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Archive for 2014|Yearly archive page

Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon Recap

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

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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: http://bit.ly/1dUyKWN.  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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Pistol 50K and Charleston Marathon

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm

To support the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund and my Double Marathon fundraising effort, please click here to pledge.  Every little bit helps!

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After the disappointment of having the Memphis Marathon cancelled and then dropping out of my replacement race, the Rocket City Marathon, I needed to start the new year off on a good note.  And fortunately the first three weeks of 2014 have gone about as well as possible.

Pistol 50K

Since I only ran 17 miles of Rocket City and had four weeks of tapering, I really didn’t have to take any recovery time and I was able to continue training immediately.  On January 4 I ran the Pistol 50K, just down the road from me in Alcoa, TN.  The day before the race I didn’t think I’d run, and even when I woke up that morning I was doubtful.  I had come down with a head cold and felt miserable the previous day.  “They” say that if the cold is in your neck or above you can run, but I don’t think that applies to 31 mile races in 18 degree weather.  Anyway, I decided that since I wasn’t coughing and I actually felt pretty decent on the morning of the race I’d go out there and run a lap (the 50K is two 11 mile laps and one 9 mile lap) and see how I felt.

It was frigid but calm and since nobody warmed up before the race, the group I was running with was content to stay relaxed most of the first lap.  In the group with me were Stewart Ellington and Matt Hoyes, who were running the 50K; Jose Salas and Chris Kane, who were running the first leg of the 50K relay; and Brad Adams, who had won the 50K in 2013 but was just out to join us for a long run.  We started with 6:30 to 6:40 miles and by the end of the first lap we had progressed to under 6:10 pace.  Matt and I dropped Stu when he stopped at an aid station, then I stopped for the bathroom and Matt jumped ahead but soon we were back together.

Alan Horton took over from Jose for the second leg of the relay and I was still feeling pretty good so I decided to run with him as long as I could.  He was running a bit faster (5:50 to 6:00 miles) so the two of us left Stu and Matt behind around 13 or 14 miles.  I ran with Alan until the end of his leg, with some 5:45 miles towards the end, but when he finished I was all alone.  I was pretty worried about running too hard in the cold when I was sick so I made sure not to push it on the last lap, keeping it relaxed with 5:55 miles or so.  I ended up finishing in 3:05, which is my second-fastest 50K ever and felt good the whole way.

I felt like a wimp leaving the race after only 3 hours because there was also a 100K and 100 mile race going on, but it also felt good to take a warm shower!  The race itself was entirely on paved walking/jogging trails on the Aloca/Maryville Greenway.  It’s mostly flat, with a few little hills to break up the monotony, and the support from volunteers and fellow runners was fantastic.  I didn’t use any of the available treats at the aid station, leaving those to the real runners, but from what I could tell they had pretty much anything you would want during an ultra.  As much as I’ve enjoyed the Frosty 50K the past several years, I think the convenience of the Pistol will keep me coming back.

I did end up making my cold a little bit worse by running the 50K, but it never progressed to my chest (thanks Luke and Eddie’s Health Shoppe!).  So the week after the Pistol was a low mileage week but I managed to recover from both the run and the illness pretty quickly.

Charleston Marathon

Two weeks after the 50K on January 20, I was back in my old stomping grounds of Charleston, SC to run the Charleston Marathon.  From looking at the results from previous years, I knew I had a chance to win and could definitely be in the top 3 to 5 finishers, but my focus was on trying to run relaxed and finish the marathon strong (something I’ve always done in my ultra marathons but never in my marathons for some reason).  I think a major problem with my previous marathons has been that I don’t take enough fluids on board early in the race and become dehydrated.  Most of my 50Ks have been in 20-30 degree weather, and all of my marathons have been in 30-60 degree weather, so I’m great when it’s really cold and I wilt at the end of the marathon when it’s not 20 degrees.

With this in mind, I decided to run at least the first half of the marathon with a water bottle filled with Gatorade.  I also had another full bottle available later in the race if I wanted it.  This way I could drink at any time without having to worry about where the aid stations were.  It was 34 degrees at the start with 15 to 20 mile per hour winds, so it felt colder than the Pistol Ultra, but when we were running in the sun it was pretty comfortable.  This race was more competitive than the 50K so I started out a little faster but was still pretty much jogging for the first 10K.  I was running 6:00 pace or slower and chatting with the other guys and making sure to drink frequently.

When the course left Charleston and headed north we were running directly into the wind and it was tough.  It’s a point-to-point race and the vast majority of the time we were running into the wind.  I just focused on maintaining 5:50 to 5:55 miles into the wind and I started to catch people.  At 8 miles, where the marathon and half marathon split for the first time, I was in 4th place and about two minutes behind the marathon leaders.  They split up soon after that and I spent the next 10 miles reeling them in, passing into first place around mile 19.  At that point I was still comfortable so I just focused on maintaining my pace, running 5:40 to 5:45 with the wind and 5:50 to 5:55 against the wind and finished in first place in 2:34:08.  It was my second fastest marathon ever (2:32:10 at Mercedes Marathon in 2013), and it was a training effort at the end of a 120 mile week.  Needless to say, I was pretty pumped.

My goal was to finish the entire bottle of Gatorade by 13 miles.  I didn’t quite succeed, but I did finish it around 16 miles and I really think that made all the difference.  I actually started to feel bloated and got a side stitch around mile 7 because I wasn’t used to drinking so much during a race but I just need to practice more.  It’s hard to find a 20 degree marathon (Memphis would have been, but it was cancelled because it was too cold!) so I need to figure out a way to maintain through the distance when it’s a little bit warmer.  It’s taken 10 marathons, but I’m hoping I’ve found the key.

So I have a month until my next big event, the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL.  I’m going to treat it as a hard training run like my previous two races, but if I have an opportunity to run fast I will.  A few of my training partners are running it as well as training runs for Boston, so we should have a good group at least for the first half marathon or so.  From now until then, the focus is on getting 110 to 120 miles per week, with high quality long runs and medium long runs.  Also, I will definitely be carrying a water bottle at Mercedes!

I know this has been a long post; in the future I’ll try to keep them shorter.  Once again, I’m doing all this to raise money for the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund.  To everybody who has pledged so far, thank you so much!  The pledges keep coming in, and as of this moment you have pledged $1717.20, plus $12.25 for every minute I complete the double marathon in under 7 hours!  If you haven’t pledged, please click here and pledge something.  Every little bit helps!  Also, pass this on to your friends, family, and coworkers.  Thanks again!