Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spectating Running Bloggers at the Ravenswood Run 5k

The Ravenswood Run is my neighborhood's main race of the season, so I decided to go up and spectate (and take pictures and video) of the race. I love this race, because it is the home of my 5k PR and this year as a bonus, the race ran right in front of the Chicago Brauhaus and the rest of Lincoln Square. Anyway, I got to see some neighbors run as well as Chicago Running Bloggers and world class runner Tera Moody!

I took two videos. The first one is the first 15 minutes of all runners who ran past mile 2 and the second videos is a shorter video of runners from 15+ minutes onward They were taken in front of the Brauhaus at just past mile 2:
Video 1 (15 minutes of Leaders) :

Video 2 (rest of the runners):

I also got several pictures:

Women's leader Tera Moody by Chicago Brauhaus
Tera Moody flying by...
The eventual 3rd place winner, entering Lincoln Square
Fleet Feet runners going by the Fleet Feet Store Lincoln Square
2nd Place Female running by the Brauhaus
Anne from Anne Really Blogs on the left

A close up of Anne
Cate from GoodForYou on the left

I think the woman with the red shirt is Ashley from Patches and Paws
 Let me know if I missed anyone and I'll see if I can find your picture!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013 Race Recap

It's finally here: My Boston Marathon race recap! My intention with this post is to be upbeat and focus on my perspective of only the race-related events Monday morning/early afternoon. My last two posts have touched on the tragic events of that day.

(Just to get summarize, this was my post-race experience: I crossed the finish line some 80 minutes before the tragedy occurred and had just reached my hotel room two miles away when it happened. The rest of the day was spent watching the events unfold on t.v. and listening to and watching the constant of emergency/government vehicles outside my hotel window.) 

Again, this post is about the happy memories I have from the race. 

Note: All Boston Marathon runners got an e-mail notice that our official race pictures are still being reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. I only have pictures from my camera, which was in bag check during the actual race. 

Riding the "T"
I was assigned to an early bus from Boston to the starting line (in Hopkinton). The buses for my wave were leaving Boston Common between 6:00 and 6:30am. So I hopped on the "T" at the North End stop at around 6:00am. The "T" is Boston's trolley-like subway version of our "L" train.
Me and a Boston "T" car
Unfortunately, I just missed a train as I hustled down the North End stop stairs, so I waited another 15 minutes with an ever-growing mass of runners. I actually saw people walking over the tracks to get to the opposite platforms, which is shocking to see for a Chicagoan who is used to seeing the dreaded "third rail" signs:
Chicago "Third Rail" Sign
Apparently, the "T" is powered from overhead lines, so there is no electrified third rail. 

Anyway, I was getting anxious that I would miss my time window to get on a bus to the start of the race.  Fortunately, after 15 minutes another train finally arrived, and all of us runners were somehow able to squeeze on-board. I asked a Boston local which stop was best to get off at and he said it was Park Street Station. Google Maps had said to get off at the Boylston Street Station. So when we reached Park Street Station first, the rest of the runners, who were loyal to Google stayed on the train, but I trusted the Boston native and got off the train early. I took the stairs up to ground level. As I emerged from the stairwell, I realized I was right in the middle of the lines for the buses. Lesson: Always trust the locals.

Waiting for a Bus
Surprise! I emerged right in the middle of the bus pick-up lines
A look down the Tremont Street marathon bus lines along the Boston Common
The line moved quickly, and I was sitting on a bus in less than 10 minutes.

On the Bus to the Start
I sat next to a runner from New Jersey and talked to her for the entire trip, she got a picture of me in the bus:
In the Bus towards Hopkinton

This was her third Boston Marathon and she was targeting a time just around my target finish time. In an earlier post, I used historical training numbers to pinpoint that my current fitness would equate to a 3:26 marathon finish time. So, we briefly considered running together. However, with my race strategy (which you will find out about later) I thought it would be best to go it alone. 

Athletes' Village

We got off the bus and made our way to "Athletes' Village" which is the staging area for runners before we were herded into the corrals.
Making the short walk from the bus to Athletes' Village
A view of Athletes' Village
Waiting around
Besides having free water, gatorade, coffee, power bars and just about anything you could ever want pre-race, I noticed that they had the famous "Welcome to Hopkinton" sign out and the official photographer took my picture. I also sneaked a couple with my own camera:

In line for a photo op by the "Hopkinton" sign
Sneaky pic after my "official" pic
After that I wandered around and saw the road that led to the start line. The start line is about 1/2 mile down this hill:
Last picture before the race
I checked my plastic marathon bag, which I had to tape shut because it was falling apart. Then, I stood in line for the porta-potty as the announcer was calling my wave to get down the hill into town and into our corrals. It always seems like the next person in line in front of me takes forever in the porta-potty and I was getting nervous that my corral would close and I would be put in wave 2, which was 20 minutes after mine.

Luckily, the guy in front of me finally emerged and the port-potty door swung open! After finishing up quickly, I started walking down the hill to the corrals. I was walking next to a guy who was wearing bib 4991, and I was bib 4989. I asked him what is qualifying time was and he said 3:05:04. I qualified with 3:05:03. So, that one second difference meant two bib numbers higher.

The Start
I arrived at my corral with about 5 minutes to spare at 9:55 am. I don't think they closed the corrals until the race started, which was quite nice. Big Chicago race corrals close 15 minutes or so before race start. The corrals were in the quaint downtown area of Hopkinton and since you couldn't see too far up the hill to the starting line, it seemed more like a small town race start on a relatively narrow street. They briefly introduced the elite runners, and before I knew it, the race was underway. I threw my "disposable" sweatshirt and sweatpants over the railing and started walking to the starting line. After three minutes of walking I finally crossed the start line.

Run-Walk Race Strategy
This is probably a good time to talk about my race strategy.

I had been deliberating using Galloway's run-walk-run race strategy ever since I started recovering from my ankle injury six weeks before the race. In the six weeks prior to the marathon, I was not able to put in much mileage. I had to slowly ramp up the miles after my injury and maxed out with only one week at 50 miles. In fact, in my entire training cycle I ran only ONE long run of 16 miles! So, to avoid the dreaded marathon "collapse point", I needed a way to make it through the "wall" and still post a decent finish time. I wanted to be able to enjoy the final miles, instead of taking the risk that I would be dragging myself to the finish in pain.

From my 2011 NYC Marathon experience, I found out that I could run a pretty good pace despite taking occasional walk breaks, even with very little training leading up to the marathon. In NYC I only took a few random walk breaks in the first 16 miles. Because of the walk breaks, I felt so good at mile 16, I stopped taking them entirely, Quitting the walk breaks this early in the race resulted in a near total collapse at mile 23. I needed to do something different at Boston. So, for the Boston Marathon, mile 20 is the hardest mile, so I knew I wanted to pace myself and save some energy for mile 20. My race strategy would be to do run-walk-run until mile 21 of the Boston Marathon. I promised myself if I felt fresh at mile 21, I would stop taking walk breaks and only run from miles 21 to 26.2.

The key to the run-walk-run race strategy is to take walks early and often, so your legs are kept fresh. Also, since you are walking, you are still moving, so you are not losing too much time if you keep them short enough. I was going for a 5 minute run to 35 second walk ratio.

As I mentioned earlier, I had calculated my current fitness level which indicated that I was fit enough to complete the marathon in 3:26, which approximates to a pace of about 7:30/mile run portion with 35 seconds of walking every 5 minutes.

The Race
Mile 1: The first mile of the race is essentially a long, narrow downhill stretch, so I started out too fast. I also did not have enough open space in the road for my first walk break at minute 5, so I had to hop up onto the grass along the woods as to not be knocked over by the runners coming up from behind. My walk only lasted about 25 seconds, but at least I got one in. Lots of guys were relieving themselves along the woods by the side of the road. One walk break. Average pace for the mile: 7:21.

Miles 2, 3 and 4: These miles go through at town called Ashland, and are also downhill. Except for mountain hiking, I have never run this long going downhill in my life! My normal loose shoelace job was allowing my toes to slam against the front of my shoes. A blister was inevitable. A biker bar with about 200 bikers cheering us on was blaring "Born to Run" as we raced by. I found a video someone took of the bikers watching us go by. From the video, it looks like beer and jello shots were plentiful:
See if you can spot me, I was wearing a blue hat and green shirt! I couldn't, but I went by about this time. 

I was either running too fast, or not walking long enough as my pace was too fast. Four walk breaks total: 7:38, 7:37, 7:07.

Miles 5, 6, 7: We ran through the outskirts and the in-skirts of Framingham. This stretch is also slightly downhill, with a few uphills. At mile 5, I had to use the porta-potty. The first porta-potty door indicator I spotted was green, so I opened the door, and the person inside had forgotten to lock it. Oops! Luckily someone was leaving another one, and I darted inside. After I emerged, I ran through the town. I must have heard my name shouted 100 times. I was wearing a "Pete B!" sign pinned to my shirt. Three walk breaks total: 7:587:437:27.

Miles 8, 9, 10, 11: We ran through the town of Natick. The net elevation change was not too drastic, but there were a few large hills. I took orange slices and tissues from spectators. A little kid gave me a blue frozen drink plastic tube thingy. I ate my first gu and washed it down with a bottle of water a spectator handed to me. Another runner warned me not to take any water from spectators near the colleges in the second half of the race as some of them put vodka in the water cups. Spectators gave me lots of high fives and name shout outs, as I ran along the right hand side of the road. Five walk breaks total: 7:577:378:087:59.

Miles 12, 13, 14, 15: The fact that I train on almost completely flat roads and the fact that my shins were not used to absorbing all of the downhill impact was started to make my right shin sore. I started to worry about how I would handle having an all out painful shin splint at this point. Worst case, I would have to drag my bum right leg another half marathon. Luckily, the concern I had over my shin soon faded as we passed Wellesley College and its hundreds of screaming women. They all wanted a kiss, and held up signs like "Kiss Me, I'm a Hedonist" or "Kiss Me, I Use Tongue" or "Kiss Me, I've Had Lots of Practice". The road was a madhouse as guys who were excited by all of the beautiful and seemingly available college women, darted in front of me to go to the side of the road to give the women what their signs were asking for! Unfortunately, this was not a walking break section for me, so I blew all of them kisses as I ran by, which they seemed to enjoy! Five walk breaks total: 7:47, 7:47, 7:49, 8:24.

Miles 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21: This is the toughest section of the course that includes the major uphill climbs on which are known as the "Newton Hills".  I really enjoyed my walk breaks over this section! When I walked, I walked along the left side of the road and got lots of name calls and high fives by hundreds of smiling spectators encouraging me up the hills. I also had another gu and water. The final hill at mile 20 to 21 is called "Heartbreak Hill" and it is the longest, steepest hill on the course. I was contemplating running up the entire hill, but I stuck to my plan and forced myself to not be macho and to take my final walk break before I crested the hill. After this point my race would start and I could let "the beast out of the bag". Ten walk breaks total: 7:46, 8:22, 8:08, 8:16, 7:59, 8:43.

Miles 22, 23, 24, 25: I still get goosebumps thinking about these four miles. I was finally "free" of my walk breaks,  the sun was out and I was on top of Heartbreak Hill looking down towards Boston running the freaking Boston Marathon! My endorphins were surging to all-time highs! I decided I was going to put on a running clinic, and treat the remaining 5.2 miles as a race. I would give it all I had all the way to the finish. As I sped up, the spectators along the road noticed me speeding up, and they started going crazy, seemingly everyone of them calling my name. Mile 21 was mostly downhill, and emboldened by the fans, I put up a pace as fast as my slowly stiffening legs could handle. I literally started passing hundreds of runners. It felt incredible after being passed for 80% of the race. I had to weave in and around runners. I held back tears and promised myself not to cry until the finish line. By the mile 23 marker, I started to realize that my legs were really starting to stiffen, I had not run anywhere near this mileage since the Chicago Marathon last October. So, I began to reel myself back in. I decided to slow down so I would have something left for the last 1.2 miles. I took no walk breaks: 6:45, 6:56, 7:17, 7:29.

Miles 25, 26, 26.2: Everything became a blur, the crowd noise was deafening, the streets were packed with spectators, this was it, the finish of the Boston Marathon! I was in a foggy zone, but I also realized that I could potentially break 3:25 and BQ at Boston, but those hopes quickly faded as my legs got harder to turn over, especially as we went down and back up a tunnel. I had the lungs left, but my legs were giving way. I made the turn onto Boylston street, slowed down at the finish to make the victory sign with my arms and to look up into the cameras. I was finished. No walk breaks: 7:30, 7:52, 7:36.

Official Finish Time: 3:25:40
 (only 20 seconds difference from my predicted time!)
I actually ran 26.5 miles, probably from lots of weaving.
Post Race
We had to walk about 0.25 miles until we hit the first Gatorade stand, and I gulped some Gatorade down. We proceeded on to get water, more Gatorade, bananas and even dinner rolls! We got our "heat shields" and finally our medals. I got the following shots once I picked up my gear bag:

Runners making their way to the exits
Red Gatorade smile anyone?
Note the guy changing by the bus
My medal and "Pete B!" sign on my shirt
After the race I went back to the "Park Place" "T" stop and took the train the two miles back to my hotel. Not only was I riding the train, I was riding on an all-time high. My euphoria lasted another hour. However, now that I have been able to look back on my race, a little more of that euphoria has returned.
I am excited to run Boston again and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Boston Marathon 2013

I ran the 2013 Boston Marathon and it made me realize how many caring people there are in the world. It seems that almost every person who is even remotely connected to me, contacted me to check on my well-being while I was in Boston. The only thing I can compare it to was feeling like George Bailey at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" when he realizes how many people care about him and how truly fortunate he is. I am also grateful to all of the people in the running blogger community who sent me well-wishes. I consider all of you my friends, even though I haven't even met some of you. We are bonded by our love for running and when a tragedy happens that friendship is made even more evident. I am truly fortunate to have found a place where I can share the joys and the pitfalls of our sport.

I also want to say how incredible each and every person in Boston and in the towns along the marathon route was. I have never experienced such support, from every friendly volunteer to all of the random people handing out aid and encouragement along the 26.2 route. To think that some of those strangers lined up along the home stretch shouting my name at the top of their lungs were gone or in hospital rooms a handful of minutes later is something I can't even grasp.

I am safely home now, and will post a Boston Marathon race recap soon. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

Chaos at Boston

Explosions went off near the Boston Marathon finish line just about 80 minutes after I finished the race. The euphoria of my finish has evaporated and I feel sick for all of the victims who were mostly spectators.

I am staying near one of the hospitals, there are lots of ambulances going under my hotel window. The people inside were cheering me on this afternoon.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cheers to the Boston Marathon

Just a quick update as I'm typing on my phone and I don't do well with these tiny keys. Anyway, I got to Boston this afternoon.  On the walk from the hotel through the cobblestone streets of the Beacon Hill neighborhood, I stumbled upon "The Bull and Finch Pub" aka Cheers. Although, I did not see Sam Malone tending bar, I did drink a Sam Adams 26.2 beer, the official beer of the Boston Marathon!

At Cheers enjoying a 26.2
The bar where no one knew my name is down the stairs 

Eventually, I made it to the Expo. Got my bib and shirt. The expo is basically in front of the finish line, so I got a pic.

Hopefully I'll be doing this on Monday afternoon!

That's about all for now. I need to get off my feet! :-)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Determining My Boston Marathon Pace

Boston Marathon Finish Line 2012
As I head to Boston this weekend, the final thing I need to do is to figure out my marathon race pace. My training cycle was supposed to be 18 weeks long, but due to my injury that sidelined me in weeks 7, 9, 10 and 11, the cycle included only 14 weeks of running. Since my injury healed, I have been unwilling to risk re-injury to run a pace predictor run. So, I have to determine my pace by looking at previous marathons and trying to match my training mileage from each race with the resulting actual race pace. So, I made this table to compare my average weekly training mileage to my finish times.

Avg Weekly Training Mileage Over  LA '11  Chi '12 Chi '10 Bos. '13 NYC '11 
Last 13 weeks5847462537
Last 6 weeks605243419
Last 3 weeks5044404112
Race Finish Time3:053:103:38??4:10
Pace per Mile7:037:168:21??9:33

So, according to the above table, I should realistically run a pace that gets me somewhere between a 3:38 to a 4:10, since my training falls somewhere in the middle of Chicago 2010 and New York City 2011 training mileage. However, I didn't pace myself well in Chicago 2010 and I walked the final 3.2 miles in NYC 2011, so I need a better race to use to predict Boston.
NYC 2011
Luckily, I found a previous training cycle that matches darn near exactly to my current Boston training cycle. It's the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon from last year which I ran in 1:38. If I convert the finish time using the McMillan Running Calculator, I can get an equivalent marathon finish time:

Avg Weekly Training Mileage Over  Rock 'n Roll Half 2012  Bos. '13 
Last 13 weeks2325
Last 6 weeks4041
Last 3 weeks3941
Finish Time/Marathon Equivalent1:38 / 3:26??
Pace per Mile7:52??
The two training cycles are almost identical as far as mileage. So I am more likely in the 7:50 to 8:00/mile fitness range right now. So, all things being equal my pace should likely be somewhere around 7:55 (as long as I can put off hitting "the wall" too soon). Considering I was just getting out of injury jail six weeks ago, I'd be quite happy with a 3:26! 

Enough analysis, it's time to pack!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shamrock Shuffle 2013: Spectating and Seeing Lots of Chicago Running Bloggers

I run the Boston Marathon in a week. So as much as I wanted to run the Shamrock Shuffle this morning, I decided that my final taper should not include an 8k race. I want to arrive in Boston in one piece! So, I opted to just spectate the Shamrock Shuffle this year.

I did part of my morning run from my house to Fullerton Ave. Once there, I jumped on the Red Line train (full of runners) all the way to Jackson Blvd. Once in the Loop, I continued my run for about 2 more miles. Then, I parked myself in a nice spot on mile four of the Shamrock Shuffle course and waited for the runners to start pouring by.

Once the leaders started running by, I took a few HD videos which are now on youtube. I noticed there were three "Brooks Hanson" runners in the lead pack. (BTW I'm using their training method for the Boston Marathon, so I was glad to see them leading!)
Shamrock Shuffle Leaders near mile four
Anyway, I took videos for the first 15 minutes or so of the race. I was able to get screen grabs from my videos of several running bloggers:
First I saw Britt (aka Chicago Runner Girl)
Next up was John Garcia (aka Running News Guy)

Close behind was Amanda from Too Tall Fritz
Then Mo from I Heart Pikermis

Then Bob Richards from The Chicago Run Times

Then Maggie from MagMileRunner

Then Xaarlin came flying by...
Then Amanda from Get to Goal

You can see Britt starting around 8:44 in this video of the leaders:

John Garcia at 0:32, Mo at 1:51 and Xaarlin at 2:26 in this video:

You can see Bob Richards at 0:37,Maggie at 0:53, a "Joggler" at 2:16, and Amanda at 3:56:

Let me know if you're in a video and I can make sure I mention you, too! Anyway, I also got some various pics of runners before I headed to take the L home:
Green Guy
A young kid from the "B" corral who was hauling
A different kind of green guy
My neighbors Kirk and Sandi
More runners
The crowds hitting mile 4
It seemed like a great day for a race with the mild temps and the sun shining.  As I was leaving and descending the steps to go catch the Red Line, there were runners who had finished the race, waiting for trains and there were also runners runners ascending the stairs who were still making their way to start the race! I guess it must take over about an hour to get all of the corrals moving?  In summary, spectating the race was great and it really got me pumped for running in Boston next week!

**Update Sunday night**

Eric from ThisHobbitRuns found himself in video #3 at the 5:44 mark. See screen grab:
Eric from ThisHobbitRuns