Monthly Archives: April 2008

2:56:55

A lot to say and nothing to say about the 112th Boston Marathon.  I’m satisfied, but not exuberant.  Not terribly pleased, but not terribly disappointed.  Happy it is over, but not necessarily happy with the result.

The Good
-This was a Boston PR for me, and the 3rd fastest marathon I ran
-My core exercises all winter bore fruit, with my back holding up unlike previous Bostons
-My best marathon in a couple of years, and it felt good to run a decent one
-Wasn’t a total mess after the race, as I usually am.
-Ran with Lance for a few miles.  Asked him if he wanted to run through as he came up behind me.  He said “No, I’m good.”
-I guess I made the Versus coverage.

The Bad
-Pacing left a little to be desired.  I could have gone out slightly easier, as my heart rate indicated at the time.
-The last few miles were not the high point.  I had to stretch at Mile 23 and walked the water station at Mile 25.  Loser.
-Could not hang longer with Lance through the hills
-Missed myself on the Versus coverage
-About 5 to 6 minute positive split.  Loser.
-The weather, while pleasantly sunny, was too sunny.  More clouds please.

The Ugly
-My toes are a disaster, again.  Nothing like popping blood blister in the warm sun outside the VIP tent.

So, overall it was eventful, and uneventful.  I would be happy with three minutes faster, but my sights are set higher on Ironman Lake Place, for which I have to start training immediately . That was part of my calculus as well: Don’t destroy yourself too much, this is not your “A” race.  I’ll take some solace in that, and be happy that I was able to put together a decent marathon.  Not great, but decent.  And sometimes decent has to do.

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BAA Flight #2754 Prepared for Take-off

Doesn’t get much better than this.  A slight headwind, but overcast conditions.  Chance of rain is okay as well.  Things are finally looking up in terms of a good weather day for the marathon.

During the taper, I felt appropriately lousy.  Tapers usually feel that way.  However, when running, legs are starting to feel more snappy.  That’s a good sign.

I’m actually looking forward to this thing and having a good time.  I haven’t had fun during a marathon in a while.  I’m aiming for around 2:55, which equates to about 6:40/mile pace.  Very doable if everything goes well.  You never know.  Could be something you ate, a down day, unexpected cramp, etc.  The marathon is a big question mark because of the distance.  A lot can go wrong, and it is typically the case that something does.  At some point everyone feels lousy.  You just have to hope it passes as you push through it.

You can track my progress through www.bostonmarathon.com.  It would be helpful to know a lot of eyes are on my progress.  Help me to keep motivated when all you want to do is drink a beer with the rest of the crowd.

Bomb Carnage at Sri Lanka Marathon

So read the title of the UK Times On-line.  What is it about this particular among all the awful headlines that I peruse on a daily basis? In reference to my previous blog, this hits to the community of which I am a member.  The loneliness of long-distance running, made all the more lonely by a tragedy such as this.  You think back to the Athens Olympics when the tool on your right decided to interject himself into the festivities by trying to take out Brazilian runner  Vanderlei de Lima for whatever reason.  de Lima ended up finishing third, and who knows if he would have won.  But, in comparison to the Sri Lankan runners who died, he could run another day.

Haile Gebreselassie has said he will not run the marathon in Beijing because of the pollution problem. Can’t say that I blame him.  I wonder what goes into the decisions (outside of the obvious graft) to place Olympics in different places.  Pollution? What pollution? Oh, you mean that incessant haze that sits on top of the city constantly.  That’s nothing.  Move along please.

The great thing about road races, and bike races for that matter, is that you can be right next to your heroes.  Almost impossible to control the crowd for 26.2 miles.  I remember in 1996 when Marty Liquori jumped out of a press truck during the New York Marathon to tackle some other jackass who was interfering with the lead runner Tegla Loroupe. Thus, the downside of things.  You can’t control the crowd, and the world is full of jerks.

For my part, did 14 miles today at 7:14ish pace.  Second half around 6:50s.  Felt very comfortable going through the hills despite the headwind.  Two weeks to go before history is made by everyone out there.  For most, it will be a private and personal history.  Perhaps we will be emblazoned in a news photograph, or on a television camera.  Someone may be remembered in tragedy, a few in victory, and all will form a seamless mass careening from Hopkinton to Boston.  You can pick your distance, but you can’t pick your day.  That much is out of our hands.  All we can do is line up and hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and pray that the worst is not what happened in Sri Lanka.

Nervous Taper Time

Finally a chance to update, albeit at 4:30am.  Supposed to run this morning, but pouring rain and 40F might change those plans.

Last long run on Sunday of 19.5 miles.  It’s good to get the last one done and move into the “taper” phase of things.  This is always a tricky time.  For some reason, getting sick during a taper is pretty common.  You can start to feel out of shape and overweight pretty quickly due to the decrease in mileage. After having established a routine of building for so long, it becomes hard to start cutting back.  A lot of good races are lost during a taper because of the psychological need to run hard and put in extra efforts.  Also, a lot of aches and pains can start to crop up mysteriously. If you do get an injury during your taper, there is not a whole lot of time to recover before the big race (especially as we get older).  For all these reasons and more, tapers are not necessarily fun.

Right now I am reading Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr. He is the author of Once a Runner, which is a pretty good book about a college runner trying to come to terms with himself and his abilities as he trains.  The sequel deals with the main character after his career is “over” and he tries to rekindle it by moving from the 1500 to the marathon. One of the main themes is “what is a runner?” Being a runner is much different from running.  Running is simply an act of motion for those of us fortunate enough to be able to do so.  Being a runner involves more than that. I will let others argue what it means, but for me it is pretty simple.  You are a runner if not doing it means some kind of loss of self.  You do it because not doing it means a fundamental change in who you are, a change that most of us have to make not by choice.  You can start to break that down into specifics, like training, racing, awareness, etc. But at its core it means you have an identity that is in some way shaped by the activity from which its name is derived.  And, the same can be said for other categories as well (cyclist, musician, gardener, whatever).

One of the interesting comments made in the book is how races are not the defining element, but merely the icing on the cake.  We don’t train to race; we race because we train. Racing provides some logic to what would otherwise largely be a counterproductive obsessive-compulsive activity.  If I am just going out and running what most would consider to be stupid long miles for the heck of it, they would think I am nuts.  Add on “I am ‘training’ for a marathon”, and then it somehow seems okay.  Limping around the house, not getting enough sleep, spending money on various things to keep the body moving, going for long runs in the middle of winter and summer, etc. are not the recipe for health.  Doing these things without an apparent “goal” would result in calls of concern and interventions from friends.  Thus, racing make it all seem “normal.”

So, even when we are standing at Hopkinton getting ready for the marathon to start, being there does not make us runners.  Anyone can slog through a marathon.  The definition goes deeper than that.  I have heard people say (including myself) that a bad day at a marathon negates all the previous training, or that the training was wasted.  What is really true is, “If you weren’t training for a marathon, what else would you be doing?” While we all want to run good times, the times themselves don’t find the person.  It’s everything largely unseen that went on before the marathon. The marathon itself is just the collective ritual that legitimates it.