Friday, April 26, 2013

Secret Thirty Eight Run Society

I feel like I opened someone else's mail and stole their invitation to a secret society.  William and Mary College has a not so secret society called the "Seven Society."  This club only allows seven new members a year.  What they do is uber secret but it no doubt has some skull and bones ritual kind of stuff with outward appearances of philanthropy.  The identity of members are not revealed until they die.

As I wrote at the onset of my latest marathon training plan (By the Book, Club, or Coach,) I had decided that I needed more one-on-one coaching that could help me realize my potential.  I thought while I've trained hard before, I didn't necessarily train smart or edumakated (sic.)  Iknow what you're thinking at this point, Ty is kookier than Willy Wonka (the Gene Wilder version)...where's he going with this secret society stuff?  No.  I didn't sneak into the secret Seven Society, but I feel like I snuck into something that's just as unique.  Just no robes, hazing, and skull & crossbones.

Colorado rivals Mammoth Lakes, California as a mecca for runners and run coaches.  Just like there are many plans to chose from (Higdon, FIRST, Pfitzinger, Galloway,) there are an equal number of confusing options for coaches.  After sifting through many of the coaching options available, I sat down with one of my run buddies from New Jersey that was working remotely with James Carney out of Boulder, Colorado.  My friend raved about the support and results he was seeing, so I "pulled the trigger" and signed up with James and his counterpart, Benita Willis out of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.  Not exactly a sexy name for a t-shirt, but a pair of elites training other elites.  Willis and Carney both have elite credentials with Olympic trials, Olympic competitions, and World Cross Country championships to their credit.
Saturday Tempo Run with me running (highlighted) behind
Mike Kraus (Photo courtesy Boulder Daily Camera)

Locally, Heather Utrata and Todd Straka are two members of the small 38 member team, and notable Colorado runners who have several podiums to their credit.  At this month's Boston, BCSM had a number of sub-three hour marathon athletes participating.

In a recent article in Boulder's Daily Camera Newspaper, aptly titled "Boulder running coaches treat amateurs like pros" they described the group and their training.  "Willis and Carney's program isn't meant for elites or professionals, but rather for every day Boulder and Denver residents who are working to achieve a personal running goal," said member Kevin Groves in the article.

Yes...I snuck into the "Justice League" school of running as a mere mortal.  The slow guy snuck into the fast kids club.

There are a number as aspects to the program that "stick out" compared to other training plans I've used;

1)  Individual coaching.  This is probably the biggest difference.  Benita sat down with me for over an hour before training began to understand my run history, goals, and (busy) lifestyle.  She attended my fuel and VO2Max testing, and was insistent on being in Boston for all her runners in the race.  This is not a "read a book" or a "one size fits all" plan.
2)  Focus on two quality workouts a week.  Overall theme is increasing speed through typically one weekday interval run and a Saturday tempo interval run.
3)  Slowing down the miles on other days of the week.  My tendency in the past was to run everything fast and go faster than I should have on recovery days. Both were bad ideas.  With a sub-3:20 goal in mind, Benita had me running many of my miles at a 9:00 minute per mile pace.  While that may seem fast to some, I've never ran so many nine minute miles before.
4) Mo miles.  The two quality runs were combined with a fair amount of mileage the other five days of the week.  I peaked out at over 70 miles in a week (which was a first.)  It was not uncommon to have a ten-twelve mile "recovery run" or Sunday "long run" after a ten-twelve tempo training session the day before.  Not for the timid.
5)  Very few rest days.  Most of my plans always had 1-2 rest days.  The Furman FIRST plan had at least two rest days a week.  I had very few rest days, or would still have a short run as a rest day and perhaps one day a week that was a crosstraining day (bike or swim.)
6)  Strength training.  In addition to the daily miles, there was typically 3-4 days a week of strength training.  Another first for me.  I've spent time in the gym but it was always somewhat intermittent or during off-season (whatever that is.)  If it wasn't weights, I was doing a lot of planks.  I'm a big believer in planks now as I felt strong during the 16-20 mile mark at Boston and more importantly after mile 20.
7)  Negative splits and progressive splits.  One of my last training runs was a 20 miler that had to have been the best training run I ever had.  After a warm-up, I ran four mile intervals starting at an 8:05 pace and ending at a 7:25 pace.  I didn't think I could do it when I saw the plan for the day, and couldn't believe I'd done it afterwards.  Obviously, all the above put me in the position to run that one.
8) Ongoing tracking.  I would meet up with Benita typically once a week and she'd monitor all my runs (through Training Peaks,) pace, and progress each week.  She had an overall plan, but would adjust week-to-week especially as my crazy work and travel schedule threw curves at me.  This goes back to the individual coaching aspect.
9)  Run without stopping.  It sounds obvious, but previous run clubs I ran with had water barrels every two miles.  Convenient, but I found we would stop (albiet briefly) and chat which didn't resemble marathon race day at all.  My current run group has marathon specific training runs without stopping.  Our coaches would drive to hand off water as needed or I'd carry.  I had to "learn" this, but felt it benefited me greatly in Boston.
10)  Raceday plans (see below.)

As I pointed out in my Boston Marathon race recap, I sat down with coach Benita the day before my race.  She told me I'd trained to run a 3:10 the next day.  I wondered what kind of booze she had in her latte or which athlete she had me confused with.  Sharing concern that I was still coming off a chest cold, we mapped out a 3:20 plan. The plan included how to run the first half, strategy over the fast first six miles at Boston, and how to run at the 16 and 20 mile mark.

I finished at Boston with a 3:22, and couldn't have been happier.  It was not an overall PR, but a Boston course PR for me.  Eight minutes (or seven minutes "and change" based on new requirements) under my BQ time, but most importantly, "bonk free."  This was another first.  In fact, I ran my last mile faster than my first mile and felt stronger from 20-26 than I did from 16-20.  Without the chest cold, and on a faster course, my goal of 3:20 seems quite doable at this point.

This is not a paid endorsement (I have none of those outside of "Chico's Bail Bonds) but a passionate testimony around finding the right training plan. Others swear by what's worked for them and this isn't intended to have you question your plan or bail on what's working for you.  While part of me likes the small size of our group (38 athletes,) it's almost too good a secret not to share.  Boulder's "Secret 38 Run Society."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Marathon #Photochallenge Recap

If you've followed my blog for awhile, or leading up to Boston, you know I'd sponsored a #30DaysToBoston #Photochallenge counting down to race day (you guessed it) 30 days away from the starting line in Hopkinton.  It was fun to create the challenge, post along the way, and go back to see what leads up to a marathon 30 days out.  Before I recap, a word of thanks.

Amidst all the chaos over the last week, I neglected to honestly thank everyone who reached out to me and my family the day of the Boston Marathon bombing and in the frantic hours as the news was coming out. People (especially not in Boston) had no idea the scope of the damage  as news was happening and if we were okay.  I have got to know so many good people through this blog, twitter, Facebook, and DailyMile.  Some I have never met, and some I meet for the first time at a race meet-up.  I've met runners who recognize me from a tiny profile photo that's no larger than a $.01 stamp.  Many reached out to me.

For those that were in Boston, perhaps you're like me in that you had a "delayed reactions" to the events and still may be managing the emotions of Boston.  Thank you so, so much.  Your support that day and since then mean more than you know.  On to the good stuff.

Thanks to Weight Off My Shoulders, LVRUNSNYC, Fluency's Folly, and Racing Tales for being blog co-sponsors of the challenge.  Honorable mention goes to Distant Runners on Facebook who helped promote the challenge.

We all had a lot of fun chronicling the days leading up to the race in photos.  My favorite word had to be #feet which influenced a "Hitchcockian" (is that a word...I don't care if it's not, I like it) movie poster with my feet scaring small children.  Not far from the truth.  Below is a recap of my 30 days of images, but before that, I would also like to thank Generation UCAN for "ponying up"two of their nutrition starter kits for the giveaway.  Last week did not seem like the right time to promote the winners.  Two winners were selected and have already received their kits.  Great stuff--it sure helped me turn in what I think was my best marathon yet.  And now...the photo countdown;

#eattoday (notice the headline?)
#gettoboston (via Montreal with my foam roller)
#carbload (no...I didn't eat bricks, but this was our flat where I spent the night before carb-loading)
#letsdothis (bus loading in Boston Commons)
I should have added post race photo, but I will here.

Thanks for participating in the photo challenge or following along.  Yes, I plan to go back to Boston.  Let me know if you'd like to have another Boston challenge next year!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lean In: My 2013 Boston Marathon Recap

I've mentally been staring at a blank screen since Tuesday wrestling with how to write a race report that ended so tragically for so many.  Marathon runners are built to overcome adversity within training and within a race.  This too we must overcome.  Still with a heavy heart, my 2013 Boston Marathon race recap.

