Monday, April 27, 2015

Triumph Over Tribulations: 2015 Boston Marathon Race Report

These Boston Marathon races don't seem to get any easier. I'll start with how fortunate I feel to run, and how sweet it was to get back to Boston for the fifth time. There were some fantastic memories and accomplishments I will hold onto my whole life, but there was a bit of a cloud forming before I headed out to the Boston Marathon weeks before the rain clouds that awaited all the runners.

I posted the first couple of days in Boston so I won't repeat that, but this year was unique in that it was my 13th overall marathon, fifth Boston, and first time my wife wouldn't be able to see me race. She had good reason as she's in the final weeks of her final project at school (second time around) and was just not able to go. As a result, I brought my high school senior son, Jesse along for the trip. While he looks up to Dad, he's not a runner, but we had a fantastic time taking in a lot of Boston, and he even got to join me for the Runner's World party Saturday night before the race meeting running dignitaries such as Bart Yasso, Mark Remy, and David Tratner.
Emotional Moment Picking up My Bib

The other new twist this year is we didn't stay at the condo we normally hang in Beacon Hill as I'd booked the (somewhat) newly remodeled Marriott Courtyard in the theatre district. Great hotel staff, super comfortable room and beds only a few minutes from the Commons in the Theatre District across from the Wang Theatre. The "downside" was that Friday night, the club noise was more than a bit much disturbing my sleep and while Sunday night started out calm, there must have been a concert or club that woke me up at 2AM. Sleep was (as usual) choppy at best the night before the race with the clubbers contributing to this. I met a woman who stayed at the W Hotel around the corner that had the same issue last year, but hotel management was able to book her in advance on the backside of the hotel away from the street noise.

On Saturday, I went for a morning shake-out run on the Charles River which ironically, I'd never done before, but before we go there, I need to rewind the tape a bit to one month earlier. My training had actually gone quite well considering I was bouncing back from a major accident last July and only started running again around Halloween (appropriate.) I had just "notched" my first 20 mile simulated training run and felt absolutely fantastic and ready for Boston around seven weeks out.
Remembering 2013 Victims

A month out I had traveled to Seattle for work and had a couple decent runs, but a bit sluggish. Not unusual as my energy can tend to ebb and flow a bit throughout training. From Seattle I flew into San Diego for the weekend and was destined for Palm Springs for the following week for a bit of a Spring Break. With heavy feet, I took off for a Saturday tempo interval run in Ocean Beach and met an old section of buckled sidewalk that sent me tumbling...hard.

I was worried about my ribs as they still will ache at night when I sleep, but I took the brunt of the fall with my hands and right knee. I continued with the run, but my back started to cease up on me. I went though the motions, but it was more laborious than it should have.

Dad and Son at Runner's World Party
The following morning in San Diego, I couldn't walk without pain, but after moving around a bit, my alpha male decided to go ahead with my 16 mile run. It felt okay, but again, I was tired, and more than a bit sore. Things seemed to get better that week in Palm Springs, but the trip home, the pain had moved to my hip. The following weeks

I started to take a day off, then two days off as the hip pain was not going away. What should have been my last long run, we substituted a long bike ride. The hip hurt just as much so the last 2-3 weeks was almost completely absent of running as I was concerned about getting to the starting line.

Fast forward to the Charles River run. My hip hurt the whole week leading up to my trip out to Boston. Not serious, but nagging. I hit the physical therapist, massage therapist, and chiropractor at least five times before heading out to Boston. I ran a mere three miles on Saturday, and while I enjoyed the river and the Commons, the hip was not right. My energy was not there at all. One of the few stops I wanted to hit at the expo, was KT Tape for a professional tape job on Saturday afternoon before visiting Runner's World and talking to their developers about a new running app coming out this summer (way cool!) The tape job seemed to help a lot, and gave me a false sense of security. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and I had to go to the Dr. for Strep throat. I knew that meant I had to get a shot which I was scared to death to get. I tried to convince my mom (not making this up,) that if I ate my Wheaties, I'd feel better. It didn't help, and I got the shot.

