Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Boston (Non-Running) Marathon Recap.

I did not run the Boston Marathon, I repeat...I DID NOT RUN THE BOSTON MARATHON.  I want to make this clear to everyone.  This year I went to Boston not only to watch my crazy fast brother Tim run the race, but also to honor everyone involved in the bombing and aftermath last year.  When Tim decided that he was going to indeed go to Boston and run, there was no question in my mind that I had to go with him.

On the road. 

We drove.....yea....probably wouldn't do that again. The drive there wasn't too bad, we ended up stopping in Niagara Falls and stayed with my parent for a night, who were on "vacation" up there again.  The next night, we stayed at a buddies of mine in Syracuse, NY, a perfect half way point between Cleveland and Boston.

We got to Boston on Saturday afternoon and both of us were pretty overwhelmed from the second we exited the highway.  We were planning on staying at a Hostile for the weekend, we checked in, made our beds (didn't even get the same bunk). We got back in the car to leave and realized the expo was over 5 miles away from the Hostile, we originally thought it was less than 2.  I don't know about Tim, but at that second I wanted nothing to do with that Hostile. Drove near the Expo and decided to park at MIT and walk to the Expo.

The Boston Marathon Expo is literally heaven to me.  That's the best word I can use to describe it.  All things running, elite runners, free samples, just everything imaginable. Pretty overwhelming, but an amazing event.  Tim got his bib number and race packet, which was pretty emotional to me. Just walking around and seeing everyone who was going to race was so inspirational.  I want to run this race so bad it's ridiculous.
Met Leo Manzano at Hoka
Tim got to meet here, I just got to see here, Kara Goucher

Heaven on earth.

Saturday night was very emotional to me.  We decided to walk by the finish line.  There were a ton of people around, but it was an awesome experience.  Just everything that has happened at this race over the years, including, and especially last year just really hit me.  This race is so historical and significant.  The Boston Marathon is the mecca of running in this country in my opinion and it was such an honor and privlege to be here, especially this year.
Standing at the finish line Saturday night. 

One very emotional spot for me was near the Marathon Sports running store which is right by the finish line, and where one of the bombs went off last year.  They set up a temporary memorial at this location that was a very emotional moment for both Tim and I. 
The memorial by the finish line and Marathon Sports. (I hate to say it, but it really bothered me that they spelled forget wrong.) Very emotional moment.

Marathon Sports near the finish line.  Their glass was broke, floor destroyed and also lost a good amount of inventory from the bomb.

After walking around the city a bit we got back in the car and I decided we should stop at the Hyatt Regency just to see if there were any room, and unbelievably there was! We ended up getting a room for 2 nights, but Saturday night was still a problem.  We met a couple of Tim's friends out for a beer.  Neither one of us wanted to go back to the Hostel.  Got a beer with them, and ended up crashing at their place, THANK THE LORD.  

Woke up Sunday morning and decided to see if we could check into our room early.  God was on our side, and we got our room at 8:30am. 
Our Beautiful room at the Hyatt Regency.  (Good Call).

After we checked into our room, we decided to go for a run around the city.  We ran around Fenway and then back to the Finish line.  A great run, the emotions and adrenaline were in full effect, didn't even remember I was running.  Did some more exploring of the city and went back to the expo but laid low and went back to the room early so Tim could rest for the marathon. 

Race morning was pretty awesome.  Woke up around 9 and walked to the finish line area.  Absolutely beautiful day, blue skies and a good temperature for running.  Didn't think I would be able to get close to the finish, but ended up getting super close.  I was in the second row behind some shorter girls and the jumbo-tron was right behind me.  Perfect spot to watch such a historic race.  The security was pretty tight, everyone had to have their bags checked from all streets merging on Boylston.  I actually wasn't really nervous at all about the whole situation, Boston really did a great job. 
Walking to the finish line after just turning onto Boylston. 
Getting very close to the finish line on race day.

Watching Meb come in as the 2014 champion was an amazing sight.  Everyone was chanting "USA USA" and the crowd seriously sounded like a football stadium.  Watching an American come in to win the race for the first time since 1983, and probably the biggest single marathon in history with what happened last year was so incredible emotional.  Meb had an incredible day, and all the other Elite Americans really pulled their weight to make sure their guy got on the podium!
Boston came out Strong to support this historic race. 

Meb on the home stretch going for the win. 

Shalane had an incredible day, leading the race for the first 30k.
Ryan Hall doing everything he could to make sure Meb took the win. 

Such an exciting few minutes when all the elites came in.  When they played the National Anthem for Meb I got chills throughout my body.  Such an epic win on such an epic day.  Meb deserved it, USA deserved it, and especially, BOSTON deserved it. 

Tim had one heck of a race.  He came in at 2:53 for a pretty nice PR.  It was awesome to be that close to the finish line and watch your little brother come down Boylston to finish the Boston Marathon.  I got pretty emotional and a bit teary eyed when I saw him coming down to the finish.  He looked like he put his heart and soul into this race. 
Tim putting in some serious effort to get to the finish!

After Tim crossed the line, I left my spot immediately to go find him by the family meeting area.  I waited a pretty long time before I got a call from a nurse in the medical tent telling me Tim was "getting a massage."  Little did I know, Tim was severely dehydrated and wasn't doing all that well when he crossed the line.  Tim asked the nurse to tell me that so I wouldn't worry.  Typical Tim.  He put everything into this race, and I think that's pretty awesome.  

While I was waiting for Tim, I was just looking around watching everyone meet up with their family.  I was watching the exit area when all of a sudden I saw the man who basically got me to start running with his book, Ultramarathon Man, DEAN KARNAZES.  Pretty funny Tim and I were talking the day before about who in running we would like to meet and I said Dean.  I of course went up to him and congratulated him on finishing, (he ran a marathon to the start, then ran the race in 3:35).  I then took a nice selfie with him! He was an awesome guy and very encouraging.  I can now die a happy man! 
DEAN KARNAZES. The man who got me running. 

Met up with Tim a few minutes later by the family area.  He looked great, and actually ran up to me like nothing was wrong.  Tim is a heck of a runner.  So awesome to see him with his medal on knowing he just ran the Boston Marathon. 
Tim and I at the finish.  So proud of this guy! 

Well, now it's my turn.  I decided while I was there that I'm going to spend the next five months seeing how good of shape I can get into so that I might be able to qualify to run this race next year.  I know it will be a stretch, my PR is a 4:01 and I would need to run under a 3:05, but I want to give it a shot and see what happens.  The weekend was such an inspiration and so motivating that I just have to race this for myself.  Watching Tim finish and just being there for the whole weekend was awesome, but next time I go, I want it to be for another reason...

Promising myself that I will try and run in 2015. 

The jumbo-tron where I was standing at the finish.

I need to cross the finish line for real. 
See you in 2015. 
Boston Bound. 2015. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GREEN JEWEL 50K RECAP's official...I finally ran an ultra-marathon.  Although I still have a hard time considering myself, I guess you could say I'm an "ultra-runner" now.  It seems crazy to me, and although I've wanted to do an ultra for a couple years now, I honestly wasn't sure I would ever do one. I was more afraid than anything else. I mean, come on, a marathon is one thing, but add a few miles....geez I don't know...Little did I know however, that it wouldn't be nearly as tough of a transition as I thought.

I decided after my marathon season last November that I wanted to try and do an ultra-marathon in the Spring.  The natural progression from marathon to ultra is of course, the 50k.  Well lucky me if there wasn't a well supported, easy terrain 50k basically in my backyard.  (Starting in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks) Problem was, it was in March, pretty early Spring, especially here in Cleveland. And as some of you may know, I don't necessarily stay consistent in the winter.

I had a decent Winter.  Not great, but decent.  The weather here in Cleveland (a valid excuse) was probably the worst I can ever remember living through.  Non-stop bitter cold (< 5 degrees) and a whole lot of snow that came, and stayed.  The treadmill (or dreadmill) depending on how you look at it played a bigger part this Winter than I had hoped, or ever would want again. But things worked out, and although I wasn't in the best shape by a long shot, I felt good enough to start.

The only problem I really was concerned about was my shoe situation.  I had talked the Brooks Transcend up a ton, but just wasn't getting great feedback from them leading up to the race.  My brother bought me a pair of Hoka One One Stinson Trail Evo for Christmas, but they just felt a bit too small. (I sent them away for a different size a couple days ago.) I have a pair of New Balance 890v4 but they just seemed a bit to small for this long a distance.  I was stuck, I really didn't know what to do! Tim, my brother, works at a running store, and in an Eleventh hour effort, he talked me into the New Balance 980 Fresh Foam.  Tim has them, so I trusted him and bought them Tuesday before the race. I didn't run in them till Friday, and that was Four miles just to see how they felt.  Race was Saturday....oh well...let's see what happens. (I brought a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence 2 and the Hoka's just in case).

Saturday morning comes and I am calm.  Calmer than I've ever been for a race.  Even a 5k race, I mean I was calm.  Picked up my buddy Chris from his house (my crew) and went down to the start.  Walked up to the start line still extremely calm.  Before I knew it I was off, running 31 miles through the Metroparks.
My start at the Marina in Rocky River.
I started race feeling really good.  Legs felt fresh, mind was fresh, air temperature was decent.  Pretty good conditions. Except one little issue, ICE. It was still cold, and had rained the day before, so there was a decent amount of ice and black ice throughout a lot of the course early one.  Later in the day it wasn't a problem, but for the first few miles, I almost bit it more than a couple times! Luckily I kept myself vertical the whole race.

I felt great till about mile 13 or so.  This is when I really started thinking about how FREAKING far this race actually was! I walked a couple times leading up to the aid station at around mile 14.5 or so and just could not wait to get to that Aid Station and take a break for a couple minutes! I knew Chris was going to be waiting for me, but because of the parking situation and both of us being new to this, it was hard to know how long I'd be at the station re-fueling. 
Chris and I at around mile 14.5 at the Aid Station. 

After the Aid Station at mile 14.5 I began to feel pretty good, the weather was warming up, it wasn't as icy, and I had come to terms with the "longness" of the race.  I got into a decent pattern of running for a mile, then walking for between 0.1 and 0.25.  This system had worked for me (thanks to Chris in our first marathon.) I wasn't sure if I'd keep this up for the whole remainder of the race, but right now it felt good.  Ended up running 2.5 miles straight around mile 15 or so with a guy who was running the relay.  Running with someone during a race like this, and being able to talk really gets your mind away from the task at hand and was a great break from the monotony of an ultra. Since he was running the relay (my excuse) and was going a bit faster than I was, I told him to go ahead, I couldn't keep the pace anymore that he was pushing and we said good luck to each other and he was gone and I was back by myself.
Great picture from Ohio Runs on the course. 
Pretty uneventful for the next few miles.  Was nice to have a couple more Aid Stations at mile 19 or so and mile 24.5. Chris was right there to take care of any needs I had as well as re-stock me. Having someone with you who knows you well and will take your stubborn and tiredness in stride is a huge advantage and something I would definitely recommend.  Chris is an awesome guy, one of my best friends, and someone I could really trust.  After the 24.5 mile Aid Station I knew I'd be on my own till the finish.  It's only 7 miles or so by yourself, but at this point in the race, those are the tough miles for sure.  I knew at this point that I would finish, even if I had to walk, and that was a great feeling. 

I had an emotional moment when my GPS hit 26.2. I was now in new territory.  I had run a 27 mile training run, but this was different.  I heard someone say, "It's just a marathon with a 5 mile cool-down." I thought this was a great analogy, at least for your first ultra. My legs felt far better than I thought (NB Fresh Foam was fantastic) and I was now in the home-stretch! I was now on my way to officially becoming an ultra-marathoner, and it started to hit me.  My legs stayed strong throughout the remaining miles, and other than a couple more hills, I stayed pretty consistent with my pace.  
Another great shot from Ohio Runs along the course.  (Notice the "gloss" on the trail.)
Mile 30 was another pretty emotional time for me.  I knew I was getting very close.  The funny thing was, I knew it was a 50k but wasn't completely sure what that meant in terms of miles.  I knew it was 31. something but didn't know the exact amount.  Decided it didn't matter, I was finishing regardless.  The last mile or so was an easy one, legs felt good, mind was on track, and trail was fairly flat.

Coming around the turn into the open picnic area where the finish line was was a powerful moment for me. About 500 feet from the finish line I was my dad and his two dogs cheering me on, I wasn't expecting my dad to be there at all! That gave me a good push, and although it probably didn't look like it, I started running a lot faster!  Went through the finish line and my wife, Elissa, my mom, my sister and her boyfriend and my buddy Chris were all there to congratulate me, it was a great moment, and truly an emotional finish.  I'm totally hooked! 
Happy as can be at the finish. 

Finish time was 5:52.  That's fine with me, goal was to finish and I did. I learned a ton on this run, how to trust your legs, how to work with a crew, how to pace yourself for a long haul, and so many other things.  The run was way more mental for me than physical.  My legs were strong throughout the entire race, it was my mind that was tired. I am so in love with running, and this just furthered my love affair.  I love the ultra distance and am looking forward to hopefully getting into a 50 miler some time this summer. I am so thankful for all the support that I've gotten throughout the last couple of years with running.  It's amazing what a community we runners have at our fingertips! This was a fantastic course, with plenty of restrooms, and Aid Stations.  The volunteers did a fantastic job.  The course is very easy to navigate as well.  I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for an Ultra, especially a first-timer! What an awesome run and day!

My parents, their dogs Odin and Breck, my sister Jen in the red and my wife Elissa at the finish!

Things I used on the course:

New Balance 980 Fresh Foam. 
Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Hydration vest. 
Feetures Elite Merino wool socks. 
3 Clif Bars (Chocolate Chip)
4 Nuun Tablets. (Tri-Berry)
1 Picky Bar (Need for Seed)
4 Gu Energy Gels (Mandarin Orange and Lemon Lime)
3 Vega Sport Enegy Gels. (Orange Zest)
Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch. (Only about a quarter battery remained.)
Patagonia DuckBill cap.

Keep running.