Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vermont City Marathon: Negative Split!

I signed up for this race on a whim, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. After having just an incredible experience at the Boston Marathon I felt completely ready to jump into another marathon right away. I have previously considered doing this marathon in the past so I knew some general information about the course as well as what to expect from some other race reviews. In addition, I also knew of another Bentley Student on the Triathlon Team who would be there running his first marathon!

My training for this race remained mostly unchanged from that of the Boston Marathon in terms of mileage. I averaged around 30-35 miles during the 6-week training cycle after Boston, which did include a week of recovery mileage after Boston and a week of taper before Vermont City. I put in several long runs of 12-18 miles while training, but my big addition to this training cycle was adding more speed work and weight training. Previously, I haven’t spent very much time on weight training, but I have found that it has helped me to feel stronger later in my workouts.

Race Outfit!
I arrived in Burlington, Vermont with my girlfriend, Charlotte, at around 2:00 PM the day before the race after traveling around seven hours or so by car over the previous two days. I was slightly worried about how I would feel after all the travel, but I found that it did not end up having an impact on my race. After stopping for lunch we headed over to the expo to grab my race number and to check out the booths! The rest of the day was spent exploring Burlington and grabbing a pizza before turning in for the night. One of the coolest parts of the whole trip was being able to see the beautiful Lake Champlain for the first time!

Before I knew it my 5:00 AM alarm had sounded and I was throwing on my running clothes. Once again I went with my HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3s, and my Zensah Compression Socks, both of which I wore at Boston. I had also planned on carrying and taking 4 GU’s during the race at Miles 6, 11, 17, and 22. One of the best parts about the race was that public parking was free for the entire day so we were able to park close to the race and had no problem at all leaving afterward.

I arrived at the race around 6:15 am, 45 minutes before the 7:00 am start time. Like Boston, I did not end up doing any running to warm-up pre-race, instead, I focused on collecting my nerves, hoping in the bathroom line, and staying properly hydrated. My overall goals for this race were to beat my time from the Boston Marathon (3:01:34), run under 3 hours, finish the race strong, and have fun and enjoy the course and the beauty of Burlington. Before I knew it I was on the start line and the gun was sounding!
One thing about the Vermont City Marathon that is different from any marathon that I have previously run is that a large number of runners are competing in relays. The race is billed as a “Marathon and Relay” with relays of anywhere between 2-5 people breaking up the marathon distance. I had to be extremely mindful of this, especially in the first several miles of the race as I controlled my pace. As I expected, I was immediately swallowed up by many more runners than I had anticipated during the first mile. This first mile features one of the 3 “major uphill’s”, albeit the smallest, of the course, but thankfully my adrenaline from the start of the race made it feel effortless. 
At the Start!
The first few miles went through the streets of central Burlington and were largely covered with shade, which I was thankful for after being scorched during the Boston Marathon. I passed Mile 1 in 6:44 and entered a long downhill for the second mile. I still had people streaming by me, but I was determined not to let this impact my racing strategy. I wanted to hit approximately 1:30:00 at the half-marathon mark and close in at even or negative splits. I hit Mile 2 in 6:44 as we headed back through Burlington and passed the starting area. 

Mile 9!
The Vermont City Marathon Course is comprised of four distinct “loops” and you actually pass through the starting area several times, the reason for this being so that there is a clear place for most of the relay exchanges. I hit Mile 3 in 6:46 as we began to enter the section of the race that runs out and back along the highway, which is only closed once a year for this very race. This loop is slight downhill for the out section and then slight uphill for the entire way which back so I focused on not expending unnecessary energy on the downhill section. I passed Mile 4 in 6:41.  By Mile 5 I decided that I needed to stop very quickly and use the bathroom, which ended up costing me about 20 seconds. I tried hard not to make up time after the 7:00 fifth mile, but the downhill and my urge to “catch-up” lead to a 6:31 Mile 6. At this point, I was able to watch the top runners, who were flying, run back along the other side of the highway which was pretty neat as it’s not usually something you get to see while racing a Marathon. Shortly afterward I made the turn at the end of the loop and headed back up the highway. I was a little surprised by Mile 7 split of 7:10. I couldn’t tell if Mile 6 had been a little short, the course was heading more uphill than I expected, or I had stepped off the pace accidentally while trying to locate my friend who would be coming on the downhill section of the race. Regardless, I quickly got back on pace and passed Mile 8 in 6:50 just after seeing my friend Jake who looked strong early on! I had just taken my first GU a few minutes prior, but I could feel a little fatigue creeping into my legs which I attribute to the long uphill for the previous few miles. I was ecstatic to finally crest the top of the highway and head back into town where there would be much more shade. 
Mile 15!

