Friday, April 22, 2011

Boston Part 6--Race Day analysis, what can I do better

So despite a big PR, there are still areas where I need to do better.

1. Do not drink too much 2 days before the race. Though this had the positive effect of mostly keeping me off my feet the day before, it could be the cause of the stomach issues during the race.

2. If I'm going to eat 4 gels in the race, I need to do a couple long runs where I eat 4 gels to see if my stomach will handle it. I think I only had a couple of long runs where I took 2 this cycle.

3. Can I push harder? My max HR during the race registered at 173 (heartbreak mile). It didn't get above 170 thereafter. But in my half last fall I hit 174s and 175s for the last 5 miles. So were my legs just too fried to get to that HR, or did I not dig deep enough? I do recall a few points near the end of the race where I was consciously holding back a bit. I think I knew I had the sub 3, I knew I could come in in relative comfort, and I didn't push it to the edge. That is ok to make sure I break a barrier like 3 hours, but I need to push harder to run my fastest time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boston Part 5-What worked

So here's what I think helped the most in making this jump.

Training Cycle. I really think the focus on getting faster for the half in the fall, followed by a period of heavy volume with little quality in December and January, follwed by a reduction in volume but increase in quality was the key. I think this kept the training from getting too repetitive, I think the volume increase really helped in terms of overall aerobic capacity and had me ready to return to quality in the winter/spring while handling it with higher volume than last year. I still had a number of weeks in the 80s in Feb and March as well, so volume was still higher than ever leading into a marathon.

Strength. I think the focus on strength work combined with the hill work (which is not only speed work in disguise, but strength work in disguise) was critical. I never felt weak in the core during the race. And the legs, while battered, still felt strong throughout. The hills were totally manageable. I think this was key.

Multiple quality sessions.
I do think that doing 2x quality during the week is key for me. This worked going into the half an worked going into Boston. I think chosing 2 of my 3 quality workouts (tempo, interval, hill) each week really keeps all those systems fresh and keeps them all improving. Leaving one for a long period of time like Pfitz does, I just don't think that is for me.

Weight I do think getting down to my lightest racing weight ever also helped. I just felt light and strong during training and during the race. I don't think I can or should get lower than 165ish, but that seemed to be right on that line of near perfect.

Hill Climbs These are just 3-5 miles on the TM, incline ranging between 4.0 to 7.0%. Done at a 8:00 pace generally. I think these really built leg strength and made the Newton hills, all of which are relatively short (the longest is .6 of a mile) and not steeper than 5%, very manageable. For once I wasn't stuck in the sand slogging up those things.

Boston Part 4-the year leading into Boston.

Cylce of the training plan. Really, the macro cycle here was a year. After Boston 2010, I ran pretty easy through June. The biggest week in May was 50 miles. The biggest week in June was 54 miles. I had targeted a 4k in New Hampshire on July 4, so I did do some speed work and a few tempos, but not many.

After getting back from summer vacation in mid July, I started a bit more focus for the half in October. This was my fall goal race. But the max week in July was still just 54 miles and the longest run was 14 miles. In August I ran a bit more, big week up to 60 and long run up to 17, and a few interval sessions, but again not much of quality. I jumped into a half and SUCKED in late August.

September is where I really started focusing and weeks were consistently in the 60s and there were intervals, fartleks and tempos sprinkled in frequently. The 10 miler at Park to Park still was a poor result though at the beginning of the month. October, I ran a 5k PR early in the month and then tapered into my half and had a break out result. Focus shifted to the 4m Turkey Trot, mileage dropped a bit, but still some good quality and a good result there with a 6:00:00.25 paced race.

December became all about miles. Weeks of 91, 72, 80, 76 and 102. Really nothing very hard except some hill climbs that I started doing, just 3-5 miles of constant incline on the mill. Lots of doubles too. January was the same but a bit lower on volume, weeks of 68, 73, 75, and 47(sick).

February the goal was keep of the volume up like January and add the quality. Loosely Pfitz based but wanted to have two quality runs (hard hills, tempo or intervals) during each week in addition to the long run. Mileage of 61, 69, 73, 85.

March, the goal was the same. Sickness and trial hit me hard on a couple of weeks, but I was generally near where I wanted to be. Still had good quality sessions and the weeks were 61, 42 (trial), 84 and 80.

And then April started the tapering.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston Part 3--The Aftermath

Cam and Jay and I staggered through the corrals. Not walking too fast (even if we could).

