Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nine Days

It's been a full nine days since Boston and I haven't run since... until today. Felt GREAT to get out. I hit the rail trails, so nice to be out in the woods.

Run went very well. Some rust, but not much, and the legs otherwise felt pretty great and well rested. Looking forward to entering my next training regime which focuses on absolutely nothing.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 8:41/mile pace.
Rail trails.
Slighly hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

2014 Boston Marathon Race Report

Wow, where to start? I wasn't even going to run Boston this year. Last year was my third in a row and I figured I would take a break not just from Boston, but from doing so many races in general. But then those couple of pathetic losers had to do what they did, and myself along with tens of thousands of others of Boston Marathoners wanted to run as a show of resilience and fortitude, in essence giving the giant middle finger to anyone who dares %$#@ with our running community.

So, after last year... hours after the blasts, I believe... I turned to Kate and said "I really want to run it next year". Her response was an immediate "You definitely should". I already had a solid qualifier in the bank that I could use. All I had to do was sign-up, train and show-up. I'm very glad I did.

Kate and I before the bus took me from South Street to Athlete's Village.

Kate and her parents dropped me off at South Street in Hopkinton earlier than ever. After bidding them adieu, I quickly made my way over to the porta-pottie. Stomach was not super happy, I just hoped it settled down before the race. Thankfully, it did.

The bus ride over was the usual scene. I sat next to a very down to earth fellow named Ernesto and we casually chatted over the occasional voice of a runner speaking a bit too loudly about their accomplishments. We arrived and were swallowed into Athlete's Village.

I had planned on skipping AV and heading down to the start line. Long story short, I was trapped inside and they weren't letting runners down there until it was around 45 minutes until their wave's start. However, the hours went by quickly thanks to linking up with a Yooper woman, a Canadian and a fellow from Denver in a prime, sunny spot against a netted batter's cage, and we had great conversations and also watched each other's stuff when bathroom trips were needed.

Soon, it was time to head down to the start. By now my stomach had finally settled down.... you know what, let's call a spade a spade... my colon had settled down, and for that I was grateful. Was worried about hydration as a result, but I drank as much as I could without risking stopping to pee on someone's front lawn early in the race.

Lined up in the corral. Excited, happy and nervous energy. Military helicopter flyover after the National Anthem. Starting gun. Just under five minutes to reach the official start line and I was off.

Miles 1-5
If there's a plus side to being sick last month and not really feeling on again until a week before the race, it's that there was no real pressure. Goals were hard to set, but I had a few, but they were more like very general guidelines, meant to be bent and broken, much like traffic laws are for Massachusetts drivers.

I would have loved to have PR'd (3:07:58) or at least broken my best Boston time (3:11:35). Those were reach goals. Without knowing what to expect from the time off from being sick, I figured I would finish in a window of 3:05-3:20.

So, anyway, we were off... the first four miles of downhill are real quad busters, but the crowds in that first mile serve as a speed governor. A few minutes into the race, a woman kicked the bottom of my shoe and fell. I wanted to stop and help, but in that split second of fast, instinctive thinking, I also knew I'd greatly risk taking out runners if I did. However, she bounced right back up and said she was okay. I was worried she might unleash a verbal assault even though it was purely incidental, but thankfully not the case.

Splits during this stretch were 7:08, 6:52, 7:01, 6:58 and 7:06. It felt like more work than it should have, but I had hoped I would come around. I've had that happen before, as well as the opposite. It was a gamble, but one I was willing to take.

Also, I was sweating. Something I haven't heard a lot of chatter about was the warmth. I'm surprised by that. Sure, it wasn't the 90F/32C degrees it was two years ago, but it did get up to the upper 60sF/~20C with zero cloud cover. I think that obviously affected a lot of people's times, and the amount of cramping carnage on the backside of Heartbreak Hill to the finish was very apparent.

Miles 6-9
Continued to hold the pace, but I was still feeling out of sync at first. Throughout the next few miles, that would thankfully wane and I would get my rhythm, but alas, during that transition my hamstrings would also begin to tighten. That's a new one for me. My quads are usually the first muscle group to go, so while I was concerned I was also slightly fascinated. Splits were 6:57, 7:02*, 7:02* and 6:54 (forgot to hit lap button for seventh mile split, so that's an average between the two miles).

At around mile seven, I noticed a group of around 7-8 runners ahead of me all wearing "Eagle AC" singlets. Grellan had told me a few days ago that several members of his team were running Boston and to keep an eye out for them. Low and behold, here they were. Cool.

I caught up to them and introduced myself and asked if they knew Grellan. It was great entertainment to hear their excitement in their native accents. They were extremely friendly fellows and I really enjoyed running and chatting with them for a few minutes. I moved on ahead, but I'd see them later.

Miles 10-16
The scream tunnel at Wellesley... stuck to the left side of the road to save my eardrums. Why so many cute, young college girls would be willing to kiss smelly, ugly, middle-aged runners is beyond me. Fun tradition though.

Hamstrings were now so tight I could play Dueling Banjos on them and my pace began to slow. Splits were 7:04, 7:14, 7:16, 7:13, 7:31, 7:43 and 7:33. That was a bit demoralizing. I was in a good amount of pain here and still had a ways to go. But I've been through worse. This is where having some experience in ultramarathons, especially 100 milers, pays big dividends. You put your head down and bulldog through with an intense concentration on moving forward the best you can.

Saw Chandra who was volunteering at the water stop at Mile 14, another nice boost.

Miles 17-21
The Newton Hills. The first one is actually before that right hand turn on to Commonwealth, though that's often overlooked. That one kinda hurt. Took a Chocolate Espresso Gu after the climb was over and felt a boost, making the turn and psyching myself up for the final three.

Up another and another and then Heartbreak Hill. Saw some co-workers and other friends along the way. The carnage was apparent. Before, when I had slowed down I was like a log in the current as the majority of runners passed. Now, I was even, and noticed many walking from exhaustion, cramps or other ailments. The warm weather no doubt contributed a lot to that and I was glad I had been regularly drinking water and Gatorade at the stops, as well as taking Gu.

While it felt great to crest Heartbreak, the hammies were tight and truth be told I was pretty miserable. The only selfish and somewhat evil consolation was that others were very broken; limping with cramps, walking slower than an old person at the mall, or outright stopping and gazing into the distance. I normally enjoy the Boston College crowd very much, but unfortunately it took all of my focus to keep my pace up and block out the hammies.

Splits were 8:06, 7:51, 7:44, 8:08 and 8:41. Ouch.

Miles 22-25
More carnage. Crowds were very loud and encouraging. I was in that deep trance where all focus and energy were intensely concentrated on moving forward. Kate Upton could have been running next to me in a bikini and I probably wouldn't have noticed.

Looking at my pace I set the goal of breaking 3:20. It would be nice to have my minutes in the teens. That kept me going and didn't allow much room for slack, as it would be close. Splits were 8:24, 8:22, 8:24 and 8:41. Ugh.

Mile 26 and to the Finish
Boylston Street bliss.
The Citgo sign came and went. Soon was the dip in the road followed by the right turn on to Hereford. This is a natural reenergizer. Along this street I caught back up the Eagle AC guys and said hello again (they had passed me back on the hills).

The left turn on to Boyslton. Man, I was just so happy now. It was almost over! I had fought some pretty intense pain from the tight hamstrings in warm weather, which I don't run well in. Despite that, I knew I'd be breaking 3:20. I would gladly take it. Not my best time, but one of my better battles.

Made my way over to right side of the road and knew to look for Kate, my in-laws and our friend Peter near the hotel with the flags. Found them, yelled hello, and then reached the finish line and crossed, glad to be done. Average pace for that last 1.2 miles was 7:57/mile. Official time: 3:19:39.

Post Race
After finding Kate at the family meeting area, I went to the parking garage to clean-up and change. Found a most-excellent healthy burrito joint that also had homemade milkshakes. Yes, please. That really hit the spot. If you've never had a milkshake after a long race, I highly recommend it. I think a new tradition is born.

Security was ridiculously tight on Boyslton and we couldn't get back in, but we managed to get over near the right turn on Hereford to watch Christine come in. She was near the second blast last year, a scary time for her and the BAA graciously granted her a bib number. Very happy she had a good race.

Sub-par performance for me, but it could have been worse. It was disappointing to have January and February's training go so perfectly only to have it unravel in March with the flu and subsequent slow recovery. But these things happen. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. It's all part of racing, pure and simple.

Very proud of how I battled the warmer weather and tight hamstrings. That made it tough but I bulldogged through it.

And of course... how cool is it that Meb won? Honored to have ran in his wake as he was the first American to win Boston in 31 years. I had the pleasure of meeting him last summer, and he's the real deal, both as a competitor and a person. Super nice guy.

Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:37/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Around 50 degrees to lower 60s, sunny.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, singlet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Boston Marathon in the Books

Welp, it's said and done. My 4th consecutive Boston was a good one. Finished in 3:19:39 which is a very mediocre time for me, but I'm not really all that disappointed. I'm very proud of how I battled very tight hamstrings and warmer than expected weather. And of course, the vibe was electric.

Lot's of great takeaways here, which I'll detail in a full report within a few days. Will take my usual post-road marathon week off from running and enjoy going to Fenway tonight for the Red Sox/Yankees game and chasing trout. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Boston Marathon Eve

Positive mindset. Fresh legs. Pumped, psyched and ready to go.  And yes, that is a fly hanging off of my bib number. I caught my first trout of the season on it, and I thought it'd be a fun good luck charm. 

Let's do this!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Final Pre-Boston Run

Tomorrow we travel down to Boston. First stop will be the expo to check-in and then probably some lunch before we head over to our hotel to relax for the rest of the day. I am really looking forward to it.

So, my final pre-race run was today. I opted to run to the salmon pool and back. Prior to today, I haven't seen fish there this season.

Unlike when I was fishing here a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see the water levels at close to their nominal levels and running relatively clear. I wonder if it's because the trees are producing less tannic acid since it's early spring. Stones ranging in size from pebbles to basketballs could easily be seen carpeting the bottom. It was pretty.

I sat and watched the water, looking toward the usual spots, hoping to see a fish to rise. With the especially cold and snowy winter and also the super high water levels lately, part of me wondered if the salmon would still be here. It would have been easy for them to go downstream to another pool or even the Saco River.

I noticed a few midges and something bigger, likely a stonefly, fluttering about, so the food is there. A few times I thought I saw a few small boils on the surface, but decided they were just eddies. For the same reasons hunters get buck fever, I suppose trout fever can also exist for fly fisherman.

Then I saw the telltale concentric ripples in the water. It had to have been a fish. I waited a few minutes for another, but saw none. I played devil's advocate with myself, wondering if something could have fallen from a tree. Possible, but I saw nothing on the surface. I'm at least 90% certain it was a fish and mused that a size 20 Griffith's Gnat would be a good fly to start with...if I had my gear with me. Satisfied, I ran home and ate lunch.

By the way, if you don't think this post was about my pre-race feelings, you're wrong.

Ran 2.5 miles @ 9:12/mile pace.
Mostly flat.
Mid 50s, partly cloudy.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Very Short Progression

A little over 5K getting progressively faster throughout, working down to a 6:34/mile split for the last mile. Felt great. All systems go, ready to rock.

Run felt great despite being up since 2am. Forgot all about that until I was driving to pick up a new fly reel after the run and was feeling tired and cranky. I was like "Oh yeah." After said task I met up with Kate and two other friends at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant for an awesome dinner which of course put me in a happy mood.

Now, off to bed to go.

Ran 3.2 miles @ 7:23/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Lower 40s, sunny, breezy. 
Saucony Virrata, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

That's What I'm Talking About

Just three miles today. But you can tell a lot in just three miles. Or at least I can. I know early on in a run if it's going to be nuclear powered, a slog or anything in between.

Today, I felt it. It. It being that feeling that all cylinders are firing. It being that feeling I'm supposed to be having right now a handful of days away from a marathon; like a bull ready to break out of the gate and fling the cowboy on his back to the moon. It being that I'm ready to simply kick some ass. Faster and longer would have been no problem. No problem at all.

