Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Boston Marathon Race Report

As usual, I would not have the opportunities that I do without the support of many people. I may be the only one out running on race day, but the help and support of many people enable me to do this.

As everyone already knows I have one of the best support crews in the world, my wife Theresa. Not only does she encourage my crazy training and racing, she makes it to almost every race. Now she is even teaching Abigail how it's done at an early age. Unfortunately because Abigail is only 10 weeks old we decided it was better if Theresa and her stayed home for this one. This was the first big race I have ever done without Theresa there.

Luckily for me I have made some wonderful friends through Endurance Nation. Coach Patrick knew I was coming in alone for the weekend and offered for me to stay with him and his family. Patrick, Maura, Megan and Emma were outstanding hosts (and photographers) before, during and after the race. This alone made the marathon such an amazing experience. Speaking of Endurance Nation, I finally got to meet Linda and she made an awesome sign for me and was at mile 10, and Hayes was definitely watching as he did a play by play of my splits on twitter.

I've only been working with Zoot Sports for a few months now, but everyone has been awesome. Jake made sure that I had everything I needed well before the race so I could try everything out. Dave and Aaron helped me figure out which shoes I should be running in and have some new shoes they are working on that I'm really excited about. ALCiS and GU are also new sponsors this year and had me more than prepared for the race.

New for me this year as well is the Dick Pond's Fast Track Racing Team. Even though I can't race all of their races as part of the team they have taken me in and encouraged me during track workouts and long runs, particularly Dave, Matt T, and Matt J. On top of weekly workouts it was great to have some guys to hang out with at the athlete village prior to the race.

Finally, my boss Lola, continues to be so supportive of my new family and my racing. She continues to allow me to benefit from flexible work arrangements that are so helpful.

Injury, Training, and the Plan
As I've mentioned many times already I was injured and didn't run for half of December and all of January. February I started to get back into a routine and then March starting training hard and joined the Fast Track Racing Team for some track workouts and a long run. I'm so glad those guys were around as I needed the motivation to get back into the game after my foot injury.

With about 8 weeks of actual training after 6 weeks of zero running I really didn't know how the race was going to go but after 3 long runs and a half marathon I felt strong and confident. I continued to do all of my normal bike and swim workouts leading up to the Saturday prior to the race. As usual I decided to follow Coach Patrick's pacing guidelines that he shares at Endurance Nation and now Marathon Nation to make sure I did not go out too fast. This time it was particularly important because I was still concerned with the limited training I did, plus I had to remember this was just meant to be a fun race as my big race is later in the year.

My race plan was simply to run the first 6 miles very easy, settle into a decent pace for the next 12, and then run last 8 as hard as I possibly could to see what I could do. This way if anything didn't feel right I could just hold the easy pace and enjoy the experience instead of suffering after going out too hard.

My flight got in late do to a mechanical issue (like usual when I'm on an AA S80 that is older than I am), so I got to the Team EN lunch late. Even thought I was only around for a little while it was great to meet a number of members that I have talked to for the past two years but never met. After that Coach P and I went to the expo, got my stuff and stopped by the Zoot booth for a few minutes. It was great to see Dave again and talk about shoes for a few minutes and I also got to meet Chris. Dave's always working on something new and exciting. Per Dave's advice I decided to run in the Zoot TT 3.0s because I wanted the extra cushioning for all of the downhill running, which was a great choice as the shoes worked perfect with no issues at all.

The rest of the day I got to hang out with P and his family, which was so much better than sitting in a hotel by myself.

Patrick offered to drive me to start which allowed me to sleep about two hours longer which was great. The only downside was the closest he could get was over two miles from the start and about three miles from the village. No big deal though as I walked a mile and then jogged a mile to warmup and I was at the start. The start area was surprisingly empty and there were literally a 100 porta potties and no one around, so I visited one and was the first customer. I think it was a great trade off for an extra 2 hours of sleep.

I then headed to the athlete village to meet up with Matt T and the Fast Track Racing Team. When I got to the village, less than a mile away there were thousands of people and long lines for the porta potties there.
At about 9:15 we decided to head to the start, I was seeded in the second corral, but actually moved back to start with someone running around a 3:00 pace. I really wanted to start with the guys that were going to run faster but I knew I needed to stick with my plan.

Mile 1-6: Starting back a few corals worked well as it forced me to stay at an easier pace for me for the first 6 miles. Of course I noticed right away that the course was straight downhill but I was shocked at how narrow the road was. Again this was not big deal as I wanted to start out slow and I had no choice as there were 4,000 people in front of me.

Mile 7 to 16: Here I just slowly picked up my pace as planned. The course was still mostly downhill and I felt awesome so I did end up running a little quicker than I should have, but I couldn't help it. Good thing Linda was there to help out.