I felt much better as soon as I crossed the start area again and headed back on Main St. One of the best things about the course, was the spectator support, as you could see the same people three different times: Mile 3, Mile 9, and Mile 15. Usually, I, am lucky if I see my girlfriend or family once between the start and end of the race! After running along Main St, I turned down Market St and began to coast on a nice long downhill as I began the third loop of the course. At this point, I was running with two of the Elite Women and we were holding a pretty steady pace so I decided to stick with them. For some reason I had difficulty locating several of the Mile Markers during the next section of the course, so all I have is my three-mile split time between Miles 9-11, which ended up being 20:24 or a 6:48 pace. Around this time I took my second GU and performed an overall assessment of how I was feeling, which turned out to be great! My breathing was under control, the weather was perfect, my legs felt strong, etc. Our group began to splinter around Mile 12 as we entered a shaded greenway and I was now on my own at this point. I hit Mile 12 and Mile 13 both in 6:52 and then the halfway split in exactly 1:29:00. After the race, I was able to count up and see that I was in around 95th place at this point. 

After crossing through the greenway and the area where the 2-Person Relay Exchange Zone was, I was on my way back up towards central Burlington. I hit Mile 14 in 6:47 and was just able to see my friend from school again as he was nearing Mile 11 still looking strong! The next mile featured a return on Pine St. which I had been running down around 30 minutes or so ago. It was cool to once again see other runners heading down the street as you were heading up and to have people cheer you on. In addition, I had an idea for the first time in a few miles as to where the next group of people ahead of me were. I hit Mile 15 in 6:37 as we turned onto Battery St. This mile of the course is by far the hardest and is nicknamed “Assault on Battery St”, as it climbs around 150 feet over the course of this mile. Had I started too fast, this mile would have been absolutely debilitating to me, as Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon was. Instead, I was “flying”, up the hill and enjoying the spectator support. I crested the hill and hit Mile 16 in 7:09 and then focused on controlling and regulating my breathing after the hard uphill. At this point, I had been steadily passing a few people and was not being passed at all. In fact, I was not passed one time after the half marathon mark. 
Almost There!
I was finally on the fourth and final loop of the course and was feeling strong. I took my third GU around Mile 17 which I hit in 6:43. The next mile featured some rolling uphill’s and downhill's, but was straight almost the entire way which allowed me to hit my second fastest split of the day with a 6:29 at Mile 18! Next, I turned into some winding neighborhoods and caught up to a larger group of about 4-5 runners. Normally, I may have tried to stick with them, but I was still feeling strong and decided to pass on. I hit Mile 19 in 6:39 and entered another short section of greenway. I had been getting water at pretty much every single stop except for maybe two or three miles and was taking in Gatorade every 3-4 miles or so. At around Mile 19, there was also a GU station sponsored by CLIF bar with a bunch of younger kids handing out GU’s who were all screaming for me to take one. Definitely a highlight of my race! At Mile 20 I was still cruising and came upon another large pack of five runner’s right as we passed the last timing mat on the course. I ended up hitting this mile in in 6:34. Another runner and I went by this pack and I focused on sticking with him. What I did not know, however, was that he was running the relay. He dragged me to a very fast 6:30 Mile 21 and 6:31 Mile 22 before I decided to let him go ahead. At this point, I could feel my energy flagging a little bit. While my legs still felt decent, the general fatigue of the race and the increasing temperature were starting to get to me. I took my last GU at Mile 22 right as we turned onto the greenway that was a straight shot to the finish. Normally, I do not end up taking the last GU during marathons, but this time I felt like it was necessary. It was also a huge relief that the last four miles of the course were almost completely shaded. 
Final Sprint! Photo by Scott Mason

