Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Final Thoughts on Qualifying for Boston

I'm still smiling!

I will admit that I'm being pretty nonchalant about stating I'm headed to Boston when, in fact, there is still a possibility that it isn't good enough.

As I mentioned in my Race Preview, Boston does a "rolling" registration.  The first day they allow people to register who qualified by more than 20 minutes.  The second day is open for people who qualified by more than 10 minutes.  The third day is open for people who qualified by more than 5 minutes.  Then they will open it up for everyone. For this round, they will take the fastest runners up to the people they fill the open slots. They may fill up the spots will people who are faster than me!

For the 2013 Boston marathon, I would have needed to run a 3:08:45 and for 2014, I would need to run a 3:08:21 to be accepted into the marathon. I beat both of those times but 3:08:13 isn't exactly a huge cushion.  Obviously, 2014 saw a huge uptick in registrations but they also accepted 9,000 more runners.  I don't anticipate that increased number of registration for 2015 but I don't expect them to keep those additional 9,000 slots.  Should I run another marathon to get a better time?  Maybe, but I'm sticking with it for now.

So given that disclaimer, I'm still going to say "I'm headed to Boston" but I'm not making hotel reservations or purchasing plane tickets until the end of September when the registration process is over.

Other Stuff
I appreciate all the "love" I've gotten since Saturday via Twitter, Facebook, Phone, Text, etc.  I even had a guy from work, who I might talk with a couple times a year, mention something to me.  Not even sure how he knew!

I got this text from my Sister-in-law Rebecca yesterday too:

Today's Rebecca's birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Join the party!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon Race Report

Race Week
It was a short week for me at work as I took Wednesday and Thursday off (Friday was a holiday).  We were traveling out to Louisville mid-afternoon on Wednesday.  After taking TKB to work in the morning, I got in a short bike ride despite the super windy day.

I honored my travel destination race nutrition plan used for Beach2Battleship 140.6.  This race wasn't an ironman, but I kept with the plan of boiling a pot of rotini and shredding a smoked chicken from the store.  I also bought some carrots and snow peas for... well, keeping the bad eating habits away. I would eat a couple servings as a snack each day leading up to race day.  I also packed liters of bottled water and gatorade to drink that week, too.

Nom nom nom
We drove from KC to Louisville in one day and arrived at our hotel around 11:30pm.

Thursday we found a delicious place to eat breakfast, Wild Eggs, and then we drove the course.  A few sections of the course were on one way streets or closed to cars, so I couldn't evaluate those, but I was more concerned about big elevation changes than anything else.  We finally got to about mile 11 where the entrance to Iroquois Park waited.  That was the hill I referenced in my Race Preview.  I was happy to see that it wasn't as bad as I had thought.  I noted that at the top of the hill was a stop sign, so I knew that as soon as I hit that, I could enjoy some downhill.

Entering Iroquois Park.. this is the race course.
A view from Iroquois Park from our hotel.  It's that mountain looking thing in the distance!
There was another hill near the end that was going to be deceivingly tough as it was at mile 23.

As it turns out, I was using a course map from the website which was actually last years.  They had adjusted the course this year so that hill at the end was shortened and not as bad as I had seen driving.

After the drive, we went back to the hotel and napped for a bit.  Packet pickup opened at 4pm, so we went there next.  Once I got in line, I noticed that the person in the front was wearing a very familiar blue track jacket.  Sure enough, it was from last year's Hospital Hill Run!  We chatted a little bit before heading our different ways.

TKB's parents arrived while we were at Packet Pickup.  We met up with them, then took off for dinner at Guaca Mole -- also delicious!

Friday morning I got up and did a quick shake out run.  I ran about a mile on the course.  Though our hotel was about 4 miles from the start, the course ran within a few blocks of it.

We elected for a riverboat sightseeing tour as our first touristy endeavor for the day.  This was perfect as it allowed me to sit for a couple hours.    Our next stop was the Louisville Slugger factory, where we were able to see bats being made for major league baseball players.  It was very cool (and a short walking tour)!

Found something taller than me.
After the tour, we went back to the hotel where Karen, a friend that we have gotten to know through Heather and Shane, was arriving to cheer me on and hang out for the weekend.  For dinner, we hit up Cafe Lou Lou for some traditional pre-race pasta partaking.  I had a linguine carbonara and a Bourbon Barrel Stout (you know, to help with the nerves).

Taking a cue from Vicki, my ironman partner-in-crime, and enjoying a beer the night before a race.

I bought 12 of these to drink back in KC.  So good.

I was starting to drift into my own thoughts during dinner.  I still didn't have my pacing figured out for the first few miles.  I knew I wanted to go out slow but not too slow.  How long would I run before I start to race?

I decide to stay between 7:20 and 7:30 for the first few miles and then 7:05 - 7:10 until I caught the 3:10 pace group.  I would stay with the 3:10 pace group through Iroquois Park (to pace me through the hills) and then the race to Boston would be on!

I hit the bed once we got back while Karen and TKB went up to Mike and Susan's room to play games.

I normally take a melatonin to help me sleep because my heart was pumping inside my throat!  I knew what was at stake the next day.  It's been a long time that I've had a goal like this on the line.  Sure, I was nervous the night before my first half ironman and my ironman.  This was still different.  I was shooting for a specific time, not to just finish.  Chicago Marathon was close but I knew I didn't have the training down to truly qualify.  The pressure wasn't there.  So as my heart was pumping, I was concerned it was chewing through all my carb loading!  But, alas, I had forgotten to bring the melatonin sleep aid with me!  Eventually the wave of sleep overtook me and I slept... for about an hour.  1:30am... then 4am... then 4:30am... then finally 5:45am

Race Day
Shower, dress, then out the door at 6:30am.  I had one banana as soon as I woke up then a second before leaving.  My concern was eating too soon and then feeling starved immediately before or during the race.  That is truly an uncomfortable feeling, not just for the stomach but for the psyche.  It makes you think you've hit "the wall" before you even get started.  So I left my bagel and PB for the 4 mile drive to the start line.  We (Karen, TKB, me) stopped at Starbucks for my ceremonial and traditional, if not superstitious, frothy milk caffeinated hot beverage.

We had left the hotel room an hour before the race start.  I knew getting to the start line wasn't going to be that big of a deal but I didn't know about parking nor what the port-a-potty situation was going to be like.  Supposedly around 18,000 participants were there between the full and half marathon (i.e., miniMarathon).

Naturally, we got caught at a train crossing.  No big deal.  Once we got on the interstate, I saw a huge line of cars near the exit we needed, so I took an earlier exit and followed other cars to the start.  We ended up pulling over into a business drive a few blocks from the start line where I got out.

Off to the races!!
After saying our parting words, I started walking with a few ladies talking about the race and the beautiful weather when I realized I didn't have my sunglasses!  Fortunately, TKB wasn't far behind and I motioned to my glasses and she had my sunglasses ready for me as they drove by.  I love my support crew!

Walking around the start area of beautiful downtown Louisville.  Note the helicopter in the air.
Within a couple blocks I found the port-a-potties and a short line.

I'm not going to get into it, but I felt like I needed a second port-a-potty stop almost immediately so I snuck into a second one to make sure I was in good shape.

I started walking up stream to get to corral "B".  I found the very front of corral "B"... or was it corral "C"? I skipped into the next corral anyway.  After a few moments I heard Karen and TKB yell my name! They managed to park and find me in the corral.  We chatted for a bit but soon it was time to get ready for the countdown.

Once we got started, I made sure to keep track of my gun time start.  It took me 45 seconds to cross the start line.

Miles 1 - 3:

Love this photo as I started the race.  Thanks TKB!
It was pretty packed and I did feel like it was taking some energy to get an open lane.  I eventually made it to the sidewalk and ran there for a while behind some others.  Doing this isn't smart because you sometimes have to dodge spectators (which there weren't many at this point in the race) and the sidewalk may not be in as good shape.  Either way, it worked to get me in an opening without killing too much energy.

Mile 1: 7:44 - Slower than I wanted but at least it wasn't faster!  It's a long race.  I'm going to get that time back.

Mile 2: 7:10 - There were some turns here and I was cutting them whenever I could.  Seconds may matter so I'm taking them whenever I can.  This was faster than I planned but it's the pace I wanted to run for the first half.  I just caught up the time I lost in mile 1.  Let's not speed too much faster.

Mile 3: 7:06 - Alright.  Let's settle into a pace.  A couple more turns, a couple more corners cut.

All systems were in check.  I'm enjoying this day.

Miles 4 - 6:
My mile splits were clicking off after the mile markers.  This could be due to my excellent route running, inaccurate Garmin tracking, or poor mile marking.  I should have setup manual lap marking on my watch but was concerned I would miss a mile marker.

Mile 4: 7:05
Mile 5: 7:02
Mile 6: 7:07

Still feeling great.  I took in a gel around mile 4 to 5.  Course support was great during these stretches as we were going through residential and a few blocks from the University of Louisville.

Mile 7 - 10:
This section included Churchill Downs.  If I find the opportunity to hop on a race horse, I just might do that!

Mile 7: 6:58 - A bit too fast.

Mile 8: 7:10 - Churchill Downs is in sight and so is the 3:10 pace group!  I'm hitting my plan!

Mile 9: 7:02 - Running through Churchill Downs was pretty cool.  Unfortunately I didn't take it in as much as I could.  The first "hills" were here as you enter a tunnel under the track.  Nothing major.

I caught up with the pace group and tucked myself in behind the leader.  Being in a group, I have a tendency to be a bit chatty.  There was a guy chatting with the pace group leader nearly the entire time and I held back joining the conversation.  It's all about conserving energy.  Yes, I held back high five-ing every spectator too.

Mile 10: 7:15 - Slower, as this was the pace for the 3:10 group.  I was fine with that.

Mile 11 - Mile 14:
This is the Iroquois Park section of the course.

Mile 11: 7:03 - We hadn't quite entered the park and I was still with the 3:10 group.  I think this was faster because the mile 10 was slower than the pace group leader had planned.

Mile 12: 7:24 - We've gone up the hill and I've only lost 14 seconds on my pace.  The pace group leader said he was planning to go even splits through the park.  Apparently not because at this point I was actually in front of the pack.

Mile 13: 7:08 - I was working to get back those 14 seconds on the downhill sections.  The park was very pretty, even at this early point in the spring.  The guy that was being chatty with the pace group leader earlier was with me at this point (not chatting, but running).  Our paces were pretty much in sync.  We had pulled ahead of the 3:10 pace group.

Mile 14: 7:10 - Still pushing along through the smaller hills of the park but not that bad.

Mile 15 - 17:
We've exited the park at this point and heading back towards the city!

Mile 15: 7:08 - I saw Mike and Susan as I exited the park.  It was awesome recognizing people on the course and very energizing!

Mile 16: 6:54 Pace - it was at this point in the race that my watch was clocking off the mile splits about .15 miles after the race mile markers, so I hit the lap button manually when I crossed mile 16, which was 6:20 into the mile.  I was running a 6:54 pace.  This level-set it with the race markers.

Mile 17: 7:04 - Running through some familiar streets as this was where I did my shake-out run on Friday.

I kept switching places with that other gentleman through this section.  It was good motivation when he was pulling ahead.

Mile 18 - 20:
It was about this time that the legs were starting to get cranky.  But at this point in Chicago my legs had already given out on me.  In Chicago my calves were screaming at me and then I got a bad cramp in my hamstring.  Comparatively, the fact that I was just starting to get sore in this section was great!  Granted, I would prefer it to have started about 6 miles later!

Mile 18: 7:03 - The marathon route met back up the half marathoners here, and one of my biggest concerns was settled - they had barricades in between the full and half.  Thanks to folks on twitter for helping figure this out in advance too!  It was awesome hearing encouragement from the half participants.

Mile 19: 7:02 - Pace is still swift and I'm still mentally in charge.

Mile 20: 7:08 - Wall?  What freaking wall?!

The screen I had on my watch only contained "in the moment" information.  Meaning, I didn't have Total Time or Total Mileage on the screen.  It was current lap time, current lap pace, current lap distance, and previous lap time.  There were times when I couldn't remember if I was running mile 19 or mile 20.  I didn't care.  It was all about how I was doing right now and, right now, I'm doing great!

I elected not to have heart rate on my main screen but I did peek a couple times and it was always in check.

Mile 21 - 23:
The marathon route departed from the half marathoners at this point, and it suddenly got very quiet.  The other gentlemen and I are still swapping positions.  We are starting to hit the final hills.

Mile 21: 7:07 - Still on pace with 5 miles to go!  It was at this point that I started doing calculations in my head.  It was aided by having a race clock at the mile marker.  It was around 2:30, which meant that if I stayed under 7:30's the rest of the way, Boston was mine!

Mile 22: 7:15 - Pace is slowing with the hill but I'm still on target!

Mile 23: 7:30 - Legs are angry... very angry.

My legs were starting to loosen up, but not in a good way.  I had to focus on my feet landing each step. My ankles were feeling loose and I became concerned I would land poorly and screw up my race.  The calves were starting to get sore, too, but the calf sleeves kept them from flying off.  I simply kept picking people off ahead of me to defer concentration away from my legs.

Miles 24 - 26:

Mile 24: 7:14 - Happy to see my pace pick back up, but it was due to a downhill.  I'm still on target.  I did have a concern because the mile marker for mile 24 was off by a block.  Had I manually marked the miles on my watch, I would have been extremely disappointed with Mile 24.

Mile 25: 7:34 - The mile markers got back on track as it clicked off as I passed the mile 25 marker sign.  Now I'm back in the heart of the city!!

Mile 26: 7:46 - I didn't see this split on my watch.  I didn't care.  I was almost there!!!

Making the second to last turn allowed me to see the building near where the finish line waited.  I was kicking up the pace.

Mile 26.2: I was booking again.  I felt like I was sprinting with ease and it felt great.  I made the final turn, and running the last 100 yards I could see the time clock and it was showing just over 3:08.  I knew I had this!!!

It was over and I had made it!  I checked my watch and it read 3:08:13!  Boston... here I come!

I'm going with running a great route, not that the course was short!
Time: 3:08:13 / 7:10 Pace
Age Group: 8 out of 174
Overall: 54 out of 2,029

After grabbing a couple bananas, PowerAde, and a few bottles of chocolate milk, I met up with TKB and Karen.  Then the onslaught of text messages, Facebook posts, twitter tweets, and phone calls...  it was an awesome feeling to have all of that support!

We walked around the post-race area to find my official time.  One way to get it was to get your medal engraved, which I had planned to do anyway.  Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one with that idea, and it took about 30+ minutes to do it.  I just kept walking around and stretching while waiting.  I was actually keeping my eye out for that gentleman that I was running with for most of the second half of the race to thank him for helping me push through.  I had lost him in the final hills as he fell off the pace. Once the engraving was done, it confirmed my time at 3:08:13!

Afterward, we did some post-race celebrating by heading out to the Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery!

Tiny cups, big taste

It was a perfect day for running.  The weather could not have been much better!  Race support was great.  Obviously I'm happy with my performance.  Could I have managed my race better and improved my time?  Probably, but I'm loving the 21 minute PR and a trip to Boston!

Louisville is a great town and this is a great course.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a destination race.

Thanks again to Karen, Mike, and Susan for coming out for the weekend!  Thanks to Coach Ken for training me up to this level!

Endless thanks to TKB for being the support person I need at my side at all times -- especially during the 26.2 miles.

These signs were all over, as you can imagine.

Found in the lobby of our hotel.  Maybe I'll be on the bike next year!
TKB giving me a hug post-race... but not my funk..

In the "Runner's Reunite" area.

Outside the Buffalo Trace Bourbon distillery.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

KDF Marathon Race Preview

I had originally pinned in the Garmin Marathon as my spring marathon but after some feedback from Coach Ken, I elected to look elsewhere.  He recommend the Louisville Marathon, also known as the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) Marathon.  The only thing against the Garmin Marathon is it is mostly on a paved trail system and with a half marathon going on at the same time, there's a point in which the front marathoners will run into the back of the half marathoners on this 4 foot wide trail path.  It becomes a challenge trying to keep pace and stay safe.
The KDF Marathon provides another bonus in that it gives me the opportunity to run some of the Ironman Louisville course, which is an Ironman that may be in my future.  Not sure how much is the same, maybe none of it.  Maybe I'll find out someday!

It's no secret that my goal for this marathon has been to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Well, that's it.

Thanks for reading.

OK.  I'll add some more commentary.

Training has gone really well.  I've been hitting my 20-miler long runs in the mid-7:40 pace in a low aerobic heart range.  Bumping that to a BQ pace should be doable for a 26.2 miles.  My biggest concerns is can my legs handle that pace?  Can I mentally focus for that long?  We'll see in a few days!

So what is my BQ pace?  I'm going to state 3 of them:

7:14 minute miles or 3 hour, 10 minute marathon:  I must hit this time to be able to register for the Boston Marathon.

7:10 minute miles or 3 hour, 8 minute marathon: I likely need this time to be accepted to the marathon.  If this is confusing, here's my explanation.  Let's say they have 3,000 spots for my age group.  Everyone who ran a 3:10 or faster can register and they take the fastest 3,000 runners.  So maybe 4,000 people registered and if the 3,000th fastest person in my age group ran a 3:08 marathon, then that's truly the time I need to beat.  Historically, that's been about a 3:08 marathon.

7:03 minute miles or 3 hour, 5 minute marathon:  Always need to have an unrealistic goal!

As for my planned splits, I'm still working on that.  I would love it if they had a 3:05 pace group that I could fold myself into and just run but 3:10 is the fastest available pace group.  Obviously I need to take it slow the first 3 or 4 miles and then move up from there.

I have found out that I am in Wave "B", so that will hopefully put me in with folks that start out around 7:30 pace.  It would be even better if Wave "B" starts two minutes after Wave "A" and that Wave "A" contains the 3:10 pace group.  That means if I caught up with the 3:10 pace group, I'd be able to stay with them the rest of the way and finish with a 3:08.  Well, it all makes sense to me.

My biggest concern?  Look at the elevation chart:

What is that thing starting around mile 11.5?  I'm going to have to adjust my pace appropriately for that section but it looks like we go right back down that, so I'll be able to make up the time.  I'm going to win the mental game on this hill!!!

Weather is looking fabulous.  Start of the race appears to be upper 40s, low wind, and partly cloudy.  Can't ask for better conditions than that!

Thanks for reading and check back next week to see how it went!  I'm hoping to be celebrating Saturday in bourbon country as opposed to drowning my sorrows!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

March Update & A Quick Look At Louisville Marathon!

March turned out to be a busy, crazy month at work.  I was either working or working out (aka, training).  I fell off the blogging front, so here is a recap for the month of March to today:

Swim: 14 miles / 7:22
None of these include the master's swim class.  Unfortunately work required a lot of late evening calls that cut out my chance to make it to master's swim class.  Hopefully I can get back on that bandwagon.  That being said, I've had some really great swim sessions lately!

Bike: 215 / 12:24
Nearly half of my bike mileage was outdoors!  Yes!  Hopefully spring is upon us and we don't have stupid snowfall in May like last year.

Run: 232 / 29:40
Going really well!  I did a half marathon that went really well... all though I would have preferred really well minus 6 more seconds! I've been very pleased with my training for the Louisville Marathon.

Total: 454 / 49:21 (Includes a few strength training time/mileage)
Strength training has fallen quite a bit.  I no longer have a strength trainer and Ken doesn't emphasize it this much in the training cycle.  I'm fine with that but I might put a few sessions in now and then.

KC Donut Race
A few weeks back the KC MultiSport club held an event similar to one I did a few years back called the Krispy Kreme Challenge.  I forwarded it to a couple friends (Joe and Erik) and we were suddenly signed up.  The race was to eat 6 donuts, run 1.5 miles, eat 6 donuts, run 1.5 miles.  There was another "division" in which you only had to eat 3 donuts instead of 6.  There were 4 people in the "heavyweight" division: Joe, Erik, myself, and another guy.  After eating 3 donuts, that other guy gave up and switched to the "lightweight" division.

It was on between Joe, Erik, and me.  The first 1.5 miles we all three ran together after about 4 minutes of donut consumption.  The second set of donuts were a bit slower for me.  It took me over 10 minutes but Joe and Erik were done a few minutes earlier so they left to finish the run.  Since they didn't wait for me, I didn't wait for them on the run!  I took off running 6:30 minute miles with a gut full of a dozen donuts.

By the time it was over, I had won my first overall!  Now, that might sound kinda cool but it was just us three in our division and there were probably 20 people total participating including the other division.  Oh...and no one wins eating a dozen donuts.

Our makeshift podium.  Erik, Me, Joe

Umm.. never told the coach about this race.  Wonder why....
MTC Time Trial Race
Coach Ken is offering a free Time Trial race to the public the first Tuesday of each month.  It's a three loop race around the downtown airport.  There were 28 people racing this day and he lined us up by first and last name then released us 10 seconds apart.  I'm not sure where I started but probably in the last five.

Today's race crew.  I'm off to the left standing behind the guy in orange.  Mark from Twitter is to my right.
I don't remember a whole lot of the race but I do know that I passed a good chunk of people and was only passed briefly.  As soon as the other cyclist passed me, he let up and fell behind.

I finished in 28:21 with a 23.3 mph average.  It seemed like there was a headwind the entire way!  That put me in 12th place.

Brew to brew was last weekend.  We managed to complete the relay race from Kansas City to Lawrence without injury or a hangover.  Well, at least I didn't have a hangover.  I did leg 7 with Rex that involved crossing a river by boat.

Today's running and driving crew!
First DNS (Did Not Start)!
Since I decided to do the Louisville Marathon the week after Rock The Parkway Half, I decided not to run RTP.  Wah Wah.

Louisville Marathon
The long ranger looks awesome for the marathon!  I'm hoping it stays this way..

Friday's overnight low of 47 degrees and a Saturday high of 65 with partly cloudy skies and low wind, this is shaping up to be a great running day!

That's all for now.  I'll post some race goals for the upcoming marathon this week (if you don't know what that goal is.. well, welcome to my blog! You must be new!)