Just soaking it all in a bit. Water. Space blanket. Medal. Recovery drink. Food stuff. Saw Nick along the way and he snapped a photo of me.

I wandered into Jury's bar and Nick went back to check on D. I know Bird and DCV were in there, can't remember if Ryan was in there immediately or not, but I think so. Paid several trips to the bathroom and tried to drink a beer, but it wasn't happening. Cam and Dawg showed up, others started trickling in. Got some well appreciated congrats from various folks and heard tales of others' triuphs, disappointments and few bits of carnage. Nick came back and ate a burger and I wandered back to the hotel with him. Laid down for a while and tried to feel better. I eventually showered, D and Nick had to leave for the airport, and Cam and I went back over to Jury's. I ate a burger and drank a beer, started to feel a bit better.

I went back to my hotel before heading to Sweetwater. Just needed some more down time. Then rendevouz with the crew at Sweetwater. It was good catching up with everyone. Shared some nachos with Ryan, drank some beer and a lot of water. Page and Terri came by and said hello. I headed back with Ryan around 10.30? I was beat, but couldn't quite sleep and surfed a bit. Cam came back around 11.30, crashing on the floor. That 5 am alarm for the flight home was coming soon.

Boston Part 2-The Race

I slept pretty well on Sunday night once I got to sleep, but it was probably about 12:00 before I was actually sleeping. Up at 5.15. I ate bagels, bannanas, and drank some gatorade. Quick shower to wake up and coffee from the lobby to get the systems going. I headed to the lobby to meet folks at five after six and walk to the busses. Even when we got to the busses by 6.20, there was a huge line. We wandered around, got in one bus line that was getting tons of of cutters, and eventually got in a good line and headed on and out to Hopkinton. Some energy was wasted here. The bus lines and the bus ride stresses me out. I should just get in line at 5.45 and get to the village so I can relax. I should have learned that after 2 prior times doing this. Finally we hit the village around 8am.

So we met up with the bigger crew at the meeting spot, but there were so many people there, I just hung out and talked to Kircher mostly. I got to meet Lap'd, but I probably came off as a bit rude as I couldn't really make conversation as I was started to get race focused. We headed to the bag bus around 9 and I wanted to see if I could see Danielle start at 9.32. We could not get very close to the start and she couldn't hear me yell her name, but I saw her up there. Oh well. Ryan and I took Rafa's advice of using the johns in the town park, tiny lines there. Then good lucks and we were off into our separate corrals.

I found Jay (DawgDoc) in the corral quickly. We were planning to start together, but with no obligations. He was shooting more towards 2:55 and I was planning for a 2:57 pace. I couldn't locate any of the rest of our crew, nor did I try very hard. The gatorade bottles were used with about 5 minutes to go and we slowly started fumbling forward....finally started running...then we were over the starting line.

Given that we had both qualified with 3.06 somethings, the first mile pace was a little slower than I think either of us would have liked. Just too many people. We bobbed and weaved a bit and managed to get through that first mile in 6:59. A bit behind schedule as proscribed by my 2:57 pace band, but acceptable to me at least. I did not stress about this for one second. I did try to consciously focus on running as light as possible down the first steep hills: quick turnover, light feet, save the quads was what I was thinking.

The next few miles we were both taking it nice and easy, but they were still clicking fast. We were passing lots of folks, but I think we did a good job of minimizing the weaving, even as I started to really try to work from one side of the road to the other to hit the tangents. Mile 2 was 6:35, Mile 3 was 6:35 and Mile 4 was 6:27. Jay and I both commented to each other a few times that we were going a bit fast, but both agreed that this felt right, that it felt easy. So we kept on. I checked the pace band a couple times, but really, I shouldn't wear one of these any more. I just don't use it after the first couple miles, and I could easily memorize where I want the first couple miles to be, and even then, I've learned to just run them by feel.

At one point in here in the first 8 miles or so, I recall checking heart rate for the only time, and it said 156, which confirmed that I was running easy. I probably would not have even been concerned with mid 160s. I think we passed L'ard at around mile 4 or 5, he was slowing down already but seemed to be in control and happy.

Mile 5 was 6:45 and I missed the mile 6 split, so 6 & 7 averaged a combined 6:36. Everything was feeling good. Left achilles was noticeable, but not painful. Gel'ed at mile 6 or 7, and soon the stomach started to give me the first signs of not being perfect.