Mile 17: the road started to go up, but I stayed steady (although I was now working to run not trying to hold back) as my plan was to start running hard at 18. I started to really pace people at this point as everyone else seemed to slow down pretty quickly.

Mile 18: came and I tried to run fast, but I didn't have any kick. I guess the downhill running affected me more than I thought it would. I did a few fast pickups and recoveries to try and get things going but I really didn't have much. I did try to run as hard as I could at the time and all I had was made a 6:15ish pace. About a mile and a half later all I could think of is man I am so screwed when heartbreak hill comes and if I can't hold this pace now what's going to happen when I hit the real hills. Well, next thing I knew I was running downhill, my legs were burning and a guy on a megaphone was congratulating us for going over heartbreak hill. Two thoughts instantly came to mind 1) Awesome, it's all downhill from here 2) oh shoot, I just ran crushed myself and ran hard all the way up the toughest hill of the course and didn't have anything left.

Miles 22 to 26.2: My legs were DONE and I now had zero kick left. Interestingly the rest of my body felt just fine. My breathing and heart rate were under control and I was well fueled thanks to the two GU Roctane gels. My quads pretty much felt like they were on fire and my legs just did not want to move. Either way I just kept pushing as hard as I could I knew the sooner I made it to the finish the sooner I could stop running.

Thanks to the downhill I was able somewhat hold on for the last 4.2 miles and still managed to negative split the race overall.

I ended up finishing in 2:49:39 which I've very pleased with everything considered. I knew I could go around 3:00 but I was hoping to break 2:50 and I did. It was only good enough to get me 504th place overall. I'm really glad there were that many faster runners there as I always had other people close by to work with and try to pass which I prefer over local races where I can't even see anyone else at times.

The official numbers:
5k  – 0:20:42 (0:20:42)
10k – 0:41:11 (0:20:39)
15k – 1:01:24 (0:20:13)
20k – 1:21:11 (0:19:47)
25k – 1:41:03 (0:19:52)
30k – 2:01:10 (0:20:07)
35k – 2:21:02 (0:19:58)
40k – 2:40:49 (0:19:47)
26.2 – 2:49:39 (6:28 minute/mile pace)

First 13.1 – 1:25:28
Second 13.1 – 1:24:11 --- still managed to pull off a negative split!

Marathon Photo Pictures – I can't afford to keep buying race pictures so here is a link to look at themJ

In summary, for what I wanted to do my race plan worked ok and it was a great test of my discipline which will be critical at my big race this year. That said, I still believe negative splitting the effort is the best way to go, but pace and effort are not always the same thing especially on a course like Boston. If I ever return to Boston to race I will have to spend some time figuring out how to negative split the effort, but not the actual pace as there is probably a good bit of free speed to be had in the first 16 miles. It would be interesting to run this race a few different times with slightly different strategies to see how it goes.

Post Race
After most marathons my legs actually feel ok but the rest of my body is done. This time was different, my body felt fine but my quads were still on fire and getting stiff quick. I made it through the finish area as quickly as possible got my stuff and headed out to meet Patrick and call Theresa.
After a quick shower, some ALCiS on my quads and putting on my Zoot Recovery Compression Tights my legs felt much better. So the next mission was to get some food.

Up next
Last week was my last week of 24 weeks of Endurance Nation Out Season training and next week I'm going to start building up a little for a June HIM. In the meantime I'm taking the week after the marathon as a transition week. This means no scheduled workouts and I can eat whatever I want. So far I took Tuesday off altogether and Wednesday was only a 45 minute bike ride.
I am planning one more open half marathon this year as I think I can get another minute or two off my PR and then I switch to full triathlon training and racing. I will say that I did get the marathon bug again though and I really like the way sub 2:40 sounds (but on a flat course). My 2011 season is already planned, but maybe 2012 will be running year.

Thanks for reading and following me on my journey. If you like data I have one more section below with my splits from the race.

The Geeky Details
Here is a summary of my mile splits and Normalized Graded Pace. NGP basically attempts to account for elevation changes, in other words when I'm running on flat ground at 6:30 pace my body is working at an effort level of a 6:30 pace and the lap split and NGP would both be 6:30. However, mile 17 is a great example of how I was running at a 6:33 pace, but it was uphill and therefore I was really working like a 5:58 pace (opps).

I recently ran 1:17:42 at the March Madness Half Marathon (which is very hilly) which puts my vdot just under 61. According to that, if I was properly trained for a marathon I should have been able to run a 2:41 (6:08 pace). Therefore I was about 8 minutes off which doesn't surprise me considering the limited training and how hard I have been working on the bike during the Endurance Nation Out Season plan.

