Monday, April 27, 2015

New Jersey Marathon = New PR and my first spring BQ!

I ran the New Jersey Marathon yesterday completing my 30th marathon in my 20th different state. I achieved my B goal of setting a personal record 3:04:01 (previously 3:04:54 at St. George, Utah); my A goal was to break three hours. After the lessons learned from the race, I have no doubt that I can break 3.

I chose New Jersey for a few reasons: 1) I qualified for Boston for 2015 but missed the cut (BQ - 0:33 while I needed - 0.62). I am sure that my BQ - 5:59 will be good for 2016. 2) I got married four weeks prior and we have a honeymoon coming up in May, so we wanted to keep costs low. 3) I needed it for my 50 state quest. 4) It is flat and mostly fast (we'll get to the wind). 5) Laura is from New Jersey, it is driving distance, and we didn't have to take time off of work.

We left Sammy in the care of my friend, neighbor, and running buddy and left around 9 AM on Saturday. In the days leading up to the race, I had a good taper and carb-load. On the drive right around noon we found a great authentic Italian restaurant where I could eat a big bowl of gnocchi for lunch. We arrived at the expo, picked up my packet, and went to check into the hotel. I mainly rested and connected with Ryan while Laura used the athletic center. She mentioned that she was not carb loading for a marathon. At 5:30 we were seated for dinner at an Italian place near the ocean, ate my big bowl of pasta, and then we took a brief scenic drive along the shore. We found a place to buy some famous New Jersey cookies (?) and frozen yogurt before going back to the room to call it a night. The hotel was housing two blocks of guests for different weddings, and while we appreciated the hotel putting us at the other end of the hotel from the guests, a room near us did house some of them. That in itself isn't an issue but when they come back to their room after midnight loud and drunk and waking me up, that is a problem. I called the desk and they sent security. Regardless, I got a decent night's sleep considering.

In the morning, I woke up at 4, did my morning routine, stretched, put on my gear, and at 5:30 we left. I resisted the urge to bang on the door of our neighbors sleeping off the wedding. It was a cool morning and I was appropriately dressed in throw away clothes so I didn't have to check a bag. It turned out Laura needed the clear bag to bring in her book and contents of her purse because the race didn't allow any bags in the starting area. I understand security, but I have run Boston, NYC, and Chicago and other larger marathons that simply know how to check bags rather than ban them. A police officer hassled us for no good reason. It gave me pause to consider that others have far worse experiences than ours.

I said goodbye to Laura and made my way to my corral where I met others with similar goals. When it was time to go, we set on our way. The first half had a lot of turns as we weaved through neighborhoods. There wasn't much to see, and I mainly tried to focus on my form, breathing, and pace. I started out at 6:55 before finding 6:45 in my third mile. I noticed early that the wind would be an issue. It wasn't too strong, it was just enough to steal 3-5 seconds a mile. Some miles had the wind to my back, but most had the wind pushing against me. I had my Red Sox visor to keep the sun out of my eyes along with my sunglasses, but the weather was perfect temperature-wise. I worked on my mental tools in those early miles - just getting to first Gu at 5, then the second at 10, and check in at the half. In the third mile, I took a cup of Gatorade, drank a little, then tossed it into a trash bin for two points! Later, the final volunteer at a water stop missed the handoff to me and I coaxed her to run after me to get me the water and she made it!

At the halfway point, I was in okay shape. I knew I shouldn't try to increase my pace and let it slip from 6:45-50 to 6:50-59. I came in at the half at 1:29:51, so if I could hold that I would go sub 3. Even if I couldn't, I knew that I could hold my current pace for quite awhile. And, a group formed around 12 and we ran around the small lake together before I let them increase in pace as the wind hit our backs as we headed on the long out and back. I just wanted to run comfortable for as long as I could and not push the envelope. Halfway through mile 16, we began a loop around the bottom of the course that took us on boardwalk and past piers and right along the ocean. Prior to approaching mile 20, I began to feel it - this wall of wind pushing me back. It took me off my nice 7:00 pace - I was holding that pace and knew I could do it for the rest of the race - but 19 was a 7:01 and 20 was a 7:15 and 21 was a 7:27. Clearly, the wind was stealing a huge PR and at miles 22 (7:40) and 23 (7:42), I was starting to feel down as even a PR was in question. Luckily, with about a 5K to go, I heard footsteps and chatter that sounded too comfortable to be a runner struggling. I asked two spectators if that was the 3:05 pacer approaching and it was. They had lost their entire group - I think they started with 10-20 runners. With no one to guide, I think they decided to pick up their pace and finish. One of them was trying to help some guy finish and I asked the other to get me to the finish line. They both worked together to help us along, and I remain so inspired by how they gave me the push I needed to run a solid 5K. It taught me that even though I thought I was done, I still had more left and could dig down. My aversion in the past was that I was afraid of the pain. I had read that I needed to embrace it, but I hadn't understood what that meant. Going forward, I now have the mentality to get to mile 20 and then pick up the pace slightly because I know I can do it, or at least hold on to my pace.

If there was no wind, I would have come in around 3:01/2. But, there is a rule among runners that when you set a new personal best, you can't be upset. I held a very steady 6:52 pace through 30K. The final 10K was a straight shot back to the finish into a headwind along the boardwalk. I was losing time until 5K to go the two 3:05 pacers caught me and I asked them to get me to the finish. They helped me will myself to a PR and another BQ and it was the first spring race I have ever BQ-ed. There are a lot of positives from this race.

Laura snaps a photo of my sprint finish.  While I didn't get under 3:04 for a 3:03:59
(which I thought I could get), a PR is a PR!

Takeaways: 1) I now know that I am able to lay down the hammer and pick up the pace in the final miles. I simply have to decide to do it. I've always feared or shied away from the pain and didn't understand until NJ that I need to embrace the pain and push myself. I cannot depend on having pacers or kind runners in the future to motivate me and give me inspiration down the stretch - that will have to come from inside of me. 2) I finally ran a BQ in the spring. I couldn't understand why in my previous seasons, I never could run better than 3:13 in the spring. Maybe it had to do with training in the winter (chance of losing days to ice and snow) versus summer (hot running feels easier when the weather breaks in the fall), but it could be other factors. This was my first marathon with my new coach, Ryan Vail, and I do have a 5K PR with him as well. I am excited for what I can do this fall coming off the hot weather. 3) I definitely have a sub 3 in me as soon as I decide to go get it.

Splits: 6:56/49/45/48/46/46/51/47/48/47/54/52/55/49/56/57/56/58/7:01/15/27/40/42/20/02/06/ 2:08 for final.33 (6:30 pace); 10K 42:26; Half 1:29:51; 30K 2:08:08; 40K 2:54:33

Results = 49/1918 OA; 11/196 AG I beat the first-place woman by a minute.

Next race: I signed up for Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, VT, for July 12, which falls on my 38th birthday. Here is the map with elevation. I may just have to treat this as a long run in the heat with hills. I also am signed up for Bismarck, ND, on September 19 and NYC on November 1. Hoping for a good and healthy rest of the year training cycle!

Back in our neighborhood enjoying a beer at Brookland Pint.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wedding Weekend and Running

These last few months have been pretty good to me. I went to two bachelor parties and two weddings and found time to run and train at all of them. My friend's bachelor party in January was in New Orleans. Having been there a few years ago with Laura, I was familiar with how to find places to run. I stayed on the boardwalk by the Mississippi River for a shorter run and ran down the trolley tracks and around a park for my longer runs. His wedding was in DC, but I was able to train with a friend the Saturday morning before to get in a good long run with tempo and a ten miler the morning of the wedding.

Two good looking guys at Keith's wedding

For my bachelor party, we went to Brooklyn (Brookland to Brooklyn bachelor party). We arrived Friday around dinner and went to a famous pizza place under the bridge. In the morning, I raced a "10K" in Prospect Park. It was pouring and cold and the race was two laps around Prospect Park; however, one loop is about three and a third miles, so the race came in at 6.7. I came in second overall and got a neat photo. For warm up, I ran around the park once and for cool down I ran around the park again. But, the awards ceremony was half an hour away and I was so cold that the only way to stay warm was to do one more lap; five laps = 17 miles and one shivering Kenny!

The race had fifty people, but third place didn't stay for the presentation.

Cheers at Brooklyn Brewery!

After the race, I headed back to the suite in the Box House, showered, and we headed out to a beer garden in Williamsburg. We ate lunch (I had the gypsy toast which was very good), drank beer, headed to the Brooklyn Brewery, drank beer, went back to the suite to rest, and went out to dinner (Shalom Japan), and drinks (Barcade and others). I remember staying out until about 5AM - up almost 24 hours - a good time was had by all!

