Monday, October 09, 2006

Boston... No Thank You

Both Mark and Mike mentioned that I should consider Boston as a possible Spring Marathon. To that I say, "No Thank You."

Mark wants to know if I'm scared. Absolutely! Scared that this country bumpkin' will end up wasting a perfectly good training cycle on an overpacked race course, spending precious energy fruitlessly (and stupidly) weaving through masses of runners.

Boston, how do I dislike thee? Let me count the ways:

1. My first and (so far) only DNF. It couldn't have been my poor race strategy and disregard for the effects of heat could it?

2. Too many runners on too narrow a course. I mean, we're all friends and all, but on our long runs, we don't cuddle. So it turned out I was unprepared for the closeness the Boston marathon promotes.

3. Pace? What pace? You run the pace of your assigned box. The box of runners comprised of the one in front of you, to the left of you, the right and just behind. Not to mention those runners at the corners to complete the phalanx. No sniper will get me!

4. Then there's atom smashing. My little box of runners occasionally will get ripped apart by an accelerating free runner smashing into our nucleus on its quest for H2O. Recombination occurs with amazing randomness and once again I am relegated to the pace assigned the new box.

5. Cheering crowds. Too much! I can't think!

Most of all, I admit, is that I had a really bad day. And it has tainted this race forever. How about quick snapshot of the splits from my post race report....

The decline by the numbers:

Mile 1 7:11 (crush of people)
Mile 2 7:06 (same - easy running)
Mile 3 7:08 (not happy but I figured on slow early miles)
Mile 4 6:43 (finally got into a faster pack)
Mile 5 6:44 (feels faster than this)
Mile 6 6:44 (happy pace is steady but I can't even squeak out the goal pace of 6:41)
Mile 7 6:37 (this should have been a 6:28 according to effort)
Mile 8 6:56 (race is over - same effort, slower pace - heat taking its toll)
Mile 9 7:00 (I know something is wrong - real wrong)
Mile 10 7:14 (slip sliding away - starting to worry about hydration)
Mile 11 7:54 (this is way too early to be feeling like this)
Mile 12 7:28 (had to push for this)
Mile 13 7:34 (push through 'hall of screams' at Wellesley College
Mile 14 7:54 (concerned now with only getting from one water stop to the next)
Mile 15 8:15 (walking longer through water breaks)
Mile 16 8:01 (downhill)
Mile 17 8:51 (falling apart at the seams - shuffling now)
Mile 18 9:24 (up very steep hill - legs turning to jelly)
Mile 19 8:39 (downhill - very painful)
Mile 20 9:08 (up very steep hill again - just surviving one mile at a time)
Mile 21 9:39 (up Heartbreak Hill - life is not good)
Mile 22 9:43 (downhill past Boston College - extremely painful)
Mile 23 13:26 (long bout of walking/shuffling/walking)

My goodness it hurts just to read that split list again. So basically, I have resolved to avoid big city marathons until I am able to run smoothly (basically in the upper ranks) or when the time comes that I don't care about such things anymore. Well, I'm not there yet on either account so I will keep running the smaller races.

Today starts week 2 of 2 of complete rest. It's a beautiful day. Marc's out running, Mike just did the Phedippidations half marathon and I am still sitting here obviously waiting for the weather to turn bad before I go out. In the meantime, I have put together my training program for the my '07 Sugarloaf attempt. The first two weeks are unstructured, followed by 19 weeks of fundamental marathon preparation. It follows the 102 mile / week Lydiard schedule with recovery pace running on alternate days. The 'quality' days consist of increasing my ability to run the marathon distance at a higher percentage of maxHR. That is two problems: 1) marathon distance (i.e. not 20 miles), and 2) higher heart rate. My program follows the advice of Renato Canova. Then it's on to marathon specific training for 8 weeks.

My goal right now (and this is really early so take with a grain of salt) is to run a 2:45:56 marathon (6:20 pace). My reasoning is nothing more than that this pace, while higher than 80% maxHR is still less than 90% during normal training and is also the result of the crude "clock predictor". The clock predictor being the theory that a well trained marathon runner should run his marathon pace at 45 seconds per mile slower than his pace for his 5k. (The clock is basically: 12 o'clock = 1 mile pace, quarter past = 5k pace, half past = 10k pace, quarter to = 1/2 marathon pace, and back to 12 o'clock = marathon pace). Rough as it may be, for some reason I like it. Perhaps for its simplicity or maybe because I just wish it to be true. (I did read that elites narrow this spread to 12 seconds per mile instead of 15).

So using this theory, it places my goal lofty enough to make it something that must be worked very hard for, yet within the scope of reason if I can improve my ability withstand higher paces for the entire distance. I will adjust the goal up or down as my conditioning dictates. For example, if I find I cannot withstand the training paces I will lower the goal pace (and thus the training paces) until my conditioning improves. Otherwise I do nothing but invite injury. I have read that running at the level you are at and not at what you wish to be is important for improvement. Currently, I can run 6:20 for "many" miles so I think it is a good place to start. That and the recovery pace running (albeit at high volume) should work. If not, we will know won't we?


Blogger Mike said...

Bold goal, but hell, why not? I think you are quite capable of it. I do wonder a bit about that 5K pace plus 45 seconds though. As with most +xxx second pacing strategies goes, I think it works well for the middle but gets flawed at either end. I like your HR perentage idea though. I look forward to reading about your progress.

10/09/2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger Duncan Larkin said...

Good call on not running Boston. I think you can run a 2:45, but just prepare yourself for a possible plateau while you work at it. If this sounds like advice given based on experience, it is. Good luck, Andrew.

10/09/2006 2:11 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

What a re-hash on Boston--that was a terribly hot year--after you run your 2:45 sign up and you will get in the first corral. Up there with fewer runners, a two hour earlier in the day start, and hopefully a cooler day will bring a markedly different race.

10/10/2006 6:21 AM  

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