Marathon Race

Race Report – Baystate Marathon

This was my second attempt at qualifying for Boston. The first attempted ended with my time coming up 2 minutes and 15 seconds short at 3:17:15. Now that I will be in the 45-49 age group bracket for the Boston 2017 I get an extra 10 minutes, so a 3:25:00.

Going into the race I was pretty confident that I would be able to hold at least 7:30s for the first 20 miles. At that point I would reevaluate how I was feeling, but at least I would have about 6 minutes in that bank at that point. I would just have to hold 7:49 the rest of the way and I would be in. Well, that was the plan anyway.

The weather race day morning was going to be cold. A little colder than I had actually hoped for. I like it cold, but I didn’t want it so cold that I was going to have to wear running pants. I got to the race early and walked over to the Tsongas Arena and back to get a feel for how cold it was. I finally decided when I got back to the car that I would go with shorts and my long sleeve tech shirt and one other shirt that I would throw away if I got to warm. I think the temperature was 37 and the high for the day was going to be around 43.

Looking around at the start of the race as we are all lined up I noticed the pacer holding the 3:15 sign. I know that is about a 7:27 pace. I feel like I’m close to that, but then I read the back of his shirt and they have taken into account that to qualify for Boston this year you needed a BQ-2:30. That means this guy is going to run a 3:12:30. I know I’m not going to hit that, if I’m having a good day 3:15 is possible. I decide that I’m going to try to keep that group in my sites for the first half of the race.

The race starts and it is pretty crowded until the half-marathoners break off, but not to bad. There is a guy next to me dressed as bacon as we run. EVERYONE keeps yelling to bacon, “Yeah bacon”, “Bacon is awesome”. It was really pretty funny, but around mile 5 bacon disappeared. During those first few miles we were going at a pretty good clip, average 7:21 for the first 5. I had made a decision to take a Gel every 4 miles this year instead of every 5 like the previous marathon. I made sure they had more sodium in them and also made sure to drink at every water stop. I was determined not to have my calves cramp up like last time.

I was feeling pretty good and the miles were just ticking by. The next 5 miles (6-10) were 7:27 and I fell a little behind that 3:15 group, but I could still see them. They were probably about 100-150 yards ahead of me. I was ok with that though, I needed to run my race and stay in my zone. Another 5 miles go by and we cross the bridge to head back out and the crowd is getting thinner, people have either kept up with the 3:15 group or they have dropped way back because it was just too much for them. I’m averaging 7:25 for these 5 miles (11-15) and still feel pretty comfortable.

Running out toward the bridge the second time there is a group that fell off the back of 3:15 and they are chatting and discussing strategy and I thought I heard them say they were going to try to average 7:30s the rest of the way. I’m thinking great. I can do that! The problem is they are slowing more than that and they are all in the way. Running out to the bridge all you have is a little shoulder to run on. I finally decided I need to be away from them and take off around them and get out in front of them a little bit. I don’t see them again. However there is a young woman that was running just a few yards ahead of me for a while and she was also stuck behind them. When I made the move apparently she did too. When she catches up to me I joked with her that “hey my pacer is back!”, because she was doing a great job of just ticking off the miles and I was hardly ever having to look at my watch.

The next 5 miles (16-20) were tough. They were into the wind and on the road with busy traffic. I couldn’t wait to get over the bridge. Average pace was 7:30 according to my watch. Unfortunately at this point it seemed like my watch was off on the distance a little bit. Not enough to have me overly concerned, but I knew that I was really about 5 seconds slower overall than what the watch was telling me. As I crossed mile 20 they a picture of a wall painted or chalked out on the ground. I didn’t really care for that. Really, we need that psychological nonsense while we are running?

Twenty miles in. This is the point when I thought, just 10K to do. Don’t do anything crazy like pick up the pace, don’t skip a Gel, don’t skip a water station. Keep on ticking off those miles. This strategy was working pretty well, until around mile 22 and 1/2 when I my left quad started to tighten and I thought to myself just relax, don’t get excite, it will pass. Well, it never really went away, but it didn’t get any worse either. Miles 21 and 22 were both 7:30s so still rolling along.

Mile 23 I kind of caught up with a group and we rolled through a water station together and as we came out I was feeling good. A little too good as I’m running along with this group I look at my watch and it says 9:30 pace. Holy Shit! Am I lying kid? Luckily the entire mile wasn’t over and I picked up the pace and managed to get it back to 8:07. It would be my only mile that was over 8 minutes. My pacer friend had fallen behind and I wasn’t paying attention. Luckily I didn’t lose too much time. I rolled through the last 3 miles at 7:35, 7:35 and 7:32.

It wasn’t until I crossed the last bridge with about a half mile to go that I finally let myself believe that I was going to qualify. After my last experience I just wanted to cross that finish line. Total time was 3:17:57. A BQ-7:03!!! I’m thinking 7 minutes should be enough of a buffer to get into the Boston 2017 Marathon.

I want to thank my family for coming out to support me and be there at the finish. Also thank you to coach Fernando Braz for preparing me for the race.

Here is the Garmin and Strava uploads, because if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen. As you will see the distance was a little off. Says I did 26.45 miles.


Marathon Race

Race Report – Baystate Marathon

Well, my first marathon is over and here is how it went down. I ran with my friend Heidi and we got there plenty early for the start. Stretched a little, waited in the bathroom lines (Heidi had to go twice!!!) and finally seeded ourselves for the start of the race with about 5 minutes to the start. The weather was great, probably right around 50 at the start, clear sky and no wind.

The race plan as previously mentioned was to run 5 – 5 milers @ 7:20-7:30 pace and bring it home with a smile as Coach Braz said. Heidi was planning on doing a 3:20 or 3:25 race and I said why not just start with me and see how it goes. We don’t talk much when running but it is nice to have someone to run with and help pace with.

The race starts and we head out. It took us about a half mile to get to our pace because it was so crowded with the marathon and half-marathon starting at the same time. About 2 miles in though the half-marathon turns off so we started to get some spacing. Since Baystate is a two loop course we passed the 13.1 mile park on the first loop and I could remember thinking I’ll be looking forward to seeing that next time around. The first 5 miles went very smoothly and we averaged 7:22. We both took our gels just after mile 5 at the next water stop and kept going. Around mile 8 we cross the bridge in Tyngsboro to head back toward Lowell. From this point back to the bridge that we crossed to head back out for the second loop it feels like it is very flat to down hill.

At mile 10 we took our second Gel and were again averaging about 7:22 pace. We were both feeling pretty good. I was listening to Heidi breath and thinking she is having a great race and having no problem keeping this pace. We were drinking at each water stop, but for me I have a lot of trouble drinking and running. It is more of a gulp and splash. My inefficiency at drinking and running would come back to haunt me later.

Heading through mile 15 we passed the half way point and were just cruising along, another 5 miles down at 7:21 pace. Back at around mile 8 we realized that we were running with a guy who had his own personal water station biking along side him. The cool thing for us was that he was going our pace. We just figured let him pace us and fell in behind him. Once and a while we would take the lead when he was drinking or getting nutrition but he would eventually be up front again with his biking buddy riding along beside him.

Through mile 20 I was still feeling pretty good and I handed Heidi her last Gel and was planning to start to push a little harder. Heidi dropped back a little bit but not much. I was really just keeping pace with the guy running with his bike buddy. Again through mile 20 we had averaged 7:21 pace.

The next 5 miles is when disaster struck. My calves started twitching around mile 22 and became very bad at mile 23. Heidi who never dropped far back came running up next to me and we were running together again. Then around mile 24 I had to stop and stretch my calves. They were just so tight that I could hardly walk. I stretched them and started running and was ok for probably another half mile and then would have to repeat the stretching. This went on for the rest of the 5 miles. Finally in the middle of he last mile I had to stop for probably 30 seconds to loosen them up even more. At the water stops I would literally stop and just drink 3 or 4 cups of gatorade/water. It was too late though, I was dehydrated and couldn’t do anything about it at this point. I lost almost 2 minutes of time over the last mile.

Heidi was nice enough to slow down and run with me and keep encouraging me. It was a very tough last mile. I ended up running a 3:17:15 and missing qualifying for Boston by 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

Here is the tale of the tape on Garmin and Starva where you can see how things fell apart toward the end of mile 22. and

Congratulations to Heidi on having a great race and Personal Best time. She could have easily been under 3:15 if she had not waited for me.

While it was discouraging to not meet my goal. I know that I am capable of running a 3:15 and just have to be more conscious of drinking through the water stops.


Baystate Marathon Strategy

All of the workouts are finally over! This morning was the last track workout before the marathon this coming Sunday. Tomorrow is a short and easy 5 mile run, Friday is a day off and Saturday is another short easy 25-30 minute jog. This all leading up to my first marathon that is not part of Ironman. The goal is to qualify for Boston. To get to Boston in my age group I need a 3:15 or approximately 7:27 minute miles.

My coach, Fernando Braz, has given me the plan for the race. He wants me to focus on executing 5 miles at a time.

5 miles @ 7:30-7:20
5 miles @ 7:30-7:20
5 miles @ 7:30-7:20
5 miles @ 7:30-7:20
5 miles @ 7:30-7:20
and then bring it home for the last 1.2!

Sounds like a good plan to me. I’ve already entered into my watch so it will notify me if I leave that range. I’m most concerned early on about going out too fast. After I get to the 20 mile point I will evalutate how I feel to see if I want to try and get to a 7:15 pace for the last 5 miles segment.

The other large component here is nutrition. I need to bring a couple of gels with me so because they only provide two on course. I think I want to be sure to drink at each water stop and have a gel every 5 miles.

The course is supposed to be fast and flat. Well, from the elevation chart it looks pretty flast with a total of 335 feet gained over the entire marathon. Hopefully that will make me fast!