Monday, April 29, 2013

Post Race Blues

After a big race, a lot of people get the post race blues. They trained so hard for so long and now that race is over.  So what are they going to do now?

Because Boston was 2 weeks ago, I went through the same thing.  My problem was not that my big race was over, but more so what happened in Boston.  Because I have a race scheduled for pretty much every month from April through August, I don't think I'm allowing myself to get the post race blues because of race issues.   Immediately after the race I threw myself into working out again.  I was in the pool 2 days after Boston, and on the bike 3 days later.  Since then I've picked up my workouts and am all in for Triathlon season.  I'm swimming about 4 times a week, biking 4 times a week with different workouts every time and trying to step up my game in that department.  The only thing I really haven't done so much is run.  But that's normal and I don't think my fitness level is going to decrease that much by not going out and running more than 6 miles at a time within the past.  Since I've been throwing myself into a new regime of training, it's all brand new to me so the blues haven't set in.

Where I'm getting the post race blues is that I feel guilty about finishing and I got to experience everything that so many people did not.  I got to experience running down Boylston Street with the screaming fans, crossing the finish line, getting a medal and heat sheet, and then meeting up with the wife.  Clearly there were thousands of other people who got to experience the same thing as me, but there were also thousands of people who didn't get that chance and experienced far worse.

Why was I so lucky?  How come I got out there way before anything happened? There are so many questions that can be asked that will never be answered.  But they are all going through my mind.

So the first week after the race, as much as I was training there was still this thought in the back of my mind.  It was definitely surreal. I just felt like "why am I training"?

I think I'm over that now as I have definitely fully entrenched myself in my training and have enjoyed it (well, except for the pain), but it was this weird feeling that I couldn't shake until now.

I hope no one else has some post race blues.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013 race report

Obviously there were more important events that happened during the Boston Marathon, and I have already written about my thoughts on the tragic events that occurred, so this will strictly be my race report.

My goals going into Boston this year were mixed.  One goal was simply to enjoy everything about the race from the expo, to the prerace events, to the race itself.  The competitive goals were to break 3:05 and requalify for Boston even though I have no intentions on running it in 2014.  I had a detailed plan on how I was going to do this and I thought I could easily achieve it.  Because I didn't know how my training was going to be once Riley was born, I was impressed how much training I could actually accomplish.  But over the past few weeks my training wasn't going as well as I wanted it to so I was interested to see what would happen during the race itself.


After driving the 3 hours or so with the wife up to Boston, and the first hour of that drive calming the wife down because it was her first night away from Riley, we ended up at the Expo Sunday afternoon around 2pm.  Walking from our car to the Expo, we walked down Boylston St. which they closed to set up for the finish.  We were dodging reporters, camera crews and construction workers to get to the Expo itself. 
Walking on Boylston towards the finish...just a day early
Once there it was fairly simple.  We walked right in, I went straight to number pick up and within 2 minutes had my bib.  From there, it was time to pick up a finisher's long sleeve shirt.  I heard a bunch of complaints about this years shirt.  I heard that the fabric wasn't as good as in year's past.  But the fact that the shirt was yellow was a bonus for me, and realistically, it wasn't so bad.  I give it a plus in my book.

Representing Skora Running
Even though Riley wasn't with us, he was definitely thought of
After picking up my bib, shirt, and bag to bring before the race it was time to walk around the expo.  I was fairly excited to do this because I heard that the Boston expo is by far the best expo for any race.  After going through NYC's a few times I figured it would be awesome.  Well, I was wrong.  The expo was all over the place. There was no organization to it and realistically, I've seen everything that was there.  I thought I would see some new products, some interesting booths, and just fun stuff.  There was none of this.  But after taking a few pictures in my Skora gear, signing the 2013 Boston Marathon wall and checking out the finish area,  the wife and I headed out to go back to our hotel to relax before an early dinner.
The wife and I together. Maybe she'll run this race one year

Finish line 1 day early.
You can also see Marathon Sports right next to the Adidas banner

Rocking my Skora Base's for the race

Pre-race/Athlete's village:
Buses up to Hopkington (sorry for the no lighting)

Boston has an unusually late start for a marathon.  Because of the 10am start, all of the athletes have to get to the start of the race in Hopkington well before the actual start of the race. We do this by taking school buses to the Athlete's village.  Easy enough, right?  Sort of.  Even though the race starts at 10 am, I had to be at my bus at 6am to get to the start of the race.  Once I found a bus to head out in, I sat down and just relaxed on the 45 minute ride up to Hopkington.  The bus ride is basically a ride where every tries to one up each other.  All I heard on the bus were people talking about how many marathons they have done, where they qualified, how fast they have run, what triathlons they have run, and so on. It's like once we got on the school buses we were transformed back into high school where everyone wants to be better than everyone else.  I had no interest in that.  Luckily, the individual I was sitting next to was really nice and we started speaking about his kids, Riley, his family, and just normal every day things.  There was no judging, trash talking, or any interest in being better than each other.

Everyone off the buses and walking towards the village

Just get me to the start already

Once we arrived at the Athlete's village it was time to find a spot and get settled.  It was like a big camping ground.  People brought sleeping blankets, folding chairs, space heaters, an air mattress.  People came prepared.  And then there was me who had a few garbage bags and a stolen towel from the hotel to go along with 5 magazines, food, and Gatorade. And for me, time to hit the port-a-potties.  This is a big thing for me before a race.  I make it a point to get everything out of my system so I make sure I go often. When I got to the Athlete's Village, I was in awe.  There were more port-a-potties than I have ever seen at any race.  They just kept going on and on.  It was awesome.  

Find a spot and get comfy. You'll be here for a while

And this is only about 1/4 of the port-a-potties.  Amazing
As you can see below, there are no lines.  Since, I was in the first wave of people getting to the village there was no one there.  As the morning went on and more and more runners arrived, the lines got longer and longer and eventually there was a 40 minute wait.  that's insane.

The Village with everyone there from a distance

So after hanging out for 3 plus hours reading magazines, trying to take a nap, and keeping my mind clear, it was off to the baggage drop and then the start line

Reading to roll

The Race itself:

Once they started loading us into the corrals, it became clear that this race was on.  There were so many people and so many of them were fast.  We heard the start of the women's race go off and then everyone started getting the nervous energy that surrounds the start of a race.  What calmed me down was how many spectators there were, even at the start of the race.  I made friends with a little old lady who kept telling me I'll do great.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a complete idiot.  Especially before races.  I'm the one laughs, jokes around, and basically acts like an ass before a race.  Maybe its nerves, maybe it's just my personality, but I like to lighten the mood.  So I shared plenty of laughs with my pre-race spectators.

Then at 10 AM, the cannon went off.  Because I did so much research on this course, I knew that I wanted to control myself over the downhill first 6 miles.  I didn't want to get sucked into the people gunning out of the start line and then have it hurt me later on.  So after everyone got some space, I kept getting passed, and passed, and passed some more.  I didn't care though. I was running my race, and everyone else can do their own thing.  That's their choice.  I kept looking down at my watch and it was exactly where I wanted it to be; a consistent 6:54 pace.  Pretty good in my mind.

I have to be honest and say that once my foot crossed the start line and probably for the next 2 miles, I was actually getting emotional while running.  It's a bucket list race to do Boston and here I was starting the race.  I kept looking around and taking in all of the spectators and everything and it was overwhelming.  I never thought I would be here but it was just such a moment I will never forget.

After the first 6 miles, I was on pace.  My 10k split was 43:23.  Perfect.  I was running exactly how I planned, and my legs felt great.  It seemed like everything was going my way that day. Once the first 6 miles are finished, its pretty much a flat course for the next 10 miles.  It was here that my mind took control of my body and I just started to have an internal battle with myself.  I knew after the Harrisburg Marathon that I didn't enjoy running standalone marathons anymore.  They are just kind of boring.  My memory came back to me and I started to feel this way again.  My pace was great, my legs were great, but my mind wasn't in the race.  I think one of the things that got me was that in most races I do, I'm usually in the top 5-10%.  Here, everyone is just as fast, if not faster.  There was a point in the race around mile 10 or so that I looked ahead and just saw the road completely packed.  Runners were all over.  It was both amazing to see, but also a little intimidating for some reason.  There were so many people ahead of me, and I had a sub 7 minute mile pace going.  

The sights and sounds of Boston are just incredible.  I thought NYC was packed with fans, but Boston is by far the most crowded, loudest, most fun group of spectators there are.  Around mile 12.5, I approached the Wellesley girls.  I heard about this from different blogs and posts, and I knew to stay on the right side of the road to get the full effect.  These girls are hysterical.  When they aren't trying to get you to stop for a kiss, they are holding up very creative signs that I tried to read.  But they keep you motivated which is awesome.  It's definitely a revitalization once you get to this point.  Once I passed them, I was at the Half mark.  Half Marathon split- 1:32:23.  Perfection for my goals.

This will be the last time you read anything about perfection, speed, pace, or anything.  The Newton hills start around mile 16 and last until mile 21, with Heartbreak Hill coming around mile 20-21.  There are a series of 4 hills, which in reality aren't that bad.  I think they get the bad rap and it's in people's head.  My problem was that once I got to the start of the hills, I actually stopped caring about the race.  I  slowed down considerably for no reason at all.  I still felt good, but for some reason I couldn't push myself.  So on the first hill, I just had to stop and walk.  No idea why.  I wasn't hurting, tired, nothing.  I just decided to walk.  After about 30 seconds of break, I ran a little more but glanced down at my watch and saw that there was no way I can hit my goal time of 3:05.  In my mind, there is no difference between 3:06, 3:15, 3:30, or slower.  So I said, let's just enjoy the race.  Let me take everything in and have some fun.  Well, having fun on a set of 4 hills isn't likely, so I had to get through them.  I did a series of walk then run, run then walk for about 2 miles and then approached Heartbreak Hill.  I said there is no way I'm walking this.  Because I stopped caring, I was actually a little refreshed so I attacked the hill and ran up it.  This is where I saw a lot of other runners giving me the weirdest looks.  Like, how can this guy have all the energy to do this.  I saw a TV camera and got filmed screaming into it.  I conquered the hill, even though the other 3 conquered me.

The next 6 miles are all downhill.  And let me say, they were harder than the uphills.  I lost all the motivation to finish so every step was painful.  The Boston College students were funny so I started slapping hands and enjoying them.  I even stopped to hug a female police officer.  With 5 miles left, I wanted to cherish the rest of this race.  It was great to see soldiers in full gear running the course, so every one of them I passed, I cheered them on and shook a few hands.  No one knew what they would have to deal with a few hours later.

As the final 2 miles approached, I saw the big famous Citgo sign.  I thought once you see this sign, it's only like a mile left.  Not 2.  So I was a little thrown off that I saw the Citgo sign and then mile marker 24.  Kind of kicked me in the stomach.  But even so, I continued to enjoy the race, take in all the spectators, and then finally when I saw mile 25, I went.  The crowd was pumped, I was re energized, and just wanted to soak in the last mile.  So as I made the final turn onto Boylston St, the crowd lit up, I threw my hands in the air and pumped my fist and kept smiling.  Even though my race didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, that doesn't mean I cant have the final few minutes in my memory as the greatest race.  So I raced down Boylston St and crossed the finish in 3:21:33.  

Post race thoughts:
Once I collected my gear checked bag and met the wife at Georgetown Cupcakes, we found a cab, went to the hotel, grabbed a quick bite to eat and shower and decided to head home.  We just wanted to get home to Riley.  We got in our car at 2:45 and heading onto I-90, which takes us right under the marathon course.  5 minutes of driving and we were under the explosions within 2 minutes.  We didn't know it at the time, but thankfully, we were in the car safe and heading home.  We got a call from the wife's friend who she was with that morning asking if we were ok and she told us what happened.  From there, it was a 3 hour drive home with nonstop calls, texts, Facebook messages checking on us.  While I said this would be about my race, I still am in awe of what happened.  I won't go into my thoughts again on how tragic it was, but I will say this.  This was my first Boston Marathon.  It was amazing.  I'm glad I was there.  And taking in the thought of just the race itself and not about the tragedy, this race will always be tainted in my mind.  I will always know there were so many horrible things that happened after I crossed the finish line that that's all I will be able to think about.  I am so thankful that I was a lucky one and the wife and I are safe but I know I will never be able to fully look back and truly enjoy this experience.  

My final thoughts on the race is this:  
The Boston Marathon was the most fun, worst, best, most hated, most loved, hardest, easiest race I have ever done all rolled into one.  The course is not difficult if you train for it.  It's an amazing time and a race that every runner should strive to do.  Throw out the goal time and enjoy it.  Once you do it more than once, then go for time.  But that first Boston Marathon experience is one to remember.  I'm glad I got a chance to experience it.  I'm definitely done with marathons for a few years.  I want to recharge my marathon mindset, but I'll definitely be back to run this race again and beat my time from this year.    

Run Real Everybody!

Post Race in the hotel.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Thoughts

First off, I want to let everyone know that both the wife and I are ok.  We were far away from the explosions when they happened so we were some of the lucky ones.  Thank you to everyone who checked on us, asked if we were ok, contacted us. It was amazing to see how many people there were who tried to get a hold of us.

I'm sure by now everyone has written their own, read others, posted about something, but here is my take.  I wanted to take a few days to collect my thoughts and be able to put something together that made sense to me.

What happened in Boston on Monday was an utter travesty.  A gruesome, horrific event.  There is nothing that I can say that hasn't been said before, or hasn't been said by someone who can use better words than me.  So I wont even try.  What I will say is that I just don't understand the motive, the reason, or why someone would do something like this during a marathon.

Running, racing, cycling, triathlons are worldwide events.  I can tell you that as someone who ran the Boston Marathon this year, I ran with a person from virtually every country I can think of, as well as some countries I cant.  I happily ran next to people from France, Spain, China, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Australia, England, Brazil to name a few.  And I know that because either I spoke with them, saw their shirts, heard them speak, cheered them or or received cheers from them, or read their race bibs/signs.  The Boston Marathon more than any other marathon that I can think of, including New York City is a worldwide race.  To bomb this race does not serve any political purpose, make a statement, protest a war, or anything like that.  This isn't Yankee Stadium, a Red Sox game, a Dallas Cowboy game, or even a Barcelona soccer match where the majority of spectators are from that city, country, etc.  This is an event that hosts so many different countries and we all appreciate and respect one another.  Even if its for just this one day, every single runner will look at each other with a moment of gratitude that we are taking part of this race together.  To do this on a day where we are all cheering for each other is just plain pointless.

Events like these bring us all together.  What happened on Monday showed that even more.  Once the first explosion went off, there were hundreds of individuals from every country helping whoever they could.  Monday's actions were about hate, cowardice, stupidity and anything along those lines.  But Monday's reaction was about love, helping each other, taking care of each other, caring for another human, and bravery.  It didn't matter where someone was from.  If they were injured, someone was there to try and help them.  So this tragic event by one of the worst people on the planet brought out the best in people in this city on this day.  That is something that I will take away from the day.

I will also say I am very thankful.  I know Marathon Sports very well.  If you recall from 2 weeks ago, I attended a Mizuno event there.  More importantly, the wife was standing in front of that store waiting for me to cross the finish line. If the bomb would have gone off an hour and a half earlier, she could have been a victim.  Or I would have been one of those unlucky individuals who couldn't find their loved ones.  I would have been involved near the blast and who knows what would have happened.  It is something like this that I cannot begin to comprehend.  I can't imagine what it was like for family, friends, or runners who had to endure that. 

However, I know this: The Boston Marathon, along with every other race will go on.  Races mean different things to different people.  They are there for competitive reasons, reasons to test your physical capabilities, push yourself mentally, for fun, to raise money for charity and thousands of other reasons.  No one can ever take that away from each and every one of us.  We will continue to strive for excellence and continue to take part in these events. Tragic things like this have a way of bringing communities together instead of tearing them apart.  I for one, would welcome a chance to run in next year's Boston Marathon if given the opportunity.  While I said no more marathons for me for a while, being part of the 2014 Boston Marathon would be an honor for me. 

I pray for the victims and victims families who have suffered more than anyone should in this world.  No one deserves what happened on that day.  All the wife and I could think about on the drive home was what happened if that was us?  What would happen to Riley?  Or worse, what if Riley was with us?  It is those thoughts that bother me.  To the families that have had to go through that, we are all extremely sorry.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marathon Music Mix

Ok, so here's my marathon playlist for Boston 2013.  As I have said multiple times, I'm crazy when it comes to my playlists.  Here's how I do it.  On the computer there are multiple screens up at one time.  They include, the marathon course with elevation profiles, iTunes, and a calculator.  The way I go about setting up my playlist is like this:

I look over the entire course and know look to find out where I need to have a slower song so I can reel myself back, and also where I need one of my pump up songs to get me through a hard part of the course, mostly hills.  I pinpoint my favorite songs and know where I want them to start playing on the course.  From there, I start at the beginning.  At this point, I start adding the minutes of each song and measure this out to how fast I plan on running.  So I know where I should be exactly on the course at every second if I'm following my race plan.  After I add a song to the playlist, I plug in the time to the calculator to see where I should be.  I then follow the race map with elevation to see at what point this corresponds to on the course mile by mile, in fact, half a mile at a time since most songs are around 3-3.5 minutes each.

For example, the first 6 miles of Boston are downhill(getting tired of hearing that from me yet?)  So the first 42 minutes of my playlist are songs that I feel are slower than later in the course.  Songs like "Don't Stop Believing", "Daylight", "I'd Rather Be with You" are songs that I might put on a specific downhill to tell me to slow it down.  Songs like "Wild Ones", "Run This Town" are faster and a pick me up song that I might have looked at the spot on the race map and said I might need to speed up here.

After the first 6 miles, I then keep a pretty consistent song mix of mostly pop.  Then at the 2 hour mark of the mix is where I throw in about 40 minutes of songs that I know will get me going through the rough 6 mile patch of hills.  Songs like "Payphone", "Titanium",  "Give Me Everything" are songs that I push through so I want to have them on the toughest part of the course.

Then we finish the race with songs that continue to keep me going and that put a smile on my face.

I'm sure there a few songs that you will look at and ask yourself, "really?, this song is on it?"  Well face it, I like Pop music.  And every year there is one song that every single guy in the world starts to like but wont admit.  Ironically enough, these are the songs that push me the most.  They are fun loving, light, but still fast that have a nice pace built in to them.  So when you see "Call Me Maybe" and "Party in the USA", I dare you to throw it on your iPod and not have a good time running to that song.

Without saying any more, here is my playlist.

Tonight Is the Night 3:10 Outasight
DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love (feat. Pitbull) [feat. Pitbull] 3:42 Usher
New Divide 4:30 Linkin Park
Bellas Finals: Price Tag / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Give Me Everything / Just the Way You Are / Party In the U.S.A. / Turn the Beat Around 3:37 The Barden Bellas
Can't Stop Me (U.S. Radio Edit) 3:07 Afrojack & Shermanology
My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) 3:09  Fall Out Boy
Rest of My Life (feat. Usher & David Guetta) 3:52 Ludacris
Don't Stop Believin' 4:09 Journey
Forever 4:39  Chris Brown
Die Young 3:32 Ke$ha
Run This Town (feat. Rihanna & Kanye West) 4:35 Jay-Z
Daylight 3:46 Maroon 5
I'm Not Over 3:22 Carolina Liar
Use Somebody 3:51 Kings of Leon
Wild Ones (feat. Sia) 3:54 Flo Rida
Miss Independent 3:52 Ne-Yo
I'd Rather Be With You 2:49 Joshua Radin
Sing 4:30 My Chemical Romance
Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) 4:14
Break Your Heart (feat. Ludacris) 3:06 Taio Cruz
Good Feeling 4:08 Flo Rida
Second Chance 3:40 Shinedown
Empire State Of Mind 4:37 Jay-Z Feat. Alicia Keys
Where Them Girls At (feat. Nicki Minaj & Flo Rida) 3:15
Domino 3:52 Jessie J
Airplanes (feat. Hayley Williams) 3:01 B.o.B
Listen to Your Friends 3:20 New Found Glory
Without You (feat. Usher) 3:28 David Guetta & Usher
Not Afraid 4:08 Eminem
Party In the U.S.A. 3:23 Miley Cyrus
Check Yes Juliet 3:40 We The Kings
Don't Wake Me Up 3:42 Chris Brown
Good Time 3:26 Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
Titanium (feat. Sia) 4:05 David Guetta
Danza Kuduro (feat. Lucenzo) 3:19 Don Omar & Lucenzo
The Resolution 3:06 Jack's Mannequin
Next to Me 3:17 Emeli Sandé
Whistle 3:45 Flo Rida Whistle
Fancy Footwork 3:19 Chromeo
Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) 3:51 Maroon 5
Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer)
Magic (feat. Rivers Cuomo) 3:16 B.o.B
She Ain't You 4:08 Chris Brown
Fireflies 3:48 Owl City
My Time 4:00 Fabolous
Beggin' 3:38 Madcon Beggin'
I Cry 3:44 Flo Rida
Call Me Maybe 3:13 Carly Rae Jepsen
Dynamite 3:24 Taio Cruz
Club Can't Handle Me (feat. David Guetta) 3:53 Flo Rida Club Can't Handle Me
International Love (feat. Chris Brown) 3:47 Pitbull

I plan on finishing to Club Cant Handle Me. In case I'm a few minutes behind my goal, International Love will get me to the finish line. This is how I know I'm hitting my goal or not. if a song after International Love comes on, well, I didn't do what I wanted to.

Most songs you should know, some you might not. I'm not saying you will like every song on this playlist. But I challenge you to run Boston at the exact same pace as me listening to this playlist and not think this is awesome. I promise you that you will hit a hard spot on the course and the music will get you going at the exact right time it should. I also promise that if you need an area to get yourself back in control, there is a spot on the playlist for that.

So with that, Rock On and let me know what gets you through your races.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

First night away from Riley

So with all the excitement for Boston comes another big milestone in mine, the wife's, and Riley's life; his first sleepover.  So while I'm extremely excited to go up and stay the night and then run the race, there is definitely some hesitation on the other end because its the first night Riley wont be with mommy and daddy.

The wife and I are lucky and unlucky at the same time.  Because we grew up in the same city, both of our parents still live there and are only separated by a drive time of 4 minutes.  Obviously this is good because we can see both sets of grandparents on the same day and not have to travel 2 different days when we want to go home.  The bad comes in that if we go see one, we have to go see the other.  Especially now with Riley being born, if we go to our hometown and only see one set of grandparents, the other will definitely get mad.  So we have to play this the right way without offending one of the grandparents.  It was easy when Riley wasn't born and we could drop Thunder off of my parents and then take off without seeing the wife's parents and spending a lot of time with them.

So now here comes the tricky part.  Who do we leave Riley with?  We have concerns with both.  The breakdown goes something like this.

My parents:
They listen to what we say and try to respect how we want to raise Riley.  My mom understands that its our baby and we are trying keep him on a schedule.  So when we tell my mom its time for Riley's nap, we feel comfortable that she will listen to us and put Riley down for his nap.

The issue comes in that Riley doesn't sleep at my parents house.  Even though they have a crib, a swing, a stroller, he just wont sleep there.  Maybe he's not comfortable, maybe its my mom walking into the room every second to see if he's ok.  Who knows.  But he just doesn't sleep there.  So we don't want him to not sleep the whole night

The wife's parents:
Ummm, well, where do I start.  Let me first say that I love and appreciate my in laws.  They are extremely nice and giving to us.  Now that the disclaimer is over, here's the deal.  The wife's parents think that we don't know what we are doing and only want to do things their way.  They wont listen to what we say and they won't care about specific times we want to do things.  They'll just dote over Riley and stare at him.

However, with the bad comes the good.  Riley sleeps there.  He has no problem taking naps and will sleep through the night there.

So what do we do?

Here's what decided.  Let's split the days.  Sunday morning, we'll drop both Riley and Thunder off at my parents house.  My parents will watch Riley until about 7pm Sunday night.  This way, they can see him virtually the entire day and then Riley can go to his other grandparents to sleep.  It is one of those times that is a benefit that they live so close to each other.  It also goes without saying that Thunder will stay at my parents house.

So how do the wife and I feel about all of this?  We actually don't know.  I've been traveling for work so I'm used to leaving the family.  But this is the first time the wife is not going to be putting him to bed and waking up the next morning with him.  I know it will be hard on her.  For me as well since we'll both be thinking about him the entire night.  The wife wanted to come to Boston with me for a few reasons.  First, its like her own mini-vacation.  She gets to go to another city, sleep in a hotel, pop earplugs in and not hear anything.  Then when I wake up for the race, she can go back to sleep and sleep until whenever she wants.  After that, she can wake up, go to the hotel gym for a workout, and then meet me after the race.  It's perfect for her.  Except the fact that she'll be worrying the whole time.

I know at some point every parent has to leave their child for the first time.  I guess this way, its only for one night and we can celebrate something while we're there.

Hopefully their won't be any crying from either Riley or his parents on Sunday night.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Race Plan

I've been toying back and forth over the past few weeks over my exact race plan for Boston.  My original race plan back when I started training was very simple.  Go sub 3:05:00 and if everything else goes right, push to get under 3 hours.  To me, this race plan was ideal.  It meant going at a 7:04 minute/mile pace which is something that has been extremely easy for me recently.  In fact, I have had to dial my speed down to hit these splits on all of my training runs.

But over the past few weeks, my training hasnt been perfect in my mind.  I had to pull out of a 23 mile run a few weeks ago because I just didnt have it that day.  This left me with only one 20 mile run or longer in the past 6 weeks.  I did do an 18 mile run last week which felt good, not great but good.  A lot of people say there is no need to do more than 18 miles for training runs.  Yeah ok.  Sure its not.  Here's where those people are full of it.  Without sounding like an ass, I would say Im an above average runner.  I'm not flash gordon, but I usually am within the top 5-10% of all finishers within a race.  As I mentioned my desired mile times above heres the math.  Running 18 miles on training runs would put my time for that run around 2 hours and 6 minutes.  To hit my race plan, that would mean I would need an additional 58 minutes of running for the added 8.2 miles.  Its not like its an extra 1-3 miles that you can soldier through and push along to finish.  Its a full hour extra.  And thats at going at like a 7 minute mile pace.  What about runners who aren't as fast.  They have to add like an hour and a half or even longer.  That's just crazy talk.  No one can just add an hour to an hour and a half of running if they havent trained for it.  Ok, enough ranting.

Back to race day planning.  I obsess over everything when I train for a race.  I look at every little detail of the course and how it will affect me.  The amount of message boards and course description I read is disgusting.  In all the boards I have read there are 2 schools of thought.  The first is to go out and "bank" time in the first half of the race because its downhill over the first 6 miles and easy to get free speed.  Then when you get to the hills from miles 16-21, you can slow it down and still hit your goal time.  The problem with this theory is that if you go out too fast, then your legs are shot by the time you even get to the hills and therefore you crash and cant recover.  So it doesnt rally matter how much time you bank, its just too much on your legs.  The other school of thought is to run easy enough over the first 16 miles to be able to attack the hills at just a slightly slower than race pace and then be able to rock the final 6 miles since they are downhill also.

At this point, I dont really know what I'm going to do.  I've always been a very good hill runner.  I think its one of my strengths.  I love passing people on the hills and seeing them look at me like I'm crazy.  The issue here is actually getting to the hills with enough in my tank to attack them.  Thats what concerns me.  At Harrisburg last year, I thought I had a lot in the tank but the hills at mile 18-20 were the hardest set of 3-4 big hills that I have ever encountered and I paid for trying to hit the hills hard.  After those hills, I couldn't recover and I had a bad rest of my race.

I don't want to go out too fast and completely fall apart.  This will be the biggest concern for me.  Due to where I'm starting (wave 1, corral 2), I'll be with all the crazy fast people who will try to race the first miles. I don't want to do that and don't want to get caught up in that either.  I'd rather run at my pace but I also don't want to get run over either.

I also haven't decided if I want to run this and enjoy the course.  There are so many things to enjoy during this race.  I could caught up in the Wellesley College girls and get kisses along the course, just don't tell the wife :).  I could enjoy all the screaming fans.  From what I hear there is no silent part of this entire course.  I could enjoy the sites, keep looking for the Citgo sign, whatever. Since its my last stand alone marathon for a while, maybe I should do that.  Maybe even carry a camera along the course and take pictures.  I'd really like to do this one day, but I just don't know if I could pull it off.

But I think with final deliberation with my competitive side, here's what I'm going to do:

Run the first 6 miles at about 6:54 mile pace.  This is probably very conservative.  Figure that's about 1-2 minutes faster than goal pace over this distance and since its net downhill, doing this wont make me go too fast and I'll be able to save some of my legs.  I just have to make sure I stay at this pace and not push it to like 6:35-6:40ish per mile.

Miles 7-16, run scheduled race pace of 7:01-7:05 depending on the individual elevation of that specific mileage.

Mile 16-21 I'll plan on going around 7:10-7:25 per mile, with the exception of mile 19 which is a net downhill so maybe a 7 minute mile that mile.

Mile 21-23 hit my goal pace of 7:04 for those 3 miles to get my breath and legs back to a comfortable area.

Mile 23-finish, pick up the pace a little bit each mile.  Maybe go 6:58 for mile 23, 6:54 for mile 24, then see whats left in the tank for the final 2 and just go for the finish hard.  This way, if I have a few minutes to spare in the last mile, I can relax and enjoy that final mile.  That's what my main goal is.  To fully enjoy the last long stretch of open road with screaming fans and the finish line in sight.  If that gets me to sub 3:05, I'll take it.

If at any point I know I don't have it on race day, I'll reevaluate the goal and probably run the course easy to enjoy it.  Seeing the last few weeks haven't been stellar to me, this might be a possibility.

Part of my thought process is that I don't want to regret not running well in Boston and looking back and saying I should have done it better.  Another thought is I represent Skora Running.  I'll be rocking my Skora Base's on the course and since I have an affiliation with the brand, I want to represent them proudly.  I want to be able to post a good time knowing that there will probably only be a handful of runners in their shoes.  I'd like to be able to say that I made them proud.  Also, I think I can combine both enjoy the sites and running my race at the same time.  I tend to zone out during my races and runs and not notice anything, but I think I can achieve both here.  Maybe, it'll even help me push myself to not slow down and hit both my goal time and my push time.

Either way, that's my race plan.  Like always, it can be changed but for now I'm sticking to it.

Wish me luck.

Monday, April 8, 2013

1 week to go

OK, so we are now down to exactly 1 week until race day.  The training is done, there's nothing I can do about changing that at this point.  The outfit is planned, the marathon music mix is completed, the hotel is confirmed, the babysitters (grandma and grandpa) are booked.  Now it's just sit back and enjoy the week.

Any runner knows that that last sentence is a complete lie.  Anyone who has trained for a big race in their lifetime will tell you that the last week before the race is possibly the worst week of training.  It's an absolute terror of a week.  There is honestly nothing good about this coming week.  The anticipation is mind numbing, the lack of running makes me feel fat and out of shape.  Doesn't that sound so weird?  People train for months to run 26.2 miles in one day, usually logging somewhere around 70-90 miles per week of training, and in one week of limited activity to prepare for this one day it makes people feel like they are completely out of shape.

So here's what 1 week left until race week means for me:

1) I'll be a wreck this week.  As I said earlier, the lack of full training absolutely kills me.  My wife hates days that I don't workout because she says I become a grinch, so imagine what a week of easy training will do to me?  I need to workout for my sanity and I go crazy if I cant workout.  Normally I work out twice a day.  Going to the gym in the morning and then out for a run in the afternoon.  Now, basically I just go to the gym and that's my week. Its just a lot of time now for me to do nothing. 
2) Because this is the final taper, here is what my race week training will look like
Monday: 7 miles, race pace. 
Tuesday- swim.  Come April 16th, Triathlon season starts so I need to start swimming and this is the worst of the 3 disciplines for me.  Plus, I cant go a week with such light training, and since swimming is low impact I don't think it will hurt my body for the race
Wednesday 4 miles
Thursday- off or swim
Friday- 5 miles
Saturday- off
Sunday- off, but walking around Boston with the wife and to the expo.
Monday- race

I don't like the shake-out run the day or 2 before races.  A lot of people do them and they do serve a purpose but I've always wanted my legs to be fully rested on race day and a shake-out run still uses the muscles so I don't like them.

