Boston Marathon Recap

As part two of the recap of one of the best weekends of my life, I figure I should start with some of the high points for the; “too long, didn’t read” crowd:

1. Overwhelming joy. I spoke of it in post number one, the wave of optimism and joy just washed over Boston.
2014 Boston Marathon Weekend

2. Big personal record! Very happy with a 9 minute and 18 second PR and finally breaking the 2:40:00 barrier!
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3. Media attention for running at an all time high! (at least in my lifetime) http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/fraioli-mebs-boston-win-powerful-many-levels_101169
Coincidentally, my own face on some news stories!
NBC News special on my favorite running store. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/boston-bombing-anniversary/store-runs-boston-bombing-victims-n85846
Interviewed on a local weather segment! http://www.necn.com/04/16/14/Spring-chill-hits-New-England/landing.html?blockID=865191&feedID=11106
Sports Illustrated web coverage of the marathon! http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/photos/1404/boston-marathon-118th-2014/27/

 

On to the race recap…

Sat. 19th Up early and ran 2m Easy/2@MP/1m Easy. Met my parents and two of my sisters for brunch. Brought my parents and sister back around my place afterwards to show them the area. Went to an Easter service in the evening. Came home and had a large dinner of mostly carbs, then got to bed earlyish.

Sun. 20th Up early to watch Liverpool match, picked up parents and went to church, hung out with a bunch of family and ate lunch then ran 4 @ easy effort (6:33) Small dinner of pancakes and banana and coconut water, in bed at 9:30 PM.

Mon. 21st MARATHON MONDAY! Up at 4:30 AM Last minute gear check, load up and drive to T stop to ride into the Boston Common and take shuttle to Hopkinton. Met up with my good buddy and usual race pal, Austin at the T stop and rode in together. Our bus left the common at approximately 6:45 AM and we arrived at the athletes village by 8 AM. I grabbed a cup of coffee and ate half a bagel while sitting around in nervous excitement. Met a couple guys who met and raced against THE Ian Sharman in an ultra. Felt good vibes floating around for an hour and observed a fantastic moment of silence for the victims of last year’s bombing. At 9:05 AM we were let go to make our way to the start line a half mile down the hill. After loosening up and shaking out the legs I cheered for the elite women as they made their way from the church to the start and yelled for the American’s as the gun went off at 9:35 AM. A short while after that at 9:50 AM an intense flyover from some National Guard helicopters took place, immediately preceding the elite men taking the start line. Ryan hall gave us all high fives as they went past and the general excitement was at a fever pitch, though all around me remained reserved, if a bit antsy. Before I knew it the gun went off and we were bumping and shuffling our way across the start line.

The Race: 10:01 AM I cross the start line of the Boston Marathon for the first time and hit start on my Garmin. The first mile is a bit crowded and I have to spend a little energy not running into anyone. The crowds of screaming fans are a bit distracting, but totally appreciated! The first mile clicks off on my watch at 6:13, okay considering that I couldn’t start running until a few tenths in. By now the crowds have thinned a little and I can hit my goal pace, mile 2 is completed in 5:59. For the sake of not being super repetitive, I’ll just say that all the way up to the Newton Hills I was simply focused on the crowds and enjoying every minute of the run. It felt like a fast effort but easy enough that with every watch check I found myself reigning in my pace a bit. I’ve developed a habit in marathons, of looking at my watch about 3/10’s into every mile to see what my pace looks like, just a quick glance to see if an adjustment is needed. I also take a peek if I feel like I’m really struggling sometimes, but other than that, it’s just there to record some data for post race synopsis. The splits for miles 3 through 16 were: 5:57- 5:50- 6:02- 5:48(Wait, what… in a marathon? What was I thinking?) 5:53- 6:06- 6:00- 6:00- 6:03- 5:52- 5:49- 5:53- 5:45(Big downhill in Wellesley to Newton line) Those miles just listed were by far the most fun miles I’ve ever run in any race and had I been falling apart, they still would have been fun. I’m serious, the crowd was so loud and so fun that I just floated through. I also saw A TON of friends along that stretch, all of whom inspire me daily in my running and in general! From 16 at the Newton town line you hit the first of the big uphills, it’s not steep, but it’s nearly half a mile of up, followed by a decent downhill though. I started out of breath after screaming at the Newton town line for more noise and spotting some great friends at the base of the hill, but I stayed controlled and told myself to slow up a bit on the hill intentionally, mile clicked off in 6:09. Mile 18 has some long slightly down hill bits before punishing you with the first of the hills on Commonwealth as you make the turn to the city, completed it in 6:08. Mile 19 is fairly easy, with a gradual down hill before the long climb up Heartbreak Hill, I sped up a bit and hit 6:03. Unfortunately the heat was really starting to get to me and I could feel my energy being sapped. After pounding up and over the last of Newton’s hills, I was unable to ratchet my pace back down again and 6:03 was my last truly fast mile split (for me) Mile 20 sees the bump prior to Heartbreak and I hit my slowest split yet in 6:12, felt okay though, considering the terrain. Heartbreak was indeed difficult at that point in the race and pushing that hard, I was nowhere near the 6:00/mile I cruised up it in a training run, but I stayed sub 6:30, with a 6:24. After Heartbreak I tried to speed back up and did hit 6:13, 6:09 and 6:13 again in the next three, but I knew by then that it was time to just hold on and run with the heart and the mind, because the body was done. 25 and 26 were 6:18 and 6:16, and the final .3, according to my watch, were at a 6:00 pace. Total average pace on my watch reads 6:03, which means I nearly ran the tangents perfectly, only a tenth over with 26.32 recorded. My official time is 2:39:08 for the 26.2 which gives me a 6:04 average pace, certainly close enough to my 6:00 goal to be happy with, given the difficulty of the Boston course and the 70+ degree temps by the end. My dream goal of a sub 6:00/mile average marathon now feels like it’s really within reach and had it not been for the heat, I might already be there. My first 20 miles were at a 5:59 average and considering my previous PR was at 6:25/mile average only 11 months ago, it looks like the training has started to pay off! It was a race I will never forget, a weekend I will never forget, a Meb I will never forget and a total honor and pride to be a part of any of it. I can’t wait to return to Boston next year.

By The Numbers: 2:39:08 Net time, 6:04 average pace, 78:25 first half and 80:43 second half. 305th out of 32,000 in my first Boston Marathon!

What’s next? I feel that the pressure I’d put on myself to get a sub 2:40 has been totally lifted. I do still have a strong hunger to get much faster, but I feel like the rest of this year will just be relaxed and fun. I’ve now checked off my long distance goals in the half and the full for 2014 and can focus on trying to PR in every distance from 10k down to 800 meters now! I’ve never had a lot of leg speed or tremendous strength so I think a summer of speed work and shorter races with lots of core and hip strengthening should set me up nicely for a potential half PR again this fall. Just maybe I will manage to snag another full PR, if everything works out. Immediate future is a 14 mile trail race this Sunday (yikes, don’t follow my example post marathon) Then after another easy week I will start to work the mileage back up in the first full week in May, next race in the USATF NE Gran Prix series is a 5 miler in June where I will look to set a big 5 mile PR. My current best came last year on a humid 85 degree evening in July, so I’m really hoping to improve on that number.

Finally, a huge thanks to all who have supported me so far this year, or read the blog, or trained with me! It means so incredibly much to know that I have inspired someone in some way to get out there and run/race/exercise or cheer for others. I get so much joy and satisfaction out of this fantastic sport that my top goal has to be drawing others in! Also, even bigger thanks to those who donated to my charity efforts for World Vision while training, with your awesome work we were able to raise over $550 to help bring clean drinking water and medical supplies and education to war torn and devastated areas of Africa.

-Button

And What a Year It Was – 2013 by the miles and milestones.

It’s a prerequisite in the running blogosphere to write end of year reviews, so here goes! I normally hate on these things and poke fun at them, but I have to be the cliché one this year. 2013 really was something extraordinary, full of ups and downs and totally amazing. I’ve gone chronologically with the recap after scrapping my original plan of listing everything by importance and significance.

January
I got settled into life in Massachusetts by running a 5 Mile race on the first! Found a fantastic Wednesday night run group (Way up there on the ranking by importance list, btw) Made some excellent new friends. Saw my first professional runners up close in the indoor circuit. I took some time off to prepare for the next marathon cycle. Signed up for my first ultra (promptly bailed on it when the time came though and ran my fastest road marathon yet)

February
I bought my first race flats. Started training for spring marathon. I met and fell for a wonderful girl. I fell in love with running all over again too as I ran 212 miles in the month. Ran a 20 mile race in ice and sleet on an island and made many trips to NH. Got lost on a long run… ended up running 27 miles that day, oops. Saw the Lumineers for the second time and they were even better!!

March
Continued a high weekly mileage volume and started the month off with a super-fast 3 mile race, also truly learned the joy of running with someone else, many times over. I did ignore some nagging injuries that should have been dealt with (It wasn’t all fun this year 😦 ) I did finish in 2nd place in a ¼ marathon on a challenging course. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible, as well.

April
How can I even recap April with any proper justice, it certainly deserves a post of its own, I will simply make an attempt. The month started with the welcome warmth of spring and boundless joy on every run. I started making a better work of my recovery sessions and running my ‘easy runs’ at an easier pace and managed my longest training run yet, a 50k training run. April 15th 2013 will not easily be forgotten, nor should it. As evidenced by being the most searched for thing on Google this past year, the whole country took it as a shock, tragedy and horror. I watched the marathon from the halfway point and still vividly remember the events of that day and nearly every detail, I’ll leave that for some other time though. Between sustaining my first 60+ mile weeks I also saw The Milk Carton Kids in April, second time and just as good!

May
Marathon madness for me! I ran Sugarloaf marathon and came away with a 6th overall and a big shiny new personal best as well as a nifty ceramic plate for taking first in age group! The last few weeks of training were typically underwhelming, but the race went well and I was very happy with the result. Vacationed in Maine and NH and had a blast. The month did end with a mutual breakup… and thus my summer began, full of questions and learning.

June
This will be the shortest recap as June was indeed the most boring month of the year for me. I started the month with a much needed multi-day hike with some good friends. I selected a fall marathon, chose a new training plan and started training. I did do a lot of reading, running/coaching focused and otherwise. The One Run for Boston came through on a muggy June 30th and was an excellent experience, full of positivity and resilience!

July
Started the month with injuries and the dreaded visit to a Dr. I only needed a week off  though and was able to rebound fairly quick. Saw the Bosstones! Ran a fast half-marathon on a very hot day and came in 2nd overall! In keeping with the year theme, the half-marathon was a PR, too. I really started using the adaptive running style advocated by Brad Hudson of the Performance Training Group and enjoyed a relaxed but focused training period.

August
Learned to embrace running in heat, no really, I didn’t hate every single run this summer. I had a good guy’s weekend in Portsmouth with K-West and Shirley Temple, always a highlight. Hit my “older 20’s” officially and instantly felt older. I finally bought a Garmin, life changing! Ran another half-marathon as a spec test for my fall race and came away with a big PR on a course with 2k’ of elevation gain! I finished the month with an epic quest for Heady Topper all over VT. Mmm… Heady Topper…

September
INJURIES! My first real injury and subsequent recovery time happened in September. Remember that lack of rest and proper recovery I mentioned back in March? No? Well, at any rate, my hip had been a problem off and on all year and it finally flared up so bad that I needed a couple weeks off completely and a few good ART sessions. Got in about a week of easy running again by the end of the month to prep for a now goal-less fall marathon. I learned the joys of proper recovery and back up races, too.

October
I ran a 2:54:30 marathon in some rain after a week and a half of training coming off injury. Got beat by my friend and still managed 7th place though. All sorts of lessons were learned on that one, most importantly, how to run a marathon just for fun and finishing. I made good memories all month with good running friends and non-running friends. I worked back up to full training, safely. In October I started seriously considering a move out to Oregon and spent lots of time and prayer on the idea, I also decided to book a trip out there. My good friend, Sam came out to Oregon with me and we spent a week at his brother’s house in The Yaak, Montana, too. The trip cemented my interest in moving west and though it hasn’t come to fruition yet, I’m anxiously searching for a job in Bend, OR. I learned the joy of running at higher elevation and with bear spray in my hand when I was out west and saw a million amazing and beautiful things.

November
The month started with my back-up fall marathon. The course was absolutely brutal and the weather tried to best the course’s hills for brutality. I ran out of gas worse than I ever have at 20 miles and had to grit my way to the end, my pace was all over the place due to the elevation changes. I was able to stay within 2 minutes of my PR and did not lose heart, just realized that my goals were not accurate for the course and based on my fitness level. I took a short break after the race and did some hiking and relaxing. I ran my first indoor track workouts and first track workouts with a group, something I will always look forward to now! Bounced back fast from the marathon and was able to get back to 50 a week for the second half of the month. Finished the month by Turkey Trotting across some icy fields.

December
Continued to hit 50 a week and finished a strong month of Thursday night track sessions with Greater Lowell Road Runners. I was able to get a huge PR in the 5k after all the track work and strong base building! Kept my eye loosely fixed on my mileage goal for the year that had seemed so out of reach post-injury, but now appeared reachable. On December 16th I started my training for Boston Marathon and consequently kicked off my fundraising for World Vision. I finished the year with a couple 60 mile weeks and no injuries to report. Crushed the mileage goal for the year by 47 miles, 2347! I’ve now gained 800 miles a year since I started running in late 2010!

 

I’m sure I’ve missed thousands of awesome, terrible and surprising; boring, fun and memorable happenings. This year was just too much to process at times, but so worth it for the lessons learned. As I wind this post down with Norah Jones quietly cooing on the speakers, I start thinking again of all the amazing things that 2014 will bring. I could not be more excited for this year to begin and though I’ve said that every year for a while, it’s still the truth. The west coast beckons, Boston Marathon awaits and many, many miles of running must be covered. BRING IT ON!

Big props in 2013 go out to my friends and family, both new and old; you helped get me through some very tough times and were a big part of all the good times. The shoes of the year were New Balance for racing/speed-work and Mizuno on the easy runs. Garmin came into my life and helped me with mileage and pacing. Chocolate milk and cottage cheese were the go to post run recovery foods until lactose intolerance barged into my body. Chicken was the go to food, usually in burrito or taco casings and I can’t count the number of new IPA’s that were tried. Well, that about wraps up the shout-outs and honorable mentions, so I bid you goodbye and goodnight, 2013.

Training Update

I first started blogging with the intention of posting my training and now that I’m a few posts into my switch over to WordPress, I figure that a training update post is due. Starting with a week ago, my workouts have gone something like this:
Friday the 9th
Fartlek – 8 Miles @ easy pace with 2min @ 10k every 5 min (average pace 6:00/mile in the “on” sections)
Evening run Speed Session – 5k in 18:10 followed by stretching, rolling and working loose.

Saturday the 10th
Recovery day, off to lovely Portsmouth, NH for some fun with friends. The kind of fun that makes running the next day seem impossible.

Sunday the 11th
Hard long run – 2 miles easy (7:00/mile) – 15 miles @ marathon pace +10-20 secs/mile (ended up being right on track somehow with a 6:25/mile pace) – 1.7 miles easy @ (7:30/mile)
Followed with solid stretching and rolling and re-hydrating all afternoon.

Monday the 12th
Easy run – 4 miles (7:13/mile) Legs were very stiff and painful initially, took 3 miles to start feeling good.

Tuesday the 13th
Easy run – 8 miles (6:46/mile) Too fast for an easy run, but sometimes that is how it goes. Legs had started feeling good again.

Wednesday the 14th
First ran in my fresh New Balance 1080 V3’s 5.2 @ 6:52/mile pace. Ran an hour later with run group at Marathon Sports in Wellesley, Ma , another 6.5 miles @ 7:13/mile. The second run was in a demo pair of Newton Energy NR. They felt very different from other Newton’s the five shallower lugs were more to my liking. We ran a mixture of trails and road and they responded well. I would probably not buy them for easy paced running personally, but they might be fun with some more speed, they did feel light on the feet.

Thursday the 15th
My first run ever with GPS! As the second part of my self purchased birthday gift on Wednesday I bought a Garmin Forerunner 10 to go with my new shoes. The run was a 5 miler with hill sprints at maximum effort 4 miles in. I did 10 x 10 sec sprints on a 8-10 grade hill. They felt great, even in the thicker 1080’s.

Friday the 16th
The workout this afternoon was brutal, to put it bluntly. I ran 3 miles easy (7:10/mile) followed by 3 x 10min @ 10k pace with 3 min active recoveries. Finished with another 3 miles @ 7:20/mile. The 10 minute sections were supposed to be run at half marathon effort, but it’s close enough to 10k pace for me that I shot for a little lower and probably ended up somewhere in the middle. The splits were approx: 1st@5:48/mile 2nd@5:45/mile 3rd@5:50/mile

My total distance over the past 8 days was about 72 all said and done. I’ve been keeping close to a 60 mile average over 7 days for the past three and a half weeks now. I am happy to report that I feel less likely to be injured now then I did before the higher volume started. The training methods of Brad Hudson seem to be dead on for me. Still remains to be seen if I will actually be much faster using these tactics, but the most important part right now is building a strong, healthy base. I want to keep improving year to year and I truly subscribe to the longevity method in seeing gains now. It took a couple years of impatient over-training to arrive at this place, but here I am.

Musical inspiration of this post:
http://youtu.be/0gEVaniPOmU