friendly hosts!

Ran 9.6 miles @ 9:36/mile pace.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s to mid 50s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Piddly Run

Legs felt really heavy today. I wondered if that would go away if I kept going but decided to play it safe and cut it short. Kind of disappointing, but patience is key.

That's about all I got. Here, watch this instead:

Ran 1.6 miles @ 8:45/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chock Full O' Hills

Hit a route after work that contains some substancial hills. Pace was easy and it was a most pleasant run. Bit breezy up on the ridge alongside the farms, but still very nice. I love this route, it's pretty scenic.

Today was kind of a big jump in mileage and hills compared to what I've been doing in the past nine days since Boston. I think if the legs could talk they might have said "Dude, seriously?" out of annoyance, but they handled it okay. Felt pretty good overall, but short and especially easy on tap for tomorrow. 

Ran 10.7 miles @ 7:56/mile pace. 
Paved roads 
Extremely hilly. 
Mid 50s, partly to mostly cloudy, a few very light sprinkles, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Something is Better Than Nothing

A long, drawn out staff meeting cut into my running time since I had to get home for the cable guy. As a result, my seven miles at an easy-moderate pace was nixed in favor of a 2.9 mile loop at tempo pace.

Perhaps it's just as well, as I only got four hours of sleep last night, for no apparent reason. Went to bed a little later than usual and woke up at 1:30am and couldn't get back to sleep.

Legs felt great though. I'm confident that the ramp up should go well, as long as I'm careful. Will likely now forgo the other planned rest day on Thursday in favor of something short and easy.

Ran 2.9 miles @ 6:49/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thin Ice

The legs felt very spry this morning. Set out on my 5K route while we have a break from the rain. Nice and cool out. Perfect running weather, in fact. With that, a quicker pace felt really easy and natural but I forced myself to slow down quite a few times. Even still, I probably went too fast overall, but at least it was only three miles.

It got me to thinking how pushing the pace or distance at this early of a stage is a bit like walking out on thin ice. You're taking a big chance and the results can be disastrous. Granted, I did take it pretty easy at Boston, but the variables are different because of the heat. Ensuring I'm in top form at Sugarloaf is primary, ego is secondary.

Rest day tomorrow and probably an additional one during the week as well. Emphasis will still be on easy runs, but I'll do some stride work later in the week and a longer (but not long) run over the weekend. The week after that will see some true speedwork and more mileage, but all erring on the side of caution and adjusting things as I go.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:22/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast, slight mist.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Easy Fiver

Easy five miler with my homeboy, Ryan. Much plotting and scheming for both of us during the run. Very glad he's on a well groomed path to a comeback.

Afterwards, we met up with Danielle, Sam and Zak for dinner at Frontier. I had been hearing about this place forever and was glad to finally experience it. Cool place, with great food!

Rest day tomorrow and another shorty on Sunday.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads, small section of trail.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shakedown Run

After a few days off, felt good to go for a little shakedown run to get the legs loose and moving again. Felt pretty darn good overall. Ran barefoot on the local athletic fields.

Plotting and scheming has begun for Sugarloaf. Putting together a loose training plan that focuses on three phases over the next four and a half weeks: Recovery, refresh and a short taper.

Ran 3.2 miles @ 8:51/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Lower 50s, sunny.
Barefoot, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Boston Marathon Race Report

In 1979, Stephen King published a book called "The Long Walk". It's not as popular as some of his other novels like "The Stand" or "11/22/63" but perhaps it should be, at least if you're a runner. The story is about an annual event where several dozen sixteen year old males walk continuously, starting in northern Maine and making their way south, until only one of them is left on their feet. If they stop walking for more than 90 seconds, they are shot dead. The winner is awarded a life of luxury. 

I don't mean to be overly dramatic here, but I thought that the theme of a miserable journey sprinkled with hope paralleled this year's Boston Marathon nicely. There were no soldiers aiming M-16's at our heads if we stopped, but there was the blazing sun and its insanely hot rays. Reports say it was already either 80 or 81 degrees at the start and it climbed up to 89 degrees along parts of the course as we ran. I wouldn't be surprised if the course's black asphalt made it even hotter.