After a few minutes, I felt much better than I had before and was starting to pick up the pace. I had slowed down on Mile 23, which ended up being 6:48, but I still felt like I had a good shot at that point to finish right at 2:58:00. I was still taking water at pretty much each aid station and I was beginning to close ground on quite a few people and fly by. I passed some absolutely incredible views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains during these miles and couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty even during the middle of a marathon. I hit Mile 24 in 6:40. By now I could feel that the finish line was getting close and I was still feeling exceptionally strong. In almost all of my previous marathons, I would pretty much be running mid to high seven minute miles at this point as the last 3-4 miles of the marathon has been a work in progress for me. I hit Mile 25 in 6:33 and continued to pick up the pace. I was now on the last mile of the course and began to exit the Greenway and head towards Battery Park. I could hear the roar of the crowd from almost half a mile away so I knew I was close! Finally passing Mile 26 and seeing that I had split a 6:24, my fastest mile of the race, and one of my fastest splits in a marathon ever was an incredible feeling. I had never run that fast after that long before. I just enjoyed the last quarter mile of the race and soaked up the atmosphere and as I turned onto the grass for the last 100 yards I could see the clock ticking into the 2:56:xx range still! I raised my arms and finished in 2:56:29, a 6:44 Pace and good enough for 47th overall officially.

Finish! Photo by Scott Mason
After finishing the race I collected my medal and found my girlfriend who had been able to capture a video of me finishing! Afterward, I grabbed some water and sat down in the shade underneath a tree to cool off. This was also the first of my fives marathons that I did not have to go to the medical tent after finishing so that was quite the accomplishment! We hung around the post-race festivities for about an hour longer at which point we went to grab lunch before beginning the long drive back home. I will say that driving for 6 hours after finishing a marathon is not a fun experience!

Overall, this race was a bigger success than I had anticipated. I was most happy with my negative split, 1:29:00 on the front half (6:48 Pace), and 1:27:29 (6:40 Pace) on the back half. In addition, I moved up approximately 50 spots from the halfway point and was never passed. I also managed to finish my last 10K at a 6:35 Pace and had the 18th fastest last 10K split of the race! As far as my next marathon, I have not entirely made a decision yet. I would love to actually run some more miles, put in a few more long runs, and add more weight training and see what my real potential can be. For now, I am looking for a fall marathon in either September or October and I am definitely open to suggestions!


Finally, I want to say thank you again to everyone who reads my blog! I also want to give a big congratulation again to my friend Jake Gehrung, a freshman at Bentley University, who finished his first marathon in 4:22:20! 

Post-Race Photo!






Tuesday, April 18, 2017

121st Boston Marathon Race Recap

First off, I want to say: See you in 2018, 122nd Boston Marathon!

This was my first Boston Marathon, and an experience that I will never forget. I have wanted to qualify for and run this race since I started running at 12 years old. Both my parents have raced it a number of times and I wanted to finish it as well.

Going into the race, my goal was simply to have fun, take in the atmosphere, and run my hardest. I’m happy to say that I believe I accomplished all of these goals! Overall, my training for the Boston Marathon in the past few months has not been of the greatest quality or been the highest mileage, but I believed in my ability to finish and was not going to give up. I peaked at about 40 miles a week for this race and put in a few long runs of 16-18 miles. In addition, I started more weight training than I have done in the past and put on ten pounds since the beginning of the year. Finally, all of my training data is published daily at my account on Strava. I definitely believe with a solid training schedule I would stand a good chance of lowering my PR and qualifying time of 2:53:16 from the 2015 Thunder Road (Charlotte) Marathon. Now for the race recap!

Dying on Comm. Ave at Mile 24
I woke up at 6:30 am after a pretty restless night and quickly threw on my running clothes and packed my things. I was wearing a pretty new pair of HOKA Clifton 3’s, a black and orange singlet, and a pair of Zensah compression socks. In my starting area bag, I packed my energy GU’s, a water bottle, and some peanut butter pretzels in case I got hungry before the start. Since I was in Waltham and couldn’t take the shuttles from Boston, I had my girlfriend, Charlotte, drive me to the start in Hopkinton. We left at around 7:30 and arrived at the runner drop off at around 8:15. I handed her my phone and wallet, grabbed my things, and then I was all alone. I made my way over to the shuttles that transported runners from the drop-off area to the start line. Once I arrived at the start line I made my way over to the athlete's village, which was actually much farther away than I expected it to be. After arriving, I looked around for a bathroom, but all the lines were ridiculously long. I decided to stand in line and wait. I did not make my way over to the start line until about 9:25 and finally arrived there at around 9:40. On the way to the start I ran into Megan Hovis, one of my former coaches when I was in middle school (and also a ridiculously fast runner), we talked for about a minute or so and I wished her good luck!

