Why not Wineglass?

I have spent the better part of the last 14-16 weeks getting ready for tomorrow’s Wineglass Marathon. It hasn’t been the greatest training cycle, and it hasn’t been the worst – and my expectations are appropriately in check. Honestly, at this point, I feel relieved of the burden I had a year ago when I was trying so hard (and succeeding) to PR at the Marine Corps Marathon.

That, of course, was one of my goals for this marathon, but several factors made me decide that I was not in good enough condition to try to best my Marine Corps time. Now, I will feel accomplished if I can beat my required BQ time (for 2016) of 3:25:00 by more than five minutes and guarantee myself a slot. If not, I just plan to enjoy a beautiful Southern Tier fall run and celebrate what has been a pretty special trip with my lovely bride as we come up on our 5th anniversary.

I wanted to run a fall marathon is a smaller venue. I love the big, crazy ones, but something a little more intimate and relaxed sounded much better. “Why not the Wineglass Marathon?” I asked myself. It has a bit of everything, and Corning is a great town. And the B&B at which we are staying cannot be beat! The view is amazing!

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When we leave here, we still have a bit more celebrating to do before we head home. No matter what happens, as I wind my way through the country roads from Bath to Corning, NY, this trip will have been a smashing success.

But I wouldn’t mind that sub-3:20:00 to go with it, too!

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Training update: Wineglass Marathon

This time it’s been a battle

I have certainly had much more productive training for the Wineglass Marathon than I did for the Boston Marathon this past April, if only because I had more time and better weather.  However, I have still been struggling to find the momentum that I had going into the Marine Corps Marathon last October.  “Struggling” is an understatement, actually.  This training cycle has been mostly frustrating and generally disappointing.

I’ve tap-danced around this thought before, but I am finally able to admit that my PR effort in Washington, DC did some damage.  I gave that everything I had, ran a 3:11:38, and I have not been quite right since then.  Aches, pains, and tightness are one thing – and there are certainly plenty.  However, ever since last fall, my legs have been slow in recovering from even low impact runs during the week. After a long run or hard interval training, they feel completely dead. Any subsequent run feels like a soul-sucking death march.

There are certainly some of my own actions (or inactions) that have contributed to the situation, but I cannot pin any one thing as “the cause.”  If it were that simple, I could just fix it.  For the sake of therapeutic disclosure, I confess to the following:

  • Inadequate sleep
  • Beer
  • Weak core muscles
  • Lack of crosstraining

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not a failure, nor do I think I am letting myself down.  My diet and nutrition, for the most part, have been much more consistent and well-balanced.  Even in the face of significant work and life challenges, I have been managing to get in my miles, except for some weeks like this past one. Sometimes, the mind is not willing and the body is more than happy to oblige.  Occasionally, I don’t have time to get in a scheduled run. Sometimes, I’ve just flat out felt like crap – and none of my “bad habits” explain why my legs have felt like oaken stumps for the last few months.

As I get nearer to October 5, the reality is that I am not yet in the right mental or physical shape to do to my body that which would need to be done to beat my current PR.  I have yo-yoed back and forth on that for a few weeks, but this weekend I finally took the time to asked myself “so what”?  When running begins to feel like employment and not recreation, then it is time to take a fresh look at just why I do this to myself.  It sure is not to beat myself up and feel like crap.  It started out as a means to improve myself, and maybe that part happened so fast, initially, that I lost the right perspective.

Just finishing any marathon is an achievement.  If I could get faster in every successive race, that would be great, and maybe I still can.  However, this time around, I am letting go of my initial goal to go sub-3:10 and PR.  Instead, I am going to make sure I finish (which is always a goal) and get another Boston-qualifying time so that I have a chance to go back in 2016. By then, I’ll have moved into a new age bracket, which makes my BQ time 3:25:00.  7:49/mile pace.  I was nearly able to do that on marginal training earlier this year in Boston.  I’ll shoot for sub-3:20:00 and see how it turns out.

When that is done, I am going to recover and shift my focus to recovering my whole body and getting things straightened out again.  I’ll tackle some of the vices and deficiencies, but I’ll also work on my largest obstacle, as well – the mass of gray matter between my ears.  It is probably due for a boot camp.

