Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was my 26th race at the 26.2 mile distance. As a countdown to my 26th marathon, I posted a photo each day on Instagram of my previous marathons (1-25) with my result and a brief description of the race. It was pretty interesting to see my marathon progression over the years.  If you have some time, be sure to check it out on my Instagram (click here). 
 

I decided to run Indy Monumental for a couple reasons: (1) my coach had recommended the race; (2) I wanted to run a course that was mostly flat and fast. The last two years I ran Boston and California International Marathon, both of which are rolling hill courses;  And (3) I qualified as an elite athlete and would get a comp entry.

I arrived in Indy on Thursday and after stopping by the expo to pick up my bib, I enjoyed a nice birthday dinner date with my wife. I turned 39 years young two days before the race. On Friday, besides a pre-race shakeout run in the morning and then brunch with my wife in downtown Indy, I didn’t do much of anything. I stayed off my feet as much as possible. I waited till the late afternoon for the elite athletes’ meeting, where we would receive some instructions and drop off my fuel bottles for the race. I dropped off three Herbalife24 water bottles filled with a mixture of Herbalife24 Prolong and Prepare. My green bottles would be easily identifiable, because all the other bottles were clear with markings on them. 
 
Prepping my fuel bottles with Herbalife24 Prolong/Prepare

After the meeting my wife and I met up with Scott (my coach), Joseph Alsakr (who was running the half), Joseph’s friend, and another of Scott’s athlete for dinner. We ordered some take out pasta, found an area with tables and chairs in the Circle Center Mall, and carbo loaded. I thought this was a brilliant idea. We didn’t have to decide on a restaurant, and even if we did we'd probably have to wait a half hour for our food. 

Race
My race plan was similar to my last CIM race, go out at 5:43-5:45 pace for the first half (1:15ish) and then try to negative split the 2nd half. When the gun went off, everyone shot off. The half-marathoners started at the same time as the marathoners, so there was no way of telling who was running the marathon until the half-marathoners split off just after mile 7. In the first mile, my GPS was reading 5:45 pace, so I figured I was running the right pace. When my watch automatically split at 5:45, there was no mile marker in sight. I got to the 2nd mile marker and the clock read 11:17. It turned out that I likely ran the first mile in around 5:35. I didn’t want to run any faster than 5:43s, and Scott said that it’s easy to get sucked into running a faster pace with the half-marathoners, so I slowed the pace a tad bit. Around mile 4, three runners (from here on out I’ll refer to them as the small group) came up beside me. I heard one runner say that his plan was to run the first half in 1:15 and the second half in 1:15. I said “Awesome, I’m also aiming for 2:30.” Not long after I said that, the group kept on rolling and immediately put about 10 meters on me. I was confused because I felt like I was running 2:30 pace and here they were rolling on by. I decided not to go with them and continued running my pace. (Turned out it was the right decision). I came through the 10k in 35:34, right on 5:43 pace. The small group went through 20 seconds faster.

Just after the half-marathoners broke off around mile 7, one runner (Shawn Ferguson) came from behind me. I ran with Shawn for about a minute and then backed off as I felt like he was running about a 5:40 pace. At mile 8, I saw the first fuel table and I had no problems spotting my green Herbalife24 bottle. I held on to my bottle for about a quarter mile until I took in most of my fluids (about 10 ounces). Over the next few miles, I continued to run alone with Shawn about 100m ahead and the small group about another 100m in front of Shawn. I came through the half in 1:15:15, right about where I wanted to be. Looking at the results, Shawn came through the half in 1:14:55 and the small group in 1:14:22, sub-2:29 pace. I knew the small group was running faster than 2:30 pace.

At 14 miles, I picked up my second fuel bottle. I carried it until I took in all my fluids. I continued to feel pretty good running anywhere between 5:43-5:46 pace. At around 17 miles into the race, my GPS acted really weird. It showed that I was running 7:50 pace, and then it would jump down to 4:40 pace. I decided to stop looking at my watch and just focus on running by effort.   

Just before mile 20, I started to feel a little cramp developing in my left hamstring.   I experienced this in previous marathons and learned that I just needed to take in more fluids and an energy gel.   Luckily, the third and final fuel station for elites was at 20 miles.   I picked up my last fuel bottle and drank every ounce of it.  The cramp subsided, but my pace had slowed into the 5:50s.  

During the long stretch of road on mile 22, I caught and passed each of the runners from the small group.  Two of the runners from the small group ended up running the 2nd half four minutes slower while the third runner ran seven minutes slower.  I was glad that I stuck with my own pace early in the race. 

Around midway through 24 miles, the marathoners and half-marathoners merge onto the same road.  Traffic cones separated the two races, but there were still half-marathoners who thought it was cool to run on the marathoners' side of the road.  About 24.5 miles, one marathon runner (Jake Sutton) came from behind and caught me.  Jake shouted to the half-marathoners in our lane to make a hole.  I didn't have the energy to say anything and probably would have just gone around the half-marathoners.  Jake clearly had something left in the tank because his turnover was a lot quicker than mine.  I tried to go with Jake, but I just couldn't hang on to him.  It was the first time being passed by another marathoner since mile 7.  Jake ended up running a really smart race and huge negative split (1:16:31 / 1:14:53).

Jake behind me in yellow/red singlet about to put a whooping on me!

The last half mile of the Indy Monumental course runs by the Indiana state capitol building before making a sharp right to the finish near the Government Center.  When I hit the 26 mile marker by the state capitol in 2:30:30, I realized that I could still PR if I booked it in.  I then shifted into another gear and crossed the finish in 2:31:44, a new personal best by 10 seconds.  I placed 11th Overall and was 1st in my Age Group. 

Overall, I was pretty ecstatic to PR, because honestly I thought I had lost too much time between miles 21-25.  I was a little bummed, however, that I didn't run 2:30/sub-2:30.   At 39 years young and approaching the Masters division, I still think that I have a 2:30/sub-2:30 in me.  We will see! 
 
11th Overall, 1st in Age Group


Nutrition
Pre-race: The morning of the race I had a bagel with peanut butter and jelly, a Herbalife24 Formula1 Sport shake and a banana.  I also drank 20 ounces of Herbalife24 Prolong a couple hours before the race.  Normally, I drink a cup of coffee, but I didn't this time around because my tummy was already full, and I wanted to ensure I took in electrolytes before the coffee.  Right before the race started, I took in one energy gel. 

During the race: At miles 8, 14 and 20, I took in about 10-12 ounces of Herbalife24 Prolong mixed with a little Prepare.  I also took in 3-4 gels throughout the race.  

Sunday, May 08, 2016

2016 Boston Marathon Race Report

This race report is long overdue, but it's better late than never.  

Marathon Training
My Boston Marathon training went really well and I felt like I was in slightly better shape than I was going into CIM where I ran 2:31:54.  Although training went well, I was a little stressed in January/February.  I made the temporary move from Maryland to Tampa for work, and leaving the family behind was tough.  One might think that Tampa is a great place to train for a marathon in the late winter and early spring, but not quite.  While the temperatures (60-70 deg) were ideal, it was the high humidity that made training sometimes very tough.  Additionally, Tampa is pancake flat and probably not the best place to train if you're preparing for a marathon with lots of rolling hills like Boston.  Believe it or not, I had to drive 1.5 hours to Clermont, FL to put in a long run on rolling hills.  With the exception of one long run on rolling hills, all of my training runs from Jan 30 - Apr 14 were done on flat surface.  Pathetic!


Tampa is flat! I had many weeks with 0 ft elevation gain.
Race Strategy
My race strategy going into Boston was to run 5:45ish pace and feel comfortable up to Newton Hills.  I'd expect my pace to slow around 5:50-5:55ish on the hills and then hopefully run strong over the last five miles.  The plan was to come through the half between 1:15-1:16, which would put me in a good position to finish hopefully somewhere between 2:30 and sub-2:33.  

Boston Marathon
There are many things that make the Boston Marathon a unique race.  It's the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's best-known road racing events.  Runners must meet the Boston qualifying standards (aka BQ), and even with a BQ you're not guaranteed an entry. For 2016, runners had to run 2 minutes and 28 seconds faster than their age and gender standard. Also, the rolling hills course is brutal and will thrash the legs before you get to the actual hills. Let's not forget the Boston Strong crowd.  Boston's crowd support along the 26.2 mile course is unlike any other marathon.  There are thousands of Boston spectators lining the course to cheer on and encourage the runners, regardless of the weather conditions.  Speaking of weather, I think this is what makes the Boston Marathon a unique and unpredictable race. The weather on Patriot's Day can be cold, hot, rainy, or very windy.  In my last five Boston Marathons, race day conditions varied: 2012 was scorching with temps in the high 80s, 2013 and 2014 were almost perfect marathon weather, and 2015 was cold and wet with strong headwinds.  This year the conditions looked perfect for marathon running about 7 days out from the race.  However, as it got closer to race day, it seemed as though it was going to be another warm Marathon Monday.  



Race
The temperature at the start of the race was in the low to mid 60s, but it felt a little warmer with the sun beating down and no cloud cover.  Since I've been training in warm and humid conditions over the last couple months, I decided to stick with my race strategy.  The gun went off and I tried to focus on running smooth and comfortable as much as possible.  The first few miles were slightly faster than 5:45 pace, but with the early downhill miles I expected that I'd be closer to 5:40s.  From mile 5 till the halfway mark I settled in running splits between 5:45 - 5:50.  I took in fluids at every aid station and an energy gel every 5-6 miles.  

I came through the half in 1:15:35, which was right where I wanted to be and on pace for a sub 2:32.  At this point in the race, not only was it very warm, but there was also a decent headwind.  The headwind wasn't as strong as last year, but it was noticeable and enough to slow a runner's pace a few seconds per mile.  After running 5:48 and 5:50 for miles 14 and 15, I opened up on the last half mile of mile 16, which had a 130 ft elevation loss, and ran a 5:32 mile split.  I did not expect to run the mile split that fast.  I'm not sure if it was the fast 16th mile split or the warm weather and grueling downhills, or a combination of all of it, that took something out of the legs because they started to feel heavy.  



In the Newton hills, my pace began to slow and I could only manage to run 6:02, 6:09 and 6:06 for miles 17-19.  I calculated that I'd finish with a sub 2:35 if I maintained my current pace.  My hamstrings then started to cramp a little around Heartbreak Hill and now my race went from feeling tough to survival mode.  Instead of running 6:05-6:10 pace I was now running 6:30 pace.  I tried to stay composed and took in as much fluids as I could at the aid station to prevent the hamstrings from cramping even more.

Deja-vu
At around the Boston College campus on Commonwealth Ave, I caught up to a runner that looked familiar.  It was the BAA runner (Brad Mish), who I came across around the same part of the course in last year's Boston Marathon.  It was like deja-vu all over again.  What's bizarre about it, and I didn't know it until I saw the photos, is that we were both assigned the same bib numbers for the 2015 and 2016 race.  
The BAA runner looked familiar!
After I caught up to Mr. 982, we ran together for a little bit before he slowly faded back.  At this point in the race, my legs couldn't go any faster, and I was just trying to hold things together and get to the finish line in one piece.  Luckily, my legs held up and I was able to run no slower than 6:30 pace over the last 10K.  I crossed the finish in 2:37:23, which was good enough for 90th Overall.  



After-thoughts
All in all, I was satisfied with my race performance and that I ran tough when the going got tough.  I was most happy with finishing in the Top 100 again (56th Overall in 2012).  I think finishing in the top 100 in any of the six World Marathon Majors ((Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York) is a significant accomplishment for an average runner.  Although I know I was fit and ready to beat last year's time, I think the warm conditions and lack of hill training were factors for the slower finishing time.  Unfortunately, there's nothing I could have done about the weather on Marathon Monday and the lack of hills in Tampa.   Life goes on....

What's next?
I normally take a full recovery following the Boston Marathon and then slowly build my base back up during the summer.  However, this time around I'm only taking a few weeks to recover from Boston before I'm back training hard again.  There's a "possibility" that I may represent my island of Guam in the 2016 Olympic Games marathon in August. I likely won't know if I'm selected or not until early July.  While July is late notice, the only thing I can do is train my butt off, get into the best possible shape and hope I'm selected.  Wish me luck!!!


Completing the Rio nomination packet

Saturday, April 23, 2016

120th Boston Marathon - 2:37:23, 90th Overall

I ran my sixth Boston Marathon (5th consecutive) this past Monday finishing in 2:37:23, 90th Place Overall.  While my time was much slower than I had hoped, I was still very happy to have placed in the Top 100 for the second time (I was 56th Overall in 2012).  


The finishing times were slower across the board, even for the elites, because of the warm and windy conditions.  I'll get more into the details in my race report, which I hope to post soon.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 18 - 24 Training

Mon: AM - 8.5 miles with 8x30s uphill strides (7:04). Freezing cold (5 deg real-feel) and very windy. Luckily, I had the wind to my back on the uphill strides.  PM - 4.5 miles easy (7:19)


Tue: AM - Army Physical Fitness Test: 104 push-ups, 95 sit-ups, and 11:10 2-mile run.  It was the first time in almost three years that I didn't hit triple digits for the sit-ups.  I'm not surprised though, because I've neglected doing them since my last APFT about six months ago. Ha!  As for the 2-mile run, I was looking to run 10:30ish, which would be a pretty good effort/workout after trashed quads and hip flexors from the sit-ups.  Unfortunately, weather conditions (-1 degree real-feel with 12mph headwind) were not favorable for a fast time.  It also didn't help that the freezing cold air was getting to the lungs when I breathe in. 3.5 miles cooldown (7:17); PM - 7 miles easy (7:02)

APFT over the course of my Army career.
Wed: AM - 14 miles with 9 miles of 1/2 mile at 5:55 pace, 1/2 mile at 5:35 pace.  The original plan was to run 10 miles of alternating 1/2 miles, but since I did a physical fitness test yesterday with a couple miles at 5:30ish pace, I decided that nine was enough.  I averaged 5:54 pace for the "slow" 1/2 miles and 5:32 for the faster halves.  What makes this workout tough is that you can't slack on the slow sections because 5:55 pace is still moving.  PM - 4.7 miles (7:13)

Thu: AM - 8.1 miles easy (7:03); PM - 5 miles easy (7:15)

Fri: 8.2 miles with 6x20s pick-ups.  Freezing cold. Blizzard is forecasted to come through the east coast tonight and throughout the day tomorrow.  

Sat: 20 miles long run; first 12 miles easy then 2:00 at 5:30 pace at the start of each mile for the last 8 miles (6:31 overall avg). There was no way I was running 20 miles in a blizzard, so I had no choice but to get on the treadmill.  Averaged 6:41 pace for the first 12 miles easy.  For the last 8 miles, I ran the first 2:00 of each mile at 5:30 pace and then 6:40-6:44 pace as recovery. Really good long run, but I'm sure I'll be a bit sore tomorrow as the treadmill works some different muscles; .5 miles cool down
Snowed in!
Sun: 8 miles easy (7:31)

Weekly Total: 93.1 miles on 11 runs/7 days
It was a crazy week with temperatures consistently in the teens and a blizzard on Saturday that kept me off the roads.  Luckily, I have a treadmill in the basement and was able to log some dreaded miles.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 11 - 17 Training

Mon: AM - 10 miles with light fartlek of 8x45s fast, 2:15 easy. Averaged 4:48 for the fast portion and 7:27 for the easy sections.  This is a similar workout that I've done in the past (8x.15 fast, .35 mile easy), except that it's about 30 seconds less in recovery.  Leg turnover felt good and fast. PM - 5 miles easy (7:18)

Tue: AM - 7 miles easy (7:23); PM - 4.1 miles easy (7:26)

Wed: AM - 12.8 miles including 4 miles tempo, 1 mile jog, 4x90s downhill.  Plan was to run the 4 miles tempo starting at 5:30 and then work down to 5:20.  I never felt liked I warmed up with the temps at 17 degrees (9deg real-feel with 12mph winds).  I came through 1600m in 5:31 feeling like it was harder than it should have felt.  I tried to pick up the pace on the 2nd mile, but it just wasn't happening with the freezing temp.  After running the 2nd mile in 5:33, I thought about calling it quits.  Decided to just finish the tempo running at least the same pace. Ran 5:33 and 5:28 for the last couple miles (3200m to be exact). Afterwards, I jogged a mile to the hills where I did 4x90s hills at mile effort.  Covered .32 miles of downhill at 4:43 pace and took some pounding on the legs.  PM - 5.2 miles easy (7:02)

Thu: 12 miles easy (6:56)

Fri: AM - 5 miles easy (7:23); PM - 6 miles with 6x20s fast pick-ups (6:55)

Sat: 20 miles long run with middle 12 miles moderate progression.  First 4 miles easy, then 12 miles moderate progression from 6:30 to 6:00, and then the last 4 miles cooldown.  Averaged 6:14 pace for the moderate progression and 6:27 overall average for the 20 miles.   Pace felt smooth and comfortable, but the legs started to feel a bit tired in the end from all the rollers.  




Sun: AM - 6 miles easy (7:12); PM - DNR; family time trumped putting in a second run. 

Weekly Total: 93.2 miles on 11 runs/7 days
I can tell that there is cumulative fatigue starting to creep in, especially with the mileage increase of about 10 miles/week each of the last 4 weeks.  This (cumulative fatigue) is actually a good sign and necessary during marathon training. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year = another Boston Marathon training

It's a new year, which means I'll be spending the first quarter of the year preparing for the Boston Marathon again.  This year's Boston Marathon will be my 6th total Boston and 5th consecutive since 2012.  Just as I did last year, I'll be posting my weekly marathon training and journey to Boston here on my blog.   



Here's the last two weeks of training.

January 4 - 10 Training

Mon: AM - 9.2 miles including 6x60s uphills, 2x60s downhills. Ran the uphills starting at slightly faster than 5K effort and working down to mile effort. PM - 5 miles easy (7:24)

Tue: 10.1 miles easy/medium (6:38); first five miles easy and then the last five at 6:00-6:15 pace.  Felt nice and comfortable.  

Wed: 8 miles with 8x20s pick-ups (7:15)

Thu: AM - 10.3 miles including 6x1K w/ 400 rec jog.  Goal was to start out at 3:15 feeling smooth and then work down to 3:10.  Ran 3:14, 3:14, 3:12 and 3:11 for the first four reps and then picked it up some on the last two running 3:08 and 3:05.  Finished the workout feeling like I could do one more rep.  PM - 5.3 miles easy (7:18)

Fri: AM - 4.3 miles easy (7:43); PM - 6 miles easy (7:12)

Sat: 18.1 miles long run (6:39); normal long run feeling nice and smooth.  I really enjoy the long run where I get out there and just cruise at a comfortable pace.  

Sun: 8.6 miles easy (6:59)

Weekly Total: 85 miles on 10 runs/7 days
A good week with a little more volume and intensity.  Happy with how my legs and body recovered following the hills and 1K interval session.  

-------------------------------------------------

December 28 - January 3 Training

Mon: 7.2 miles easy with 8x20s pick-ups (6:59)

Tue: 10.1 miles easy (6:51)

Wed: 11.3 miles including 8x400 with 400 rec jog. Plan was to run 75s for the 400s with a full lap for recovery.  Splits were 72, 74, 72, 72, 72, 73, 72, and 72.  Felt good and smooth.  Nice to get the legs to turnover.  

Thu: 10 miles easy (6:59)

Fri: AM - 6 miles easy (6:58); PM - 4 miles easy (7:30)

Sat: 16 miles long run working from easy pace down to low 6:00 (6:34 avg pace). Ran a rolling route for a change.  Felt really comfortable and like I was cruising the entire time.  It actually didn't feel like the pace was changing much over the course of the run, which is a good sign.  First three miles pretty easy, next three in the 6:40s, next four in 6:30s, next three in 6:20s, and the last three at 6:18, 6:09, and 5:57; .8 miles cooldown (7:32)

Sun: 8 miles easy (7:21)

Weekly Total: 76.5 miles on 8 runs/7 days
A really good week of base.  It's been four weeks since California International Marathon and I feel like I've recovered well from the marathon.  I also feel motivated and rejuvenated to start training again, especially after following many of the US athletes' training as they gear up for the upcoming Olympic Marathon Trials.  

Monday, January 04, 2016

2015 Running Stats

  • Total Miles: 4,024.8 miles.  This is the most miles I've ran in any year.  An average of:
    • 11 miles/day
    • 77.4 miles/week
    • 7:07 min/mi pace
  • Number of 100+ mile weeks: 15; interestingly, I had a total of 10 weeks at over 100 miles during my Boston Marathon training cycle and only 5 for CIM. However, I did race more during my CIM train-up. 
  • Biggest Month: January (436.4 miles)
  • Longest streak: 164 days (6/26 - 12/6); 2010.9 miles
  • Number of days I DNR'd (did not run): 19
  • Number of races: 8 (2 marathons, 2 half marathons, 20K, 10M, 10K, 5K)
  • PRs: 3
    • Marathon: 2:31:54 (California International Marathon); new Guam National Record
    • Half Marathon: 1:11:49 (Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia); missed the Guam record by 3 seconds
    • 10 Mile: 54:35 (Army Ten-Miler)