"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My drinking problem

If you have run with me, especially in the summer, you know I sweat. A lot.

Try as I might, even though I felt the heat itself was more of a problem than hydration in Chicago, I need to streamline my in-race drinking.

My digestive system isn't great, and soon after I drink pretty much any time, I usually need to burp badly. When I finish running, I usually gulp water, and have way too much. I'm clearly not going to drink that much during Marine Corps, but it's still an issue.

For the last few weeks I have been working on drinking while running. To an extent, it has been easier. Initially I just tried to drink from bottles halfway through my runs.

Howard gave me some advice on drinking while running:

It was hard to get used to at first and felt weird running with a gut full of fluid, but it passes quickly and you get back on pace. You HAVE to get more than just what you can get in a cup and a few sips. Lots of bad marathons have been blamed on heat, pace, poor training, when they were actually due to not enough fluid.
It's like Survivor when they say "on the island, fire represents life." In a marathon, fluid represents life. Get used to getting fluid into you. All that other stuff including the heat can be blamed on not enough fluid.
You gotta get used to training with it or race day is a bad day to experiment...
I once ran a 70 second 400 while drinking a 16oz bottle of Gatorade just as a joke because I was doing my 12X400 workout in front of the VT track team one day. But that's the kind of comfort you have to develop with drinking or its gonna be tough all the time.

My 10 mile run through the New Virginia Manor loop went well on the Tuesday of week two. On Wednesday I practiced drinking while running around 5:40 pace on the MCM course on Hains Point with 60 second recoveries- 5:39,5:29,5:27. Way too fast. Thursday I ran out the W&OD to Gallows Road and back to the Reacharound on a reverse Fineview Park. Friday I ran about 12 miles around Hains Point and the Mall, getting a few miles of the MCM course in. Saturday morning I ran about 11.5 with the GRC guys, including a minor detour. Sunday I slept in and didn't run until the evening. It was a lot warmer in the evening than it had been in a while, and though I started well, 3.5 miles in, I was dizzy. I turned and came home, I think that was the beginning of me getting sick. I took Monday off, Tuesday I did an easy eight, a partial reverse Pimmit Hills. Still dizzy.
Wednesday I forced myself to run another dress rehearsal on the track. Among several different workouts, I averaged 5:39s, grabbing five cups of Gatorade along the way. It wasn't good, I'd much prefer to use water bottles, but it will have to do.

The cold is beating me. The swamp of a field in the middle of the B-CC track was alive with mosquitos, and one bit my head. The bite ballooned into a gigantic lump on the edge of my right temple.
Thursday was yet another day of dull illness. I decided to take the day off of running, have some Benedryl when I got home and here I am, trying to finish this before I pass out.
Right now I'm not feeling too great about this marathon. I think trying to go under 2:30 is out of the question- I have been pretty much tapered for five weeks now, which is way too long. I'm miserably sick. So, I guess I will take it easy. I hope nobody shoots at us.
I get to see Richmond race at Schenley Park on Saturday before coming back for the marathon.

I'm starting to pass out, so I should stop writing, even though I know I haven't written much of importance. This is cool, though I rarely run on that trail. Also, this is a good series of reasons why I don't feel much confidence with GPS watches.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trouser success

I managed to replace, on the anniversary of moving to Virginia, my favorite pair of pants that I lost in the move. I went to the Hagerstown, Md. outlet stores last weekend and at J. Crew found the very style of pants I had lost. Man, they feel amazing! It's a Columbus Day miracle!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A damned shame

Not that I care that much about North Hill's cross country team- I have no compelling reason to, but this is a shame:

From the Tri-States Track Coaches Association Cross Country Championships, which is pretty much a warm up race for the WPIAL championships the next week:
10. North Hills
1 Juris Silenieks, Sr 15:39
2 Zach Hebda, Sr 15:39
3 Joe Kush, Sr 15:50
98 Anton Martinez, Fr 17:55
308 Alex Baginski, Fr 20:03
347 Andy Fitzpatrick, Fr 21:01
381 Dan Fulton, So 22:09
Total Time = 1:25:05 Total Places = 412
Their top three are easily the best in the state- to run those times on the hills of western Pennsylvania is remarkable, let alone to dominate a huge meet of 497 finishers. One of the teams that finished ahead of them won't be competing for a trip to states, but unless a few miracles and a lot of disasters happen to other teams.
Now, this team has had a very successful last six years, so missing a trip to states isn't horrible, nor is this an indictment of three freshmen and a sophomore who are thrown in with three top-notch senior runners. It's just worth noting the difference between three good runners and five, which makes cross country so compelling. Last year, these three went to states with a few seniors:
3. North Hills
796 3 Joe Kush, Jr 15:48 5:06
797 4 Juris Silenieks, Jr 16:01 5:10
795 5 Zach Hebda, Jr 16:01 5:10
791 17 Paulson Domasky, Sr 16:39 5:22
792 129 Brian Dulick, Sr 18:19 5:54
793 231 Corey Palko, Sr 19:23 6:15
Time = 1:22:47 Places = 158

Before that, the best circumstance of a great top three missing a chance to compete as a team at states was the 2000 Baldwin team. The difference is that I was friends with four of the runners on that team, of the North Hills runners, I have only met Juris. The 2000 season was the first year the WPIAL lost its fifth team qualifier for states, meaning Baldwin, a fierce but respected rival now and when I ran for Mt. Lebanon, missed out. Though they didn't run as well at WPIALs, their performance at Tri-States turned heads.

5. Baldwin
1 Daniel Mazzocco, Jr 16:08 5:12
3 Ryan Sheehan, Sr 16:49 5:25
6 Jeff Conroy, Sr 17:04 5:30
113 Chris Ritter, Sr 19:08 6:10
114 Brett Brennfleck, Jr 19:09 6:10
162 Eddie Weaver, Sr 19:55 6:25
163 Joe Brichacek, Jr 19:57 6:26
Time = 1:28:16 Places = 237
I remember talking to Conroy (Hoag) after WPIALs and all he could talk about was how close he felt they were to catching North Allegheny (23 points). Same from Sheehan. These guys were team players. North Hills might be, too. But those Baldwin guys might reap all the benefits of team running- they unseated North Allegheny, for a week, at Tri-States this year and if they run confident races on Thursday could win the school's first WPIAL cross country title since 1999, the days of Scary Larry Quinn and Bobby Toth.
I'm pulingl for Mt. Lebanon to make its comeback to states.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FLASH: Wiggy updates blog

Joe Wiegner updated his blog this morning. Karl Dusen hasn't updated his in almost three months. I think Alex Eversmeyer has forgotten he has one because he hasn't tended to his since the snow storm. I'd like to hear about Jimmy Daly's marathon taper. Dave Burnham won't tell anyone his blog address.


Friday, October 15, 2010

10-10-10: The date to humiliate

I did it! I ran a marathon!
It took a lot of dedication, discipline, training, focus and determination, but I did it!
Charlie Ban = marathon finisher
The jubilation that someone feels when saying those words with pride is so foreign that I can't comprehend it. I'm beyond it, I'm cynical. The Chicago Marathon was nothing close to what I expected on my worst day. 2:50:04. On one of the fastest courses around. With a deep field amped to run fast.

Things started well enough. An easy flight to Chicago after work on Friday, no trouble getting to Pokey's apartment in Hyde Park. I woke up Saturday morning and took an easy 4.5 mile run, then had breakfast with Molz and a haircut, a meatball sandwich for lunch and a nap while we waited for Bethany to arrive from Pittsburgh. Our trip to the expo was efficient and dinner with the team was delicious. Sleep was a problem, though, Saturday night. Pokey's apartment was a University of Chicago dorm that didn't have air conditioning, but historical temperatures did not necessitate it.

Maybe it was three people sleeping in one room on top of the mid-day high in the mid 80s, but we sweltered. I cooled off by lying on the floor for a while, which helped. At some point, however, I evidently got up and tried to leave, getting as far as into the hallway

before Pokey woke up, asked me what I was doing, and I answered "I have no idea what I'm doing."
All three of us woke up at 5, eager to feel the low in the mid 50s. When we got outside to catch the bus, we learned that those lows wouldn't be coming. It was already in the low 60s, and it did not feel cool.
We caught the bus and I met up with Molz and Garrett. Molz was in a much better spirit than before Richmond. We got off and I parted company with everyone and went to check my bag.

I met up with some of the GRC guys for a team photo that didn't happen and headed to the start with Scott Koonce. Time started moving a lot faster as the race approached and before I knew it, the gun went off.

I realized that a lot of people were way too far ahead in Corral A because just trying to keep a 6:10 mile meant swimming through a crowd. I saw Laura O'Hara briefly in the tunnel and just went with the flow for a while. 6:07.61 A little quick, but I was barely thinking, just trying to keep my breathing relaxed and stay away from crowds that could go down if someone trips. I wanted to see in front of me. 5:46.63 Even faster- I was thinking 5:52-5:55, but there was no use getting hung up on splits this early. 5:50.25 Much better, let's just move a little faster, it will all add up over a mile. Sloane was around here, he said something, but I couldn't understand him. 5:40.93 Perfect! Just maintain this rhythm and I'll be in the right place. Keep it up until mile 21 then start pushing. Wound up with Mark Buschman from the Howard County Striders, with whom I ran part of Parks. 5:35.09 Fast, but I didn't think I needed to slow dramatically. 5:44.04 Busch mentioned it was a little slow, again, I didn't want to overreact. The fast previous mile gave me a cushion. 5:39.30 Great. Had some gu. Heard Madeline Harms to my right! 5:44.33 Cruised along in the shade. 5:36.50 Oh deary me! A little fast! 5:40.20 Saw Javed Gangjee off to the side. Yelled "Happy birthday!" but he didn't hear me, so I got close, and yelled his name. He turned, I repeated my greeting and he yelled for me. 5:39.09 Started running with a big pack that included Tera Moody, one of the better US women and one with whom I identified because of a common inability to sleep. I think hers is chronic insomnia, whereas I hope I can fix mine once doctors rip my tonsils out. 5:41.90 Feeling great- still not breathing hard, just floating along.5:52.63 Woah, I didn't realize we slowed down, but I was hanging with the pack, and for once, I was acquiescent to a mob mentality. Passed the half in 1:15:16- a 3:03 PR! I have to let the good times keep rolling! 5:56.20 Slowed to take some water and gu, but caught up with the pack a little later. 6:06.49 Ok, I rushed too much to catch the pack. My god, it's sunny out here. When did it get so hot? I thought I was still recovering from my effort to surge back up to the pack.

6:08.93 I've been dropped and am running alone. 6:13.00 The wind is getting bad. I am dizzy. Maybe my sunglasses are too tight, I'll take them off. Gosh, it's so sunny. 13:11.74 I couldn't find the mile marker, just stupid kilometers. I was terrified I had dipped into the 7s 6:35.44 hit 20 miles in 1:58:49. Still under six minute pace. If I keep this up, I can run 2:36. Took some water and gu, this will be the last one. I start seeing runners milling around the sidewalks, some sitting down. 6:58.50 Oh carp! My right arm and foot are numb. Did I have a stroke? What am I going to do? Cotterell and Murphy pass me, and I initially see Charlie Van Gombos. What is he doing here? Am I going crazy? I stop and untie my right shoe- maybe it's too tight and is cutting off the circulation to my foot. When I try to start running again, my quads seize up. This is bad. 9:11.13 I see Molz, standing my the side of the road, dripping. He yells for me. Shit, he dropped out? I see Garrett a few yards ahead of him. I start to lose hope. After a while, I sit down on the curb for a while and try to catch my breath. It's not so much of a choice as it is the only thing my body can do. I am so hot. I can't think. Three minutes pass,I have to get going.

9:57.54 I see a water stop, I pass it and pull over behind it and help myself to five cups and lean against the rail of a bridge. If I am going to have water, I am going to enjoy it! 8:31.57 Took a while to walk, stretch out my calves. Man, this marathon blows. 7:04.02 Started running more constantly. Saw a Pacers girl. Aw man, I really am falling back. Saw Javed in here somewhere, or at least heard him. He yelled for me to keep my head up, I tried to comply. 8:00.43 Back in the shade, but I am tired. Stop to walk a few times- at this point, what does it matter? Maybe Kate will catch me and I can run with her, despite her efforts to avoid ever running with me. (she ended up running 2:52, a 10 minute PR) I stop for a while, then I see Pat Hughes run by. Maybe I should try to run in with him! I start to run after him, for five seconds. Then I stop again. Aw, screw it!! I keep jogging, though. Let's finish this abortion of a race. 1:31.70 Yeah, that's over. Thank God...

As I walked around, trying to keep my legs from seizing, I analyzed everything, the wrong way as it turned out. I had run almost a minute faster two years ago at Marine Corps, in trainers, starting in the back of the pack and forced to run 7:49s the first few miles. Without the long runs, without the 100+ mile weeks, without the workouts that I did this summer. Was I that colossal of a failure that with all of this marathon training, I still wasn't good enough? I was embarrassed that the neophyte marathoner that I was two years ago outperformed the seasoned distance runner I had become. Even though my memory is unusually sharp, I could barely remember most of the last three hours. Granted, I have recounted it here, but what I have written was just a sliver of what happened. I don't remember when exactly I saw Madeline and Javed. I saw Billy and Christiam a few times. I don't know why I didn't just slow down to a crawl, totally recover and try to still run under 2:35. Because I wasn't in my right mind. I thought I could just run harder and drop time when something was affecting me negatively.

But I knew I was better than that. What about that mountain run? What about the ease with which I had run some of my long runs?

So, what happened? Did I go out too fast? No, I don't think I did. The entire time I was averaging 5:40-high between miles for and 12, I ran completely within myself. Mike Cotterell, who ran a great race for a 10 minute PR, said it plainly to me on the walk to meet up with everyone else "You aren't a hot weather runner." Evidently it was 67? degrees at the start, and most of the first half was in the shade. It was 74 degrees by the time I hit 21 miles and most of the rest of the race was in the sun. It wasn't oppressively hot, but it was much warmer than I would prefer to be running anything longer than 10k. It snuck up on me, and before I knew it, it kicked me to the ground. Now it was after the race, and I was wandering, still sweating, and I came across a fountain. When I tried to jump in, two volunteers told me it was a bad idea, and I asked for directions to Lake Michigan. On my way there, Molz called, so I sat down to take it and looked ahead, right into the eyes of Timothy James Caramore, watching the race with his lovely new wife Elizabeth. It had been two years since I had seen TC Booyeah, so it was a pleasure to catch up. Eventually, Molz and Garrett found us, and we had a nice little reunion.

Men of the Spider track team

Should I have dropped out at 21, when I started losing my mind? Probably. Once I sat down in the street -- definitely. I don't think I hurt myself, though. I came the closest when I tried to run with Hughes after a dead stop toward the end. My feet were cramped like crazy and I had bad blood blisters on two toes, but nothing terrible. The mental kick in the balls, though, from suffering through the last few miles was pretty severe.

I caught up with Pokey, who was also disappointed with his time, but to be honest, the way his legs were feeling a few weeks ago it was great just for him to be able to run. And he's over the hump of his first marathon. I never saw Eric Anish, but he ran 2:42 I think. Murphy was happy enough with his time. Reaves wasn't, nor were Bain, Sloane and Shannon. Dickson and Ernst dropped out after 21. Laura gave up, Katie Jarocki blew up, Kylee almost caught up. Jess Gangjee almost didn't make it to the finish. Medical assistants had to walk her in before she pushed them away to run her last 100 meters, but when they put the medal around her neck, she passed out and spent the next four hours in the medial tent with a 102 degree temperature.
My unnamed rival ran pretty well. I was bummed to have not even realized he was in the race.
Anne-Marie Alderson had the biggest race- a 33 minute PR, after finishing an Ironman six weeks prior.

While having lunch with Bethany and Pokey a few hours afterward, I think Pokey suggested, "why not do another one?" Then I realized, I would be in DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. The weather has been great the last two years. What's to lose? Besides my confidence? I decided then that I would give it another shot in 21 days. I took a five mile jog around Hyde Park Monday morning and a one mile sprint through the Detroit Airport to catch my connecting flight home and then started organizing people to cheer and support me around the Marine Corps Course. Then I got a great message from Howard Nippert.
It wasn't a phone call, but he looks like a badass in this picture.

Listen up, Boy.
You had a great first part of Chicago.
I was hoping you would get back on the horse and race soon, but not too soon.
I can tell you right now that you impressed me, not only convincing me that you're in the best shape I've seen you in (of course I wasn't around you guys all the time) since I've known you, but your confidence was at an all-time high. It took a bucket of balls to jump out and lead the Alumni race and make those guys come get you. Now, take that preparation and confidence, temper it with a little taste of knowledge and experience, and perhaps a better idea of what you're capable of in terms of finish time and run a smart, calculated, properly executed race.
You went all the way this weekend, so realize that there isn't going to be much training this week or even in a week or two going into MCM. You've got 2 weeks and a taste and most of that should be recovery and some stuff to shake the doo-doo from your legs. Don't tap into your muscles as they try to recover with a long run or a long interval workout. Keep things short until next weekend if you want to do something a taste longer, but not long.
The big mistake you can make that can screw the pooch is to think you can add more training between now and then. A marathon that goes "bad" takes longer to recover from than one that goes "good" because you finished and ran it the hard way. The second half takes way more out of you when it lasts 20 minutes longer and you don't back out.
Just my 2 cents.
Keep the faith, son. You're in great shape. Keep the fitness up with little short things for staying sharp that won't tap into you while you try to recover. Keep your confidence up as you go because the training hasn't gone anywhere. You're still as fit today as you were last week and you'll be as fit in 3 weeks as you were heading into last week.
Be smart and don't be scared and try to "make up" for something that was lacking (because it doesn't seem anything was) going into Chicago.

Great advice.

So, I'm ready to go. Five days later, I am feeling like I'm 95%, but true to Howard's advice I'm keeping it easy. I'm talking to Steve about some specific workouts to keep myself primed for Marine Corps later today. I'll get in a nice easy run with some GRC guys tomorrow and start in earnest to redeem myself.

I took Tuesday off, and ran a very easy 6 miles Wednesday around the Mall with Melissa. Thursday, I ran my typical Hains Point loop for 9.55, and today I will run around Falls Church until I feel I've had enough.

Friday, October 8, 2010

If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean

It's about time to head to Chicago to race my first marathon. Technically I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2008, but let's face it- that was a jackass effort. I consciously decided not to train for it beyond my usual 5k training and ran it like it was a long run with thousands of other people. Yeah, I got competitive and passed most of them, but I never committed to an effort that would consume me the way I am planning for Sunday. Like it or not, I have dedicated a big part of my life to this over the last five months, and to a lesser extent, 11 months. Regardless of the outcome, I have enjoyed it.
I've said this before, but I just want to get the distance out of the way at a decent pace and then see exactly what I can do in the races later stages, I'll be like the Duke of Plessitora, leading from behind (what in the world does this mean?).
5:36 felt easy on Wednesday, so 6:00 should feel ridiculously slow for the first few miles. So should 5:52 and such.
I've lost a few people on the way. JARRIN's out now, and he, along with everyone else, would have made it an even better race. Dave O'Hara's Achilles never even gave him a chance to get started. Michelle Corkum's inconvenient timing to want to think about law school is keeping her out and toiling away on the LSAT instead.
Whether this goes well or poorly, I have a lot of people to thank for their influence:
Steve Taylor, whose training system has served me well for the last eight years and kept me both fleet afoot and injury free, especially as I significantly increased my mileage to the point where 80 was a recovery week. His cabin gave me a great respite from the early August heat and invigorated for a month of 100+ mile weeks
Jon Molz, whose mastery and dedication to the marathon and otherworldly performance in Richmond made me want to take a stab at it.
Jon Lauder, the companion on the bike during the big workout in the mountains, without whom I would have easily talked myself back from the edge. That 6:25 mile wasn't pretty, but it would have been a lot worse without him next to me.
Pokey Litten, finally closing in on his goal to make it to a marathon injury-free. Teaching him what I know about running has helped keep me attuned to the little things I neglect at times.
Jessica Gangjee, who dragged me through a miserable run in Fox Chapel in March that turned me around in the spring, and Javed, whom I am sure I will hear on the course. One of the best sources of support in and out of races. His presence in Chicago will probably be the biggest factor in my favor.
Spaz Panzarella, for always making me feel better in comparison.
Indirectly, my family, for treating this nonchalantly. It's not that they don't care or understand, they just defer to me to tell them what is important, so they don't smother me. And that's good, because I don't want them to get the chair.
Nobody else.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nike+ Powersong Zone!

The dress rehearsal went splendidly. Three miles at about marathon pace on the track. I was shooting for 5:40s, I ended up going a little faster than 5:36 for each. I was barely breathing and felt stronger with each step. I feel like the taper is starting to work- I am not feeling as lazy and I'm fighting for every chance I have to rest. My nervous energy built up a little bit after the dress rehearsal because I was 3/26 there, but I am pretty sure the race is going to be a lot more fun than running around the dark track at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
Dickson has been upgraded to active, which is fantastic.
I am ready to run this like the 2007 Spring Thaw- my first 10 mile race, when I just went out with a pack and just settled into a good pace to cover ground and turn it into a five mile race, at which point I blew it open in the second half.
Murphy and I talked about the Nike+ Powersong Zone, the 24 mile mark where some godawful DJ will be playing All Star, Tubthumping or We Will Rock You. We started postulating what song we would like to hear with 2.2 miles to go. I thought for a while and came up with the answer on my Thursday run (6.25 miles at 6:25 pace, I am absolutely struggling to keep it slow)- Styx's Renegade.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Injury report

Two negative moves on the injury report- Emily Ward is out with a groin pull and Dickson Mercer has been downgraded with a hamstring injury. I was feeling a little sick this morning, but am better after a nap.

OUT: Karl Dusen (life), Joey Wiegner (achilles), Jake Klim (groin), Emily Ward (groin), Neal Hannan (illness), Alex Eversmeyer (face it, it was never happening), Sarah Morgan and Melissa Dorn (lack of preparation), Mike Smith (no idea)
PROBABLE: Andy Litten (glute), Robert Jarrin (everything), Dickson Mercer (hamstring), Chris Bain (calf)
ACTIVE: Jon Molz, Pat Murphy, Mike Cotterell, Christie Wood, Pat Hughes, Ryan Sheehan, Pat Reaves, Laura O'Hara, Matt Ernst, Shannon O’Neill, Dylan Keith, Billy Askey, Anne-Marie Alderson, Jessica Gangjee, Katie Jarocki, Chris Sloane

I ran an easy six miles with Will and Elyse around the Tidal Basin Monday evening, averaging 7:30s.
Tuesday I did a Pimmit Hills 6.3 at 6:38 pace. Tonight I am hitting the track at B-CC for three miles at 5:40.

I'm thinking back to some of the memorable runs during my summer of training and although this is more for my personal benefit than for any of you who are reading, these stick in my mind:
1. my failed long run home the day after Memorial Day
2. tempo run on the Double Pimmit on Wednesday night in late June, it was really hot
3. medium long run my last day in Reno
4. climbing and descending a mountain on the logging road behind the Cascades State Park in Giles County
5. failed long run in Cumberland
6. the tempo run at 6 am the day before Joe Wildfire's wedding
7. long run with Molz on skyline drive

Also, here's a cool photo from the 1987 Great Race in Pittsburgh, back when it was fast. Steve Taylor is in second about 1.5 miles in.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Chicago Marathon- a cautionary tale

Long, long before I ever considered running a marathon competitively (about three years, exactly) I got this e-mail from Matt Meurer, detailing his Chicago Marathon experience. Suffice to say, it did not accelerate my interest.

My 2:36:00 adventure

As many of you may have known my goal for the marathon was to go out in 1:14 and try to negative split the race. After seeing the results you may be asking, “what happened to the plan?”. Some of you may think that I listened to John Hursh when he advised me that “whatever you do make sure that you get out fast!”.

I assure you that this was not my motivation for what happened.

I awoke the morning of the race completely committed to the plan. Once I arrived at the Top 100 starting tent I came across quite a surprise. One of my collegiate rivals was standing in the tent, Kevin Pool, an alum of Allegheny college and All-American in cross country. I asked what pace he was thinking of running and he said that he was shooting for somewhere between 2:26 and 2:28 and that he wanted to go out for the first 10K about at the pace that I wanted to run. Then he also told me that one of my main rivals post-collegiately would be joining us, Dan
Princic also an alum of Allegheny College.
Dan, Kevin and I all made our way to the top 100 starting corral behind the elites and lined up near the back, so we would not get taken out to quickly. I looked to Kevin and Dan and said, you’re not going to take me out in 5’20” are you? Then the gun went off and we had started.

We’re cruising along and chatting a little bit, everything feels really easy and I missed the mile split because there were still a ton of people around. At two miles I saw the mark and the split was 10’56”, at that point Dan said: “whoa, that’s a little fast for me, are you guys going to keep going at this pace?” Kevin
gave no response and I don’t think that I did either, at that point Dan dropped back and Kevin and I pushed forward attaching ourselves to the next pack up to avoid the wind gusts of up to 30 mph.

The two mile mark was the abandonment of my plan; my competitive spirit got the best of me and I had decided to see what I could do if I stuck to Kevin. We were running very smoothly, I seemed to be catching every even mile split and
looking at my watch to see yet another 10’56” or 10’57” 2 mile split. We came through the half right around 1:11’ (about 5’26” pace) and it felt like cake. At this point there was still a pack of about 20 guys moving at a good clip. There were huge crowds cheering at the halfway mark and it was a lot of fun to be that far up at the halfway point.

I felt great through 16 miles and 18 miles continuing to eat my gels and to take in water and Gatorade along the way. Somewhere around 19 miles however I noticed that the pack was pulling away from me. I think that my mile split for the 19th mile was right around 5’40”, from there everything went downhill. I found myself totally alone having lost the large pack that I was with. I saw my splits begin to climb and climb quickly: 6’07”, 6’17”, 6’37”. At 20 miles Dan went flying past and told me to: “stay strong Matt”, Dan would go on to finish in 2:28’xx”

At no point did I feel tired or begin to breath heavily, my legs simply turned into to big weights that I had to keep throwing forward if I was to finish. By mile 23 it was obvious that I was a part of the running dead. These runners are easily picked out at any major marathon by the following signs: expressionless faces, rapid deceleration and an overall haggard posture while running. Many of the running dead may actually walk at some points but thankfully I never had to walk.

I finally finished in 2:36’00” (11 minutes behind Kevin whom I ran with for the first 18 miles) with the slowest 3 miles I have ever run in any race and struggled to stay standing after I crossed the line. I was staggering and having trouble holding my head up, it was truly an experience unlike any other I have felt before. My body was completely and totally spent and I was seeing spots, I was probably a minute from fainting when I finished. Luckily they had helpers at the finish line to walk with the people who looked like crap until they could either regain their composure or collapse and be rushed to the medical tent. Fortunately I did not collapse but regained my composure after pounding all of the Power bars, English muffins and bananas that I could get my hands on.

I’m sure that many of you think that I am quite disappointed in my time, but I’m actually quite happy with the race. Sure I could have ran faster if I had gone out at a more reasonable pace, but by totally falling apart I’ve learned the absolute limit of my body and will be much better prepared for my next marathon. I’m not sure when the next one will be, but there will be at least one more. I just thank God that I finished this one.

Thanks for all of your support, well wishes and prayers,


I can easily see myself getting pulled into that trap- letting competitiveness get ahold of me. I certainly did so in the Cherry Blossom race and paid for it. What would be even more amazing than pulling it off, though, would be exhibiting restraint and discipline so I can tear the race apart in the last 10k.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I run when I want to run

I am getting a better feel for the tapering process now. I am sleeping more, which is nice. I am starting to relish the freedom that comes with lower mileage. It's bittersweet in that it's right when the weather is starting to turn for the better in my eyes- I love October and fall in general.

Friday I started a run with Alex, and he said we were somewhere under 6:30 for a while. We parted ways after almost four miles and I ran the rest of a Presidents' loop
alone, picking it up to average 6:15, with a half mile at 5:40 pace thrown in.

Saturday morning I did an Earnst loop with Murphy, it was sunny with a slight chill. I picked up a pair of Adizero Adios. Everybody says to not wear new equipment to a marathon, but after trying those shoes on I knew I had to make them happen. I wore them around the house and when I did errands on Saturday (after a three-hour nap) and broke them out for my last longish run Sunday.

The last time I wore shoes in the Adizero line for the first time, I ran 14:57 for 5k. I don't want to say such a race will happen again based just on the coincidence that I have new shoes, but I do have great affection for adidas racing flats.

Sunday, I added onto a Fineview Park with the second part of a Westmoreland for 13 miles at 6:28 pace,
with the first seven miles at 6:15 pace. It felt ridiculously easy. At this point running will just serve to maintain my metabolism and keep my weight down. I am looking forward to sleeping a lot in the next few days.

Until then, I will take two tips from Randy Moss- make some smoothies and run when I want to run, just as he plays when he wants to play.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The rush of self-doubt and withdrawl

With less than two weeks until Chicago, it seems prudent to curtail my running in preparation for the marathon. I am not crazy about this, because I have come to be dependent on the exercise that has so dominated my life for most of the last year, though it really only kicked up in late June. I haven't slept well, and I resent the short runs I do, but know that I won't be able to add much to my marathon readiness at this point. Oddly enough, I feel a lot less prepared for Chicago than I did for Marine Corps, which is positively absurd, given that I acted like a total clown before Marine Corps, insisting on not doing any long runs or hitting more than 70 miles a week until Hans insisted I do 20 for my own health.

I followed the miserable race with an equally miserable 5.5 miles around the National Harbor Saturday evening. I was volunteering at the finish festival of the Ragnar relay race to support the RUN LOVES. It was pretty darned hot by the time I arrived, though the trip itself was a pain- two metro lines, one of which was offloaded two stops away from the bus I had to catch and ride for a half hour to get to the harbor. I ended up running laps around a gravel parking lot near the river and exploring an undeveloped but excavated hillside. The volunteer coordinators sent Joanna and me off to a parking lot, where we had few instructions, so I rejected as many people as I could. Eventually we turned our stuff in and left.

Sunday morning, I slept in a bit before heading out for my last long run. Alex was supposed to join me for seven miles, but he was a little baby and slept in. So, I headed out in the rain. I carried a bottle half filled with solid ice and half with water until the four-mile mark and left it there and wasn't too into the run, but miles five through 11 went swimmingly. Shortly after mile 12, I started to get depleted, and it made sense, given my lack of breakfast. I started to worry, especially because I couldn't find Wolftrap Road, which was supposed to take me back through to Gallows Road. I ended up winging it at eventually heading down Follin and Electric, but right about when I passed the finish line from the Navy Federal 5k, a little more than 13 miles in, I felt sudden dread and didn't want to go on. I was several miles from home, so I had to. I just continued on my route until I found my water bottle. I scarfed down a Gu and had some water and dutifully followed the route I had regained. A few minutes later, when I hit the W&OD, I felt much better. Carrying the water was a pain, but I now had half-mile marks to guide me. I hit 6:20 for the next mile with a slight slowdown at the top of the hill climbing the overpass for I-66, then took the next mile, with a road bisecting the mile, and I finished in 5:52. I cut one of the loops from the course that would have made it 20, so I wasn't too happy with 1:57 for what I thought to be 17 miles- it would make my average pace 6:52. When I remeasured, however, I found it to be 18.2 miles, a much more palatable 6:25 pace.

I figured out my optimal fueling schedule for Chicago- eight miles, 15 miles, 20 miles. That is a big step. It might somewhat interrupt when I am getting in a good groove, but it will prevent those deep chasms from forming, like I saw after 13.

Monday I just ran an easy 5.1 around Capitol Hill, sweated like crazy with a lot of humidity.
Tuesday I ran 8.1 at 6:20 pace on Westmoreland.
Wednesday I went to the track for a light workout, felt a little light-headed. Did a mile in 4:58 behind Dickson and Wiggy, felt okay, after 300 meters of the second one, I thought to myself, "I don't want to run fast anymore," so I stopped and jogged the rest.
It was pouring Thursday morning, so I didn't run to work. Then I decided in the middle of the day to take a break.

I spent Friday morning waiting for results from the Paul Short invitational in Bethlehem, Pa. Richmond's men's team was opening its season there, and I was eager to see what the guys could do after hard summer training and being cooped up for the first month of the semester. After hours of refreshing the meet website and Steve's Twitter feed, I saw some good things: a sixth place finish, with a 3-6 by Andrew Benford and Matt Llano, with Tim Quinn in 24th (23:52, 24:01, 24:31). Levi Grandt was a little ill, coming in 89th (25:09) and Chris York coming in 13 spots back, despite trailing by only three seconds.
More than nine inches of rain fell before the race, and I believe it was still raining when the gun went off, though Molz didn't think the course was affected too much, though I don't think he was there to see how bad it was. They ran both open races first, so that certainly chewed up the course a little. Roads were flooded going into Lehigh's campus, so I believe our men got a ride from the Columbia team. Pat Barkhuff was there, and he said the rain during the race wasn't overwhelming. After watching the race video, however, I saw a pretty ugly course at some points. Lots of water on the course, a 90-degree turn in ankle deep water, etc. It was definitely slower than usual. Pretty much everything I saw after the 5k mark looked sloppy.

Our top three are outstanding- Benford, Llano and Quinn are all running soldily and equipped themselves well throughout the race. The glut of finishers started around 62nd place- at 25:00- 60 men finished in the space of 20 seconds. Unfortunately, two were our fourth and fifth finishers. Hopefully this reminder of just how brutally tight big races are will be a wakeup call for Levi and York. Ryan Lee had a decent collegiate 8k debut- he's seeing what racing is all about and will be better prepared for Pre-Nationals in two weeks. Skipper, well, I don't know much about Skipper. Jon Wilson raced again.
I'll close by paraphrasing what Steve told us after the 2003 William and Mary Invitational.
"That's what racing's all about guys, the unknown. What happens when you push yourself when it's all on the line? You don't know, but you need to know what you're made of. You can start off great, but you need to be ready to push when you get to the late stages of the race. It's like the Doors' song- you break on through to the other side. You look at the gateway of miles four and five and it's dark, you don't know what's in there, but then second you step in, all the lights come on and you're in for a fight, but you know..."
Then I started rubbing the back of TC Booyeah's thigh with the two navel oranges I had in a bag that I stuffed in my pants.