My wedding weekend started Thursday afternoon when my folks arrived. That morning, I ran an easy eight with Sammy along the Hobart Long Loop touching the edge of the Zoo and Rock Creek Park. We picked them up at DCA, went back to my house, and rested for the afternoon. Laura got her nails done and my folks got some pizza from & Pizza. For dinner, we met Laura's folks at Gordon Biersch, had a lovely dinner, and then went to bed. Friday morning, my folks and her folks went on a White House tour that I booked for them through Rep. Kennedy's office. It was pouring and a bit rainy, but I had to do my long run since I wouldn't have time Saturday or Sunday. I got in a three mile warm up from the White House to the Mall and up the Capital Crescent Trail then started with the bulk of the workout:

16 @ MP tempo (6:50-55) 7:54/19/26/08/08/13/23/10/18/19/6:57/49/50/39/45/46/42/37/30/7:10/11. The CCT was uphill and windy on the way out so the first seven were slow, but the final miles were downhill and faster. I finished with a two mile cool down.  After the run, I met my folks and her folks at the hotel where they drove us home.  After lunch and a shower, we drove back to the hotel to drop off the hospitality bags (which caused me more of a headache than it was worth), before heading to meet the Luries, our cousins, at a pizza and beer place near Foggy Bottom.  That night, we went back to the hotel for happy hour (free drinks on the hotel) and met with some more relatives.  There was a dude there doing some artwork that my dad deduced was there for the free drinks and the hook of hitting on the single ladies.  He had some kids himself, but Dad nailed it - this was his game.  We ate some Taylor Gourmet for dinner in the bridal suite with our folks and then called it a night.

Saturday morning, Sammy and I ran an easy six on the MBT trail.  Laura gets nervous when I go with Sammy off leash, but I find running with her unleashed is better for us since she doesn't pull and tug or stop, yanking me back.  When she goes, she goes.  If I need to pick something up that she did, then I do.  After, I readied for the aufruf and luncheon at our shul, Ohev Shalom.  I practice the haftarah portion, Shabbat Hagadol, with my friend Mark Levine.  It took many months of learning the trope and then practicing with the Hebrew, but I nailed it!  The rabbi said some meaningful words about how hard I practiced and our being members at the shul.  We gave aliyah honors to her dad, my dad, her brother, my brother, and her uncle Joel.  Cousin Larry got to do geliliah, and I think Scott and Yehuda did an honor as well.  My sister and her family arrived in time for Molly and Drew to see the Torah service and I was able to give the kids candy.  Molly came over to sit with me after awhile.  At the luncheon, it was a zoo downstairs, but fun.

Back at my house, it was a zoo also.  We had to move my folks to the hotel for check in, and I was going there as well.  The three kids were all making noise and I was happy to leave my home and check in to the hotel.  Once at the hotel, I was able to rest before the rehearsal.  It went rather well at the shul and then we headed over to Carmine's for dinner.  There, my dad gave his speech (the ingredients in a pot that makes a good marriage) which was well received.  Lindsay Pfeffer gave a nice maid of honor speech.  Dinner flowed well and people enjoyed the food.  Laura's dad commented after what a great rehearsal dinner it was.  After, we hung out in the lobby of the hotel for a bit before Laura and I headed up to our suite.

In the morning, I woke up early and went for a nice, head-clearing run on the Mall and out and back on the Capital Crescent Trail.  The weather was great and to be outside and have a little time for myself to process was needed.  When I returned, I joined Dad and Auntie and Auntie Maryann and later Auntie Sheila for breakfast, eggs florentine.  Back in the room, I bathed in the jacuzzi - would have been nice if the jets had worked.  Then I joined Adam Golove in the lobby where we hung out  until his room was ready then got lunch at Clyde's with the guys (Keith, Matt, David, and Mark).  Matt was generous in picking up the tab.  I remember that I was so full from breakfast that all I had was a plate of hummus.  We got back to the room to have the photographer take "getting ready" pictures.  It was there that we realized Mark wore the wrong color suit!  He insisted I told him blue, but he forgets that we went into his closet to pick out the navy blue suit he was to wear.  David eventually brought him the right suit, but all the pictures are of him in the wrong colored suit.  It didn't turn out to be a big deal.

On queue and on time, we walked over and took photos at Portrait Gallery before starting the tish at the shul.  From there, I gave my speech on this week's parsha and all the guys took turns debating how great my insights work.  The rest of the night was a blur: signing marriage documents, bedeken, wedding, dancing!  We got some great photos, managed to talk to every guest, and had a very meaningful ceremony.  I had trouble breaking the glass since it slipped out of the bag and I crushed it on the rug.  David was in pain and left after the ceremony to change shoes and missed the introductions.  I got choked up at our first dance (Everlong) and the dance with my mom (Rainbow Connection).

Our wedding ceremony!

It really was a great day!  I'm so glad I have running to help me appreciate these moments and take in a little bit of time to process what a great weekend it was!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Route 66 Marathon - 29th Marathon and 19th State

Tulsa seemed like a forced marathon, an effort to get in another state before the end of the year.  Laura had planned to join me but was accepted to go on a sponsored trip to Berlin the previous week and with upcoming Thanksgiving travel, sat this one out.  I missed her on the trip but was glad to have friends in Tulsa.  My high school friend Nicole went to college and never left so I got to spend time with her, her husband Bryce, and their daughter.  She ran the half marathon and was part of her company's marathon team.  I also met up with Derek, a friend I met running in Idaho.  He lives in Houston, but is from Tulsa, so coming back to run the half was a good option for him.  He had just returned from India on business.

The weekend started Friday night when Derek picked me up in the airport.  My flight to Midway and the connecting flight were uneventful.  We went to the hotel bar for dinner and he got a beer.  It was nice to catch up.  The following morning, it was raining, so I skipped my two mile shakeout run.  I went to a small bakery for breakfast before picking up my packet.  Back in my hotel room, I spoke with a fellow classmate at JHU who is defending her thesis sometime in December about tips for the defense.  Then, I joined Nicole and her family for lunch.  Nicole and I took a quick trip to the supermarket so I could get breakfast and pick up a few things.  She brought my by Oral Roberts University.

I am not sure what these hands are doing at Oral Roberts University.

After resting, I went with Derek and his wife to dinner.  It was nice to talk running and catch up.  In the morning, I got ready and he joined me in my room since it was right next to the starting line.  We warmed up and were ready for the race.  Since the weather was warm in the 60s and it was a bit humid from previous days' rain, I made the decision to try to hold a 7 minute mile.  That turned out to be a good decision, and I even dialed that number back by a few seconds, especially as I encountered the rolling hills and strong head wind.  The route wasn't too scenic, so I was in my head most of the time.  Since I'm learning trope to recite the Haftarah at my aufruf prior to my wedding, I was going over the sounds in my head.  It helped, especially in the later miles when I was just trying to hold on to a decent pace.  I finished in 3:14 and while it wasn't my fastest marathon, it could be my smartest and best tactical marathon to date.

Splits: 6:48/7:06/08/15/18/6:56/7:12/14/01/09/06/21/12/20/28/14/37/34/28/32/32/ 8:10/17/7:52/8:18/7:37/1:57 (.29) 10K - 44:03 10M - 1:11:12 - Half 1:33:41 - 20M 2:25:15 Overall 39/1682 Division Place 2 Gender Place 37/929

I was pleased to discover that I had won second place in my age group and will get an award in the mail.  After the race, I showered and walked to an Irish pub to meet Nicole and Bryce.  I was able to catch the Patriots game and a beer and enjoy some good food and brews and celebrate our accomplishments.

Nicole and I celebrate our victories and enjoy a sampling of good beer.

After, I walked back to check out of the hotel and passed Arnie's bar.  I still miss my late mentor.

Nicole dropped me at the airport and I flew home.  Overall, I'm glad I went to Tulsa and ran in a new state, Oklahoma.  Now, it's Snowball Series races for DC Road Runners Club and two bachelor parties and two weddings before the next marathon - likely New Jersey.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Ferris Bueller Tour of Chicago

Ferris Bueller had his day off, and I had a weekend to recreate it. Encouraged by my father who loves the movie, and inspired by this website, I spent my first day in Chicago trying to visit many of the sights he visited.  I had the day to myself because Laura flew in after work.  After leaving my bag at the hotel, I went to pick up my packet and meet my high school friend, Tuere Wiggins, for lunch.  We had some deep dish pizza near the convention center before I embarked on my route.  First, I hit the Art Institute and took a picture of Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

My father's favorite painting

After the museum, I went to Sears Tower - excuse me - Willis Tower.  While I tried to ascend, I was informed it was over and hour and $20.  One or the other, but not both, so I went on to Wrigley Field.

No October baseball in Wrigleyville

That night, I went to an Italian restaurant for some gnocchi, and read, watched baseball, and went to bed.  Well, Laura arrived a bit late, so I woke when she arrived.  Saturday morning, I went to Solider Field for the shakeout run hosted by Bart Yasso and Deena Kastor.  But, it was so crowded and I needed to get home that I left the run and headed back to the L.

Selfie with Yasso and Kastor

We got brunch with Laura's friend, Emily, and then I went to bath in my hotel room and rest.  For the pasta dinner, we went to Maggiano's and met Alex and Britt.  Then it was a good night's rest and up at 4AM for the 7:30 start.  I met Alex and we took a cab to the start.  I tweaked my right calf walking around on my sandals, but that didn't bother me during the race.  It crept up at mile 10, but I know it didn't hurt my time.  After waiting for the race to begin, we ran into Dan Burns who trained with us for DCRRC and ran with our team along with Joe Kane and Hirsh Kravitz.  We warmed up and then tried to get to the start, but they wouldn't let us both into corral A because I accidentally got placed in B.  I snuck into A, but I couldn't find Alex so we ran separately.

After the race, I waited for Alex who was tended to for cramping.  I met Britt, we left, went to the hotel room to shower, and went to Giordano's for deep dish pizza where Laura met us.  After stuffing our faces with beer and the stuffed pizza, Laura and I went on a boat tour of the river to see the architecture.  Then we walked around to Millennial Park, walked to John Hancock and got a drink at the top in the lounge (way too long a wait to go up and then to get seated), and then got sushi near our hotel.  We left for DC early in the morning.

Sears/Willis Tower in the background while on the river cruise

Random Race Memories:

I really thought I was going to go sub 3 today. I knew early on that I was nailing the miles even though my GPS was erratic due to the skyscrapers so I trusted it to even out which it did. Was going to run with Alex but we were separated at the start due to being placed in different corrals. It really was a flat and fast course.

My splits:

6:47/34/7:05/6:41/45/47/44/46/48/49/46/44/36/47/50/51/54/7:01/08/16/39/48 /55/53/36/30/ 3:00 (.44) - 21:09 5K; 21:10 10K; 21:07 15K; 21:25 20K; 21:12 25K; 21:47 30K; 23:34 35K; 24:25 40K; 10:09 to finish 3:05:58 finish 1st half = 1:29:21 2nd half = 1:36:37; 1488 OA, 231 AG, 1304 M

Our race team of Joe Kane, Alex Albertini, Dan Burns, and Hirsh Kravitz and me placed fifth in our category.

Just a few miles to go!

Vancouver not BC, Washington not DC

This race fooled me.  I really thought I was playing it smart by trying to hold a 7 minute pace and just glide in around 3:05, or at least under 3:08 where I thought the cut off line for Boston 2015 would be.  It was a cloudy day with some drizzle at the start, but I quickly regretted bringing a hat to keep the water out of my eyes as the rain stopped and I ended up ditching the hat in the second mile rather than lugging it around.  The first half of the marathon was very flat and on a highway and boring, but I was able to hold my pace.  The second half had a few hills and a monster hill around the "Wall" that stole time on the way up and crippled my thighs on the way down.  The weather was deceivingly humid - I thought the weather in June was going to be fine, and it mostly was except for the humidity.

I also probably walked way too much the previous day.  We stayed with my friend Howie and his
wife, Helen, in Portland, and walked around touring the city. For future marathons, it is important that I really rest the prior day. The point of the trip was to have a vacation and get me another state.  We did have a good trip as we took in Portland (visited Voodoo Donuts, a brewery, some bookstore) and we also drove to Seattle (took in the original Starbucks and saw the flagship Nordstrom's, watched a Mariners game, walked the city, went to the huge market, ran along the shore, took a ferry to Bainbridge Island, went up the Space Needle).

Random Race Memories:

Ran with Ryan Hagen from Kirkland, WA - his first marathon; not much to see as on highway then neighborhoods and industrial area; really strong finish and Bart Yasso announced my finish and tweeted at me later; passed a limping woman in the last half mile and tried to get her to finish which she did; got a massage and walked around Portland all afternoon and didn't feel so sore - in fact could probably have run a mile or two.

My splits:

6:58/59/7:02/03/02/00/00/03/00/6:56/7:01/04/08/21/23/21/13/21/44/8:43/7:15/45/8:14/14/35/09/55 seconds last .15 - 12/58 AG 47/757 OA
Bart Yasso greets me at the finish with a high five!

Boston recap

While I am tardy in posting my results from 2014 Boston, it's probably because I am not very pleased with my effort.  I had a great training season and set personal bests in a few race distances - most notably the half marathon (Rock N Roll Half - 1:25:47) and Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (63:11).  The cost of these PRs was that I was overtrained, suffered a bad taper, and didn't carb load properly (more on this later).

I had a pretty good training cycle, but by going all out for a half four weeks prior and a ten miler two weeks prior to Boston, it left me exhausted for the race.  Sometimes I think that I am superman.  I also suffered by not properly getting a good carb load since the race occurred during Passover.  I was interviewed by Washington Jewish Week about how I balanced observing Passover with training for Boston.

Finishing the 2014 Boston Marathon in under 3:30

Sara and Lisa greet me on Heartbreak Hill

Random Race Memories:

I knew early on around the tenth mile it wasn't going to be my day, but I was surprised at how tired I was - definitely poor taper. Amanda Hicks passed me and I cheered her to finish strong; took a picture with Lisa McAvoy and Sara on Hearthbreak Hill again; ran with Arnie - boy did he not aid me! Happy to finish. Bad carbo loading with maztah, quinoa, and potatoes - I do rely on pasta, but glad I kept Passover.

My splits:

21:51; 43:33; 1:05:32; 1:29:48; 1:35:00; 1:54:55; 2:21:42; 2:49:37; 3:17:49 (5K splits) Overall 9029

Yet, there is no such thing as a "Bad Boston Marathon." I'm reminded of this as my 3:09:27 wasn't good enough for entry into Boston 2015, 29 seconds short of the cut off line. I will have to wait until 2016 to try to run Boston as well as I know I can.

Full text of article:

In Boston, a celebration of running

After running a little more than three hours, Kenny Ames crossed the finish line at Monday’s Boston Marathon and began eating from his box of Passover Tam Tams.
Ames wouldn’t have minded celebrating with a beer, but due to the holiday, he went with “the little crackers for Passover that are so awesome.”
The 118th Boston Marathon was the third for this D.C. resident. He finished, but didn’t meet his goal of running the 26.2 mile course in under three hours.
“I do think Passover affected me this time. I was not able to carbo load,” Ames, 36, said, referring to his normal heapings of pasta before a race. Instead, he digested lots of potatoes, apples, bananas and yogurt.
“I definitely felt tired earlier than I normally do,” he added, “To me, it’s more important to observe the holiday than to run a marathon.”
For Jewish Washington-area runners at the marathon, Passover was just another hurdle to cross. A year after the bombing that killed three and wounded more than 250, Ames and others saw a city that boasted extra security and heightened pride.
Ames’ parents waited for him at the finish line, just as they had last year.
Fortunately, in 2013 he finished the race about 85 minutes before the bombs went off “so we were long out of the city.” While he didn’t witness any of the devastation, the human toll still weighed on his mind.
“This is so much attached to it. I’m going to have to keep my emotions intact,” he said several days before Monday’s race. The Brookland resident generally runs 50 to 60 miles a week.
There was more security this time. Because runners weren’t allowed to leave bags around, the warm-up jacket and pants that he wore when he first got to the athletes’ village about three hours before race time had to be thrown away, he said.
Warren Margolies of Bethesda also noticed the increased security. ”They were really adamant that you had to show your bib number” when walking around the athletes’ village, he said. He also noticed “snipers on the roof of the middle school.”
Margolies, 33, also saw “a heightened sense of pride in the city. You saw so many Boston Pride shirts.” He called the 2014 Boston Marathon, his second one, “a celebration of running.” The real estate attorney, who has now run five marathons, said Monday’s race was “very special. It seemed like the right thing to do after last year. I feel honored to be there.”
He also was pleased with his time of two hours, 50 minutes and 31 seconds, noting, “I did well.”
Margolies usually runs 45 minutes to an hour every day. “I just clear my head. I can think things through,” he said. Running gives him “inner peace, peace of mind. It gives sort of order and discipline to my life.”
Scott Zoback also was among the marathon’s 35,671 entrants. The 31-year-old had two strong reasons to run in this year’s race. He joined a team supporting Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where his father was a patient for four years before he passed away in 2007.
But Zoback, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), also wanted to return to Boston after witnessing the bombing as a spectator at last year’s race. “I was diagonally across the street from the second bomb,” he said.
When the first bomb exploded, he and his friends weren’t sure what happened. “But when the second one went off, we knew this was purposeful. People started running, trampling,” he recalled. Despite that, Zoback said he had “zero” concerns about security while running through the streets of Boston on Monday.
“The deeds of a couple aren’t going to change how we as a state feel,” the Worcester, Mass., native declared. He was proud of how the crowd “was urging you on at every point. The way Massachusetts came out for this race, it was definitely emotional out there.”
He’s glad he ran, although he said the heat took a toll on his time. So did Passover. “I have never eaten more potatoes in a week than I did” prior to the race, he said. Zoback was happy this year to be able to eat the grain quinoa, which is new to the Passover menu.
Two family seders also created a challenge to his training schedule. However, “There are always hurdles to overcome,” he said. “A little family Seder isn’t going to get in the way of six months of training.”
All his emotions and training culminated in having a medal placed around his neck. “There is no feeling like it in the world,” he said.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ready for Boston!

I haven't been able to write as much as I would have liked because I have been finishing up my master's thesis.  I turned it in on April 2 and now I wait for comments from my reviewers; the defense is likely May 5.  It's title Social Media #FTW!: The Influence of Social Media on American Politics.  Message me if you would like to read it.

This week, I'm preparing to run the Boston Marathon.  It's an exciting day as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes the day as a holiday and the Red Sox have their 11:05 AM start of a game.  I'm optimistic that it can be my fastest Boston to date based on some solid winter training and two recent personal bests in other distances.  I have raced well lately, in my opinion.  In March, five weeks before Boston, I ran the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon in DC in 1:25:47 - 15 seconds better than my previous PR.  The course was hilly so I think I had a faster time in me on a flatter course.  In early April, two weeks before Boston, I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in 63:11, blowing away my previous PR of 64:00 (on a course that was likely short).  I also had a good race at the Club Challenge, which is a notoriously difficult course with lots of challenging and long hills.

I didn't work with my coach this winter since I had too much on my plate (see thesis) so I trained myself.  Since it was a snowy winter, I relied on hill repeats instead of track which was likely icy.  The good part about hill repeats is that if there is a little ice or snow, you can still finish the workout.  I would run a longer warm up, like 6 miles, then do the hill repeats to practice for the hills of Boston that hit between miles 19-21.  I also did a long run of 16 miles around 7:30 miles then the following day raced a 10K so that I would practice racing while tired - again, preparing for the final miles of Boston.    In the two weekends between the half marathon and Cherry Blossom, I ran 22 miles as my long run and 21 miles the following weekend, each averaging a bit faster than 7:30 pace.  Physically, I am ready for this race.

Mentally, I think I am ready as well.  I have a lot on my mind.  Last year's Boston Marathon still echoes in my thoughts.  I truthfully have no idea how I will feel; my family and I were out of the city by the time the bombing occurred.  I know it will be emotional.  The recent passing of my mentor, Arnie Thomas, is weighing on my mind.  Last year, I ran in memory of two of my uncles that passed away in 2012.  I'm sick of running this race in memory of people I care about deeply - please let's not have anymore losses, okay?

I will try to use all this motivation in a goal of doing my best.  My A goal for the day is sub 3 hours; my B goal is sub 3:04 (which would be a PR); my C goal is sub 3:08 (to qualify for next year); and finally, if all else fails, I want to beat my time from last year of 3:19.  I have read and re-read the Sports Guy's article on the Boston Marathon, which I enjoy reading each year.  I'm looking forward to seeing my family.  I have been tapering while observing Passover, and it should be interesting to carbo-load without eating pasta or bread (I'm relying on potatoes, bananas, apples, and yogurt).

The 2014 Boston Marathon is only days away - I can't wait!!