Saturday, February 4, 2017

January Review

January was a month of anticipation for me.  With Shara in her final month of pregnancy, my mind was on the arrival of our new baby while trying to balance work, running, and the rest of my life.

We received an exciting surprise in mid-January with the arrival of our baby girl.  She weighed a healthy 8lbs, 0 oz. and arrived 12 days early.  Amazingly, Shara kept running her mile right up until three days before birth.  While really starting to feel it, Shara even rode our stationary bike for 5 miles the day before giving birth! I was certainly impressed and in awe of this feat.  While we are thrilled and excited to have our little girl, the level of tiredness and fatigue is something neither of us have faced before.

Full disclosure: I thought marathon training would be much more strenuous and physically exhausting than regular wake-ups during the middle of the night.  Sleep deprivation is just a whole other animal.

While this new life style is certainly not permanent, my fitness goals are sort of on the back burner. My main goal is to stay as active and as shape as I possible can, while not being selfish or depriving my other responsibilities.  Initially I thought it might be possible to pull off a spring marathon, but I just don't see if happening due to low motivation and lack of long runs.  I'll keep an open mind moving ahead and see what happens.  To maintain as much fitness as possible, keep the dogs happy, and get a little rest, I've been splitting up my daily runs during the week to two short daily runs.  So far, it is working and I remind myself to stay flexible.  Most of all, I'm thrilled to have a healthy, thriving baby!

January Fitness/Strava Stats:
Miles: Approximately 185
Average Weekly Mileage: 40
Average # of Weekly Runs: 9
Off Days/Week: 1
Stretching: 1X/Week (Need to stick to this)
Bike/Swim: 0 No time

Overall, I'm really happy with the running I was able to pull off during the month of January.

Running Highlights include:
-I had fun with the dogs,
-Started trail running with Riley.  I've always been paranoid about him getting ticks but we treat monthly and I also recently purchased an organic tick repellent.
- Racing the Resolution 5k on the beach and in the trails during a snow storm. I can't say I ran particular well or poorly, but it was a fun experience with good competition. I'm hoping to run a couple of more races in the series if possible.
-A couple of snow's always great to get out there when the white stuff is on the ground.\

Riley with his new trail friends.
His longest run in duration and 2nd trail run ever.  

There's no run like a snow run!

I'll see what February brings.  Onward!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking back, moving forward

The Numbers
 # of runs: 360
*Interesting number that I can only attribute to warmups, cool downs, and short doubles.
Time: 236 hours
Distance: 2065  miles (approximately 900 more than 2015)

# of rides-41
Time: 45 hours
Distance: 780 miles (Rode 1375 in 2015 to make just about 600 less than 2016)

 # of swims: 42
Time: 23 hours, 11 minutes
Distance: 78,900 yds *Never tracked before 2016 but less than last year.

Physical Therapy
# of PT sessions: 22. Approximately 2X a week from late September to early December for hip stability issues.

# of races: 17
Marathon: 1
Half: 1
Tris: 3
3 mile/5ks: 9 on a variety of courses
5 miler: 1
10 miler: 1
8 mile trail: 1

Top times:
5k: 16:54
5 miler: 28:42
1/2 marathon: 1:18:17 (unofficial)
Marathon: 2:52:20

Best 3 Performances
1. Providence Marathon: 2:52:20, 10th overall.  PR.  After a winter and early spring of helping Shara train for Boston, I finally jumped in a marathon of my own and it went quite well.  Really happy with how I felt during the race and how controlled I ran.  Cross this bad boy off the bucket list!

Thanks for the inspiration, Shara
Coach Walker! Pleasant surprise and support at my first marathon

2.  Avondale 5k: 16:54.  No where near any of my top times but it felt pretty good to get back under 17 and feel strong racing.

Feeling good

3. Rhode Warrior Olympic: 2:29:58, 2nd overall.  Any time I finish this high in a TRI regardless of who shows up, I have to feel good about it.  My biking miles were pathetic in 2016.  After a strong swim and very weak bike ride on a challenging course, I was able to make up for it on the run.  A week prior to this race I started to feel pain throughout the bottom of my foot.  Ultimately, I was able to get a treatment two days prior to the race that really helped me out and it lead me to PT.

*A not amazingly fast, yet solid Clamdigger performance (28:42) could definitely be considered as one of my top 3 of 2016.

2016 Clamdigger

Performances I wish went better:
1. BI Tri: 1:20:27, 7th overall, 1st AG. The BI Tri is always a fun day with great company but I wasn't happy with how I felt or how things went down.  Thoughts on the course: The swim is great (always clear water out there) and pretty quick, the bike course is super hilly and dangerous, and the run is dependent upon conditions (this past year it was high tide and hot).  I paid for not doing enough work on the bike during this race.

BI TRI 2016
I may not have been thrilled with my result or the course but it's always a fun day with these guys.

2. Blessing: 1:00:15, 31st place.  2016 was a complete suffer fest due heat and humidity.  My pre-race goal was to break 60 minutes..heat or not, it did not happen.  In my two previous performances (2003 & 2004) I ran in the 56 minute range.  One of my goals 2016 goals was to sub 60 in this race.  I'll be back!

I'll be back and hopefully under an hour
Couldn't hydrate fast enough

What Worked (in no particular order)
1. More consistent running
2. Almost a weekly workout
3. Long runs to build a strong base in the winter/spring
4. Core/Stretching/Yoga.  Possibly the MOST important thing I do.
5. Running with Shara, the dogs, and my running buds

What didn't (in no particular order)
1. Biking (didn't ride enough and don't enjoy nearly as much as running)

2. Summer training.  Or maybe TRI training.  I love TRIs but my biggest gripe is that I never feel like I'm doing enough.  By August, I was hurting throughout my left side..never received a diagnosis but was fortunate enough to work throughout the fall with a PT to get things straight.   With the feeling of not doing enough, I didn't take true off days (like a day when I just stretch or do core).  I need to do better in 2017 if I want to stay healthy in this area.   In running, triathlon, and life--you can't have it all.  Something has to give.

2016 Goal Assessment
General-run healthy, compete to the best of my ability, have fun, train with Shara/Dogs/WTAC buds, and keep it fresh. ACHIEVED
-5k: A goal-get back to a 16:45 5k, B goal-Sub 17. B goal ACHIEVED
-5 mile: Sub 29 minutes.  ACHIEVED
-10k: Sub 36 minutes N/A
-Compete and maintain Top 5 finishes at BI & OCY Tris FAIL.  *Did not race OCY
-Help Shara train for Boston. ACHIEVED
-Swim at least once a week/track swim distance.  FAIL but did track my swims
-Run one speed workout a week even if short ACHIEVED
-Continue to do core exercises to prevent injuries ACHIEVED
-Get on the bike come spring. Sort of FAILED
-Run the Blessing (must be sub 60 for me to be happy). FAILED
-Run in another country. FAILED

2016 Score-Achieved: 6, Failed: 5, NA: 1

All in all, 2016 was a good year!

2017 Goals

Stay healthy, continue core work, stretching, and speed work at least one day a week, have a healthy balance of all things. enjoy the baby, stay consistent, track all physical activity on Strava, run with the dogs, and have fun.

Running buds

 -Run races again with Shara
-Run another marathon.. A. Sub 2:52 B: Sub 2:55 C BQ.  Could be spring or fall. May be a difficult goal to fulfill based off training, running health, and Daddy duties.
-5k A. Sub 16:50, B Sub 17
-Sub 29 at Clamdigger
-Run Blessing and sub 60.
-Compete in 2-3 sprint TRIs..maybe try a new one or two.
-Compete in seasonal races (Halloween, Christmas)
-Compete in as many WTAC events as possible
-Complete the Clamshell series
-Run at least a fun run or two with the baby in the stroller.

All ready to go!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Catching up: ST, Beach Run, OS XC, & Pumpkins

Since I have fallen behind on my blogging, I figured it might be a good idea to write up a brief synopsis of my recent races.  My training has been okay--running has been consistent--but I'm still working out some physical issues (misaligned pelvis, neck/back pain, foot soreness).  While things haven't been great physically, I have been able to race and stay in the game, which is a big upside.  So back to my racing:

Surftown 5k-1st, 17:36
I had to downgrade from the half.  While I was looking forward to running a well organized half marathon on local roads, moving to the 5k turned out to be a win-win.  Race day weather was absolutely horrible with some serious humidity and heavy winds.  All of a sudden the prospect of running a 5k, seemed pretty smart.

