Thursday, May 28, 2015

Boston Marathon Race Report

I had high expectations going into my 5th Boston Marathon. My marathon training cycle went extremely well and my fitness and marathon-specific workouts indicated I was in shape to run faster than my PR (2:32:29), which was set just 4 months ago at the California International Marathon.  

When I saw the race day weather forecast to be cold, wet and very windy (headwinds), I started to get worried. I was concerned about my race being ruined by the weather. But then I thought, there's nothing anyone can do about the weather and we'll all be running in the same conditions, so I better stop whining.

I arrived at the Athlete's Village about 2.5 hours before the start of the race. Once I got there I headed to the "Hawaii House", which is an engineering firm's office/residence on Main Street where Hawaii runners and islanders gather to relax before the race. According to this article, the owner started inviting Hawaii runners in for breakfast in 1995 to honor his late wife who loved visiting the islands. I was first invited into the house in 2012 by a close friend who lives in Hawaii. Since then it's been a tradition to relax and hang out at the house before toeing the Start line.

Hopkington Start
When the gun went off, I stayed close to the right side of the road so I wouldn't get clipped or shoved by runners who shot out like they were running a 10K. I ran comfortably clicking off mile splits mostly between 5:45-5:50. GPS mile splits for the first six miles were 5:45, 5:47, 5:46, 5:47, 5:52, and 5:47 with a 10K split of 36:06 (5:48 pace). At this point, I was feeling good (as I should since it was still early in the race) running at the pace/effort that I had trained at. I didn't think the winds had much of an effect in the early miles. However, by around mile 10, I started noticing the headwinds. It was also at this point in the race when runners around me started stringing out.  There were still many runners near me, but they were either running slightly in front of or behind me. Instead of putting in small surges to catch up to some runners and draft off of them, I continued to run my own pace and race.

I hit the half-marathon mark in 1:16:13, which was right around where I thought I'd be considering the conditions. My coach and I initially thought that going out in 1:14-1:15 for the half would be perfectly reasonable, if the weather was good.  However, going out in 1:14-1:15 in windy conditions would have made for a long day.  From miles 12-16, I continued to put down splits between 5:45-5:50. My 5K split of 17:55 between 20K-25K was my fastest throughout the race.

After 16 miles came the infamous Newton Hills. This is the section of Boston's course that will make or break a runner. In last year's race, the Newton Hills broke me and I ended up jogging to the finish. I wasn't about to experience that again. I reflected back on all the tough training and long runs I did on rolling hills and ran strong (or at least tried to) up the hills. Splits for miles 18-21 were 5:54, 5:51, 5:55 and 6:15, respectively. When I saw a 6:15 split for mile 21, I couldn't help but think that my race was about to go downhill.

The infamous Newton Hills!

After I crested Heartbreak Hill, I tried to regroup and focus on using even the slightest downhill to propel me forward. There were signs of my legs coming back to life as I hit the next three miles (miles 22-24) in 5:46, 5:50, and 5:47 pace. However, things started to get really tough over the last couple miles. My legs felt very heavy and the arms/shoulders started tightening up. Mile 25 was a 5:52 split.  

1 Mile To Go

With "1 mile to go", I tried to kick it in another gear but couldn't go any faster.  I crossed the finish in a respectable 2:33:13, which is my 2nd fastest marathon time and only 44 seconds slower than my PR. Ironically, I placed 119th Overall in the 119th edition of the Boston Marathon.  I'm very happy with my Boston performance.  I ran strong and almost even splits on a tough and very windy day. 

2:33:13 for 119th Overall

Official Marathon Splits

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 6 - 12 Training

Mon: AM - 6 miles easy with 4x30s pickups (7:15); PM - 4 miles easy (7:44)

Tue: AM - 13.1 miles with 10 miles (5:43) at marathon effort; Goal was to run at marathon effort, which based on my fitness is around 5:45ish.  I wanted to keep this workout on a flat route as much as possible, so I ran three loops of my usual 3-mile downtown loop (even though it's not entirely flat) and then added on a mile.  The first loop was all about loosening up the muscles and finding my rhythm.  I hit the first three miles right at 5:45 pace.  The 2nd loop (5:41, 5:44, 5:39) felt more controlled and comfortable than the first loop.  In the last loop and last mile I tried to relaxed as much as possible while getting a good feel of the pace and effort.  

Wed: AM - 6 miles easy (7:29); PM - 4 miles easy (7:13)

Thu: AM - 9.3 miles with 6x1/4 mile downhill repeats; ran fast and controlled with splits of 67, 67, 64 and 65.  PM - skipped run. 

Fri: AM - 5 miles easy (7:26); PM - 4.5 miles easy (7:22)

Sat: 16 miles long run (6:41); Ran the first 10 miles easy then the next 5 miles alternating between 1/2 mile at 5:45ish pace and 1/2 mile at normal long run pace, 1 mile cooldown. The first 10 were nice and easy averaging 6:53 pace. For the 1/2 mile fartleks I ran a rolling course. I practiced running marathon effort without looking at the watch. Ended up averaging 5:39 pace for the fast portions and 6:52 pace for the recovery. Really happy with the workout.

Sun: 7.3 miles easy (7:12)

Weekly Total: 75.3 miles on 10 runs/7 days
I'm starting to feel the legs freshening up  with the decrease in volume.  Just one more week and it's game time. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

March 30 - April 5 Training

Mon: AM – 8.4 miles easy with 6x20s pickups (7:03);  PM – 4.5 miles easy (7:58)
Tue: AM – 14.1 miles including 9 miles progression in 52:06 (5:48).  The goal was to run the progression in 3 mile blocks at 6:10 pace (18:30), 5:50 (17:30), and 5:30 pace (16:30) respectively.  Ran the segments in 18:25, 17:25, and 16:16. The first segment felt easy, the second one felt comfortable and the last segment was tough. Was really thrilled with the workout.  Running 5:25 pace for a 3-mile tempo alone is tough, so to do it at the end of a progression run is a good sign that I'm fit.  PM – 4.1 miles easy (7:24)

Wed: AM – 8.1 miles easy (7:04); felt good and smooth.  I’ve noticed that the legs have been feeling pretty good after a quality workout.  This shows that I'm able to recover from my workouts pretty quickly. Nutrition is probably the most important part of recovery.  PM – 3.9 miles easy (7:25)
Thu: AM – 6 miles easy with 4x20s pickups (7:06); PM – 4.5 miles easy (8:01)
Fri: 12 miles including 3-2-1 mile intervals with 3:00 rest/400m jog.  Goal was 5:30 pace for the 3 miles, 5:10-5:15 pace for the 2 miles and 5:00 for the mile.  Ran the workout on the track so the actual distances were 4800m, 3200m, and 1600m.  I ran 16:10 (5:22, 5:25, 5:23), 11:24 (5:12, 5:12) and 4:56, respectively.  The 3 miles felt good and comfortably hard, the 2 miles was tough, and the last mile hurt.  It was probably the first time breaking 5:00 for a mile in a workout.  
Sat: 20 miles long run (6:38).  Legs felt really good as if I didn’t run a workout yesterday.  First 10 miles were rolling/hilly and the last 10 fairly flat.  Averaged 6:30 pace for the last 10 miles.  
Sun: 7.4 miles (7:09)
Weekly Total: 93.1 miles on 11 runs/7 days
This was probably my best week of training.  Nailing the tough workouts on Tuesday and Friday has boosted my confidence and proves that I'm fit and ready for Boston.  With just two weeks away from raceday, it's time to freshen up the legs and peak to run Boston Strong. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 23 - 29 Training

Mon: AM - 8.25 miles easy (7:28); PM - 4.9 miles easy (8:15)

Tue: AM - 16.5 miles including 2x6 miles with 1/2 mile rec jog.  Goal was to run the first 6-mile segment at 5:45-5:50 pace and then speed up on the second one.  I ran 34:32 (5:45 pace) for the first segment and 33:40 (5:37 pace) for the 2nd segment.  This was a tough workout, but I was really happy to nail it.  I ran this same workout about 2 1/2 weeks before CIM and averaged 5:53 and 5:50 pace, respectively.  It's obvious that my fitness is at a much higher level.  PM - 3.5 miles easy (7:43)

Wed: AM - 6.2 miles easy (7:02);  PM - 4.6 miles easy (7:16)

Thu: AM - 11.5 miles with 10 miles moderate in 59:42 (5:58); Ran  a 1/2 mile easy and then went straight into the moderate effort. Started out with the first couple miles at 6:08 and then settled in at 5:53-5:59.  Was really surprised to see the pace drop to sub-6:00 pace compared to previous moderate workouts.  PM - 7.2 miles with 8x:45/2:00 on/off fartlek. It was a double quality workout day.  Ran the fartlek on a rolling course. 

Fri: AM - 3.8 miles easy (7:52); PM - 6.2 miles easy (7:17)

Sat: 20.5 miles long run (6:36). The first 10 miles (67:16) were fairly flat and then the last 10 miles (64:57) quite hilly.  Felt really strong on the hills.  Last 3 miles were mostly downhill to get some quad-pounding.  

Sun: 7.4 miles easy (7:03); Felt like I was jogging. 

Weekly Total: 100.6 miles on 12 runs/7 days
An excellent but tough week of training.  I got in 4 quality sessions with varied-paced workouts (tempo, moderate, fartlek and long run). I have one more week of hard training and then will begin my peaking phase.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 9 - 22 Training

March 16 - 22

Mon: AM - 8.5 miles with 6x30s pickups (7:02); PM - 5.1 miles (8:01)

Tue: AM - 10 miles easy (7:01). Legs started to feel a bit heavy and fatigue over the last couple miles.  PM - 4.1 miles easy (7:34)

Wed: AM - 10 miles with 16x400 with 1:00 rest and 3:00 jog/rest after every 4 reps. Goal was hit to the 400s in 75 to maintain some speed.  The added rest is because I'm coming off the race.  Rans splits of (75, 74, 74, 73), (74, 73, 74, 74), (73, 72, 72, 73), (73, 72, 73, 73).  PM - 5.1 miles 8:04)

Thu: AM - 10.1 miles easy (6:54); PM - 4.1 miles easy (7:47)

Fri: AM - 8.1 miles with 4x30s pickups (7:01); PM - 5.2 miles easy (7:36)

Sat: 20.3 miles long run with last 5 miles at marathon effort (6:30).  Planned a route with lots of hills (some very steep) and downhills.  Ran 6:35ish to high 6:40 pace for the first  15 miles.  On the last 5 miles, I ran most of it downhill to get some pounding on the quads.  The first mile (mile 16) was rolling, the next 3 miles at a gradual descent, and the last mile slightly uphill.  Ran splits of 5:57, 5;50, 5:45, 5:53, and 5:47.  Really happy with this long run.  

Sun: AM - 5.6 miles easy (7:18); PM - 5 miles easy (7:38)

Weekly Total: 101.2 miles on 13 runs/7 days
Really good volume considering it was the week after the half.  I felt like my legs recovered pretty quickly from the half.  I'm not surprised though, because I've gotten my recovery (nutrition) down to a science.  Thanks to Herbalife24!


March 9 - 15

Mon: AM - 8.5 miles easy with 6x30s pickups (6:56); PM - 5.1 miles easy (7:09)

Tue: AM - 15.1 miles with 10 mile tempo in 56:37 (5:40). Goal was to run at just under 5:50 to 5:40 pace. Ran 3 rounds of the 3-mile downtown loop and then a 1-mile loop.  The 1st 3-mile loop felt comfortable with splits right at 5:44-5:45.  On the 2nd loop I picked up the pace just a bit  and hit splits of 5:40, 5:40, and 5:38.  The 3rd 3-mile loop was faster at 5:37, 5:38, 5:34 and last mile in 5:35.  Happy with this tempo and how I felt overall.  PM - 4 miles easy (7:44)

Wed: AM - 6.2 miles easy (7:09); PM - 4 miles easy (7:45). Ran about an hour later than I usually do on my lunch time run.  Felt the difference because I started to get hungry on the run.  

Thu: AM - 8.2 miles with 6x400 w/ 400 rec jog.  Plan was to hit the 400s in 75s.  I ran 75, 73, 75, 74, 74, & 74.  PM - 4.2 miles easy (7:50)

Fri: 6 miles easy (7:30). 

Sat: AM - 14.8 miles with Rock'n'Roll DC Half-Marathon in 1:13:32 (5:37); 13th Overall, 1st in Division and 1st in Military Challenge.  Poor running conditions (rainy and cold) and a challenging course.  I went into the half aiming to run 1:12, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy with one steep hill and a handful of gradual climbs.  When I hit the 10-mile mark just a tad over 56 minutes I knew that a sub-1:13 was still in the cards, but was going to be tough.  I'd have to run a sub-17 last 5k, which I knew I was capable of.  However, a side-stitch at 11 miles that stayed with me the rest of the race and a long gradual hill on mile 12 threw away any hopes of a sub-1:13.  PM - 3.4 miles easy (8:13)

Sun: AM - 8.7 miles easy (7:09)

Weekly Total: 88.2 miles on 12 runs/7 days.
Overall, it was a good week of training that included a half-marathon race.  I'd call this a down week, but I'm not so sure it was with a long tempo and half-marathon race. I guess, in terms of volume, it was a down week, because I ended up with 88 miles whereas I've averaged 100+ miles/week over the last 8 weeks.   

Monday, March 09, 2015

March 2 - 8 Training

Mon: AM - 8.5 miles easy with 6x30s pickups (7:10); Treadmill.  PM - 4 miles easy (7:27)

Tue: AM - 13 miles with 8 mile tempo in 45:13 (5:40); Roads were too slippery from snow/ice, so I ran the workout on the treadmill.  Goal was to run the tempo alternating miles at 5:45-5:50 with 5:30-5:35 pace. Since I was running on the treadmill it was easy to switch speed. I alternated the speed between 10.3-10.4mph (5:49-5:46 pace) and 10.8-10.9mph (5:33-5:30).  Really good workout and I was surprised that the pace felt controlled.  PM - 4.6 miles easy (7:08)

Wed: AM - 8.5 miles easy (7:07); PM - 5.1 miles easy (7:24)

Thu: AM - 12 miles with 10 miles moderate progression; goal was to run 4 miles at 6:45, 3 miles at 6:15 and 3 miles at 5:45 on a slightly rolling course.  About 10 inches of snow fell, so I ended running on the treadmill again.  To simulate a rolling course, I increased the treadmill incline about every .2 miles from 2% to 4-5% grade. For the downhills, I ran some of it flat and some at -1.5% decline (my treadmill has a -2% decline).   I ran (6:45, 6:44, 6:41, 6:43), (6:14, 6:10, 6:10), and (5:45, 5:45 and 5:37). Workout felt comfortable and very controlled.  PM - 4 miles easy (7:41)

Fri: 10.5 miles easy (7:22)

Sat: 20 miles long run workout (6:29); First 10 miles easy on rolling hills and then 10x3:00 fast at the start of the last 10 miles.  I averaged 6:44 pace for the first 10 on rolling hills.  For the last 10 miles, the goal was to run the 10x3:00 starting at about MP and then progress down to 5:30.  I ran the first couple reps around 5:45-:48ish and then the remaining reps right around 5:30 pace.  I covered the last 10 miles in 62:08 (6:13 pace). 1.2 miles cooldown.

Sun: 8.6 miles easy (7:21); PM - skipped run. 

Weekly Total: 100 miles in 11 runs/7days
This has been the worst week (weather-wise) this winter.  I had to run on the treadmill for five consecutive morning workouts.  Well, I really shouldn't complain because I was still able to log another 100-mile week, my 8th consecutive 100-mile week of this training cycle.  The streak will end though because I'll decrease the volume a little bit this week to freshen up the legs for the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half on Saturday.  It will be my first race of 2015. With the way training has been going, I expect to run a new half-marathon PR.  We'll see.  

Monday, March 02, 2015

February 23 - March 1 Training

Mon: AM - 9 miles with 6x30s pickups (6:58); PM - 5.1 miles easy (7:57)

Tue: AM - 11.5 miles with 10x3:00 on/1:00 off. It was freezing cold (1 deg) and after one mile I thought about turning back home to hop on the treadmill.  I probably would have if it was just an easy run, but I had a quality session that I needed to get done on rolling hills. Ran the 3:00s at half-marathon effort and progressed down to 10K effort;  PM - 5 miles easy (7:35)

Wed: AM - 11 miles easy (6:52); PM - 5.1 miles easy (7:51)

Thu: AM - 4.5 miles easy (7:44); PM - 5.7 miles easy (7:28)

Fri: AM - 5 miles easy (8:03). Plan was to run a 20x1:00 on/off fartlek, but it snowed so I pushed the workout to later in the day; PM - 9.1 miles with 20x1:00 on/off (6:04 overall avg). Goal was to run the "on" at ~5:15 pace and the "off" at 6:15-6:20 pace.  I ended up averaging 5:12 and 6:20 pace for the on/off, respectively, and 5:43 pace for the 40 minutes.  Tough and good workout.

Sat: 22 miles long run on rolling hills (6:44). Really good long run on somewhat tired legs.  Averaged 6:50 pace for the first 11 miles and 6:38 for the second half.  Didn't take in any fluids or fuel during the run.  

Sun: AM - 8 miles easy (7:18); Legs felt surprisingly good with no soreness/tightness; PM -  2.5 miles easy (8:02).

Weekly Total: 103.6 miles on 13 runs/7 days
Another solid week of training in the freezing cold.  Friday's fartlek was a confidence booster because in the past I've struggled to maintain the moderate recovery pace for similar workouts.  Additionally, I was glad to knock out a really good hilly long run the following day on somewhat tired legs.  It's this kind of work that's going to pay off in Boston.  One more week of hard training and then I'll run my Boston tune-up race at the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half-Marathon on March 14.