Wednesday, April 23, 2008

2008 Boston Marathon Race Report

Monday morning at 4 AM, Mark and I departed Connecticut for the one hour and fifteen minute drive to Hopkinton, MA. We drove to the designated industrial park where we would catch a shuttle to the starting line. The brochure said there was “limited” parking and the shuttles would start at 6 AM, so we figured we’d give ourselves plenty of time to execute plan B if something went awry. We didn’t have a plan B, but we figured we’d worry about that when and if we needed to...

We were pretty close to being the first ones to arrive at the industrial park. Place was empty. So we chilled and broke out the camping gear in the suburban. We tried to create a bit of a trail race environment in this road running mecca of an event.

Eventually people started to arrive, the parking lot filled up and the school bus shuttles got to work transporting the hordes of runners. We were comfortable and relaxed and wondered why people were in such a rush to get over to the start, which was still over 3 hours away. We finished our breakfast, gathered our stuff, used the port-o-lets, changed into our running gear and hopped on a shuttle around 8:00.

Our bus pulled onto highway 495, drove about a ¼ mile and then got backed up in the traffic that was lined up all the way to the Hopkinton exit. It was still several miles until the exit. 45 minutes went by and we inched along not making much progress. People on the bus started to get a little antsy. A bus full of Type A personalities with things not going as planned, can create some tension. As 9 AM approached, the 10 AM start no longer seemed too far away. So we asked the driver to blow down the middle lane and slip back in line by the exit ramp and cut off the other busses that were waiting. She hemmed and hawed and finally gave in to the crowd and did it! She rocked! She easily saved us 25 minutes!

Even with the heroics of our bus driver, we didn’t arrive at the athlete’s village until 9:30. We dropped off our bags at another set of buses that would take our stuff to the finish. We then followed the thousands of runners being herded the mile to the starting line. I had to relieve myself from all my hydrating, but there was no opportunity as we strolled through the residential neighborhood. The police were out in force chasing people and handing out tickets to runners that were trying to ditch behind peoples houses to pee. It was pretty funny. It reminded me of the chase scenes in the Benny Hill show:

Right before the starting line corrals, there were some porta potties so I hopped in line to wait. There was no chance that I was going to get in before the start, so I scanned around for other options. I was right by some bushes so I said heck with it and just went right there. A couple other guys followed me and started to go as well. In mid stream I looked up and saw a cop running right for us! “What are your numbers?” he shouted. Damn! I shut down the plumbing and ditched into the crowd, narrowly escaping The Man. That was a close one!

Mark and I made it into our corral just as the national anthem was being sung. The clouds were lifting and the sky was clearing (not quite in time for the flyover though, which was a bummer.) With the sun breaking through, the temperature warmed pretty quickly. I flung my long sleeve and was ready to go. The race started and it was pretty cool to feel the mass of runners get underway. I woke up 7 hours ago and now the race was finally starting!! Because of the downhill nature of the beginning of the course you could see the thousands of runners up ahead, which was pretty wild.

Because I had to evade the police before the race, I had to pull up short and didn’t get to finish my business. Mark had to pee too since he never got the opportunity to go before the start. There were many runners ditching off into the woods in the first mile of the race. So we did the same and I was able to finish relieving myself. Ahhh, ok, now I was ready to run!

After the pee stop warm up first mile (8:10) we fell into a nice rhythm of 7:30 /mile pace. My hip felt ok. It was a little stiff, but it didn’t hurt and wasn’t hindering my running at all. So far, so good! Soon the spectators started to increase along the course. The energy from the runners, the spectators and the sun was incredible! What an awesome feeling!

As we cruised along I noticed that it was incredibly congested but that it wasn’t a problem. People weren’t tripping over each other. Everyone was a solid runner and was moving at a consistent pace. Pretty neat.

At around mile 12 a roar could be heard in the distance. As we progressed the noise got louder and louder. Soon we were passing by the cheering girls of Wellesley College. Wow!!! Talk about enthusiasm!! Simple description is this: We were the Beatles and they were excited out of control teenage girls!! I ran down the right side and high-fived about 250 of the girls. That was a lot of fun.

The first half went by in a flash. Mark and I hit the ½ marathon point at 1:38:24 (7:30 pace). I had no intention of going that fast and probably had no business going that fast, but I think I was in a euphoric zone, absorbing the spectacle of the race. It was fantastic!

I think high fiving the women of Wellesley took me a little out of my rhythm. I started to fatigue and slowed a bit to 7:40 per mile for the next 3 miles. Mark and I then hit the Newton hills and I slowed even more. I finally ran out of steam going up heartbreak hill. This is where I felt the effects of my lack of recent training. I’ve only logged 81 slow miles over the past 5 weeks. That’s a pretty wimpy 16 miles/week! (Not quite worthy of an ultra-runner-wanna-be-in-training!) Even though I had to take a walking break, the excitement of heartbreak hill was pretty cool. I didn’t feel bad that I was walking; I just tried to focus on keeping moving as quickly as I could. When I got to mile 21 I was pumped that it was just a 5 mile run to the finish.

But those 5 miles weren’t that easy. I had a couple of occasions where my legs cramped and locked up. So I had to stop, stretch, and massage them a few times. But I kept moving. Turning the final corner onto Boylston was awesome! The finish line in sight, the crazy loudness of the cheering spectators, the sense of accomplishment, the exhaustion… All good stuff!!

I'm right beneath the balloons

It was a little dicey towards the end with the cramping, but I was able to finish and complete the race in a respectable 3:34:27. (8:11 pace) Mark was able to hold onto our original pace, kicked butt and finished in 3:23:09. Nice work!!

Here are my mile split times. Can you guess when I hit heartbreak hill?

After going through the runners chute and getting water, food, heat blanket, my medal, and removing my chip, I met up with Mark, Shannon, Keith and Kourtney. We went over to the Prudential Center, put some dry clothes on, relaxed and grabbed a bite to eat.

Myself and Mark

Our last piece of business was to get back to Hopkinton to drop Mark off at his suburban. While we were getting our stuff out of Mark’s vehicle, a motorcycle cop pulled up behind us. Crap, they were coming to ticket me for public peeing before the race!! But that was not the case, the officer was just asking us how the race went and was looking to shoot the breeze. We chatted with him about the extensive task it is to clean up after the race and the amount of coordination involved in this amazing event. As he repeatedly spit out his chew he talked how he dreads this event each year…

And with that, the 2008 Boston Marathon is in the books.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Boston Update

Race was awesome!! What an incredible event!! Finished in 3:34.

Race report to follow in a day or two...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Baastin Marathon

Yesterday afternoon Shannon and I cruised up to the 112th Boston Marathon race expo and picked up my packet.

My race bib

At the expo

Shannon made some posters

My mind might need to take over right from the start…

I’m fighting a stomach bug which isn’t helping my hydration and nutrition. (Alex was sick this week and I helped him eat an ice cream cone the other night. Bad move.) Last night my stomach felt stable enough to try some food for the first time in 36 hours. So after going to the expo we hit the P.F. Changs by the Prudential Center and I had a bowl of rice.

It’s going to be the B.R.A.T. diet for me this weekend!

So my preparation leading up to Monday’s marathon hasn’t been ideal. (I wonder how many people’s blogs out there have a similar statement?) My focus has been to heal my ailing hip as opposed to training for a marathon. I must say though I am pleased that I’ve seen progress and that my hip hurts less each day. The physical therapy routine of stretches and exercises has been effective. I just wish I started it a month ago instead of waiting so long (and just hoping it would all go away.) Oh well. So although this wasn’t what I had in mind for Boston training, I am happy that I am physically ok enough to go ahead with doing the race!

The weather for Monday looks like it will be perfect: Upper 50’s and partly cloudy. The excitement of the race is already buzzing around the city. I’m psyched to be a part of such an awesome event! A great reward for all the hard work of training over the long haul!

I think I’ll take the advice of my fortune cookie from P.F. Changs last night: "Relax and enjoy yourself. "


Finally its been warm enough to get outdoors with the kids. The kids playing and running outside make for great nights of sleep!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A run and some therapy

Last night at around 8 PM Shan and I had the kids to sleep and it was decision time: Go for a run or go to bed. I had just completed a routine day: getting the kids up, getting them dressed, dropping them off at daycare, putting a day in at work, meeting the family at home for dinner and directing at least 1/8th of the food into the kids bellies and not at each other or all over the floor, refereeing during playtime, trying to keep the water in the tub during baths, reading some books and executing the bedtime routine. Normally that doesn’t tire me out, but last night I felt tired and sluggish. I think it was allergies. I had a headache, sore throat and felt achy. I really didn’t feel up for a run. But I ignored what my body wanted, which was rest (and ice cream) and new the right decision was to just get my butt out for a run. So I dragged myself out for my standard 7 ¼ mile route.

The very first step of my run woke up the enormous blister (compliments of my feet being out of running shape and then doing a 14 mile trail run on Saturday) on my left foot. Uhhh… Oouch! Ok, ignore the blister. My next focus was getting the hip warmed up. It was stiff and sore and my legs didn’t want to turn over very fast. I had difficulty settling into any kind of smooth stride. It kinda felt like I was making a run for the border through a mud bog with drugs smuggled up my ass. I concentrated on pushing through and warming up, but it was as if my body was yelling at me “Are you stupid? Are you not getting any of my signals? Do I need to inflict more suffering to get you to go home and to bed?” My lungs began wheezing and I developed a cough. Wtf? I was having difficulty catching my breath. It then became apparent that it was not as warm out as I thought. I only had a thin layer on with no gloves or hat and I started to get cold. Freezing actually. My hands were numb and the wind picked up when I turned onto a less sheltered street. You got to be kidding me. I’m just going for a 7 mile run and I feel like I’m on some epic journey across a frozen tundra. Then my ankle started to scream, reminding me that I rolled it on Saturday and that it didn’t like me right now. What is this the first run of my life? I thought to myself, tonight is perfect justification to the anti-runners of the world that running is just plain stupid. Why punish yourself when you can be eating ice cream and watching TV?

But as I agonized my way through each stride, I couldn’t help noticing how awesome the sky looked. There was a cool afterglow of the sun which had set an hour ago and the stars were out in force. As pitiful as my run was going I still was enjoying just being outside and happy that I was on my 2nd run in three days as opposed to 2nd run in 3 weeks. I completed the route in 1:07 which was the slowest I’ve ever run that route. But I think it was one of my most satisfying runs. I had no business running last night but I knew I needed to get out. And I’m glad I did.

I had my first therapy session today. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I called the office a few weeks ago to set up an appointment and the receptionist said that she could “Do me on Tuesday at 1:30.” Very nice. “Therapy is going to be great!” I thought.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Plan B: Case Mtn.

The original plan for today was to run the Northern Nipmuck Trail Race (16 miles). However, due to my ailing hip, I had been wavering on wether or not to actually do the race. I was unsure on how much I could actually run and also feared getting caught up in a race environment and pushing myself too hard and causing some further damage. Also, Mark was looking to head down to NJ and the 10:00 race start time didn’t suit his travel plans (and he’s been nursing an injured ankle.) So we both decided on bagging out and going out for our own trail run earlier in the morning. This way I could take it easy and test my hip and do whatever distance I could handle and Mark could be done at a better time to get on the road. It was a bummer to not support a local race but it was a decision best suited for our situations. A friend pointed out to us “Don’t jeopardize the bigger plans” which is in reference to our first 100-miler attempt this summer. Absolutely true!

So Mark and I met up at 7 AM at Case Mountain and put in a 14 mile run at a controlled pace. We explored a bit and made it around the reservoir, an area that we had only mountain biked to in the past.

My hip felt surprisingly a lot better than I anticipated. The time off my feet is slowly allowing me to recover. The pain peaked on the downhills when I had to absorb the most impact, but it was manageable. I rolled my ankle towards the end of the run and wasn’t thrilled about that. Oh well, sh#t happens. I was happy to get in almost 3 hours on the trails and hopefully my hip didn’t take too much abuse. Post run assessment of the hip was positive: Things didn’t feel too bad! It seems to be a bit of a rollercoaster for me lately. In the past week, I attempted two runs and could hardly move and had to hobble back to my starting point, but today I could manage a steady run with a respectable distance. I’m looking forward to physical therapy on the hip in a few days.

Gear note: Mark’s Inov-8 Roclite 285s saw their first significant mileage today. Mark reported that they were indeed light, had great traction (which was key with the slick trail today), and no blistering or hot spots were experienced. A solid thumbs up rating!

I’m hoping to break out my new Inov-8 Roclite 318 GTXs soon and am looking forward to getting them dirty!

After the run I retraced the first section of the trail to snap a few pics. Also, here's a link to a couple of Buckingham Reservoir pics which we ran around this morning.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Last Few Days

Sunday I took advantage of the 40 + degree temp and sunshine and hit the roads for 35 miles of cycling. Although I enjoy running, I must say I love cycling. I hope to put in some more miles on the bike this year!

Tuesday I saw the Doc and x-rays of my hip were negative. Looks like my hip muscles just need some strengthening. I'll be starting physical therapy next week. (I've been scheduled for 3 X a week for 4 weeks.)

This morning I hit the pool again. I might try some running tomorrow...