Sunday, April 26, 2009

Boston Marathon recap - April 20th, 2009

Well, it's been 6 days the grand event and I am finally getting around to a recap of the Boston Marathon that I ran last Monday.


First half - 1:29:27
Second half - 1:32:52
sh time: 3:02:19
Click here to see my race mile splits

Going into the race, I felt like I had a chance at a 2:59, and that was the goal. However, in the back of my mind, I wasn't sure if I was in the shape as I was for Austin nine weeks earlier.

Getting into Hopkinton is stressful. Since we had a rental car, I decided to have my wife drive me to Hopkinton from our hotel on the edge of downtown. This allowed me about an extra 1.5 hours in the morning and made it easier to handle our daughter.

Jen dropped me at a school where race organizers had "runners only" buses carting people over to Athlete's Village. It took at least one hour to be able to get off the bus. We sat in the bus just outside the village for at least 1/2 hour due to sheer volume of buses.

Once in Athlete's Village, I was too late to have a prayer to use a port-o-john. The lines were extremely long and it was 55 minutes to race start.

I texted my friend, Aaron, to meet me at the start. I dumped my gear at the check. I'm not proud to admit that I found a secluded, yet illegal, open urinal along with several other runners. However, in fairness to me and hundreds upon hundreds of others, race organizers still do not have enough port-o-johns to handle the pre-race surge.

I was in the 4th corral based on my Twin Cities time of 3:06 last October. I probably could have gotten to corral 2 if I had sent in a new time from Austin. I didn't.

The weather was near perfect. I was very comfortable, although, I knew the winds would catch us later in the race.

The race kicked off and the cattle drive began. First several miles were very crowded. My first mile was a 7:15 and I had to work through much traffic for it.

In the first 8 miles or so, I will say that I did not have the "pop" that I felt I would need to run sub-3. I felt a little drained early on. The first energy gel really helped and I was on a true high as we approached Wellesley College.

My 1/2 marathon split was 1:29:27. This is right where I would want to be for the first half for most marathons on a sub-3 attempt, but I knew this was Boston, and the second half is often slower. Running a negative split in Boston means you are sandbagging heavily on the front end.

As I approached mile 17 and the Newton Hils, I was definitely daunted. However, I recovered after the first major climb. I told myself "you can do, this, Ryan".

Enter Heartbreak at mile 20, where I was barely holding on to pace for 2:59. The Newton Hills did their damage. Heartbreak got me and, afterward, I could not again pace back down to 6:50 even in the downhill terrain.

For the final 10k, I wanted to make sure I didn't blow achieving my second best marathon time (3:06 in Twin Cities). I was able to muster 7:10's-7:20's as I took in the final stretch with all of the fantastic crowds. When I made the turn toward Boylston, I was ready to celebrate. And you know I did.

Losing sub-3 was frustrating and humbling, but I am too way experienced at this point with the marathon to respect the distance. However, I will say that I am proud that I hung on for a 3:02. Around 21, I was in a place where I thought I was totally going to fall part. That's what is very special about Boston. The final stretch is such an adrenaline rush with the fan support.

I am pleased with my performance. Putting up a 3:02 at Boston only nine weeks after a 2:59 in Austin is a great accomplishment for me. These are my two best marathons out of 15 now total.

Once back home, I had to turn my efforts to the kick-off of our new running club here in Plainfield, IL. We had our first group run yesterday and the start-up of the club has been a success to this point.

Now, I need to devise a training strategy for San Francisco on July 26th. I have 12 weeks until the race.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two Days 'Til Boston

I am spending time with family in Rhode Island this weekend in final preparation for Boston on Monday. We are going to go to the Providence Zoo today with my in-laws.

I've done the usual final taper mileage up to this point. I am going to skip today's run so I can feel extra rested for Monday. I'll do a few tomorrow in Boston sometime after we check in.

This has been a 9-week marathon cycle, so it feels very different. Since running Austin on February 15th, then recovering, then ramping back up, it's going to be interested to see how my body responds on Monday.

It's hard to know if I've retained 100% of my fitness since Austin. My best runs were my last two 20-milers, one of which included 15 miles at goal pace. I also had a couple of strong simulated 10k races, and a decent half marathon.

My half marathon of 1:26 came up a little slower than what I would want for a sub-3 marathon predictor. However, it was at the back end of a 70 mile week and I faded in the race.

I feel optimistic. I will be rested. I hope my daughter sleeps well in the hotel room on Sunday night. Whatever happens, it will be great to run my 2nd Boston and my 15th marathon overall.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fighting back toward a sub-3 at Boston

I hit a minor stumbling  block this past weekend on my road to a sub-3:00 Boston performance.  After watching my MSU Spartans clinch a berth in the national championship on Saturday night, I came down with a sudden bout of what I think was the flu.

At first, I blamed my condition on one too many celebratory beers and too much Tabasco on my pizza the night before.  As my Sunday progressed, something didn't feel right.  Citing the windy cold rain and in direct spite of my better judgment, I decided to go ahead with my planned 17-miler on the treadmill anyway.  

Bear in mind, with Monday set as marathon day, I had a day of cushion.  But long runs on Mondays are rough and I figured I could fight through it.  I wasn't planning on pushing pace too hard.  All of the hard work had been put into the bank, anyway.

I didn't finish the 17-miler.  I felt like I was running in a lethargic haze with no purpose and I was counting every 0.01 increment as the odometer clicked onward.  I fought through 9 miles and had to retire due to exhaustion.  

Later, I had a few bites of dinner and realized my appetite was gone.  I went to bed at 6:45 PM and, with several bathroom incidents and Ibuprofen doses in between, my wife woke me at 6:45 AM on Monday.

I found my lack of appetite and diarrhea stripped off 5 pounds overnight.   I called off work on Monday and, if I wasn't comatose, I laid hopelessly in bed in despair wondering how I would break back into the outside world in such miserable shape.

Enter Tuesday at which point my sheer will forced me out of bed.  It's funny how our exaggerated sense of self-importance takes over under these circumstances.  "My people need me at the office.  The company will shut down if I'm not there," we think.

I helped my daughter get off to daycare with my wife, cleaned myself up and got myself to the office.  I drank several Coca-Colas throughout the day to rid myself of my pale appearance.  I still had no appetite, a highly dynamic body temperature from various fevers and no interest in running.

Finally, today, Wednesday, I broke back into running.  After all, we are only 12 days out from the Boston Marathon.  I did a solid 10-miler on the treadmill in 1:13.  Call it a fartlek mixed with several interval inclines and the final two miles at goal marathon pace.

One bit of positive news.  Before all of this sickness crippled me, I nailed an outstanding simulated 10k race in 37:54 on Saturday.  McMillan tells us that lines up with a sub-2:58 marathon.

Now, I will stick to the Pfitz up to 70mpw plan from here on out.  I went over the plan by adding those two GMP miles today, but I needed to push it a little after falling down on Sunday. 

I need to believe that blowing that final 17-miler will not affect my time on April 20th.  And I do believe it will not matter.  I had solid twenty-milers each of the two preceding - one of which I nailed 15 at goal pace.

Onward to Boston, folks ... and my second sub-3:00 race in roughly two months.  This will truly be a spectacular accomplishment if and when I nail this race.