Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Afternoon Trail Run

Nice eight miles on the trails this afternoon, revisiting some trails I hadn't been on in a while. Probably will be another long while before I return since they logged the living crap out of the woods for most sections. I expected to see the Eye of Mordor at any moment.

However, the run went well, though the pace was very easy. And the sections of woods that were untouched were nice, and I even found a new-to-me trail that unfortunately I didn't have time to explore. Luckily, I can get to it without having to go through the pillaged lands, so I'll take the alternate route next time.

Ran 8.1 miles @ 9:56/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Near 70 degrees, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, Salomon water belt (diluted Gatorade).

One Fund Boston 5K

Belated entry due to getting in late last night, but Kate, myself and a bunch of our friends participated in the One Fund Boston 5K to benefit the victims of the attacks. Very cool of the Maine Running Company to organize the event. Plan all along was to run it with Kate at her pace, but I opted to do a warm-up all the same. Though my legs didn't feel too bad, I could tell I would only be disappointed with the result if I had planned to race it.

Very good time. Christine, Paul and Sara joined Kate and I and we all ran it together. I had a lot of fun pulling Kate, especially at the end, trying to get her to chase runners down and she was quite successful. Me so proud.

Afterwards, we hit Flatbread Pizza... perfect end to the evening.

w/u Ran 1.0 miles @ 7:16/mile pace.
"Race": Ran 3.1 miles @ 9:46/mile pace.
c/d Ran .7 miles @ 7:53/mile.
Hard packed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny.
Nike Waffle Racer VIII, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013: A Belated Race Report

I wasn't going to write a race report, but after reading Scott Dunlap's totally kick arse report, I decided I wanted to after all. However, he nailed it. If you only have time to read one, read his, not mine. It's awesome. He did a great job. But without further ado, here's mine:

Check-in at the expo!
Table Setting
Let's just say I came into this race undertrained. Not because of injury or other things going on in my life; I simply wasn't motivated. I've made no secret both to friends in person and also on several posts on this blog that I'm burned out on road marathons and want to switch my focus back to trail running. Things are a little different now, but more on that later.

Anyway, said lack of motivation led to a training cycle where I only averaged 45 miles a week. Despite some successful races over the winter, I also didn't get in consistant speed work. The hay was not in the barn. Much of it was dead in the field, going to waste.

However, because of some good successes during the winter races and given how I felt on tempo runs when I did them, I mused that if I was having a very good day there was a chance I might PR (3:07:58). I might even break three. Unlikely, but I might. I also might blow up. More likely. My quads hate Boston's downhills with a passion. For them, it's the strawberry flavored milk of race courses. So, with that in mind, I'd be very happy to break my time from two year's ago (3:12:41) and the further under I got would be more gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Nearly perfect running weather on tap for the day, with highs in the lower 50s and even some cloud cover. Kate dropped me off on South Street and Hopkinton. It was around 7am when we arrived, so the traffic was wicked light. I boarded one of the yellow buses with only about a dozen other early bird runners on board and we made our way over to Athlete's Village.

However, I would skip Athlete's Village. I decided I didn't need a drop bag and last year, being on my feet while waiting in line for more than 30 minutes just to pee was a bit much. So, I just went to the start line instead. Great call. Plenty of porta-potties and room to move around. Disadvantage of this was that...well...not many other runners around. I was bored. But still, being able to use the bathrooms at will and not having to deal with crowds in general was a great trade-off.

Another bonus was that I got to watch the elite woman warm-up and start their race a half an hour before the rest of us, which was really neat. Hit the porta-potty again, saw Tim T. and Matt H. and then I ditched my ratty, discardable warm-up sweats to the donation bags and entered corral #6 (bib number was 5703).

First 10K
I told myself I'd go out slow for those first four, steep downhill miles to preserve the quads, but...well...7:00, 6:45, 6:47, 6:39. However, I will say that my quads held up better throughout the race than the previous two years, including last year when I went slow because of the heat.

Then, at mile 5, my Time Run Trainer GPS got off track and recorded the mile split well ahead of the actual mile marker. I chastised myself lightly for deciding not to take the splits manually. That was dumb. I then switched the display screen on my GPS to only show the race time, not knowing if the other splits were going to be off as well. I'd probably be better off not knowing my splits anyway and just run by feel.

10k to Half-Marathon
Started to sense here that I would not be able to hold a sub-3 pace so I slowed it down to around 7:00/mile. This felt right. Try to hold this.

