Monday, April 28, 2008

Back From Boston

So I’m back from the Boston Marathon! Wow, what a race! This was my first Boston marathon, and it was everything I expected it to be. I think it can be hard for some to go back to road races after moving predominately to trail races, but I still love a good road marathon. While I’m loathe to the commercial culture which has slowly continued permeating the marathon culture over the past few years and tend to prefer the picturesque views at many trail runs, Boston seems to have everything all in one package. Its history is unmatched, its route unchanged, and its championship history legendary. While I was a bit turned off by the puffed up chests and ego displayed in conversation with some of the participants, I found most of the city preparing for their party with enthusiasm and charisma.

For some, it’s a chance to show off their marathoning talents on the marathon world’s biggest stage. For others, it’s the culmination of many years of working towards this race. And yet for others, it’s a reward for the charitable work they’ve done to help others. Just to put the level of competition in perspective, a 3:00:00 time at other regional races like San Diego’s Rock N’ Roll Marathon or the L.A. Marathon or the Honolulu Marathon will put you in the top 100, at this year’s Boston Marathon would leave you in 1239th position. I know it may sound like I’m overstating what many already know, but it is probably the most competitive of the major U.S. marathons. Nonetheless, the Boston Marathon represents very different things to many different people.

By the time race day came, I already had 3 days of sightseeing under my belt and really considered the Marathon and extension of the Boston experience. I found the crowds to be invigorating, almost intoxicating. The route winds through suburban Boston through small towns, with even smaller roadways. It can feel crowded with so many runners out there and the pockets of people who fill the sidelines of the route. But it is those same people that create the intimate race experience. I could just imagine that these same people had probably been out here having a good time and cheering on runners in generations past. I was not only a part of the race’s tradition, but I was probably also part of their Patriot’s Day tradition as well. I was merely a footnote, but a proud footnote nonetheless. Whether it’s the Wellesley girls that line mile 13, the Hash House Harriers handing out beer at mile 19 or the enthusiastically hammered co-eds at Boston College, the energy of the spectators is infectious.

The trip itself was truly an experience, a reward for the countless other races I’ve done. While I thought about sub-3 for maybe the first few miles of the race itself, I slowed to enjoy the experience. I was content to spend the necessary time to slap hands with many spectators (particularly children), get hugs from the Wellesley girls, and yap it up with the Boston College co-eds as I ran by down the last hill into downtown Boston. It got particularly emotional as I crested Heartbreak Hill. This was it; although there will be other Boston Marathons to PR, this race was my reward. It took a while to get over the hump, but now that I was here, I wouldn’t let the moment get away. I didn’t feel better than anyone or any more “elite” than anyone other runner out there who is striving for their reward; I was just happy that my hard work had delivered a satisfying reward. It meant more to me to be able to soak in this view of the city, these spectators along the course and then meet my brother downtown for a celebratory beer.

Here are the pics and a video from the finish area taken by the PowerBar folks of my brother Daniel and I. Onward to Uganda in less than 2 weeks……

Cheers and God Bless,


Monday, April 14, 2008

Training Miscellaneous and Boston Excitement

Hello again!
It is now 7 days until the Boston Marathon, and I am definitely excited. I was supposed to go on a training run with Alan Giraldi, a fellow Badwater entrant, but that was scuttled. I’m looking forward to running with him next week sometime after Boston if he’s available. As for Boston, I’ve never been there so I’m trying to plan the right itinerary. While there’s a lot going on that’s associated with the race, I do want to enjoy the city with those coming along. One must do: Tour of Fenway Park. Other than that, it's pretty much whatever. While on the whole, I think East Coasters see themselves much differently than West Coasters, the city definitely has much to offer the traveler. Besides, how else can I convince people to come on my crazy race adventures if I don’t at least offer a little bit of non-running related fun? Hehe.

As far as training’s concerned, a good 50 miles on the weekend helped me close the week well. Although I’m scheduled to taper leading to Boston next Monday, I’ll probably try to put in 45 miles total over the next four days. But the intensity for those miles will be very mild; more of fun runs than anything else. I just want to relax and enjoy the scenery of San Francisco before I really ramp down on the weekend before the race. Easy runs are great because they’ve just been reminding me of why I love running in the first place; the freedom to wander and be in my own space. I have to start taking a camera with me so I can give you all a glance at what I’ve been seeing. Since my training weeks include Monday-Sunday, next week will be two big mileage weeks (almost 100 and 105 miles) prior to leaving for Uganda.

One thing I am not excited about lately is this persistant ITB Syndrome. It has been getting progressively better, with targeted stretching becoming the norm. However, I don’t want this to persist, particular as I get closer to the meat of my season. The best thing for me to do right now is to rest when I can, ice after workouts, and stretch diligently. I might go with orthodics at some point, but the isolation of the pain to the right knee makes me wonder if there’s something going on related to my ACL tear from 10 years ago. Oh well; we’ll see.

I just want to give a HUGE thank you to all the donors who have already given for the Wells in Uganda! I am pleased that as of now, we have $1720. This is such a blessing and although there is much work to do in order to raise the total of $6000, I am hopeful that the generosity will continue and the work of friends/family who are also fundraising will pay off in the end. I hope that the people who have/will give will be blessed in their giving. A big thank you as well to the friends/family who are fundraising; I have full confidence that they will be successful and blessed in their efforts as well. Doing things for those who can not pay you back helps to re-center the heart, mind and spirit on that which is most important in the world. Good stuff, indeed.

God bless,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Onward To Boston and Africa

So, I’m back at it again. It’s been 3 weeks since my last post, and most of my time has been devoted to training, planning the Africa trip, and getting my fundraising back up and running ( I finally put together the training plan up until Badwater, which includes the time I’m spending away in Africa. While the trip does come in the middle of the training schedule, I’m hopeful that in the early mornings there I’ll be able to get 5-6 miles in before I eat breakfast and start my day’s itinerary. I don’t want to take away at all from what I’m doing there which is meeting with villagers where World Harvest Mission has built wells, speaking in local churches, and speaking with local schoolchildren. So, the mornings will probably be the best time to run. As far as heat training, that should be no problem there, considering that I’ll be on the equator.

I am incredibly excited about going there. This is why I work were I do and why I go the extra mile in my running. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining the whole 100 mile runs to people, but something like this speaks for itself. I love the people there and this is just an opportunity to connect my running to the greater purposes which fuel me. While there, I will visit the villages where the wells we. That way, I can show the sponsors the tangible places and people whose lives will be affected by their giving. The great thing about working with World Harvest Mission is that no money goes to administration since the organization is run by volunteers. So when they give $25, all $25 is put to work in the field to do the work. Probably the most exciting thing is seeing friends I worked with last time there. It’s been almost 6 years, so hopefully I recognize them. I'll post pics of my last trip to Africa in my next update.

As far as the running is concerned, the Boston Marathon is now 3 weeks away. I’ve had some IT Band stiffness over the last couple weeks, so I’ve been alternating rest and running. ITB is a common injury in trail running due to the uneven terrain which can stress the IT Band which runs down the leg.

While I’ve still be able to get my weekly long runs of 25, 23 and 20 miles, it’s limited some of my shorter runs and forced me to run them at a slower pace than usual. Although my lungs and aerobic fitness is still excellent, it keeps me from those faster paced tempo runs which help stretch the ability to keep a quick pace. I’m still targeting a sub-7:00/mile pace, just trying to best gauge how the IT issues will affect my overall performance. I expect that my marathon PR under 3 hours will probably not occur at Boston, but will probably have to wait until the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December. By then, I’ll have a good mix of speed training and long run fitness from my numerous ultras to take a hard look at setting an initial target of 2:55.

I’ve finished my initial training calendar for the rest of the year leading up to Badwater. The major goal race in the calendar is the San Diego 100 on June 7th. Another key race I just added in the past week is the Running With The Devil 50 Miler just outside Las Vegas ( It’s the last weekend of June, about 2 ½ weeks prior to the Badwater race. It’s a road race which will give me one last opportunity to evaluate my hydration, electrolyte and nutrition in a super hot environment. I plan on going at a pace commensurate with my expected pace for the first 42 miles through the Valley (10 min/mile pace), trying to be as even and consistent with my pace as possible.

What’s your goal race for the year? How are you preparing for it? How does each aspect of your training? Are you just running or are you adding weights, core and back exercises? These are questions that I continually ask myself, and hopefully you’re asking yourself when you’re mapping out where you’re going this year and in life.

Ok, it’s time for me to get back out there, keep stretching and make it happen. Take care, run hard and God bless.