Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trails and Trials: Scottoberfest and USATF-NE XC (11/8 - 11/9/14)


Saturday - Trail Run and beer & wurst

Race: USATF New England Cross Country Championships
Location: Franklin Park
Goal Time: 32:59
Actual Time: 33:25

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sometimes you eat the B'ar: Manchester City Marathon (11/2/14)

Matt Story and I at mile 11
Race: Manchester City Marathon
Location: Manchester, NH
Goal Time: 3:10:00
Actual Time: 3:35:49

"Sometimes you eat the b'ar...

After the race, we met up at PJ Ryan's for a celebration/lamentation of the marathon.  The guys next to me asked several questions about the marathon etc.  One guy asked how my race went.

I said: "All you really have to know is that, at mile 21, I stopped for a beer."


It was the first marathon I've run that I didn't feel good about going into.  About 6 weeks ago doing the Harvard Stairs, I strained my left piriformis.  So since then, I've been taking it much easier than I normally would.  My weekly mileage dropped from 60 to 30 and my cross training dropped to nihil.

This, and the hard crash into tapering, succeeded in repairing the piriformis strain.  Come Sunday, I didn't feel that at all.  I also was probably completely unprepared to run a marathon.  And, I certainly showed it.


The secret to running a good marathon is finding the grooves.  Basically I think of the marathon as four parts:

1) Miles 1 - 4.  This is basically the warm up to the rest of the race.  I run slower than my goal pace by about 30-45 seconds.  Other people run more like 15 seconds slower and I know Joe tries about a minute slower but only for 2 miles.  However, you do it, the goal is to find an easy groove where you feel comfortable but aren't running too fast.

2) Miles 5-15.  This is what I think of as the Big Groove.  This is where you easily run that pace that you've been training for.  Your 3-5 months of training trains you well enough so that you can just run without thinking and talk easily with people, etc.

3) Miles 16-23.  This is where I still run the Big Groove pace, but it's more work.  (The better trained you are the longer it takes to get to where it takes more work.  I've run where I don't have to start working until 19 and I've run where I have to start working at 14.)  This is where the miles you've spent on the roads come into play.  Between the weekly miles and the long run miles, your body is prepared to run longer and put in the effort required to run longer at that speed.

4) Last 5k.  This section is one of three things.  It can be a continuation of section 3 and you keep running at the speed and the effort you have been  - or a little more effort - because you haven't tired too much; it can be a point where you feel really good and can run harder; or, it's the worst 3 miles of your life.


I executed the first four miles quite well.  While I never found my early pace rhythm, by mile five I was ready to kick into race pace.

Alas, this is where the real problem set in.  I never fell into the Big Groove.  Never did I feel I was running comfortably.  I successfully hit my times (except for the down hill mile 6 - where I was 25 seconds too fast), but I never felt good about.

Somewhere around mile 7, I caught up with Matt Story.  Matt and I are often within seconds of each other in races.  I knew he was going for 3:10 today like I was.  So, I figured maybe I could run with him for a while and find the Big Groove.

Between the winds and the hills, that never happened.  We ran down the awesome Rockingham Rec Trail.  As we came off the trail around mile 11, I knew I was in real trouble.  Holding marathon pace never felt smooth...


We hit the half marathon point at 1:36:30.  I told Matt, "feels like I'm going to slow down a bit."  And I did.  But at the 15 mile mark, I thought I would still have a chance to break 3:15.

And that's when the CHUDs came at me.  In the form of one long mile into the wind on an exposed, empty industrial park.  The winds were at 30 mph at this time with gusts close to 40.  sweet.

Somewhere on the road, I quit.  I just bagged it and decided to save myself for better times to come.


The last "big hill" is at mile 20.  This slowed me down even more than I had been.  When I got to the top there were two guys - Adam and Joel - at the end of their driveway handing out water.  I asked: "Where's the beer?"

"We got some right here"

And that's how it came to pass that in the middle of a marathon, I stopped and had a Natural Ice...

Photo by Joe O'Leary

The next few miles did not get any easier.  And once you've quit, you've quit.  I walked about 200 yards with a guy from GMAA and jogged in the last mile.  Had a beagle get in my way at 25 and a half (had a I cared about time I would have been mad, instead I pet it.)

I ran in, 25 minutes slower than my goal time and 22 slower than my PR.

Alas, only 166 Days until the Boston Marathon.

"...Sometimes the B'ar eats you."


Shoutouts -

Joe Lauer and Alison Lackey had massive PRs
Pickle locked up his division win in the Grand Prix
My high school friend Ania's husband Jeremy BQed in terrible weather in New York
Carl finally got to run New York after Sandy
SRR Open Women - Erin, Mariah and Deb took 2nd!