It’s Not The Size of The Dog…

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

How does that Outkast song go? You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather?

The Boston Marathon is the most historic race in the world.  In order to just get to Hopkinton you have to prove to the BAA that you can run a marathon.  Racers show up from around the world to showcase their talents. Everyone that toes the line is bringing their A game.  Myself included. For 18 weeks it was a matter of training in the harsh New England weather, where it seemed like there was a blizzard once a week during the month of January for this one race.  When it felt like time stood still running my long runs in freezing weather, April 18th crept out of nowhere.  All of a sudden the calender turned to April and months turned to weeks, weeks turned into days, and days turned into hours.  Before I knew it, my alarm clock was going off at 4:50 in the morning and I was on my way to be dropped off in Boston to get the bus to Hopkinton.

One nice perk about running for Children’s Hospital, is I get to wait inside prior to the race.  I arrived in Hopkinton at a little past 7 in the morning and off the bat something didn’t seem right.  I wasn’t nervous.  I wasn’t anxious.  I was….relaxed..wait what? Relaxed before the Boston Marathon? Didn’t seem right, but I was.  As I made my way to the corral, I was still not nervous.  I was excited.  That is because I had a plan that if executed I knew it would be a great day.

The weather on race day was perfect.  Low 50’s with a nice strong tailwind.  Great, this is perfect for running a marathon.  As I entered the corral, I was set to go.  Watching the elites head to the start and high-fiving Ryan Hall got me fired up.  When that gun went off, I was more than ready for the 26.2 journey back to Boylston St.

Ready To Do Battle

Going into my 3rd Boston Marathon, I had a strategy. A solid one too. One that I thought was not out of my element and one I took a lot of thinking to come up with. I thought I had a real good chance of running a personal best and going under 2:50. For the first 14 miles, it was working out just as I drew it up. Unfortunately, at mile 15, the hopes of achieving those goals were dashed.

Time To Fight..

The first 14 miles I was averaging a pace anywhere from 6:20-6:30.  I was a little scared about some of the faster splits (there were some 6:17’s and 6:20’s), but at the same time I felt like I was in really good control. After running pass the girls of Wellesley College (No I did not stop for a kiss), and passing the Miles for Miracle cheering team, I thought alright, here we go, I hit the halfway point at 1:23:37, right on pace.

Then Mile 15 came.  Out of nowhere I got a really bad side stitch in my stomach.  I tried every technique in the book to get rid of it.  Eventually, I had to pull up to the side of the road in hopes to stretch it out.  But it just kept feeling like someone took a hold to my insides and had zero intentions of letting go.  My legs felt good so I knew once it eventually let up I could get back into a comfortable pace.  After a 7:04 mile 15, I started to make up for lost time with a 6:42 mile for mile 16. The cramp went away and  I thought I was getting back into a groove.  As I made that turn up Commonwealth Ave at the Newton Firehouse, I knew maybe a sub 2:50 was out of the question, but a sub 3:00 was still in play.  But then, my legs gave up on me.

Losing the Battle…

Running through the hills of Newton my quads started screaming and felt like they were on fire.  Around mile 20, I knew it was going to be a battle to get across the finish line. I knew a sub 3:00 was now out of the question.  Next, I was worried I may not requalify for the 2012 Boston Marathon (at the time, I was not sure if my 2010 Boston Marathon or NYC Marathon times would be good).  Battling up Heartbreak Hill, my legs continued to have zero desire to be out there on the course.  I was tempted to grab a red solo cup from some spectators, hoping it would give me a boost.  I threw away my watch and just focused on getting to the finish line and took it one mile at a time.

Won the War

Once I made that turn onto Beacon Street and I could see the Citgo sign, I knew I was closer and closer to the end.   I knew I still had about 3 miles to go and my legs still hated me, but I was not going to stop now.   Running down Beacon St I just enjoyed the spectators and reminded myself that I was almost finished.  When I crossed over the Mass Pike and I could see Fenway Park, the adrenaline started to come back slowly.

When I hit the mile 25, every ounce of adrenaline I had came back in my legs.  It was a matter of just running down Commonwealth Ave making that right onto Hereford St and that final turn on Boylston St, with the finish line in perfect sight.  As I made that final turn, I kept my eyes on the prize.  And then..it was over.  I crossed the finish line.  The battle was over.  It was one tough fight to the finish, but I made it.  I won.

Still finished with a smile on my face

Reflection

When I crossed the finish line I did not know how to feel.  I did not accomplish my goals and just ran my slowest marathon time (3:07), however, at the same time, I still finished.  Marathons are not easy.  They take a toll on you physically and mentally and that is something I need to remember.  Even though it did not go as planned I still had it in me to finish.  I will take my 3:07 and be happy with it.  Because at the end of the day, there will be more marathons.

