Level up: Sub-3 Completed

Be the banana. ~ Susan Nuzum

Way back in the 5th century, a wise person said, “Patience is a virtue.” After running a 2:58:47 (gun time) at the Eugene Marathon this weekend, I could not agree more. Throughout the first 20 miles of this race, when I felt so good and wanted so badly to run faster, I kept telling myself, “Be patient,” and doing so paid off in spades.

Everything came together for this race: a solid training cycle, limited injury/wonkiness complications, good focus and preparation, fantastic weather, a good course… the list goes on. Sometimes, one can have everything prepped and ready to go and one small thing throws off the whole endeavor. But for me, at the 2012 Eugene Marathon, all the stars aligned and I had a great day of running.

The Prep:
After running a solid 5K in January, I decided that perhaps my fitness had finally returned. I was physically crushed after Boston last year and it took forever to recover. This effort, in the off-season, really helped bolster my confidence that I had returned to form and was in a good position to take another stab at the sub-3-hour barrier. My team was training for Boston so I just settled in to their regimen and started looking for a different race to run this Spring. I settled on the weekend of April 29th since it seemed to a) fit my schedule well and b) not push me too far out of the team’s cycle. This would give me a couple more weeks to prepare, the opportunity to tack on another long run or two onto the program and the ability to include a slightly more extended taper. OKC and Eugene were contenders and Eugene won out with the promise of “less bad” weather potential (Eugene could be rainy but never has extreme storms or heat like can be found in OKC) and more appeal on the travel front (sorry, Oklahoma). Plus, I have been trying to support areas with my travel dollars who do a better job of not discriminating against others and Oregon wins that competition hands-down.

Leading up to this race, I was more focused than any other event in regard to nutrition and attention to staying rested and healthy. Rach always keeps me very well-fed but I have a tendency to add snack calories here and there and have been known to be less disciplined than I should be when it comes to sodas and whatnot. Starting at the end of February, I made sure to pay special attention to my snacking, soda and beer consumption and made sure I was getting a lot of extra sleep throughout the week. I run enough (and generally snack very little) that this probably didn’t make a huge physical impact, but mentally it made me focus a lot more and feel like I was really sacrificing for this difficult to achieve goal.

My workouts were formulated with the help of Mark Plaatjes, who is just fantastic. Pretty much stayed on a similar plan of attack as prior cycles but added one over-distance run (28 miles) and several “fast-finish” long runs to the plan. Frankly, most of my longer runs didn’t go as well as I would have liked but having completed several marathon training cycles at this point, I knew that getting them done was slightly more important than hitting every split right on target. Again, patience paid off.

Race weekend:
I headed out to Eugene on Friday and went straight to the Expo to pick up my bib and get that nonsense out of the way. Eugene is mellow enough that I probably could have flown in on Saturday without creating too much stress but I didn’t want to risk bad weather or other factors getting in the way of my travel. Eugene has some great vegetarian options as well and I ended up gravitating to Cafe Yumm for meals on three different occasions during my stay. I picked up some general provisions at Trader Joe’s and after driving the first 10 miles of the course and dinking around Eugene for a bit, headed back to the hotel to watch a movie and hit the sack early.

Saturday, I did my standard pre-race run (slightly extended to get the lay of the land so I wouldn’t be confused at all on race day). I ran from the hotel to the start (about 1.75 miles), then did some surges (4) on the way back toward the hotel, then did 1 mile at race pace on the course. Felt fine and dandy. I then headed out to King Estate Winery to meet family for lunch and some wine tasting. I spent the rest of the day with my feet up and head down, either watching movies or napping (briefly). I hit the sack early and the next morning, it was go-time.

Race day:
Up at 5:25 to get ready, I ate some food (1/2 a bagel w/almond butter and banana, a cup of coffee, some gatorade), did my  warm-ups in the room, then headed out the door at 6:25 to jog over to the start line. It was cool and overcast – perfect racing conditions – and after 4 surges in front of the line, I joined my corral. I ate 4 Clif Blocks and finished off a 12oz Gatorade before the start, chucked my short-sleeved warm-up shirt off-course and after getting a quick pep-talk from Meb Keflezighi, we were off.

I was seeded in Corral A, so was pretty near the front of the pack at the start and was able to settle into my race pace quickly. Way different than some of the larger races I have done where the first mile or two are incredibly frustrating from a pacing standpoint. I started looking around for people to run with and settled in with one guy who claimed to be wanting to run 2:58. After running with him for a bit on rolling terrain, I dropped off as we were ticking off 6:40s and I wanted to be super conservative through 20. As with most of my experiences running at (or near) sea level, hills were super easy. I would just maintain pace up hills and people would come back to me. By the first mat at the 5K mark, I was right on target pace (21:30ish, 6:45 pacing) and I kept these even splits through at least mile 20. My plan was to run 6:45-6:50 pacing all day unless I was feeling fantastic after mile 20 and I nailed it.

The majority of the hills come in the first 9 miles of this race and honestly, they were not a big deal at all. Training at altitude on hilly roads builds the strength and confidence to master most hills and dropping 6000+ feet in elevation makes them a breeze. The steepest hill on the Eugene course came on 19th street, about mile 9. I sailed over this one with a guy from Philly who was aiming for about a 2:58. He told me his last two marathons were 3:00:22 and 3:00:28 and he wasn’t going to let that happen to him again. Eventually, I dropped off his pace and he finished a bit in front of me for the day so a special congrats to him on breaking 3-hours!

The course loops back on itself and we passed Hayward Field at about mile 9 and sets off east along the Willamette River into Springfield, home of the Simpsons. I wasn’t sure what to expect on this portion of the course and was pleasantly surprised to find us running in a forested park area for a bit then nice, residential neighborhoods. I crossed the half-way mark in 1:28ish and kept rolling.

By mile 16, I was starting to get tempted to pick it up a little bit as I was still feeling fresh and relaxed and was nailing my 6:45 pacing. Whenever these urges arose, I reminded myself to be patient and continued to run relaxed. I am so glad I took this approach as the last 10K of pretty much every marathon I have run has been particularly difficult and Eugene was no exception. We ran along Pre’s Trail in central Eugene for a bit then headed west along the Willamette. I started feeling the effort around mile 18, flubbed a gel hand-up at mile 19.5 (for which I circled back briefly) and by mile 20 was content to work out the math of what I needed to do to get in under 3-hours and delay any notions of picking up the pace for if I started feeling better. There was a great cheering section at mile 20, which really helped and as we crossed a footbridge for the final leg of the race, I was feeling drained but confident I could get this done. I walked briefly through an aid-station at mile 23 but then just kept thinking, “Run sub-7s,” all the way in. The sun came out at mile 24 and even though my legs were dead, I motored in. At mile 26, Hayward Field came into view and a felt a wave of joy as I stepped onto the track and pushed the last 150 meters to the finish. 2:58:47 gun time, 7.5-minute PR, 87th overall and 13th in my age group. Good stuff.

The Aftermath:
Post-race, I took some time to relish the moment in the recovery area, sat down and ate some chips for a bit and drank a couple bottles of water. After about 5 minutes, I felt ready to get going so started my walk back to the hotel. Met up with a couple people who were out spectating and pacing friends and generally took my time getting back to the hotel. I was tired, of course, but not destroyed like after other races. I took an ice bath then went out to grab some food and a celebratory beer with Heather and Ewan North. Ewan had some stomach problems during his race so didn’t finish as well as he had hoped but still managed a top 10 2:31, which is impressive to say the least. I headed back to my hotel, ate some more and hit the sack early.

Monday, I woke up starving and had time for a fantastic breakfast at the Morning Glory in Eugene, then headed south to hike Spencer Butte. The weather on Monday was less agreeable than on race day (drizzley and socked-in) but it was good to get out to get my legs moving and hike around in the forest. I had a bit more time to kill before my flight so checked out the Hydrangea Gardens in Hendricks Park then jammed out to the airport for my return flight. All in all, a fantastic weekend adventure.

That’s how you do it…

Thin Mint Sprint 5K FTW
Thin Mint Sprint 5K - Final Kick

Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth (yes, the truth) ~ Hot Chocolate

Jammed out to Vegas a couple of weeks ago and while I didn’t win anything at the tables, I did manage to yoink my first ever running race victory. Was not expecting that.

