Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sugarland 30k 12/9/2007 (HOT STUFF!)

OK - it wasn't the most ideal race conditions with starting temps already over 71F fully loaded with humidity - so this race was about being controlled for the conditions - I wasn't going to get any "knock your socks off" PR - I had some temptation to not run it but I figured - who knows - 1/13th Marathon could be like this - its worth it to get a good effort in this race.

I've been trying to kick the habit of using a heart rate monitor - well this week I fell off the wagon and have used for every run - including this race . It just seemed to make sense with the heat it would help me control the pace since I didn't know how much the heat would impact the pace.

Race was about 1000 people or so - they announced at the beginning. I had a goal of 1:57:16 (~6:17-18 pace) which is the qualifying time in this race to be up for consideration to be a local elite at the Houston Marathon. I really had little hope of actually getting picked for local elite status because in addition to the time I would also have to win my age group (actually beat all the people in my age group that had not already achieved the local elite status on prior races) - and I already knew of one very fast guy that was at the race that I had little or no hope of beating named Steven (come back to that later).

Race gets going - I jack up the heartrate targets about 4 bpm over NYCM figuring in the shorter distance. I had hit that heartrate average at a 6 mpm pace in cooler weather on Tuesday in a Tempo Workout so had weather cooporated I really think I could have knocked one out of the ballpark today - but I digress.

Pace vs heartrate target seems to fall into about 6:20-6:25 range and that just seems the right pace to run to today. At around 4-5 miles someone yells out that I'm in 14th place - that seems pretty respectable for ~1000 people so I'm feeling pretty good about that. Course loops around 3 times so after a few more miles I'm mixed in with slower runners getting lapped and I can no longer see my competition - I did pass one guy that had me by a pretty good clip but did a turnaround pretty slow and did a water stop slow - so a big gap between us closed and I passed him at the end of the water stop. I heard him chatting behind me with someone for a little while but never saw him again - and never passes or got passed by anyone else that was on my lap for the rest of the 3 laps - I think - there was so 10 mpm people I was cruzing by that I suppose one of the leaders could have died and mixed in with them but I assumed not.

Finally broke out of the 3 loops to the final few miles and I could see the next guy ahead of me. (Side note - achilles/calf pain I talked about yesterday - started feeling it a little about mile 6 but it actually went away by 12 or so - not a factor). I had the "slow down" devil on my shoulder but was trying to just maintain pace and after a while I noticed the guy in front of me was getting closer - I don't think I was speeding up but rather he was slowing down. This gave me some motivations so I focussed on his back and reeled him in and passed him by about 17 mile marker. Then there was another guy going pretty slowly that I passed - I think he probably cut off a loop so I don't think he improved my place. Another guy I'm guessing 100m away I started focussing on his back and reeling him in - he seemed older so I figured he just might be in my age group - maybe even Steven - so I just couldn't let him beat me - poured it on - finally caught him with about a 1/4 mile to go and heard someone yell "go Steven" - holly crap - could that be him - I don't know what he looks like - only by name on finishing results - if so he's likely got a lot more left than I do - I'm going to have to build separation ASAP for any hope - so I'm going full speed. As I approach the finish - there is one guy celebrating his finish a little too early - and I considered taking him down with 5 feet to spare - but decided that would be bad form so I let up a little and came in behind him.

Finish - 11th place overall , 4th for my Age Group, Chip Time (unofficial) 1:58:48 (6:23 pace). All the AG guys that beat me I know to be better runners - and a few of the names I beat I think are better runners too. All in all I'm feeling great about the race - A Solid Race. I hope to move into these guy's class that beat me next year .

Ok - so what about this Steven guy - well - it turned out the guy I passed at the end was an amazing 56 year old guy - not the one who ended up winning my age group - so even if I had got the qualifying time - he got the local elite regardless (I think - there was a master that beat him but I didn't recognize his name so I suspect he's an out-of-towner which can't get local elite status) - which he definately deserves.

I had a bit of a fear of hot races before this after a crash and burn 10 miler in October at only a little over 60 but loaded with humidity. I think the HRM helped me stay controlled - no question that I had to run slower, also 3 days of carb/hydrating prior (gained ~5 lbs pre race retaining a lot of water), 3 Electrolite pill - 1 before, 2 during and water/gatorade at every station helped. Even still - had it been 26.2 I think I would have had some major struggles.

Thanks for Reading - if you want all the splits and breakdowns, etc (I hit the lap button a few extra times for 10k and 15k so not all laps are on the mile) - you can go to my log below.

A few personal stats:
10M split beats my PR
30k PR by ~6 minutes (prior was 1 week old ) and ~12 minutes faster than same race last year in perfect 45°F.
First 15k - 59:45
Second 15k - 59:03 (-42 second split).

Thought I'd finish off this thread with my finishing video - it actually didn't work but between Ray and Steve's I am captured (bib 665 - blue tank-top). I'm not sure I really could have caught Ray relooking a this - but I also don't know which of the two mats is actually the finishline.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

New York Marathon 11/4/2007 (SUB 3 BABY!!!)

New York City - if I can make it there.... well -you know the rest.

I saw those words on the airplane ride to New York and they just connected me to the marathon - got my blood boiling. Just put the last cherry on top for my excitement to run the NYC MARATHON - the largest and most famous US Marathon!!

Flew in night b4. Walked a little too much in streets of New York, studied finish a bit to get my wife the perfect near finish line spectating spot and work out logistics. First trip to nyc and I was a but in awe.

