Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Days until the Boston Marathon

One week before Boston and I am back to 100% fitness wise. 2 weeks ago my left shin has been moaning and I have been getting my cardio workouts in by doing stair stepping, rowing and elliptical for an hour a day. I have been saving my legs for running long runs on Saturday and Sunday. Ice and exercising without running has cut my recovery time down. It seems like forever since I have watched a 30-minute comedy without having an ice pack on my shins. I am at a very different mental place with regard to my goals at Boston than where I have been in past marathons. Instead of focusing so much on my goal race time, I am trying to be happy with just doing my best. As I tell my sons, as long as I can look at the mirror at the end of the day and say “I gave it my best” then that is all you can do. Getting shin splints 4 weeks before the race was not part of the script but I did my best working around it. Nobody, I repeat nobody, cares about my race time other than me. Even my running friends (who are focused on pace and time) just want me to have a good time, not get hurt and enjoy myself. I am traveling with Kathi Russo who is making her 6th straight appearance. She is an accomplished runner in Salisbury and is a running mentor to me. She is going to guide me in making sure I get to the starting line on time.

I ran the Elizabeth 8K race in Charlotte 2 weeks ago as part of a 20-mile long run and was happy with my effort. I was surprised to see 4 of the top 8 finishers were over 40 years old. I came in eighth overall with a time of 31:30 (6:20 pace per mile). I did not even place in the Masters Division. I did win my age group (45 to 50 years); who knew so many old people like me were going to attend the race.  I ran 5 miles as a warm-up so it might have hurt my race time but the point of the race was to push myself and focus on speed. I look forward to running more local 5K’s as part of long runs (20+ miles) on the weekend. There is no feeling like a 5K race when I am running out of air and have a half mile to go. Steve Prefontaine used to say about short races, “The winner today will be the one who is willing to hurt the most.”
I have started running in a new shoe named Skechers GoRun 3. The GoRun 3 cushioned shoe is light as a feather. The heel to drop ratio is 4% and can be lower if you do not use the foam insert. It has a wide toe box. I will be running in this pair in the Boston Marathon (Monday, April 21st). Runner’s World gave the GoRun 3 their Best Buy Running Shoe Award for Spring 2014. The are reasonably price for a premium running shoe at only $85 vs. $130 with other brands.



I am still jumping rope as part of my cross training and am always looking for new ways to cross train & increase my cardio base. I maxed out at 82 miles a week in preparation for Boston and am am enjoying tapering for the race.
Pacing seems to be a big challenge at Boston as most runners average 6 to 8 minutes difference between the first and second half. Mile 16 to 21 are where the hills come in and if you run much faster than your goal pace on the first 13 miles, there is a high risk of fatiguing your quads and not being able to maintain your pace when you get to the hills late in the race. I have read numerous times to run hard downhill in preparation to stress the quads so they will be strong during the first half of the race. I have been doing 3 mile hill repeats at the end of my long runs (18 miles +).  I am actually getting good and flying down the hills without breaking and slowing down. I just take a longer stride and feel like I am falling down by leaning into the slope with no extra effort like I did as a kid.
I enjoy running with my buddies who run at different paces but sometimes the pace is really slow (more than 2 minutes per mile slower than my marathon pace), so I have been thinking about how I can still run with others while keeping my heart rate in my aerobic zone (140 to 150bpm). I found a pair of 1.5lb weights in my basement that attaches to your hands and tried wearing them while running this week. I initially thought, how much is a 1.5lb weight going to affect the easy run? Wow- swinging the weights back and forth especially on the hills as I was pumping my elbows enabled my heart rate stay in the desired zone while recovery running. My chest, shoulders, and arms were letting me know by the end that they did not agree to the new fitness routine. I will continue to use them on easy recovery running days.

I just finished a good book named the “The Longest Run” by Ed Ayers. The book describes his evolution as a person and runner and uses the backdrop of the JFK 50 Mile Race held each fall. Ayers is a senior runner now and won the JFK when he was younger. The JFK 50 Mile was created after President Kennedy was concerned the U.S. citizens were getting mentally soft and not being fit. Kennedy thought all members of the armed forces should be able to walk 50 miles over 1 day. Bobby Kennedy completed the race. Eventually the race was opened to all. Some of the trail race is run on the Appalachian Trail and around the battlegrounds of the Civil War outside of DC. I enjoyed the book from the perspective of how we can continue to enjoy running for a lifetime once the days of new personal records are behind us.
Last week, I was in Vancouver BC working at a customer show and had the opportunity to run. The city is so clean and beautiful with the mountains in the background. They have a paved running/ biking trail on the water front that goes around the city. The SeaWall is over 40 miles long and I was able to run the entire trail over the weekend. I tried to stay on east coast time during the trip so I ran in the dark (4am-7am) each day and always felt completely safe. Great place to watch the sun rise.



I look forward to updating my little blog when I get back from Boston and begin getting ready for my 24 hour race in May. I am grinning just thinking about the possibilities of moving for 24 hours and finding out what lies deep inside of me. The farthest I have ever run is 54 miles so the idea of going 100 miles seem so outrageous. I look forward to doing some back-to-back 25 mile runs on Saturday and Sunday to get my body ready. At this point, I have no idea how to prepare mentally for this type of event. Every day when I am out running and feel pain, I think about what is to come and it helps to focus my mind on other things (family, work, etc).  Nine times of ten when I change what I am thinking about the pain goes away. I am intrigued by the notion of how important mental strength will be at a 24 hours loop race. It will be a learning experience as I get out of my comfort zone at the Black Mountain Monster 6, 12 and 24 hour race.

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