When it was pretty much confirmed four days in advance that it would be a scorcher on race day, I begrudgingly decided to change gears. The plan was now to simply to take it easy and ensure a relatively comfortable finish. No sub-3. No heroics. Just avoid being "that guy". Get to the end, try to have some fun in the process and save the legs for a possible sub-3 run at the Sugarloaf Marathon next month instead. I am really glad I executed that plan. Here's how the day went:

Already feeling the heat.
Kate and Ryan dropped me off at South Street in Hopkinton where I would take the shuttle over to Athlete's Village. On the bus ride over, my friend Maddy messaged me telling me where she and some others were, and I found them. By now it was around 8am and quite warm. I waited on the field with tens of thousands of other hot, sweaty runners and we hadn't even begun the race yet.

I had to pee and waited half an hour in line to do so. Not good to be on your feet that long and a good thing I was planning to go slow today. Next year, I'm going to avoid using a drop bag so I can skip Athlete's Village and just hang out at the much less crowded start line instead.

Eventually, we were called for the long walk down to the start. Maddy and I stopped for a final bathroom stop at the much less crowded porta-potties near the start and then went to our corral (we were both in #7). Soon after, our friend Chris found us which was awesome. The three of us all basically had the same, smart plan of taking it easy so we had all hoped to run with each other for a bit. However, it was getting hotter and I began to wonder if it might be less painful for Chris and I to repeatedly kick each other in the nuts and call it good.

Hopkinton and Ashland - We're Off!
It took a little over five minutes to reach the actual start line when the gun went off. Crowded first few miles which was to be expected. The three of us ran together and we soon came to the first water station at mile one. Swooping in was difficult because everyone was going in, and that would be the case at every aid station throughout the race.

My plan was to drink a water or Gatorade and dump a cup of water over my head at each aid station. I was carrying a handheld water bottle filled with coconut water so opted to just dump water on my head until that was drained.

After that chaos was done, I looked around and soon found Chris and we linked back up. "Where's Maddy?" I asked. "I don't know, probably up ahead," Chris replied. We couldn't see her anywhere. It's really easy to loose people. I figured Chris was right and we still kept an eye out for her but didn't see her. Chris and I ran together for the next several miles, but by 4.5 miles in I had lost him.

Framingham - Water Boy
The heat continues to climb. The pace was going a little faster than I had originally thought I'd start at, but still within acceptable parameters at 7:40-ish a mile. Heard a "Jamie!!!" at one point and saw Noel and Madison, two friends I saw at the same place last year.

The Walking Dead had now begun. The heat was getting to folks and they were tired and taking walk breaks. We're only about seven miles in now, but those who went out too fast were already paying a heavy price with the heat.

At one point, an overzealous 12 year-old boy had brought out a large tupperware container filled with water from his house and asked "Want a splash?!" as he was already in motion to toss the water at a nearby runner, who clearly wasn't expecting it. It was hilarious! However, the runner managed to dodge it and thankfully it hit me instead. The water was ice cold and felt great.

Natick - Crowds Rule
Still trucking along and the heat continues to beat down and gradually intensify. Still dumping water over my head and running through every sprinkler or garden house that I could. I will mention here that the crowd support throughout the course was absolutely fantastic. Spectators were spraying water, handing out ice, giving out popsicles, setting up their own water stations, handing out sponges soaked in cold water, etc. Anyone with doubts in their faith of humanity would have had it fully restored during the race. Seriously. It was amazing and really made what would have be an otherwise miserable day a lot of fun.

Wellesely - The Scream Tunnel
The ear piercing loudness of college girls holding up signs asking to be kissed was entertaining. They all started with "Kiss Me, I'm ______", where the blank would say things like I'm from Georgia or I'm single. I thought an amusing sign would be "Kiss Me, I have herpes simplex one!" but virtually all of the signs were a bit more inviting.

I saw one guy who must not have been very good looking presumably get rejected a few times, trying to slow down only to speed up and move along and try again. Wow, guy. That's pretty rough if you can't even steal a smooch there.

Like last year, I stayed to the other side of the road for the duration, opting to save my ear drums and not having any desire to participate in the kissing game, though I think it's a pretty cool tradition of sorts.