Miles 1 -6
Plan: run very easy
Actual: I did good on the first 4 and then I went a little fast in mile 5 &6:
Lap 1:    6:52    NGP:    7:36
Lap 2:     6:33    NGP:    6:43
Lap 3:    6:34    NGP:    7:02
Lap 4:     6:25    NGP:    6:46
Lap 5:     6:39    NGP:    6:13
Lap 6:     6:25    NGP:    6:18

Miles 7 – 17
Plan: Run Steady and easy
Actual: I felt great and felt like I was going easy, but the numbers show I started to speed up around mile 10 (8 miles earlier than I should have) I let the excitement and the fact that I felt good get the best of me. Rookie mistake and I should have known better
Lap 7:     6:28    NGP:    6:29
Lap 8:    6:44    NGP:    6:21
Lap 9:     6:14    NGP:    6:15
Lap 10:     6:21    NGP:    6:04     ß- Got a little carried away for the next 6 miles
Lap 11:     6:20    NGP:    6:06
Lap 12:     6:12    NGP:    6:00
Lap 13:     6:16    NGP:    6:02
Lap 14:     6:17    NGP:    6:21
Lap 15:     6:29    NGP:    6:04
Lap 16:     6:12    NGP:    6:30    ß- Hills start here
Lap 17:    6:33    NGP:    5:58    ß- Went way to hard

Miles 18 – 26.2
Plan: Run hard and leave it all on the course
Actual: I still felt good but now I was working and it was becoming challenging. From mile 16 to 21 is pretty much almost all uphill. I thought it I could just hammer the hills I would be able to coast in after. It actually sort of worked, except my legs were pretty trashed and did not enjoy the last 5 miles one bit.
Lap 18:     6:30    NGP:    6:09
Lap 19:     6:15    NGP:    6:23
Lap 20:     6:23    NGP:    6:12
Lap 21:    6:34    NGP:    6:06    ß- Heartbreak Hill
Lap 22:    6:10    NGP:    6:23
Lap 23:     6:21    NGP:    6:45
Lap 24:    6:20    NGP:    6:22
Lap 25:    6:14    NGP:    6:27
Lap 26:     6:21    NGP:    6:02
Lap 27:     3:02    NGP:    5:54

Entire workout (180 bpm):
    Duration:     2:49:46
    Work:     n/a
    rTSS:     263.4 (0.905)
    NGP:    6:21 (253.3 m/min)
    VI:     n/a
    Pw:HR:     n/a
    Pa:HR:     4.63%
    Distance:     26.467 mi
    Elevation Gain:     1081 ft
    Elevation Loss:     1542 ft
    Grade:     -0.3 % (-462 ft)
        Min    Max    Avg
    Heart Rate:     123    193    180     bpm
    Speed:     0    20.3    9.4     mph
    Pace     2:58    0:00    6:25     min/mi
    Altitude:     21    508    177     ft

As a quick reminder, I am raising money for Challenged Athletes Foundation this year and you could win money or a prize if you guess my time in Kona.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Zoot ULTRA Team Camp 2010

When I first heard that I was invited to the Zoot ULTRA Team Camp, I assumed it was a training camp and an opportunity to meet the team. I also assumed we would hear about all the things that Zoot and the other sponsors expected from us, but I figured I should go since I was new to this sponsorship thing. Well, we all know what happens when we assume something.  I was only correct on 1 of the 3 things, we didn't really do any training and we didn't once hear about what we had to do... I did get to me a bunch of great people though.

Thanks to Jake and Molly at Zoot and Tom from Team sports it was a great experience and here is my quick summary.  Like usual I had a camera in my pocket all weekend and took a total of about 12 pictures.  I'll get better at that someday.

I decided to fly in as late as possible and leave as early as possible because with a 7 week out baby at home, I really didn't want to be away any longer than I had to. I knew I didn't have to go to camp, but I wanted to check it out and get to know some of the team. I ended up flying in Saturday morning and heading to Ironman 70.3 California in Oceanside. I went straight to the race and made it in time to watch about 2 hours of the run. Endurance Nation team members started to show up after they finished the race and we ended up getting pizza and hanging out most of the afternoon. It was great to meet a few more team members and see Rich again. Plus, any time I can eat pizza outside in 75 degree weather in March is just awesome.

I headed to the hotel to check before our Zoot team dinner. The hotel was up on a hill with a great view of the ocean, a lap pool, and an In-n-Out burger close by … It doesn't get much better than that.

After taking a quick shower and unpacking the few things I brought, I went to meet up with the team before dinner. I walked in and Jake from Zoot recognized me and came over to introduce himself. Not only does Jake respond to every email quickly, we had never met and he knew who I was. I then talked with him and a few of the pros on the team that had raced that morning for a while and Jake gave me a box with all my race gear for the year.

We then went and had a great dinner sitting outside and I ended up sitting next to Brian who had been on the team for a few years already. We had a great conversation and he was able to answer a few questions I had. Sam McGlone also decided to stop by and join us for a while.

