Category Archives: Race Report

Boston Loves — Boston Marathon 2014

Whoa. I have no idea where that came from. Since Boston, I’ve been called a sandbagger. I know where that came from. But my performance at Boston was totally unexpected by myself and probably anyone near me, and I’m as shocked as anyone else.

Woke up at 5 AM, slightly unsure whether I had slept very well and worried about my stomach, since it had been a bit upset the day before. Had two bananas with some almond butter, an orange, and a bottle of water. Got kitted up and drove over with Macy to the Common. Took the bus over to Hopkinton and was really happy to see that we were getting heating blankets which would help keep us warm and dry. Had some coffee, chatted with some guys from Calgary and Australia, had a PowerGel explode in my shorts (but only on my left cheek so not in a chafe-y area) and headed to the portapotties with ~20 minutes to go until it was time to head down to the start. On the way down I saw the first of many signs that the area is caring and loving: a tent handing out free vasoline, sunscreen, gels, waters, etc. Another group was handing out beer, cigarettes, and donuts (“There are sober kids in Egypt!”).
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Three little letters

I was worried. I was worried you were going to show up looking terrible and want to continue and I would have to tell you to stop. You have no idea how relieved I was when you were adult enough to pull yourself out — Dad
I wonder if this is where they get the starter's gun
I DNFed a race. The big one for the season. I suppose it was inevitable. You do enough endurance races, and at some point it won’t be your day. How did we get here?
Before I get into it, a quick thank you to everyone who supported me going into and coming out of this race, especially my dad who traveled ~20 hours in total to watch.
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Boston Marathon

It’s impossible to write a race report for Boston and not think about what happened after my race was over but before so many other people’s races were not. But I think part of getting back to normal, to living, is to be proud of what I accomplished that day. Not to treat the day as though nothing else happened, but to remember it for all that happened, the awesome and the awful. I’ve been trying to piece through my thoughts about the terrible things that happened, but what about the rest of the day?

It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning
Shoes and medal
The marathon is, so far, a singular experience in running for me. So often, a marathon is early in the day with only the hardiest of fans (often friends and family) lining the course early on. My previous marathons were often spent with a feeling of being alone (not lonely, just running alone or around 2-3 other people). Sometimes this feeling was just because my day was not going the way I wanted it to, sometimes because there were actually no other runners around, and sometimes there was no one there to cheer you on. At Boston this was never the case. At Boston, there is always someone there, running with you, cheering just for you (or so it seemed). It’s the Boston running community. It’s the Boston community.

Given that I was in wave one, given that I am a stickler for doing as I am told, I woke up at 5 AM, took my time getting dressed in race clothes and pajamas, grabbed a bagel, two bananas, some water and jumped on the T to get on the buses to go Hopkinton. Yes, I was early. Yes, there were still 4 hours before the race would start. But given my previous history with a terrible stomach, I wanted to make sure that I was hydrated, rested, fully finished with my morning duties, and with good thoughts about race day in my head. So it was that I arrived in Hopkinton with hours until race time, hundreds of port-a-potties to be used, and scoped out a place to lie down, eat my food, get hydrated, and relax. And that’s precisely what I did.

As race time approached, I knew I had to use the bathroom one last time. I dropped off my gear bag, but didn’t know if there were port-a-potties at the start (pro-tip: there are!), so waited in line, and was finally ready to head to the start with 15 minutes to go. Jogged my way through the hordes of runners in my wave and future waves and got to the start with a couple of minutes to spare. And this is where my memory of the day is not as clear as I would wish it would be. But I remember the important parts.

The Marathon
Here’s what Steve said to do before the race and how I feel like I did:

  • Run the tangents – Not fully possible
  • Don’t come off of Heartbreak too fast, wait until you get through Cleveland Circle and on to Beacon St. before thinking about taking up the pace. – There was no pace left
  • Your first mile should be the slowest. – It was the slowest of my first half? Does that count?
  • Bring snacks/hydration with you out to Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Sit as much as possible in Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Poop as much as possible in Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Run steady and enjoy the first 16 miles without doing anything crazy dumb. – Partial success? I don’t think I did anything really dumb. My splits over the first 30K are pretty much bang on consistent.
  • Strap it on and get tough once you hit Lower Newton Falls and climb over 128/95 – that’s where the race begins. – This is where I realized I was going to be able to run up every single one of the Newton hills (which I had never run before).
  • The hills aren’t all that hard…yeah, you’ll lose a little time, but nothing serious. – That’s the truth. In fact, the finishing downhills after the uphills are worse

3:00:04. Via the splits tab, I didn’t realize I was being so consistent for the first 16 miles (all miles within 8 seconds of each other). My first five 5K splits were all within seconds of each other.
40K in
I don’t remember much specifically about the first few miles, or about the race in general. I remember male runners jumping into the woods after the first downhill to pee. I remember enormous cheers as we passed the roadside pub in Ashland. I remember reaching the 8K mark (where I had turned around the week before in my tune up) and thinking the rest of this is unknown. I kept thinking to myself: “I’m going too fast. I need to slow down. My legs didn’t feel light all week. My legs feel heavy today.” And yet I churned out mile after mile at around the same pace, running in a still enormous group. I saw my parents in Framingham, and I’m pretty sure I gave them a wave before they realized it was me. I saw a runner drop his cap, turn around and charge back into the group to get it (why?!). I was overwhelmed by the cheers at Wellesley, and then shocked when I heard a thud and realized a Wellesley student had fallen over the barricade. I got cheers from friends and friends of friends and totally random people. I saw my parents again at mile 16 (though I wasn’t expecting them to be where they were). I kept waiting for the start of the hills, then crushed it up over 128/95. I saw the RaceMenu gang at the top of Heartbreak and figured the hardest part was over.I gave just about every BC student a high five as I cruised down the hill. I had a cheering section coming around the bend in Coolidge Corner (which I would still be hard pressed to find on a map). I was tired on Beacon and failing at calculating my expected finishing time. I stopped running for a few seconds. I thought I might be a Canadian marathoner for a while. I had friends at 40K, when I was in a bad place, cheering me on. I couldn’t catch my breath in the cold shadows of Boylston. I finished and I thought I would cry from physical and emotional exhaustion. I shivered through waiting for my gear bag, then hobbled around to meet my family at Parish. And the rest of the day I’ve written about and am still coming to terms with.

Many people have asked if the 4 seconds bother me. Even before the bombs went off, the answer was no. Now even more so. The time is as it is because that’s what unfolded over the day. Every choice we make on race day can go a million different ways. Sure, I could have gone a bit slower in mile 1, but maybe I’d feel the same at the end. I could have pushed through all of the pain, but maybe I end up a mess. That’s not to say that it’s random or it’s impossible I could have gone faster. Next year I will. But there’s nothing about those three hours I spent on that course that I’d want to change.

It’s All About Who Shows Up

I said last week that I didn’t think there was a chance I would even sniff the podium at Lobsterman. If I was talking about the overall podium, I was right.
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Running into the ground

This weekend was all about racing hard, training hard, and living better. I had a bad week motivation wise for training, so I was looking forward to having an awesome weekend. And I did.
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Where does the time go…

Last week was messy. Some ups, a few downs. Lots of patience-trying time, some patient time.

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F and Yes

I’ll speak more about the experience of Portland (which was an awesome experience and a great time), but I want to get the race report out of the way. Because holy shit, it was a really good day.

Woke up at 5:30. Put on my kit, tattoos, and game face. Had some coffee, wheat thins, and gatorade.

We (Alisa, Justin, Alex, Heidi, Kristen and I) left for the race site at 6:15. Got there and set up transition. This time I had my Garmins charged and with me, I had a race belt, it wasn’t raining, and my mind was in a really good place. I was kicking my get psyched/HTFU playlist (for those interested/worried, the dj, Sean English, did play Call Me Maybe). Despite the olympic race going off at 8:30, we had to clear transition at 7:45 as the pros were going off at 8. So I grabbed my camera, BlueSeventy wetsuit, TriSlide and Endurance Shield and headed out with Erin and Alisa to wait. And wait. Finally, it was my turn to get ready to swim, so I quickly put on my wesuit, cap and goggles, and gave Erin the rest of my gear. Wished my Rev3 teammate Josh good luck and we were off.
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I’m a fool, you see

I swear to god, I’ve raced a triathlon before. You just wouldn’t know it from the race this weekend. Totally scatterbrained. I mean, holy shit:

  • Forgot my race belt
  • Left my Garmin 500 on overnight in my car, so it lasted all of 10 miles into the race
  • Left my Garmin 305 in my transition bag, which I left in my car to keep dry
  • Forgot that transition was coming up, so I ended up dismounting with one foot out of my tri shoes and one foot in
  • Carved up the knuckles on every toe and bled through my shoes (happy christening shoes!). This was the first time I med tented myself after a race (but that was only to get neosporin and bandaids)

And despite this all… I had a relatively good race (ended up 4th AG). I say relatively because the Olympic distance race I think draws a less competitive crowd than the half distance race. But I have no idea how it translates into other courses and distances. Compounding the issues? Rainfall of only slightly less than biblical proportions.

With a result like that, and despite not being mentally there, there are good things to take away from this. Breakfast was a Powerbar and a chocolate gel. A really good swim in 23 or so minutes (I think the BlueSeventy Helix and the work I did focusing on body position the past couple of months helped). Didn’t get stuck in the Helix in transition. Lost 7 minutes on the bike (hmmm, maybe I should focus on that… dropping my chain didn’t help). Kept the rubber side down on the bike. On the run I just kept myself in a zone that I could handle and didn’t walk, despite wanting to (it helped that the guy I passed for fourth place was keeping pace behind me). I suppose I could mention I kept the rubber side down on the run too, as I almost wiped out 2 or 3 times near the finish, which had become a mess due to the rain. I raced smart, and though maybe not to my lung/leg busting potential, but hard enough. Of course, I need to thank my sponsors (Rev3, Pearl Izumi, BlueSeventy and PowerBar in particular). Especially Pearl Izumi for their Fly Barrier WxB jacket which kept me dry when I wasn’t racing.

The race reminded me a bit of Timberman back in 2010 (right after I moved to Boston) where the weather was overcast and occasionally rainy and the water was warmer than the air temperature. In both races, I didn’t feel the cold while I was racing, but pretty much the entire time I wasn’t racing, I was shivering. As I was standing around talking to other Rev3 teammates and getting my splits, everyone and his mother told me to go get in my car and turn the heater up full blast. And when I say everyone and his mother, I mean Jill, Julia, Sam, Jamie, and Jamie’s mom. In fact, they said I could either go to my car or they were going to send me to the med tent. So I obviously chose my car. Once warm, the rest of the day became an adventure. Went up to Hartford to visit my sister, her husband and the nephews; we went to TCBY. TCBY is nothing like I remember from when I was a kid, but I mean that in a good way (unless we are talking from a public health perspective). Then a rev3 team dinner, a 4 stop trip to find sour patch kids to pair with wine (NB, SPK can be paired with any type of wine, or any beverage for that matter), and passing out from exhaustion with the TV on. After all of that, I woke up and volunteered all day for the HalfRev race (getting rained on at the very end of the day, again).

This might be the best tshirt, ever.

There are important things

There’s been a lot of time for reflection for me lately, between the sick, the not sleeping, etc. And then there was RTB, where the love from my team and other teams was incredibly overwhelming. Anyhow, I was thinking about important things in relationships with family and friends and teammates and loves and just people in general, and I came up with three:

  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Patience

And then I realized that wasn’t really enough. Those are important, but there’s a few more.

  • Honesty
  • Perseverance
  • Loyalty

I go back and forth on loyalty. At times it feels a bit like an anchor. But the first 5… perseverance sticks out because it’s not a way that one relates to someone else, but there’s some quote floating around in the back of my head that goes something like “He persevered”. And I suppose what I mean is that I just need to keep on moving forward (whether it be in a race, life, whatever).

I’ve been sleeping a lot since RTB. More than I’d like, but given the past month and a half, I know I need it. I’m finally feeling healthy. I realized this during RTB. If I had been sick, there was no way I would have been able to do what I did. Or maybe I was just able to put everything behind me and do what I needed to do, what was asked of me, what was required of me.

This week is swim testing. It’s been a while, but thanks to Julia and Anne and just some focus internally, I’ve gotten better position in the water and found a bit more speed (I wonder as well whether spending so much time on the static trapeze doing crucifixes and dislocations has strengthened my lats): 100m was 1:19 and 500m was 7:41. Not blazing at any level (except for maybe pee-wee, but probably not), but fast for me.

For shits and giggles, here are my legs from RTB:MA.

1Oh Community. I hope you don’t get worse without Dan Harmon.

So this is 30

A week in. The week started off with a great run at midnight (started before midnight, turned around for home at midnight) with a friend, then slept for 3 hours, woke up early and had a great rest of the birthday. Tuesday was also fantastic: a good bike ride and more fun with friends. Wednesday plans fell through but that freed me up for more training and on Thursday I got in my second straight good bike workout. And then Friday and Saturday: Reach the Beach with Team Racemenu.
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