Boston Race Plan…

I am of the opinion that when a Marathon World Champion tells you to do something related to running a marathon, you do it. So if Mark recommended we eat at midnight or wear flip-flops during the event, I’d be one midnight eatin’, flip-flop wearin’ mofo. ~ Me

If there is one thing I have learned in this life, it’s that there are times to rely on experts. Plumbing comes immediately to mind, as does brain surgery and airplane construction/design. And though I am establishing a fairly deep knowledge base about certain activities, I am smart enough to realize that when it comes to running, one of the reasons I know so much is that I have relied on experts to provide guidance throughout my adventures. And when running the Boston Marathon is concerned, I feel I have placed my race preparation and strategy in the very skilled hands of one of the best. I am not about to fuck that up by doing something stupid like relying on my own, somewhat limited, experience at this juncture.

Mark Plaatjes has run Boston a number of times and was the first US finisher in 1993 (6th place overall) on his way to winning that year’s World Championship. I have been fortunate to be able to train under his tutelage for the past 5 months and can’t say enough good things about his approach to the sport. He is a competitor and clearly knows the joy of going 110% on one’s way to a personal best but he is also incredibly smart about how to actually achieve those “bests”. His experience at Boston has been invaluable in outlining a race strategy that I am confident will produce results.

Mark and I discussed my goals early on (a conservative, sub-3 finish) and he outlined a plan of training and racing to achieve that goal. Then we looked specifically at Boston and he created a plan for the Gijima team to achieve solid results on April 18th. His advice has consistently been, “Don’t run more than 5-seconds per mile faster than your target pace on any of the downhills in the first 20 miles of the race.” This is advice I plan to heed and am really looking to start my race at the top of Heartbreak Hill (mile 20). From there, I’ll have 10K to run. Most of it trends downhill and I plan to have my legs under me to really punch those final 6.2 miles to finish strongly and with a big smile on my face.

So for those of you watching at home on Monday (baa.org bib #5135), here are my target splits:

  • 10K: 42:21
  • Half: 1:29:21
  • 30K: 2:07:04
  • Finish: 2:59:07

That actually outlines even splits so I could be a smidge slower at 30K and a little faster at the finish but that is the general plan of action. As of right now, I plan to turn off my brain, enjoy the remainder of my taper and then kick some ass next Monday.

~stubert.

Time flies…

I’ve got ants in my pants! I’m discombobulated! Fetch me a calmative! ~ Grandpa Simpson

Amazing how time flies when you are attempting to prepare for a big event. I hardly know where March went and now it is already closing in on the middle of April and in less than one week, the Boston Marathon!

Needless to say, I am getting quite excited about the event and have been doing a lot of research to better prepare myself for everything on Patriot’s Day in Boston. I still have some final preparations to accomplish but feel like I am in great shape and have teed myself up well to go for a sub-3 finish. We’ll see how things go on race day and I am still a bit anxious about that goal but to me, that means I picked a good one. If you aren’t a little scared about whether or not you can accomplish something, then you have set the bar too low.

The past week’s running has featured some ups and downs but at this point, I am aware that is part of the game and am generally feeling pretty sharp. Tapering is always a little wonky and I do it so infrequently that all the little changes and adaptations one goes through just feel weird at this point. I am trusting Mark Plaatjes’ plan at this point, however and feel that if anyone knows how to run a fast marathon, it’s him. One more “hard” run tomorrow then we coast in to Sunday where I’ll do a standard pre-race run then get my race on Monday the 18th.

A lot of people have asked about how to follow me during the race. There are a number of options available including following online, via text messaging, and you may even be able to stream the event live online or watch on TV if you are interested in seeing how the elites do. I am bib #5135 and will be starting in Wave 1. I am in the 6th corral for the start so probably won’t cross the start line until around 10:03 but if you are following online, you should see my chip time at the 10K, half, 30K and Finish. I’ll have final details about my target times for each of  these later in the week.

So the countdown continues… more to come!

~stubert.

That DAM Half Marathon Race Report…

The Dash likes. ~ Dash Parr

1:26:50, 8th Overall, 3rd in Age Group PR*

*Full disclosure, this was my first half marathon, so a PR was inevitable.

I had high hopes for this past week’s race (That DAM Half Marathon) and I really wanted to throw down a good time and solid effort. Fortunately, my bod cooperated and turned a tough course into a fantastic time (both clock and experience).

The day started with an early alarm to get to the Colorado House Rabbit Society for our monthly volunteer session. Rach was extra-special awesome and got up VERY early in order to facilitate an early exit by yours truly in order to get down to the race in a timely fashion. We cleaned bunny runs quickly and I changed into my race kit and scurried out the door at 8:30. This provided plenty of time to get down to the race, get in a short warm up and get ready to run my first official half marathon.

Cool temps, overcast skies and steady-but-mild winds greeted us on race day. The field wasn’t particularly deep but there appeared to be some decent talent on the starting line on Cherry Creek Reservoir Dam Road when they started us right at 10:00. The first 2.5 miles ran across the dam itself and featured flat terrain and a bit of a cross wind. Like most races, things started to split early with two runners breaking away very quickly (eventual winner and SUPER speedy Japeth Ng’ojoy 1:13:46 and runner-up Trent Joseph 1:18:04). Needless to say, I wasn’t keeping up with these fellas and settled in about 10 meters off the back of the main group. This proved to be a mixed group of runners and I had a feeling that the group would eventually break apart as those with more experience and fitness dropped those who had gone out a bit too fast.

I eventually grouped up with several other runners who were pacing about the same as my target and we took turns leading for a bit until the first major turn of the race. At this point the course dropped significantly and we broke up again. I ran with one of Colorado’s top Masters racers, Jay Survil for a bit until I dropped a glove and had to spin back briefly. After this foible, I ran just off the back of Jay and and Chris Smiley (I believe) until the turn at mile 6.55.

After the turn, I picked it up a bit and quickly fell into a good rhythm despite the uphill return into the wind. I was passed by Mark Bockmann at about mile 8 and fell in behind him for a bit until I feared blowing up and retreated to a more comfortable pace. Miles 9 and 10 were a bit of a trial through the steepest portion of the course but I managed to stick with low 7s pacing and hang in there to the return to the dam road. At this point, I knew I only had 2.5 miles to go, still felt relatively fresh and was still running with good form so I set out to chase down a couple of people still within reach.

I caught Michael Nothem with about 2 miles to go and after a brief battle of wills (he did NOT want me to go past), I managed to surge and drop him in the final minutes of the race. I finished strongly into the wind with a final mile of 6:28 and yoinked a sub 1:27 for the day. A solid effort all around.

This tees me up pretty well for Boston and was a definite confidence booster going into the final 6 weeks of training. I really need to get a couple more long runs under my belt before the big event and am guessing Mark has those on the schedule for the following few weeks. This also qualifies me for the New York Marathon and I am considering that as my fall race instead of doing Denver. Need to pull the trigger on that fairly quickly if I am going to do so. Guessing I’ll have another shot at it, however, if that seems like too many big events in a single year.

Good stuff.

~stubert.

Whoops…

Try this trick and spin it, yeah. ~ The Pixies

Forgot to post, apparently. Time does fly when one is having fun.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. I seem to be in a bit of a plateau and was fending off a cold which I managed to avoid. Whacked down some extra Zinc for a few days and paid special attention to rest and diet. So far, this week has been a lot better with strong, easy runs on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and a killer hill repeat workout on Tuesday. I am all teed up for a half marathon on Sunday and am hoping to do well. Given the timing of this race in my training cycle and my lack of taper, I am certainly not expecting earth-shattering results but if I can put in a good, steady effort, I’ll be super happy.

Two weeks ago I raced in the final event of the Winter Distance Series, the Snowman Stampede 10-miler, and it was an interesting event. I felt really rushed getting down to the race so my pre-race preparation was abbreviated then I just never really felt super well during the event. There was a fairly steady headwind on the outbound portion of the race so I battled that solo for the first half then just couldn’t get into the zone on the way back. Ended up a minute off my previous race time but still managed 3rd in my age group. All in all, a decent effort and a fun day racing.

I followed that up the next day with a big, 22-miler that was equally interesting. I started feeling pretty bonky about 2 hours into the run (depleted from the race) then battled fierce winds the second half of the run. Ended up finishing the last two miles at a decent clip (downhill… good sign) and ended up with 3:15 for the day. So again, not a bad effort. Good to see what I can do when fatigued and fun to do a course that approximates Boston in some ways.

I think that teed up my flat performance the following week so overall, not too concerned. We are about 6 weeks out now from Boston so I should be feeling a bit on the tired/crappy side on occasion. I know this hard work will pay off come race day.

~stubert.