So onward to Wellesley, and the miles are all clicking in the low 6:40s, high 6:30s. Nothing much memorable but for a kid saying "C'MON JAY!" and I chuckled to Jay that the kid really thought Jay was slacking. First signs of the legs feeling it a bit just before Wellesley, but everything felt pretty good, though stomach was not great. Wellesly was fun, but I didn't stop....just soaked it in and tried not to let it make me run too fast. Through the half at 1:27:28 I didn't think much about that split other than ok, half way there, now let's get ready to work in a couple of miles.

We hit the big downhill into the first big hill around 16. Legs feeling a bit battered, but not too bad. The first big hill came and went right after the highway overpass in mile 16 without trouble, but my stomach was getting sketchier and more uncomfortable. Jay had slowly drifted probably 20 yards ahead of me at this point and I felt like I was slowing. This is when I saw someone pop out of a porta potty about 20 yards in front of me, I just decided on the spur of the moment to stop in. In and out in maybe 40-50 seconds and then back into the race. I might have been able to gut it out for another 10 miles, but I knew I was ahead of pace and I just decided to suck it up and do it as quick as possible. The fact that I was having the first signs of slowing probably made me think I needed to do something as well. That mile split at 7:49. And I did come out feeling better and more relaxed.

Onward through the hills. I felt very strong in the hills this year. I thought about those 4 and 5 mile treadmill hill climbs at 4-6% I had done while I was going up them (Kari later told me she thought the exact same thing). I thought about the hill repeats. I passed lots of people going up them. My pace certainly slowed, but not as much as others were slowing. I missed 3 mile markers in a row in here, so I have a four mile split and an average pace of 6:48 for miles 20-23, so that includes heartbreak in mile 20 and then a good bit of downhill after that.

At some point in here, and I can't remember where exactly, I flipped the hat to backwards. I do this sometimes for intervals and tempos, maybe its stupid, but its kind of self signal that its time to work, time to run hard. And of course it makes me look totally badass.

BC was great. I may have wasted some energy showing the kids my shirt and trying to get them fired up, but I kept it more low key than last year. Just a few high fives, some poppin' the collar, but no yelling.

The cemetery is kind of deflating after the chaos of BC, but I just kept it smooth and thought about the upcoming downhill into Cleveland Circle and the crowds that would pack the course from Cleveland Cirlce to the end. Coming down into and out of Cleveland Circle I felt really good. Watch those train tracks. I felt smooth. I remember thinking at one point that I felt I was getting into my stride and arm swing that I'll get during a good tempo run. My quads were incredibly sore (I first noticed this on the BC downhill), but they never felt like they were going to cramp. They just felt beaten, but they still had juice. And the calves never gave me a hint of trouble.

Looking back at the data, it appears Cleveland Circle is just after mile 22. Looks like I was running about 6.30 pace down Beacon around that point.

Somewhere in mile 22 or 23, I could see the twin bright yellow shirts of Cam and Jay together up ahead. I later learned that Cam was hurting a bit, he was cramping, but he had put in a surge to stick with Jay and pump him up a bit. But Jay had forged ahead before I caught up to them. Cam encouraged me to go get after it. I then caught up to Jay. He said he was fading and I told him I felt good and was going to push it, so I did. Mile 24 split was 6.31, but after that I was hurting a bit, and 25 was 6.49. I did not feel redlined and I did not feel a wall coming, just the slightest fade. The hill on the overpass into Kenmore felt huge and slowed me, but I kept at it. I was amused by some of the "BC sucks" heckles that I got in the BU area.

Down into and turning right through Kenmore, I focused on getting to Sully and the cannolis he was going to be handing out just before the underpass past Kenmore. I was pretty certain I had the sub 3 nailed at this point, so I definitely wanted to grab a cannoli. Alas, the cops had made him move and I didn't get one, but I pointed at him at his new location. Up the otherside of the underpass hurt, but the turn right onto Hereford was there much quicker than I remember, maybe only a block or 2? The "hill" on Hereford felt huge, and that is the only time all day I really felt wind in my face.

Left on Boylston and the finish line again looked FAR away. I saw the 26 mile mark painted on the road as I came down Boylston and clicked the split. 6:42. It was at this the point where I knew I was going well under 3, and I got the biggest stupidest grin on my face for the next hundred yards before I refocused and ran home as hard as I could. Don't waste any seconds, I thought you don't want a time with 01 or 02 for the seconds.

2:56:51 is the official time. After crossing the line, I lingered--despite volunteers asking me to keep walking--looking back for Jay and for Cam. I found them both shortly, and Jay had gotten in under 2:59. He was hurting, but he'd done it as well. Cam was just over 3, but having gotten his sub-3 in Chicago, he was seemed completely content.

Here is the data:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boston 2011 Part 1-Pre Race

So it all led to this. Really, it was 12 months of thinking about and getting ready for this race again. The focus on a half last fall was really about getting faster to get ready for this race again. More miles and more quality that I've ever done to get ready for this race. Averaged nearly 75 mpw since December. Twice ran 10k PR's as tempo runs.

The taper went well. Nothing very notable about it, though I did run the fastest 3 miles of my life in my 3 x 1 mile workout about 11 days before the race, they were all right at 5:42, 5:39, 5:42 with 3 minute rests. That was certainly encouraging. I also really worked on the weight and got down to 164 on Thursday before the race. I don't think I weighed myself again after that. I also really maintained the strength work, mainly good core work every other day, through the taper up until Thursday. I felt strong and light.

I flew to Boston on Saturday morning. Gave a few tips on the plane from Chicago to an older guy running Boston for the first time. I T-ed it to the hotel, checked in and headed to the expo with Richard. He met some folks there, I got my number and shirt and powered through quickly, it was too crazy there. Only bought arm warmers in fear of a potentially cold morning on Monday. On the way back, Eamon and I hit the Shaw's for provisions. Went over to Jury's bar (ah, wish we could have stayed there again) and met Jeff V. and Jay F. and their wives for a drink, Troy and Eamon showed up too. We then headed to the N. End for dinner to Ricardo's. They had a nice big table for 14 of us and we had a nice relaxed meal. The food was pretty great I must say. Here is a pic from dinner, with Jay to my right and Troy to my left.

Then of course Mike's (one traditional for me) before walking over to the BeerWorks.

After two more beers at BeerWorks, I probalby should have stopped. But I did not. I drank WAAAAAY too much. Carol showed up with Marlene. Nick showed up. I met people who I currently have no recollection of meeting.

I apparently had so much to drink that I slept through major calf cramps in both legs. I woke up feeling like I'd done 20 miles in Vibrams, my calves were that sore. I was terribly hung over. I was concerned I just might have wrecked my race.

I got up and had coffee and went with Nick and D over to the common for a run. I did my fast mile and couple of minutes all out for the Aussie carbo load and started with the UltraFuel when I got back to the hotel. I apparently did not bring enough as I only made two big gatorade bottles of it, but I snacked on pita chips throughout the day as well.

Nick and D and I walked over the expo to get her number and then had lunch at Uno's. Stomach was not right and I pounded water. After lunch, I lay in a dark hotel room napping on and off during the Spurs game. Got up around 4.15, walked over to Jury's, but didn't see anyone and then just walked around Copley a bit. I met up with Rafa and Kircher and his dad, and Nick and D, in the hotel lobby to head over to the N. End again. The restaurant first tried to say they didn't have my name but I made them recheck "the book" instead of "the list" and they found us. Decent meal, I actually think Saturday night was better. The portions were ludicrously huge. Mike's again for some of us afterwards and then relatively early to bed. I had a hard time getting to sleep because of the nap, but once asleep actually slept pretty well.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Go Time

Race day approaches and my productivity is down something-eight percent.

I've had a few really good runs over the past 7 days that leave me pretty optimistic. 10k time trial run around City Park lake at 38:57, my first 10k under 39 minutes. This HURT at the end, but that is what it is supposed to do. Then 17 on Sunday with Kircher and Cam. The bulk was around 7:30 pace and then Kircher and I hit the last 3 miles hard with miles of 6:50, 6:30something and 6:40something on the hills from the Quincy/Holly intersection to home.

Then today was the Pfitz 3x1 mile. I went to City Park for this, nice cool day, slight wind. Miles went at 5:42, 5:40 and 5:42 with 3:00 jog recoveries. Very pleasesd with this. They were at a hard pace, but I stayed on pace and powered through each of the last quarters. The first half mile was uphill/upwind and the 2nd half mile was downhill/downwind, and each mile had a net loss of 5 feet of eleavation according to

In any event, this is well over 20 seconds per mile faster than this same workout last year. I'll take it. Now I just need to stay sane over the next 10 days until I leave.