Pre race went smooth. Walked thru Manhattan 4 am to catch bus-amazing the downtown activity at that time - many more than just marathoners walking around. Bus to start went smooth - runners are such cool people to hang out with and the 6 hours to the start seemed to fly by. Tried to hang out by the worship tent for the planned meeting with other runners but that strategy was clearly doomed from the start-no where near specific enough with 40,000 runners camped out everywhere. Sorry to whoever tried to find me. I did spend a fair amount of time sitting by the tent, cell coverage was near always busy so no luck making contacts that way either. There will be other opportunities. Made it to start as excited as ever. NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!!

Race strategy was programmed into my garmin - I really didn't know how fast I could run so I didn't have a specific time target other than to be sub3, but I didn't know how far under and no number held any significance down to maybe 2:50 but I didn't feel that to be in the cards considering hills and crowds - maybe a possibility for Houston but not New York.

Garmin workout program for the race:

Mile 1 between 6:50 and 7:10 (up hill)
Mile 2-6 heart rate between 163-167 (first 10k my hr runs a little faster so I thought a little higher up front would even out pace.)
Mile 7-16 heart rate between 162-165
Mile 17-26.2 go by feel with pace alarms at 6:30 and 7:00. Intent was to pour it all on within reasonable constraints.

I also taped a mile-by-mile pace plan for 2:55 to my watch but I didn't end up looking at it.

First 2 miles were very difficult to pace correctly.

Mile one I was a bit fooled by an inaccurate garmin watch and ran a bit faster than I wanted. Satellite reception on bottom level of bridge is very poor.

Mile 2 was by heartrate with an eye on pace but pace was still screwy on lower deck again ended up faster than I wanted and that heartrate zone was a bit aggressive for a downhill mile 2.

Mile 3-16 flattened out so I could start setting a more reasonable pace slowing things a touch thru mile 3/4 with minor adjustments for grade changes. I did absolutely no hill training whatsoever so I completely trusted in maintaining within the heartrate alarms and sped up or slowed as I bumped into one. I found I started looking forward to the uphills as it meant I could shorten my stride a bit-almost felt like a break even though my heartrate said I was putting in same effort. Reverse for downhill-it meant high turnover push. In Boston I did the reverse by pushing the uphills and cruzing the downhills - I think the nyc strategy was a more efficient use of energy. Crowds were great-whenever I started weakening I'd scan the cheering faces and draw strength. A somber and wholly appropriate note held up by a small boy read "In memory of Ryan Shay" the elite runner who died the day before in the Olympic Trials.


Whole race was pretty much passing people and each time I approached a dense group I hoped to find Lance but I never saw him. I noticed my 10k time was only 4 seconds faster than him by chip time but I suspect I was more like a minute behind him then as my chip was 1.5 minutes off gun time. He had great race smashing his prior time by 12-13 minutes so I really had no shot at him.

Side note - I was sipping on accelerade I was carrying every mile marker which seemed to upset my stomach just a little-it foams up as it's shaken in the bottle so I can only imagine it does that in my stomach too (I had been experimenting with it for a couple weeks thinking a little protein might be helpful in the later miles but not in training on any thing like marathon effort for long distance-I don't think I'll use that again).

Ok so mile 16 is about the top of the bridge into Manhattans-I rather liked the climb as it let me slow my stride down a bit but then I had to run down the other side into Manhattans. This is a big crowd screaming point-its kinda like nyc's version of Boston's Wellesley only co-ed. Very loud and easy to encourage to be even louder - I had some fun here. Settled onto first street and started looking for my cheering squad (my kids, nieces, brother and sister who traveled in from out or town to encourage my run). Anyone who has been at this point of the race knows the crowds are packed so to some amazement - I actually saw them! It was encouraging. I traded my accelerade bottle for a poweraid bottle they had for me and ran on.

Mile 17-24 the watch stopped alarming at me for slowing heartrate since I pre-programmed it to switch to pace targets instead of heartrate. I took off the heartrate strap and tucked it in my shorts remembering my last marathon where it seemed to give me a tightness feeling across my chest at the end that I did not want repeated. This was supposed to be the time to pour it on to the finish - but I didn't feel like adding more effort, actually I wanted to relax a bit, actually I wanted to relax a lot. I took a short walk break to down a gel and wash it down with some poweraid. Then pushed on - still didn't want to push hard knowing there was a long way to go. After a couple slow miles 18/19 I settled into a mental compromise to allow a "gallow-walking" approach walking the water stop enough to drink the water then make it up enough to keep the below the 7:00 pace alarm on my watch (I found the poweraid too sweet around 20 and chucked it but was still very thirsty so drank water to the end). Turns out the buildings screwed up the satellite reception on my garmin the average lap pace alarm was slower such that several of these miles I thought were faster were slower than 7:00 but I didn't know that. My 1st street cheering squad made there way into central park and I got some good photo poses for the cameras and videos and have a few high 5s then on to the final 2. They really covered some distance through the crowds!

Mile 25- I just love pleasant surprises. I was expecting hilly central park but I had no idea there was such a long downhill. I really enjoyed pushing down THIS hill and it seemed to go on for a very long time. Loved it.

Mile 26-recharged by the downhill and energized by this being the last mile - I finally found the desire to pour something extra on. Ran pretty fast for what seemed like a very long mile. Rounded the final corner and started looking for my wife. Looking, looking, looking - there she is-swoop in for a quick smooch then charge the final (uphill) stretch to the finish line.