Boylston St.!
The start line was packed when I arrived, and there was very little room to warm-up. I was thankful that I had just made the Corral 2 (Bib #1837) cut-off to push myself a little bit further up. The next 20 minutes passed by painstakingly slow. I did some stretching and some general moving around but for the most part not much else at all. For fuel, I was carrying 4 energy GU’s with me that I had planned on taking at Mile 6, 12, 18, and 22. With less than 5 minutes until the start, I double checked my shoes, made sure I had all my GU’s in place, and moved up a little bit further to the front. I saw the Elite Men, and Galen Rupp, come out to the front and this really made me excited to start!

Before I knew it, the gun sounded and I was off to Boston! My plan had been to settle into 7:00 pace, which would have given me a finishing time of around 3:03:00 or so, but my nervous energy and the large crowd of people around me had propelled me to a faster pace. I felt like I was barely moving and being passed left and right, but I ended up hitting the first mile in 6:36. Temperatures were already hovering around 70 degrees and the sun was beating down, with very little shade on the course. I settled into a pretty good rhythm and enjoyed the downhills of the Boston course. My 2nd mile came and went in 6:25, and my third mile in 6:31. My first race mat split was 20:16 for the 5K. I could feel my skin heating up already and I made a conscious effort to monitor this going forward. I took Gatorade every few miles or so, and water at every mile, pouring some on my head and back to cool myself down. I had started the race feeling good, and as I entered Ashland I was still feeling pretty good overall. I hit Mile 4 in 6:30 and Mile 5 in 6:42.

Around Mile 16
As the miles began to start going by, I told myself that I needed to slow down because it was a hot day, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t settle into a rhythm at a different pace. I hit Mile 6 in 6:33 and the 10K in 40:46 (6:35 Pace). My splits did start to creep up into the high 6:30s and low 6:40s by now. During this race, I always had people around me, both runners and spectators alike, which I had never experienced in a previous marathon. It was both exhilarating and terrifying. I never did truly run with anyone or latch onto anyone in this race. I ran my own race and passed people when I wanted to and let people go by me. I entered Framingham and hit Mile 7 in 6:30. There was a very nice tailwind pushing everyone forward, but I desperately wanted a little breeze in my face or a little patch of shade to run under. I hit Mile 8 in 6:42 and Mile 9 in 6:37. I had not intended to bank time on the front half of this race, but I knew that I had built up a nice little cushion. I was running at 2:50-2:53 Marathon Pace, which was a little quick considering my fitness level, the course, and the weather conditions.  I thought it would be in my best interest to slow down a little, but my stubbornness prevailed. I passed the third timing mat, the 15K, in 1:01:18 (6:35 Pace). At this point, I could feel some fatigue starting to set in when I was running on the uphill’s, but the downhills were still coming easily. I hit Mile 10 in 6:44 as I entered Natick. My pace had started to decrease slightly with Mile 11 coming in 6:42 and Mile 12 in 6:45. I hit my first low of the race before the 12th mile and desperately needed a shot of energy. I took my 2nd GU of the race shortly after and started to feel much better.

Almost there!
One of the coolest parts of the Boston Marathon course was definitely the Wellesley Scream Tunnel at Wellesley College just past Mile 12. It was incredible having that spectator support and being able to hear everyone from over half a mile away. I gave out high-fives all the way down the scream tunnel and got a huge surge of energy. There are very few moments that can top thousands of people screaming and cheering you on while you run. I hit the 20K in 1:22:22, Mile 13 in 6:41 and the half-marathon mat in 1:26:50 (6:38 Pace). I was still taking water every mile and I was feeling great at this point, I even had delusions of running a PR still! Passing through Wellesley I hit my 2nd fastest mile of the day at Mile 14 in 6:26. It was after this mile that things slowly started to unravel. I was running out of energy, the sun was beating down on me and we were about to enter Newton and take on the rolling hills that I knew could easily end a runners race goals. I hit Mile 15, a largely uphill mile, in 7:01, my first mile above seven minutes. My 25K time was 1:43:15 (6:40 Pace). Fortunately, the next mile was a steep downhill and I was able to make up some ground by hitting Mile 16 in 6:45. The hills of Newton were a very dark place for me. I was still moving decently well, hitting Mile 17 in 7:09 and Mile 18 in 7:12, but all I could think about was Heartbreak Hill between Miles 20 and 21. I was especially nervous because this was the point where I had fallen apart during most of my previous marathons. I felt like I was moving much slower than I actually was, which was a huge relief. I took my third GU of the race at this point, opting not to take the last one later on for fear of upsetting my stomach. I was also taking one to two cups of water at each station, but the heat still felt horrendous. I managed to hit 30K in 2:05:15 (6:44 Pace). I split Mile 19 in 6:59 and Mile 20 in 7:13. I focused on doing anything and everything possible to power myself up the hills, and then to recover and regain my breath on the downhills.

