T Minus 15

Exactly 15 days remain until the 118th annual Boston Marathon. And as a friend recently pointed out to me, “2 weeks before Boston and radio silence on the blog? WTF?” And therein lies the irony. If you write a running blog about the Boston marathon, and if you’re serious about doing well in said Boston marathon, you will find yourself very busy preparing for this marathon and therefore have less and less time to write about this marathon. Especially if you happen to be fundraising as well.

This morning I have a rare window of opportunity, so Mark and my other two fans, this post’s for you. Let me catch you all up on some of the highlights during the month or so since I last posted.

Corporate Cup Half Marathon (Race Simulation)

A few weeks ago, a friend who was unable to run this race transferred his bib to me. With training going well, I was afraid to disrupt the plan with an all-out race effort, so the game plan became to run a marathon simulation – I’d wear what I plan to wear on race day, I’d fuel the way I plan to fuel, and I’d run at goal-marathon pace (7:30-7:40). Tim, aka Gucci Freshness, heard about my plan and offered up pacing services for the run. Perfect.

As usual, I went out faster than planned, carried along by a wave of 1) Faster half-marathoners and 2) A bunch of 5K runners. For a split second, when I glanced down at my watch and saw 6:45 pace and yet I felt super comfortable, I entertained the idea of abandoning marathon pace and shooting for a half PR (1:29). I fought off the urge and slowed down, not quite to marathon pace, but well over 7:00.

But I felt great. After 2ish miles of cruising well below goal pace, I spotted Gucci and he jumped in.

For the next 11 miles, it was the Gucci show – I settled comfortably into pace, maybe a smidgeon faster, while Tim told stories, jokes, etc., and basically kept me laughing for the rest of the run. It felt like a casual long run, albeit a bit faster and on a hillier course than usual. An example of the kind of entertainment Gucci provided – when a couple of fast girls we know jumped onto the race course as part of their daily run, one of them grabbed a drink at a water stop, prompting Gucci to yell, “Party foul!” which set me to laughing. I won’t mention the girl’s name lest Tim Rhodes tracks her down and makes her pay for the cup.

Late in the race, running up the long, dreaded hill that is Morehead, Chad, having just PR’d and finished in second place with a smoking 1:15, joined us (along with his wife Danielle who was already running with us at the time – she was not the drink taker, by the way). I was still cruising casually, but Chad didn’t know that I wasn’t racing and so started to ‘motivate’ me. “Come on Allen, let’s go. Pick it up.” Not wanting to argue with Chad, I did.

So I ended up cranking out a 7:08 mile up Morehead. Unheard of. Here’s a pic Laura snapped shortly after we crested the hill, past the Dowd:

Finishing up the Corporate Cup with Gucci Freshness and Chad Crockford alongside.

Finishing up the Corporate Cup alongside Gucci Freshness and Chad Crockford.

I finished in 1:38 and change and felt great. If I come through the half at Boston anywhere near that time and feeling anywhere near that well, I will be ecstatic.

The Boston Course Simulation

Last weekend, Mike Moran (aka ‘Ghost’) organized a Boston Marathon simulation run. With my input – on several occasions, I’ve used the University hills to simulate the Newton hills of the Boston Marathon – Mike marked off a course (with a few longer/shorter options) that essentially mirrored the elevation profile of Boston, and with the toughest hills of the University area occurring roughly at the same spot where the Newton Hills lie on the Boston Marathon course.

Laura and I met a bunch of other runners at Tim and Sommer’s place, only about a mile away from the start of Mike’s run, and we all ran over to join the larger group. Laura’s plan called for only a few miles, so shortly into the run I joined Wen who had about the same distance and pace goals as me (from there anyway- she had run a few miles earlier with Sommer). Mike and his pals from Fleet Feet Huntersville had marked the course and strategically placed water stops, complete with water and Nuun.

For the first 16 miles or so, the run was pleasant as Wendy and I chatted generally about all things running and specifically about Boston. Then we hit the hills.

The wind was blowing hard on this day but was manageable as long as you were traveling down, or along the flat greenway stretches. But once we started up the hills, the wind was downright brutal, like gale-force brutal. At one point, I swear I was running in place against the wind – I felt like a sail and, full disclosure, I may have screamed a curse word or two. But we made it. And I can confidently tell you this – Heartbreak Hill has nothing on Senator Royall or David Taylor. I can only assume that these two guys were big-time sadists and thus had these bitch hills named after them.

Heartbreak's got nothing on this hill. Kind of hard to tell in this pic, but the hill just keeps winding up, up, up and closely emulates the length and elevation of Heartbreak.

Heartbreak’s got nothing on this hill. Kind of hard to tell in this pic, but the hill just keeps winding up, up, up and emulates the length and elevation of Heartbreak.

All in all, this run was a great simulation of the Boston course and a huge confidence booster. I told myself, if I can run up these hills into gale-force winds, I can run up the Newton Hills. None of that staggering/crawling up of 2012 – this year I plan to charge up that motherfucker.

Tick Tock

Those are some of the highlights of what’s gone down in the last month. I would tell you about the Angels of 97 5K and/or the big Triple C fundraiser, but my window of opportunity is rapidly shutting and I have to go run. Sorry. Instead, I’ll just tease you with this pic and caption:

Laura and I ran the Angels of 97 5K at about marathon pace, hence why we're grinning instead of grimacing. A guy told us later that he pegged us as the two eventual winners, what with the intimidating JITFO uniforms and all. His prediction was wrong.

Laura and I ran the Angels of 97 5K at about marathon pace, hence why we’re grinning instead of grimacing. A guy told us later that he pegged us as the two eventual winners, what with the intimidating JITFO uniforms and all. His prediction was wrong.

 

With the fundraising and the heart of training both basically finished, I can relax a bit as I spend these next two weeks tapering. Now I just need an assist from the weather gods who so royally screwed me in 2012 – I think they owe me one. As of post time, the weather predictions are looking pretty damned good, with the forecast currently at a low of 38 and a high of 53, or about 35 degrees better than the last Patriot’s Day I ran in Boston. I’ll take it – seems a wee bit better than 2012 (although I fully expect a freak blizzard or some other such weather phenomenon).

So in 15 days I’ll get something so many of us rarely get in life – a second chance. I plan to take full advantage of it. See you in Boston.

 

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