I spotted Gary Allen, race director of the MDI Marathon (my favorite) and ran up along him. "Ceremonial run" for him (he finished well ahead of his projected time), as his 700-mile run to DC still had him a little beat up. We chatted for about a minute until I heard another voice from behind call my name. It was Maddy! Ran with her for a bit, but then let her go. She was in very prime marathon shape, having put in a fantastic training cycle, and ended up setting a huge PR and came pretty close to breaking three hours.

Scream tunnel at Wellesley. As usual, extremely loud and I took the left hand part of the road to save my eardrums. Cool tradition there, but I prefer to watch from afar. Watching guys slowing down, speed  up, slow down while trying to select a girl to kiss is pretty amusing.

Crossed the half marathon mark 1:31:13, but my legs were feeling pretty tight. Not just my quads, pretty much all of my leg muscles, but nothing bad. Still it had me concerned a little this early in the race.

Half Mary to Mile Sixteen
More downhills. Pretty uneventful. Just getting mentally prepared for the uphills at Newton. Can't remember much else here.

Miles 16-21
Trippy pic taken by Blaine on the Newton Hills.
The energy of the crowds going up the Newton Hills was fantastic as always. Loud, positive, encouraging... it's unreal. I love it. Heard Erin call my name followed by Blaine, who was spectating but ran up beside me and stayed with me for a hundred feet or so. I told him to tell Kate that though I was slowing down, I was feeling good and having fun. It was true, I was.

Reached the first uphill on Commonwealth. Then the second. Now...Heartbreak Hill! Or wait a minute...was this the second hill? I lost track. Got to the top....yep, it was Heartbreak! Sweet! It seemed less steep this time around. All splits were thankfully 7:XX/mile.

Now Boston College. Loud, drunk, positive and just all around awesome. I love this section. However, I was kind of in a down mood here and feeling tired so couldn't really enjoy it. If I had known my splits were still respectable at this point I might have felt otherwise.

Miles 21-25

Around mile 22, giving the thumbs up to my friend, Ryan C. 
Got out of my mental funk and was enjoying myself. I remember bonking in the heat here last year, so I  was thankful that I was feeling okay and trucking along. The Walking Dead were become more and more numerous, the result of the Newton Hills taking their toll causing runners to cramp up or bonk.

Calculations now running in my head. I knew at Cleveland Circle I would break 3:15, which was comforting. As I got closer to the Citgo sign at mile 25, I knew breaking my fastest Boston time from two years ago was a very real possibility. I decided I would focus on that.

However, with less than two miles to go, my left calf was threatening to cramp up. It would twinge, but then relax. Grrr.

Mile 25 to the Finish

Hi Kate.

Bye Kate.
My left calf continued to bark, and I was forced to slow it down a little or risk having it seize up on me entirely, which would cost a lot more time. Since the first twinge, I had downed two more Gu packets and two cups of Gatorade in an effort to keep it at bay. It sucked, because I remember thinking I have more to give here. Dang it!

Under the little overpass and then the right turn on Hereford is visible. Sweet. I remember feeling another twinge after I made the turn. Argh. Then the left turn on Boylston. I took a chance and kicked it up a notch here. How can you not? The final stretch, the finish line scaffolding in the distance, the roar of the crowds and knowing you're almost done...it's awesome! Even my left calf must have agreed, it didn't even twinge and held up.

Made my way over to the right hand side of the road, where I knew Kate, my in-laws and Christine were stationed at the Hotel With the Flags, as they are every year. I don't know the name of this hotel, they probably do, but I just know it as the Hotel With the Flags. Spotted them, blew Kate a kiss as I went by and then focused on the finish line.

I crossed the line in 3:11:35, my second fastest marathon time ever. Given my lack of training and motivation, I was very happy with that. Very happy.

Quick rest before we hit the road. 
Immediately after finishing, I exchanged congrats with the runners around me, all of us tired, beat up but very happy. I love that vibe.

I remember thinking, yeah, I'm good with taking a few years off from doing Boston. This is cool and all, but I'm totally good with that. I don't want to take qualifying for Boston and the extreme honor of running this race for granted, but I was starting to get to that point. It was time for a break.

That changed about an hour and forty five minutes later, when we were on the road home. As we were pulling off the highway for lunch, we heard the first reports via radio of the blasts. A frantic two hours spent with family, friends, students checking in to see I was safe, me doing the same with friends who were still in the area. My phone's battery was draining like a bathtub. I don't feel the need to recount the rest, just thankful everyone I knew was safe and my heart goes out to those more directly affected.

