I did it! BQ, FINALLY! (Read 1420 times)


    I got in to work today, sat at my computer, pulled up my outlook calendar, skipped ahead to April 18 and typed in BOSTON MARATHON!


    Yesterday, I finally qualified!


    It's been a great month for me.  I had my first win in a 5K two weeks ago and was feeling strong going into the Hudson Mohawk Marathon in Albany.


    MY PR at NYC is 3:16. I figured the flat course and net decline of the Mohawk would really help.  At the beginning of the year I planned to run a LOT of long runs... well, I ran more mileage overall (just a hair more) but fewer long runs, so I was a bit... concerned.


    The race report and details for anyone considering this great marathon to BQ or set a PR:


    Mohawk is a pretty well organized small race.  My wife and I (she ran the 1/2 and then added more for a nice 17 mile long run, we're doing NYC together next month) stayed at the official hotel:  The Crown Plaza.  It was fine and the staff was very nice to the racers. 


    Reasons to stay there:  It was 2 short downhill blocks to the free busses race morning.  Room was comfy and dead silent at night.  They also had a (mediocre but sufficient) pre-race pasta dinner in the hotel.  The hotel also reserved a few rooms post race for finishers to shower, since they were not allowing late check out (even though they did end up giving us our room back when we came back after the race, long story there).  They also held the expo, which was WAY bigger than expected (much smaller than larger races, but still ok).  It was $100 a room (free parking too!).  It was an all-in-one, inexpensive hotel experience that I would repeat.  Oh, it also had a Starbucks that would be open early.


    We did the pasta dinner, walked around Albany for a bit (nice buildings, nothing to do).  Retired for the evening to see what was on HBO, lay out our morning race things, read a bit, asleep by 9:30ish.  Typical for us before a race.


    We woke at 5am.  I like getting up a bit early because I get nervous.  Shower, bathroom breaks, things all together and off to Bruger's Bagels which was nice enough to open at 5:30 am for the runners --it was halfway from the hotel to the busses (1 block from hotel to Brugers, 1 more block to busses, all downhill).  Brugers needs a tip jar.  I'd fork over a few bucks for anyone so accommodating, even if their bagels aren't really bagels by my NYC standards ;-)


    Bus line at 6:35.  They load in 5 minutes (supposedly). The busses are split into Half Marathon and "Full" Marathon busses (I'm not sure why people call it a full marathon, it's a Marathon, but I digress).  I kiss Gwen (wife) goodby, wish her good luck, then come back for a second kiss and then off to my bus line while she heads to hers.  Some time after 7am we're off.


    I chatted with an older guy, one of those "legit" marathoner-lookin dudes you always see, while we waited in line together.  It was cold out.  36 degrees but I was happy about that.  It's 80 in Chicago apparently and I have friends running there. We sat together on the bus, I think his name was Rick or something, I need to look him up.  He was great.  Originally from Albany he frove from Springfield Mass (90 min I guess) to race again in his home town.  He'd done around 47 marathons and was fun to chat with for the 1/2 hour drive to the start.  This is one of the things I like best about being a runner.  Camaraderie.


    We departed once we arrived and I headed to the porta-line. It was lonnnng.  5 or 6 porta potties (and some bathroom facility with maybe a few more?).  NOT ENOUGH for the hundreds of runners.  I went to the trees.  Lost of people already in the trees ;-)


    10 minutes before the start (8:30) I dropped my stuff off at baggage, walked over and headed to the start tape. I like to start up front. 

    Now, with 7 min to the horn, not that many people are lined up.  Ahhh the small races! 


    Brief announcements, the horn goes off.


    I planned to run a 7:00 pace for the first 13 - 18 miles or as long as I could, knowing that, with the shortage of long runs (I done a few, but not enough to feel really confident) I'd need some time in the bank. 


    Race Start

    I took off feeling SO great, I was running sub 7 and it felt effortless.  I figured, I'll do this for 3 miles and pull it back a bit.  I'm feeling I could run a good min-per-mile faster no problem, so this is probably ok. 


    First mile  6:47

    Second:  6:54

    Third: 6:41 --I'm running with a good pack; solid runners.  People seem to glide.  I'm feelin really happy and the weather is great, I wonder if I'm gliding too.  Smile


    I'm banking time like crazy. Is it too fast?  Feels good & easy so I'll keep it up for another 5K.  Beautiful scenery and we're on a nice road, soon to be a looooong bike path through trees for the bulk of the race. The leaves are changing;  it's 40 degrees and sunny.  What a day!


    Mile 4: 6:34 (downhill I think)

    M5:  6:36

    M6: 6:47


    Feelin great, running with second place girl. I'm probably in the 2nd "lead pack" of runners.  1st pack is not far ahead.  By pack, I mean small handful.


    M7:  6:46

    M8: 6:42 --Texan guy (Ron?) joins me.  He's chatty.  I don't want to be rude and I'm usually chatty too, but I'm afraid if I talk too much I'll burn out.  I was planning to slow down now to be safe, but he says we're doing awesome (6:43 pace) and we should run to the half together to kill time.  He says he wants to run sub 3.  That sounds nice but I only care about running sub 3:10... but I'm feelin good.  I decide to stick with him and see what happens.  He says his PR is 3:17.  This makes me feel better... mine is 3:16 I tell him.  I laugh internally at us for probably going too fast.


    M 9: 6:41

    M10:  6:43

    M11: 6:44 --this is still easy


    M12: 6:46

    M13: 7:03 --this is the only up-hill.  It feels bigger than it probably is because the course so far has been flat and even a little downhill.  I don't want to keep running 6:43.  I'm now afraid I'm going way too fast but I still feel really good.  We hit the half point at 1:28:39.  Was that REALLY 13.1? It felt like 4 miles.


    Our pace is 6:43; we're still chatting. 


    Mile 14:  7:10.  I'm intentionally slowing up a bit.  Ron keeps going but I see him for the next few miles.  We never really say goodbye.  I hope he goes sub 3.  My average is now 6:44.


    M 15: 7:01  -I think at this point the 2nd place girl catches back up to me.  I think I lost her around mile 6 but there she is again, going strong.

    M16: 6:59

    M17: 7:08  between this and the next mile is a VERY steep downhill.  Not the kind you coast down.  You kind of hobble down it fearing for your quads.

    M18: 7:02 --I can no longer run sub 7.


    I'm now thinking, man I have a LOT of time banked, but I'm slowly slowing and I can feel it.  I'd like to only lose a second or maybe two every mile off my average. If I do, I'll be a shoe-in for Boston.  I think I'm now at a 6:48 average or so.  Oh and my Garmin, for the first time EVER, has been nailing every mile marker, so I'm happy to see my true pace and not have to wonder how off it is.


    Around this point we're on the side of some nasty streets.  I'd been told this would continue for a few miles before we head back to the nice tree-line bike path. 


    M19:  7:34.  Slowing down by force now, a fast woman passes me.  Number 4 maybe?  I'm still happy to be just barely tappin' into my banked time.

    M20:  7:36.  I see some walkers I ran with during the early miles.  They're not lookin too great.  I'm envious of their walking. This is hard.


    M21: 7:52.  Slowing fast and starting to worry.  No "wall" but doubt about Boston is creeping in for the first time.    I don't feel I went out too fast, I just feel like damn, 21 miles hurts.  I think around now we get back to the bike path, which is nice but I don't really notice the scenery any more.  I crunch and re-crunch numbers.  I calculate that I need to run at or under 8 min miles from now on.  I'm not sure how accurate this is, my mind is mushy.  My stomach is also becoming a bit "iffy" and I don't want any more GU or Gatorade, or even water.


    M22: 7:50. I'm really worried.  I've come so far, but I want to walk. I feel like I'm walking already.  I don't believe my watch is accurate.  I keep an eye on it waiting to see 7:50 change to 10:00 min miles.  I must be going slower than the watch says.  I should just walk a bit.  I'm tired. I can't possibly keep this up.  4 miles to go but it feels like 40.


    M23:  7:49.  It's flat.  I can do this, I feel better, at least mentally.  Will I sob when I cross the line?  I'm feeling a bit emotional, but I hurt.  It's not as emotional as I fantasized. hahaha!


    M24:  8:13  Feelin bad again.  The doubt it back and it's strong.  I want to walk.  I'm so close.  I think, if I can do this pace, I'll have a minute to spare.  No walking now. I can have a slow final mile if I need to.


    M25: 8:04.  I'm going to go to Boston damnit.  I'm still not 100% convinced though.  This HURTS.  I try to calculate just how much I can allow myself to slow and still make it.  In retrospect, I have a lot more time, but in my head at the time, it feels like it will be right on the nose and I still might not do it.


    Mile 26:  7:57.  I'm there.  I WILL do this.  I can see the finish. I haven't walked yet.  I can keep going.


    Final .2 mile:  7:30 pace (2:05).  I see my wife at the yelling for me.  I did it.  There's nothing left in my legs and I'm more excited that I can walk now.  I'll be excited I qualified for Boston later.  I don't sob, I hobble.  Black eye


    3:08:14.  43rd Place out of about 900


    Gwen ran a 2:08 and she felt great.  She said it was the first time she ran the entire 13.1 without any walk breaks.  She added a few more for a total of 17.4 miles. I'm excited to run NYC with her in 3 weeks.  I'm also excited I don't have to run this fast again for a long time.


    HTFU?  Why not!

    USATF Coach

    Empire Tri Club Coach
    Gatorade Endurance Team

      Congrats on the BQ, and thanks for the great write-up!

      "I want you to pray as if everything depends on it, but I want you to prepare yourself as if everything depends on you."

      -- Dick LeBeau


        Thanks!  And sorry that was so long, but it's been a long time coming!

        HTFU?  Why not!

        USATF Coach

        Empire Tri Club Coach
        Gatorade Endurance Team


          Old, Slow, Happy

            Great Job!!!  

            Mr Play

              Great read - congratulations!

                Awesome race report. I had a similar experience, just I slowed down so much more and about a mile earlier. Went out too quick but ran very consistently between 6:50-7:11 and then my pacer broke ahead of me as I was crashing and walked the rest of the way once he crashed. Felt horrible to fly by the guy who kept my head up for 18 miles. I only walked through one water stop but I lost much more time than you and I envy you for holding onto this one. I'm real interested to know how much mileage you did since you didn't get too many long runs.


                Congrats on the BQ most of all, you definitely earned it


                  Congrats. Great race. I would like to see your training log. I didn't get a chance to sign up for this race as it sold out before I could sign up. I live about 30 miles north of where this race is run at. Next year I'll be there. I'm a 5k guy and would love to see what you did for training. Again great race and congrats on BQ!!

                  not bad for mile 25

                    Congratulations, KD!  Great report.  In retrospect, do you think your strategy of banking time early was a good one?  Would you change anything about the way you did it?


                      Congratulations, KD!  Great report.  In retrospect, do you think your strategy of banking time early was a good one?  Would you change anything about the way you did it?


                      Short answer, I wouldn't change a thing.


                      But that's because I qualified for Boston, which was really my only goal.   I've raced where I went out way too hard and died at the end but also where I went out too easy, didn't bank the time, and still died.  The negative split mentality doesn't work for me.


                      I think the slowed down "end miles" are entirely a factor of a lack of enough long runs.  I did a good number of 10 mile runs, and some 12s & 13s but I did one 15, maybe two 18s, a 20 and a 21 (and those were under marathon pace and pretty casual) over the last several months of "marathon training."   I work out most days of the week --if it's running, it's usually hard 5 milers. 


                      I logged around 145 miles in Sept, 135 in Aug, 125 in July and around 110 - 120 most other months.  I also do a lot of cycling in general (long 3 - 4 hour rides) and I swim.  My running milage is NOT particularly high by marathon standards.  I have friends who run my monthy miles in a little more than a week, maybe two weeks.  I'd also be better off scaling back the rides in the two months leading up to the marathon and adding 2 more 20 milers each month, and I really should do something around 22 or 23 miles a few times, and at marathon pace or close to it. 


                      But other things in life pop into play and derail the best laid plans.  I also eat too much pizza :-)   --but, I really should say I love running what I run and if I forced a lot more, I might not like it as much.


                      On the bright side, I'll get another 5 minutes in 2011 to qualify for Boston 2012, so hopefully this will be the last time I HAVE to run this fast.


                      Of course, now I'll probably want to shoot for sub 3 for next year.  So I guess I'll say it again to myself... next year, I run more long runs.  Wink

                      HTFU?  Why not!

                      USATF Coach

                      Empire Tri Club Coach
                      Gatorade Endurance Team



                        HTFU?  Why not!

                        USATF Coach

                        Empire Tri Club Coach
                        Gatorade Endurance Team




                          First up, congratulations on your BQ and such a strong run. I also ran Mohawk Hudson this weekend so I really enjoyed your account. I first and last ran it 5 years ago, when I was desperately trying to qualify for Boston in the 40-44 age bracket. I was on pace for 18 miles, then hit the wall and finished in 3:28, eight mins slow. I took off running marathons for a while, picked up some serious trail running (including the Escarpment Run ever year, which makes marathons look easy) and came back last year soon as I turned 45, ran Burlington and qualified for Boston immediately with a 3:29. Ran Boston this year for first time, qualified again with another 3:29, and that meant I could return to the Mohawk Hudson for the pure "fun" of it. I'd been wanting to run a marathon without pressure for so long and this was it.


                          Your report echoes my own, albeit at a faster speed. (I.e. you being faster.) Both times I've run this race I've had a positive split and found myself slowing down despite myself. There are a couple of steep downhills that undoubtedly enable you to "bank"  time and it's so flat and pleasant it's hard NOT to get ahead of your goal. That's my experience anyway. Those miles 18-21 on  the road are absolutely brutal and unpleasant; it's where I bonked 5 years ago. This year I had a whole issue going on with left foot pain on those miles that I may post about separately but I ran through it. (And paying for it now.) Somewhat to my surprise, given that we were back on rail trail and I finished very very strong in Burlington and Boston, my last 3-4 miles got progressively slower, and I finally fell over the wrong side of 8 mins. There's no doubt that HM is a fast fast fast marathon but it's also intensely lonely. Not once, anywhere in the race, was anyone standing there offering slices of orange or banana... other than a couple of water bottles, you had to rely 100% on the water stops. It's genuinely hard to stay on pace those last few miles when you've run so hard and fast for the previous 20-22. One of the race directors came up to me afterwards when I was sitting on my own, chilling out, and asked for comments. I said I love the race, it's one for the purists - but they could probably add another water stop on those last few miles of bike trails. If you bonk and start walking (as happened to me 5 years ago) it can be a long time between pit stops, with no one there to cheer you on or offer any aid.


                          Anyway, I bested my PR by five full minutes, running a 3:23:32. It was my fastest ever first half of a marathon, my fastest ever second half of a marathon. And even though I slowed up at end, my last 10k was second-best only to Boston this year. Given my age, I'm totally 100% thrilled about that. It's fun to get faster as you get older. if I hadn't come up with the intense left foot pain that had me limp-running for a while, I'm sure I'd have hit the 3:20 I was on target for most of the way. And if it wasn't for that same foot pain, I'd be back out running today. My body/emotions feel great. Again, a good feeling.


                          There's no doubt that the weather helped enormously. Those were the best conditions I've ever run in. My clothes barely smelled sweaty. You take the good days where you get them.


                          Congratulations again KD on Boston. I allowed myself a tear when I made it there in Burlington last year.


                          And Boston is the greatest day out in the world, so you now have that to look forward to.







                            Thanks Tony! 


                            I'm glad to hear you had a strong race to! Great time!   Hopefully the foot will be healed in no time!  My legs are still rocked.  That steep downhill at mile 18-ish really trashed my quads more than I expected!  No running for me today, but I'll sit on the bike in my gym and read a book.  Hopefully spinning out my legs will help, it usually does.


                            And yeah, I'm super excited for Boston!  Can't wait!  Maybe I'll see you there!

                            HTFU?  Why not!

                            USATF Coach

                            Empire Tri Club Coach
                            Gatorade Endurance Team


                              Worth every word of reading it.


                              Thanks, Dave and congratulations!

                              I ran a mile and I liked it, liked it, liked it.


                                Excellent race and report Dave!  I can see why it was a big deal as you've put your heart into it.  Can't say I want to run one myself though, I'll stick to the 5K's. Wink