CheapRunnerMike's Race Recaps - Boston 2016 and a Bunch of Triathlons

CheapRunnerMike

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Hi folks...I decided to post this as a training journal because it is just way too big to post in the Running Thread. Thanks again for all your support, you guys are amazing!

04.18.2016 - My First Boston


This past weekend I was fortunate enough to run the Boston Marathon, the crown jewel of the marathon circuit. I had qualified for the race way back in January of 2015 at Disney, which now seemed like an eternity ago, but the time was finally here.

I have been training for my first Ironman this year so my marathon training has been different than in years past, but I am working with a great coach and I trust her training. I had a great race two weeks ago at Around the Bay in Hamilton and had every reason to believe I was on track for a great result in Boston as well. My main goal going into the race was to enjoy the experience more than anything…I really didn't want to focus on a time goal, but seeing how well my training had been in the last couple of months I was expecting to have a real shot at a sub-3 hour run.

Michelle and I got into Boston on Sunday morning and quickly checked into our hotel before heading down to bib pick-up at the expo. The expo was pretty cool with all the major vendors represented, but there were just too many people for me and I wanted to get out of there. I bought the obligatory Adidas jacket and Michelle picked up a shirt from Saucony and we took off in search of lunch. We ended up finding a cool little joint called 'Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe' that was full of history and had some great food too.


After taking an afternoon break back at the hotel we headed off for dinner at City Hall where the official pre-race pasta dinner was being held. Runners received a complimentary ticket and guests were $25 so we figured it was probably cheaper than anywhere else we would find in downtown Boston. The location wasn't great for us from our hotel, it was a hotel shuttle ride plus a decent hike after we were dropped off. The food itself was okay but certainly nothing special, and it was buffet style filling up styrofoam boxes. We then ate at cafeteria tables. I would have rather just gone to Olive Garden to be honest…we'd skip this dinner if we ever come back. We headed back to the shuttle pick up location but it was nowhere to be seen, so we just walked the rest of the way back to the hotel, nearly a 5K walk in total. Lots of walking the day before a marathon, probably not the best strategy.


I ended up having a great sleep which isn't always the case the night before a big race and when the alarm went off at 4:30 I was ready to go. I got dressed and Michelle and I went downstairs to grab breakfast…with the race start not until 10:00 I was able to get a pretty decent meal in. The hotel we stayed at had a great breakfast and they opened it up early on Marathon Monday for the runners. Breakfast started at 3:30 and when we walked in shortly before 5am the staff cheered for me…I was their first customer of the day :) I had some pancakes and greek yogurt to fill up on and then it was off to catch the hotel shuttle to the bus loading area before heading off to the Athlete's Village in Hopkinton. I caught the shuttle with a young guy named Kevin who was also running his first Boston and we stuck together up until it was time to head into our corals. The weather was cool when we arrived in Hopkinton but the sun was shining and we knew the temperature was on the rise. I ditched my throwaway sweatshirt and headed off to my corral, ready to run.

The corrals were packed tight and there wasn't much room to move let alone get any warmup in. A couple minutes before the starting gun went off I looked to my left and saw my buddy Laura only a couple people over…I snaked through the crowd and said hi. It was nice to catch up a bit and wish each other well before we set off. She's a rockstar running her third straight Boston!

10:00 rolled around and the elites took off…I was in the first wave as well, back in corral 4, so I had to wait a couple minutes to get across the start line. It was pretty incredible to see the river of people heading down the hill at the start, all bobbing in unison like a giant tidal wave rolling towards Boston. The running was congested, just as I had expected, and plenty of people were taking off at a pace I knew I didn't want to run at. I was planning to run around 4:20-4:30/km for the first 5K as the descent is around 70m and you can really trick your legs into running fast out of the gate if you aren't careful.

I stuck to my pacing and came through 5K at 21:50…the course levels out a bit at this point as we head into Ashland and Framingham and at this point I was looking to build a bit of speed. I dropped my pace to run 4:10-4:15 and I managed to stay here all the way through to 15K. My split at 10K was 43:12 and things were looking good. There were a couple of developing issues though, the first being that my armpits had started to chafe almost right away, I'm talking about a kilometre in or so. This despite bathing in Body Glide :( It was the first run I had worn a singlet for this year and my pits were not happy. The heat was rising and the sun was beating down…no shade on this course. I knew the heat would be a factor so I was taking in water at every aid station and when I hit 15K I had to make a quick pit stop…I wasn't willing to pee my pants with two-thirds of the race still to go.