At this point, a number of bloggers were hitting me up for impromptu meet-ups. Being more than a bit of a social media slut, it was ironic, as I was not feeling social. I did not want to face all the questions of how are you feeling (post accident,) and how do you think you're going to do. The upside was, I spent the time with my son. We hit the expo, Faniuel Hall (where Jesse got to see Dad perform with Mr. Yo-Yo, one of the street performers.) Jesse also got to take in Record Day (big deal for the resurgent vinyl collectors) at Newbury Comics and we laid low on Sunday taking in a movie off the Commons.
Feeling effects of rain and 21 mph wind

As the week went on, the forecast for the marathon did not waiver much at all; heavy headwind and rain throughout. I brought a variety of clothes for the race, but "mind games" kicked in Sunday night with lots of online chat and googling with fellow runners, "what are you wearing?" My run coach had been communicating with me within the 48 hours leading up to the race and I asked her last minute about wearing tights as I was still dealing with a wonky hip and thought it would also help with the cold. My PR in a marathon was in similar weather and I wore tights for the same reason and that seemed to work out well. Robotics finally kicked in as I laid out my race clothes and temporary bag which held my dry shoes and some of my other pre-race stuff for Athlete's Village in Hopkinton

Two doors down from the hotel was a Abby Lane which had salmon on the menu (my usual meal the night before a race,) and had a chef featured on Hell's Kitchen. Jesse and I had a quiet dinner and continued having conversations I will remember for a long time including laughing about Pahkah (Parker in thick Bostonian accent) who we met a couple days earlier sharing his life of crime and love of women.

As I woke up, I once again went through my mechanics and having gone through the Boston
Fifth Unicorn Secured
Marathon logistics before was an advantage. There was however slight panic when the woman on the elevator asked why I was just heading out as her friend went over at 6AM. "Am I late?," I thought, but knew I'd looked over and over the schedule so this can't be the case. This is also the same guy that got on the math convention bus on Friday. I was on time and loaded the bus without a selfie as I'd left my phone with Jesse. I rode with Anne from New York and we seemed to have similar goals. I'd go out conservative, and see if my pacing from the previous month would still be there in mile six. As we got closer to Hopkinton, the large school bus' windshield wipers started as did the rain. Earlier in the week, we thought the rain might not start until one p.m. when I'd be well into the course. As expected, the tents in the village were completely packed with runners trying to stay dry.

Again, being in my "zone" and I guess you could call it a loner mood, I found a small patch of grass to set up my space blanket. I only had perhaps a little over an hour to hang out there, and took care of one last trip to the bathroom before the lines got long. Robotics kicked in for the rest of the activity leading up to the gun going off for the second wave. My strategy was more than a bit flawed from the start. I can't seem to lower or set appropriate expectations in a race, and had it in my mind that I'd PR'ed in similar conditions and the rest probably did me good. The hip felt okay with the KT Tape, and Nike compression tights keeping things in place. The first part of the course is "screaming downhill" and a number of times, I had to slow myself down, but I was largely following my coaches plan, but running more of a PR pace than conservative pace. I would pay for this later.

My plan called for treating the first 16 miles as four x four mile runs. This seemed to be working well and I seemed pretty good certainly up through the "scream tunnel" in Wellesley (all girls college who go absolutely nuts with signs of "kiss me".) As is my traditional, I hug the iron tube fencing and did not stop for a kiss. I was focused on my race. At this point, everything was pretty much soaked. At some point, I put my gloves into the waistband of my tights as they were soaked. The Dri-Fit Nike pants eventually became water-logged as did my arm sleeves. In retrospect, I should have considered the fabrics with something more repellant and light-weight as my sleeves were more of a blend for warmth; not wet. I was second-guessing the tights.

As I entered the last of the Newton Hills, fatigue set in, and my times were slowing down dramatically. I fueled plenty, but that was not it. Self-doubt started to kick in way too early. Bad math kicked in, and I wondered if a BQ (which I thought was a given at 3:30) was still possible. I hit "Heartbreak Hill" and I stopped to walk. This was not something temporary, I'd hit the wall hard, and early in the course. The final six miles were a bit of a blur and an ugly mix of walking and jogging. The wind picked up, and I was freezing. I saw a fellow runner who was wrapped in two silver blankets and I grabbed one myself at the next medical tent. I had never really noticed the medical tents before, but I noticed every one of them. I wanted to stop, but did not want to DNF...not in front of my son. I felt embarrassed to walk, but my body couldn't run. I cried. A lot. I'd say I was a hot mess, but cold was more like it.

By the time I got close to Hereford, I started to run again. On pure adrenaline, the crowd was willing me to run and to finish. My son was not at the bridge at mile 25, and we discussed that Hereford and Boylston would be a good place for him as well. In the back of my mind, I wanted him to see me run around that corner. I'll look at my Garmin later, but there's not much point. I know I gave it all I had for the final stretch down Boylston. My fifth unicorn secured in my slowest marathon ever, but perhaps the hardest earned one I've earned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Still Out of Words; Goodbye Boston

Two posts in a row that I'm out of words. A second, first.

If you follow me, you know I had one whale of a struggle yesterday. Appropriate word as we were all in plenty of water. My slowest marathon ever, but I was able to finish, and grab my fifth unicorn. A LOT to write about, but I need my body and mind to heal for a few days before I post all the gory details. For now, goodbye Boston!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

All Out of Words: Race Eve

Believe it or not, I have nothing left to say. I avoided crowds, or I should say socializing and hung with my son all day, and caught a movie in the afternoon. Here I am at dinner starting to wind down...and wind up for the mental part of preparing for tomorrow.

Thanks for all the support getting me back here.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Boston Marathon Day Two: Three Days to The Race

Day two in Boston: Expo Day at the Boston Marathon.

I call it the expo day, but it's normally "expo days" (plural) as it's tough to cover everything in one day at the world's greatest expo for the world's greatest race. I was also traveling with my 18 yr. old son who is not a runner (he was polite, but likely got bored soon after we entered.) I probably would have stayed there much longer, but I also have a built-in timer that wants to conserve the amount of time on my feet.
Emotional bib pickup

Getting in on Thursday night has its advantages as we didn't set an alarm for Friday morning and slept fantastic. We headed out for a morning cup of joe at Thinking Cup right off the Boston Commons. My son tuned into his iPhone tunes while I knocked out the last work stuff (not entirely true) while we both eavesdropped on a very awkward first date (she was an international student who loved to club and network with the club owners and bouncers. he was the son of a Dr. She asked what his best attribute was and he replied, his sense of humor. Nothing funny came out of his mouth. The date ended shortly. Nothing to do with Boston, but entertained us while we both did our thing over a great cup of joe.) While I was wrapping up, Jesse (my son) waited outside, and as he often does, engaged in conversation with Pahkah (heavy Bostonian accent version of "Parker.")

Pahkah, was from the rough side of Boston. Ex-Marine collecting $4,000 a month from the government who was either 55, 56, or 60 (all ages he shared with us.) He also spoke about how Jesse should stay out of prison as he wouldn't last very long (pointing to his slight frame.) I bragged that Jesse was a black belt (true,) and Pahkah, said, that wouldn't do you any good as he'd be dealing with street fighters. He showed his red, cracked knuckles and his crooked nose. This part I believed. Pahkah knew how to fight. I chose my words carefully as to avoid raising his ire...this is after he told us about serving 24 years in prison. 

I tried to relate and said something about "The Town" movie about the Charlestown neighborhood robbers who robbed Fenway. He told us about a a real-life version of that by the name of Costa who pulled off the crime of the century which was the famous Brinks robbery. Parker went on to tell about another heist that Costa got away with by wheeling a case into a diamond store with a small-sized man inside. At night, he stole all the diamonds, crawled back into the case and was wheeled out later. I doubted all this likely due to the 11 AM strong stench of alcohol on Pahkah's breath but google returned facts of a hoodlum named Costa associated with said Brinks crime.  "Get the f**k outta here!" Pahkah would likely say. True story. 

We lucked out after coffee and saw a bus for the convention center pulled up right in front of our hotel. Jesse and I hopped on, and the bus seemed to be going in the wrong direction. Avoiding traffic perhaps, I thought. We eventually pulled up to the Boston Convention Center and I asked the slighty rotund (not that there's anything wrong with that) woman sitting next to me, what convention she was going to. "The math teachers convention," she replied. No worries, we hopped on Route 3 which got us a half block away from the Hynes Convention Center back downtown.
Acting ourselves in the Boston Library

After the "selfie" outside, and security check of my backpack, we headed through the thin crowds to get my bib. The lines were short as we arrived within the hour of the convention opening. Once I had the bib in my hands, I completely "lost it"  I bawled there staring at my bib amazed at the journey that 2014 was to get me back here in 2015. Jesse patted me on the back, and told me "you went through a lot to get here, I'm proud of you." Not as proud as I am.

For the rest of the convention, I was pretty much robotic, as I knew what I wanted from the Adidas official souvenir store including skull cap, singlet, and coffee mug (I'd already ordered my plum purple jacket.) I had a few spots I wanted to hit; KT Tape (on how to properly adhere the therapy tape for my hip...don't ask,) SOS Hydration who will help me fuel on Monday, and an impromptu stop at Roll Recovery. Sorry honey (wife,) we're $100 poorer as this thing felt amazing on the hip as I'm sure I will use it a lot over the next four days as it can really dig in at all angles that my foam roller can't (sorry "foamy.") Roll Recovery is a Boulder-based company started by the elite runner husband and wife team of Jeremy Nelson and Adriana Nelson. Adriana has been training in Mammoth and will race with the women elite on Monday. 

After the race, I kept emotions in check, but showed Jesse the famous turn Hereford onto Boylston, and where both bombs had gone off two years ago; Marathon Sports at the finish line, and in front of Starbucks where my wife normally watches (but thankfully didn't that year.) Before taking the subway back to the theatre district where our hotel is, we stopped in the Boston Public Library which was one of the top ten things to do in Boston. It's right in Copley square, but I'd never been inside. AMAZING building.

Sorry for the length of the post, but Jesse is enjoying a beer and videos on the internet in our room as Dad writes after a fantastic Italian dinner at one of our normal restaurant stops, Grotto in Beacon Hill. Below sidewalk level, Grotto is dimly lit, and more apt to be a romantic setting, but was a great stop for night number two after having sushi last night. The spaghetti and meatballs were delicious.

I went on too long about Pahkah, but both Jesse and I have laughed and reminisced about his stories all day. He also couldn't believe I was running on Monday, right after I told him I didn't smoke.  "What is that, 23 miles?" "You're gonna run 23 miles without stoppin'?" That's my plan.
Massachusetts State House at Night overlooking Boston Commons

Boston is Coming

Seeking Boston is seeking another Boston Marathon. Today was a travel day. I always like to arrive early to get acclimated and this is actually the latest I've arrived to the area in recent marathons. I normally combine with some business travel; in this case, that's on the "back end" of my trip.

This year is a bit happy and sad in that my wife who's watched every single one of my marathon's has a major project back home and it was impossible for her to attend. While I'm totally bummed about that, her proxy is my 18-yr-old son, Jesse. This is his 16th birthday trip present...yes, a little late. Last year I got to go on my first trip ever with my Dad...just the two of the Super Bowl. I told Jesse that his father-son trip may be two years late, but thirty some years sooner than the once-in-a-lifetime trip I took with my Dad. Hashtag; #special.

Completely "rolling the dice" we went to the airport early to standby since the flight we were supposed to be on didn't arrive until nearly midnight on Thursday. What was I thinking!? Having over one million miles on United with a 1K status paid off as we not only got on the 12:40 flight (leaving snow behind,) AND got the exit row.

Before taking off, I had to snap a pic of my famous foam roller. Jesse looked at it and suggested I needed a new one. Growing up with a stepdad that grew up during the depression (I was cryogenically frozen for 15 years as was he which would explain how that's possible math-wise) would explain why I can't depart with my roller even though it sags in the middle. It still has firm parts on the ends so it still does the trick.. (Insert metaphor joke here.) My stepdad didn't throw away anything which is half the point, and the other half is my foam roller is famous!
Boston is Coming!

Why is the foam roller famous you ask? You'd have to go back to the archives to the 2011 Boston Marathon when I was connected from Philadelphia to Boston for the race. Someone asked if I would mind if he snapped a picture as he found it amusing. It was none other than Mark Remy from Runner's World (see photo HERE.) I was still new to the sport and had no idea who he was. Back home, Steve (from my running group) recognized the back of my head, and the picture went mini-viral. My all-time record 1471 "Likes" including comments such as "That's Hot!" Not really; good thing it was the back of my head. (my better side.)

Anyway, a couple movies later on the plane and a quick cab ride, we've checked into our downtown hotel which is a mere five minute walk to the Boston Commons where we load the bus on Monday to head towards Hopkinton. We ended the day with a little sushi and a bit of a walk with an early night back in the room.

Making memories with my son.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Boston Marathon Packing Fun: Flat Stanley and Noah's Ark

You would think I was going to the President's coronation. I have been packing for several days setting things aside, and doing laundry. Tonight, I actually have to pack as I'm heading out early as I normally do for the Boston Marathon on Thursday. My Mom used to do the same thing when we'd get ready for a big trip. The spare bedroom would have an empty suitcase, and bit by bit, things would be laid out on the bed getting ready.

I started the process with a trip to the Vitamin Shoppe (see POST: Fuel For Boston) and my local running store, Runners Roost to load up on supplies for snacking while in Boston, Vitamins, pre-race ritual stuff, and race-day nutrition. Not that most everything I don't pack won't be at the largest running expo in the land come Friday.

One snafu with my Boston Marathon last year, was not reading the "fine print" on transportation to Athlete's Village in Hopkinton. NO BAG CHECK. What I didn't think through last year was the clothing to keep me warm hanging out in the village for two hours. I had the warm clothes, but not stuff I wanted to throw away. I didn't realize this until later Sunday afternoon when everything was closing downtown, so one of the things Mr. Brilliant bought was women's panty hose. Hey...don't knock it, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

What you don't want to do, is throw away expensive gear; nor do you want to run in a cotton hoodie that you don't want to throw away. I wound up donating a hoodie in the Village before heading to the corral. Believe it or not, I actually saw runners under the white tents with their commemorative jackets. As ugly as they are, they weren't going to be thrown aside, but that was not the weather to be wearing a jacket--last year was hot!

Given that, last night I made a trip to the local Goodwill store and found the perfect clothes to keep me warm. My "flat Stanley" shown above. If you're looking for me in the village, I will be easy to spot. Six dollars was an investment well worth it that will get shed either in the village or in the world's largest strip tease in the corral moments before the race.

I won't bore you with everything I'm packing, but safe to say, I have virtually two of everything and a variety of combinations for weather variations. A runner's Noah's Ark if you will. Not leaving anything to chance, I'm charging three Garmins at the moment (I always pack two) as one had gone missing for a short while. #Panic

Today was crazy busy with work and I made trips to both the massage therapist and chiropractor to work on the bum right wheel (hip.) All seems good but suffice to say, I've "laid low" during this taper so I should hopefully go out with a full battery on Monday.

That's it for now..will try and post more frequently as we lead up to the big day.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Boston Marathon One Week Away: Tears and Air Drums

The race I write about all year long on this blog is here in one week. There have been many twists and turns over my training and even more over the last few weeks. A month ago, I took a "tumble" on a Saturday long run on the road in San Diego. I had traveled to Seattle for work that week and caught up with my family for Spring Break. As I took off that morning in San Diego, I was tired. I had "lazy legs" and as I entered downtown Ocean Beach an old buckled sidewalk section caught my toe and I fell...hard.

Fortunately, I took the brunt of the fall with the butts of my hands and a slight scuff on the knee. It torqued my back but I was happy I didn't land on my ribs or right shoulder which still ache at night from my accident. After a couple witnesses asked if I was alright, I got back up and headed out but struggled mightily with the intense tempo run. I had no energy, and my back continued to tighten up. I was scheduled to go long the following Sunday morning but I crawled out of bed like an old man. I emailed my running coach and told her I wasn't going to run that day. I headed down the hill in my rental car to pick up donuts for the house that hadn't woke up yet, and moving around just a bit gave me unsubstantiated confidence to give the long run a try. Not the smartest thing, but I ran twelve miles along the San Diego harbor at a 8:27 pace.
Advice from Meb

From San Diego, my wife and I went on to Palm Springs for the rest of our break. We focused on getting rest and spent a lot of time by the pool. I continued my Boston Marathon training and the back started to feel better as the week went on. Friday, we had a long ride in the car to the airport before flying home; three hours in the car, three hours on a plane, then an hour in a car. Things were starting to tighten up again Friday night, and I woke up Saturday morning back in Denver with a twenty mile simulated Boston run. The pain in my back had migrated to my right hip. I quite often go ahead with a run even when my body is slightly tweaked thinking, it will loosen up.
Hard miles in Palm Springs

This was not the case and my hip was wretched in pain by the end of the run. Since then, I've been the chiropractor, massage therapist, and running physical therapist...multiple times. The pain was not going away, and panic started to set in. I ran twelve the following Saturday (after the 20) on March 29th. Brutal. It was not happy. The following weekend, I opted for a long bike ride (April 5th.) Same outcome. At this point, I started taking two days off at a time and figured, this is basically a three week taper. Heal that hip. My moods swung wildly (translation: grumpy.)

Last week, I tuned into Runner's World, #ChatRW with Meb Keflezighi. I knew the answer, but I asked anyway, "what do i do?" "PT, Stim, and Rest." I continued to listen to Meb and my coach. With the hip feeling slightly better, I went out last Tuesday (April 7th.) Crappy run, wonky hip, and same outcome. I went to the chiropractor again on Wednesday for adjustment, stim, and ice packs. My hip was still purple from the physical therapist that dug down to the bone around the hip and glute area. I took another rest day, then seemed to feel better than I had since the San Diego tumble. Despite Meb's advice, I wanted one decent length run before Boston. Even though I'd already logged over 700 training miles, "mind games" messed with me and I didn't want to lose the endurance I'd built up for this race.
Leaving the "air drums" studio

On Saturday (4/11,) I laced up my new slightly broken in Adidas Ultraboost and despite the nice weather in Denver, I took it indoors to the treadmill for an eight mile run. (Don't be a treadmill hater.) I wanted the softer landing of the treadmill. The hip felt loose. As I started into the miles, my energy felt fantastic. I was certainly rested so that likely had something to do with it. A mere 2-3 miles into it, I realized my hip was better. I started to become reflective and thought of how far I'd come since my accident in July. I started to realize, my training was done, and that barring any further setbacks, I'll be racing in my fifth Boston Marathon. I got a little choked up...tears welled up. Not because my hip hurt, but because I was happy. My worst fear from my accident was that I wouldn't be able to return to the sport I loved. I realized I was back. Tears didn't advance beyond watery eyes, and likely motivated by my new iPod and playlist, I turned the music up, and went into "full on air drums."

Yes, I was "that guy" at the gym who was doing air drums. I didn't care. I went out for an anniversary dinner with my wife that night at Flemings. The steak was fantastic, the wine was even better, and I was with the woman I love who'd help nurse me back to health and dealt with all my ugly mood swings getting me back to this place. My ribs still hurt at night when I sleep on my right side, so I simply roll over. The good news was that when I woke up on Sunday, my hip didn't hurt.

Seven days to Boston at this point, and only three nights left in my own bed before I head to "beantown." Bad hip, bad ribs, sore shoulder. Don't count me out.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fuel For Boston

When we were kids, there was often a road trip. Load up the family in the wood panel station wagon, load up the cooler, and the last thing you did before you went out of town was fuel the tank. I must be in some sort of "nesting" mode as I've begun some of the preparations for this year's Boston Marathon in eleven days. Part of that preparation is leaving "nothing to chance" by having all my gear ready, but also loading up on some of the fuel needed for race weekend, and race day.

Fortunate for me, I was selected to be a #Fithappens Ambassador for The Vitamin Shoppe with Fitfluential. I'm fairly new to Fitfluential which matches up healthy lifestyle bloggers and social media influencers with complementary brands. Talk about perfect timing.

Speaking of timing, I'd attended a Runners World online chat with the 2014 winner of the Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi earlier in the week and just as he did in his book (Meb For Mortals: Review HERE,) he spent a lot of time talking about proper nutrition and fuel for a big race such as Boston. Meb was the first American to win Boston since 1983 at the age of 39!

Fresh off of reading his book, and chatting with Meb on Tuesday, I headed to my nearby Vitamin Shoppe in Lone Tree, Colorado to "load up my cooler" for the Boston Marathon road trip (leaving next Thursday, April 16th.) One thing I've learned from the many experts I've learned from is that your big race should not try anything new that you haven't tried before over your training period. I kept this in mind as I entered the store. Mentally I was distracted as the store was a cornucopia of health products and it's certainly tempting to look for some special elixir to give me some unique edge, but I held to my shopping list.

Being a bit of a run scientist (uneducated mind you) I have had Vo2Max, nutrition, and body chemistry tests done before. My previous body chemistry test showed that I was low on iron which is rare for men, but can lead to premature fatigue. Bad thing to have for a runner. As part of my routine before a long run, I will take Iron and also take Vitamin B. I added Floradix Iron (the Gluten-free liquid version) to my cart. Floradix has traveled with me the last two years to the Boston Marathon along with my trusty foam roller.

The second item on my list was something sister-in-law recommended was oregano oil to draw out toxins. Two years ago at Boston ('13,) I was sick all week and the woman that rented our loft in Beacon Hill gave me something similar to rid myself of the crud I was carrying around. While I'm not sick now, this is something I don't want to leave up to "chance" and wanted to have some "insurance" on hand. The Vitamin Shoppe had plenty to chose from. Homeopathic oil? Check!

I picked up some CoQ10 for my wife, then consulted with the store associate on cleanses. NOT something I would do this close to a race, but something I've been interested in. Loads of options there, but I got back to my main mission.

The other area I was shopping for was snack fuel for the trip. Have you ever learned a new word, then you start seeing it everywhere? Fortunately, the new word I learned (from Meb) was Krave. The store employees probably thought I was a bit whacked when I found it on the shelves and grabbed three different flavors. Krave is a "jerky" product that's an all natural source of protein that's also gluten-free. While I'm not allergic to gluten, I discovered that loading up on pasta and bread before races tended to wreak havoc on my stomach. My other gluten-free pleasure are Kind Bars and I was pleased to find a wide selection of my favorites on the shelf. My latest guilty pleasure (yet healthy alternative) is the Caramel Almond and Sea Salt. #yum. I added some Clif Shot Bloks which will be in my Boston Marathon fuel belt for the race itself.

With over 700 miles trained for my upcoming race, I am officially in my taper mode, and will continue to prepare for my departure in seven days. The last thing I want to happen is to run out of fuel in my tank!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Vitamin Shoppe.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Boston Marathon Rock Lobster

Okay, okay, I have issues with monogamy when it comes to shoes. In the dating world of shoes, I
sleep around alot. I was recently "Outted" by my wife as being a bit of a shoe slut. I went out of town, and she needed my car.
From the airport, I see an Instagram post that went viral on the family and friends channel. I have a lot of shoes in the back of my a lot a lot. They all have a special place in my heart; sponsor shoes, four-wheel drive shoes (with sheet metal screws,) everyday running shoes, race day shoes and with the days counting down to the Boston Marathon, quite possibly the baddest of them all. Brooks Running was kind enough to send out their Boston-themed version of the Launch 2.

Each year at the Boston Marathon, each of the major shoe companies compete for the coolest commemorative shoe. This contest may be over before it started with Brooks lobster shoe. Let's start with it shipped with a foam lobster claw which I'm sure will be on my son's hand for much of the marathon itself. Inside the normal shoe box, the bright lobster-red shoes came wrapped in a white fisherman's net. Aside from the bad-ass lobsters, there's the blue ocean midsole, laces in red and white reminiscent of fisherman's rope, and wood lace aglets that represent the fishing traps used to catch lobsters.

I must admit, the words "Red Lobster" conjures up images of the restaurant, cheap date, and indigestion however these lobster shoes rock! Right on Brooks Running!

Why can't the people that designed this shoe replace the morons that design the Adidas celebration jacket every year? People might wear it beyond the few days past the marathon (see last year's creamsicle disaster.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Wanna Be Like Meb: Meb For Mortals Book Review

The 2014 Boston Marathon was an emotional race for many; particularly those that raced the year before in the Boston Marathon Bombing year. Two days before the 2014 race, I had a decision to make. A blogger meet-up, or meet Meb Keflezighi at a Generation UCAN sponsored speaking engagement at a downtown Boston hotel. I chose the Meb event and considering he won the race two days later, I had made the right decision.

There were two things I noticed about Meb (and his wife;) one was what a genuine person the guy was (#mancrush) and secondly was the confidence he carried (along with his water bottle.) Hollywood could not have scripted the race and ending any better to have the first American since 1983 win the greatest race in the land on such an emotional day. The previous American winner was not Bill Rodgers, but Greg Meyer...think big 80's hair and beard and short shorts.

When Runner's World asked me if I was interested in an advance copy of his book, Meb For Mortals, I trying to remain composed and professional with my response. Heck yeah!

With the 2015 Boston Marathon, less than two weeks away, as I was reading the book, I must admit, I had two conflicting feelings; 1) What an inspiration, I'm getting totally amped for this race, and 2) Oh crap, "I didn't do that," or "I didn't do this" as I read his cookbook for run success. As Meb would likely say, at this stage of training, your training is essentially done, and it's not time for the mental preparation for the race. There were quite a few sections that helped from this regard; including routine leading up to race day. There are quite a few things that he talked consistently about through the book that were also confidence builders as my coach implements many of the same aspects (such as strength training.)

The book was a fast and easy read logically broken down into all aspects of success; think, run, train, race, eat, strengthen stretch, and cross-train like Meb.

Meb brings credibility not only with the Boston win, but a win in the New York City Marathon and Olympic medalist in the marathon event...his Boston win came at the ripe age of 39! As mentioned above, much of what Meb wrote about I could relate to starting with the first chapter on "Think Like Meb." I have always been very goal-oriented so I set both long-term and short-term goals for myself. Qualify for Boston, Qualify for New York, sub-twenty minute 5k and sub 1:30 half are all goals I've set and accomplished myself. The other uncanny resemblance is the goals for a given race itself. He likes sharing with a small group of close friends to hold himself accountable not only to himself but others. He also likes to set multiple goals as I do within a race starting with a "stretch goal" and a handful of others that are still not easily attained, but if you happen to struggle within a race, you still have something to shoot for that's attainable.

Dedication is a word used throughout his book and is common mantra to a runner
yet it pointed out areas I could improve upon; particularly around diet. Meb will reach for a banana or fruit when the recreational athlete will grab something less healthy when a "sweet tooth" craving happens. Meb breaks down his diet week-to-week, pre-race, and recovery.

There were a couple other areas that reinforced my thinking, training and confidence going into this year's Boston Marathon. For me personally, coming off major injuries sustained in a triathlon crash this last July ('14,) I knew that Boston would be tough if I didn't work hard on my strength. Meb talks about how he's had to overcome similar adversity including a pelvic stress fracture in 2007, 2008. Meb For Mortals provides a wide range of strength exercises (with straightforward explanations and photos) for runners of any distance.

The second area of his book that seemed to resonate with me was the pace you should run your various type workouts; with particular emphasis on recovery days. Meb does not provide a full sixteen week plan for a marathon, but a representative four week schedule for 5K, half marathon, and marathon distances. He also incorporates a nine day training week--NOT something I've ever done.

I clearly need to improve on a few areas in my next race; more stretching (he spends a ton of time on this in the book and in his training routine,) more hills (I'm perhaps critical of myself too much here,) and how to modify a training run when you're feeling run down, injured, or short on time. He's a big believer in cross-training which suits me well as I typically rotate in 1-2 days a week of cross-training which helps me as I transition in triathlon season after Boston. Aside from the major topics in the book, there are several Mebism's throughout; like how to handle the sleepless night before the race; he actually starts fueling when he wakes early to get a head start on digestion.

Great things tend to happen to great people and Meb is a breathing example of this. His book gives you inspiration and a recipe to hit your goals regardless of your level. I wanna be like Meb.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Top 12 Signs You're Ready for the Boston Marathon

It only comes once a year and for many it's a once in a lifetime dream to run in the Boston Marathon. You trained for weeks, months, and years to get your Boston Qualifier. You survived the Boston Marathon registration process, and got in. Congratulations! What once seemed like a long way away is quickly approaching. My top 12 signs you're ready for the Boston Marathon.

1) You've clicked on dozens of times to see the round countdown badge. It went from triple digits, to double digits, and is now in the teens. You're getting close. Nineteen days and counting as of the publish of this post.
2) You have likely notched your final long run. Most plans have at least one run of at least twenty miles. I had two of them; one I completely rocked. 
3) You won the "smallest butt contest" in your house. You can also win the bar trick contest by betting someone you can crack a walnut between your butt cheeks. Not much extra cargo back there and you have "buns of steel."
4) You're sick of all the run routes from your home. I mix things up by driving to a start location many times, but too often you're short on time so you take off from your front door.
5) You've been to the Adidas official 2015 Boston Marathon Apparel site. A lot. If you're me, you went ahead and bought the jacket already. No. I don't wear it until I complete the race and yes, it's not quite as ugly as the 2014 sherbet orange jacket. Despite the "it's not as ugly as last year's" tag, I plan to wear it with pride.
6) You lost your job as a foot model, and have something less than eight fully intact toenails. Yeah, yeah...spare me the wrong shoe size advice. I'm in the right size shoe, my feet have taken a pounding.
7) Something is sore. In my case, I took a "tumble" on a run a couple weeks ago which torqued my back  then migrated to my right hip. This has me a bit nervous, but I've been hitting my physical therapist (twice,) chiropractor, and massage therapist. I have a 90 minute massage scheduled for the day before I head to "Beantown."
8) Several people have asked your spouse, if there's something wrong with you, or if you're eating enough due to marathon training weight loss. Have you ever seen the guys that win these things?
They're not typically "barrel shaped."
9) You've had at least one person ask, "have you trained for it?" This is such a ridiculous question, I don't know how to answer it.
10) You've logged the training plan miles, (in my case over 700) and whether or not you like it (I love it) you're entering the "taper zone." Some people dislike the taper, I happen to view it as a reward and much needed break. That's okay, your body needs the rest; mine sure does. 
11) Your Boston Marathon "Passport" shows up in the mail. You already knew your bib number online. My bib number is 12673. Not a particularly fast bib number (the lower the number, the faster your qualifying time and corral start,) but fast enough to be in the 2nd corral. Last week I got my actual Passport which has everything you need to know about race day along with your stub to pick up the actual bib at the expo.
12) You already know what you're wearing on race day, and you have the shoes (with light mileage) ready to run from Hopkinton to the finish on Boylston.

As they say, the "hay is in the barn" and you have mere days before you transport yourself to Boston. You have your flight, hotel, and perhaps a pasta dinner reservation. Now is the time to enjoy the fact that you're racing in the greatest race in the land.

About Me

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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