It's a better late than never situation, but I feel like it's legit. While the training cycle might not have gone as smoothly as I'd like due to circumstances beyond my control, the hay is indeed in the barn. Let's do this.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 40 degrees, sunny.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mud, Rain and Trails

Past two days off... well, kind of. Sunday was off but yesterday I did hike just under two miles to a remote pond to fish. But today, a real run on real trails in real mud. It was awesome. With the rain there were some puddles so big they could have held trout.

What was more important was I felt great. Given the mud and the pouring rain, the pace for this route was nice and it felt easy. If I can continue to feel like this for the rest of my short runs this week - but while holding back, mind you - I will be very confident when I toe the line in Hopkinton. 

And yes, I probably overuse this video for muddy runs, but I don't care because it's still one of the greatest songs of all time:

Ran 3.6 miles @ 8:49/pace. 
Trails, very muddy with large puddles and some patches of ice. 
Very hilly. 
Upper 50s, overcast, heavy to moderate rain. 
New Balance MT1010, short, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jack and Jill and Gnarlins

A really great Jack and Jill baby shower today for my very good friends Ian and Emma. Naturally, running was involved, and it was a great day with my super duper awesome Trail Monster Running friends.

Kate and I got their early to help set up a bit. Well, Kate set up a bit in all fairness... I just joined the group getting a jump start on the running since Ry-Bread and John were going long.

My plan was 10 miles, but the trail conditions were... well... horrendous. Pretty much equal parts of dirt, mud, snow and ice. Treacherous ice at that. As a result, the going was very slow, especially since I had regular trail shoes that weren't screwed and the YakTrax were foolishly left at home.

So, as a result, I was very satisfied to get in roughly 8.5 miles (my GPS wasn't behaving). This run was worth at least 11 miles.

Afterwards, there were barley sodas, awesome food and of course, watching two awesome friends open baby-related gifts. All the while I was musing at what incredible parents they are going to be and that kid will be very lucky to have them.

Ran 8.5 miles @ 11:40/mile pace.
Trails, full gamut of conditions.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s to lower 60s, sunny.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, April 11, 2014

70 Degrees

Yep. 70F/21C during today's run. It felt really, really nice. My body was like "Whoa, I'm not used to running in this warm crap" but my mind was like "Ha ha ha ha, this is awesome".

Legs... well, my kneecaps felt a little sore, but that was not an issue once warmed up. Just a mild case of runner's knee, I think. Energy... meh. Though with the sudden warm temps I'm sure that threw me off a bit. It always does.

Afterwards, some fishing near a friend's camp but got skunked... April is always extremely hit and miss, with way more misses than hits for most folks. Especially this year, with winter running later into the year. So, it's all good.

Came home, and Kate and I lit some logs in the fire pit while enjoying a few barley sodas. Peeper Ale was had. Why? Well, funny you should ask. We have an annual tradition that we have said beverage when we hear the spring peepers for the first time. Such was the case this evening. Nice.

Ran 4.1 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
Paved roads, small trail section.
Slightly hilly.
70 degrees, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Dog Crap

Dog crap. It sucks to step in. It sucks even worse when your run feels like it. Such was the case today.

Ran a warm-up and it didn't feel all that great. Began some interval work and the feeling stayed. Legs just felt dead, so I cut it short.

Gotta say, I'm really frustrated right now. Ever since I got the flu last month, I just haven't felt the same. Expectations are now pretty low for Boston. But it is what it is. Let's just run the dang thing and try to have fun, then follow it up with a spring/summer of minimal racing, but lot's of running and fly fishing... combined. I think my heart is already at running out to very remote streams and ponds and catching trout.

w/u: Ran 1.7 miles @ 7:46/mile pace.
Intervals: Ran .9 miles @ 6:46/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly for w/u, flat for intervals.
Upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Holding Back

Held back today. No, no, not my pace! The urge to go to the bathroom. After three miles a Code Brown alert was issued. I knew a path was just down the hill where I could get into the woods and take care of things, and it took all of my willpower to get there without fumbling the ball.