Frog walked to get my bag ended up chatting with a 50 year old runner that came in near me - learned he hadn't run a marathon in 17 years (and he running sub3 on his first try back!). I couldn't just let this prodigy by without a couple more questions - apparently the prior pr from younger days was 2:12. Sheeze!

Meet up with the family and get the hearty congrats from them. After a while I started realizing how hard it is to be a spectator at a marathon - I think they where near as worn out as I was from all the walking to the cheering spots or even standing for 3 hours to guarantee the spot at the finish that my wife did. So what do we all do in our collective fatigue? We walk another 25 blocks or so back to the hotel. Half way we wised up to this futility and tried getting cabs but they were all full of runners who wised up quicker than us so we walked it all - it was probably good for my legs. Finally made it back, rested up a bit then caught a Broadway show (Lion King) after which I was SO ready for bed.

Monday and Tuesday were the tour days for us. Monday jog thru Manhattan busy streets was a fun adventure jog for a couple miles to get the kinks out of my legs. Tuesday I just had to have the experience of running all the way around central park naked trying to run in Ryan Hall's footsteps from Saturday's Olympic trials - my hero. (Naked means no electronic devices - no watch). Got some hang out time with the extended family before they headed out Monday afternoon then explored some more. I just love Broadway. Kids and I spent a whole hour just sitting memorized from each corner of Time Square at night. Climbed to the top of empire state building Tuesday - a bit cloudy but definitely worth it.

Post race lookback.

Although the first 5k was too fast at 6:17 pace, I'm not certain if the first 16 was faster than it should have been or if 17-24 was just not pushed hard enough. I more thinking the latter-I think I had the juice to do more but lacked the drive. I had no time target that was meaningful to me between 3 hour and 2:50 and I'd pretty much written off the 2:50 pre race (and still don't think I had the juice to pull that off). I think 2:50 goal could provide the drive for Houston should the marathon gods deliver a good day January 13.

Another point I found troubling was my thirst for water only for the last several miles. I think my Saturday night touring got me a little dehydrated - I stopped sipping on water at some point Saturday night which I think was a mistake as I noticed signs of not being fully hydrated Sunday morning. More likely the problem was that gel-poweraid combo at 19 – feeling reminds me of training runs where I mixed the Gatorade too strong - after a while I only wanted water.

Training I think was about a month too long. I can tell from my logs I ran that marathon pace with less effort a month ago so I think I over trained a little to this marathon - and the mental edge dipped a little last few weeks as well. 18 week training cycle is too long for me.

Wrap up-great race. I loved New York - the touring, the race, the weather was great, the visiting with family and I got my sub 3 hour marathon done and then some and feel great thinking I can do even better on the next race. I still find the mega-marathon to be most appealing capping of so much training in a blockbuster event just seems like the way it should be done. Although I've never done a small marathon so I suppose I should try that some day. But not for a while - does anyone happen to know which race is biggest in the world?

Thanks for reading.

Garmin thru NYC Marathon - it is interesting to see how screwed up the satelite signal gets - especially across the start bridge and the one into manhatten - then thru manhatten streets. Should I ever do NYC again - I think I'd use the foot-pod type watch instead of the satelite.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Virginia Beach Half Marathon 9/2/2007

For this Race Report – it being so close to my 1 year anniversary in racing (plus getting plenty of airplane time to kill on the way home) – you will have you suffer thru my year in review (the power of the pen) – or you can skip to the race stuff if you really want but you might find it a good read.


One Year Ago (9/1/2006) – I signed up for the Houston 2007 Marathon – goal – see how fast I could run it. I had already achieved the goal of finishing a marathon in 2006 (4:28) – next logical goal seemed to do it fast.

Plan – up the volume from last time and follow some of the stuff I’d read – for 2006 I was doing 3-4 miles one day mid week and a long run on weekend – I think it started at 5 miles then went up a couple miles each week. New plan – run more days per week – by the end of the first month I was doing 3 per day 5 days/week + 12 on the weekend and was able to maintain a 9 minute per mile pace on that 12 miler without exceeding 80% Max Heart Rate – all treadmill running (too hot for me at that time).

October I upped most of the 5 days/week to 6 miles and got the long run up to 18 miles and by the end of October I thought I’d test the progress on a ½ marathon – 1:39:54 – A 7:36 pace. For some crazy reason in my euphoria of running anything better than 8:00 pace – I happened to – for fun – look up the Boston Marathon Qualifying Time. I figured out all I had to do was run the second half the same as my half marathon and tell a 3 day fib about my age to qualify as a 40 yr old. I wrote to my extended family that I had a STRETCH goal – at the time I thought a goal stretched beyond all possibilities.

A little into November my knee started hurting so I took a week off. I did a couple 5 milers on it – very uncertain and tentative. Started wearing a knee sock I got at the grocery store (I don’t know what it’s called – covers about 10” of the leg from above and below the knee and gives some compression). I had signed up for another ½ marathon mid-November and decided to go ahead and run on the knee – see what would happen. I finished it – I found I could push the knee – but with my minimal running the prior 10 days I ran a slower 1:41:05 (plus it was hilly). Having that proof I no longer let the knee hold me back – just kept the sock on whenever I ran. Somewhere around this time I happened to pickup Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathon book out of a bookstore and found the 12/55 workout schedule only a slight step-up from what I was doing so started following that plan. Got a couple 20+ runs in with the variety of VO2max /tempo /recovery that is in the plan. Then came my last tune-up race – a 30k.