About a mile or so after the scream tunnel, I saw someone who looked familiar and ran up beside her. It was Amy Lane, a talented ultramarathon runner who I see at some of the local races. We ran together for a bit and chatted, which was nice. She was also taking it easy on the pace, but we eventually split up.

Newton - The Hills
Not too much longer after I lost Amy, I heard a voice from behind me say "Hey, aren't there some bathrooms up at this hospital?" It was Maddy, referring to where I stopped for a bio-break when we ran this part of the course a few weeks ago. Turns out she had been behind me after all, and I was glad we had linked back up. The timing was perfect, since I'd have someone to work with on the upcoming hills.

The Walking Dead was now in full effect after the right turn on Commonwealth and the hot sun continued to shoot down fire from above. Not to brag, but I hardly noticed the prior hill before the turn and this next one also didn't seem too difficult. Of course, this is because I was taking the pace easy. But given all of the people walking and looking to be in really bad shape, they were having a much tougher time with it.

A very scary moment when I saw one guy go down. He was wobbling before collapsing and a crowd of spectators rushed to his aid. Watching him fall reminded me of a World War II fighter plane getting shot out of the sky...crippling blow followed by gravity doing its thing.

I'll mention here that I saw several others along the hills who had already gone down and were being tended to as well. Most looked more or less okay, just tired and needing to sit down and cool off, but at least another one looked almost as dire as the fighter pilot guy. Yikes.

Also saw a guy who was cramping on the first hill and I slowed to walk beside him and offered him some electrolyte pills. He accepted.

Maddy and I continued on and on towards Heartbreak Hill. Teamwork was in full effect as we would swoop in and grab Otter Pops, sponges, cold towels, etc. for each other and we also just generally pushed each other up the hills. Crowds were simply awesome here.

I remember one guy in particular manning a high pressured hose shooting ice cold water and I swooped in to get dowsed. Not too many people around me so I got the brunt of it. He drenched me first on the chest (I ran shirtless the whole way, a smart move) and then my face for several seconds as I ran by. Very refreshing as the heat was now very intense.

We soon reached the top of Heartbreak Hill and actually made pretty good time getting up this stretch, averaging maybe 8:20-ish a mile and doing so relatively easily while passing way more people than were passing us. Was very glad I was taking it slow and wasn't one of the gazillion Walking Dead who were around us. The carnage was pretty impressive.

The Backside of Heartbreak Hill
Up and over Hearbreak Hill and now came my favorite section of the course: Boston College. Like last year, they were rowdy, likely inebriated, but insanely encouraging, positive and energetic. I couldn't help but swoop in and exchange high fives with dozens of them as I went by. They rock.

And also like last year, I saw a few of the kids from the cross country team I help coach, stationed at the same spot they were at last year just past the BC students. We shouted greetings to each other as I went by. Nice to get another mental boost from them.

Saw another guy who was walking with a limp and obviously the victim of bad leg cramps. Slowed to his side and offered some salt pills. Like the other guy, he took me up on the offer.

The Final Four Miles

Okay, now the heat was starting to take its toll. My quads were also a bit tired. In a bit of a rough patch here and my pace slowed down to 9:25/mile from 35k to 40k. Was glad I didn't need to walk, but still a lot of folks were passing me here. However, I was also dodging and weaving an even larger number of the Walking Dead.

I began to do some time calculations and knew I should still finish faster than my slowest marathon time (3:37:02, MDI Marathon in first). With that in mind I kept the pace slow and steady but on pace to get me under that time.

One mile to go and I began to pick up the pace a little, just wanting it to be over. Knowing I was close gave me a bit of a second wind. Made the right turn on Hereford and as I approached Boylston I saw some dude wearing a pink tutu. While I'm sure this guy is probably a very nice person, I despise the idea of running races in costume. It's a cheap and stupid ploy to get attention. I made it a point to push it a little more to get ahead of him and I did.

I swooped to the right, knowing my father, Kate and her parents, Ryan, Christine, Nate and Bob would be on that side and near a hotel with flags out in front. I found them and made a gun out of my fingers, put it to my head and pretended to fire as I ran by. Crossed the finish line in 3:35:14 and glad to be done in one piece.

