Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boston Qualifier and Then Some

Wow, where do I start?  What a weekend.  This past weekend I competed in 2 marathons.  The Indianapolis Marathon and the Columbus Marathon.  Funny how I ended up signing up for these 2 marathons.  It was around the beginning of September and I really wanted to run a marathon in October.  I had one set up to run in August, September, November and December but didn't have one scheduled for October.  I found the Indianapolis Marathon after remembering I ran here in 2011.  It was my 2nd half marathon ever and I remember the hills there.  I figured it would be a good training run with all the hills and I really wasn't expecting too much as far at time out of this one because of all the hills.  The next one was a marathon I ran last year.  The Columbus Marathon.  It is a great course which is flat and fast and at one time held my marathon PR here.  I could not decide on just one so I decided to run them both back to back with the Indianapolis Marathon being on Oct 19 and the Columbus Marathon being on Oct 20.

Indianapolis Marathon Recap:

The first day at Indianapolis we drove up the morning of the race (Melissa went with me both days.  She didn't race because of her hip).  They had race day packet pickup which was very nice.  It was raining on our way up and I had hoped it would stop by the time the race started but it never did.  The start was a cold 38 degrees and rain.  I ate my usual before a race.  1 nutri-grain bar and 20 oz of Gatorade.  Every marathon I have ever ran I always drink Gatorade in the race and no Gu's/Gels.  I had a bad experience during a race once and never used them again.  The race I had a bad experience was funny enough this race when I did the half marathon here in 2011.  I was having flashbacks of that race.  I trained with Gu for the first time 2 weeks before this race and it went really well so I decided to experiment with them in this race and just see how it went.  My strategy was to take a Gu at the first 30 minutes and then every 40 minutes after that.

I started off feeling really good but it was really cold.  I started with the 3:15 pacer.  First mile in was a 7:20 pace.  That felt good but I was hoping I would warm up because it was still cold. Mile 2 was still a good mile at 7:19 pace.  Mile 3 I slowed down a bit.  I remember a little hill on this mile and had a 7:43 pace. Mile 4 7:18, Mile 5 was still strong and my fastest mile so far at a 7:08.  It was until I knocked out a 7:07 at mile 6.  Mile 7 still feeling good and starting to finally warm up but the rain is
still falling.  I had a 7:08 mile at mile 7, mile 8 7:24 and mile 9 7:08, mile 10 7:21.  Around this point I saw a couple other guys running.  I asked them what their goal was and they said 3:15 so I decided to run with them to see how long I could last.  One guy was an older gentleman, not sure how old but had to be in his mid to late 50's.  I could tell he was a machine.  They asked me my goal and I said anything under 3:28 because that would break my PR from a few weeks before.  They said you look like you are running quite well for a 3:28.  mile 11 7:32 and mile 12 7:09.  I had knocked out all the hills except for the one between mile 25-26 and I told myself I was going for it.  I had nothing to loose.  I could always just struggle through the marathon the next day.  Mile 13 was my fastest mile of the race.  I did a 6:59.  At this point I lost the 3:15 pacer and never saw him again.  At mile 13 something kicked in and it just started to click.  It was at that point I felt I had a shot at the Boston Qualifier.  Mile 14 was a 7:14, mile 15 7:22, mile 16 was 7:16, mile 17 was a 7:22.  It was at that point where I realized I fell apart in my last marathon.  I had pretty much the same time going in at that race at this point as I did in this race then the wheels fell off because I ran out of fuel.  That was the reason I was trying Gu because I didn't want that to happen again.  I didn't want to have to rely on the aid stations for my fuel.  I told myself I wasn't letting that happen again and started to push harder.  Mile 18 was a 7:30, mile 19 7:19, mile 20 7:21.  Just a 10k to go but this is the hardest part in a marathon.  It is like a whole different race in itself.  I told myself there is no wall.  I don't do 30+ mile runs in training to fall apart at mile 20 in a race.  Not this time.  There was also that feeling in the back of my mind that this could really be possible today.  Today I might get that Boston Qualifier.  I was close and it was going to be close.  My splits were so even throughout the race I knew I just needed to power through the pain.  The older guy I had been running with passed me at mile 20 but I still had him in sight so I kept going.  Then this younger kid came out of nowhere and we were stride for stride the last 5 miles.  I didn't catch his name and we never spoke the last 5 miles but we were there pushing each other and kept each other going.  It was pretty cool because it was like we were working as a team.  Mile 21 and BOOM!!  7:32, mile 22 7:25, mile 23 7:35, mile 24 7:34.  Between mile 24.5 and mile 26 there is a gradual hill and I knew I had to make it happen.  I thought back to all the hill work I had done on the trails, the work, the effort I had put in and said this stupid hill wasn't going to defeat me and cost me qualifying for Boston.  Mile 25 7:34 and mile 26 8:10.  I come around the corner and see Melissa and she is screaming at me, "YOU ARE GONNA DO IT!!!  RUN!!!"  I start to tear up.  I look up at the clock and it is still reading 3:14 something.  I know there is a chance.  I cross the line at 3:14:41!!  19 seconds under my Boston Qualifying time.  I sit here writing this several days after this run and still am in disbelief.  I just qualified for the Boston Marathon!!  I think of how far I've come with my running in just a little over 2 years and it almost seems unreal to me.  As soon as I crossed the finish line I had to get taken to the medical tent.  First time for that.  I think that with it being so cold out right after I stopped my body couldn't handle the difference in temperature.  I ended up being really dizzy when I stopped and I'm glad they were there to get me.  After about 20 minutes in the tent I was fine, a little sore, but felt pretty good.  Hey, I got an extra shirt out of the deal.  LOL.  I went to the results tent to see my official time and ended up finding out I placed in my age group.  I was 2nd in my age group and ended up getting this awesome coffee mug age group winner award.  That is the first marathon I have ever placed in for my age group.  Overall I finished in 3:14:41 which was a Boston Qualifying time, finished 2nd in my age group 40-44 year old and 21st overall.
Crossing the finishing line and realizing I just qualified for Boston

Smaller race, great support, great race and beautiful park like setting.  If you are looking for a great smaller race with great scenery this is the race for you.  Definitely one I would run again.

Columbus Marathon recap:

Now on to Columbus for a marathon the next day.  I was on top of the world and was just looking to take it easy, relax, and have fun in Columbus. There was no pressure.  I was on cloud nine.  I had just qualified for Boston and said lets have fun with this!!  We stopped on the way at Fazoli's and I got some fettuccine alfredo, a piece of pizza and 4 bread sticks.  Next stop Columbus for the packet pickup.  We arrived, I picked up my packed and then went to the hotel.  I didn't want to leave because I knew we had to get up early the next day.  I was craving a bacon cheeseburger.  It is my weakness so we ordered room service and I got a bacon cheese burger and fries.  That is much different than what I usually eat the night before a race.  I usually have subway.  Luckily I got up the next morning and didn't have tummy issues.  I was still quite stiff but was hoping the legs would loosen up once I got started.  I did my same pre race meal which was 1 nutri-grain bar and 20 oz Gatorade.  I decided to take the Cliff shot GU gel for this race as well since it worked so well the day before.  Got to the race and it was 40 degrees, clear skies, no rain and a perfect day to run.  On fresh legs it would be a perfect day to PR because this course is fast and flat.  I knew today wasn't that day for me because of yesterday's race but I was looking to have fun and finish so I could say I ran back to back marathons.  In the back of my mind I thought how cool it would be to run both marathons in under 4:00 but I wasn't getting my hopes up and was really just looking to finish.

We get started and it was pretty hard to get a pace established.  Very crowed and narrow at the start.  First mile 8:12 and I'm thinking to myself, what are you doing!!  A little faster than I had planned and needed to slow it down if I was going to finish the race.  Mile 2 7:55, mile 3 8:06, mile 4 8:10, mile 5 8:01, mile 6 8:04.  At this point I am really starting to get tired and wonder how I am ever going to finish 20 more miles.  I keep pushing and keep going.  Mile 7 8:19, Mile 8 8:10, Mile 9 8:03, Mile 10 8:08, and mile 11 8:05. I am starting to get in a grove and the legs have finally loosened up.  Then I start thinking of me finishing my race yesterday.  I am in a daze thinking about yesterday and me crossing the finish line and the miles start to fly by!!  I am feeling great and it is on.  I keep replaying yesterday's finish in my head and am blocking everything else and am having a blast.  Posing for the camera and having the time of my life.  Mile 12 8:02, mile 13 8:03, mile 14 7:57, mile 15 7:57.  At this point I catch the 3:35 pace group and fly around them.  mile 16 7:43, mile 17 8:01, mile 18 7:53, mile 19 8:02 and mile 20  8:22.  I can't believe how great I'm feeling at this point just a day after my marathon.  I feel unstoppable as I start flying by people and passing everyone in sight!  Mile 21 8:03, mile 22 7:54, mile 23 7:56, mile 24 7:55, mile 25 8:06, mile 26 7:55 and the final .2 miles 6:49.  I ended up having a faster 2nd half than I did my first half with a 1:46:34  the first half and a 1:45:45 the second half.  Wow!!  I crushed that wall!!  What wall??????  I ended up finishing this marathon in 3:32:19 which was 6 minutes faster than when I ran this marathon last year when I ran a 3:38 here last year.

What a great course.  It is fast and flat.  Great race support, great crowd support.  No wonder it is a sell out year after year.  Definitely would recommend this race to anyone.

Did I really just run like that?  Did I really just finish 2 marathons in one weekend?  Did I really just run them both that fast?  
This weekend I accomplished 2 goals. One was qualifying for Boston in my marathon on Saturday with a 3:14:41 and finishing up back to back marathons.  In those 2 days I ran a total of 52.4 miles in 6:46:58 for an overall pace of 7:46 per mile for the weekend. This was my 698th day in a row of running. Truly an epic weekend I'll never forget.

Next up is the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 2.  I felt great this morning and ran 10 miles at a 7:20 pace.  I am going to try to improve upon my PR and my goal is to finish around 3:12 to give me a better shot at getting into Boston.  Looking forward to this challenge.  Less than two weeks.  I'll be ready!!

I want to thank my awesome and amazing wife Melissa.  Without her support for me I would never be able to do what I do.  She is such an amazing woman and am lucky to have her.

The support everyone has given me on my page was overwhelming and I really appreciate each and every one of you. Rock On!!