Finishing time 2:10:41 – 7:01 pace – WOW! It was perfect racing conditions – high 40s with a slight rain for the last couple miles. I ran it using the same Heartrate target I did for the first ½ marathon in October and pace was more than 1/2 minute/mile faster and for farther! I had a friend I hadn’t talked to for a couple years give me a call saying he saw me way ahead of him – he had been my marathon hero (only marathoner I knew actually but I knew he ran a bunch of them) and I was not just ahead of him but way ahead of him – got my head puffed up a bit. At that point I knew a Boston Qualifier was in the bag. Only 8 more miles to go after 30k and I could do them at 8:30 and still qualify without even fibbing about my age. A BQ all of a sudden became an easy goal.

Finished the training cycle, ran Houston 2007 – perfect weather – got my BQ with 3:10 – could barely walk after the marathon my knee hurt so much. I thought about putting Boston off until 2008, but quickly got the all clear from doctor (Xrays showed all the right thickness in the right places in my knee) so I signed up for Boston and started training (without the knee sock from here on out – I really think that think kept it from healing).

Somewhere after Houston I found the RT Marathon Forum (guess from my join data it was March 2007). What a wealth of information, experience and running excitement here. The Boston excitement especially was contagious and helped to build my expectations and anticipations like nothing else. I got so many tips about fueling and pacing and running hills and on and on and on along with a community of marathon pfreaks like I was becoming.

Fast forward – ran the race of all races in Boston, 2007 – I’ve talked about that enough on this forum so I won’t expand – but it was the race of my life – in the top few moments of any kind in my life. I will get faster but I can’t imagine any race topping Boston. 3:01:01. I really think it was a good thing I did not get sub-3 at Boston as I could easily have fallen into the post-sub-3 blues as some here have called it.

After the race my mindset about running changed at a fundamental level – it was no longer a “running phase” – it was something I just did/do/will do – I now say I’m a runner or a marathoner (with pride) – before I said I’m in a running phase or other non-committal forward looking words – different mindset altogether.

I ran another marathon a couple months after Boston – trying to get that sub-3 again – fortunately I think for me I still didn’t get it. So now I push to be as fast as I can be at New York and/or Houston (haven’t decided which is the A race but leaning strongly toward NYC with Houston the back-up instead of the A).

Ok – enough Background many here have heard all this before in different pieces from me and are probably bored to death of re-hearing – on to the race:

Today I ran the Virginia Beach ½ marathon as a tune-up race to NYC. Purpose of the race was to get a feel for how fast I can be at NYC. Weather was ~70 start and ~75 finish. Seemed much more headwind than tailwind. Overall I got 1:22:45 (6:19 pace). To figure from that my target for New York – I temperature adjust the time to at about 1.5 minutes faster – probably some more credit for headwind is possible but I’ll ignore that – so I’m counting it as a VDOT 57.4. That closes the gap to my 5k VDOT to 1.0 which is the smallest gap I’ve seen before and is encouraging as the shorter races tend to be faster for me. Projecting my adjusted ½ marathon time to marathon potential at NYC (assuming good weather) – that is 2:49.5 – WOW – that would sure be nice!

Mile Pace Avg HR(max 187ish)
1 06:08.1 n/a garbage HR data
2 06:12.0 n/a garbage HR data
3 06:24.2 172 HRM started working - showed too fast! Easing back a bit (target was 165 but that felt way too slow so never got that low - tried to keep it below 170 – that felt like the right pace).
4 06:29.4 169
5 06:31.0 168 Intermittent Headwind – sometimes strong from Mile 5 thru 11 as it could get thru the buildings and trees. Crowds too thin for drafting.
6 06:40.9 169
7 06:32.7 168
8 06:31.7 168
9 06:01.7 172 Last 5 was planned no HR target restraint - go by feel (time to GO FOR IT!)
10 06:08.1 173
11 06:24.7 171 (especially windy – and tired)
12 06:11.8 172 That darn life-sucking Orb! - Beach boardwalk under the SUN for last 2 miles. Finally a tailwind but the SUN hurt worse than the tailwind helped. It made the final push extra hard but I did it anyway – gave it all I could.
13 05:55.3 175 (maxed at 186 – 1 bpm from my MAX – can you hear me panting)
13.1 00:33.0 182 05:29.8 pace finish strides in.

Official Chip Splits
5k 0:19:27
10k 0:39:27
10 Mile 1:03:40
11 Mile 1:10:07 (Not sure why they capture this split – I guess to keep people from taking a short-cut to the beach)
Finish 1:22:45 (6:19 pace total)

1st 1/2 42:01.6
2nd half 40:43.4
Split -1:18.2
Place 111/17009 (I like to say triple first)
Gender 95/7433
Age Group 8/1102 (Goal was top 10 – YES!)
AgeGrade 74.5%

HR race targets for warm races are much too low, however knowing HR was helpful in regulating constant effort once I “calibrated” it to the right “feel”. I still consider myself a beginner at this with only 1 year of “racing”. Without it for the first couple miles I was pacing for a 1:20 ½ marathon – had I not known early I didn’t have the juice for that pace (others I’m sure can know this by feel – but I can’t yet) – I possibly could have had a very ruff last half. Using it as a “restraint” for first 2/3rds of the race seemed to work well – found I had the juice to push in the last 5 miles. It’s possible the restraint was TOO restrained first half judging by the 1 1/3rd minute negative split – but I doubt more even paced could have improved the race by much more than a few seconds.