3) Second guessing will occur on the hour at the hour.  For all the months of training, now is the time to analyze what I actually did, and what I could have done differently.  I don't go into the detail so much as look at every run I've done over the past few months because I do that after each race though.  But this week I'll sit and think should I have done more speed work, more hill training, more long runs or anything else?  How would I have changed each workout?  I don't think I could have anticipated anything over the past few months though.  No one would have predicted what kind of baby Riley would have been, how much sleep he'll get, how much time he would give me to train, how the wife would have handled having a baby, or anything like that.  For the record, everything I just mentioned went great.  Riley is the easiest baby in the world, sleeps 10 hours straight now, the wife has been great with him and Ive had the time I need to train so that hasn't been an issue.  So all of that has been easy.  But no one could have prepared me for being a father and training every day.  I wrote a while ago about the mental side of my runs and how I would constantly be thinking about Riley during those runs and I'm sure that played a factor in my runs.  So since this week I cant improve on anything for race day, I'm left thinking about what I should have done.

So basically, I'll be thinking about the shoulda, woulda, coulda this week.

4) A lot of people only worry about themselves during their races.  I go the complete opposite direction.  I worry about everyone else.  I hate people coming to watch me race.  It drives me crazy.  I appreciate all the support people give me, but with people coming to watch me its just another added annoyance.  Plus, no one is actually on the course with you and you only get to see them for like 2 seconds, if at all,  in a full race.  I have to worry about what we're going to do the day before the race, where we are going to eat dinner (I have to make sure there is something other people want to eat), I have to worry where I'm going to meet people after the race.  There are just so many variables that outweigh the support.  Since Boston is a point to point course that is so highly packed, I'm not going to actually see any friends or family on race day on the course, so why would they even come?  I know that sounds bad, but its true. 
My friend Leo thinks I don't like people coming to support me because he thinks it adds pressure to me, but I don't think like that.  There is no added pressure to me whether people are there or not.  I run my race regardless of if no one is there or if 100 people are there for me.  I don't have built in excuses if no one comes, or a pressure to perform if they do.  Supporters are just there for before or after the race.  Thats it
The wife is coming to Boston with me because it will be a mini vacation for her.  Riley will be with the grandparents, so she can get to go away and spend a night in a hotel and sleep a full night and relax with no baby.  I understand her want to come.  It actually has nothing to do with me so I'm ok with that.  But she'll be there and I'm happy its just her this time.

That's pretty much my week in a nutshell.  I'll be posting every day this week with different things covering Boston so stay tuned. It'll be a week filled with Boston goodies.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How running brings people together

Work brought me up to Boston this week to spend a few days with my new sales rep for the region.  It couldn't have been more perfect timing.  2 weeks before the marathon so I got to scope out a few places before the race itself.  I'm staying in the same hotel I am the night before the race, I got a chance to find a restaurant for the dinner before the race, and I get a chance to see some of the things I probably wont be able to while I'm up there focused on the actual race.

I'm on the Amtrak up from NY Penn Station to Boston and these 2 individuals sit in my row.  One sits next to me, the other sits across from her in the other aisle.  After doing some things on my computer I look over and the guy sitting on the aisle seat was wearing a Runner's World jacket and the woman sitting next to me had a Bicycling Magazine notebook.  Of course, I turn into full stalker at this point.  How can I not want to talk to these individuals?  There's a chance to possibly talk about running and other things.  So I wait for the right opportunity and finally ask the woman sitting next to me if she works for Runners World.  She tells me she does, well in fact she works for Rodale which is the parent company for the magazines and she is on the sales side for them.  Now the long train ride became very quick.

We started speaking about everything from running to marathons to shoes to parenting.  I found out that she used to be extremely competitive and her husband was never really a runner.  Last year he started training for the NYC Marathon and she was both enjoying him go through it, but also upset that she couldn't train with her husband because she was so busy raising her 2 children of 5 years old and 2 years old, and also working so hard at Runner's World.  As Amy V.T (shortened last name due to privacy) told me, her husband was so upset by the cancelling of NYC last year.  I could relate so I felt her husband's pain.  As the train ride went on and her colleague Kyle was sleeping, Amy and I kept on talking.  We had to take the occasional break for each of us to either take a work call or check emails, but for about 2 hours all we did was talk.  It was such a great conversation.  Coincidentally we figured out that we live about 1 block away from each other in NYC.  Small world.

The reason Amy and Kyle were coming up this week to Boston was to put on a function at a running shop, Marathon Sports, in Boston.  They were working with Mizuno to get publicity for Mizuno's new shoe.  In fact, Runner's World icon Bart Yasso was even going to be there and they were taking groups on either a 3 or 5 mile shakeout run through Boston to try out Mizuno's new shoes.  They also have to come back up next week to do a similar function with New Balance.  Amy invited me to the function at Marathon Sports and Kyle was trying to get me to even join the run.  While I'm not a fan of Mizuno and I'm a loyal Skora Running runner it was still nice for them to invite me.  Both Amy and Kyle asked me about my shoes, and I couldn't shut up about my Skora's.  I always feel bad when I open my mouth about Skora's.  Because I love the shoes so much I know I can go on and on about them.  I don't think either of them minded, or at least they were too nice to tell me to shut up. 

So after my day with my sales rep I went to a gym for a quick workout.  I felt I needed it.  Luckily, the gym was 2 blocks away from the event so I decided to swing by and say hi.  I felt some loyalty to both Amy and Kyle since I spent a good part of the day talking to them and I know they worked hard on the event.  What I saw when I walked through the door was crazy.  There were about 75 or so local runners all trying on Mizuno shoes and waiting to go for a run with the group.  I definitely didn't pack warm enough clothes so I didn't even think about joining them.  But it was nice to see they got a good group together and everyone was excited.  I also got a chance to check out the Boston Marathon swag.  Normally I don't buy race clothes, but I feel that I should for this race since its a once in a lifetime event.  Most people buy the marathon jacket, and even though I'll probably lean the same way, there is some other swag I might get instead.

After the run, Mizuno rented space at a local bar and hosted a get together for the group.  Bart Yasso was going to speak about running, running in Boston, and life itself.  If anyone knows about running marathons, its him.  He's a running guru.  The event also had some goody bags they were giving out to the first 50 people who walked in.  It contained Bart's book, a Mizuno headband (which was pretty cool), a water bottle, and a few other things.  Since I didnt go for the run, I was one of the first at the event and I definitely qualified to pick up a goody bag, but I also felt guilty since I wasn't taking part in the whole event and the runners should be able to collect the free goodies.  Ultimately I decided not to take a bag and after speaking with a few people from Runner's World and Mizuno, I heading back out to my hotel. 

Its just amazing how something as easy as running can bring total strangers together.  Most people would do their own thing on a train, try not to bother the person next to them, and just count down the time until they get to their destination.  But not runners, triathletes, or any athlete for that matter.  The smallest thing like a sweatshirt from your favorite running magazine, or a notebook from a magazine that you read can cause a conversation to start and then things just take off.  It's nice to hear other people's stories and what they have gone through.  In some ways, I wish that train ride was longer so I could have learned more about Amy and Kyle. 

So I want to thank both Kyle and Amy V.T. for making my train ride entertaining, as well as giving me something to do while up in Boston for the night.  They definitely love their job and are passionate about what they do.

And I want to thank all the other athletes who I run in to so we can swap stories. If you see me or drop me a line and want to talk running or racing, I'll always be up for it. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Taper time, Opening Day, RIley is 3 months

So a little hodgepodge today of information.

First, it is officially taper time for Boston.  I absolutely hate this time before a race.  I get cranky from the lack of working out and I feel like all fitness leaves me.  I know thats not the case and tapering is a necessary part of marathon training but there still is no easy way to do it.  No one has come up with a great system that works.  I personally believe a 2 week taper is better than a 3 week taper and I feel better going long every other week, so I ran 18 miles over the weekend and was happy with the run.  I just hate having to limit myself for the next 2 weeks.  Now, I can take an extra day off from all my workouts to make sure my body heels and I can also push myself on certain runs knowing an extra day of recovery is there.  But its also time for me to practice race day.  For example, today I ran 6 miles at marathon pace.  I made sure I ran easy and I hit my pace and didnt speed up once.  There were a few people on the run that I wanted to catch up to and pass but I didnt force it.  If it happened it happened.  Normally I would speed past them.  Not today.  Today I ran controlled.  The run was an absolute confidence booster.  I hit my splits and the run felt amazing.  So easy, so comfortable and I ran to my marathon playlist on my mp3 player.  I'll give the details next week on what songs are on the playlist, the reason behind it, and why they are in the exact spot they are.  I said I was really crazy about this and once I post the playlist, youll see why.

So on the first day of tapering, I'm happy.  Tomorrow will be a different story when I dont run, but for now, the tapering has started.

Second.  Today is my favorite day of the year.  Those who know me know that I am a huuuuuge baseball fan.  Specifically the Yankees.  Yes, I'm part of the Evil Empire.  I know.  So today brings the hope of spring, summer, and championships all rolled into one day.  Baseball season is upon us.  A few years ago, I realized that I dont enjoy going to games anymore.  I think because with all the advances in TV's and the quality of the picture, its just as great sitting on my couch watching a game then being there.  If I go to the game, I have to clear it with the wife, then travel to get there, travel back home, and also I have work to do and I cant do that at Yankee Stadium. So now, I can comfortably sit on my couch, dress Riley is Yankee clothes, dress Thunder in Yankee clothes, and open my laptop and watch all the games that are on today.

Mommy and Riley in his Yankee bib for Opening Day
Opening Day is just magical every year.  Granted the Yankees lost today and this season looks like it might be difficult to watch, but its still baseball and still the Yankees so I was glad to watch the game.

Finally, Riley turned 3 months today.  I cant believe how quickly its gone.  I remember New Year's Day vividly and how special that was in my life.  He's definitely gone through changes in that time and is now smiling, cooing, and has a little personality.  The wife and I definitely just sit and stare at him at times and know how lucky we are. He is such an easy baby and we are so lucky.  He's even sleeping through the night.  We usually put him down to sleep around 9 pm and he usually wakes up around 7 am.  We'll take that.  There are the occasional bad nights, but thats expected and we're ok with those nights.  I just cant believe how fast the 3 months have been.  If we could stop him from growing and keep him like this forever, I think we would sign up for it. He's in that amazing stage where he is just so cute with everything he does.

Yes, Riley, it was the Dog

With that being said, happy April Fool's day to everyone, happy Opening Day and its a big mix of goodness today.