Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Off the Bench

I think I owe some of you an explanation for the lack of posts the last ten days. The Thursday night following the Boilermaker weekend, I started out on what was to be a 3-4 mile run. I had run 6 miles the night before and 4.5 miles on that Tuesday. As I went out on that night, I couldn't get it going. My legs were heavy, my back was sore, my knee was tender and I had absolutely no energy. So, I decided to shut it down for a week. I had pushed it pretty hard over the 6 weeks since my previous ten day shut down. I ran a four-mile, 15K and half marathon in that time and committed to run at least one extra marathon. The last thing I wanted to do was get hurt. Now - I'm back! I'm looking to reshape the schedule. I don't think I'm gonna run more than 6 miles on any weekday run. I'll keep up the plan of making my long runs on weekends. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So I just meed to maintain where I'm at and try and make baby step progress with each extra mile. Tomorrow is opening day at Saratoga, so I'll be running the next few nights from my home away from home. This next six-week push will be ending in Montreal. I can't believe we are heading into August already! Getting closer to the big day...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marathon Oasis de Montreal and Hartford Marathon - Just Do It...

I'm officially registered for the Hartford Marathon on October 10 and the Montreal Marathon on September 13. I'm gonna stay at the Delta Centre Ville hotel and be there from Friday Sept 11 to Monday Sept 14.

Still kinda thinking this is a little crazy, but whatever. This is a fun way to get my 20 mile run in and will be used as a prep for the Hartford Marathon a month later. I pray that I come out of it healthy and looking forward to doing another in less then four weeks.

So no excuses here. Money is in and plans are made to run two marathons with only four weeks between them. I can honestly say that is a sentence I never expected to see typed out of these fingers. Let's do this!

This Week...

I can't wait to hit the streets this week. I ran a total of 26 miles last week to bring my total up to 149 miles. I ran 3 miles Monday, 4.5 miles Tuesday, 6 miles Wednesday, 3.5 Miles Thursday and the 9.3 miles Sunday. This was four miles more than the schedule called for. This week is a "step back week" that calls for 3mi/6mi/3mi/7miles.

I picked up four of the 21 miles I was behind in the original schedule. I see no reason why I won't pick up another four or five this week. I need to try and find a 10K in the area for the upcoming weekend.

Following this week, things start to really pick up in the mileage front. I am scheduled to run 104 miles in a one month period. It gets even crazier the next month. I'll be running anywhere from ten miles to 20 miles on weekends until September 26. The big run being the Montreal Marathon on the day of my scheduled 20 mile killer September 13. Now is make or break time. This is the last week of running for leisure and I can only hope the nights and mornings remain on the cooler side.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 Boilermaker Finish Line Video

Check out the clock from 1:32:38 - 1:32:41. Yours truly can be seen on the upper left corner wearing a blue shirt with dark shorts (about ten o'clock on your screen)

http://www.wktv.com/boilermaker/50546107.html - Left Camera Angle

http://www.wktv.com/boilermaker/50545837.html - Right Camera Angle

The Boilermaker 15K - 1:27:28

Incredible Day!

The Boilermaker 15K is billed as one of the top races in the country... and it is! I can't imagine many others being able to compete with the course,community participation,organization, level of competition or the excitement.

I didn't beat my goal of 1:25:00. However, I couldn't be happier with how it went. I ran the 15K or 9.3 miles in 1:27:28. The part I'm happiest about is that I got increasingly stronger as the race went on. This race had splits at the 5K and 10K points. With 11,000 runners completing the race and hundreds more than that starting it, the start was crazy.

I started way back. As a matter of fact, it took me about five and a half minutes to get to the starting line after the gun. With the horde of people basically on top of you at the beginning, it is very difficult to get into any sort of comfortable pace. Not that I cared. Thousands of people line the streets, bands are playing every quarter mile, and runners are literally running with their hands in the air waving to family, friends, and t.v. cameras for most of the first 5K of the race. With this in mind, I ran my first 5K in 31.16. This was almost as slow as my first 5K in April but, as I've indicated,enjoying the surroundings and taking in everything going on around me was the priority.

Almost immediately after the 5K split, the course begins a not so gradual up hill run for the next two miles. It takes you through Utica Country Club and seemed to keep getting steeper and steeper with each step. This also is where runners began getting little more elbow room- although not much. It's also where I started to find my groove. Mile 4 was the only stretch that wasn't five deep with spectators. Approaching the six mile point, I stopped(for the first time) in order to take some electrolyte pills, energy gel and water. I didn't as much stop as I got off to the side of the road just sort of inhaled all three at the same time. It couldn't have cost me more than ten seconds and the re-fueling definitely helped as I finished the race. I ran the second 5K in a great pace and completed it in 28:21 for a total time of 59:37. I knew at this point I could come close to beating my goal of 1:25:00. However, I would need to run my fastest 5K ever to do it.

The final two miles are absolutely incredible. The spectators are ringing cowbells, water stations were at every half mile and runners are cheering each other on like I've never come close to seeing before. As I approached the 9-mile marker, I was at a clock time of 1:29:00. Knowing I had started over five minutes past the gun/clock time, I realized I wouldn't beat the 1:25:00 but that I could come pretty close to running my best 5K. As I got to the finish line, the clock read 1:32:46. The final 5K was 27:52. Not my best 5K, but certainly better than I could have ever imagined running miles 6.3 - 9.5. Looking at the splits, If I could have run the first 5K in the time I ran my second or even my third, than I would have beat my goal by close to a minute. I'm not gonna second guess though. I mean, if my aunt had a mustache she'd be my uncle, right?

I ran this at a 9:24/mile pace. The best part about it was that I could have gone longer. If I can ever run the marathon in anything close to this pace than I will come close to breaking 4 hours. The 4-hour mark seems almost unthinkable to me. This was close to a minute and a half better than my average for the Fairfield Half Marathon.

Following the race, close to 40,000 people packed into the Saranac Brewery park. Free sandwiches, beer, powerdrinks, and fruit for everybody. Bands played, a pretty bad ass military flyover and the awards ceremony entertained everyone. The Boilermaker was really a great experience and one that I look forward to enjoying for years to come.

The winner, Ridouane Harroufi of Morocco, won with a time of 43.56 in what was a very exciting finish.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Boilermaker Weekend

I've been looking forward to this weekend for about two months. From the day I was first told about the Boilermaker in Utica, NY , I started planning for it. I looked forward to this race for a bunch of reasons.

First,I saw it was coming up on the weekend that I was supposed to do my first ten-mile training run. Back in the beginning of May, actually completing ten miles in less then two months time appeared to be a real long shot. My first 5K at the end of April in Glastonbury was nothing short of pathetic. I couldn't make it a two miles without wanting to crawl under a hole and hide. Amanda and Hilary dragged me through it though. Since then, I've already exceeded running ten miles when I finished the Fairfield Half-Marathon. Tomorrow isn't a question of finishing, but in how long. My goal is to break 1:25:00. It will be difficult, but I think I can do it.

Second, I read in Runner's World that this is supposed to be one of - if not the - funniest race in the country. I got a sense of what to expect when I registered yesterday. From the huge banner proclaiming the start of the race as I got off the highway, to the two miles of cars and entire army of traffic police along the road heading into the expo on the Masonic Care Community Campus to the thousands of people roaming through at least a dozen circus-size tents. One television report said 30,000 people are expected for this race. Now, I don't know if that's just runners or includes all the volunteers. Whatever it is, its a huge number. Utica is not exactly a thriving metropolis. I drove through farmlands and old mill towns for almost two hours before I got to the "city". The community involvement for this race is nothing short of spectacular and the excitement should only feed my adrenaline. The race is covered from start to finish by the Utica TV stations and the coverage has been neat to follow online throughout this week.

Although, the preparations for the race have caused stress to some Utica residents.

The third reason I was looking forward to this was that it marks just about the halfway point of my training. When this started, I had no idea if I would even get to this point. The continuous weekend races, the support from other runners and seeing steady results have helped fuel my desire to run and finish the marathon in October.

I'm two months to the date of the Montreal "need to run 20 miles that weekend so might as well run 26" Marathon. 26.2 miles still seems like an impossible feat, but I'm alot closer than I was after finishing the Glastonbury River Run. Tomorrow will be the first race I set as a long term goal and didn't just run on a whim. I'm gonna enjoy it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Week Ahead

It's time for me to get back on schedule. I've a run a total of 123 miles. This week calls for runs of 3 miles Tuesday, 6 miles Wednesday, 3 miles Thursday and 10 miles this weekend. The Boilermaker 15K will be just under 10 miles, but if I throw in a one mile warm up just prior to the race than I will meet the goal.

The month of June took me off schedule, but after taking the time off I've seemed to get back on track. The original plan had me running a total of 144 miles by July 4Th. The fact that I'm only 21 miles behind considering I pretty much missed two full weeks is not all that bad. My hope is to make up these miles wherever I can. I'll try and run five miles on a Tuesday when I'm supposed to run 3. I'll throw in an extra Friday run of five miles when I'm scheduled to take it off. I know I'm gonna make up at least 6 miles in September with the Montreal Marathon. So I'm not too disappointed with where I'm at. Continuing to put in 15-20 miles a week on the bike will also make up for the lost miles.

I knew from the start this would take flexibility. My mileage plan was more ambitious then the regular beginner's marathon plan. I called for much longer weekday runs and know that I may not be able to get ten miles in on a Wednesday in the future. I know that this past weekend called for a nine mile run, but I only did the four mile race. This doesn't upset me because the previous weekend only called for five miles and I ended up doing the 13.1 in the half marathon. As long as I keep making progress, avoid injury and continue to enjoy making working out a regular part of my day than this is all worth while.

The only positive I can think of for all this rain we've had is that the evening runs have been pleasant. I've learned quickly that I would much rather run outdoors than on the treadmill at the gym. While I'd like to get a few beach days in by the end of Summer, this mild weather has served at least somewhat positive for my own personal training.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saratoga 4th of July Firecracker 4-mile - 35:17

The appeal has been made. I'm appealing the official time for this weekend's Firecracker 4 four-mile race in Saratoga. As I crossed the finish line, the clock time was at 35:13. I started towards the middle back of the pack and took at least 10-15 seconds to get to the finish line. However, according to the official results, I ran a time of 35:17. Now, I know this is by far my best time yet. I realize that the clock is not always completely accurate, but I have yet to find a clock that is inaccurate on the slow end. I would normally be pumped with an 8:50/mile pace. This beats my previous best pace time of 9:13 at the Kiwanis Shad Derby 5K. I finished 507 out of 967 people. This race, though, was the first that I set a goal time for. That goal was to beat 35 minutes and run a 8:45/pace. Those damn 17 seconds will eat at me for the next week. Other than this unfortunate timing snafu, the Firecracker was a great race to be a part of.

Race time started at 8:30 Saturday morning. I woke up around 7:15 and took the five minute walk to Broadway in Downtown Saratoga. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning. I grabbed a bagel with peanut butter, small coffee and bottled water at Uncommon Grounds and enjoyed the sites and sounds of the city waking up. The registration was a couple blocks away at the City Centre where two dudes were stringing acoustic guitars and singing happy hippy songs.

Prior to the race, a kid who couldn't have been older than ten years old sang the national anthem and absolutely nailed it.

Immediately after the rendition the gun went off and close to 1000 runners started up Broadway.

The first hill was about a three minutes in and wasn't too bad. Room was tight but I managed to get up it without losing a step. I forget what song I was listening too, but when it ended I looked down and noticed I forgot to start my watch. I knew that I started the I-Pod at the gun and the song last 5:25 so as the watch started I knew I was almost exactly 5:30 into the race. The first mile came shortly after and I was at a pace of 8:30. I was pumped. This meant I was 15 seconds ahead of my goal pace. The second mile was pretty flat. It had a few turns and about 4 minutes into it I spotted my parents. My mother, with camera in hand, seemed very excited to see me running by. My father, on the other hand, gave me one of those looks as if to say," Do you know there are hundreds of people- including senior citizens, pregnant women with strollers and pre-pubescents - ahead of you? Step it up, Kid!" Needless to say, I picked up my pace and approached the 2 mile markers at 17:10. This meant my pace was still ahead of the goal.

I wanted to avoid the water stations this race. However, it was pretty hot and I decided to grab a couple cups on the run just before the 2.5 mile marker. I'm happy I did and feel as though it didn't really slow me down. I hit the 5K point right around 26:30 minutes. This was almost a minute and a half better than any 5K I'd run. It also meant if I could run the final mile in 9 minutes - I would reach my goal. I was well on target until the last 1/2 mile. It was straight up hill and seemed to go forever. I was passing people, but it was definitely here that I lost those pesky 17 seconds. The final few hundred yards were flat and I was in an all out sprint. When I finished, I was pretty sure I had beat the goal of 35 minutes. We now know it was premature.

Which one of you punks messed with the clock?

Despite the bitterness I expressed at the beginning of this post, I was very happy with this race. I thought 35 minutes would be tough to beat. I didn't sleep well at all the night before the race and the course had it's share of hills. My legs were sore all week after the half marathon but I proved to myself I can push it and still finish strong. After not planning on setting any goals for time in next week's Boilermaker 15K, I now am gonna try to beat 1:25:00. This will be just over 9mins/mile. I'm gonna need to stop at three or four water stations next week which I know will add some time. I'm also gonna wanna take in everything that is going on around me. A 9 mine mile pace, though, will be almost 1:40 better than my pace in the half marathon. This would be a considerable improvement in just two weeks time.

As for the rest of this weekend - it was great. Played 18 holes Saturday and was took advantage of Saratoga's famous mineral baths and massage today. I'm feeling good and ready to take on the mean streets of Utica next weekend.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

UPDATE to come

I know that the so many of you are wearing out the refresh button to see how today's Firecracker 4 went today, so I'll let you know we finished with a clock time of 35:12. I didn't start my watch until five minutes in and have no idea how far back I was at the start. So, we're gonna have to wait for the official results to come in on the website to see if I beat my goal time of 35 minutes. It's gonna be close. I started in the middle of the pack but with close to 1000 runners, It took a little time to get to the start. I'm just hoping it took at least 15-20 seconds.

Happy 4Th of July!

Friday, July 3, 2009

4th of July 4-Miler in Saratoga

In a last minute decision, I'm gonna compete in the Firecracker 4 four-mile race in Saratoga Springs, NY tomorrow morning.

I couldn't find any 10K's in the area for the entire weekend, so this 4-mile run will just have to do. Following the race, I'll be playing 18 at Saratoga National which should be the true highlight of the trip.

My legs are quite sore this week. A combination of the serious uptick in running and lifting this week are to blame, but that's not gonna stop me from setting a goal of finishing this race in under 35 minutes. That will be a pace of about 8:45 for the run. The best pace I've kept in any single race was 9:13 in the Kiwanis Shad Derby 5K. However, I believe I can do this. I won't be messing around with water stations and in-race stretching. I'm gonna try and start a little closer to the front of the pack and get into a comfortable stride earlier than usual.

In the past, I haven't taken too much time stretching pre-race. I usually start off very slow and stretch after a mile or two. I may try and run a couple miles before the race. I was hoping to run 6 or 7 miles anyway this weekend and this will also allow me to get a good stretch in after a solid warm-up. I know I should be doing this before every race.

This race will take us along the beautiful streets of downtown Saratoga Springs. It starts going along Broadway to Circular St, turns onto Caroline St, and ends down Excelsior. I believe this race should be mostly flat, but if I'm thinking of the right streets, there are a few hills that I'll need to tackle.

We'll let you know how it goes. Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just Over A Week 'Til the Boilermaker

I'm ten days away from the most highly anticipated run yet - The Boilermaker 15K.

The Boilermaker is held in Utica, NY. It is known as one of the best 15K's in the country and will have close to 15,000 people competing in it. From what I understand, the entire city shuts down for this race and has the best post-race party for any race this side of the Mississippi.

According to the website, there are over 20 water stations. Bands, DJ's and bagpipers are playing throughout the run. Thousands of volunteers help out along the way and the race ends at the Saranac Brewery with concerts, fireworks and loads of food and drink.

This race is not only fun, but appears to be rather tough. The elevations bring you up over 400 feet in the first few miles, but is relatively downhill for the last half of the 9.3 mile run.

To say that I'm excited for this race is an understatement. This is the first race that I'm gonna try and shoot for a specific time in. I'd like to finish in less then 1:30:00. This will be about a 9:30/mile pace. Despite all the stations, I'm hoping to only water up at each 5K. I think this could save me at least five or six minutes in time and will allow me to get into a comfortable pace without starting and stopping every ten minutes.

I'm not only excited about the race, but the entire weekend. I'm gonna stay in Saratoga Springs on Friday and Saturday night and probably for Sunday night after the race. Saratoga is one of the coolest towns I've ever been and has hundreds of restaurants, bars, golf courses and attractions. The peak time to visit Saratoga is from the last week of July through Labor Day when the Thoroughbred meet is going on, but it is a fun place to visit any time of year.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

100 Days to Go

72 Days ago this whole experiment started. In many ways, to get to even this point would have been considered a pipe dream. Thanks to my trusted ING Hartford Marathon widget, I can now see that we are 100 days away from M-Day.

As of June 10, I had logged in 70 miles running. Since then, I went through my two week soul-searching phase in which I only ran 7 miles. However, since last Monday I have tacked on 34 fresh miles on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9 odometer. With 20 miles coming on just Sunday and last night alone.

This brings my total mileage to 111 miles run since April 21. The last three days have been sort of a breakthrough for me. The half marathon proved I could finish a long run in a somewhat respectable time. The biggest breakthrough may have been last night's 7-mile run. I was only planning on running 3 miles. When I got to the 3-mile mark, I decided to try and make it 4.5 mile. When I got to the 4.5 mile point, I decided to make it 6-miles. As I came down the street to finish at 6, I decided to run a couple loops around the neighborhood to make it 7. I found a breathing pattern that has seemed to elude me so far. I also realized that I can go 7 miles without stopping for water, stretching or energy gel. It took me exactly an hour and those 8 or 9 minutes I took off had to have been from not stopping and going every mile. I was able to find a comfortable pace and keep it there. I don't know if I can make 5+ miles a night a regular thing, but if I can I'm convinced I can take my minute/mile pace to around 8:30.

So 72 Days in and 100 to go until the Hartford. We are about 75 days away from the Montreal Marathon prep run.

The total mileage accrued so far would take me to Schenectady, NY to the West:

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Lynn, MA to the East:

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And to the slot machines and harness racing at Yonkers Raceway to the South:

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