Wineglass Marathon

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Not everything is about running

I do not have any other blogs. I do not have any other places where I write down things that happen outside of my protected little world of running and racing that I obsess over and talk about to anyone who will listen…or read.  This, however, I wanted to write and share, even if no one else reads it – and this is as good a place as any to do it.

I have not had to deal with death much in my life, or at least not in my adult life. I guess that makes me lucky – or woefully unprepared. As far as family and friends, my grandparents all passed away when I was younger, and other close relatives and friends are still alive with a couple notable exceptions.  Those closest to me, though?  I’ve not had to face it much. When it comes to pets, I only had to directly face it once some time ago, but I just had to face it somewhat out of the blue in the last few days.

There has been only one living soul that was my constant companion for 17 years – my cat, Lucy.  I am a dog person.  I always was; I still am.  However, this cat wasn’t “just a cat,” and yesterday I had to say goodbye to her.  I wrote this about her yesterday, and felt much better having gotten it out and memorialized.


 

016For the last 17 years, I have had one continuous companion.  Lucy has been with me through thick and thin and has always been there for me, especially when I was on my own.  I subjected her to several moves, other dogs and cats, and different people but she always seemed to forgive me. The last 7 years have probably been the most content, and she ruled the roost. 

After 17 years, we had to say goodbye to Lucy – one of the coolest cats I have ever known.

She was born in July 2007 and came from a fairly sketchy pet store near my apartment in Cottonwood Heights southeast of Salt Lake City.  It was clear she was part of a litter that someone sold to the store.  Inside a large cage, all of her brothers and sisters were climbing around, most behaving like lunatics.  On the bottom, backed up in corner was a little puff of fur, and when I pulled her out she squeaked, burrowed into my shoulder and started purring.  She picked me and came home that day.  As it turned out, it was more of a rescue than a purchase, as she needed early trips to the vets for various ailments and surely wouldn’t have lasted very long in the dump she came from.

Baby Lucy Baby Lucy

Her name was short for “Lucifer.”  When she came into the house, there was another cat named Angel…a black cat from hell.  Naming her Lucifer was supposed to put the yin back with the yang, and it mostly worked.

Lucy is the only cat that could ever fit in with this self-proclaimed “dog person,” and I don’t think any cat could ever replace her.  She was a cool customer – a sweetheart almost all the time.  She was never much bigger than 7 or 8 pounds – the runt of the litter – but she held her ground like she thought she was an 18-pound Maine Coon Cat.

When she was younger, she could fly.  She would come from across the room at a full sprint and spring 6-7 feet in the air to grab a well-thrown toy mouse.  She was a fearless moth hunter, and her eyes would always focus to a laser-like point at the mention of the word “bug.”  She would chase a laser dot in circles until wobbly, and then come back for some more.

In fact, she definitely fancied herself a hunter. While she was never an outdoor cat, she went out on the deck or in the yard a couple of times.  Gnats and flies trembled in her presence.  Indoors, she craved the flesh – turkey, chicken, and especially ham.  Whenever a Christmas roast was being prepared, I always had to keep an eye on her for fear she’d try to take it down.  Occasionally, a bowl with bacon grease left in it to cool would have notable tongue grooves in it.  And nothing would stand in her way if she heard Reddi-Wip being applied to ice cream.  It was her greatest guilty pleasure.Christmas roast for me?007

She was 12 when Gabriella, Christy, and Cookie came into our lives.  She and Cookie figured it out pretty fast, most likely because they noticed they looked a lot alike.  They never fought but often went nose-to-nose just to say “hi.”  We are pretty sure that when we were out of the house, especially on vacations, they were both glad they had each other.

For 17 years, I could always count on Lucy greeting me when I came home.  She was almost always at the top of the stairs or on the ledge above that.  Sometimes, I would walk by with something on my mind or something in my hands – in which case she would present herself again until she got some pets.  I’ll miss that. Often, she would scare the crap out of me when I would wake up with her sleeping on my chest, staring at me and willing me to get up and feed her. I will miss that, too – in a way.  She had character and personality, and she was good at making me laugh. I’ll really miss that.

But mostly, I will just miss my pal.