Prior to heading to the desert, I found a 5K to join and headed out there early Saturday morning after a fun-filled night with the GroundFloor Media crew at Tao. We were staying on the Strip in the Palazzo so I grabbed a cab and headed up to the North end of town to the Girl Scouts Thin Mint Sprint, got my warm-up on, met a couple of other runners, then coasted to a new PR and easy win.

The course was pancake flat with some tight spots and turns so I lined up at the front. Once the gun went off (actually, no gun), I surged ahead to avoid any congestion in the first few turns. That was the last I saw of anyone. I had one guy a few meters behind at mile 1 but after a quick surge, put distance on him throughout the rest of the race. Toward the end of the second circuit I started lapping slower runners which slowed me down a bit but I still finished with a new PR of 17:47. And yes, I receive a box of Thin Mints for my efforts.

Super pleased with this result and the opportunity to run hard and win!


ColderBolder Race Report

She said a bad day is when I lie in the bed and I think of things that might have been ~ Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel

Fun race yesterday in Boulder. I didn’t have a lot of expectations going in and that turned out to be a good thing as the weather didn’t really cooperate to produce anything resembling a fast run. I had a good time, however, and that is what matters.

Got up early to jam down to the race. It was just above 20°F and snowing when I arrived at the venue. It snowed about 6″ overnight as well making for interesting racing conditions. I jogged up to the Balch Field House on the CU campus to pick up my race pack and warm up a little before my wave started at 8:00.

The ColderBolder race features staged starting based on one’s BolderBoulder finish time. Since I had a marginal BB (see the full report here), I was able to line up with the 00:40-00:42 group. I have been looking for event staging of this type in hopes of really being able to participate in a “race” rather than just running for time. Sadly, this was not to be for me given the conditions (I really didn’t want to end up in a pile of broken Stus along the course) and the fact that the field was packed with fast XC kids (at least 5 of the 9 people who eventually bested me in this race were under 17). Guessing that most of these guys were 5K or shorter specialists who fade at longer events. And really, I am just the opposite so who am I to talk about sandbagging?

I spun some laps in the field house, donned my sexy trashbag and made my way to the start. I ran into a couple of people I know at the start, did a few strides on the very slick streets and generally formed thoughts of “let’s get this show on the road before my nuts freeze off” while waiting for the gun. As volunteers were still setting up the start banner, the starter announced, “30-seconds”. We lined up on the mat and were soon greeted by the starter’s pistol and were off.

As typically the case, there was an early surge and a quick gap formed. I was left in no-man’s-land for a moment until I decided to try to muscle up to the frontrunners. Just as I caught onto the tail of the lead group, we headed downhill and moved from the street to the sidewalk. At this point, there was another surge up front and I fell back, not wanting to go out quite that quickly and in fear of a fall on the slick surface. In the first major turn of the race (about 1/4 mile in), someone did fall in front of me. I came to a near stop to avoid him, asked if he was ok (he was) and we continued on our way – albeit further detached from the lead group.

I settled in with two other runners for a bit and just focused on good form and figuring out how to translate my new “active-push-off-style” stride to less-than-favorable surface conditions. We ran past the amphitheater, Kittredge Field, and made our way back toward Broadway. At this point, one of the other runners (and, coincidentally, a client’s husband) made a small move I was unable to cover and put about 5 meters on me. We headed back toward the start line and I noticed a police car in the race course. “No biggie,” I thought, and angled to go in front of it. Apparently, this was not in the cop’s plan, however, and he gunned it, cutting me off. Second complete stop of the race. Good times.

So now it was down to me and another runner as we made our way back to the Broadway bike path. I passed him shortly after the turn and quickly put in a good effort to gap him a bit. I ran down Broadway to University, navigated the last super-sketchy turn of the race (another near stop) and then headed back through campus for the final stretch. At this point, the 9th place runner was a bit too far ahead to catch so I focused on finishing strongly with good form. I wound my way through the final 1/2 mile, made one last slow turn back into Balch and then surged to the line in 20:30 and 10th place.

Given that this was only my second 5K and the deplorable conditions, I was pretty happy with this result. Post-race, I met the guy I passed on Broadway (Sean Wetstine) and coincidentally, we follow each other on Twitter, which was amusing. I packed up my stuff and then jogged back to my car to complete the experience. It was great to get out and run even if the weather was crappy. Beats not running any day.


