Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon Recap

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 2:11 am

Thank you to Lauren Roth for the photo

My last tune-up race before the Boston Marathon was the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon on March 30.  I was given Bib #1, and I knew I had a chance to win but there were some Kenyans in from out of town so I knew it would be a good race.  I started relatively slowly, with a 5:55 first mile, and let the lead pack of marathoners and half marathoners pull away from me.  It’s a long race.  I got into a good rhythm with my training partner Brad Adams and by about 4 miles we were on 5:40 pace or so and the lead marathoners were staying in sight.  I started picking it up a bit going through the hills from mile 4 to 8 and I noticed that two of my other training partners who were running the half (Alan Horton and Bob Adams) were running with the marathoners.  The marathoners knew that the only people ahead of them were running the half, so they were content to run with my friends who helped me out by slowing the pace a little bit.

By mile 8 I had caught up and we all ran together to 12.5 miles where the half marathoners and marathoners split.  My legs hadn’t been feeling great all race but I was running 5:30 to 5:40 per mile, which I thought was a pace I could hold since the second half is the easier half of the marathon course.  It was windy and I was feeling bad so I tried to let the two Kenyans I was running with take the lead but every time I slowed down they refused to pass, so I just treated it like a solo time trial.  One of them ended up falling off the pace around mile 18.  I was hoping to try to make a move with 10K to go but I just wasn’t feeling good so I was content just to hold the pace.  Mark Chepses, the last guy standing in our little pack, started little pick ups and I was able to cover them until he made a strong move at mile 23.  I couldn’t follow, and he ended up putting about 25 seconds on me in the final 5K.

I finished in 2nd place in 2:27:55, which I was content with based on how I felt and how hard the course is, but I really wanted to win the local race.  However, it was still one of my fastest marathons ever and not my goal race.  I’m starting my taper now and hopefully I’ll feel great in Boston.  Whatever happens, it’s been a great season and I’ve gotten into the best shape of my life.  Bring on the Double Marathon!

So far, a total of $3,415 plus $22.25 for every minute I complete the double marathon in under 7 hours has been pledged.  That is amazing, but I think there is more out there!  Remember, every bit helps.  We have two weeks until the Boston Marathon, please consider pledging to my fundraiser.  I won’t be asking for money until after the marathon on April 21.  If you just want to donate directly to the charity, please go to Be Strong Stay Strong and do so.


National Champion!

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Please go here to pledge towards my fundraising effort for the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund.  If you’ve already pledged, share my blog or this link with your friends and family:  There’s about 6 weeks until the Boston Marathon and we’ve raised almost $3,500 if I hit my goal of 6 hours for the double marathon.

Thanks to We Are Athletes! Racing Team for the photos.


Me and Michael Wardian after the race

I went to Long Island for the Caumsett Park 50K (which was also serving as the USATF 50K Road National Championships) knowing that if I had a good day I could be in the mix for the win.  My best 50K time was 3:00:10, run over a year ago completely solo.  The winning time for this race usually seemed to be in the 2:55 to 2:56 range, which I knew I could do, especially with people to run with.  The only question was who else was going to show up.

Turns out the winners from the past six years were there, including the course record holder (Michael Wardian, an ultramarathoning legend) and the guy who just barely missed the course record last year (Joe Gray, who also ran under 64 minutes at the Houston Half Marathon in January).  There was $200 on the line for the win, but an extra $1,000 for the course record, and as soon as I saw those guys there I knew it would be a record-breaking day.

The three of us separated from the rest pretty quickly, running a relaxed but quick pace.  There was a little back and forth conversation, showing that we were all well within ourselves.  The race was 10 5K laps, and I had done the math and knew that course record pace was 17:30 per lap.  The first lap was a little slow (17:52), and Wardian picked it up a little to start the second lap.  I was just trying to think about each lap as they came, instead of trying to worry about whether I was going too fast for a 50K.  Obviously, with a marathon PR of 2:29 set only two weeks prior, I would have to run a marathon significantly faster than I ever had, and then add 5 miles at that pace in order to be near the course record.  However, based on my recent training I really felt it was possible.  I figured I’d find out in the next 9 laps.


The second lap was 17:11, which brought our average back down to around record pace and the next two laps were 17:15 and 17:16.  Wardian started to fall back a little bit on the 4th lap as Joe and I maintained the pace.  When we hit the half marathon in about 1:13, I mentioned that I was on PR marathon pace.  I’m sure Joe thought I was either joking or about to be in serious trouble but I was still really comfortable.

Lap 5 was 17:22 and as we were halfway through (and under record pace) and I was still feeling good, I dropped the water bottle I’d carried for the first half and decided to push the pace a little.  The next two laps were 17:03 and 17:02 and in that 10K stretch I had increased my lead over Wardian and created a significant gap between me and Joe.  The next lap was 17:16 and at the end of that one I realized that Joe had dropped out.  My legs were starting to feel pretty heavy but the “surge” had done its job.

There was an official marathon split (you could use it as a Boston Qualifier but you had to finish the 50K) and I hit it in 2:25:55, which was almost 4 minutes faster than my two week old PR set at Mercedes.  The last 10K was rough but I was doing math in my head (always risky at the end of a long race) and after I finished the penultimate lap in 17:30, I knew I only had to run about a 20 minute 5K to get the record.  I was able to maintain a decent pace and finished with a 17:43, for a 2:53:33 course record and huge personal best.


Unlike in Happy Gilmore, in real life you don’t get to keep the big check!

Overall, this was the best race I’ve ever had.  I ran a huge personal best in the marathon and the 50K and won a national championship!  This is a guy who made it to the state meet two times in high school (running in the slow heat in outdoor track and getting the pity clap in indoor track) and never made it to nationals in college (in Division 3!).  It feels good to finally see the results of many years of consistent hard work and no recent injuries.  I know there were no Mebs or Ritzenheins or Halls out there but you can only race the people who show up.

Up next is another 3 weeks of heavy training, followed by the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, and then the taper for the Double Boston Marathon.  It’s been a long season but it’s easy to stay motivated when I keep seeing positive results.

Huge thanks to everybody who has pledged money so far for the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund.  The total amount pledged right now is $2,483.20, plus $16.25 for every minute I run under 7 hours for the double marathon.  If I hit my goal of 6 hours, that’ll be $3,458.20!  There’s just over a month until race day, please get those pledges in and share this with your friends and family!  Go here to pledge.

Mercedes Marathon Recap

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2014 at 1:54 am

As always, remember that I am training for a double marathon to raise money for the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund.  Please click here to pledge money for my double Boston feat.   You can pledge money based on how fast I run, or pledge a set amount, or you can just sign up to receive email updates.  I swear I won’t spam you.


I ran the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham AL on February 16 and ran a personal record for the marathon.  I was a bit concerned about the temperatures because with a low of about 35F that morning and clear skies, it could easily rise into the danger zone for me.  However, I carried a hand-held water bottle with me for the entire race (swapping the first out for a second full one at halfway) and drank both bottles during the race.  This is way more fluid than I would normally drink during a marathon and I really think that helped me avoid dehydration (although I suppose it may have affected my GI system).

I started out very conservatively, running the first half marathon around 1:17 (faster than my first half in Charleston but in better conditions) and making sure to drink my Gatorade/water mixture.  Maybe I drank too much, or maybe it would have happened anyway, but around mile 15 (right when I was hoping to start picking up the pace) I had to make a deposit in a port-a-potty.  It probably cost me 60-90 seconds but I felt much better afterwards and was able to run faster and more comfortably.

For the last 10 miles I was comfortably running 5:20s and 5:30s, and my last 3 miles were all under 5:20.  This was the first time I’ve ever had my fastest miles at the end of a marathon, and I ended up running 2:29:44 for 5th place and my first sub-2:30 marathon.  While sub-2:30 has never particularly been a goal of mine, I was really happy to have done it without any sort of taper because it shows that I’m in much better shape than that.

Since some people have asked what my training is like, here’s what the week of the marathon looked like:

Monday AM – 10 easy / PM – 10 easy
Tuesday AM – 10 easy / PM – 14 with 6×1 mile (2:00 jog recovery), avg 5:05
Wednesday PM – 17 mile progression run from 7:10 to 5:45, avg 6:15
Thursday PM – 5 easy (snow day)
Friday AM – 10 easy / PM – 10 easy
Saturday AM – 7 easy
Sunday AM – Mercedes Marathon, 2:29:44
Total – 119 miles

I usually do cycles of 3 hard weeks, 1 easy week but in the two weeks between Mercedes and the USA 50K championships I decided to try to be smart and take it easy to make sure I’m recovered.  Hopefully this allows me to run well on Sunday.  I’m hoping to better my PR of 3:00:10 that I set at the Salem Lake Frosty 50K last January.

As for fundraising, we are now just over $2,000, with another $14.25 for every minute I run the double marathon under 7 hours.  This means if I achieve my goal of 6 hours we will have made almost $3,000!  Please continue sharing this with your friends, family and coworkers.  Again, the link to the pledge page is here.  I think we can get the total over $5,000.

Also, I have dusted off my Twitter handle.  I don’t post a whole lot but you can follow me @ShavingTime.  Race day is April 21.  Less than 2 months to go!