On the race itself – it was a well run race – good volunteer support, comical host at the start-line was fun, good music and cheering although to be honest – I pretty much had tunnel vision from beginning to end so don’t remember all that much – all the necessary post race stuff. I had a flight leaving 2 hours after I finished so didn’t stick around for the after race party – just enough time to stop by hotel, shower and get to the airport.

I’m up to 9-10 hours of running per week + a couple more getting ready and cool-down. Where did that time come from – what did I give up from a year ago? Probably about ½ the time came from sleep and the other ½ from TV time or other non-productive pastimes. A bit of it occasionally does come from family time with my wife and kids which I do regret – I try to keep that minimal but it does happen [actually the bigger issue with family time is more the time on this RT Forum vs the running time - but its always so interesting and I learn so much and get good advise. I’ll find the right balance here eventually but not knowing other marathoners the interaction here is very helpful - and humbling.] I’ll probably not be doing things like flying to Virginia Beach alone to run a race all that often as it takes almost 2 days away. But the fam is very supportive – I get the “wow” from my wife every now and then being ~35 lbs lighter than a year ago (I like that) and they love the big out of town races (Boston, NYC) and they come to all the local races as well - the longer ones anyway. My son’s even joined the High School Track team this year – I have no idea if he’s any good at running as he won’t run with me but its nice to see signs I’m inspiring him a little. Bottom line – quality of life is MUCH improved – the things I gave up were pretty worthless – the things I added are priceless – seems this Adult Onset Athlete Phase has become a good way of life.

Quote of the day from my wife today after the race – “If you like it so much when you finish a race – why do you start?”

I really don’t have a good answer to the WHY question in racing – but it seems to suit me just fine so I’ll keep doing it.

Cheers – John.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

San Diego R&R - Sub3 or Bust = BUSTED!!

The race was a great event. A great FE event with Irunforbeer (John) and it was a pleasure meeting him and his wife. Pre-Race we named our mutual quests for sub3-hour at this race - We are "Team John". Weather much better than last year - not muggy at the beginning. I was successful in achiving a Personal Course Record erasing last years DNF from getting sick. But didn't get a Sub3 or even a PR - Should I need it I did get a NYC-Q for 2008. Here's the mile by mile.

# Plan Avg Actual Avg Sec HR Boston
1 7:00 7:00 6:54 6:54 (6) 160 146
Dropped a Gu went to pick up - that’s a scary thing going upstream to get it at ~0.5 mile - got it and transferred all to pockets - note to self - safety pin to shorts no work - find out how Brett glues to butt. Lost Irunforbeer due to my Gu distractions saw 40-50 yards ahead with the 3 hr pace.
2 6:50 6:55 6:55 6:54 (1) 168 161
Surprised by HR hitting alarm (>167). Hoping for #s like Boston - credit temps 60-65 at SD vs 45 Bos.
3 6:40 6:50 6:48 6:52 6 167 162
Stuck with pace targets despite HR alarms - within reason (kinda "hugged" the alarm point trying to keep the pace close).
4 6:16 6:41 6:12 6:42 1 167 162
Big down hill - gained ground - passed 3 hr pace team - saw irunforbeer way ahead - bright orange shirt was great to pressure me faster.
5 6:33 6:40 6:46 6:43 14 166 164
Pace slipping a little from plan but I was not ready to increase HR. Knew I planned for slowdown so figured I'd have to not slow down so much at the end.
6 6:46 6:41 6:54 6:44 22 166 161
More of the same - hugging the HR target
7 6:55 6:43 6:57 6:46 23 167 162
More of the same - hugging the HR target - starting a 4 mile gradual uphill.
8 7:04 6:45 7:15 6:50 33 166 162
More of the same - hugging the HR target - 3 to go
9 7:07 6:48 7:06 6:51 32 165 161
More of the same - hugging the HR target - 2 to go
10 7:12 6:50 6:57 6:52 16 166 162
More of the same - hugging the HR target - last mile of uphill - Made up a very little bit of ground on hill. Irunforbeer's orange shirt still a becon to help drive me on ~200 yards ahead.
11 6:14 6:46 6:36 6:50 45 160 162
I thought I flew down this hill - I see 6:06 pace first 1/2 - I think milemarkers was messed up.
12 6:48 6:47 6:49 6:50 36 163 158
HR going down with pace - I start noticing I can speed up a little. Slowly move to get back on target.
13 6:46 6:47 6:44 6:50 34 164 159
Moving Faster
14 6:50 6:47 6:41 6:49 24 164 161
A little faster - I pass by Irunforbeer somewhere on this mile - wish him luck then keep trying to get back on target.
15 6:52 6:48 6:53 6:49 25 163 161
A couple small hills slow me down a little - but on planned pace
16 7:07 6:49 7:04 6:50 21 164 157
Same this mile
17 6:46 6:49 7:28 6:52 63 162 159
I don't know what happen here - just let off the gas a little - there were a bunch of turns this mile that kept messing up my stride - 3 hr pace team passed me by.
18 6:55 6:49 6:37 6:52 45 165 161
I sped up and linked to the pace team - wow they were moving. But I felt like I could hang on - I like running with the group.
19 6:55 6:49 6:07 6:49 (4) 167 162
Stayed with pace team - I show pace was 6:47 but milemarkers distorted the pace.
20 6:57 6:50 6:53 6:49 (9) 166 161
Stayed with pace team
21 6:57 6:50 6:47 6:49 (19) 165 163
Stayed with pace team
22 6:58 6:50 6:58 6:50 (20) 164 159
Lost the pace team - the leader did a switch (the leadership was split between 2 guys each running a 1/2 marathon). And the new guy ran faster - so it seemed to me. Going into the switch the team was 6-7 guys - a mile after the switch I think he had smoked us all - I thought that was bad form.
23 6:55 6:51 7:26 6:51 10 162 158
Without pace team - I'm struggling keeping pace and start struggling with breathing.
24 6:59 6:51 8:00 6:54 71 159 163
Breathing issue becomes pronounced enough to force walking - chest tight making deep breathing at running speed tough. I try to run after a brief walk. With a fast finish - still a chance at Sub3.
25 6:58 6:51 10:30 7:03 282 142 167
A couple attempts at running fail - can only maintain jog - not run. With Sub3 and even PR gone - decide to look around for irunforbeer thinking a finishline "Team John" photo would look kinda neat - don't see him - continue jog.
26 6:58 6:52 9:59 7:09 462 143 167
I see an orange shirt in the distance behind so figure I'd jog and he'd catch me around finish for the Team John finish. Near the end - that wasn't him so keep looking behind for that photo.
26.2 6:59 6:52 12:10 7:12 524 145 170
Well I wasn't going to let the clock get to 3:10 without me finished so after looking some more I went ahead and finished. Found him later in the walk out. I'll let him share his race report for his details.
Final Time 3:08:42
Still wondering what caused the breathing issues - best I can come up with is the HR strap was not loose enough and after 23 miles of slightly constrained breathing caused by the tightness eventually felt like chest tightness.
As a precaution I had one of the medic doctors at the race finish check and rule out heart issues which he did.
Overall most of the race went great - hydration, fueling, pace strategy all seemed to work perfect. I think I will look into a less restrictive HR strap - or perhaps strapless.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Boston Marathon - 2007

Race Report – 111th Boston Marathon – April 16th, 2007.

For the non-runners reading – I’m only writing one race report so there is a bunch of stuff in here my running buddies might find interesting that non runners will not-feel free to skip ahead when needed.

Started at front of corral 5 – bib number (=course rank) 5376 out of ~23,000 people registered – 20348 finished..

Followed carb load plan with 3 days of 70-80% carb calories, then starting at 6am on the bus ride to the starting line with 3-16 oz ultra fuel drink w/ 300g carb, 2 power bars, 32 oz water, 24 oz Poweraid. (planned coffee too but forgot to get it). During race I carried 32 oz Poweraid (16 at start and 16 handed to me at 1/2 way) and 4 gu packs used at 5, 10, 16 (just before the hills), 22 (hills are done final stretch) and forced down Dixie cup water and Gatorade frequently - rarely got more than a couple swallows - found it helpful to fill mouth, swallow than breath vs trying to suck down as poured into mouth and coughing for the next quarter mile. Overall I’m figuring I got ~1800 calories pre-race and ~700 calories during the race – turned out to be plenty – probably could try cutting this back some and still be ok but I wanted to be absolutely sure to not run out of energy. Success as measured by NO Port-a-john stops during race and energy to the end!

Race Start 10 am - steady rain not too cold. Seemed warmer than 41 I heard - plan was 7 minute first mile (slow warm-up first mile). Turns out I had little choice in the matter being lined up with the 7:15 mile pace qualifiers like me - passing was impractical in large scale – only a few here and there. Ended 7:13. Rain was gone before mile was done. There had been so much pre race drama about the weather with forecast ranging from snow storm,30 mph head winds to downpours to warnings about hypothermia and on and on – but turned out to be pretty good marathon weather except for the headwinds in places.

Race plan was to maintain 6:48 pace thru first half - to take a shot at sub-3 hr (6:52 pace) counting on some slowdown last half - without exceeding 165 bpm HR - about 85%HRR (max to min heart rate). I found I hit this a few times preventing me from maintaining pace target. Ended up a few seconds per mile below plan most of first half but maintained control. Typically headwind was minimal with shielding by trees and houses and the density of other runners. Occasionally a clearing would give medium to strong headwinds – guessing 10-25 mph. Tried to find people or groups to draft for these periods however I was generally moving faster than those around me so it was hard to find people to draft that didn't slow me down - but I did get some limited benefit from this strategy.

Crowds were generally not any more than Houston this first half - weather kept a lot of spectators at home which left many disappointed but not me - I came to race - crowds were just a perk.

Wellesley girl’s college was very loud with volume starting at mile marker 12 - I think they are actually at 12.5 - how can they yell for so many hours?

Cousin Doug and family (they live in Wellesley) cheered me and Doug even ran a quarter mile or so with me just after the half – a welcome distraction from my tunnel vision despite my difficulty in being very conversational - and gave me my second Powerade - I was worried I'd miss them but meeting and drink handoff worked perfect.

First hill of 4 – for some reason it seemed all the hills had a pretty strong headwind - I attacked it much faster than pace I planed for hills. HR monitor started chirping at me for exceeding 165 bpm which was music to my ears - race plan had been to go to whatever felt ok after 16 miles and no longer be restrained by HR and the chirping meant I was pushing it to next level.

Between hills I found it difficult to keep pushing - I had mental demon telling me >160 HR was not sustainable for me last miles of the marathon because I couldn't maintain that at Houston slowing considerably at the end.

2nd hill was attacked much as the first - I passed A LOT of people on the hills (This Houston boy CAN run hills).

Same issue between hills - didn't make up time I wanted to.