CITGO
Right when I thought I couldn’t take any more hills, I hit it. Heartbreak Hill. And if I am being completely honest, that is exactly what it did. This was one of the points where I considered packing it in for the day. I felt like I was barely moving and I was started to feel dizzy and have numb hands, a feeling that accompanied me to the finish line. I obviously did not do enough hill training in preparation because I just felt beat down on the hills. Every little incline put a burden on my pace. I finally crested the top of Heartbreak Hill and relaxed a little knowing that it was pretty much downhill the rest of the way and that I only had about 35-40 minutes to go. My split for Mile 21, which included Heartbreak Hill was 7:50, my slowest of the day. On a positive note, this was the first of my four marathons that I did not have a single mile above eight-minute pace! Even in my PR race where I ran 2:53:16 my last mile was still over eight minutes. Just because the uphills were pretty much finished did not mean I would be cruising to the finish line. I picked up the pace a little bit from the last mile and hit 35K in 2:28:08 (6:49 Pace) and Mile 22 in 7:20 as we entered Brookline. The next mile, however, seriously tested my willpower as I truly believed that I was going to have to walk when I reached Mile 23. I reached Mile 23 in 7:30 and was greeted by a nice steep downhill. I believe that if not for the downhill right after Mile 23 I would have found myself walking. By now I had started taking two to three cups of water at each aid station, two to drink and one to pour on my head. On a side note, they did have several rain sprinkles out on the course for runners to run under and cool off at which was awesome! I finally entered Boston and hit Mile 24 in 7:30 as I was running on Beacon St! At this point, I could see the CITGO sign so I knew I was close! I was doing my best to hold on, but I knew I did not have much left to give. While I was excited to see the CITGO sign, staring at it for over a mile lead me to believe that it was speaking to me, taunting me and telling me to give up. I finally passed the iconic sign and hit Mile 25 in around 7:50 and 40K in 2:51:29 (6:55 Pace). I did not get an accurate Mile 25 split because I hit my watch early at the 40K. I was finally on Comm. Ave and had less than a mile to the finish line! The sound of the crowd was almost deafening but in reality I don’t think I really heard any of it. I was in my own little world trying to hold myself together the last mile. All I could think about was that I had 1 Mile to go, and then 0.75, 0.5 etc.

Turning onto Boylston St. was honestly one of the greatest feelings of my entire life. I don’t even have the words to describe it properly. Waiting so long for this moment and finally achieving it was just incredible. I hit Mile 26 in around 7:15 and from that point just tried to enjoy the last 0.2 Miles. I finally crossed the finish line in 3:01:34 (6:56 Pace) and raised my arms in the air. I had requalified for the 2018 Boston Marathon!


After crossing the line, I proudly collected my very first Boston Marathon finisher’s medal! After picking up the medal, I walked around in a delusional stupor drinking water and Gatorade for a few minutes before deciding that I needed to go the medical tent. Once I reached the medical tent I sat down for a little bit, had my vitals done, and drank way too much Gatorade. I had the same issue happen to me at the 2015 Thunder Road Marathon where I got lightheaded and my hands went numb. After about 20 minutes I was released and I went back to the finish area. I ran into my old coach at Charlotte Catholic, Coach Conrad, and we congratulated each other on finishing on what was a hot day for sure. After this, I met up with my girlfriend who made a sign and a t-shirt to cheer me on!

Overall, the Boston Marathon was an incredible experience, and one I will never ever forget. I couldn’t have gotten to the start line without the support of my parents, friends, girlfriend and everyone else who has had an impact on my running career. With the 2017 Boston Marathon in the books, I am already looking forward to 2018 and beyond!

Splits (Kilometers):

5K: 20:16
10K: 40:46
15K: 1:01:18
20K: 1:22:22
Half-Marathon: 1:26:50
25K: 1:43:15
30K: 2:05:15
35K: 2:28:08
40K: 2:51:29
Marathon: 3:01:34

Splits (Miles):

6:36, 6:25, 6:31, 6:30, 6:42, 6:33, 6:30, 6:42, 6:37, 6:44, 6:42, 6:45, 6:41, 6:26, 7:01, 6:45, 7:09, 7:12, 6:59, 7:13, 7:50, 7:20, 7:31, 7:31, 7:50, 7:15 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Summer Update: Some New PR’s, a Change of Direction, and a Whole Lot of Miles

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and part of the reason for that is due to being busy with training. The other reason is that I have been trying to decide which direction I want to take with my training before I gave an update.

