Thursday, April 29, 2010

Twenty, Twenty, Bingo (2010 Boston Marathon Recap)

In the game of Scrabble, the phrase "Twenty, Twenty, Bingo" references a typical scoring pattern for a top level player. Twenty points on the first turn, twenty on the second, and on the third turn the player has managed his tiles well enough to play all seven to receive a fifty point bonus. Bingo.
I had hoped to apply this phrase to my race strategy at the 2010 Boston Marathon. How? Having raced the course the prior two years, I knew how difficult it could be in the final miles once I had blown up. The last 4.5 miles are mostly a gradual downhill and the route is surrounded on both sides by loud, drunk, and enthusiastic supporters. However, I've always hated this section because I've felt awful after the Newton Hills and I've held on for dear life as throngs of runners have passed me. This year I would make sure to start slowly and save myself for the last five miles (you can see me responding to one of the many mustache compliments in this photo taken by Zach Bouzan-Kaloustian). I would aim to run near 20 minute 5k splits, saving myself for a push at the end. The last 10k would be my bingo.
Twenty, Twenty, Twenty, Twenty...
A few days before the race began, my friend Ben from Adidas offered me a spot in a private bus to get to the starting line. This allowed me to relax out of the elements until the race started instead of milling around Athlete's Village for a few hours. When the gun fired to start the race I held myself back as best as I could. Hundreds of runners passed me on both sides using the lengthy downhills to carry them forward. I was not going to get sucked in as I have in the past.
By the time the course started heading back up the elevation chart shortly after passing the girls of Wellesley College I still felt fresh (other than an odd pain on the ball of my left foot that I could not shed) and I began to pass a lot of runners who were beginning to slow (you can see visual evidence of my relaxed pace in this photo from mile 20 when comparing my expression to those behind me).
My 5k splits looked like this:
5k 19:51
10k 19:54
15k 19:54
20k 20:10
25k 20:00
30k 20:43
35k 20:25
40k 20:33
Unfortunately, I never laid down a bingo (or in this case, a few 5:30 miles) to lock in a solid result. By the time I arrived at the downhills and huge crowds I was feeling better than I had the past two years. I was passing a lot more runners and wasn't getting passed at all, but I lacked any ability to speed up. The legs were gone. I still managed a new PR by about a minute (thus the car bomb with Jamie in the photo), running 2:50:42.
I suppose I should be happy to have run so evenly, but I can't help but to wonder what it will take to get over the hump. I've been stuck on results right in the low to mid 2:50's since December of 2007. Here's hoping I can make a large improvement in Chicago.
Wait, I did Bingo on the Day After
I did manage to redeem myself against Brian (pictured in agony after his loss) in Scrabble this year. He and Laura played host to me once again this year, as I stayed at Winthrop House at Harvard University. I met a lot of nice people and even got to race in the Harvard River 1.7 mile race, grabbing third overall just two days before the race.
Mile Splits
1. 6:30
2. 6:22
3. 6:19
4. 6:12
5. 6:28
6. 6:23
7. 6:18
8. 6:27
9. 6:27
10. 6:29
11. 6:35
12. 6:22
13. 6:25
Half 1:24:09
14. 6:23
15. 6:33
16. 6:25
17,18. 13:30 (missed split)
19. 6:29
20. 6:39
21,22. 13:12 (missed split)
23. 6:32
24. 6:30
25. 6:46
26. 6:44 (briefly ran with Josh Arthur who was volunteering at the last water stop)
26.2. 1:25

Monday, April 26, 2010

Speed In A Given Direction (to the North) and Race Recaps

You Knew My Velocity
But, I've been hiding for some five months now with no updates. I've given no indication of my speed, or in what direction it has been. Don't fret though, the word "shall" in the title has hopefully helped the reader to know that updates were inevitable if not timely. (Please note, that by reader I mean you Mom.)

Thumb Up in Tahoe, Thumbs Down in Sacramento (CIM)
It's safe to say that CIM did not go well. On my way to the race, I was pulled over in South Lake Tahoe for having expired plates. My car was impounded and I was left 150 miles from the race and 200 miles from home without a means of transportation. Unable to redeem my car until the following Monday when government agencies would open again, I was forced to hitch hike. I walked several miles carrying all of my bags until a kind soul stopped to give me a ride. He dropped me off safely at my hotel hours after I had planned on arriving.

The long day left me feeling exhausted and I never recovered for the race. I was already nervous about my fitness going into the race, and the added troubles didn't ease my nerves. I ran a 1:21 first half which was right on the pace I was hoping to hit, but began falling apart in the later miles, managing only to run a 2:53. Upon crossing the finish line I broke down, my plantar was in so much pain I couldn't walk and I was overcome with stress about getting home. I had hoped a good race would allow me coast through the adventures of getting home, but a 2:53 was far from a good race.

Ken, Ben, and Todd (pictured with me sans Todd) my companions from Chicago did great to look after me and we managed to celebrate their successful races. I didn't get to travel with them to San Francisco as we had originally planned. I am really sorry to have missed it, but glad they had fun.

Overall, it was a really difficult experience to swallow. For months I had huge posters on my wall counting down to CIM, tracking my daily and weekly mileage obsessively without much else going on in my life. Now I was stuck in a snow storm in Sacramento, trying to make my way to Tahoe so that I could get my car out of impound. Once I got home, I was ready to leave Mammoth and find a place to live that would allow for a little more balance.

Rip City, City of Bridges, Stumptown, PDX, Portland
To make a long story short... I moved to Portland, OR to live with Ashley. We spent a few months living with her parents who made wonderful hosts and then settled into our own place in Sullivan's Gulch in inner NE Portland.

I'm working at Fit Right NW a running specialty store and spending the rest of my time running around the many fabulous places to explore throughout the city. At some point, I plan to compile a video of all of the amazing places to run within the city limits. Flat paved pathways along the river, curvy and hilly tree laden dirt trails hidden from site of any roads or buildings, hilly paved and mud trails climbing and descending a volcano, you'll find them all within 5 miles of our new place.

Red Lizard 5 Miler
My first race in Oregon was on a hilly road course in Lake Oswego in early March. I had hoped to hit 5:30 pace but I had trouble getting my legs moving early in the race as I hadn't raced since 12/6/09. After a really steep and short hill around the 3.75 mile mark I was finally awakened and I managed to reel a few competitors in (however, I couldn't get around the guy pictured on the tight bridge at the finish of the race). Overall, it was a good start to the season.

Shamrock Run 15k
Pain! The 15k course for the Shamrock Run is really great. It starts by the river, climbs up Terwilliger Hill, and then gently slopes back down hill eventually winding back to the river. Its really challenging on the uphill, but the downhill is gradual enough that it can really be used to one's advantage. Unfortunately, I was way too aggressive in shoe choice, and by the time I got over the hill I was blistered so badly I was barely able to finish (I'm near the finish in this photo).

I raced in the Asics PiranaSP which is really light and minimal. I love the way it feels, but unfortunately I don't think I have the right gait and foot to pull off running over 9 miles in them. The blisters that formed caused me to alter my gait and as a result I injured myself. I was out from training for nearly a week with 5 weeks until the Boston Marathon. This was terrible timing, but at least I learned not to wear that shoe during the marathon.

Race for the Roses 5k
I did this 5k as a little sharpening exercise one week out of Boston. I felt flat the entire race, unable to hold onto the lead group of runners as they slowly pulled away in the first mile. While I was much slower than I have been in the 5k in some time, I still had to be happy that a mild effort was able to duplicate what had been my PR just 2 years ago.