Ha ha ha, I kid, I kid.
Post Race
Got my medal, a very unnecessary mylar blanket and then ducked beside a street sweeper and puked. I had a lot of fluids in my stomach that weren't being absorbed, but better that than the other way around. A volunteer quickly came to my side and asked if I was okay and offered to get the medical team, but I assured her I was fine and that this happens to me after almost every race (though today I puked from the heat, not running fast).

Right after I emptied my stomach, Amy and I bumped into each other again and we walked together to the buses where our drop bags were. We talked about how our ultramarathoning experience paid nice dividends today. In ultras, you're slogging through hell for longer periods of time and we agreed that we probably had a significant mental advantage as a result.

Found everyone at the family meeting area and it was so great to see everyone. Very appreciative that my family and friends were there for the race. Tough day with the heat, but overall I had a lot of fun.

My dad and I. 
Feet pruned from socks soaked with sweat and water. 
So many people blew up on the course. Looking at the race results of others revealed many epic collapses. I'm sure the race averaged one of the highest average positive split differences in its history. That being said, a few managed to fare very well in the heat, namely the first American woman, Sheri Piers (from Maine) and also a friend of mine, Maureen, who placed third in her age group. However, rest assured performances like theirs were very rare on Monday. Hats off to them, most impressive.

On a scale of one to ten, I'd rate how I did an eight. That's based on sticking to my plan. The goal was to simply take it easy and use it as a long training run since I knew I would now do Sugarloaf next month and try to break three there instead (I'm now officially registered for said race, by the way).

I could have done better by taking it around ten seconds a mile slower in the first half to preserve the legs a little more. My quads are still a bit sore, despite the slow pace. Nothing too bad, but still more than I would like. The heat probably didn't help with that, but it still concerns me a little for Sugarloaf, as the last fifteen miles of that course are all quad-busting, downhill fun. I suspect I'll be fine though. Minimal running the rest of the week, then a quick ramp up before a two week taper and then it'll be go time again...hopefully in better weather this time around.

Click to enlarge.
Unofficial splits per the Garmin. Forgot to take it out of automatic mode so the distance is slightly off for each mile:

1Interval1 mi7:36.097:36.097:37
2Interval1 mi7:40.8615:16.957:41
3Interval1 mi7:39.1022:56.057:40
4Interval1 mi7:30.4930:26.547:31
5Interval1 mi7:50.1938:16.737:51
6Interval1 mi7:31.2845:48.017:32
7Interval1 mi7:38.5453:26.557:39
8Interval1 mi7:44.631:01:11.187:45
9Interval1 mi7:49.351:09:00.537:50
10Interval1 mi7:42.071:16:42.607:43
11Interval1 mi7:50.651:24:33.257:51
12Interval1 mi7:56.641:32:29.897:57
13Interval1 mi7:51.321:40:21.217:52
14Interval1 mi7:52.791:48:147:53
15Interval1 mi8:23.351:56:37.358:24
16Interval1 mi8:16.652:04:548:17
17Interval1 mi8:21.032:13:15.038:22
18Interval1 mi8:32.342:21:47.378:33
19Interval1 mi8:06.292:29:53.668:07
20Interval1 mi8:18.832:38:12.498:19
21Interval1 mi8:58.012:47:10.508:59
22Interval1 mi8:19.612:55:30.118:20
23Interval1 mi9:19.103:04:49.219:20
24Interval1 mi9:19.993:14:09.209:20
25Interval1 mi9:27.213:23:36.419:28
26Interval1 mi8:50.153:32:26.568:51
27Interval0.38 mi2:48.493:35:15.057:24

Ran 26.2 miles @ 8:12/mile pace.
Official chip time: 3:35:14
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower to upper 80s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, handheld bottle (coconut water).
Paved roads.

Additionally, my future father in-law, Gary, made this awesome memento to my first Boston Marathon in 2011 and presented it to me over the race weekend. He made the frame out of cherry wood and the picture simply doesn't do it justice. Thanks a bunch, Gary!