SFO Marathon Race Report…

I have been taking a break from things for the past few months but wanted to come back with a race report from my last effort, the San Francisco Marathon, prior to running my next race. I have been struggling to regain my form since well before Boston, really and SFO was put down as an effort to not dig myself into a deeper hole. Though I think I was successful in not digging any deeper, I still didn’t have very much luck getting my mojo back and even took about 3 weeks off in September – running only 2-3 times per week – in an effort to get my feet back underneath me. I was just starting to feel my form coming back in late October when I caught a fairly aggressive cold that knocked me out for most of November. Finally feeling recovered from that endeavor, I am actually starting to feel sharp again. Just in time for next week’s Colder Bolder 5K.

The Colder Bolder is a seeded race that pits people of equivalent abilities (based on Bolder Boulder finish times) against one another. Fortunately, I had a less-than-stellar BB last spring so I get to run against the 40-42-minute group. Psyched to see how I can do but given I am just now ramping back up and the course difficulty, my expectations are fairly low. That has seemed to work in my favor in the past, however. So we’ll see how it goes.

And now, the San Fran Marathon race report…

San Fran is a crazy town. Way different than I expected but it lived up to its reputation in many ways as well. Going into this race, I had zero expectations. I didn’t even really know if I would finish and planned to race entirely on feel. I had some goals in mind but none of them weighed heavily on my mind as I ventured out to the Bay Area. Just wanted to have fun, run with good form and see where that took me.

I flew into SFO on Friday after about a 2-hour delay in Denver due to foggy conditions in San Fran. Upon landing, I was able to navigate the Bart easily and soon found myself in a throng of people on Powell Street, a short walk from my hotel. I jammed up to the hotel and was surprised to find my room available at a fairly early hour. Dumped off my stuff, headed to the expo, all good.

The expo was much smaller and more mellow than I anticipated. I bowed down to the retail gods and then made my way over to the MapMyRun booth to say ‘hi’ to fellow Colorado and #DenverLunchRun runner @boulderrunner (Todd Straka) who would go on to run an incredible half marathon on Sunday. I looked around for @sarahstanley with whom I have had the pleasure to run on at least one occasion but she was busy working as a race Ambassador so wasn’t available. After perusing the expo for a bit, I did a fairly intense yoga session put on by Lululemon then headed back to my hotel. A quick trip to the grocery store for some provisions and visit to Thai Stick for a bite to eat followed, then I settled in for the evening.

Saturday, I walked down to the Ferry Building to meet up with Todd for some coffee and to join the Lululemon shake out run. There was a decent sized group and several distances from which to choose. I had 2 miles + strides then 1-mile at pace on the schedule so, in standard form, Todd and I chose to run the full 3-mile warm up then do our strides and tempo. We got to run with Bart Yasso for a bit, which was pretty cool and checked out the new minimalist shoe from Saucony he was sporting (SUPER light). We ended up doing a couple of laps around Giant Stadium on the waterfront then I headed back to the hotel to put my feet up, ice my ankle and watch a movie and read. I headed back over to the expo later that day just to see what was going on and to get outside and see more of the city. Probably walked/ran a bit more than I should but again, I was here to have fun. Hit Thai Stick again for dinner then hit the sack.

The race starts early (5:30) in order to allow runners to run across the Golden Gate Bridge so I set my alarm for 4:05 to ensure that I had plenty of time to get my act together in the morning. I ate some food, downed some liquids, donned my gear and headed down to the Embarcadero for the start. It is always fun seeing the ever growing masses pouring into sleepy city streets as one approaches the start of an early morning race and as I made my way towards the event, more and more people joined me on my trek to the start. I jogged the last mile or so then found the bag drop area and then got in line for one last pit stop before the race began. As the start time drew ever closer, I didn’t seem to be making much progress in line and eventually, I just bailed. I had already missed my official start with the sub-seeded athletes and wanted to get in with the sub-3-hour pace group if possible. I was a couple minutes behind that as well and started the event at the back of wave 2. Not ideal and a little stressful but I rolled with it and quickly passed over the official starting line to begin my day.

The first few miles of the SFO are flat and run along the Embarcadero. It was still dark out so there wasn’t a lot to see and I was focused on trying to catch up to the sub-3 group so I just worked on staying relaxed, making up some time but not pressing things. I quickly caught the 3:20 group and shortly thereafter passed the 3:10 guys. The first hill hits at about mile 2.5 and it is actually the steepest of the race. I flew up this and kept rolling. When you are from altitude, running at sea level is like cheating. You can really hammer hills and actually recover on the downs, which is particularly refreshing. Good times.

I finally caught the sub-3 group at about mile 3.5 and settled in with them running comfortably at 6:45-6:50 pacing. We ran through a park then another medium-length uphill on the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. Running across the bridge was fun and we got to see the leaders on the way out then all the runners behind us on the way back across. After crossing the bridge, the course rolls for a bit then climbs up into Golden Gate Park. At this point, there was a little confusion about the pacer switch off and we ran sans pacer for about 3 miles through the park. I stopped to relieve myself but kept the people with whom I was running  in sight (knowing that I was actually a couple minutes ahead of this group on the clock) and ran comfortably through the remainder of the park (about mile 16). The course then merges with the second half course and climbs up into the Haight.

It was during this segment that I started feeling the effort and though I was keeping the 3-hour group close, was starting to struggle to maintain good form. The official 3-hour pacer came by me after a tight, sidewalk section and I latched on for a bit then let them go. Again, my goal was to keep them in my sight as I still had a couple minutes in the bank at this point but the race diverts runners onto parallel streets on a couple different points during the race and at the first of these, I lost track of the group and this, coupled with my form degradation, made me decide to back off. So I took some walk breaks, spent some time drinking water at one of the aid stations, and generally tried to enjoy myself and hold good form through the remainder of the race.

The last half is decidedly less interesting than the first with most of the course running downhill through industrial areas and neighborhoods devoid of architectural interest. I just jogged it in at this point, not worrying about how fast I was going or what time I might get and fairly soon was back on familiar ground with about a mile to go to the finish. I made sure my last mile was strong, again with the focus on form, passed Giant Stadium then under the Bay Bridge and home in 3:18:48.

I ran the first half in 1:29:04 and the first 20 in 2:18:31 (pretty close to sub-3 pacing). Very happy with these numbers and my race overall. I think that if I were healthy, I could definitely run a great time on this course. The second half is way faster than the first, I felt pretty great for 20 miles and the course suits me well. Perhaps I’ll run it again next year and see what I can do.

Post-race, I was actually fairly miserable. I had serious stomach problems for the rest of the day and am willing to blame these on the electrolyte drink provided during the race. I had plans to tour the city after the event but ended up just sleeping and staying near the restroom. I was able to rally, however, and jammed out to Berkeley to meet Pete, Edy and Todd for dinner. After a beer, gigantic salad and pizza, I felt MUCH better and grabbed the last train back to San Fran then collapsed into bed.

Up early on Monday, I packed up my stuff and hit the town. I did my own little walking tour of SFO and wandered through China Town, up to Telegraph Hill and back down to the Embarcadero for lunch. I got to see most of what I had on my list but would love to go back to enjoy more of what the Bay area has to offer. All in all a great trip!


2011 Boston Marathon recap…

Here’s a little story I’ve got to tell… ~ The Beastie Boys

2011 Boston Marathon: 3:06:16 PR

Boston has long been considered a marquee marathon event and I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this year’s event. Though I did qualify at the 2010 Denver marathon, I missed out on the very quick registration window and had to call in a favor from my coach, Mark Plaatjes, to secure a special invite to the race. So glad he was able to pull some strings to get me into the event as it was certainly an experience I will never forget.

Getting there
From the moment I stepped off the plane, Boston proved to be a welcoming and friendly town. I jumped on a water taxi with several locals who were gearing up for the night’s play-off hockey game between the Bruins and Canadiens and had a duffel bag full of beer with their names on it to properly lubricate the evening. They introduced themselves and their friend who was the taxi boat pilot then inquired about my visit. Once I informed them I was running the marathon on Patriots’ Day, they promptly handed me a beer and congratulated me on my upcoming run. They then joined in cheering me once we reached my destination and I departed the taxi with a big grin on my face. Great way to kick off the weekend and big event.

After checking into my hotel, I headed out to find some food and was able to navigate the mass transit system, the T, with ease. I found a Whole Foods, grabbed some provisions and a salad for dinner, then jammed back to my room to eat and relax after the long flight.

Prep and expo
Sunday morning, brought better weather than  when I landed and I met up with the Gijima team to get in a quick, warm-up run and visit the expo to pick up our numbers and race gear. To put it mildly, the expo was a total cluster with thousands of people milling around and generally going apeshit for race paraphernalia and swag. Not really my scene but I made a donation to the retail juju and bought a couple of hats to commemorate my participation in the event and then headed back to the hotel to rest a bit prior to dinner.

Mike, one of my teammates and a former Bostonian, wanted to head to dinner a bit early to do some shopping and I took this as a perfect opportunity to get a guided tour of part of the city. We headed to the North End via the T and about a mile walk and made our way to Quincy Market which I dubbed “Ye Olde Historic Food Court”. This was a market in the 1700s which has been tuned into a mall complete with a gigantic Food Court and is a big enough draw from both an historic and retail perspective that it is among the top-four most-visited tourist sites in the nation. At least that is their claim…

From Quincy, we headed a few blocks away for a quick detour to see Paul Revere’s house then jammed around the corner for dinner at Artu. Decent food but our party was way too big to provide any opportunity for efficient service. We grabbed a van back to the hotel and I hit the sack.

Ready to rock
I was up before my alarm and quickly put on my gear and got everything ready to roll. Loraine hired a van to take us to the start in Hopkinton and everyone seemed excited for the race though some of us slept better than others. The start is southwest of Boston and requires about an hour drive but traffic is unpredictable so we left the hotel at 7:00 to ensure that we would have plenty of time for our commute. We arrived shourtly before 8:00, checked out the Athlete’s Village, and found a spot to lie down in what proved to be chilly, windy weather conditions prior to the start. I was very glad I brought a couple of trash bags to keep the wind at bay and donned all my layers to hunker down and wait for the call to head to the start.

I hit the john one last time before walking/jogging the half mile or so to the start. I found a good spot to do a few surges then found my corral in Wave One and got ready to start the event. For those interested in running the race in years to come, I would recommend keeping your layers on as long as you feel necessary as they collect discarded clothing right at the start. There are also decent opportunities to warm up near the start line so my insider’s recommendation for Wave One runners would be to head down that way early if possible (and allowed). Other suggestions include bringing trash bags and cardboard to lie upon before the event so that you can stay warm. The lines for the Porta Potties also tend to be shorter in the Athletes’ Village early on vs. jumping in line at those located immediately adjacent to where the busses drop you off. There are also a number of johns at the start for last-minute needs.

The race
It was finally time to get my run on and after cramming into the proper corral, we were off! Since I queued up in corral 6 it took a while to reach the actual start line and traffic was a lot heavier and spastic than expected. One of the drawbacks to running a big race, I suppose. I had anticipated really needing to hold myself bak at the start but found it all I could do to spin a 7:20 first mile. This put me about 30 seconds off pace from the onset and was a little frustrating to say the least. I took things in stride, however and worked over the next few miles to try to gradually make up time.

The first mile of the course is very downhill and then the course trends downhill for the majority of the first half of the race. I was coached by pretty much everyone to not go out too fast and did my best to just stay mellow and even. I rolled a couple of semi-quick splits during this time as I was trying to make back the time lost in the first few miles (and during a quick pit stop) but really tried to just be very chill. We spun by some  wooded areas in the outskirts of Hopkinton and other Boston suburbs, ran by a biker bar with a bunch of leather-clad Harley riders who cheered enthusiastically and generally were treated with a steady stream of cheering race fans all along the course. As with any race, there were places more populated than others but this was definitely the best race I have done where crowd numbers and volume are concerned and it was greatly appreciated.

Miles basically ticked off and though I didn’t feel spectacular, I was doing well and was cruising along at my target pace. By the half, I had made up most of my deficit and was now within a few seconds of my target time. I knew I would need to run a solid second half but everything was going to plan. By mile 17, however, I was starting to feel the effort and knew I would be well-challenged to meet my target goals for the day. I met Mike at mile 18, ditched my glasses and picked up some more gels, then headed up the Newton Hills.

