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.

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