While warming up my foot bothered me.  I told myself to just focus on racing and that even if it hurt, I'd be done pretty quickly.  After hanging with Jeff and Mikey before their race, I had a little time to spend with Shara.  I then headed out to do some strides and ran into Crutch, who was on hand to do some spectating.  As we lined up for the gun, I tried to size up my competition and did not see anyone familiar.  A minute or so later the gun went off and I tried to get out quickly.  Heading out to Ocean View Highway, I ran into a strong headwind and chased the lead car and a biker. As I approached the cone turn around, I was starting to feel fatigued from the steady wind and humidity.  Turning at the cone was a sigh of relief--I no longer had to deal with the wind.  I just focused on the lead bike and tried to stay at a good pace.  Running in the lead always feels great and I was fortunate enough to lead this one from start to finish.

Any win is a good win!

Quick thoughts:
-I was fortunate to have  support out on the course from Shara, Crutch, and Matthew.
-My time was not fast but conditions were definitely impacted by the wind & humidity
-I was happy I did not run the half with the humidity..felt bad for my friends in that race
-Course was a boring out and back
-Glad I did it.

Stavros Beach Run 3 miler, 17:04, 2nd
This annual WTAC events is one of my favorites.  While I never enjoy the end of summer, I enjoy running the beach at low tide in a friendly, low key atmosphere.  I had no intentions of doing anything special at this race, I simply showed up and hoped to get a good workout.  The race had a solid turnout and the WHS XC teams showed up, which greatly increased the numbers.  Off the gun, I was in the lead but only because Matthew was talking it to easy.  He let me know right before the race that he'd be passing me at Mile 2.  Matthew ended up easily passing me at about 1.5 miles and made it look pretty easy out there.  I ended up finishing second and ended up getting the workout I wanted.  Post race I took a quick jump in the water--which probably turned out be my last of the summer.  Congrats to Matthew on another win and Gazelle on a strong 3rd place.

Ocean State XC Trail 5k, 17:43, 2nd
My type of trail running!  This XC race, which is put on by Run Rhody and is sort of an exhibition at a huge school invite, was a fun one.  I love running in the trails of Goddard Park--the only motivation I needed was a couple of teammates to join me.  With Matthew racing in the Boys' Championship Race later in the day, I was able to get Jeff to commit.  Mikey B. later accepted my sales pitch after I reported to him that the trails were they way we liked them, paved...just kidding!  Having Mikey and Jeff gave it a fun, team feel and reminded me of my younger days and all the camaraderie that XC has to offer.

I ran in 2nd place the entire race.  A guy racing with a Rhode Runner singlet took first and I ended up crossing the line feeling pretty good at 17:43.  I really enjoyed all things about this race.  Sure, I would have liked to have run faster but really enjoyed the trails and experience.  While it may be a 40 minute drive from home, I'd consider this one again.  Mikey and Jeff, you in for 2017?

WTAC Run for the Pumpkins Trail 5k, 20:53, 6th
The Run for the Pumpkins is a race that WTAC gave a new lifeline to.  Hard to believe, but I never ran the race while it was a road 5k.  I do remember the race only getting a small amount of participants and seeming like a doomed race.  Due to the hard work of Gazelle and WTAC, the race changed venues to Bradford Preserve and would now be a trail 5k.  With outstanding organization, trail clearing, and a fall like feel to it,  the 2015 installment of this race was an instant hit.  Even a road guy like me ran it!  I ended up coming back again this year to what turned out to be an even better race.  Race participants increased-the Westerly middle and high school teams supported it-the course offered a variety of terrain that made it fun.

As for my racing, I ended up running a minute faster than last year.  Trails are not my strength, but I was happy to be within sight of Jonny and Gazelle for most of the race.  I ran my first and last miles pretty strong and really struggled during the single track, more technical portion of the race.  The race was very well marked and I had fun with it.  After this one, I'm even contemplating doing Lil' Rhody.  Who knows?  Anyway, the 2016 Pumpkins race was a fun one.  Congrats to Matthew on the win and Justin, Jonny, Gazelle, and Mikey B. on some solid racing out there.

and we are off!
Finishing up!  Why couldn't the whole course be in this grass field?