The Hills
The hills at Boston are a bit deceptive. The first of the four Newton Hills is the most daunting and each has a bit of a flat/downhill section immediately following which allows one to coast and reset for the next effort. These three miles were difficult and I struggled to maintain my pace. I think that my electrolytes were all out of whack by this point (more on that later) so that certainly didn’t help. My plan was to feel pretty strong at the top of Heartbreak Hill then punch the last 10K. Unfortunately, this was not my day and by the top of HBH, I was feeling anything but “punchy”. I crested HBH amid drunken shouts of encouragement from spectators (they do get more and more raucous as the day progresses) and then tried to put in a good effort in that final 6.2 miles.

Last 10K
Honestly, the final 10K is a bit of a blur. I wasn’t feeling sharp at all and struggled as I lost time in almost every mile. I did calculations throughout to see if there was any opportunity to meet my sub-3-hour goal for the race and could have pulled it off as late as mile 21 or 22 but just had no more go. I lost time in all but 1 of the final 6 miles and put in as big of an effort as possible to ensure that I scored a PR at the finish. Definitely an area on which I need to work and I predict a lot of long runs with the last hour at race pace in my immediate future. The crowds were supportive through the finish and I came through the tape at 3:06:16. A new personal best.

Immediately after crossing the line, I knew I was in for a rough ride. I had a similar experience (though less pronounced) at last year’s Denver Marathon and shortly after stopping, I felt really woozy and my vision began to degrade. I stopped to rest my head on the barriers after grabbing some water and shortly thereafter decided that standing was not a good idea. I wanted my head a bit closer to the ground in the event that I was unable to maintain a standing position and sat down on the curb. Volunteers came over to see how I was doing, and though I felt pretty terrible, I knew I needed to get back up else my legs would seize. The volunteers helped me up, I walked a bit farther down the finish corral then my vision continued to degrade and I decided sitting was again in order. I plopped down in a wheelchair and the volunteer asked if I thought a trip to the medical tent would be prudent. “Let’s do that,” I responded and he whisked me off to the tent to ensure that nothing terrible was going on.

Once in the shade of the tent and lying on a cot, I started to feel better. My blood pressure was taken (a very low 80/50), my feet were raised, Gatorade and chips were administered and I continued to improve. Within minutes my vision returned to normal and after some light PT-aided stretching, my leg cramps subsided as well and I was ready to get back up. I thanked the staff for their assistance and made my way back out into the throng to collect my gear bag, some additional food and make my way to the T for the return trip to the hotel.

The T was jammed but very easy to navigate and the public transport gods were on my side. I didn’t have to wait at a single stop to make my connections and i was quickly back to the hotel where I had a massage scheduled. The massage felt great. Not sure how therapeutic it actually was but it was nice to get some attention to my aching legs and shoulders. I then headed back to my room, soaked, ate and watched a movie before heading down to the bar to meet up with the team. I triple fisted drinks (beer, coke, water) and generally felt good. The legs were a bit sore and I was fatigued for sure but my recovery seemed to be happening quickly, which was nice. We grabbed dinner close to the hotel and I was in bed by 11.

Tourist time
Tuesday morning featured heavy skies (and legs) but I was determined to get out and see some of Boston’s famous sites. I considered doing a Duck Tour (amphibious bus tour of the major landmarks) but really felt that a walking tour would be good for me and would allow me to take in the city at my own pace. I traveled to the start of the Freedom Trail, purchased a $3 umbrella to stave off the dripping skies, and got my tourist on. Walked the vast majority of the trail (skipped one short leg to Monument Hill as lunch beckoned) and even toured Old Ironsides, which was entertaining. I then jammed up to Harvard on the T to check out Harvard Square and then made my way back to the hotel in time to pick up my bags and make my flight back to Denver.

Just a fantastic experience overall. Not sure if I will be back next year or not (it is a bit of a logistical nightmare even when incredibly well-prepared and supported) but I would highly encourage anyone who qualifies to get to Boston to run this thing at least once. The conditions were pretty perfect for this year’s event and World and U.S. records were set by the elites. All in all, a fantastic race and great town.

Next up… San Francisco in July.


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