Lucy
July 1997 – July 21, 2014

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Wineglass Marathon: Training in Progress

Not the best start, but plenty of time to go

Unlike the past, I have not been writing weekly training updates for my upcoming marathon. I don’t think they are necessarily exciting reads, and a lot of them end up sounding an awful lot alike. However, I don’t think I have written once about training for my fall marathon – the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY.

 

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Barring disaster, in 84 days I’ll be toeing the line in Bath, NY…okay, probably not “the line” but somewhere behind it. Over the last few weeks, I would describe my training as “inconsistent” but “not terrible.” My mileage is not yet where it needs to be and I know my days of reckoning are coming as soon as I begin the interval and speedwork phase of my training plan next week.

In particular, I am running heavy right now. Because of multiple time constraints during my busiest time of year, my training for Boston year was much less than I would normally do for a marathon yet my appetite for life, food, and beer didn’t change that much. Bottom line – I have been working to re-prioritize good nutrition and eating habits into my current training cycle. If I shed as much as 10 pounds in the process, I will be pretty close to my ideal racing weight.

All that said, I wasn’t at my ideal racing weight when I PR’d last fall at the Marine Corps Marathon. However, I was hurting for a while afterwards, and I had a longer recovery. I’m betting 5 less pounds would have helped out.

Last thought on this. I would be frustrated by it if I thought I was already doing everything I possibly could to bring me closer to my racing weight faster. I’m not. There are a lot more activities I could ideally be engaged in, other than running, to improve my overall fitness. Time and priorities (real or imagined) are often the barriers to that, as well as the difficulty I have in all aspects of my life of ever feeling like I am “in the groove.” It’s more like controlled chaos.

Categories: Training, Wineglass Marathon | Tags: , ,

The Training Wall

All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.”  – Pink Floyd

 

The WallWith half the year gone by and a great day in Boston in my rear view mirror, I am focused on the Wineglass Marathon on October 5 with the goal of setting a PR and breaking under 3:10.  In my mind, this may be one of my last opportunities to do it, knowing I was a little over a minute away from doing it at Marine Corps last October and knowing how wrecked I felt afterwards.  I don’t know if I have it in me to do that too many more times.

Or do I?

Everyone knows about “The Wall” when it comes to racing, especially the marathon.  Somewhere around the 20 mile mark, the muscles – depleted of glycogen – begin to consume themselves and other vital parts of the body.  (And if it happens too much before 20 miles, you’re pretty much screwed)  Proper fueling and training allow the body to overcome what the mind fears it cannot, and somehow you find yourself able to push through the last 6.2 miles.  It is has repeated itself in each marathon I have done, and I also find my memory of the last 4 miles or so to be hazy, at best, in each of them. It is consistent, whether I trained for a PR run or a more conservative run.

But that is racing. It is a single event, and it can be analyzed and critiqued much easier that way.  It has occurred to me more recently that there is a similar phenomenon with training, as well.  A training wall that stands between a great day and an epic struggle to survive – and the bricks in that wall are often ones we place there ourselves – or occasionally get placed there for us.

  • “I don’t feel like running this morning.”
  • “My ankle hurts.”
  • “Yes, I can have a second cocktail. I’ll just run it off in the morning.”
  • “Pizza has all the basic food groups.”
  • “I don’t like intervals. They are too hard.”

The bricks might look like self-destruction, too. Over training.  Overeating. Oversleeping. And they might not necessarily be one’s fault.  Overworked. Unexpected injury. Sickness. Life.

One at time, they are not necessarily large or even noticeable.  Cumulatively, though, they stack up one at a time until they build a wall that stands in the way of training to reach the goal or for any kind of measurable success.  The bigger it gets, the harder it is to overcome it – and that assumes the brain doesn’t completely take over and convince itself to give up or just keep adding bricks.

In the marathon, the wall is obvious and usually pretty sudden.  The brain starts to process what to do next, and I would be lying if I said pulling over and stopping didn’t enter in at least once.  I’ve managed to be able to outsmart my brain each time and push through the wall.  Like I said, I do not always have the clearest recollection of what happens after that, but I know from the pictures and my Garmin that I kept going and eventually crossed the finish line.  Mind over matter.

Conversely, training takes weeks.  If the wall shows up, it is a lot harder to tell the brain that “it will all be over soon” – because it won’t be – and that makes it even more difficult to tell when and if you’ve broken through it.  Unlike that relatively brief period of time during a marathon where one’s brain can be muted long enough to finish the race, the voices inside one’s head talk frequently during training and often compete with all the other things trying to occupy space inside one’s head.  Bricks stack pretty fast this way.  In my experience, only the sweet relief of the training taper’s reduction in weekly mileage provides any kind of sense that I’ve broken through the training wall. Even then, I am never really sure until a few miles into the race itself when the 7:15 or so pace that seemed unattainable for only a few miles a few short weeks before the race now comes without pain or labor.

I don’t know if there are any morals in the comparison of “the wall” in a marathon versus a training wall.  Other than the knowledge that they exist and are likely not avoidable, it seems one moral might be that one of the most important parts of training is the mental side of it – how to deal with adversity, whether it be sudden or it comes on over time. I know…shocker, right?  It seems so obvious, yet I’m often so oblivious to it.  It is not a matter of will, it is a matter of strength.  Physical strength is visible and measurable. You know when you have it and when you don’t.  Mental strength? It is a completely different animal.  You may think you have it, and then when you find out you don’t, it can be devastating.

For me, I’m sure I’ll continue to practice the art of wall masonry.  We all do it, even if we don’t want to.  However, perhaps keeping a perspective on where my mental strength is and computing that into my plans and expectations might yield more satisfaction – especially when it comes to training.

Brick-wall-exploding

 

Categories: Training, Wineglass Marathon | Tags: , ,

Boston. Stronger.

Getting there
Like 2011, I flew out of Denver on a Friday night/Saturday morning redeye and landed in Boston around 5:00 AM Saturday morning. I took the “T” into downtown Boston and dropped my bags off at my hotel until I was able to come back later in the day to check in and take a nap.

But for one “tradition” – my Saturday night dinner location and meal – that’s about where the similarities to 2011 ended.

The Hotel Buckminster is neither fancy, nor particularly notable, but its location was ideal. Just across the freeway from Fenway Park, it also lies along the Boston Marathon route at Kenmore Square where Beacon Street turns onto Commonwealth Avenue. With my bags securely stowed, I wandered out into the crisp Boston morning, down Commonwealth Avenue, and toward the finish line. Only a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts could pull me off the marathon route, which it did not too far from Boylston Street.

Fully fueled, I made a beeline to two places I had wanted to visit for almost a year. Stop #1 was outside The Forum, where the second bomb went off last year. In 2011, I spent my Saturday morning at the Starbucks right next door. Being there again made me sad, angry, and resilient…all at the same time. From there, it was a few hundred feet farther down to the finish line – a scene of first triumph, then tragedy last year. In the days and weeks that followed, it became a scene of healing, but Boston needed Monday, April 21, 2014 to declare victory over the evil that occurred there in 2013. That chapter had yet to be written.

For the remainder of the day, I soaked in Boston in a way I had been looking forward to doing for weeks. I walked to Boston Common and watched the Boston Athletic Association 5k. Nearly 10,000 runners entered, and I got to the finish area in time to see the men in dead heat, with the winner crossing the line in 13:26 (or about 4:17/mile pace!). The crowd was going wild. The women weren’t too far behind, and an event record was set by an American woman.

After getting my bib at the expo and spending some time there, the crowd finally got to be too much for me. On my way out, I went and saw my “pal” Bart Yasso in the Runner’s World lecture hall in time to see Bart moderate a panel of past Boston Marathon winners. Great tips and great stories. I returned to my hotel, checked in, and finally got the nap I needed.

From there, I went out the door and downtown to The Black Rose – my Saturday tradition. There was hockey on the TV, Sam Adams in my glass, and a lobster roll on my plate. The only thing that was missing was my family.

I don’t know how often Easter Sunday has come before the marathon, but I’m sure it has happened in the past. I wanted to do something unique with my Easter so I headed to the Old North Church in the North End, where Paul Revere started his famous ride, and attended Easter services. It happens to be an Episcopal church, which gave me the best chance possible of not being struck down by lightning as soon as I walked through the very old doors. I’m not going to go off on a religious tangent here, but the service resonated with me – the sermon in particular. If you ask me, I’ll be happy to tell you more, but let’s just say it fit well with a lot of my reason to be there.

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The remainder of the day was light sightseeing in the North End, stopping in near the Boston Garden for the pre-Bruins game festivities, going to get the food I would need Monday morning, and making my way back to the hotel to rest up. Dinner was at the Bertucci’s across the street from my hotel. Pasta, red sauce, dinner rolls…and Sam Adams. Why not? He was a brewer and a patriot.

Patriots Day
To say Patriots Day/Marathon Day in Boston is a big deal does it no justice. I can’t compare it to anything that I have experienced locally, but it is similar to the way most of us revere Independence Day and the festivities that go with it. To Boston, and all of Massachusetts, it is that and more. 117 Boston Marathons, countless home Red Sox games, and a state holiday replete with much of what you find on a typical 4th of July Day.

To attack that and try to take it away from Bostonians? Are you kidding me? Those people were hurt and they were pissed. And that is not a town where you want too tick people off if you can avoid it. Not too long after last year’s bombings, especially after seeing the beginnings of their healing, I knew I wanted to be a part of April 21, 2014 and the 118th Boston Marathon.

I wanted to help them get their day back. I wanted to be there when it happened.

The Marathon
For me, the race itself was notable perhaps only in the sense that I ran the race for which I trained. I was nowhere close to being able to try to make the same effort I made in Chicago in October 2012 or Washington, DC in October 2013. Those two races got me to Boston, but the race in Boston was always meant to be run a bit slower and within my training. I wanted to come in under 3:30:00, if possible, and I finished in 3:26:34.

Getting to the start in Hopkinton was a snap, and I timed all of my pre-race activities perfectly. I wandered into my start corral 10 minutes before the start, and my only concern was that it was already warming up more than had been predicted. It occurred to me that might be an issue later on, once the sun was up even higher.

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After the gun went off at 10:00, my corral – the last corral in Wave 1 – finally crossed the start line around 10:05. I tried to hold my pace back through the first four downhill miles, like I preached to everyone else, but I found it particularly hard. I’d meant to keep a pace over 8:00/mile, but I was well under it. I finally settled down around Mile 5 and got into a good pace.

The most notable change from 2011 was the number of people along the course the entire way. It was easily double what it was three years ago, with people along the course in the early miles (out in the country) where there are usually only a few. And they were loud! Through Ashland, Natick, and Framingham they were 5-15 deep in the town centers and many places along the way. I think I high-fived half of the spectators, and I was applauding them for cheering so loud at many points. They were awesome!

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The crowd also responded to my Wounded Warrior Project tank top I was wearing. It seemed fitting for the day, and I am glad people seemed to think so, too. I didn’t kiss any coeds in Wellesley, but I did blow a lot of kisses and high-fived most of the young ladies enrolled there. They were loud, as always, but they had a lot of competition on the course that day.

Wellesley College is right at the halfway point of the marathon – 13.1 miles – and I knew then I was not going to coast the rest of the way. Ahead of me was the steep downhill before Mile 16, a moderate uphill, then the Newton Hills that culminate before Mile 21 with Heartbreak Hill. The temperature was easily in the 60’s by this point and I was warm, having done all my training in the snow and cold over the winter, for the most part. I had been dumping water on my head at every aid station starting around Mile 8, which helped. Most notable was that my quads were “talking to me” on the downhills, and I knew that meant the long downhill after Mile 21 was going to test me.

As it turns out, I was right. My pace going up the hills was actually faster than it was on any of the downhill stretches. When I crested Heartbreak Hill and started downhill, I knew that it was going to take maximum effort to maintain the pace I had established and finish under 3:30:00.

But there were those crowds again. Non-stop noise. People yelling and urging us on. Runners picking up and encouraging other runners. People in the crowd singling me out and telling me I looked great…keep it up….almost there. I was almost there…but not quite. We soldiered on. No quitting now. Only a 10k to go. Then only a 5k.

I made the slight right onto Commonwealth right in front of my hotel, and it got even louder. Less than 2000 meters now and only two turns left in the course. It was at this point that I started to think about last April 15 and all the people that were doing the exact same thing last year, only to have it taken away. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore, or much of anything else for that matter, but I also found new energy that hadn’t been there for the last 5 miles.

1000 meters to go. Right on Hereford. Left on Boylston. And those wonderful crowds and a tunnel of sound from that point to the finish line visible in the distance, a mere 685 yards away. I hadn’t really thought about the run down Boylston. However, at that moment, I wanted the finish line for me, for them, and for everyone else – runner or not – that wanted Boston to have its day back.

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From the first wheelchair to the last runner that started the race and for those that crossed the finish line, we helped get the day back. But the real story is that on a perfect, warm Boston day, Boston took back their day, their marathon, and their traditions.

Boston is stronger because of it. So am I.

I love that town – except for the Patriots.

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Categories: Boston Marathon, Other stuff | Tags: , , , ,

Ready to go

The next time I see this sight, I’ll be running to it tomorrow morning.

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I’ve had a great weekend in Boston leading up to the marathon tomorrow. I arrived on the JetBlue redeye from Denver early Saturday morning and spent my day around Back Bay before I checked in and crashed for a few hours. I visited the areas on Boylston Street where last year’s horrible events took place and paid my respects and watched the finish of the Boston Athletic Association 5k. 13:26 was the men’s winning time! I also got myself to the expo in time beat the huge crush of people that came later, then I had lunch at a fun sports pub just down the street from the finish line.

Saturday night, I went downtown to The Black Rose, like I did in 2011, and had exactly the same thing. Lobster roll, sweet potato fries, and a Sam Adam lager…okay, two. I was pretty beat and came back and crashed.

This morning, I let myself sleep in and then ate breakfast downstairs at the restaurant in the hotel. I am not a regular at church and probably couldn’t even be described as “occasional,” but I wanted to go do something for Easter Sunday. I headed to the Old North Church, where Paul Revere started his famous ride, and attended the services. I’m really glad I did. I’ve spent the remainder of the afternoon getting my supplies for tomorrow and kicking back to watch some hockey on TV. The Red Sox play tonight, but I’m headed to the pre-race dinner and then back for some shuteye.

I will have a lot to say about the whole experience afterward, but for now let me just quote Amby Burfoot, who I listened to at the expo. “This year it is not a race. It is a celebration.”

Hallelujah!

Categories: Boston Marathon | Tags: , , ,

Taper time

Next up – the 118th Boston Marathon

BAA LogoFor my 100th blog post (I don’t write all that often), I get to talk about the last 9 days leading up to the Boston Marathon. Taper time has been an interesting time for me in my 7 marathons, especially for races for which I trained hard and racked up a lot of miles.  I don’t know if I get true “taper madness” like some people describe that they experience, but historically I have felt the change.  I become a bit edgy and intense…ok, edgi-ER and MORE intense, than normal.  My sleep patterns are affected.  I actually have less of an appetite and not more, which I think is unusual.  I also have had the occasional phantom pain.

With this particular marathon, I have been pretty clear that I am not training as intensely as I did for last fall’s Marine Corps Marathon.  I don’t think I ever really admitted it publicly, but that last one hurt and it took me some time to heal up – if I ever really did.  A bit of that is due to training that could have gone a bit better, but most of it is because I went all out to try to break 3:10:00.  I came close and PR’d, but it took a toll.  More importantly, similar to Marine Corps – for which I raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project – I don’t want my run on April 21 to be about me.  Given the events of last year’s Boston Marathon, I am running to celebrate the recovery and the spirit of community in Boston and among runners.  Being able to share the experience with Bostonians will be humbling and inspiring!

I’m not even sure what my finish time might be.  I am guessing somewhere around 3:30:00, but who knows?  If I linger among the girls of Wellesley College and smooch a couple cheeks (if Mrs. Bommer says it is okay!),  that might add a minute or two.  I know the course and what I’ll see, but I want to take time to appreciate it more than I was able to do in 2011.

Luckily, my training this time around fits that goal. I’ve run fewer weekly miles in the last five months than I normally would, and I did much less tempo and speedwork.  Total mileage is obviously a factor in success or failure in any marathon, but it is the deep commitment to tempo runs and speedwork that give someone a chance at a PR.  With my work schedule and the difficulty of training for a spring marathon, in addition to giving my body a chance to heal, this all set up well for me. In a later blog, I can talk about my plan for the summer, including dropping some weight and gearing up for the Wineglass Marathon in October and watching Hollie zoom by me – even though she is under some delusion that she’ll be able to slow down enough to run side-by-side with me!

Thanks to my paying job, I can only be gone to Boston for a very short period of time. Thanks to JetBlue, I can fly out of Denver on a midnight redeye and will land in Boston around 5:30 AM on Saturday the 19th. I won’t be too active on Saturday and Sunday, but I do plan to go out Monday after the marathon and have some fun.  That was something I didn’t do for very long after the 2011 Boston Marathon, and it was the only part of the trip I regretted not doing more.  Fortunately, some of my teammates from Runner’s Edge of the Rockies will also be there, since it is too short of a trip to try drag the family along.  I can’t get too crazy, though.  My flight back to Denver leaves at 7:00 AM on Tuesday morning, and I’ll be back in the state capitol working before noon.

In the event anyone wants to track my progress on April 21, I will be proudly wearing bib #8546. My Facebook friends will see a lot of updates from my trip, I’m sure, but I’ll also try to be better about using my Twitter account. Regardless, I’ll definitely be back with my 101st blog entry to talk about the entire experience.  I’m sure it is going to be memorable!

Boston StrongFinally, if you have never made a donation to The One Fund, please consider it.  While I am not running for the charity or officially raising  money for it, I could not be more supportive of the fund and how they are choosing to allocate the money. All of the support the fund has received has sped the healing process by those affected by last year’s terrible events and prove that Americans are at our best when we are helping out others.

BOSTON STRONG!

 

 

Boston Strong

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cold runs, cold dam runs, windy runs, icy runs, and muddy runs

Otherwise known as, springtime running in the Rockies

Looking back at 2011, I have little to no idea how I trained for Boston in the cold and dark of the mornings all by myself (before I joined my running group) without going insane.  I think a lot about what my focus was like back then, training for my 4th marathon in 14 months …and my 4th marathon ever.  I think that may have been the most focused and committed I have ever been.

My plan for 2014  is a bit different from 2011, and I am running Boston in just over a month more as a training run than anything.  It’s a good thing, too.  Between work and the weather, couple with some nagging aches and pains, I can’t even imaging training hard enough to hammer it on Patriots Day in Boston.  Rather, I plan to enjoy the run and enjoy the crowds.  (Don’t tell Mrs. B, but I might even let one of the Wellesley girls smooch me on the cheek!  Most of all, it will be a great time to remember that it is just a run, after all, and that those that were hurt and killed last year need to be remembered over all else.

The weather has been most interesting his spring.  A couple of weeks ago, I incorporated a half marathon into my training plan as recommended by my coach.  It was That Dam Half, which runs along the 3 miles of Cherry Creek Dam and then down the other side to the turnaround.  Then, it is back up and across the dam. It was a perfect time for a training run – except for the fact that it was about 5 degrees when I woke up that morning.  By the time the race started, the temp had nearly doubled to 10 degrees.  While frosty, it wasn’t horrible.  Plus, it allowed the world to see me in tights, which almost never happens.

I can't believe nothing froze up and fell off.

I can’t believe nothing froze up and fell off.

The weekend before last, I was looking forward to being able to “sleep in” a little because the group run was starting less than a mile from my house.  Usually, I have to drive for up to 30 minutes for early morning training runs on Saturdays.  As it turned out, I was still woken up at 5:30 by my coach who was on his bike behind my house, trying to mark the trail and not fall off his bike from the wet snowstorm the night before that left the trail (even the dirt parts) covered in an icy film.  He had already biffed it twice.

We delayed the start of the run until after 8:00 to give time for the sun to melt some of the ice.  By the time we took off at 8:20 A.M., the first mile was only “treacherous,” as opposed to “deadly.”  Then the sun started to melt everything very quickly.  I was running 20 miles that day so by the time I turned around at 10 miles and started back toward home, most of the dirt trail was a mud bog.  And I’ve got the legs to prove it!!

Mud Run

The photo doesn’t even do it justice.

Finally, this last weekend was a bit shorter, as it was a step-back week.  However, it still presented itself with a  huge headwind and uphill…both ways.  We fought it off any finished, but it wasn’t anywhere near where I would have been (or wanted to be) in a race for which  I had given my heart and soul.

With just over a month to go until Boston, the weather should start to get better here and stay pretty nice most of the time.  I basically have 3 more regular weeks and then a 3-week taper.  I plan to finish under 3:30:00, enjoy the day, and start off the summer injury-free and with a great base already established.

Until then, Mother Nature can keep her shenanigans to herself!

Boston Strong

Categories: BolderBoulder, Boston Marathon | Tags: , , ,

8 Weeks to Boston & 2014 Training

Boston Wins

As the Boston Marathon gets closer, I am thinking about what an emotional and proud day it will be.  Having run Boston in 2011, I felt like the cowardly acts undertaken that day took something out of me, too.  Everyone – runner or not – had to feel some sort of loss, but I think runners, especially those that have competed in Boston, were hit even harder. Innocent people.  Runners, family, fans, and volunteers were attacked for participating in something they love, something with history, something that was supposed to be triumphant.

Here is the thing, though.  It was triumphant.  From the moment after the bombs went off and every moment since, there have been stories of those that were injured and those left with deep emotional scars taking on and succeeding the challenges before them.  Sorry, terrorist scumbags – that is exactly what the spirit of the marathon is all about.  People don’t give up, even when they might have every reason to do so.  Boston wins.

I knew the moment I saw what happened last year that I wanted to be there this year to be part of the healing process.  Donating to the One Fund was a start, but I wanted to go in person to run the course and to give something back right where evil people tried to steal it.  I am not running to PR this one.  I want to celebrate it with as many people along the way as I can, no matter what my finish time might end up being.

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The One Fund – Boston 2013. http://www.onefundboston.org

Faster, Farther? Someday, It Won’t Be Either!

After that?  Then what?  I can say with absolute clarity that my body, mostly my legs, was pretty well wrecked after the Marine Corps Marathon.  As I noted in my race recap, I was 100% spent at the end of that race and felt pretty bad for about 30 minutes afterwards.  There was nothing left in the tank, and I was terribly nauseous and dizzy until I got a little food, recovery drink, and Michelob Ultra :) into my system.  In retrospect, I know I need to continue to improve my race nutrition, and I am just flat-out running too heavy.  Both of those things can be addressed.

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This October, I will be running the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York. (It’s okay to talk about it. It’s only 222 days away!)  Should I stay injury-free and have good summer training, I intend to “go for it” at this one.  The course profile is ideal, and training in the summer and fall is easier than winter and spring.  I am resolved to improve my nutrition, my overall training, and to drop to a more ideal race weight again.  My love of the beers of the world will have to be kept in check, but that is simply a state of mind.

The longer term question to address is whether or not to try to keep running marathons and getting faster?  Although the pain was temporary, I’m not sure I want to feel like I did at the end of the Marine Corps Marathon.  I know there are things I can do to be better prepared for this fall, but how much more time can I actually shave off?  I’m not prepared to answer that now,  but more likely I am relegated to continue asking myself that for a few years to come.  Someday, the answer will be found in the results.  I will know my fastest marathon time sometime after I’ve run it, and there is at least a chance I did it last fall.

There are many other distance races that marathons.  Longer?  I really don’t see myself running any ultras.  I sure don’t plan on signing up for anything soon.  Triathlons?  I am missing two critical elements necessary to do a triathlon.  I don’t own a bike, and I am not what one would refer to as a “strong swimmer.”  Unless it is acceptable to show up at the edge of the water wearing water wings, I don’t envision any triathlons or duathlons in my future.

What about shorter races?  This may be the part of the answer for two different reasons.  The best reason is that running shorter races will make me a better marathoner.  A huge part of my training plan involves speedwork and tempo runs, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are critical to a successful distance run at accelerated paces.  The other reason is that shorter races clearly do not create the same wear and tear on the body, and there are a lot more of these races scheduled throughout the year closer to home.  Over the longer term – even if I continue to run marathons – I’ll probably run a lot more of the shorter distances and should learn to embrace them more.

In that light, I am signed up for a half marathon this coming Sunday to compliment my spotty Boston training, and I think I will sign up for the Bolder Boulder 10k, which is on Memorial Day.  It has been a couple years since I’ve run it, and I have always had a special connection to it, since it was the first race in Colorado that I ran after I started running in 2007.  After that, I’ll be entering into summer training, and will have to incorporate shorter distance races into my marathon training plan where appropriate.

Categories: Boston Marathon, Training | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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