Around 3rd hill was the 30k point and I did the math thinking I needed a 42 minute 10k (so much for in race math abilities – actually needed 41 ½) minute 10k pace to knock down get sub 3 – with my PR for the 10k at just under 40 minutes I knew this to be impossible – but how close could I get. I knew it unlikely to expect to speed UP at the end of a marathon – no one does that – it’s a wonder to maintain pace at the end. Attacked hill 3 then on to heartbreak hill.

Again attacked the hill passed a bunch of people with a big headwind. What I found to be especially helpful on hills was to be watching my GPS watch instead of looking up the hill for the top. I had a lamininated course profile in my glove pocket that told me the exact mileage of the start and finish of each hill so knowing the hill would be over at 20.89 miles I kept telling myself - only .26 miles to go - which seems an insignificant distance - I can power that much longer.

From the top going down. The mental battles were intense. Finally what won out mostly was "this is the BOSTON MARATHON!!" with that no half efforts for any stretch allowed. After crossing that mental milestone - I stopped looking at the watch - and pushed with all I had. I had jogged this part of the course Saturday and the familiarity of the milestones helped. The HR monitor chirped at me continually since over 165 - I had planned to turn that chirp off after 16 but found the chirping somehow motivating and I figured I was never near another runner for long enough to be an annoyance to others. I didn't dare look at the watch as knowing my HR could only make me want to slow down. I downed the last gu and a few gulps of water and ran by all the remaining water stations. My legs burned but all felt healthy. I kept plowing on.

There's the Citgo sign!! Meaning 2 miles to go. I knew I'd have the Shirley crew cheering me there (Sister and kids). Keep on keeping on. Most all around me are slowing and I am passing people like crazy here. By the time I got to Citgo sign I had found the practice of closing my eyes very tempting - they felt so comfortable closed. I forced them open to look for my cheerers. Found them and managed a hearty smile and wave - it was great to have them here - and also know only ONE mile to go.

This was a tough mile but I didn't let up and kept on passing people enjoying my watch chirping at me, and enjoying the brief shuteyes.

Overall from 35k to finish averaged 6:40 pace vs 6:57 average before – unheard of to do the fastest miles at the END of a marathon. As it turns out I DID do almost a 42 minute pace 10k at the end.

Around a couple corners and I'm running on the right side looking for Susie and the kids on the final stretch. Still pushing but did not want to miss the moment to see them - they have been SO supportive thru all the miles to get here and that moment to the finish was as much theirs as it is mine. I got and gave a big cheer when I saw them. Dad too turns out was there but was covered up by Ryan's GO DAD!! sign.

There is the finish line less than a quarter mile away. I couldn't muster the all out sprint this time but pushed in with a very fast run still passing a few more. I managed to do the last ½ mile at 6 minute mile pace.


There was so much emotion at this point I nearly had to stop and cry in happiness. I walked a little then turned around to see what runners were coming in behind me. I can't see bib numbers from the back as I'm passing people. All I could see were 1000s and 2000s and an occasional 3000. Few if any 4000s and no 5000s (again my bib # 5376). I stood and watched for a couple minutes looking for a kindred spirit who had passed so many, it was so much fun and so rewarding but didn’t find any.

Downhills I was worried about - barely noticed them - ran down at higher speed without issue.

All I heard from so many was you can't PR (personal record) at Boston - course is too hard. I got a 9:39 PR in BOSTON down from 3:10:40. I didn’t make the sub-3 hr but got 90% of the way there on a tough course in less than ideal weather and feel GREAT about that.

We all walked like penguins to getting a foil windbreaker, chip drop/metal pickup, a food bag and back to the bus to get my bag of stuff from the start – changed into warm cloths and cleaned up a bit - the emotions thru that walk were always right at the surface.

Saw the family. Susie runs and gives me a big bear hug and we share a few victory moments together - it was special - about 3 seconds later the rest of the family joins in. Legs by now have walked a mile or so and were surprisingly refreshed so, a bit giddy, I went ahead and jogged a bit with the kids and jumped on things playing around feeling great. Got back to the hotel lobby and the rest of the family – Grandma Sue and 5 yr old niece Alexis – rang some marathon cowbells and got the whole lobby into a round of applause – we need more cowbells. It was so special to share this moment with everyone. It was very special to have my Dad there - no matter how old I get I still want to please my Dad and share great moments. It was special to have Shirley and kids there - the perfect cheerleaders. It was special to have Susie there - she has been there every step. And of course Ryan and Kaylee - I hope they are proud of their Dad and learn the lesson - you can do anything with some dedication and hard work.

Here’s the numbers:
Weather Conditions made for the Slowest winning times in 22 years (front runners have no one to draft).

Official Time: 3:01:01Pace: 6:55
Overall: 1008 (Started ~4000th taking out unassigned bibs and noshows)Gender: 961 (47 women in front of me).Open Division: 731 (men under 40)
Masters Division: 206 (40-50 – missed this group by 3 days)
Total : 1008/20348 4.95%
Male : 961/12373 7.8%
Open : 731/9059 8.1%
Master : 206 / 7061 2.9%
US : 867th /17793 4.9%
Texas : 24th/711 3.3%
Houston : 6th/118 5.1%
Kingwood : 1st/3

Background Marathons:
1/2006 – Houston Marathon 4:28 (10.22/mile pace – all out vomit inducing effort) – first marathon – ecstatic to FINISH.
6/2006 – San Diego Marathon – got sick DNF (did not finish) stretch goal was 4:15.
1/2007 – Houston Marathon 3:10:31 (7:15/mile pace)

Boston for me lived up to all anticipations and way more!!!!
Now I can turn 40.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Houston Marathon - BQ!

