Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hyannis Marathon - Race Report

Short Version:


Dang. Once again, I did not make my goal of getting under 4 hours.

Longer Version:

The day before the race, it was kind of cold (low to mid 30's) and a bit breezy. But the forecast called for a little warming and not much wind. Looking good.

We met up with daughter and boyfriend who drove over from NYC, and we drove the marathon course and then hit the expo. After picking up my shirt and chip (and a few goodies), I was kind of excited to meet Bill Rogers (an inspiration for me), who was autographing posters. It was actually a little embarassing. I was wearing my Grand Canyon "Rim to Rim to Rim" sweatshirt and he asked about it. (It's a hike organized by some former co-workers.) I did mention it was mostly hiking (not so much running). But when he autographed my poster, he wrote "congratulations on the Grand Canyon marathon". Oops.

The pasta dinner at the Sheraton was fine and Rogers was the speaker. I appreciated what he said about how he thinks for a lot of people, at least for us very average runners, it takes about three years for the body to adjust to racing the marathon (without cramping). Of course, I'm at about 2 1/2 years right now, but I felt like I was prepared finally to have a really good race.

We were able to get a pretty good night's sleep. It was very quiet in the hotel (unlike the previous night), and at 7:30 I was up and eating a little breakfast. After a bagel with almond butter, half a banana, and some energy drink, I spent the next hour in the hotel room getting dressed and stretching out. We then drove over to the start and I just went over and got in the line for the john. Timed it just about perfectly. As I finished, I handed my extra clothes to my support team, sucked down a GU and took a few sips of water, then found my place in the ranks.

Big crowd. I was not expecting that many people at the start. They started the marathon, the half marathon, the marathon relay, and a 10K all together at 10:00 a.m. It was more than a minute after the gun went off that I crossed the starting line.

I pretty much stuck to my plan as far as effort goes in the first 6 miles (except for the first mile which was a good 40 seconds slow because of the crowds). I started at about a 9:05 pace and slowly increased to 8:45. At 6 miles I was supposed to hit 8:35 per mile, but after that I mostly just kept bouncing around 8:40 to 8:50 per mile. Not quite as fast as I planned.

The course, though stunningly beautiful, was just a little hilly. No killer hills. And not enough to really wipe you out. But over the course of 26.2 miles, it added up.

The temperature was just great (at least for a New England February marathon). Sunny and high 30's for quite a bit of the race. And since I had a support crew, I had them provide a shirt change for me. Just before mile 18, I pulled off my (now very sweaty and chilly) shirt and swapped it for a nice warm dry shirt and a pair of gloves. That felt great. Little did I know, however, that the race photographer was right around the corner. The race pictures might be interesting.

Though I wasn't running quite as fast as I had planned, I was still running strong. My pace never fell off through the first 18 miles. And even miles 19 and 20 only slowed a little. I hit 20 miles in 3 hours exactly -- still feeling pretty good. The hill at 21 miles, however, really wore me down and I was slowing just a little too much. And then, just after 23 miles, a cramp hit my left leg.

Short history. In my first marathon, I started cramping (big time) at mile 20. Both legs -- calves, lateral side, medial side. My second marathon I went out way too fast and I got dehydrated which made the cramping worse -- it started at mile 16. At Phoenix, I made it to mile 22 before I started cramping. Again, both legs -- all sorts of muscles.

This time, however, I made it to mile 23 and then only one muscle cramped -- left leg, lateral side. I did have to stop briefly to walk it off. It didn't last too long and I was off and running again. But I lost about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes there. The last few miles were slower. I was out of energy and really digging down just to keep going. Just after mile 25, the same muscle cramped up again. Once again I stopped to walk it off. It took me just a bit longer to get myself going again, but Anita really gave me some encouragement in that last mile to pick it up and finish strong.

I ran it into the finish with my left leg on the verge of cramping up again.


Almost exactly the time I got in Phoenix about one year ago. Not what I was hoping for.

And on the negative side for the race itself -- they were OUT of the complimentary beers when I got to the post-race party!

But I felt better running this race. I felt stronger and more consistent throughout the race. I think my splits were more even (further analysis will tell). And of course, I went farther before I cramped, and then when I did, it was much less severe than previous races. My next marathon will be around the 3 year anniversary of my first one. A reliable source says I'll make it through without cramping at all.

And to paraphrase Bill Rogers, any marathon where you don't end up in the medical tent is a good one.

After a few hours rest and recovery, we went out for a very nice Italian dinner (Alberto's in Hyannis -- highly recommended) to celebrate my race and our daughter's birthday. There was pasta, wine, dessert and about 5 glasses of water.

I'll post a few pictures and a few other comments in the next day or so. Until then, I'm in recovery mode.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hyannis Marathon - Pre-race Report

[I actually wrote this on Saturday -- but I lost my internet connection just before I could upload it. Race report will follow later this evening.]

I was hoping to get the day off from work on Friday so we could drive down to Hyannis early in the day. Didn't work out. I had to work until about 2:00 p.m. (boo). So by the time we hit the road, we were in the south shore Boston rush hour traffic. That added almost an hour to our drive.

We got to our hotel in Hyannis around 6:30; a little tired. We checked in and after settling into our room, and a light supper, decided to get to bed early. At which point the noise in the room directly above us kicked in. It sounded like a half dozen kids running around, talking and yelling, television blaring. This continued until almost 1:00 a.m. We complained several times. They've now promised us a (different) quiet room tonight. At least we were able to sleep in a little -- though I was hoping for more like 9 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Tonight should be better.

Hyannis is clear, chilly and breezy this morning. It's about 28 degrees right now. But forecast for tomorrow calls for about 32 degrees at race start, warming up to about 36 degrees (and not as breezy). For a winter New England marathon, that sounds pretty good to me.

Yesterday I picked up a pair of "wind" briefs -- 35% off at Marathon Sports in Cambridge, and another running shirt -- 50% off (Marathon Sports has a winter gear sale going on). I plan to wear the wind briefs under my Race-Ready shorts.

Hey, if you women can blog about your sports bras, I can write about my wind briefs.

I also picked up my gels for the race (Gu -- assorted flavors).

Daughter Anja and boyfriend Ben are on their way now to Hyannis, and together with Anita will form my most awesome support team. Yeah, team! Their most important function is to be at mile 18 to give me my change of shirt and gloves. Even in these cold temperatures, I find that even 16 to 20 miles of running can produce plenty of sweat -- and it gets cold. So I plan to change shirts at that point in the race.

I've planned out my nutrition. I've got my pre-race breakfast with me. Bagel with almond butter. Maybe a little fruit. I drink until 45 minutes before the race. (I tried drinking until 30 minutes prior -- but 30 minutes just wasn't quite long enough to let everything pass through.) I'll take one gel just before the start, and then one every 45 minutes. And I'll take an endurolyte every 60 minutes. This is much less than I did in my last race. That race was a disaster. I think just that little extra electrolyte boost will be plenty for me.

Goal: sub 4:00:00 Target: 3:40 - 3:50

And to recap the race plan...

Miles 1-2 -- 9:05 pace Miles 3-4 -- 8:55 pace Miles 5-6 -- 8:45 pace Miles 7-26.22 -- 8:35 pace for a target finish of 3:47. And as long as I keep it under 9:00, I'll should have my sub-4 race.

Now it's off to drive the course and then check in at the expo.

Next report will be post-race!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

100 Days - 30000 Crunches

So 100 days ago, I saw some of you bloggers out there were picking up on these "daily challenges". I had been following Beansprout who did 100 consecutive days of 10K(+) runs. Then I see Olga takes on a daily challenge that included doing 300 abdominal repetitions per day (along with other "challenges") for 50 days, which she got from Rob the Runner who was doing something similar. So I, almost flippantly, decided to jump on the bandwagon...

Sure, sounds like fun, I'm going to do 300 ab reps per day for 100 days. That would take me almost up to my planned marathon. I figured the core strength would really help in the late miles of the race.

We'll see.

Today, 100 days later, I did my 30000th crunch.

Now I must confess that this represents an average of 300 per day. There were, in fact, days where I missed maybe 100, or 200 reps. Then I would make them up over the next day or two. But the vast majority of days it was 300 reps. A good chunk of them were sort of standard crunches, but I also did reverse crunches, twisting crunches, and other variations focusing on my sides and back as well. I feel pretty good. There were days I really wish I hadn't signed up for it. But I'm the type of person who, when he says he's going to do something, will follow through.

Rock hard abs? Well, pretty firm, but I need to lose a few more pounds before it's really visible. I'm not going to sweat it.

I'm more interested in maintaining my running form between miles 20 and 26 this Sunday. I'm looking forward to that challenge. It's only one day.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Marathon Week

It's already here. I'll be running the Hyannis Marathon this Sunday (Feb. 25th). I did my last real training run today at lunchtime (7 miles). Tomorrow is a day off and then an easy 3 or 4 on Friday (there's a 5K run with Bill Rogers I may try to get in on -- especially since it concludes with beer), and another shakeout jog on Saturday -- maybe 3 miles and a couple strideouts. The race is at 10:00 a.m.

I know, I know. A New England marathon in February?! Hey, I'm not going to have to worry about heat exhaustion. Actually the weather is shaping up to be pretty good for running. Forecast calls for a breezy 37 degrees. As long as Friday's snow gets cleared out, it'll be fine.

So what is my goal? My target range is 3:40 to 3:50. But I'll be satisfied with anything under 4:00. I've been guilty of going out too fast in every marathon I've done (except maybe Phoenix). So I've practiced my race pace cut-down. The first 2 miles will be at 9:05 pace. The next two miles will be 8:55. The next two will be 8:45. After the first 6 miles, I'll hit my remaining race pace of 8:35. An 8:35 pace gets me right around a 3:45 marathon, but the initial cut-down adds 2 minutes so following this plan nets about 3:47. If I'm not feeling trashed at 20 miles, I'll try to get under 3:45 by picking it up just a little bit. That's the plan anyway.

Am I ready for it? I think so. Even though work did at times intrude on my training, I was still able to get in most of my runs. I did miss one of my long runs a couple months back, but I ended up with three 20 to 21 milers (and plenty of 16 to 18 milers) and six weeks of 50+ miles (with a max of 60). I've practiced my marathon goal pace a bit more than previous attempts, so we'll see how this all turns out.

Check out tomorrow's post for an update on the daily challenge!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Haiku for a Taper

snow and ice laced,
a field lies fallow
-- regenerating

Ok, yes it has been quite a while since I posted. And unbelievably, I am already in the last week of my taper for a marathon! Yes! I'm running a marathon this weekend!

More details to follow tomorrow. Suffice to say that I am actually -- finally -- getting out from underneath the pressures of work for a bit. And just in time to rest up for my race.