After dealing with a variety of training plans and coaches over my short marathon career (wouldn't it be great to call it a career?,) I hired a new training coach for Boston; Benita Willis.  Benita is an elite runner with a world cross country championship and a London Olympics appearance to her credit.  I won't get into great detail in this post on the training plan aspects, yet it's important to understand as it translated to my performance on race day.  Fundamentally, it focused on quality runs and slowing down other runs in the week (as in, I've never run so many nine minute miles ever in a training routine.)  I followed the plan religiously--you could almost say "blindly."  If Benita told me to wear bologna in my socks and run skip the last mile singing "Mary had a Little Lamb" I would have done it.  The other aspects of the plan were; strength training 3-4 days a week, running, upwards of 70 miles in a week, and training (or cross-training) 6-7 days a week.  All of these were "firsts" for me.  There's something to be said for "sticking to a plan" as I'd learn after mile 16.
My famous foam roller in Montreal encoute to Boston

The week leading up to the marathon was typical for me as far as work in that I traveled to Boston via Chicago and Montreal for work.  You don't have to be a geography major to figure out that's not the direct path to Boston.  Not recommended, but I did my best to focus on decent flight times and getting to bed early throughout the week.  I was successful with this and actually had some great hotel sleep.  Unfortunately, traveling 100,000 miles over the previous year including a trip to Barcelona, this training period had taken a "hit"on my immune system.   I was in denial, and was trying to shed a chest cold the three weeks leading up to Boston.  I would "break down" and go on antibiotics the week before heading to "beantown."

The other aspect I worked on this training period was trying to go gluten free.  My "jury is still out" on the impact of this, but stomach issues on race day have plagued me (see Colorado Marathon last year.)  Pounding down plates and plates of pasta along with ample amounts of bread and waking up with gut issues had me put "two and two" together that this may be the issue with "number two" on race day.

The positive aspect of my crazy circumvent way of getting to Boston was that my body was on the East Coast time zone since Wednesday.  Flying from Colorado, I mentally viewed this as an advantage combined with solid nights of sleep in King-sized beds on the road.  I arrived in Boston Friday late morning in the midst of the crazy weather that had been chasing me and the country all week.  I proceeded to head to the flat we rented in Beacon Hill.  This would be my third Boston Marathon and the second time we rented from the same couple.  Their flat was simply amazing and the most comfortable place you could find--an oasis away from the "hubbub" around Boylston and Hynes convention center leading up the race.  Our flat had a fresh aroma of incense and the refrigerator was stocked full of fresh eggs, bread and the like.
Our place in Beacon Hill

Over the course of race week, I had a couple nights of sleep that lead to chills and an "all out" sweat.  I have to admit this was starting to shake my confidence, but I was intent on taking it somewhat easy the three days leading up to the race.

Friday night was fairly tame other than celebrating my wedding anniverary with my wife at Flemings.  We got in early that night as I had scheduled a run and interview with Josh Cox (US 50K record holder.) A huge thanks again to Poland Spring (official water and sponsor of the Boston Marathon.)  If you haven't listened to the interview, it's worth your time as Josh had some tangible advice on managing the day before and raceday for any marathon along with some Boston-specific stuff.  Thanks to Andrea and Michelle from Poland Spring for setting it up, and to Josh for the time spent.  Out of a very busy weekend including multiple sponsor appearances and panels, Josh was also broadcasting with Universal Sports Sunday and Monday.  Crazy to think he'd spend a couple hours with me with all his other appearances.  I'm still thinking they had me confused with some other blogger.  It was simply amazing and a Boston Marathon memory I'll hold forever.
Hanging with Josh on Boylston

After the interview, we headed out to the expo to pick up my bib and expo swag.  I wanted to soak it all in, but my energy was fading so we head back to our oasis for a rest after a short time at the expo.  Saturday night, we had an invite from Runner's World for their annual party in Back Bay.  If it was any other invite, I would have stayed in, but I didn't want to snub (not that they'd notice) Bart Yasso and the rest of Runner's World.  It was very cool to see a roomful of heros and industry "heavies."  Bart was there along with Amby Burfoot, (Olympian) Summer Sanders, and Dean Karnazes.  Once again, I felt like I'd crashed a party I shouldn't be at, and once again, my body was not happy being out so we cut the evening early after one Samuel Adams 26.2 (Boston Marathon) Brew.

My sole objective on Sunday was rest.  After sleeping and lounging in bed until almost noon on Sunday, I had a gluten-free carb rich diet with Josh Cox's voice replaying in my head from the day before (with an Alec Guinness sounding Obi-Wan Kenobi, "Luke...another bowl of rice, and you will feeeel the force.")  My late breakfast was a couple of eggs, gluten-free raisin toast and a huge bowl of rice drizzled with cinnamon and honey--I'd highly recommend it.  #healthycarbload.
After the Expo at the finish line

After the slow Sunday start, I met up with coach Benita and skipped the opulent display of bagels at Finagel A Bagel on Boylston--an ironic place to meet a gluten free athlete.  Benita opened with encouragement saying, I'd trained hard, looked strong, and could run a 3:10.  At this point, I looked at her like she had serpents flying out of her hair or had her notes mistaken with another athlete.  She knew I'd been dealing with this chest cold and over spring break in March had probably incorrectly ignored her advice of taking the week off.  I felt almost guilty confessing that I was not not feeling 100% and was not sure about a 3:10.  She understood and mapped out a 3:20 plan.  Resist temptation and go out slow running 7:30-7:40 (or slower) in the first six (fast downhill) miles.  "Consider the first half of the race as a bus ride to the start of the race."  At that point around 13-16, you can start picking off other runners, and at mile 20, don't look at your Garmin and run on feel.  Josh (Obi-Wan) shared some of the same advice in our interview; run the first 20 with your body and the last six with your heart.

In previous marathons, I've actually gone to a movie on the day before a race to get off my feet and relax.  We'd planned to do the same, but with the late start and uber important race strategy meeting we scratched that idea and headed in for the night in Beacon Hill to lay out my "invisible man" with what I'd be wearing that day.  Part of that gear included a pair of disposable gloves from Marathon Sports we bought after meeting with coach Benita on Sunday afternoon on Boylston Avenue.  The same Marathon Sport whose windows would be blown out in a blast 24 hours later.  The race eve dinner was a Josh Cox-influenced meal bought from Whole Foods which included salmon, basmati lightly spiced rice, and gluten free lemon tart for dessert.  After a couple of race gear photos on the roof of our place, I was off to bed.  I'd have to say that the two nights of sleep were a couple of the best I had, and felt the best I had in three weeks as I dozed off.

The attractive part of staying in Beacon Hill was that the buses in the Commons were a short 10 minute walk in the morning.  Being in Wave 2 with a start time of 10:20, it actually felt like "sleeping in" compared to other races.  I ate pretty light that morning with a banana, another egg, and the toast I forgot to toast (and eat.)  The bus ride was fairly calm and actually seemed like a fairly short ride.  In other marathons past, a point-to-point bus ride can be intimidating thinking, "this is a long bus ride, and I have to run back?!"

Considering I'm a bit of a social media slut, you may be surprised to hear that on race morning, I'm a bit of a loner.  I didn't hook up with any of my running friends in Athlete's Village, but did my best to try and relax on my beach towel and space blanket while listening to the tunes being played over the loudspeaker.  Nothing like a little Michael Jackson to get you revved up for a race.  I "timed" two more visits to the bathroom making sure I would not have stomach issues this day and also took an Imodium AD to make sure there would be no stomach "funny business."  The bathroom tip I'd offer to future Boston runners is bring some toilet paper as they ran out as we got close to heading out.

The weather was clearly cooperating and the bad weather that greeted me and chased me all week was gone.  Cool temps for the race start meant a singlet, shorts and no armsleeves, but like the Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon, I sported CEP Compression calf socks to help my legs over the hilly course.  For the first time in a mary, I also went with the same Rock and Roll Marathon shoes; a lighter pair of Brooks ASICS Racer ST 5's.  I felt fast as I entered corral 5 of wave two.
Entering Athlete Village

A new component to my training regiment was using Generation UCAN a half hour before.  Using UCAN, I ran my best ever 20 mile training run with progressive splits prior to Boston.  I pounded my 'Superstarch" lemonade flavored drink exactly 1/2 hour out...I continued to follow my plan to a "T."  As far as in-race nutrition, I'd been using PowerBar Gel Blasts on my long runs more frequently in smaller doses (every two miles roughly.)