After my quick port-a-potty stop I felt much better and continued clipping along at a good steady 4:10-4:15ish pace, right where I wanted to be. I passed Kevin along the way and cheered him on and I caught up with Laura again as well. I pulled in beside her to see how she was doing and she was making the smart decision that it was not going to be her day. She let off the pace a bit (but honestly, not too much…she still finished with a great time) and let herself enjoy the race. I wished her well again and took off through Natick and on to Wellesley and the famous kissing girls of Wellesley College. Wow what a rush that was! So much energy as you are subjected to the scream tunnel…it was a blast and you couldn't help but laugh at the signs the girls were holding up in hopes of getting a smooch. Boosted by their energy, I cruised through the halfway point at 1:31:15…pace was still looking really good and not fluctuating at all.


I kept pushing hard through the next couple kilometres, making sure to keep drinking at the water stations and keeping my fluids up, but coming up on 25K I was starting to get some mild cramping in my side and my stomach was fighting some GI issues. I knew I could fight through it and watch my pace drop or I could jump in to the next port-a-potty I saw and just deal with the issue as quick as I could and hope my pace would stay strong. I opted for the latter and it cost me a little over a minute but I felt a lot better…I actually had my fastest split of the day after taking care of business. At this point I was now closing in on 30K as I entered the dreaded Newton Hills. I had trained for the hills for months and felt like I was ready for them…my pace dipped a bit but that was to be expected. I made the turn at the Fire Station and was still feeling decent. I was passing people as I climbed the hills but felt good…there was no walking these hills for me. I held my pace around 4:30 for the first couple hills and then on the big ones through to Heartbreak Hill I kept it close to 5:00 (8:00/mile). I was through the toughest part of the race and it was a nice downhill run into Boston from here over the final 8K. Only problem, I was toast.


I wanted to push but I couldn't. I was boiling hot but had goosebumps…never a good sign. Dehydration and heat exhaustion were setting in and I just hard to work as hard as I could to push on to the finish. I knew that there was no way sub-3 was going to happen…I knew that after bathroom stop number 2…and now I knew that I was likely going to miss out on getting under 3:10 to get another BQ. My new goal became "don't walk". I made a special effort to take in the sights around me and enjoy the crowd…and what an amazing crowd they were. People lined the entire length of the course urging you on every step of the way. It is a crowd that can't be described, only experienced. I saw the Citgo sign I knew I was close. I passed by Fenway and then shortly after 40K I heard "Go Michael! Woo Hoo!!!" and looked over to see Michelle cheering me on…if there was any moisture left in my body I might have been able to produce a tear.


I gave her a smile and thumbs up and pushed on to the finish. It gave me the boost I needed and I was able to pick up my pace to the finish.



I crossed the line with a time of 3:12:16, which actually works out to be my second fastest marathon. I was pleased with my effort, knowing that I gave it everything I had on a tough day on a tough course. It would have been easy for me to throw in the towel once the going got tough and my goals had slipped away, but I adjusted and thought back to my original, most important goal…enjoy the experience because you never know if you'll be here again. That goal was a success!

I met Michelle afterwards in the family reunion area and we hopped a cab back to the hotel to rest…I was knackered. Eventually we got up and got moving again and headed off to watch the last runners cross the finish line hours after the race had officially come to a close. People were still out cheering runners on and we were proud to be a part of it. Shortly after we found a little pizza joint called 'Woody's' that served some pretty delicious wood-oven pizza as well as equally delicious Guinness. I may have had a pint or two ;)

We polished off our dinner and went over to the afterparty at Fenway Park…I've always wanted to go and didn't want to pass up the opportunity to get on the field.



We wrapped up the day with a nice long walk back to our hotel and I collapsed in bed for a well-deserved good night's sleep.

I have to say that in the days after the race I was really overwhelmed by all of the support I received from people…people in my personal life, at work, from up at the cottage, on Strava, Facebook, the DIS Boards…everyone was so supportive! There are too many of you to thank but please know every one of you that I am humbled and truly appreciate your cheers and well wishes. THANK YOU!

 

LSUlakes

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Nice recap and congrats again on running Boston! I was curious how the pre race meal thing was, I was just always told to avoid buffet type meals before a race. I think we ate in "Little Italy" in 2013. The heat forced nearly everyone I know to run a slower race. It would be great if the race started earlier, but it would be a logistic nightmare and it just wouldn't be Boston. The folks in the last corrals really get beat up from the warmer temps as they start nearly an hour after wave 1 and usually run 1-2 hours slower. Thanks for posting the recap and good luck with your iron man!
 
  • ZellyB

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 18, 2010
    Great recap, Mike. What a great experience that sounds like and I loved all your photos!! Congratulations on having a great race and accomplishment!!
     
  • CheapRunnerMike

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2014
    2016 Woodstock Triathlon Recap

    I kicked off my 2016 triathlon season this past weekend at the MultiSport Canada Woodstock Triathlon. There is usually a pretty great turnout for this race as it is the first race of the series and Woodstock is in a nice central area for Southwestern Ontario. The longest race offered is a Sprint triathlon, so I was slated for a 750m swim, 20K bike and a 5K run…basically just a training day that would let me see where my racing legs were at.

    Michelle and I drove down early Saturday morning and I was able to get my bike racked and bib picked up quickly, giving me plenty of time to set up in transition and say hi to a lot of familiar faces, many of whom I hadn’t seen since last season. This was also our London Triathlon Club club race, so I had plenty of team mates around as well (not to mention our team tent fully stocked with cold water and Gatorade – thanks Tom!). Even Coach Sheri showed up to race with Coach Scott in the relay…it was going to be a fun day.

    The weather forecast was not looking very good leading up to race morning with rain, wind and thunderstorms being a near certainty, but race morning arrived with sunshine and a lot of wind. It was also getting hot and humid right away, and I was sweating as soon as I got in my wetsuit. A kiss from Michelle and a couple last minute well-wishes with a few other athletes and I popped into the lake for a quick warm-up swim (where I managed to smack heads with another swimmer, ouch!). I was in wave 1, and we were starting right at 9:00, one minute after the pros (an awesome field too, including Lionel Sanders & Alex Vanderlinden).


    Swim - 750m
    12:44 (1:41/100m), 1/27 AG

    The swim was a bit dicey right from the start…everyone kinda freaks out and spazzes a bit, resulting in me taking a Jimmy Superfly Snuka-worthy elbow to the goggles, compressing the left goggle so tight all I could see was black and my right goggle slid halfway down my eye. I continued on through the melee for about 25m before popping my head up to fix them…back at it. As I cruised past a number of people I experienced something I have never had happen in a triathlon swim before…multiple times someone actually grabbed my leg. I’m not talking brushing my leg or tickling my toes, but a full on clutch accompanied by a pull back. Seriously, ***? There has to be faster swimmers than me to latch on to!

    I made the turn at the first buoy and started dealing with a bit of chop but I think I was handling it better than others as I continued to swim by people. I made the second turn and began heading back to the beach and even noticed that I was going by some purple swim caps, which belonged to the Pros and Elite Age Groupers that went off a minute before me. I hit the beach and saw 12:30 on my watch, a time I could certainly live with. A quick sprint up the hill to transition (T1 1:09, meh) revealed a very full bike rack…always a good sign!


    Bike - 20K
    34:39 (34.6km/h), 2/27 AG

    I jumped on my bike and started up the first hill out of the park. This is supposed to be a no-passing zone for safety and there was one guy ahead of me put-putting his way up it…he was maybe doing 15. I waited and waited and finally got to the top of the hill and blew past him. Very frustrating, but I understand that it probably gets a bit messier as the race goes on and the hill gets more congested. Once I was out of the park and on the open road the wind came whipping by in full force. The bike course is an ‘n’ shape and the 30+kph crosswinds were hard to take. I saw a few guys out there with deep dishes and even discs and I really don’t know how they managed. About 2K from the turnaround I saw the green flash of Lionel Sanders blow by the other way and I have to admit it was pretty impressive. Not far behind was Alex Vanderlinden and then a steady stream of cyclists…I was sitting back about 20 spots or so. I made the turn and tried to stomach a gel (got half of it down I guess?) and then it was time to put the head down and really fight the wind. I had gone into the race hoping to nail the bike, going hard through the whole ride and seeing what my legs would have left for the run. This year was a much tougher ride than last and I still managed to beat my bike split…good progress. On the tough wind-in-your-face backstretch I was finally passed for the first time but nobody else caught me. I came down the hill back into the park (with no one to worry about passing this time), got my feet out of my shoes and hopped off the bike to run into T2 (1:02). There was an empty rack greeting Betty and I, again always a good sign, but as soon as I racked Betty the section of rack I was in fell down…ugh. I took a second to try and put it back but it wasn’t happening, so I slid my shoes on as well as my sparkly pink visor (#teamsparkle) and hit the hot & humid run course…it was already up over 30ºC (86ºF).


    Run - 5K
    19:43 (3:56/km), 1/27 AG

    As I exited transition I yelled to one of the volunteers that the rack was down hoping that they would get it fixed before the other athletes got in there. I came out of T2 with Prakash Pandya right on my heels and he overtook me pretty quickly (not a surprise). I held onto him for a while but knew the legs didn’t have the juice to keep up…had to just hold a steady pace. I was closing the gap on another runner up in front of me who happened to be wearing a TRS Triathlon team kit…he represented TRS well as he pulled off to the side of the course just before 1K and started puking. Dark Mark would be proud. I made the turn to run across the dam and had the highlight of my race, Lionel Sanders barrelling towards me with a big lead. I figured I may not get this chance again so I put up my hand and yelled, “Hey Lionel, I need one of these!”. He got a bit of a smile on his face, maybe something to do with the goofy runner coming at him with a sparkly pink visor, rainbow tie-dye jersey and pink running shoes, but he threw his hand up and we connected on a picture-perfect high-five…seriously Zoomphoto, where were you on that one???

    I grabbed a quick slug of water from Loe’s water station and made the turn, noticing that there were a few guys in hot pursuit. I just continued to hold a steady pace hoping that would be enough to hold them off. When one guy did get by me I just let him go as I saw he was in the 30-34AG, not mine. I heard footsteps the entire back section of the run but no one else got by me. Apparently every time he surged I did too (unknowingly). It was actually pretty fu on the way back as I saw a bunch of friends and team mates out on their run…cheers and high-fives from Coach Sheri, Abe, Luke and a few others. I came down the finishing chute and still had plenty of gas left so I gave it a strong kick. I saw 1:09:xx and knew I had beat last year’s time (in much tougher conditions) and had gone under 1:10 as I had hoped. It was a PR time of 1:09:15, good for 22nd overall and a win in my Age Group.


    After the race I met up with Michelle again and we cheered people on at the finish line, grabbed some food, chatted with friends and enjoyed the party. Michelle had to head back to London to get to Kennedy’s swim meet so I said goodbye and shortly after I took off with one of my London Tri Club team mates to ride our bikes home to London…you know, because racing wasn’t enough. It was a great day and yet another great event put on by John Salt and his team at MultiSport Canada. Two more weeks and I’ll do it all over again down in Welland!



     

    DopeyBadger

    Imagathoner
    Joined
    Oct 15, 2015
    Awesome recap. Pretty cool that Lionel gave you a high five! Another strong performance and congrats on the PR and placement! Got to be a nice feeling to come in first in your Age Group. :banana:
     

    croach

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2002
    Congrats on the PR and the age group win!! I was zooming in on your bike to see what kind if was and noticed your shoes still clipped in? Do you do that going out? Always impressed when i see peopled do that going out and in of transition.

    Ontario must be a tri community. I saw several people finishing the Eagleman 70.3 Sunday from Ontario and the guy who is coaching me for my half is from Ontario(he did Eagleman too).
     

    CheapRunnerMike

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2014
    Congrats on the PR and the age group win!! I was zooming in on your bike to see what kind if was and noticed your shoes still clipped in? Do you do that going out? Always impressed when i see peopled do that going out and in of transition.

    Ontario must be a tri community. I saw several people finishing the Eagleman 70.3 Sunday from Ontario and the guy who is coaching me for my half is from Ontario(he did Eagleman too).
    Thanks Cliff...lots of awesome triathletes coming out of Ontario these days, including Cody Beals who just won at Eagleman, defending his title from last year. Lionel Sanders and Cody Beals both came up through the ranks here racing in the series that I did this weekend...Lionel has been dominating 70.3 this year, think he has four wins already including St George. Guy's a beast.
    I haven't mastered the flying mount yet so haven't tried it in a race, but I can get out of my shoes coming back in. My Dad called me out on it a couple of years ago saying my 5 year old son did better dismounts than I did (and it was true!), so I had to do something about that :) My wife caught my dismount on video, I'll have to see if I can get it posted later on.
     

    croach

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2002
    Now that you say it, I remember seeing Beals name. Very cool.

    I'm not very good at getting in or out of my clips so I haven't tried that kind of stuff. Always happy to just not fall over. :) I need to get back on the bike though!
     

    CheapRunnerMike

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 31, 2014
    Now that you say it, I remember seeing Beals name. Very cool.

    I'm not very good at getting in or out of my clips so I haven't tried that kind of stuff. Always happy to just not fall over. :) I need to get back on the bike though!
    Haha been there...slow motion tumble at the stop lights for all to see. Good times.
     


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