I emerged from the trees two pounds lighter and continued on my run. All of that aside, I otherwise felt pretty mediocre. Normally less than two weeks out from a marathon, I'm experiencing taper worms and having to hold back. This time around, I feel a bit like a semi-truck with three flat tires driving down a washed out dirt road. Stupid flu.

Very light interval workout tomorrow. Then I'll fish. Yesterday, I had good success on a local pond, landing my first brookie of the season. Despite part of the pond being covered with ice still and no hatches that were visible, they were hitting the surface and I landed this little guy with a dry fly.

Caught and released. 

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:58/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Dodging Earthworms

Rain had just ended when I began the run, but a cool mist still hung in the air. However, what lended to a spring-like feel was the plethora of earthworms on the sides of the roads. I saw some robins that were quite busy on the lawns.

Run was... well... meh. I started out feeling sluggish, but at least it didn't get any worse. A level feeling of mediocrity-at-best throughout. Legs felt fine, it was just my energy. Not sure why exactly, but only a little over two weeks left to finish kicking off this rust.

Ran 15.4 miles @ 8:11/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid to upper 30s, overcast, light mist at the start.
Saucony Virrata, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, buff, gloves.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Easy Fiver and Boston Thoughts

Uneventful five miler at an easy pace. Weather a bit on the cool side but still nice.

Gotta say, I'm now getting pretty excited for Boston. Part of me just wants it to be over with, but a bigger part of me that continues to grow is remembering that it is an honor to be in this race and I can't wait for two weeks from Monday.

Obviously what's helping with that is turning that corner after the flu and I feel like I'm back at a good spot. I don't think breaking three hours is realistic for me at this point, but if I'm feeling awesome on race day I'll certainly go for it. Regardless, I should still have a good outcome that I'm happy with. Like I said, it's just an honor to be a part of it.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:56/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, sunny.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Intervals and Bogs

Sunny and almost sorta kinda warm temps today had me raring to go for an interval workout. Went pretty well overall.

Was joined by Matt for the last few tenths of a mile of my warm-up and then it was time to start. On tap was two laps around the school hard (.88 miles) followed by one lap easy (.44 miles). Repeat three times.

Splits were 4:47, 5:04 and 5:02, which averaged out to 5:45/mile pace. Including the active recovery, the average pace for the total 3.5 miles was 6:24/mile.

Afterwards, I cooled down. Pretty pleased overall. Felt pretty good and I'm now back to feeling pretty good about Boston. The rust is just about off from the flu.

I drove home and promptly changed to hit a stream that runs through a bog in the woods out back. Not many safe options for fly fishing right now due to high water levels that are running faster than Meb, so this was a good option. As expected, no fish. It's still too cold. However, I did see a few stoneflies and maybe even a few early season mayflies, so good to know the hatches have started.

To get to the bog, I had to trudge through over two feet of snow in the deeper spots. That was a legit good way to keep the legs even looser, though on tired legs from the intervals it was more like another workout.

Stonefly on my chest pack. Trout love these.
The bog.

More of the bog.
w/u: Ran 1.5 miles @ 7:33/mile pace.
3 X .88 miles w/ .44 miles of active recovery (laps around school): 4:57, 5:04 and 5:02. Average interval pace, 5:45/mile. Including active recovery: Ran 3.5 miles @ 6:24/mile pace.
c/d: Ran 1.6 miles @ 8:11/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly for w/u and c/d.
Upper 40s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Step in the Right Direction

Today was a bit more like it. Not 100%, mind you, but still a big step in the right direction. I think I'm turning the corner after the flu and subsequent shaking off of the rust.

The soleus muscles felt considerably better than they did last week and earlier this week. Probably 85% better? My energy is also on the rebound. Today's effort felt about 90-95% of where it should be. Excellent.

So, very encouraging. Tomorrow will feature some interval work. I suspect it'll go just fine. In fact, I'm rather looking forward to it. Friday will likely be 5-7 miles at an easy pace. Saturday, 15-17 miles and Sunday around 5 miles.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:29/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 40s, overcast.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, cap.

All hail Les Claypool: