Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dead Legs

It's been 10 days since the Boston Marathon and I've managed to get out the door 6 times. That doesn't look to bad when I type it but I must say that it has been a struggle. My legs are just plan tired.

Each time I go out I'm doing 9+ miles but I just don't have any bounce in my step. When I run with friends they tend to drop me within 2 miles and I'm never able to recover. In fact I get to such a low point in my running speed that I may be running 10+ minute miles. And that's on the roads.

I'm guessing that I need to give my body a rest and do a ton of stretching exercises. So I'm off to Miami this Saturday for a week long seminar at the Doral Resort & Spa. I've scoped out the area and I think the high point in the area may be 10 feet above sea level. So doing hill work is out of the question. So I will rest the best I can and some how get ready for my next race.

Next up, Saturday, May 9, Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton Bay, NH. I've done this race every year they've had it. This race used to be put on by endorfun but Keith Jordan has decided to focus more on directing Tri's. LOCO is now in charge of this race. I believe the format and everything else is the same.

Hopefully my legs will be back to their bouncy form once again so I can glide across the scenic roads (NH code words for hills).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Boston Marathon

Question: How many people does it take to train someone for a marathon?
Answer: A whole village
That’s right it took a whole lot of people to help me get this one done. First off there were my training partners: David Katz, Peter Floss, and Mike O’Connor. These three guys were unbelievable in their dedication to putting in the miles through every kind of weather. On every single run they kick my back side and wouldn’t let me give in. Then there were cameo appearances from Tom Skahen on Tuesdays and Norman Kim on Thursdays both of whom would hammer our group twice a week. In addition there was the whole ROAG nation from Westford and surrounding towns (Roudenbush Outdoor Athletic Group). The moral support they provided us on a daily basis gave me the extra little push I needed to keep up with the training. In addition there were 3 groups of ROAGites out on the course that provided us with our nutrition. One group at mile 6 another at mile 16, and the last at mile 20. It’s always good to see friendly faces along the way.
Then there was the support of the Greater Lowell Road Runners. On four consecutive weekends the volunteers drove us down to the course and followed us to give us water every 3 miles. Thanks Glenn Stewart for organizing these runs and thanks to the volunteers for helping out. In addition the GLRR bus to the marathon makes the job of getting to the race and cleaning up after a “no hassle event”.
Then there was the help of my secret weapon, P90X. This training program is not really geared toward marathoning but is geared toward overall fitness. I can’t begin to describe the power this program gave me during the race. I STRONGLY recommend this program for anyone who is looking to PR in a marathon or any other athletic event. It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done but it is well worth it.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my wife Christine who has stood by me for so many years of running and over the last 4 months has endured my mood swings, complaining about sore muscles, provided me my nutritional needs, and was the strength behind my running.
The race weekend: I was lucky because I was able to pick up my number on Friday night. When they opened the doors to the number pick up there had to be over 1000 people already in line. With in 10 minutes I had my number, they got this down to a science. I then went into the expo and managed to not spend a dime. At the Adidas booth the line to pay for items had to be over an hour long. Adidas should take some lessons from the BAA on how to handle traffic. They could have easily doubled their sales.
On Saturday morning I once again headed into the expo, this time to work. Usually I hand out numbers but last year I jumped over to handing out shirts and had more fun so I figured I do the same thing this year. Sure enough I was selected to hand out the shirts. I was stationed in the men’s medium area but the position I was in I only handed out 2 shirts over the course of 3 hours. I was bored, but then again I had some entertainment.
Next to me was a 78 year old lady who was a ball of fire. She reminds me of my Meme’ who is still going strong at 92. This lady decided that if she wasn’t going to hand out many shirts she was going to shake every woman’s hand she could and congratulate them for running the race. She called over 100’s of women and shook their hand and made everyone of them feel special. She was worried that the BAA wouldn’t like what she was doing but I assured her that they would love it. The funny thing was when I was first teamed up with her I was worried that she would need breaks and there was no chair around. I managed to secure a chair and set it up for her. But she never used it once. I hope to have her energy when I’m 78.
While working the shirt hand out I managed to strike up a conversation with Mark Plaatjes who was the world champion back in the 80’s. I first met Mark a couple of years ago in Boulder, CO at his shoe store. It was 3 days after Boston and I was out in Boulder on business and decided to go into this running store. As I was paying for my stuff, I recognized this guy but just couldn’t place him. I asked him if he did Boston and he responded “yes”. I asked him his time and he said around 3:20. Of course I blurted out that “I guess I beat you” or something like that. He was modest and didn’t say anything more. As I was walking out of the store I noticed a picture of him with a time of 2:08, that’s when I realized who he was. I went back and shook his hand and congratulated him on all his efforts over the years. Anyway Mark was out at Boston to pace one of his runners through a 3:20. I just checked the results and Mark finished in a 3:29. I guess I beat him AGAIN!!!
Once again I left the expo without spending a dime. I’m getting good at this. On Sunday I just relaxed. Later on in the afternoon David Katz and I went into Boston to leave a car off so after we were finished we could head home and not have to hang around for the last GLRR runner to finish. We made quick work of this and managed to complete the task in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Sunday night I was on my own and cooked up some brown rice and steak tips. That was the first pieces of steak I had in a long time. Boy was it good!! I managed to get myself off to bed by 9. However I was wide awake at 1 and finally fell back to sleep at 4. OUCH.
At 5 I was up and getting ready. I already had everything packed and just needed to clean up and go. I stopped at the little store down the street and bought 2 morning news papers for the ride and then picked up 4 bagels.
Next it was off to David’s house. David thought he would be funny and came bounding out of the house in a shower cap, just like he did 2 years ago during the rainy race. David and I were off to Cawley stadium in Lowell to get on the GLRR bus. When we arrived we unloaded my car of all the drinks for the team. Everything went like clock work.
We arrived in Hopkinton by 8 AM with only one glitch on the highway. For some reason the state police had closed a lane of traffic at the first Hopkinton exit, which backed up traffic a bit. Anyway we made it to Hopkinton with plenty of time to spare.
Once in Hopkinton I went out on the grass and stretched out for 45 minutes. While stretching I gobbled down 2 bagels and 2 bananas and washed it down with water and coke. For desert, 600mg of IBP. Now that’s the breakfast of champions!
At 9 AM it was time to head over to the chutes. I decided that it was warm enough to go with just a singlet and shorts, light Run The Rivah gloves, a Timberman tech hat and sun glasses. To top it all off I put on a drum liner trash bag to stay warm before the race. I was the first person to arrive in corral #5. I sat down in the front and waited. Soon they were playing the national anthem and the jets flew over our heads. Those jets are AWSOME. I guess they are able to get to Boston within 4 minutes of their fly over. WOW!
Within a few minutes the gun was fired. It took me over 2 minutes to reach the starting line due to my coral position. Not to worry, we’re using chip time so your time is based on when you cross the starting line.
Race goals:
1. Finish at all cost. I didn’t care what it would take I was going to finish.
2. Break 3:10. Last year I ran a 3:10:38 and wanted to be faster
3. Beat David Katz. David was in top shape and this goal would be tough.
4. Be the first Westford resident to finish. Now I’m really shooting for stretch goals.
5. And the real long shot, break 3 hours. I haven’t been able to do this since 1996 when I was 37 years old. Now I’m 13 years older and not much smarter.
How was I going to accomplish all this? I was going to go out so it felt that I was jogging for the first 16 miles, work the hills and hopefully have something left for the last 5 miles. I also wanted to make sure I was running sub 6:52’s to break 3 hours so I set my goal to run 21 minutes per 5K. Below are my splits.

Mile Splits Total time Pace / Mile
1 07:17.0 0:07:17 07:17.0
2 06:42.0 0:13:59 06:59.5
3 06:42.0 0:20:41 06:53.7
4 06:36.0 0:27:17 06:49.3
5 06:45.0 0:34:02 06:48.4
6 06:43.0 0:40:45 06:47.5
7 06:43.0 0:47:28 06:46.9
8 06:47.0 0:54:15 06:46.9
9 06:47.0 1:01:02 06:46.9
10 06:47.0 1:07:49 06:46.9
11 06:46.0 1:14:35 06:46.8
12 06:42.0 1:21:17 06:46.4
13 06:48.0 1:28:05 06:46.5
13.1 00:42.0 1:28:47 06:46.6
14 06:02.0 1:34:49 06:46.4
15 06:56.0 1:41:45 06:47.0
16 06:47.0 1:48:32 06:47.0
17 07:04.0 1:55:36 06:48.0
18 07:06.0 2:02:42 06:49.0
19 06:59.0 2:09:41 06:49.5
20 07:15.0 2:16:56 06:50.8
21 07:33.0 2:24:29 06:52.8
22 06:41.0 2:31:10 06:52.3
23 06:59.0 2:38:09 06:52.6
24 06:56.0 2:45:05 06:52.7
25 07:11.0 2:52:16 06:53.4
26 07:12.0 2:59:28 06:54.2
26.2 01:40.0 3:01:08 06:54.8
Mile 1 - 16 average 06:47.0 Right where I wanted to be
Mile 17 - 21 average 07:11.4 Faster then I've Ever run this part of the course
Mile 22 - 26.2 average 07:02.9 Not quite fast enough but still a major success

5K splits:

5K 21:24 Slow due the clog up at the start
10K 20:46 Good recovery
15K 21:01 Right where I want to be
20K 21:03 Right on again
25K 21:14 Slowing just a bit but still OK
30K 21:43 The hills are slowing me down
35K 22:10 Heart Break hill hurt
40K 21:47 Picking it up off the back side of Heart Break

Mile by Mile commentary:
Mile 1 was tough. There was a ton of traffic and I couldn’t get into a good rhythm. OMG, 7:17!! Don’t panic, I’ve got a long way to go.
Mile 2. Right on
Mile 3, Right on
Mile 4. To fast, slow down big fella
Mile 5. Right on
Mile 6 Right on
Mile 7 Right on
Mile 8 Right on
Mile 9 Right on
Mile 10. Right on
Mile 11 Right on At this point I passed Jill Trotter in front of Graham's Garage. She was looking strong.
Mile 12 Right on
Mile 13, Slowed up a little but I’m OK
Mile 13.1 Half way. I’m 4 seconds faster today then I was at the half marathon 2 weeks ago. YES!!
Mile 14 Right on
Mile 15 Starting to slip. Pull it back together
Mile 16 Right on. Last year I was at 1:51:11 so I’m in very good shape.
Mile 17 Over the 128 Bridge and I saw the ROAG boys. Thanks guys for the lift
Mile 18 NO! don’t tell me the wheels are coming off the bus
Mile 19 That’s a little better but I need to go faster to break 3 hours.
Mile 20 There goes one wheel.
Mile 21 There goes my second wheel. I then checked my watch and did some quick math. I had 35 minutes and 31 seconds to break 3 hours. Could I pull it back together was the question? I felt strong and figured I’d give it my best shot. I needed to average 6:49’s the last 5 miles. WTF..GO FOR IT!!!
Mile 22 YES!! I’m a finely tuned racing machine.
Mile 23 NO!!! Pull it back together. I can see the Citgo sign in Kenmore square. Here is also where I realized that I had not walked once and I wasn’t going to.
Mile 24 A little better but I’m loosing ground.
Mile 25 I’m done, I’ve lost to much time.
1 Mile to go marker. I checked my watch and I calculated that I needed to run a 6:10 in the last mile to break 3 hours. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!! Time to enjoy the ride home to the finish. Turn onto Boylston street. The crowds were nuts. I was enjoying myself and was throwing my arms up in the air to get more out of the crowd. I was having some fun.
At the finish I didn’t stop. I kept right on running and got my blanket and medal and made my way over to the hotel. I was second to arrive after Eric Beauchesne. I took a quick shower then got a massage. Right when I was finishing up the massage David Katz walked into the room and I utter the 5 words he loves to hear from me “What took you so long”!!! David had a phenomenal race. He ran a PR by 14 minutes and clocked in at 3:05, WOW. David then visited the medical tent. He does this every year for some reason only known to him. My guess is he’s trying to scoop some of the hot nurses. Pete finished up with a 3:21, and should be very proud. Pete is a BIG guy and to be able to move that mass that fast is incredible. All of use qualified for next years race!!

Last night I was able to watch the race. That was some effort by both Americans. I was even lucky enough to see me on the screen for 10 seconds coming down Boylston street. My form was poor at best.

How did I do against my goals?

1. Finish at all cost. Done

2. Break 3:10. Done

3. Beat David Katz. DONE!!!

4. Be the first Westford resident to finish. Done

5. And the real long shot, break 3 hours. Wait till next year!!!

More numbers

1. This was my fastest marathon since 1996.
2. This was my 8th fastest Boston marathon.
3. I finished 1450th out of 26,385 who signed up.
4. I was the 1374th male to finish the race.
5. I was beaten by 76 females.
6. I was 55th out of 1838 in the 50 – 54 age category
7. I was 6th out of 143 MA residents in the 50 – 54 age category
8. 1 was 11th New England resident in the 50 – 54 age category

Time to rest. Big Lake Half marathon in 3 weeks

Monday, April 20, 2009

I ran my first marathon today!!

That's right, I've run 35+ marathons and never once was able to run the entire race with out stopping to walk. Today I never walked!! This was not my fastest marathon but it was one of my most satisfying. I can attribute it to one thing....P90X. If you've never heard of this, look it up.

I will provide more of an update tomorrow. Right now, I focused on 1 thing....ICE CREAM!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Don't Do Anything STUPID!!!!!

A couple days ago I decided that I needed a test of my fitness to give myself some confidence for Boston. My plan was to run the Great Bay Half Marathon as a tempo run. So during the week I ran easier then normal and got my self ready for the race.

The Gym before the race.

On Saturday I took the day off from running but that didn't get me out of the honey-do list. So I busted my back side around the yard most of the day. One thing that I aways wait until after the marathon to do is cut the lawn. But Saturday I had it in my head that I was going to get it done. I went to start my very large landscapers mower with a pull starter and after about 10 pulls, my left lower back was screaming at me. So much for cutting the lawn. Now the question was would I be able to run? As the day turned into night I was hobbling around and thought that my race was done. I was then hoping that if I could get some good rest over night things would get better.

This morning I got up and nothing had changed. As I bent over to put my shorts on the pain in my back shot to my brain. OUCH!!! I was having serious doubts about the race. So it was time for the breakfast of champions...600mg of IBP. Hopefully this would help. I arrived at the race 2 hours early to make sure I had plenty of time to loosen up. In the gym I ran into Steve Wolfe who wasn't sure how he was going to do today. He seemed burnt out from last weekends Eastern States 20 miler. In addition I ran into a very old friend from Chelmsford High School, Dennis Ducharme who was a couple years behind me but was a very good runner, better then me of course. After spending the majority of time stretching out in the gym it was time to head to the starting line. My back was not happy, as I jogged to the starting line it hurt with every step. Was this a good idea? Remember don't do anything STUPID!!. Soon it was GO TIME! The command was given and we were off.

Steve Wolfe Getting ready

I decided to take it as easy as possible during the first mile, then pick it up and see how things were going. To my surprise I ran a 6:28...SLOW DOWN IDIOT, Don't Do Anything STUPID!! There were a lot of people in front of me, most likely 70+. Now was not the time to panic. I decided to just keep on moving and to my surprise my back had loosened up. Should I start to pick it up...Don't do anything STUPID!!! I held back. I could see about 100 yards a head of me was John Tuttle who I knew was in his 50's and was a very good runner (I've never beaten him). I just held my pace and bid my time. over the next 9 miles the course is a roller coaster and really beats you up. Not to mention the wind was very strong in areas. John just stayed 100 yards in front of me the who time and was running in a pack that kept dropping people and I ended up catching them all and shat them out. But not John.

At the 10.5 mile mark I noticed that Dennis Ducharme was about 200 yards a head of me. So now I had a target. John T was now out of sight. So I worked the 11th mile hard and caught Dennis at the 11 mile mark. As I went by he said he was dead and the hills and the wind had taken it's toll on him. I gave him some words of encouragement and continued on my way. I picked off another couple of runners in the last 2 miles and knew there was a guy closing in on me. I just kept it smooth right on to the finish. Don't Do Anything STUPID.

So I ended up in 39th place with a 1:29:52 and John Tuttle was in 38th 49 seconds in front of me. Now the question was, was there any other old guys in front of John? Neither one of us knew the answer to this question.

I managed to locate Steve Wolfe and talked him into doing a cool down run, I needed to get 15 in for the day. Steve was disappointed in his race. Heck he ran a 1:25:11 for 24th place, I would take it. So Steve, me and another guy when out for a 2 mile cool down. It's good thing we did, my legs were already tightening up. When we got back the result still weren't up. For some reason it took almost 3 hours from when the race started until they were able to post the results. To my surprise I ended up in 2nd place for the 50-54 year old age category. I'll take it seeing that my overall pace ended up being 6:47's. I wanted 6:45's but this course was tough and the wind made it very challenging.

Race splits below:

1. 6:28
2. 6:37
3. 6:39
4. 6:44
5. 6:41
6. 6:47
7. 6:37
8. 7:06
9. 6:58
10. 6:46
11. 6:52
12. 6:53
13. 6:59
13.1 :41

Total 1:28:52 39th out of 1243 runners.