 I "packed"" three packs of Gel Blasts inside a ziplock sandwich bad.  The bag went into my Amphipod belt easily accessed from the front "Scooby Snack" style.  Another marathon tip, I'd heard before and planned use was the empty big mouth Gatorade portable corral bathroom.  Disgusting, but effective covered up by my Hefty garbage bag.  I didn't feel guilty at all as I "emptied" right before the gun went off and discarded my Marathon Sports gloves (I later wished I kept them,) an old Broncos sweatshirt, Hefty bag, and aforementioned Gatorade bottle.

My energy at the starting line felt great despite how I'd felt the week (or was it "weak") leading up to the race and especially compared to my previous three marathons. One of those three was my last Boston appearance in 2011.  In 2011, I felt no energy in the first few miles.  That's a rough feeling.  The first six miles on Monday went according to plan as I consciously slowed down my pace in the fast downhill section.  I would later mildly "second guess" that I left "money on the table" as they say by going out too conservative.  My first mile was a mere 7:43 pace.   The crowds were electric and I seemed to draw energy off them.  As the miles added up, I kept reminding myself, you're on a downhill bus ride to the start of the race...relax.  I "fed" off the neighborhood crowds and "low fives" from the small kids on the course.
Love this pic...looks like I'm assaulting the course

My first 10K averaged a 7:37 pace.  I looked forward to hitting the "scream tunnel" just before the halfway mark in Wellesley where the all-women college line up in a frenzy with signs asking for a kiss from runners.  I ran right next to the rail again drawing energy from the loud screams.  This is what Justin Bieber must feel like...they were screaming and grabbing me.  This had me "fired up" for the "push from the halfway mark up to "Heartbreak Hill."  It must have worked as my first mile in the second half was at a 7:33 pace.  Somewhere (I think around the 1:32 mark) I stopped for a quick "number 1" pit stop as the UCAN I drank plus taking in fluids at every water stop was telling me my bladder needed to lighten the load.  I must have inherited my Grandma Lela's bladder...she'd go on road trips in the car with a coffee can in the car.  She had her coffee can, and I had my Gatorade bottle.  Smart move to stop as I seemed lighter, but would also later wonder if that 20 seconds cost me.

As I took in the big downhill just before the Newton Hills, my pace picked up to a 7:16 pace as I used Benita's advice about "picking off other runners."  The first big hill at mile 16 I passed a number of runners as I went up at about a eight minute mile pace.  During this section of the race, I remembered her words and also told myself that all the strength training I did (for the first time in preparing for a marathon) would get me through the last eight miles.  "You got this" I'd tell myself.  Through miles 18 to 21 leading up to "Heartbreak Hill" my pace hung around the eight minute per mile pace yet I was feeling pretty good.  For the second time in my three Bostons on "Heartbreak Hill," I heard another male runner yell out to the crowd, "is this this this the last hill?"  I myself was confused, and glad once I got over it since I knew that it was all downhill into the city at that point.  The other advice that Benita gave me which I applied in the race is to not focus too much on the Garmin, but pick people, signs, or landmarks in the distance and focus on getting to that point vs. thinking about how many miles I had left.  This also seemed to help a lot mentally as I grinded out my race.

I'm not sure what it was at this point; training, the pre-race and in-race nutrition from Generation UCAN and the PowerBar Gel blasts, but I had this surge of energy.  I listened to Josh and Benita and ran this section by heart.  I felt fantastic and started ripping off what felt like negative splits.  My strength felt fantastic as I leaned into the miles.  I was waiting for the "wheels to come off" or the "bonk to hit that's hit me in every of my ten marathons (CIM perhaps the slight exception.)  I passed Dean Karnazes.  Once I saw the Citgo sign, it didn't seem that far seemed like a magnet drawing me towards it.

I saw Bart Yasso (who I met at Boston in 2011) on a bridge overpass around mile 25 and yelled at him.  He yelled "Go Ty!"  I'd like to think he remembered me, but the "Go Ty" sign on the front of my shirt helped.  A couple times around Boston College and in the last few miles, I "teared up" a bit.  I knew I was running the greatest race in the land and I was having my greatest race of my short marathon career.  Marathon number ten, was turning into a true ten.  I looked for my wife and run coach who were going to be around mile 25, but I missed them.  My wife figured out Bart was more important than her, but I just didn't see her.  In the last half mile, I knew a PR and breaking 3:20 was not going to happen, but a course PR was.  I turned it up yet another notch and ran a 6:36 pace in my last half mile.  The training had paid off...I've never run faster at the end of a race than I did at the start of the race.  The short block and slight uphill on Hereford was electric as I turned onto Boylston.  I had a full on "kick" going and I drew energy from the crowd one last time.  Another BQ, a course PR, and my second fastest race ever on one of the toughest courses there is with a 3:22:27 finish.  I thrust my arms in the air...I kissed my medal when I got it, and yelled to the crowd.
Finish Line on Boylston

After I grabbed my bag, I made my way to the family greeting area where I'd reunite with my wife; two blocks from Boylston, and a block and a half away from the finish line.  We heard both bomb blasts, but couldn't hear the crowd panic nor see the smoke.  The first blast sounded like a dumpster dropped from a rooftop.  We didn't know what it was and went about meeting up with fellow runners at the Cuffs bar in the basement of the nearby Loews hotel.  Noone knew yet what had happened and revelry was underway.  Soon our phones started lighting up, but quickly became congested when news of the tragedy unfolded.  I'd later learn of the panic and fear of loved ones back home who feared the worst.

Five days after the tragedy, my emotions are still swirling as I'm processing what happened.  Sad, shocked, and angry.  At the same time, I have tweeted and posted on Facebook and Instragram that while tragic, these cowards must not have been runners because they don't realize that marathon runners are used to overcoming challenges and obstacles and coming out stronger.  What they also did not realize is that Boston is one tough city you don't mess with.  I will not let them permanently tarnish what was a great day on the course.  I still mourn for the losses, but will move on to remember my best marathon yet.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Tragedy

Blogs are made up of words, and it's difficult to assemble words that can describe the events that unfolded in Boston today at the Boston Marathon.  First and foremost, I've been trying to let everyone know that I am okay.  I came through the finish line perhaps 40 minutes before the two blasts near the finish line of the marathon.  I had just met my wife in the family meeting area two blocks away from Boylston when we heard what I would describe as a garbage dumpster dropped from a rooftop.  Moments later, a second explosion that was slightly muffled went off--I'd learn later that it was further away from the finish line.  The nearby crowd seemed to pause for a moment, but most like myself shrugged their shoulders and went back to their reunions.
Runners tuning into the tragedy at the nearby Loews Hotel

Still not knowing anything had happened, I met up with fellow runners at a nearby bar in the Loews hotel to reflect on our races.  We were there for a good while before everyone's phones started lighting up with text messages and social media messages asking what had gone wrong.  The bar flipped on the events on the T.V. and at that point we were learning of the events like you were.  I met a man who was within seven minutes of the blasts.  It all seemed surreal.  Talk of running turned to anger.  A local man cussed at the T.V. that anyone would do this in his city.
Tense moments after the events

More details and reports will come out.  The initial reports show the first blast originating from Marathon Sports which is an iconic local running store right next to the finish line grandstands.  I bought my last minute race supplies there yesterday.  My heart goes out to those families affected by this tragedy ironically on Patriot's Day.  Patriot's Day commemerates battles of the American Revolutionary War, but symbolizes freedom.  Locals in Boston who aren't runners revel in the holiday with the day off, a Red Sox game, barbeques, and lots of beer.  Ironic, but perhaps not it would happen on a day symbolizing our freedom.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Josh Cox Boston Marathon Tips: A Conversation with Seeking Boston Marathon

Your Boston Qualifier got you here and you've likely trained for the last four months in preparation for Monday's Boston Marathon.  Whether you've run it before or not, marathoners have one thing in common;  we are all "sponges" for information about the sport and the race itself.  Thanks to Poland Spring, I got the unique opportunity to sit down with Josh Cox (US 50K Record Holder) and pick his brain about his experience and preparation tips for Monday.

After a short run from Copley square with Josh, I sat down at the nearby Westin hotel for a one-on-one interview and a once in a lifetime experience.  Some questions you'd expect, some from my social media circle on Facebook and twitter, and some "off-beat" stuff you'd expect from me, like "have you stopped in Wellesley for a coed kiss?"  (Apologies in advance for once again "hacking" the pronunciation of Wellesley.)

Having raced Boston and paced it many times, I learned a lot myself from the conversation and will try and apply it on Sunday's "race eve" and Monday's race.  Please enjoy.  I sure did.

Josh Cox Boston Marathon Shake-Out Run Conversation from SeekingBostonMarathon on Vimeo.

Concerned about having enough hydration on the course, don't be. Poland Spring will be providing:

· 46,872 gallons of water along the course
· 116,832 .5-Liter bottles of water at the start and finish lines

A huge thanks to Josh, Andrea and Michelle for setting this up, and the rest of the Poland Spring team.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

#4DaysToBoston #Racedayshirt

I know I'm from Colorado, but no, I don't live on a farm or in a barn; (Green Eggs and Ham I am)  however at this point, the proverbial "hay is in the barn."  As in, all training is done, and it's come down to race day.  Here's the shirt I will be sporting (assuming no radical weather change) on Monday's Boston Marathon. My #racedayshirt.

And only four days left in the Generation UCAN giveaway.  I'll be using their lemonade flavored nutrition before I line up in Hopkinton.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pop Would Be Proud

Sometimes a big race brings out a sense of reflection even before you've raced.  I'm going from counting days to counting hours away from the Boston Marathon on Monday.  I headed out to the airport (early) Tuesday for work travel enroute to Boston.  I rationalized that getting from Colorado to the east coast a couple of days early would help getting acclimated to the Eastern Time Zone.  I also planned a couple of nights of good rest alone in a king-sized bed WITHOUT late night client dinners.

As I was heading to the airport in an untimely April snow, I reflected on my late grandfather Lyle.  "Pop" would always call me near the end of his life when the white stuff started flying as he listened to the weather reports on his AM/FM radio in his plaid polyester pants and and his "Old Spice" scented red sweater.  He wanted to make sure I was being careful, and wanted to know when I got home safe.  On one particular night, he even called my boss' wife to ask if they had a cot that I could sleep on versus driving home that night in the snowstorm.

I loved visiting Lyle and (grandmother) Lela growing up and even as a young adult out of college.  I'd go over with friends to have spaghetti dinner before going out on a Saturday night or I'd stop by in Halloween costumes before a party.  Dinner would usually be followed by a few games of cards.

Pop and Lela loved these visits and he was very proud of his grandkids.  I remembered that I used to call when I'd close a "big deal" at work and he'd ask, "how much is the commission on that?"  "God Damn!" would be followed by an proud laugh.  Lyle cussed a lot (I kind of inherited that from him.)

I don't think often enough about my grandpa, but since I wasn't driving on this day to the airport, perhaps the "hardcore" snowstorm jogged my memory.  I thought, he'd certainly be calling me on this day and also asking about my upcoming race.  I was not a runner when Lyle died.  In fact, it would be fifteen years later before I'd run my first full mile or race.  I know he would be very proud of his grandson that was running "THE" Boston Marathon, and would likely be bragging up and down the hallways of the retirement village.

I always think of loved ones when the "gun goes off" in a race and particularly around the tougher later miles in a marathon...thinking I can't let my wife, or my kids down.  I've (literally) muttered their words.  At my last race (Colorado Marathon,) my Dad and Stepmom watched me for the first time in a race and I literally "willed" myself to the finish as I didn't want to embarrass them (after stomach issues threw my gameplan off.)  Perhaps I wanted to make them proud of me.  I've run for Phronsie, Nikki, Jesse, Keenan, brothers, sisters, parents, Aunt Marge and Aunt Jane.  This week I have "Pop" on the brain.  I'm sure he'd be proud, and tell me to go "cut that big fat hog right in the butt!"

Footnote:  Lyle used term "cut that big fat hog right in butt" when he was telling my college buddy Fred about the house he'd sold.  He probably made $5,000 off the sale but felt rich off the transaction.  Lela followed his diatribe by "Lyle, watch your language!  He only cusses around men!"  A story told many times over.  According to the Urban Dictionary, the term originated in the Ozarks.  When a man would slaughter a hog and discover (surprisingly) a thick layer of fat (or lard) between the meat and skin, it was a bonus of sorts.  It's now known to show something that works in your favor.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

#SixDaysToBoston #Gear

"I've got two tickets to paradise...won't you pack your bags, we'll leave tonight...."

My run #gear laid out last night for next Monday's Boston Marathon.  Leaving a bit early this year for business enroute to Boston.  The advantage will be that I'll be acclimating to the Eastern timezone starting on Wednesday.  No late dinners.  No early flights.

I believe in redundancy when packing and planning for a destination marathon.  Two Garmins, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of socks...etc.

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine