Monday, 14 April 2014

#124 On With the Show... This Is It!

Well folks, here we are just one week away from the 118th Boston Marathon!

Words cannot express how truly excited I am for this. I am rearing and ready to roll and everything is looking good (even the weather... knock on wood)! Needless to say that this year's Boston is going to be special.

Since my last post following ATB, I've tapered my training and reduced the volume in a seemingly systematic way. This meant increasing the K's to 145 in the week after ATB and which also contained a final speed session (4 x 1 mile @10KP) and the last 33K long run. Then, with two weeks to go, I reduced my mileage to 125K (a bit more than planned) and which concluded with a final tune-up/sharpening race at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K. There I ran only as fast as I wanted to (but a bit faster than I should have), 34:30 (3:27/K... not my marathon race pace BTW), and which I paced perfectly (to an even split). This final week will see me run no more than 70K including two all-important days off on Saturday and Sunday. Needless to say that all the hard work is behind me now...

And speaking of work, here are the training numbers that summarize this entire spring/Boston cycle (Mon 11 Nov - Mon 21 Apr) and also include my planned runs for this coming week and 42.2K in Boston next Monday:

- 23 weeks; 162 days 
- 3,012K; 131K/wk
- 9 days off
- 40 doubles
- 10 long runs (30K+)
- 23 workouts (intervals or hills)
- 5 tune-up races: Robbie Burns 8K (26:56); Chilly Half (1:12:55); Achilles 5(.2)K (16:45); Around the Bay 30K (1:46:55); Yonge Street 10K (34:30)
- 1 Boston Marathon... 42.2K in X:XX:XX

Now, before I get to my goal for Boston (you can scroll down if you wish), I'd like to share with you a few thoughts on what I consider to be the most important considerations which determine one's success over 42.2K. The marathon distance is indeed a difficult one to get right, and so many things must go perfectly to plan in order to be successful. That's the allure and the awesomeness of it... but also makes it incredibly frustrating, and potentially ripe for failure!

First and foremost, fitness matters most! You absolutely must be in tip-top shape if you want to do well in the marathon. Exactly what that means is much less clear, and how to get to this point is often considered more art than science, but certainly a high level of (marathon-specific) fitness is a must. Basically this means running a lot of mileage, (gradually) building endurance by running long (fairly often), and still maintaining some speed.

For me, now, I feel I am fit! With a half-marathon PB and a solid effort at ATB, I feel as fit as I did a year ago heading into Boston and perhaps as fit as I was going into Chicago. Despite the long winter we faced here in Ontario, I ran the mileage (albeit less), did the workouts (often modified for the conditions) and managed to stay healthy and injury-free. Being consistent is essential to marathon success and this may well be my greatest asset. 

Another important factor (and one almost entirely beyond our control) is the race course and conditions on the day. Boston is a net downhill point-to-point course that features plenty of rolling hills. It can be fast if run right, but the relentless hills can also do a number on your legs (particularly the quads) and can beat you up especially if you go out too fast. The Boston course must be respected (not to mention the distance itself). The conditions on the day, particularly the temperature and the wind, also play a key role in deciding the outcome of any marathon. The hotter it gets, the slower the results. Likewise with a headwind or even a crosswind. Ultimately, it all comes down to the day and one can only give as much as they can on that particular day. The goal then is to give as much as you've got!

The iconic Boston Marathon course: 42.195K from Hopkinton to Copley Square.
Another part of the uncertainty of the marathon is that you never quite know how your body will hold up over those 42.2K. Most people can get to 30, maybe 35K, without fuel becoming a major issue (this is when they "hit the wall"). However in those final 10K, the body begins to run out of its preferred fuel source (glycogen/stored carbohydrates) and begins to depend almost exclusively on stored fats. Fueling during the race then becomes essential. Likewise and depending largely on the heat/humidity, staying hydrated and drinking fluids is also a key to success. 

I will fully admit I am really bad when it comes to both fueling and hydration. I NEVER, and I mean never, drink at water/aid stations and rarely ever feel the need/desire to take a gel or chews. I also never practice in training and so usually just come up with some "strategy" a week or so before the race and hope it all works out. And surprise, surprise, that's exactly what I did this time around! And so because it seemed to work on the final long run, I plan to take candy/chews and have one EVERY ~2K and keep eating the whole race (to avoid "hitting the wall"). As for water, I plan to dump some on my head at several aid stations to keep my temperature down and drink whatever goes in my mouth. Surely it will all work out this time around ;)

A final 'factor' vital for marathon success is managing expectations, having a race plan and being confident. The marathon is the only distance where you need to know (or have a very good idea) exactly how fast you plan to run before you even begin. It's all about proper pacing and executing a race plan. You then need to have "faith" and believe in that plan and execute it perfectly (because every K counts). 

I have been guilty of occasionally being over-confident (arrogant even) and believing beyond good reason that I am capable of more than I actually am. This is what led to a sub-par performance in Boston last year when I was confident I could run a 2:32 and then went for it (and not surprisingly, failed)! This year I've got a much more reasonable goal (i.e. one based on my performances leading up to the event) and a greater overall respect for the course and how to properly run it. With one week to go, I'm ready. I'm confident. I'm rearing to roll. I'm ALL-IN for Boston!

And that leads me to what you may all be here to know: What time am I going to (try to) run in Boston next week?!

Drum roll please...


2:34 is the "official" time I am aiming for. My current PB is 2:34:13 and so I am hoping to be very close, but preferably better, than that. Doing so would also mean beating my Boston Qualifier (or what I like to call a BBQ). And if not that, I will definitely hope to get a BB (Boston Best) by bettering my time from 2013 and running faster than 2:37:43. My race plan is to run an even split (i.e run 1:17 flat for both the first and second half of the race) and hope that it feels entirely comfortable early on and that I can hold on to that pace (3:38/K) in the late stages of the race.

More than anything, I want to feel good at/near the end. I am prepared to back off and run slower (~1:18) if it means that I feel more "in control" and I'm definitely not going to force it! I am still utterly embarrassed that I could not enjoy the final five or so miles last year when my race turned especially bad. Running through Brookline and into Boston is supposed to be a magical and celebratory feeling and last year, for me, it was not. This year I am determined to finish faster and stronger in that final section, even if it means running slower at the start.

I'd once again like to thank all the many people who have and continue to follow, support and encourage me on my journey to 'Be Better' and see just how far (and how fast) I can possibly go. Sincere thanks to my family, friends, Melinda (and Charlie) and of course, every member of the Black Lungs. Together we make running faster, further, more fun!

And with that, I end this post. Thank you so much for your interest and support. I encourage you to keep Boston in your thoughts next week for this very emotional and special edition of the marathon. We are all Boston Strong and we will always keep running...

For your reference, here are the bib numbers of all the Black Lungs (and several important others) to watch in Boston next Monday. You can follow/track the race live by going to the B.A.A. website.

Dan Way: 254
Jeff Conron: 541
Shawn Clear Sky Davies: 574
Ross Bain: 648
Anthony Davey: 872
Chris Chapman: 1057
Rob Isabelle: 1095
Robert Campbell: 1115
Lyndsay Tessier: 2409
Conrad Ledrew: 2433
Simion Candrea: 3045
Richard Marshall: 3459

Melinda Campbell: 8048
Dana Ferguson: 11318
Lanni Marchant: F20

#RunFastRunFar @BlackLungsTO

No comments: