Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Volume Goes Up

Last weekend I participated in two of my club's annual events: The Boston Marathon Course training run and An Ras Mor, a 5k in Central Square.  I knocked out 28 miles on Saturday and then chased it with a 18:30 5k on Sunday.  I had a blast at both events and am happy to be part of such a fun club.

As I continue my journey into new distances of running, my philosophy of what makes a strong, fast, and happy runner continues to evolve.  I have to admit, that I am enjoying running now more than ever and no longer feel like I am always out to do battle.  There are times when I have to push and fight to get a through a workout or a race, but the times where I can just float along and enjoy what I am doing are increasing at a pretty good rate.

In the book "Running the Edge" by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano, they dive into the difference between runners and non-runners and one of the big things that separate the two is how they feel when they are running.  They say the biggest difference in mindsets are brought on by changes in the body and mind as you get over you next mountain (figuratively speaking). Once you have put in the time and effort to become a runner, and you can do a run without every breath and step causing pain, you perspective complete changes.

I laugh as I look back over the past five years.  I remember when 6 miles was long, when 10 miles required a nap to follow. Today I ran 16 hilly trail miles, got home, showered, and immediately went out for lunch thinking nothing of it. 

The Boston Marathon Course Training Run
Goal: 28 Miles @ 7:45 - 8:00 / mile
Actual: 28.3 Miles @ 7:22 / mile

Three weeks before the Boston marathon is the unofficial running of the Boston Marathon.  In some circles it is known as the Boston Mini Marathon or the Boston Marathon Training run.  In a nutshell, a majority of the local running clubs and charities bus their runners out to Hopkinton and then run a good portion of the course, in most cases, the 21 miles that lead you to the top of Heart Break Hill.

I have never run the Boston Marathon (don't worry it is on the list of races to get too) and only run from Hopkinton back into city once before, so I figured what better place to get in a long run then with the company of 5000 or so of my closest friends.

Before Saturday, I had put in four separate 20-22 mile runs this year.  With my first ultra on the horizon (TARC Spring Classic -- just four weeks out), it was time to start piling in the mileage. So with minimal effort, I convinced my friend Keith that a 28 mile Saturday was in our near future.

We started off a my house at 7:15 and ran the first few miles over to Newton Country Day School where we met up with a team and caught a ride out to Hopkinton (Special thanks to Cory for organizing this run and everyone who drove / volunteered at a rest stop to make this possible).

Jump ahead to 9 am and we left Hopkinton from the official marathon start point.  I ran the first couple miles with Keith and Sanjay, but opted to send them ahead as I did not feel that a low 7 minute pace was necessarily in my best interest with a 23ish miles to go.

A couple weeks ago I began reading Bill Rodgers book, "Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World" and have been enjoying how he describes his transformation into one of the greatest marathoners in US history.  

As I made my way out of Ashland, into Framingham and out of the initial crowds, I began to find a little more pop in my stride and felt effortless in my running, just floating along as Bill Rodgers calls it.  Our first pit stop was about 6 miles into the course and was being run by Jason and an 8.5 month old named Keagan.  Keith and Sanjay were nice enough to wait for me there only to immediately run away as soon as we were moving again.  But the traffic light gods were in my favor as I caught up at each of the next three intersections.  

After a second pit stop three miles later (thanks Aaron) we made our way into Natick, ran by a DJ who was playing some music, and then a couple of women holding signs that read "10 miles to taperland" (We were roughly 10 miles from the top of Heart Break hill at this point). Chuckling I just kept on moving as I was now 13ish miles into my run and not even half way there yet.  

Picture Compliments of Jesse
As we arrived in Wellesley the wind started to pick up but only enough to cool you off.  You really could not have asked for better weather.  Next was the third SRR water stop being support by Jesse and Korynn at mile 14 of the course (16.5 miles into my run) and after a quick drink / picture we continued on.  I was able to stay with Keith and Sanjay from this point forward.  
After a quick descent down Grossman's hill and a not quite as quick ascent over route 95 (the first of the Newton Hills), we started to pick the pace up.  As we arrived on Route 30 we payed our respects at the local Fire station (who were also nice enough to have a rest stop with drinks for all runners) and began our assault on the remaining Newton Hills.  

Having done some pretty hilly ultra's in the past, I always chuckle at the idea of the Newton hills.  There are a couple of things that come into play here making them both tough and silly at the same time: 
1) You hit these hills roughly 18 miles (20.5 for Keith and I this day) into your run so any increase in pitch hurts no matter what. 
2) The 4 climbs only rise a couple of hundred feet over a few miles so at no point do you really have much of a sustained climb (Heart Break is 88 ft over .4 miles).
3) You are generally time conscious at this point and are trying to take the hills on without slowing down which only adds to any pre-existing pain.  

Over the next few miles we began to push harder knocking a pair of 7 minutes miles out.  As we crossed Centre St, Sanjay popped off to head back to the school and Keith and I continued on to the top of Heart Break. 

As the hill began, I started pretty hard and flew through the first half before my heart rate caught up.  The second half was much more of a bear as the whole day pretty much caught up with me at once and then Keith went whizzing by.  We regrouped at the top, 23.25 miles into the run, and then jogged back to the school to meet up with the rest of the team.  

After about a 20 minute break, Keith and I started back up again for the final 3.5 miles home, which had one true climb left, Common st in Watertown at 160 feet over .6 miles.  Following the climb we had a nice decent down the opposite side and then called it quits as we hit the church.  

After a few cups of coffee and some brunch we would be good to go again :).

28.3 miles, 3:28:26, 7:22 / mile, 3430 calories burned 

An Ras Mor 5K
Location: Cambridge, MA
Date: 3/30/2014

Distance: 5K
Goal Time:  18:34 (6:00 / mile)
Actual Time: 18:30 (5:59 / mile)
Place: 36 / 94 AG, 148 / 667 OA

There isn't much like chasing a long run with a short and fast race.  Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look it it) many of the other runners were in the same boat.  I wasn't originally planning on racing, but my sister gave me (thank you by the way) her free entry that she won via trivia at the team party so I thought why not.  My original plan was to push Neil in the stroller, but we decided against that idea as it was 40 degrees and pouring out.  

I arrived in Cambridge around 7:30 and started out by helping set up the tents.  A little while later I worked my way over the Asgard and helped direct people for a while.  It was shortly after this that while talking with some teammates that I brought up the quote. 

"Pain is temporary, but you race results are online forever" - Author Unknown

Half joking, but mostly serious, we said that no matter how sore we were from Saturday, we still weren't going to go that slow today.  

The USATF women started at 9:30 and everyone else began at 9:45.  I started pretty quick over the first quarter mile and then settled in and finished the first mile at 6:05.  At this point I was already feeling the beating I put myself through the previous day.  Weirdly enough soon after the first mile marker I got a second wind and was able to finish the 2nd mile in 5:56.  

At this point I told myself it was time to pick it up, but after the 10th of a mile at 5:40 pace, my body physically said no.  As I pushed around the final corner and saw the clock I was able to muster up just enough energy to slide in under my goal time.  

Picture Compliments of Thomas Cole

From both a physical and mental standpoint, it was a very weird race for me.  While how I felt oscillated wildly through the race, at no point did I every feel like I was doing battle.  I just had a surreal feeling that I was floating through the race.  It was not too long ago that this was my PR pace.  

Special shout out to the club for putting on another great race and to all the hearty souls that knocked out 20+ miles on Saturday and then threw down in a 5K in the pouring rain the next day. 

- Scot

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