Exerpts from some random posts collected about the race:

My running from a year ago - 1 year ago I was in the middle of a half hearted training program to run San Diego R&R marathon. That progressed into too hot training in Houston thru April/May than getting a stomach bug before the race and a DNF for the marathon - couldn't have beat ~9:30/mile pace likely even if I did finish.

Anyway - I've told this story before but it still gives me excitement so I'll tell it again. After - I bought a nice TM to run inside during Houston's hot months - read up on a couple of different training strategies. I was intrigued by some articles around running very very slow to build anarobic endurance so started doing that on the treadmill some July/August - nothing big but maybe 15-20 miles/week (it was VERY boring). Started seeing improvements and decided Sept 1 to go for the Houston Marathon again in Jan, 2006. Added in other workouts I had read about like Tempo, VO2 max, long runs, recovery runs to make a weekly workout plan from a book called HR running for idiots. After about a month at that I had dropped 20-25 lbs and also stumbled across Pfitz's Advanced Marathon book and picked the 55/12 workout plan - looked pretty close to what I was doing anyway but a bit more milage and variety - and stuck to the plan. Next couple months were downright exciting - with every long run week after week faster that the last - dropping 5, 10, 15 seconds off my mpm pace for the same heart rate. I picked out a set of tune-up races as the pfitz plan prescribed - ran my first 1/2 marathon in October at 1:40 - absolutely amazed by the performance. It occurred to me to look up the qualifying times for Boston (I don't really know many marathoners but one that I knew mentioned he was trying to qualify for Boston but didn't) and I discovered I was running fast enough to qualify - I needed only run the same pace for another 1/2 marathon and tell a little white lie about my age (turning 40 BEFORE Boston instead of 3 days after) on the application. So I set Boston as my Stretch goal and kept training.

Started getting some knee pains so backed off a little until I figured out the pain didn't slow me down or get worse with running so picked up the pace on running again. Ran a 30k in December at 7:00 pace to my total amazement - I used the exact same HR target in that race as I did 2 months earlier in the 1/2 marathon with a 7:38 pace. In hind sight I think it totally helped to have 45°F weather but I didn't know temperature was such a factor then. At that point I knew Boston was in the bag and it was just maintenance until running Houston at 7:15 pace to get my BQ. Since thru another 12 week training program to Boston I think I've knocked another 15-20 seconds/mile off - to be determined 4/16/07...........anyway - what a difference a year makes - appreciate the opportunity to reflect on it yet again. Now that I've entered the TAPER period for Boston - gives me a little more energy to really get excited - even got my Jacket (not yet worn except to try it on - I'm real eager to wear it everywhere).

My biometrics - I am 39 - have running for about 1.5 years (ran track/crosscountry in High School - but have little consistancy running since until I set my sites on the marathon):

MHR - 186 (191 is highest I've actually seen although I have not been able to repeat since I was real out of shape 6 months ago - highest I typically see now at max effort is ~185-6)RHR - 44 is lowest I've seen in morning.

Using the 80-85% HRR rule of thumb for marathon racing that would put me 158-165 -

Here was my data for my last race - the course was completely flat (Houston):

HR/mpm1-5: 157/7.4 162/7.3 162/7.3 162/7.3 162/7.4 average 161/7.3 (My HR was holding me back for first part of race - should I have gone out a bit quicker)
6-10: 161/7.1 162/7.2 160/7.1 160/7.1 161/6.9 average 161/7.1 (Speed started picking up for same HR - no drift higher with miles - actually the opposite)
11-15:160/7.0 160/7.0 160/7.0 161/6.8 160/7.1 average 160/7.0 (a little faster - even slower HR on average)
16-20: 160/7.1 159/7.1 158/7.3 157/7.2 157/7.3 average 158/7.2 (I think I gave in on the mental game here knew I had 3:15 in bag to get by BQ - didn't push).
20-26: 157/7.2 155/7.5 155/7.5 154/7.8 154/8.1 160/7.3 average 156/7.6 (more mental game weakness - also had some knee pain bugging)

Total Average 159/7.24 (7:14 - 3:10 marathon)

So any advise on race day strategy for next race (Boston) - some thoughts:
- For some reason I seem to have a slower pace vs HR for first several miles - I see this in my long runs sometimes too but not consistently so - should I be more pace focused vs HR focused for this first part of the race and let the HR go a little higher or is that trading seconds at the start for minutes at the end?
- I also wonder if I was slower due to all the carb-loading - I ate a bunch of food 4 hrs before race and felt very bloated to start (luckily never had to use the rr) - perhaps this excess was slowing me down until I sweat it out or something?
- Am I missing a ton of opportunity not getting to the higher end of the HRR range - my last half marathon (3 wks ago) I averaged 165 with a range of 162-168 at a 6:45 pace - I wouldn't say I was pushing it my hardest - I targeted to maintain 167 but dropped below much of the last half of the race - I guess maybe I could keep that up another 1/2 marathon (easy to say in hindsight). I'm wondering if there is more opportunity in the mental side of the race - body is able but I haven't been hard enough on it - maybe as much as 20-30 seconds/mile just from pushing myself harder.
- A side note/curriosity - On my VO2 runs I am never able to get to the suggested 93-100% range - I run repeats 600m or greater at 5k pace (6m/m) and rarely get over 175 - again - am I just not pushing hard enough - after my repeats I sure feel like I gave it my all but not sure why I cannot get into the recommended range.

Any thoughts/suggestions would be helpful - Thanks.