A week has passed since Marathon Monday, I am already itching to get back into running.  I just bought a new pair of shoes and with Boston in the rear view mirrow, I am looking forward to the next month and half of training for nothing and jumping in some local 5Ks and 10ks.  Mid June I will begin training for my next marathon – the Amica Marathon in October.

Thank Yous

I did this after the NYC Marathon, so I wanted to do it again.

1.  First and foremost, my #1 supporter during training and my #1 fan come race day Jenn – While some girlfriends may complain that runners only care about running and take little interest in the sport, she supported my training for the last 18 weeks. Ditching her to go run for 2+ hours. Making her wait for dinner while I finished up my workouts after work. Making her wake up early when she could have slept in because I wanted to get up and get my run done early. Yet, for the 3rd year in a row, I think she was more excited then I was, making some pretty awesome signs (still waiting for her to copyright “Channel Your Inner Unicorn”). After completing the BAA 5K the morning before in awesome fashion, she woke up before the sun rose for the 2nd straight day during her long weekend to drive me into Boston. Then proceeded to wait 5 hours on Boylston St for me to finish.

Signs waiting for me near the finish

2. Kristen – Who completed the Disney Half Marathon in January, waited with Jenn this year to cheer me on. One day, I’ll get her to run a full marathon..one day

2. My mom – For the 3rd time in a row, took a sick day to stand around and wait for me. Well, my dad too. He couldn’t make the trip into Boston but still tracked me and watched for me on TV.

3. Luau over at Run Luau Run – Also a 2011 Boston Marathon finisher, who leading up to the Boston Marathon blogged what we were all thinking. He also helped other runners like myself gain a lot of exposure on Twitter and our respective blogs by donating a section of his blog to other Boston Marathon runners/bloggers. As a result, I got a lot of new followers/supporters and readers.

4. All of Twitter and Daily Mile. When I first joined Twitter, I thought it was stupid and didn’t think I would last long on it. However, that was until I started following other runners who showed great support during my training and the day of the marathon. I joined Daily Mile to utilize logging my runs. Then I realized it was one big running community that provided great motivation from others runners to get my butt out the door and run.

5. To all those who donated to such a great cause, Children’s Hospital Miles For Miracles. For the 3rd year in a row, I decided to run for Children’s Hospital. For the 3rd year in a row, I am overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. I had to raise $1,000, however, I made it a goal to raise $2,000 and with a little over a month left, I am well on my way to achieving that goal. A goal that would not have been accomplished without your help!

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Not this time

April 19, 2011 2 comments

Dear Running Gods,

Well played yesterday. After 18 weeks of training, and feeling the best I have had running-wise in a long time I was really confident going into the Boston Marathon. However, you had other plans for me. For the first 14 miles you had me believing you were on my side. I was feeling great and everything was going exactly as planned. After I hit the 14 mile marker I thought ok, here we go, just continue to stay in control and I will hit my goal. But once I completed that thought, I was hit with a stitch. A bad one. A painful one. It was to the point where I had to stop on the side of the road and do anything I could to get rid of it. It just felt like someone was squeezing my insides. Finally, around mile 17, it went away. Ok great, now to start making up for lost time. But then you threw me another curve ball. You took my legs from under me. My calves, my shins, my ankles. You took away any energy I had.

As I ran the hills of Newton and up Heartbreak Hill. You broke my heart. You had me second guessing running any more marathons. I started to think maybe I was not as good has I thought I was. That a sub 2:50 was out of my element (even with a PR of a 2:50:46). There was no way I was going to run a fall marathon. I started thinking I was not even going to be able to requalify for the 2012 Boston Marathon as I walked by the roaring spectators with my hands on my head.

But I have bad news for you. Even though you won the battle, I still won the war. I still beat you. I still crossed that finish line on Boylston Street. I may have finished with my slowest marathon time but I still finished. There is a time next to my name in the results, not a DNF. Once I crossed the line, everything was forgetten. I did not care anymore about my time. I was not disappointed at all with my time because at the end of the day, I can still say I finished yet another marathon.

I win. You lose. Nice try.

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Not This Year..

April 13, 2011 3 comments

On Monday I will be running my 5th marathon and my 3rd Boston Marathon. Going into a race such as a marathon, my main goal is to finish. What happens after that, whether good or bad, does not matter to me. If I run a PR, awesome, if I do not (2010 NYC Marathon), so be it, I can still say I finished a marathon. However, not this year.

I did not train for the past 18 weeks in the brutal winter just to finish. I did not hop on the treadmill to make sure I got my speed workouts done during a blizzard just to finish. I did not build up to 10 mile tempo runs @ marathon pace, just to finish. I did not run 16-21 miles in sub freezing weather, just to finish. This year, I have one goal, and one goal only, a sub 2:50.

My plan for this race is simple (easier said than done) :

Miles 1-2 – I plan to go out easy and not get ahead of myself. I will be starting with some really fast runners, so I need to make sure I stay within my limits. The plan: 6:40 pace for the first two miles.

Miles 3-8 – I will start to get into the rhythm needed to run a sub 2:50 marathon, that is a 6:28 pace.

Miles 9-18 – This is where I start racing. Here I hope to drop down the pace to 6:25, continuing to run smooth and be in control.

Miles 19-21 – Heartbreak Hill. The most dreaded part of the course. Here, I plan to drop back my pace to a 6:28-6:40 pace. I will focus more on my stride than my speed. It is not how fast you run up the hill, but how fast you run once you reached the top.

Miles 22-24 – Heartbreak Hill is now behind me. I will feed off the crowds of BC as I make my way down Comm Ave and make my way to Beacon Street. I plan to get back into that pace of 6:28

Miles 25-26.2 – I did not come this far for nothing. Here, its balls to the walls. Nothing slower than a 6:30 pace. In order to do so, I am going to have to dig deep and rely on the crowds as I make that final approach to Boylston Street.

If all goes as plan and I do not get ahead of myself I will cross the finish line in under 2:50.

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Make Me Run the Providence Marathon!

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

As many of you know I am running the Boston Marathon next month for Children’s Hospital Boston’s “Miles for Miracles”.  As a qualified runner, I have to raise $1,000, however, that is not enough.  This year I have made it my goal to double that.  And I need your help.

Leading up to the marathon I have created a few “challenges” to get more donations.  Here is the first one:

Groupon recently came out with a deal that for $20 you can register for the Providence Marathon.  Seems like a great deal, right?  Well, the Providence Marathon is on May 1s, just 13 days after Boston.  However, it is still very tempting to run it for fun.   Here is where you come in.  If I reach $500 before the deal ends, I will register for the race and run it.

If you would like to donate you may do so by following the link below.

https://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=LM0063

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Kicking Off 2011 on the Right Foot

January 17, 2011 1 comment

Going into 2011 I have a few racing goals I would like to accomplish.  They include: a personal best in the half marathon (1:23:37), the marathon (2:50:46), and add more strength and core into my training.  After running the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon on the 8th, I can check the first goal off my to-do list.

Going into the race I wanted to try and focus in on running a PR.  However, I did not know how my body would react to the very early start time.  I had to be up at 3:15 in the morning to make it to my corral by the 5:35 start time.  Also, after the New York City Marathon, my training was not focused on this race, but instead getting my legs ready to start training for Boston 2011. I only did a few speed workouts leading up to race weekend, so I did not know how my legs would hold up speed wise for the 13.1 miles.  Also, it seemed like I had to walk about 13.1 miles from the shuttle drop off to my corral.  I did not know if my legs would get a little tired from the long walk.

The weather was perfect for such an early start.  Just wearing shorts, a singlet, and warm sleeves, it was comfortable standing around waiting for the gun to go off.  I wasted no energy shivering in the cold.  It was also perfect running weather, just about in the low 50’s with no wind.

My first mile was a bit slower than I would have liked (6:54) because of the crowded start, but I was able to get into a more comfortable pace once the field was more spread out.  For most of the race I held a pace of  6:17-6:20, with one mile getting as low as 6:08. I was not to worried about that fast mile because I knew I was half way home and my legs still felt strong.

At mile 9, I started to get stomach cramps and at mile 10 I made a quick pit stop.  Although my mile 10 split was a 7:24, I was able to run much stronger the final leg of the race.  My last two mile splits were both a 6:08 and I crossed the finish line in 1:23:07, a new personal best by 30 seconds.

My Overall Time & Place

Sure, maybe if I did not have to stop at mile 10, I may probably would have ran a faster time or improved my overall place.  However, it is still a personal best, and I think the stop helped me.  The cramps went away and I ran my best splits the final 2.1 miles.

Overall, the start was pretty magical with the fireworks going off as we crossed the starting line and began our 13.1 mile run to Magic Kingdom back to Epcot.  Running down Main Street inside the Magic Kingdom reminded me of running by Wellesley College during the Boston Marathon and running down 1st Avenue during the NYC Marathon.  The loud crowd help get the adrenaline flowing, I was ready to run a strong second half was I made my way through Cinderella’s Castle and back to Epcot.

One cool aspect of the race was that at some points we were running in complete darkness.  The sun had not risen yet and there were no lights on the side of the course.  It was a good thing I did not have to worry about any potholes like I do running in the dark back home.

I would love to run this race again.  My plan would be to skip out on a fall marathon and focus my training solely on this race.  Maybe one year I would like to complete the Goofy Challenge, which is running the half on Saturday and full on Sunday.  But for right now, I am going to focus on my next big race – the Boston Marathon in April.

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How Many Days Until April?

December 13, 2010 1 comment

They say what does not kill you only makes you stronger. After NYC, I looking forward to training for the Boston Marathon. For the last month and a half I have been doing just regular training runs with no real speed workouts, long runs, or increased mileage. It was nice to go on easy runs with no worries of training for anything in particular. Well, now it is time to start focusing on Boston 2011.

Although it still seems like I just crossed the finish line on Boylston Street, training for the 2011 Boston Marathon begins tonight. For the next 18 weeks, I am going to incorporate workouts that worked for me last winter, while adding in a few things I learned from my NYC experience.

The plan:

  • More hills (it worked for NYC). I want to be able to get up Heartbreak Hill and finish strong. One perk of where I work, is it is along the Boston Marathon course, and right down the road from Heartbreak Hill. This time around, I plan to do hill repeats, tempo runs, and training runs along Heartbreak Hill.
  • More 20+ runs. During training for NYC, I did a 20 mile run two weeks before my final 21 miler and it helped. For the first 3 marathons, I only did one 20 mile run 3 weeks before the marathon. I figured that would be sufficient enough. However, for NYC I decided to throw in an extra 20 miler and it payed off. It did not lead to fatigue or injuries and helped with my endurance. So come March I will be looking to get in a 20+ run before the 21 miler.
  • Pace smarter. I admit, I got caught up in the excitement of NYC and went out too fast in the first half and paid BIG TIME come the final 5 miles. However, this will be my third Boston. I know the course. Looking back at my 2010 recap I ran smart and finished with a 2:50:45. My plan will be to train for a pace of 6:30 to hold throughout the race and have enough energy in the legs for a big push down Beacon St. and Comm. Ave. While doing tempo runs and track workouts, I will aim to run progressively faster splits later in the workout to imitate race day.
  • More strength conditioning and core. When it comes to the gym and core, I am lazy. It seems I am wasting $19.99/mo not going to the gym. Well this time around, I am adding more strength workouts and core workouts.

For the third year in a row, I will be running for Children’s Hospital “Miles for Miracles”. Also, for the 2nd year in a row, I will be running for 4 year old Gregory Walsh of Braintree.  In 2006, he was born with a condition known as Craniosynostosis, where the structures in his skull closed prematurely, causing pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull or facial bones to change from normal, symmetrical appearance. Surgery is the only way to correct this condition and Gregory had his done at 9 months old by the Cranial Facial Surgical Team at Children’s Hospital.

To donate, you can go to my page:  https://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=LM0063.    Any amount will go a long way!

See you in Hopkington in April!

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Thanksgiving Day

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I think I am still tired from all the tryptophan and full from all the pies.  On Thanksgiving morning I ran the Dreamcatcher Classic 5 Miler in Weymouth.  This has become a yearly tradition for me, as it was my 5th year in a row running it.  I finished with a time of 34:53 (48th overall, 17th AG).  It was my slowest time of the 5 years, but it was still a great race.

Coming off NYC, my only goal was to finish the course and use the race as a training run.  However, on Monday I was contemplating swallowing the $20 and skipping out on the run.  I did a 4 mile speed workout and afterwards my legs were dead.  I felt like I had nothing left and the thought of finishing the 5 mile race seemed impossible.  Well, I got rid of the negative thoughts and I am very glad I decided to run the race.

The splits:

Mile 1 – 7:12 >> Very relaxed, I just wanted to go out at an easy pace.  Although it is hard not to get caught up in the race, it was still a comfortable pace.

Mile 2 – 7:24 >>  Did not worry about the negative split here, had to adjust to a hill and legs still felt great.  I was still on track for a nice, comfortable race.

Mile 3 7:02 >> Faster than I expected.  Again legs felt great at this point in the race, so I decided to start making a move and pick as many people off as I could

Mile 4 – 6:43 >> Before the race I was not expecting to run any sub-7 minute  miles but hit the 4th mile with a 6:43 split.  Again, like throughout the race my legs felt like I could pick it up. So I did.

Mile 5 – 6:24 >> Not only did I expect no sub-7 minute splits, but I thought a sub 6:30 was out of the question.   Yet, I finished the race strong and legs feeling great.  Best of all, I felt like I could have kept going.

In the end, I am glad I ran the race despite my doubts.  It turned into a nice speed workout. I ran a decent time and my legs felt stronger than I thought they would.

Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and were able to get out there for a Turkey Trot!

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