But I'll end by saying this: I am doing Boston next year. I can use my MDI Marathon time for a qualifier and that puts me 6:02 under my BQ time, which will hopefully be enough. A lot more people are going to want to do it next year, plus Boston will likely accomodate for those who weren't able to finish in one way or another, so that complicates things but I'm confident I'll still get in.

And this time around, none of this half-assed training bullshit. I'm going to train my butt off so hard people are going to write songs about it. The fire has been relit and I'll have plenty of dry wood to feed it. That's my way of showing honor. And I know I'm not alone. You don't mess with runners.

Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:19/mile pace.
Official time: 3:11:35
Official place: 4032
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 40s to lower 50s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, singlet.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Trails Less Taken

Short but somewhat intense trail run in the woods out back this morning. Stuck mostly to single track and a large section of trails now closed to ATV traffic. That means nobody else takes them, given most folks around here don't go into the woods unless they're on something with a motor. Yeehaw.

Very enjoyable run. Legs feel great; it's as if the 12-mile run yesterday never happened. Very good signs being not even two weeks out from Boston. Pace was actually a moderate effort, given all of the mud, hills, blowdowns, puddles and all sorts of other technical woods goodness. Heaven.

At one point, heard a loud clammer in the woods. Only something big could have caused it. Doubt it was a deer, as they are generally very graceful and quiet. Moose? Bear? Woods Out Back Hermit? Surprised I couldn't see it, given there's no foliage yet, but the vicinity did have hills and large rocks whatever it was could have quickly disappeared behind.

Ordered new trail shoes. Saucony Kinvara TR. I had been eyeballing them, especially since there's a big sale on them on runningwarehouse.com. Ian commented yesterday that he was looking at a pair and he was impressed, so with that I decided to buy them. Only reservation is that the tread isn't very agressive, but that was also the case with my soon-to-be retired New Balance MT110 (589 miles) and they served me very well, so hopefully the same with these guys.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:41/mile pace.
Technical trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 50s to lower 60s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Land of Pine

First run at Pineland Farms this season. I had originally planned on eight miles but with the great company of Ian, Emma, David R. and Julia, my legs feeling pretty good and the great weather, tacking on a little more made sense.

Fun run, and pretty encouraging. Legs are still a bit rusty, but that's dissipating and I'm on track. Definitely going to be getting in some good mountain runs next weekend so looking forward to that.

Ran 11.9 miles @ 9:24/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 40s to upper 50s, partly cloudy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Woods Out Back Revisited

Beautiful afternoon out. Gladly hit the woods out back for a trail run. Was going to do five or six miles, but opted for the bigger loop. Legs definitely felt a little tired, but no worse for the wear. Happy to do a little extra today to make it mentally easier to take a rest day tomorrow and go fly fishing.

Plan for Pineland is pretty much a reverse taper. I expect to do two long runs, next weekend and the weekend after. Then it'll be a two week modified taper leading up to race day. Haven't run the 50-mile distance in two years, so looking forward to diving back into the ultra world.

Ran 7.3 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny, breezy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Scouting With Kate

Met up with Kate at Noble High School when we were done with work.  We scouted out a potential course for a 5K fundraiser for the family of a teacher she worked with who was killed in a car wreck a few weeks ago.

Raw day out. Cold and misty, especially for this time of year. A lot of fun to run with Kate though.

Oh yeah... the Boston Marathon report. Soon. I guess I shouldn't say a specific day because it's taking me a little while longer to wrap it up because of school and work commitments, but it'll definitely be up by the weekend.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 11:35/mile pace.
Paved roads and trails.
Mostly flat.
Around 40 degrees, overcast, misting.
Nike Waffle Racer VIII, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Hike Up Mt. Sawyer

Spent the morning getting caught up on homework for my creative writing class and finished up a bit sooner than I had anticipated. With that done, Kate and I did a little hike up Sawyer Mountain, a local peak about 25 minutes away. A little cool out, but still a gorgeous day. Below are some pics.

Boston Marathon race report will go up tomorrow. Still want some time to proof it over a bit.

Summit view

Frog eggs in a vernal pool

We ate lunch here and you did not

Kate is alive with the sound of music

Spring thaw

Still a little snow in some spots

White Mountains in the distance

Hiked 4.7 miles.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 40s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, warm-up pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

First Run Since Boston

Legs at least feel very normal now when walking around, so I knew I was ready for a short run. Hit the trails in the woods out back. Pace was slow and I just enjoyed it.

I'm in the process of writing a race report for Boston. It's actually almost done and I'll hopefully have it up tonight, tomorrow at the latest. Very glad I wrote it. Writing has always been very therapeutic for me, in many different ways. I'm getting caught up on a lot of homework for my creative writing class, so once that's over I'll wrap it up and post it. 

Ran 3.5 miles @ 10:12/mile pace. 
Trails, pretty muddy. 
Very hilly. 
Lower 50s, overcast, windy. 
New Balance MT110, shorts, long sleeved shirt. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Tragedy

It is very hard to express how I'm feeling right now. A mix of sad and angry. Race times are absolutely meaningless and I can't believe something this tragic has happened to a community that I hold so dear to my heart. All runners are brothers and sisters and my heart goes out to those who lost someone or were injured.

Thankfully, Kate, her parents and I are safe. All of my friends are safe. The bombs went off when we were already on the road.

The second blast went off across the road and 100 feet down from where Kate and her folks were spectating. A friend who was with them stayed behind to watch another friend after I finished. She's safe, thankfully, and witnessed the blasts first hand. What if they were on the other side of the road and down just a bit? I would not be able to live with myself.

Other "what if" scenarios keep racing through my head, but I am just thankful we're safe and very sad for those who who lost someone or were hurt.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bring on Boston

Final run before Boston and just under three miles at an easy pace on tap this morning. I cursed at myself out loud three times for unintentionally going too fast, but overall I kept myself in check.

I feel like a shaken up beer bottle, but the cap isn't to be removed until Monday. Look out when it does. I'm taking no prisoners. My bib number is 5703 if you wish to track me.

Ran 2.9 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, fleece pullover, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April Chill

He's back. Old Man Winter. Perhaps he forgot his wallet and came back to retrieve it. Mid-40s and overcast this afternoon and we could get 2"-4"of snow tomorrow. Eek! Still way better than last year's heat wave. I'll take this any day.

Temps looking great for Monday. Per the National Weather Service: In Hopkinton, it's projected to be 45F/7C at the 10am race start. In Boston, it's projected to be 53F/12C at 1pm. Qualitative analysis: Nearly &#!$ing perfect.  

Ran 2.7 miles @ 8:56/mile pace. 
Trails, some paved roads and paths. 
Moderately hilly. 
Mid 40s, overcast. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Few Tempo Miles

Ah, today's workout allowed a little speed. Goal was just to remind my legs of MP pace without taking anything out of the bank. However, I was pretty undisciplined and the pace was way faster than it should have been. Despite that, I'm confident I won't go out too fast on Monday. I'm pretty good about that.

So, warmed up for a mile that was pretty quick 7:10 followed up by two more miles at 6:41 and 6:34 respectively. Even though those were way too fast, I was still encouraged by how ridiculously easy they felt. The taper is working.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 6:48/mile pace (includes w/u mile)
c/d Ran 1.1 miles @ 7:57/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Mid 50s, overcast, humid. 
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Taper Worms

Rest day yesterday. Just easy three miles on tap for today. Legs feeling fresh and spry. At least tomorrow I can run 2-3 miles at MP sandwiched between a few w/u, c/d miles, which is good because I'm starting to chomp at the bit a little.

A nice treat at the end of the run when I was returning to the school... passing near a bog, I heard peepers for the first time this season. I live about 20-25 minutes north of the school, so was slightly bummed to not hear them when I got home, but it won't be long.

Oh yeah... Boston. Should be a fun time. Mindset is much more relaxed this year. Yeah, I'm a bit anxious, but nowhere even close to the way I was last year and the year before. I think I've taken the just run fast and smart and see what happens philosophy to heart, which stems from not feeling like I have anything to prove.

Weather looks idea for race day. Here's a breakdown of the temperature forecasts as of this posting:

National Weather Service: 61F/16C
Accuweather:  58F/14C
Weather Channel: 64F/18C

I trust NWS the most, but all three have been trending towards warmer the past several days. We'll see. Regardless, it'll be nice to spend the rest of spring break after the race fly fishing since I won't be able to run much. Hit the river yesterday for the first time this season. No bites, but I was only fishing for about an hour and it's very early in the season:

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:44/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, partly sunny, breezy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Ice, Snow and Dirt

Short, easy and fun trail run in the woods out back. About a week and a half ago, there was still a lot of snow. Was happy to see a lot of it has melted. Trails were roughly 50% bare ground and 50% ice/packed snow, but those sections were pebbled and soft enough to provide good footing without being deep enough to posthole. Nice to know the trails are a sound option again without any special gear required.