We started the day with a easy run as a team. It was about 60 and the weather was prefect so Jake lead us over to the beach were we stopped to enjoy the view of the dolphins, surfers, and sun rising over the mountains behind us. After the run a few of use decided to go a little further and others went to swim. I ran further and Bryan and Clara agreed to run again with me on Monday.

Our schedule for the day was pretty much back to back presentations and then dinner. Brandt started off with talking us through the history of Zoot and shared some interesting stories. He then talked about all of the current Zoot clothing, compression gear and a little on wetsuits. Of course everything Brandt shared was very informative, but the coolest thing I learned was how to quickly and easily get a compression sock on.

The day continued with a number of other presentations including Brian from ALCiS, Sam McGlone, Sonia from Zipp, and Aaron from Zoot to talk through the entire line of Zoot shoes. I went to talk to Aaron afterwards and shared some of my feedback on the shoes I had been running in. Aaron offered for me to stop by the Zoot office tomorrow so we could talk some more and I could try on some other shoes.

We finished up the day doing individual and team photos and then heading to another great dinner.  I always hated picture day in school and it wasn't much better when I was wearing nothing but spandex, however Larry Rosa was a great photographer to work.

I was really glad that Bryan and Clara agreed to join me for at least some of my run on Monday as it was nice to have the motivation to get up and get out. Mark and his wife also decided to join us and we ran about 11 miles. We tried to run by the coast, but ended up a little inland and on a shoulder of the road most of the way. It was another perfect morning and great to get to know everyone a little better. Clara has a 1 year old so it was great to learn a ton about what Theresa and I have to look forward to from her.
The route we took was pretty flat and with some rolling hills, and after they went back to the hotel I decided to take advantage of the real hills. I turned east and ran straight up for 5 miles. I attempted to hold my threshold pace, but that didn't last long.  I did however average a pace faster than I'm planning on running in Boston. Then I turned around and the fun started, the 5 miles downhill was pretty much at my threshold pace, but was very easy, in fact I was slowing myself down most of the way. It was a great pre-Boston workout though as we don't have hills like that in Illinois.

I was worried the downhill at the end killed my legs so I figured with was the perfect chance to test my new Zoot Compression gear and ALCiS. After a quick shower, I rubbed on the ALCiS on and put the compression socks on.

After checking out I headed to the Zoot office and meet with Aaron and Dave. I showed the TT 2.0s I have been running in and shared some feedback. They then showed me what changed in the TT 3.0 that would resolve the minor issues I was having and they suggestion I try giving the 3.0s a go for Boston. We talked a little more about what I liked and their current line of shoes and then they shared a few prototypes that will be some great shoes.

On the way to the airport I had to stop and In-n-Out burger to refuel after my long run. It was good, but not as great as I remembered. My tastes really have changed over the last two years of watching what I eat.
My legs never got sore from the long run and downhill running. I assumed that this just meant I really thrashed them and was going to be in a world of pain tomorrow.

My recovery meal:

When I got up I could tell that I did a hard workout yesterday, but my legs really felt ok. I decided to go swim instead of doing my normal Tuesday morning bike interval workout. The swim felt great and my legs were still fine at lunch, so I jumped on my trainer and nailed 2 x 20' at FTP. Needless to say I was quickly sold on the compression socks and ALCiS. I'm even convinced enough I may wear them during a run for the first time.

Up Next: Boston
Well, that was my second long run for Boston and another great result with little to know soreness after. Those runs combined with a 2'30" PR at the March Madness half marathon are giving me a bunch of confidence for Boston! I'm going to do one more long run and then consider my Boston training complete. I'm pretty confident I could set a big PR, but I'm still worried because of how few miles I have in my legs right now. I think I am going to take a conservative approach and then see what happens in the last 6-8 miles.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Giving Back – Guess My Kona Time to Support CAF

Many of my friends and co-workers have raised money for charity through fundraising efforts. I have always helped out and donated to others, but I have never taken on fundraising myself. I thought about it many times, but I didn't want to do something just to do it and put it off until I came up with something that was important to me.

Over the last 6 years I have been inspired by Challenged Athletes and recently I met an individual that used to be an avid runner but after a car accident can no longer run. This made me really think about what it would be like if I could not participate in athletics and therefore I want to give back by helping raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Theresa and I had a great time watching people guess when Abigail was going to be born along with her gender, height and weight. I decided to do something similar while fundraising for CAF.

For every $10 you donate to my CAF fundraising effort, you can send me one guess at what you think my finishing time and overall place will be in the Ironman World Championship this October. The person with the closest guess to my actual time gets some money from me and the more I raise for CAF, the more I pay the winner.

For full details including why I want to support CAF and to play the game take a look at this page:

If you just want to donate quickly and get on with your day, check out: