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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report - Marathon #9 in the Books!

So the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon has come and gone.  My last "big" race of the year so now it's time to back off a bit...just for a bit...and then head into triathlon training.

The weather was perfect for MCM this year.  Low 40s at the start and never got very warm up til the end.  Too bad we didn't have this weather three weeks ago at Wineglass.  But since Wineglass had been my focus, post Wineglass I only managed to squeeze in four runs total in the next 3 weeks.  Wow, that's pretty sad/lazy.  All said though, I'm pleased with my performance at MCM.  It was a MCM PR so I can't complain too much.  This was my fourth one and I've PR'd each (well maybe the first one doesn't count since it was my first marathon.

2013 MCM: 3:16:43

Pre-Race Up at 4:20, quick breakfast of Infinit Mud with EFS Liquid Shot and some coffee. Dressed, ready to go and out the door about 5. We once again went to the MCRRC Hospitality Suite at the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn (about a mile from the start). This is always key pre-Marine Corps Marathon. We can meet up with others in our running club and get all prepped and just leave our stuff there instead of worrying about checking our gear. We got there and parked by 6 (after a bit of a detour due to street closings, but nothing that delayed us too bad) and we were headed to the start by 7. I sipped on EFS with First Endurance Pre-Race as we headed to the start. Hit a porta-potty and made our way to the starting line with about 10 minutes to spare. With a couple minutes to go before the Howitzer, I took off the trash bag and last years Tyvek jacket, gave Chrissy a good luck kiss, and got ready to roll.
The gun went off at 8:00 so five minutes late, but no biggy. I was running with my buddy Brad and we were rolling along at about a 7:20 pace. Through the first three miles or so I wasn't feeling great and thought it had the potential to be a long day. But as we headed to mile 4 and towards the turn onto the Key Bridge, my breathing felt easier and I felt pretty good (the downhill definitely helps). The course was a bit different this year so it was nice to look forward to something new (from about 4.5 to 9.5 the course made it's way up the Rock Creek Parkway then back to the same course as the last few years for the remainder of the race). We headed through Georgetown (one of the best spots with great spectators...although it wasn't quite as busy this year) and soon after I got to see my girls and in-laws. Always a great sight! I kissed the girls and dropped my gloves and hat and I was back at it. Unfortunately at this point I knew I wouldn't see them again for another 12 miles. No worries, Brad and I kept rolling and we soon were on our way up Rock Creek. We run this on our Saturday long runs quite a bit, but from the paved path off the road. It's kind of funny how different it looks on the road. As we approached the turn around, I got my first glimpse of Chrissy as she was coming back down Rock Creek and she looked great (as usual). I was hoping she'd score the Master's win this year, but "only" got third with a 3:04 (not bad 3 weeks after a 3:02 at Wineglass). Finally to the turn around and heading back towards mile 8...um...where's mile 8? Maybe no sign...I'll hit it here (watch says 8.06 so that works). Another tenth of a mile down the road, FINALLY the mile 8 sign. Not sure what happened there (I think mile 19 was short so I wasn't too far off on my Garmin - .14 over 26.2 so not bad). Soon after we got a nice surprise - the family was out there again! Somewhere around 9.5-10 or so. So now I just had to get around Hains Point and I'd get to see them again.

Brad and I reached the halfway park just under 3:15 pace. I wasn't sure if I had a 3:15 in me or not, but I felt much better at this point than I did at the same point last year. Unfortunately soon after the halway mark, Brad started falling off. By the time we were out of Hains Point and towards the mall he had fallen back a bit. Soon after you leave Hains Point, there's an out and back section and I was hoping I'd catch Chrissy. Sure enough I did and gave her a yell. I made my way through the out and back and had her about 6.5 minutes ahead of me. She looked strong too.

I made my way to the mall knowing at about 17.5 I'd see the girls and in-laws again. Definitely helps with the motivation. And sure enough, right around 17.5 or so there they were. A few more high fives and knowing I'd get to see them in about 15 more minutes on the other side of the mall. The next two went quick and I remember seeing the family at the same point last year and feeling pretty bad. I felt much better Sunday and gave the girls another kiss for the last time I'd see them during the race. That helped keep me moving to my least favorite stretch of the race - the 14th St bridge and Crystal City. The crowds thin considerably at this point and the bridge is just really long. I worked my way through these two sections and this is when things just got tough. Miles 24 and 25 were just really hard for me. My calves were already feeling beat up and my hamstrings started flaring up feeling as though they could cramp at any point. I managed through them, dropping to about an 8 minute pace and with about 3/4 mile to go, a friend of ours we run with, Greg, came by and helped boost me to the finish. I picked up the pace, got to the "Hill" and got to the finish line. Not too long after I saw Chrissy waiting for me and was happy to hear how well she did.

Another Marine Corps Marathon in the books. Yeah, I'm sure we'll be back again next year (that is IF we make it in via the lottery).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon...AND BEYOND!

So Sunday brings us the Marine Corps Marathon.  My last big race of the year (I'm sure I'll some sort of Thanksgiving and/or Christmas themed race - maybe even Rehoboth Half Marathon, but currently I'm only signed up for MCM).  I've taken my recovery very seriously since Wineglass so I should be ready to go (ok, I've barely done anything...but I should at least be well rested!).  We'll see how the first half goes and adjust from there.  I'll either try to pick it up, or ratchet it back and enjoy some beverages along the back half with all the fans.  Hopefully I'll feel good and I can drop a bit from Wineglass, but that may be a bit too optimistic.

Once MCM is in the books, it looks like I've got to turn right around and begin 70.3 prep.  I'm tentatively scheduled to race Florida 70.3 in April.  Logistically it could be a good race to do since it's only about an hour from my dad's house.  I'd love to bring the family down and make it a nice long weekend (also happens to be on Spring Break), but with Boston the following week, I'm not sure my wife is crazy about the idea.  Maybe I'll just bring the kiddos...

I have some lofty goals for the race.  The first being to finally break the 5 hour mark.  I know I can do it.  I came close at Eagleman in 2012, but not so close at Raleigh this year.  A flat tire and hills just beat me up and I didn't get there.  If I put in the training, I know I can do this.  What's always been my problem though is I find excuses to NOT train.  The bottom line is I've been lazy.  Who knows what I could do if I fully committed myself and stopped slacking and got my workouts in.  It all comes to what I am willing to do.  I always say I'm going to do this or that, but the bottom line is, I NEVER come close to what I "plan" on doing (training wise).  Come race day, I race hard and get the most out of my conditioning and ability.  I definitely end up surprising people, but I usually end up wondering "what if."

Will 2014 be different?  Only time will tell.  I'll take a couple days off post MCM and then time to hit the trainer.

I'm also really hoping to be picked up by the Wattie Ink Elite Team.  I'm ready to Rock the W!  Following that crew of awesome athletes always gets me going.  If I'm able to get on the team, I really think they could have a huge impact on my success.

Here's to a good final couple months of 2013 and to Rocking the W in 2014!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Time flies when you're getting older... Wineglass Marathon (and other) Race Report

Well, two months and three races have passed since my last post.  A lot going on in my personal...rather professional life, but hopefully things are settled down a bit and stable for the foreseeable future.

Ok, a quick rundown of my races.

Super sprint triathlon - the Twinbrook Triathlon - second overall (ok, the competition was NOT fierce at all).  Race went fairly well, but man oh man, I could NOT get my wind following the swim.  I never settled down on the bike and by the time that I maybe got my breathing and heart rate in check, it was time to run.  I'll take second overall though...my first overall podium.  Wooo!  Oh yeah, my wife got first in the duathlon - her first duathlon.  Not too shabby!  If she ever takes on the multi sport world, she will be a force (I truly believe she could qualify for Kona in short order. She's THAT good).

Parks Half Marathon - 1:30:35.  I was ok with this.  Wish I would have gone sub 1:30, but it was what I had that day.  Oh well.  I was hot and never felt great throughout and I could hold 6:50 pace for the last few miles.  Live and learn....  Chrissy takes first in the Masters.  Once again, she freaking rocks!

Wineglass Marathon - 10/6/2013 - 3:13:45
Overall, I'm ok with this.  This does qualify me for Boston in 2015, but I'm not fully satisfied with the time.  I really thought I could go sub 3:10, but my excuse is it was much more hot and humid than I'd hoped.  Actually, the only excuse I have is not putting in more miles.  The weather was what it was and my training wasn't what it should have been.  That said, I dealt with the heat much better than some so I'm happy with that aspect.  I went through the first half marathon with about 20 seconds in the bank, unfortunately, I probably gave that back within the next three (I'll have to look at my splits, but after half, I really started fading).  Looks like by mile 19 I had lost all my banked time.  Oh well, what can you do?  Not much to say about the race.  I walked two water stops just to make sure I had enough in the tank to not walk any other portion of the race.  After about the stop around 24, I took it all the way in.  I managed to qualify with 1:15 to spare, but who knows if that will be enough in 2015.  In 2 weeks and a couple days, I'm doing Marine Corps...I haven't decided how to take that on yet.  Maybe try to get myself a few extra seconds...maybe try for sub 3:10...  I don't know.  I haven't run since Wineglass so lots of thinking to do (it could be ugly and a just get across the damn finish line type of race).  And to continue the trend, Chrissy takes 3rd overall at Wineglass.  Not too f'n bad for someone who is less than 6 months removed from a stress fracture. 

More to come...including at the very least a course PR at MCM!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Time to crank it up!

Wineglass Marathon is quickly approaching and as usual, my mileage is at the WAY low end (for 10K training - oops).  First 20 miler on Saturday.  18 went well last week so I'm hopeful I'm not too far out of form.  Hoping for a 40+ mile week next week.  TBD!

This is the first time EVER I believe where I've actually been biking AFTER all of my scheduled tris (a whole whopping one this year - weak).  My wife got herself a road bike and is already kicking my ass.  A nice entry-ish level Bianchi which is obviously enough to put me to shame, although I'm not sure that's saying much.  Hopefully sooner or later she'll dip her toes in the multi-sport arena...actually I know she will (maybe not a tri, but definitely a du).

Which brings me back to tri-talk.  Trying to decide what to do next year.  I'm really debating Ironman Florida 70.3 as it's not too far from my dad's house and plays to my relative strengths (flatish bike).  Big issue is that it's only a week out from Boston.  I think with the Boston bombings this year, people will be itching to get into the marathon so I'll most likely be shut out if I qualify at Wineglass seeing it's close to a month after registration opens (even with the rolling registration).  It filled a week after Wineglass last year (Chicago being the big factor).  I think a lot more people will want to get in this year, but who knows...  What I'd definitely consider is a back to back!  It might be crazy, but I'd be going to try and crush the 70.3 and then just have fun at Boston (if I qualify for Boston, it will be good for 2014 and 2015...) since I won't have to requalify.

I'm sure Chrissy will say it's stupid, but it's always easier to run post tri than run post marathon.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Ironman 70.3 Raleigh Race Report!

Another big race in the books.  Unfortunately no PR to share, but overall a fantastic experience...one I was able to share with my cousin Mike as he completed his first 70.3.

I drove down to Raleigh Saturday morning.  I got on the road a bit later than I wanted to, but except for the usual delays down 95 in Stafford down through Fredricksburg, made it into town around 3.  There was a lot to do pre-race, so I didn't waste much time.  Raleigh 70.3 is a point to point race (my first in a triathlon) so there is the issue of driving 40 minutes to the swim start/T1 to rack my bike, and then back into Raleigh (where I was staying/having dinner).  I pulled up to the convention center shortly after Mike and his family arrived.  I headed in, eventually found athlete check in, and found Mike.  I also saw my friend Heather and her crew at check in.  Always eases tensions seeing family and friends (from my days as a 5 year old on swim team, I ALWAYS get pretty nervous and worked up pre-race).  We wrapped up check-in, made sure we had all our necessities, and then we drove out to T1 to rack our bikes and check out the swim course.

We finally found T1 (Jordan Lake) and took care of bike racking, swim exit to bike rack positioning, etc and then headed back to Raleigh.  Mike had setup dinner with his Richmond crew and we ate a place called Vics right near the convention center.  A simple spaghetti with meat sauce and some rolls for dinner and some good conversation.  Met a slew of new friends and had a pretty good time.  Soon enough, it was off to my "home stay."  I was lucky enough to stay with an old friend from high school.  She has a condo very close to the convention center and I met up with her and she let me in.  Unfortunately, she had family plans so not much time to catch up, but pre-race this was probably best.  I made myself at home, prepped as much as I could, and was in bed before 10.  Not much sleep as usual, but I was very comfortable and just tried to relax as much as I could.

Before I knew it, 4:00 AM rolled around and it was time to get out of bed and roll out.  I don't know what the heck I was doing, because soon enough I looked at the clock and it was already pushing 4:30.  I hustled up and got in my car and found a parking garage near the convention center/T2/Shuttle to T1.   I rolled out of the garage and was literally right where I needed to be.  I had asked some guys in the garage if they heard any news on wetsuit legality (76.1 degrees or less), but they hadn't heard.  I decided since hearing that the lake had been 78 on Saturday, that I might as well leave the wetsuit behind since it wasn't likely it'd be legal.  I headed to T2, setup my run area, found Mike, and jumped on the shuttle.  The drive over seemed pretty quick and we were in T1 before too long.  I dropped my morning clothes bag and bike gear bag at my bike and hit the bathrooms.  As I was walking to the bathroom, they announced the water temperature.  76 degrees...wetsuit LEGAL!  Are you kidding me???  Ugh.  No wetsuit for me and I soon was psyching myself out.  I tried to remind myself I wasn't planning on swimming with it anyway, but still was playing head games.  There was definitely a mixed reaction from the athletes (I think the groans were from those of us who left the wetsuit behind).  I took care of everything, put on some sunscreen, and headed to the swim start with Mike.  We found Mike's wife and daughters and worked our way to the lake front to wait.  While we were over there, we ran into some of the Richmond crew and Mike's buddy Brad said he had his wetsuit but didn't want to wear it.  He said I could wear it, but it might not fit.  I figured I'd give it a try and we grabbed it and I tried it on.  It was a medium (mine is a large), and while it was tight, I was able to zip it up and felt pretty comfortable in it.

Now came the waiting game...Mike's wave went off at 7:22 and mine wasn't until 7:50.  I had figured I'd catch him right about the time we hit T2 and may actually roll in together.  I decided to check out the pro finishers after Mike started and was able to see some of the men finish up.  Laura Bennett was the first female out of the water in 24:XX - the fastest swim of the day male or female.  Some of the men were coming out of the water in 28:XX and I began to worry.  With these times, I figured the swim was either long or tough with a current (it appeared to be moving from right to left - the opposite direction we were headed in the long portion of the swim).  I realized soon enough that I was running out of time and headed to the start.  I noticed my group was already through the swim start arch and getting ready to get in.  Ooops.  No worries though, I didn't miss anything.  The next thing I knew we were in the water and getting ready to start.  Believe it or not, I actually finally felt ok/at ease.

Swim: 32:41 (6th in my wave, 13th age group)
This is probably the best I've felt in a 70.3 swim yet (ok, only three to choose from, but...).  I actually didn't get in nearly as much pool time as I wanted, but even so, I felt good.  I lined up right at the front and maybe 10 yards over from the far right buoy.  The gun went off and we were off.  Very little if any contact at the start and I was soon in a decent rhythm.  I was counting off the buoys (6th one was the turn) and this was actually a good strategy for me - mostly due to my ADD :).  I started counting anywhere between 90 and 110 strokes between them so this helped with sighting too.  I tried not to sight too much, but would every 30 strokes give or take.  I stayed a few yards to the left of the buoys, but this actually helped fairly well with the turns as I made them right on point and didn't have to slow much to get around them.  I knew I was up towards the front of my wave, but soon enough hit the waves in front of us.  This is where most of my contact came from.  I did my best to weave my way through, and soon enough was coming towards shore.  I was very pleased to see 32:XX on my watch especially seeing what some of the pros swam.  My lack of swim training worried me, but I thought 32 was solid.  I was only 2 minutes off my goal and was hoping to make it back on the bike.  And this is where the fun began...

T1: 2:35 - Wetsuit strippers rule!  Uneventful T1 for the most part.  I had forgot to turn on my Garmin, but realized this and turned it on first thing when I got to my bike.  Put my wetsuit, goggles, cap, and towel in my bike gear bag, put shoes on (couldn't put shoes on pedals), and headed out.

Bike: 2:55:17 (126 AG :(  )
There's a gradual climb out of the park to start the bike course.  Since I have a tough time settling in and getting my heart rate down, this proved tough.  Soon enough though, I was easing into things.  Of course, this is about the time when the first thing went wrong on the bike.  I hear an odd metallic sound off the back of my bike.  I look back, and I've lost one of my co2 cartridges.  Luckily I had 2 just in case.  I just hoped it'd stay on if I needed it.  Not too long after, I hear something else hit the ground.  CRAP!  This time it was my lone flask of EFS Liquid Shot.  400 calories of nutrition gone.  I knew there would be gels on the course so I just did my best to make sure I got them when we hit the aid stations.  I was able to get 2 Gu Roctanes, but did miss one I wanted to pick up.  I had also put a Honey Stinger Waffle in my jersey so I had that as well.  As I was riding along, I began picking up some time and started to push over that 20 mph avg that I wanted to maintain (ultimately shooting for 21 mph overall).  Unfortunately, at around mile 18, I heard something I did NOT want to hear.  The sound of air escaping my tire.  I pulled over to the side of the road and began changing it.  I had an extra tube and still had one co2 cartridge left so I was ok, for ONE flat.  I settled myself down (it was a bit disheartening to get a flat to say the least especially because for once I was doing a lot of passing and not being passed too much only to see many of those people fly by me on the side of the road) and got to work changing the tire.  Besides a minor issue getting the co2 flowing, I managed to change the tube without incident although it took me longer than I'd hoped (about 7 minutes).  I hopped back on the bike and prayed not to have a reapeat for the next 38 miles.  I began passing those same people I had passed before and I hoped I could still get to T2 in 2:50 or less.  Unfortunately it wasn't to be this day and I finished in 2:55 and change.  It was a fairly tough course.  Hills and hills.  The hills weren't too bad (not nearly as bad as some at the Columbia Tri), but ultimately, they had a cumulative effect on me and I just couldn't push faster.  Up one final hill, pulled out of my shoes, and finally to the dismount.

T2: 1:49 - One minor issue with my shoe coming off my pedal, but I stopped and a volunteer picked it up for me, handed it to me, and off to the rack.  Racked my bike, put my shoes on, helmet off, grabbed my Garmin 305, turned it on, grabbed hat, and I was off.  Quick stop for some sunscreen on my shoulders and out on the course.  Very happy with T2 and wouldn't change much if anything (other than the shoe falling off my pedal).

Run: 1:48:01 - 26th Age Group
It was hot.  And hilly.  Hot and hilly.  The run was definitely tougher than I anticipated.  The first four miles went pretty well, although I knew early the heat was taking it's toll.  Right about mile 4 though, I caught up to Mike.  He still looked pretty strong - minus his chafing issues.  He tolled me to keep rolling and I headed on towards the park.  Wow...the park.  Miles 5 through 9 were either uphill or downhill.  And there were some steep hills.  Not to mention a double loop inside the park.  It was tough, but I manged to "run" everything except a bunch of the water stops where I just wanted to get fluids/ice.  I finally grabbed some coke at the mile 9 aid station and I think I waited too long!  Not too late, but I should have grabbed some earlier.  I finished the run strong so I wonder if I had grabbed some around mile 6 if that would have helped some of those tough sections.  Hmmm...something to consider for the next one.  Just after mile 9, a kid rolls up to me and tells me I'm a running machine.  Ha!  He's the one who caught me!  Anyway, we ran together for a bit, I pulled ahead at a aid station (I started running through them after 9), he caught me again, ran together, he pulls ahead, rinse repeat.  Around mile 11 or so, we started talking a bit.  Turns out we live about 20 minutes from each other.  Small world!  Around 11.5-12, I see my friend Robin and her HEAT crew. She snapped a pic, gave me a hug, and I had a nice boost to the finish. With about a half mile to go, my new buddy Brendan spots his little brother and that was fun to see as well. We had two turns left at this point, and I took off. I was motoring (finally) and was enjoying a fantastic finishing crowd!  The streets on both sides were PACKED!  I slapped high fives with tons of fans and really enjoyed the finish.  I came across the finish line in 5:20:23.  Not my best 70.3, but I'm happy with my performance none the less.  A little bad luck thrown in, but it happens to everyone.  The results are how you deal with it, and I have to say I'm proud of myself for not throwing in the towel.  Hardly anyone passed me on the run, something I'm also very proud of. 

Time to find my next 70.3 challenge!  I'm still gunning for sub 5!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boston Marathon Race Report

Ugh...I don't even know where to begin... 

The bottom line: 3:21:52.  I was not prepared for a marathon.  And it showed.  21.3 miles per week does NOT work despite what I was telling myself ("Hey...you just PR'd a half 4 weeks before!  You can PR a full!").  Not so much.  All in all, when i accepted defeat, I enjoyed myself during the race.  Especially the last mile.
What was soon to come changed everything.  You all know exactly what happend aproximately an hour and a half after I finished.  Luckily for me and everyone I knew running/in the area, we were far enough away to be safe.  A mix of emotions was soon to come...and continue to come.
I can't make sense of any of it.  I'm not sure anyone can.  For now, these are my (lack of) thoughts.  The race itself was a bit of a disappointment for me, but only because I had an over confidence that my mind could overcome a lack of training miles.  I'm ok with this and I'll have my turn to get back to Boston in the fall and hopefully redeem myself next spring.  But in the meantime, that's all I've got.
Onto Raleigh 70.3 training...
Potentially to be continued....

Friday, April 5, 2013

Boston Marathon Nerves

Battling injuries sucks. This Achilles issue I'm dealing with just won't seem to go away. Of course the best course of action I'm sure of is to NOT train. At all. Of course that's not really an option for me right now. I'm going to Boston. I'm going to run Boston. And I want to do WELL at Boston. The first 2 points are definites, but the last one remains to be seen, but hopefully by 1:15 on Monday April 15, I'll be walking towards the gear buses to pick up my gear bag. Currently wearing my new pair of CEP Compression Dynamic+ Short Compression socks to hopefully help a bit and in about 15 minutes I'll grab my ice pack out of the freezer to ice up. I'll be wearing these socks at Boston and I certainly hope they help (along with my KT Tape!).

I found this handy link/web form as a nice tool for Boston Pacing (found it at http://twofiftynine.blogspot.com) from http://runnersconnect.net/boston-marathon-coach/pace-calculator/. Here's the image for my paces I'll be shooting for at Boston for a 3:09 race (and a requalifying time).    
It's going to be dicey, but I figure by the time I hit the Newton Hills, I'll know if I have what it takes. I have a feeling the final six or so miles are going to be all about my mentality and hanging on. I know I can do it and I'm going for it.   See you at Fire and Ice for post race ice cold beers!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Boston Marathon Taper time!

Well, the last 20 miler is officially in the books and it's time to kick back, relax, and TAPER! Ah...if it were that easy. Unfortunately, I have BIG goals for Ironman 70.3 Raleigh so I have a feeling the bike and swim volume will be increasing. Not necessarily a bad thing. I feel like my biking has been going pretty well, although swimming is another story. That said, it won't take me too long to get into decent swim shape and a few key workouts and I'll be good to go (hopefully).

Raleigh appears to be a bit hilly so it's going to be a whole new ball game compared to Eagleman where it's as flat as a pancake. Literally ZERO hills. Even the bridges are completely flat. From my Garmin data from last year, over 56 miles I gained 223 feet and lost 210 feet. So yeah, FLAT. When the weather warms up, I'll be a fixture over on the Columbia Triathlon course working the hills there. That should be good prep work as it appears to be hillier than Raleigh will be.

So the last long run is out of the way and not a moment too soon. I'm still dealing with the damn achilles issue and I probably pushed through too much pain today, but I HAD to get that 20 in if for nothing else, than just mental prep. I'm icing/heating/stretching/rolling every chance I get and hopefully it survives Boston and then final 70.3 prep!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon Race Report!

Originally we were scheduled to head down to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon, but due to a stress fracture Chrissy has been dealing with, we deferred until next year and I signed up for the hometown Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon. Much closer and free accomadations, not to mention my own bed to sleep in. Packet pickup was easy as well with my next door neighbor doing the leg work for me. All I had to do was wake up, get downtown, and run.

I slept pretty well Friday night and woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was to go off (4:50). I had a bagel with Trader Joe's Natural PB and some coffee. As usual, things just do not go down well for me on race morning. I really struggled to eat it and didn't even finish the whole thing. I met my friend Dan at his house. We drove over to the Rockville Metro, I left my car there, and drove down to the race site. Another great decision. We parked about a block from the start...just before a cop blocked off the road. We couldn't have had better timing. We sat around stretching for a minute and then headed over towards the race. Luckily for us, some porta-johns had been setup for the next day's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Unfortunately, they were locked with pad locks! Fortunately, the next set over had one without a lock. SCORE! Another great decision as not even a block further down, the line was easily 20 deep (only to get worse as we got near closer bathrooms). We decided to head to gear check (we had about 45 minutes til the start) and that was another block or so past the start line. We took care of that (it took longer than I expected), I downed a Clif Shot, and I was soon heading towards the start with another friend I ran into.

Before we knew it, it was go time. No sooner had we made it into Corral 1 that they started playing the Star Spangled Banner. And then we were off. To back track a bit, I've been dealing with an achilles issue (most likely tendonitis), but it is slowly feeling better. By race morning it was feeling good and I taped up with KT Tape for some extra assurance. I was gunning for a PR and more specifically, sub 1:29. I figured I would go out at my goal pace (after a slower first mile or two) and figure out if I could go for it, or if I should back off and take the more conservative route and run my Boston Marathon goal pace. Soon enough as I fell into my groove, I was feeling pretty good and decided to go for it.

For such a big marathon (specifically the Rock n Roll series), this was a clusterf*4#. Water stop 1 had water...but NO ONE PASSING OUT THE WATER! Luckily we were in the front of the pack so to speak, but I can't imagine what the corrals in the middle and back had to deal with. This only pales in comparison to the issues with picking up your gear bag post race (thankfully it only took about 5 minutes to get mine where other's I heard took over an hour and a half). I grabbed a cup off the table and continued on with only a slight slow down. That was really the only "issue" I encountered in the race. I hit the 5k mark in 21:28 (13 seconds slower than goal pace, but I felt ok about this) and feeling pretty good. By mile six, I had caught up to another friend of ours and ran with him for a couple minutes. Just past the mile 6 marker came a BIG surprise. The course this year was slightly different than last year and given the elevation maps I didn't expect anything out of the ordinary other than uphill from about mile 5 through 7. Unfortunately, it didn't really show the true grade/elevation gain just after mile 6. It was probably about a quarter mile long and the hill was pretty damn steep. I looked at my garmin and it was quickly slowing the lap pace from high 6's to 8's. Not what I wanted to see! I made it to the top of the hill and soon hit the 10k mark in 42:49. Now :39 seconds behind schedule and out of breath with heart racing. Not what I was hoping for. At this point I figured I'd still shoot for sub 1:30, but it didn't look good. I used the next downhill stretch to work on getting my pace back down and my breathing and heart rate in check. Soon enough I was feeling much better and back in my groove. By the time I hit mile 11, my achilles had started tightening up. That said, I don't believe it was limiting my race. Just something I may need to deal with post race. I passed up the gel at mile 9ish as I was feeling fairly bloated throughout the race for whatever reason (drinking too much liquid pre-race???). I hit 10 miles in 1:08:39 and was in the final 5k. I knew by the final turn it was mostly a long downhill stretch and I could make up some time. I took advantage of it and soon had RFK in site. The only problem is that final turn UP the hill to the finish. As I approached the last turn and climb I could feel myself about to lose my lunch. This is pretty typical for me so I just fought through it, made the final climb and hit the finish and my watch read 1:29:23 (official time was 1:29:20 - always be quick on the start of the watch and slow on the finish!) so while not my big goal, still a PR and gave me some much needed confidence as Boston approaches. I grabbed some chocolate milk and a smoothie, hit the gear buses, got dressed to warm up, got my free beer, and then headed to the DC Armory Metro solo. As I look back at the race, I'm pretty pleased with it all around. I could probably have found those 21 seconds somewhere along the course, but towards the end with a PR in sight and a tight achilles, I wouldn't change anything. Nutrition wise, I'm not sure. I normally have a gel mid-way or so through a half, but I didn't feel it. I didn't drink much Gatorade either. Maybe twice? I can't even remember. I fell like I'm in a good position for Boston if I can keep my achilles in check and get it close to 100% by April 15! For now, another half marathon and PR in the books. I'll take it!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Am I working hard enough???

Time will tell, but a big test is coming up. I'm still dealing with some achilles tendonitis (self diagnosed) so that's sucked, but I don't think it has limited me too bad when it comes to actual training. I have taken some days off here and there as a result though, but when I'm actual running or on the bike, I don't think it has hampered me too badly. That said, next Saturday is the Rock 'n' Roll USA Half (and full) Marathon. I'm running the half and I'm planning on shooting for a PR. I'm not sure if I'm there or not, but I'm going to go for it and I'll assess myself about a quarter of the way in to see if I can get there. If the achilles feels like an issue, I'll drop down to marathon pace and just make sure I'm feeling good there so hopefully I can get in a good mindset as the Boston Marathon approaches. A 20 miler is in the works for this weekend so a big week of training a week out from a race will make it tough, but I'm going for it. We shall see... I just really hope my "injury" isn't an issue. Only 6 weeks til Boston. Crazy!

Monday, February 11, 2013

So the bike...No.More.Excuses.

So I kind of fell into triathlon back in 2004 and after one race decided I liked it enough to get a tri bike. I went with a 2004 (maybe 2003???) Quintana Roo Kilo - the price was right and it felt pretty good (hell, what did I know?). It has served me pretty darn well over the years, but this weekend, I finally made the move to something a bit more modern. I have a bit of a problem with brand loyalty - as in I can become obsessed with a given brand. My shoes? Normally Asics. Underwear? Under Armour (as well as almost all of my sweats, shorts, T-shirts, etc). Cars? Acura. That being said, my bike purchase followed suit and I stuck with the Quintana Roo family. I did upgrade to a 2012 QR CD0.1. And it's pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Just outside Tri Bonzaibefore the drive home:
It was a good fit. Felt great from the beginning and I did my first trainer session this morning. I also did a few tweeks last night, but nothing major. Now, just need to get over a few nagging injuries and I'm all set. Of course, now the only thing to blame for poor performance is the engine. I plan on that NOT being an issue this year!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Well training is already in full gear and it is definitely taking its toll. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it definitely puts an emphasis on how poorly I prep myself in the off-season. No exercise=no good. 0-60 (or 0 to 14 mile runs in my case) is not the way to get into training mode. As a result I'm having some aches and pains - my left achilles worries me the most. Hopefully this is pretty minor and I can continue doing what I'm doing and closing in on my goals for the year. Some cool things are in the works. Sunday I'm heading over to my favorite Tri shop Tri Bonzai to do a little bike shopping. They have some killer deals going on with their 2012 selection of Quintana Roos. Since my first and only tri bike I've ever had is a 2004(maybe even 2003???) QR Kilo, I'm happy to stick with them and move up to a full carbon QR CD0.1 (2012 model).
I couldn't be more pumped! Hopefully the fit is on the money and I'll be upgrading shortly. There is NO excuse for going slow now!
I need to get my butt in gear in the run department though. Time to start upping the miles and speed work if I want to be anywhere close to a BQ at the Boston Marathon (my goal is to BQ at Boston leaving my fall less stressful). I have a lot of work to do where that is concerned though, but my dogged determination at hitting my goals will help me make sure I get there. That said, if Boston is pushing 90 again this year like last (when I was dying of heat just watching!), all bets are off. I just really hope my partner in crime, aka the wife, aka the fast one is cured of her current injury situation and can run Boston (she will not be "racing" though - although she'll probably still beat me). I'd hate it if she can't make it up there...
As far as bike work is concerned, I'm feeling really good knocking out the sessions on the trainer. Thanks to the HBO Go app on the ipad, I'm knocking out episode after episode of Entourage and loving it and it makes the sessions fly by.
Swimming should be added in the next few weeks is my guess. I have to at least get my 400 time down so I can crush the Splash and Dash I'm entered in at the end of April....
We'll see where this all goes, but I'm feeling pretty good!
Hope everyone is crushing their training!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 in Review; 2013 Goals

Well, 2012 has come to a close and with it some pretty big race accomplishments for me. I had one BIG goal for 2012 and that was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I ran it back in 2011, but as part of a charity (The Dana Farber Cancer Institute) so technically speaking, I'm not sure that counts. I originally had planned on attempting to qualify at the Chicago Marathon in 2011, but when I signed up, the new process hadn't been put in place yet. That along with an earlier opening of registration nixed that plan (registration had moved up from mid October to mid September). Technically speaking, I qualified at Chicago with a 3:14:50, but unfortunately, Boston was full before I even toed the line. With all of that said, having spring/early summer as my tri season, I was on the look out for a fall, flat, fast marathon. I found one in Erie in mid September, and NAILED my BQ, qualifying with a whopping 13 seconds to spare.

Big 2012 Goal: BQ - DONE!

As for the rest of my 2012 goals, all I really ask of myself is to go for PRs. That said, I had some pretty good ones in 2012. Below are my PRs for the year

Marathon - Erie - 3:09:47
Half Marathon - Rock N Roll USA - 1:29:58
10K - Pikes Peak (Rockville, MD) - 39:09 (this is a FAST mostly downhill course to be completely open...)

Columbia: 2:28:06 (Dropped 9 minutes)
Ironman 70.3 Eagleman: 5:04:45 (Dropped 37 minutes)

I'm looking for a big year in 2013 with the following big races already scheduled (more to come!):

Rock N Roll USA Half Marthon
Boston Marathon
Ironman 70.3 Raleigh

I'm not sure how I'll fill out the rest of the summer and fall, but I'm looking forward to another big year!