Obviously, a very light week ahead. Will go something like this:

M - rest
T - 3-4 miles easy
W - 4-5 miles w/ 2-3 miles @ MP
H - 3-4 miles easy
F - 2-3 miles easy or rest
S - 2-3 miles easy
S - rest

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:53/mile pace.
Trails, 50% ice/snow, 50% bare ground.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, mostly cloudy, breezy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Last Double-Digit Run

Last run over 10 miles before Boston. Felt really, really great and had to hold back, which is where anyone in a taper should ideally be at this point. Pretty pumped.

Chillier day out and pretty breezy as well. At least there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Felt sufficiently warmed up after four miles and after that the legs felt really spry. I had to constantly remind myself to slow down since the pace was supposed to be easy. Good signs. I'll be going bonkers next week with even more minimal running.

It was announced this morning that Meb pulled out of the elite field for Boston. Bummer. He's got a pretty amazing life story, I highly recommend his book. Great read.

Ran 10.2 miles @ 7:48/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Virrata, warm-up pants, fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, April 05, 2013

All Eyes on the Weather

Four easy miles on a gorgeous early spring afternoon. Great day to be outside and nice to run comfortably in just shorts and a short sleeved shirt.

Time to start looking closer at the weather for Boston. As of now, Accuweather is calling for 66F/19C on race day. However, forecasts this far out are more for entertainment value, especially in New England. Still, if that holds, pretty warm. Not a scorcher like last year, but still warm enough to warrant some adjustments.

It is what it is.

Ran 4.1 miles @ 7:46/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Boston Marathon Thoughts

I don't mean to sound like a broken record (is corrupt MP3 file a more modern metaphor?), but I haven't been terribly motivated this training cycle for Boston. Just burned out on road marathons, pure and simple. As a result I haven't gotten in the mileage and workouts that would make up an amazing training period.

However, after some analysis and thinking, it's also not a total bust. There are some positives to take from it. Thought it would be helpful to get some pros and cons down in words:

The Bad:

  • Only averaged 45-point-something miles a week for the past 11 weeks. 
  • Slightly less than desirable amount of tempo and interval work.
  • Often took two rest days a week.
  • Mentally not super motivated for the race. 
The Good:

  • I got in over 55 miles of snowshoe running/racing in the past 11 weeks. 
  • Only averaged 48-point-something miles for the 11 weeks leading to the taper for the MDI Marathon last fall and had a big PR. Snowshoe mileage helps make up that three mile a week deficit. 
  • Tempo runs and interval workouts produced good results when I got them in. 
  • PR-ed in the 10-mile and half marathon distances during this training cycle. Speed is there? 
  • Long runs have been there. A couple on snowy trails (extra strength conditioning). 
The cycle definitely could be better, but could also be worse. Comparing the training cycle to MDI, at the very least I think I've maintained the fitness and speed I had last October. However, I think I've likely improved on it some...just not as much as I could have.

However, I think Boston is tougher than MDI, at least for me. All of those downhills kill my quads. Yeah, MDI is much hillier, but it roughly has the same amount of equal ups and downs, and my legs handle that better. Rolling hills are just more my strength. 

So, I don't know. I'd like to go for a time somewhere between 3:05-3:07, but if I can push it harder in hopes of....... well, I will. But I also know that's an absolute best case scenario. It would be easy for me to run a 6:45-6:50/mile pace in those first 17 miles. Maintaining that on the Newton Hills and then having enough strength left in the quads after Heartbreak is a different matter. 

As for today, a little over four miles on hills. Was supposed to be easy pace, but it was a progression due to lack of discipline. The legs just felt damn good. Will be more careful in the remaining week and a half. 

Ran 4.3 miles @ 7:24/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Very hilly. 
Lower 40s, sunny, windy. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Windy Run and Strides

A little more than four miles today around the town I teach in. Explored a cemetery and then headed back. Colder temperatures in place today and very windy which made warming up take a little longer, but I felt great once I did. Glad I wore tights. 

Followed the run up with a session of strides. Those were fun. Did them along a line of big trees to block the wind. That was smart. 

Ran 4.4 miles @ 7:36/mile pace, followed by 10 X 100M strides. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Mid 30s, partly sunny, windy. 
Saucony Viratta, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.