Monday, September 5, 2016

RW Olympic

RW Olympic Distance Tri
2:29:58, 2nd overall

Your swim time was 23:20.
Your first transition time was 01:04.
Your bike time was 1:23:23.
Your second transition time was 01:26.
Your run time was 40:45.
{Break down of my splits received from timing services)

Heading into this race, I was concerned about the lack of biking I did this year and a nagging injury that appeared about five days before the race.  With the help of some friends, I was able to get a pre-race treatment that helped me out on the run and took away some anxiety I was feeling about completely blowing up and getting more hurt out there.  With this race being as close to home as any, it was nice not having to travel to a race.

Swim-1 mile-23:20
This year's swim would be involve two ocean loops.  To make things even more interesting, competitors had to get out of the water after the first loop, jog down the beach, and jump back in for the second lap.  I ended up having one of the better swims on the day.  I was able to get into a pretty good groove out there and felt comfortable.  As I strategized the remainder of my race in the water, I knew having a strong swim and run would be essential to any potential success.

After the first loop
Out of the water and one of the better swims on the day!
T1: uneventful.

Bike-26.5 miles-1:23:23
The night prior to the race competitors were informed that the bike course would be changing due to construction.  The course ended up being a few miles shorter than previous years but was equally challenging.  There are some pretty difficult climbs along the way and these climbs stretched out the TRI pretty quickly.  For the majority of the bike ride, I ended up getting rocked.  It was demoralizing to have bikers going flying by and not being able to respond to their moves.  I did my best out there but it wasn't good enough.   Based off my own calculations, I averaged about 19 mph.  Coming into transition, I had no idea what place I was in but felt like I was "back" there.

Coming into T2

T2: Parched.  I was pretty tired from the bike and did not take any fluids up to this point in the race. Regardless of time impact, I was gulping down a Gatorade.  Leaving T2, I was feeling pretty headed (both literally and figuratively) after my poor ride.  I was looking to offer some payback to the some of the athletes who went flying by me.

Run: 6.5 miles, 40:45
Home turf.  My strength. Once I started my run, I tried not to let my emotions take over and reminded myself that I was feeling pretty beat and not to get too aggressive too soon.   Since I didn't have a GPS watch on, I ran off feel and whoever may be in front of me.  Running down Atlantic, there was a headwind.  Once I turned on Weekapaug Road, the heat settled in.  I felt like I was struggling until I reached the top of Noyes Neck Road.  While I may have felt a struggle, I was passing everyone who passed me on the bike and it felt pretty good.  Coming along Atlantic Ave, I felt strong.  Approaching the Old Town Teach, there was one competitor in front of me.  I was able to overtake him, we exchanged well wishes in the form of grunts, and I headed for the finish line.  I ended up running at around 6:15 pace for the run and was happy with my effort.  After crossing the line, I was informed I placed 2nd.  I was thrilled with my overall placing.

On a mission!

Post race:
Quickly caught up  with my family and Jeff and Matthew (who competed in the Sprint race and were trying to catch the end of the Olympic Marathon), packed up my gear in transition, took a jump in the ocean, and went home.  After having Shara wait around all day for me, I didn't think it was fair to make her wait even longer for awards.

-Positives: happy with my swim, run, and overall placing.  My foot and left side were giving me issues pre-race and I don't feel like it impacted my performances.  
-I love to compete but after a sufferfest of summer racing, I was happy not to have any big races coming up.
-My bike ride stunk.  I have no one to blame for except myself and the time I did not spend on the time this year.  Moving forward, I know I need to ride more but also do not enjoy spending hours on end on the machine.  The top riders are have better bikes and based off how much I ride, I'm just fine with the one I own.  This area is a weakness and probably a focus area for 2017.
-This may be my last TRI of the year due to other commitments.  I only raced three this year and this sport still intrigues me and I have room for growth.
-Looming injury.  As I previously mentioned, I received some help from friends to get a pre-race treatment in.  Post-race-the issues came back and I think I have issues with my alignment.  Various areas of my left side are my ailments.  The key areas of discomfort and pain are my upper back/neck, bottom of foot, and back of my heel.  I need to get into PT and address these issues before they get worse.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Block

7th place overall, 1st in AG, 1:20:27

The BI Tri is the race that attracted me to the sport.  While hanging out at my cousin's bachelor party in 2012, I ran into the Gazelle and Schonns shortly after they finished the race.  I told myself that day that I'd be back the following year to do the race.  The race sounded fun, unique, and was in a cool place-The Block. Fast forward to 2016 and I would be heading back to BI for my 4th consecutive race. After a really solid showing in 2015, I was hoping to carry the momentum  into the 2016 addition.  Days and weeks prior to the race I was concerned about my lack of focus and work on the bike.  Time would only tell.

On race day I woke up at 4 am, had a quick breakfast, packed my race gear in the car, met Mikey, and boarded the 6 am ferry.  Regardless of the race outcome, I knew it would be a good day since a group of us were headed out to BI.  After departing the ferry we headed over to Benson Beach for check in. With alphabetical transition, I set up right near Mikey and Westerly Triathlete/Runner, Mark B.  With plenty of time before the start, we were able to check out surf conditions, analyze the tide for the run, warm-up, and get a feel for the water before the race. Shortly before 9 am, all athletes were called to the beach for pre-race instructions and then lined up in heats.  

Swim-7:20, Rank 16
With a short run before entering the water, I wanted to get a clean start but did not feel the need to sprint into the water as some other competitors did.  Once in the water, I tried to get in a rhythm and stay towards the front of the pack,  Heading out to the first buoy, I was in 3rd place in my heat. By the time we reached the buoy, I pulled into second and the top guy had a decent lead on me.  While I was focused on my wave I was also tangled up with a variety of other swimmers from different waves. Throughout the entire swim, my goggles were fogged up, which made it especially difficult to tell what was going on.  Departing the water, the same guy that was ahead of me remained in place and I ran towards transition.

T1: 1:30, Rank 21 
Uneventful.  I always struggle with getting my wetsuit off and just try to remember the essentials before heading out on bike (bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses).    I remember being really thirsty before the bike but did not take the time for a swig of gatorade.  

Bike: 39:37, Rank 40
My least favorite and weakest leg of any TRI.  With the hills, a windy bike course, and lack of bike prep, I was especially worried about this portion of my race.  I was hoping that my swim and run would carry my overall time and that I'd just make it through the bike.  While I passed a ton of athletes (most of who I assume to be non-serious), same of the race leaders blew by me on the bike. Working hard and struggling along, the bike demoralized me.  After all of the climbing and wind, I felt pretty gassed by the end of the bike.   While I didn't feel good, I reminded myself that a bad run for me would be a good run for most triathletes {This is a positive fact that I pointed out to Mikey, Jeff, & Matthew pre-race}.  

T2: :58, Rank 51
I skidded into T2, ran to my area, threw off bike gear, slugged some gatorade, and hoped to make u some time.  In regards to overall place, I had no idea how I was doing in the race. I knew I didn't have a great bike though.

Run: 31:02, Rank 7
Heading out on the run, I was feeling it.  Low energy, thirst, and general fatigue.  Regardless, it was the strongest discipline and the one I've trained the most for this year.  I knew the high tide run was going to be a struggle but hoped I'd get stronger as the run went on.  At about 1/2 mile into the run or so, I had to come to a complete stop due to a pile up of athletes crossing the rocky water area.  It was frustrating because I wanted to move and gain as much time as possible but I also didn't want to jam myself up in the process {I'm sure other athletes felt the same sentiment}.  Finally getting through, I knew I go through the same thing in just a few minutes after the turnaround. Headed back down the beach, I was passing athletes but it didn't seem like as many as I normally would.  Whenever I passed or saw someone, it looked like he/she was struggling.  I knew I looked and felt the same way.  While I love the beach and ocean, I don't like running in thick sand or water. By the time I reached the second turn around, I was doing whatever I could to slug down two waters as I was really parched.  The run in was horrible.  Note all of the conditions I previously mentioned along with a strong headwind.  I felt like I wasn't racing anymore-just trying to get to the finish. While no other runner passed me,  I knew I had a poor run and was feeling it.  Crossing the finish, I was happy to be done but less than happy with my race.  I situated myself by the water and gatorade jugs and replenished all of the fluids I lost.  I watched my WTAC teammates come in,  cooled off in the ocean, packed up my gear, showered, and hung out for awards.

Post race
Hung out with Mikey and the Gazelle's.  I was very happy to pull off an age group win on day when I didn't perform well.  Also thrilled by some outstanding racing from the Gazelle's and Mikey B.  We grabbed lunch at a local restaurant on Corn Neck Road and then hung out by the shops in town before heading out on the ferry.  Despite how I felt about my performance, I had a great day with great people.

A hungry group!

-A fun day, but a tough day. Very happy with my AG win-but disappointed I didn't place a little higher.  A better run would have probably gained me a couple spots.
-Weak bike.  As I previously mentioned the bike is my weakest and least favorite leg of the TRI.  This is the discipline I need to work on the most on..need to motivate myself to work harder on the bike.
-Satisfied with my swim.  Haven't put in the time or yards I did last year and still did well in this area.  I'll take it!
-Like the Blessing, another strong performance by my friends teammates (Jeff, Matthew, Mikey, & Steve).
-BI stands as a unique TRI.  Conditions can alter any race-the beach run offers other intangibles.
-Will I be back to this race? Yes.  Will I be back next year? Not sure.
-Enjoyed the post-race lunch and hanging out with the guys.
-After two weeks of sufferfests, I'm losing motivation for racing.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Blessing

The Blessing is a Rhode Island Classic.  In my opinion, the race stands as the ultimate measuring stick for runners in our little state.  I had two successful races back in 2003 and 2004 down in Gansett but I haven't been back since.  I had plenty of excuses not to come back over the years (injuries, distance, lack of interest, etc.).  After watching my WTAC teammates compete and excel in this race over the past few years, I decided that, if healthy, this was my year to come back.

I can't say I did any specific training for this race and focused my efforts on overall aerobic fitness and TRI training.  I had one simple goal in mind-break 60 minutes or bust.  Much to my surprise, I was assigned bib # 7 based off some really old performances.  I kind of chuckled at the number knowing it didn't really mean all that much but it also made me think about the past.  I thought to myself, "what would I do to run this race in 56 today?"  Quite frankly, I don't think I appreciated it enough back then.  I thought about it for a little more and told myself to move on and focus on the here and now.

After waiting around most of the day, I head up to Gansett and hung out with Muddy and Jonny pre-race.  We went for a light warmup and were all in agreement that it was going to a hot night.  We headed to the starting line, caught up with Mikey, Gazelle, Matthew, and other WTACers, and it was go time!

Miles 1-4
The gun went off quick and I tried to settle in.  I knew there were some real studs in this race and that it was going to go out like a track meet.  I quickly spotted Matthew right near me and told myself to settle down.  Jonny also had a strong start and I was about 15 runners back from him.  I tried to run "easy" through mile 1 (5:44) and focused on settling in for mile 2 and beyond.  Through mile 2 (5:56) a ton of race jockeying continued on.  I was getting closer to Jonny and hoped to move up next to him to either run with him or do some of the work.  By mile 3 I was able to get up with Jonny and was feeling it. Although I knew it was going to be a long race, I thought of the prospect of being able to work with Jonny and Muddy through the race.  My splits for miles 3 and 4 were 5:50 and 5:58.

Miles 5-8
By the time I was made it to mile 5, I was slowing down.  Throughout the race to this point, I hit just about every water stop or ran under any hose that was out there.  Regardless of how much I drank or how I wet I tried to get, nothing was enough.  Running on 108, I was hating the race.  My splits were getting slower and I felt like I was getting weaker. I hit my 5 with a split of 6:04 and the halfway point around 29:45.  I knew the prospect of breaking 60 wasn't going to get any easier.  I just wanted to get off 108 and stopped paying attention to my watch splits because I knew they weren't good.
Splits were 6 (6:18, slowest of the day), 7 (6:03, and 8 (6:08).

I think I drank at almost every water stop and it still didn't feel like enough.
Photo courtesy of Beth E.

Miles 9-10
Reaching mile 9 was hopeful.  I wasn't feeling any faster but knew the finish wasn't too far away. Spectators were encouraging and it was a block party type atmosphere.  Even though I was getting close, I still took any water I could get.  I crossed mile 9 in 6:02 and actually passed two guys. Encouraging but it didn't mean much.  I just wanted to finish.  Prior to hitting mile 9, I thought my goal of breaking 60 was completely out the window but it did remain a possibility.  The problem was that I was running on empty.  I'd try to get as close as I could but just wasn't sure.  I finally crossed the line in 60:15.  Ran my last mile in 5:51.  Overall place was 31st.

Finally in the home stretch.  I felt like I had no gas left in the tank.
Photo courtesy of Jana W.

Over 60 minutes..err.  At least I was done.
Photo courtesy of Beth E.

-Despite the nasty humidity and dew point, I was still disappointed with not breaking 60 minutes.  I know I wasn't far off but the bottom line is that I didn't meet it.
-I was satisfied with my overall placing and I can't think of anything differently I would have done tactically.
-The atmosphere was like a block party.  Spectators were extremely supportive with manning water stops and spraying down runners with hoses.  Take those stops away and it could have been a really bad day out there.
-The 10 mile race distance is fantastic.
-WTAC still did quite well.  Here are some observations-
Matthew-12th overall-57:42 and just getting faster and faster.  I think he would have been under 56 on a nice night.
Muddy-37th. 1:01:31. Would have been a few minutes faster on a better night.  Still placed really high.
Jonny-40th. 1:02:10. Ditto my comments about Muddy.  He also placed 3rd in his division.  If you are placing at the Blessing, I'm impressed.
Jonny E.-49th. 1:03:10.  Another fast young guy!
Gazelle-81st. 1:04:58.  1st in his division.  Definitely would have ran minutes faster as well.
Mikey-157th. 1:10:53.  Worked hard on a tough night.  Ditto my comments about minutes faster on a cooler night.
*With over 2400 finishers, I think we would have held our own in a team competition.
-Mile 6 was the slowest for almost all of us.
-I love and hate this race.
-I hope to be back next year to get under 60 minutes.

Monday, May 30, 2016

My first marathon

Prior to the race
After years of various running misfortune, the thought of actually running a marathon was starting to slip away.  For Boston 2005 I received complimentary entry,unfortunately my result was a DNS due to injury).  Fast forward to Hartford 2014, I was registered and hoping to run but landed another DNS due to injury.  Get the picture here?  Marathons just aren't my thing.  I'd always tell people that I thought I had the endurance, but I did not have the ability to train long distance.

As the beginning of 2016 approached, I set out a goal to help Shara train for Boston.  I knew training for a marathon can be lonely, especially on those winter long runs.  As each week approached, I wondered if one of those injuries was going to pop up.  The training formula Shara and I put together was simple..a weekly workout (nothing too heavy or fast), the long run, a core (off) day, and lots of medium regular paced runs mixed into it.  Once Shara started to taper for Boston, the thought of running the Providence Marathon became a reality.  All I had to do is train for a couple of more weeks and stay healthy.  Cautious for the fear of getting burnt by another injury, I didn't register for Providence until a week before.  My goals were simple: A. Finish and not get injured, B. Run a BQ, and C. Run Sub 3.

Race day 
At about 5 in the morning, Shara and I headed up to Providence for my big race.  Driving up I just tried to relax and wondered what would happen after the 20 mile mark.  My game plan was simple-run safe.  Don't bite off more than you can chew and running a marathon can be a very humbling experience.  After waiting in the car to stay warm, we met up with my parents and hung out at the starting line.  Prior to the race I hung out with Jeff Vuono (running marathon #41), Shara, and my parents.  Race organizers played the national anthem, we lined up and Thunderstruck by ACDC came on.  I was loving it.

First half
I couldn't believe but the first mile of the race felt like a track meet.  Lots of people shot off the starting line and jockeyed for position.  I just tried to settle in and let the race come to me.  My goal was just to run along and get in a groove..anywhere from 6:35 to 6:45 pace.  I found a small pack to run near at about mile 3.  Two Northeastern runners and a red headed dude.  Running right through 10 miles with these guys, I was amazed to never see the Northeastern kids take on nutrition.  The red headed dude, who let me know he was trying to run sub 2:55, was taking gu every few miles and seemed to play it smart.  As for me, I drank when I felt like it and took a gummy every 4 miles.   As I ran through the first half of the course, here are some events that took place:

-Between mile 5 & 6, I was surprised to see BLS on her bike and cheering me on.  Climbing one of the early hills on the course, it was a big boost for me to see her friendly face.

-As we were running towards Bullocks Point in East Providence an army of fire trucks were racing to a scene of some emergency.  It seemed like engines kept coming out of nowhere for 10 minutes

-The Bullocks Point loop was enjoyable.  However, there was one turn around that was not well marked.  I approached one runner who had been ahead of me the whole time and listened to him drop major F bombs about the course.  In less than a minute, this runner was in the rear view mirror.  He still sounded ripped.

-I kept reminding myself that I wasn't racing anybody except myself.  You can't run a marathon on guts, you have to use your brain.  Enjoy the moment.

-I saw Shara and my parents at Mile 12..another huge lift.

-The red headed dude and I hit the halfway point in 1:25.  We both were pumped about it but knew there was work ahead.

Splits through 13.1
6:28,  6:30, 6:35, 6:22, 6:34, 6:33, 6:29, 6:21, 6:28, 6:28, 6:22, 6:29, 6:30-1:25 through 13.1

Hi Beth!

The Second Half
While I was very happy with the condition I was in at 13.1, I knew the real race was ahead of me.  I was really hoping to work with the red headed dude as long as I could.   We could help each other out and pull one another along.  I started to communicate with him more to articulate my intentions of working with him.  I still didn't mention a time goal-just that we were cruising at a good pace and should work together.  I saw Shara and my parents again and was feeling great at mile 15.  Unfortunately my partnership with the red headed dude didn't last as long as I'd hoped.  After 15, he started to drop back.  I slowed for a short bit and encouraged him to "hop on my back."  He wasn't able to do it and I made the decision to go.

With about 10 miles to go, I was feeling great but thinking about hitting the wall.  Anything beyond 20 miles was unknown territory for me and I didn't exactly do workouts to mimic late race fatigue.  I worked on and kept focus.  At mile 18, I was very pleasantly surprised to see my friends Jeff & Jana Walker.  Upon seeing them, I thought about how thoughtful it was for them to take time out of their weekend to see me run.  This was another huge lift and I continued to feel great.

Mile 18. Thrilled to see the Gazelle's. 
Shortly after seeing Jeff & Jana (around mile 20 to be exact), I was starting to feel it. I saw BLS again and she offered me encouraged as I raced on.  There were some tough hills in the mix at this point and I could feel my body weaken.  "Don't let up," I kept telling myself.  I did not want to give in to the wall.  Once again, I saw Jeff & Jana and despite not feeling well at all, I was still really happy to see them.  Jeff coached me up a bit. I just tried to settle into a sustainable pace.  Crossing back into the city, all I could think about was the finish.  My body was trashed.  I was now crossed up with half marathoners and not enjoying zig zagging around runners as I tried to work towards the finish line.  As I approached those last few miles, I knew I had finishing the race in the bag.  I was still unsure what my body was going to do but knew that finishing under 3 was quite realistic.  I tried to take in the last mile as much as possible and crossed the finish in 2:52:22 (6:34/mile) and good for 10th place overall.
Coach Walker..trying to bail out his buddy
Enter the pain cave.  Smile gone

2nd half splits
6:31, 6:27, 6:19, 6:20, 6:22, 6:29, 6:23, 6:41, 6:42, 6:53, 7:12, 7:08, 7:03, .2 (7:00 pace)

I was immediately pretty satisfied with my time when I finished.  Feeling tired and tight, I gave some quick thought to my race strategy and all of the supporters who helped me along the way.  From training runs, to well wishes, to showing up on race day to cheer me on, I really appreciate the support.  For me, the race was a team effort and I have many to thank for it.  Some people I have to thank-my parents, the Walker's, BLS, Jeff Vuono, Mikey B, and Jeff Duda.

*Please note: Race day was also Shara's Birthday.  I am especially thankful for all of her support and for giving me the motivation to get to the starting line.
My 1st, his 40th. Humbling.

Happy Birthday Shara!
Thanks Mom & Dad. I did it!

Post race aspirations
I want to run more marathons...When?  I'm not sure.  I'm still skeptical of getting hurt and am trying to play it smart.  A month out from the race, I'm still not locked into jumping back into a semi-hard training cycle for any type of race.  Time will tell.