I have decided to put Ultra Training on hold for the next 9-10 months or so, unless I choose to run Weymouth Woods again in January, in order to focus on the Marathon. As such, I did not decide to run the Black Mountain Monster, which I ended up being too sick to do anyway, as well as the Dusk to Dawn 50 Miler and the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. I have a passion for long. ultra-distance running, but the idea of putting in a solid year of uninterrupted training to improve my marathon time seemed to tempting to pass up.

Instead, I registered for the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Allentown, PA which will take place on September 11th, 2016. The bulk of my summer thus far has been spent training for this race. In addition, I got into the New York City Marathon on November 6th, 2016 via my time qualifier in the Half Marathon. Finally, I will also be running the Boston Marathon for the first time in the spring after qualifying with a 2:53:16 at the Thunder Road Marathon last November.

Summer Races: 

Despite starting Marathon training I did manage to crank out a PR of 16:36 and a 2nd Place Overall in the NoDa 5K in Charlotte. This race was during the middle of June and the temperature was probably approaching 90 degrees. I’m confident that I could run sub 16 in the 5K if I trained specifically for the race and had a nicer day. I also raced the Summer Track Series 5K at Marvin Ridge High School at the end of June, and while I did not PR I did take the win and run a strong solo race for a time of 16:45.
NoDa 5K! New PR. 
Most of my races this summer have been at the U.S National Whitewater Center, about 25 minutes from Charlotte. Here, I was able to still fulfill my love of trail running without competing in an ultra-distance event. My first race of the summer was the Memorial Day Trail Race 8-Miler which ended up taking place in the pouring rain and was my first race after being sick for almost two weeks. I took 2nd Place Overall and also met some new running buddies in Ed Schlichter, who won the race and would continue to beat me at pretty much every USNWC race I went too, and Caleb Denton, an Ultra Runner from TN who placed 2nd in the 68 Mile Georgia Death Race! I finally was able to take my first win at a USNWC race at the Brew Dash 6K in mid-June which I led start to finish and held a 5:59 average pace even on the trails. 
Brew Dash 6K Victory!

I also competed in the River Jam Run Race Series 6.5 Miler which is held on the second Thursday of every month at 6:15pm. It’s been great to come run a fun, hard race during the middle of the week without the pressure of a normal weekend race. The July version, which topped 95 degrees, was not quite as fun as the June version! My favorite race of the summer, which I had been looking forward to for months was the Tread Nightly and Tread Brightly Half Marathons. Tread Nightly started at 8pm on July 22nd, and Tread Brightly was the next morning at 8am on July 23rd. I signed up for both races as the USNWC was offering an awesome custom made “Treadmeister Award” to the top five men and women who received the most points in the weekends race. First place in each race received 37.5 points, then 36 points for second, 34.5 points etc. 
Tread Nightly & Tread Brightly: Done 

These races were much tougher both physically and mentally than I expected. There was the added challenge of not knowing whether someone was doing both of the races and whether or not you needed to stick with their pace or not. I ended up finishing Tread Nightly in 6th place in 1:55:53 after only going off course and adding on distance during the fourth mile. It was 12:30 in the morning before I finally got to bed and I was back up at 6am to head back for Tread Brightly. I knew this was going to hurt, and by mile five I felt ready to be done. I was pretty strong on the flats and downhills all things considered, but the uphill’s were at a cripplingly slow pace. Still, I held on for 5th place in 2:00:17. I ended up being 4th out of the possibly five to receive one of the “Treadmeister Awards”, which were awesome hand-made pottery mugs! Also left the race weekend with two medals, two new shirts and a new running hat! Nothing better than racing 30 Miles on the USNWC trails in only 12 hours!


Summer Training: 

As far as Summer Training goes, I have been building up my mileage for the Lehigh Valley Marathon. My goal is to aim for a sub 2:45 marathon (6:18 pace), and so far my training indicates that I should be capable of this. Right now, I am entering my last training phase where I will be peaking at 100 miles a week for the next three weeks. Typically, my workouts each week have included running an interval or hill workout with Tri-Yon Performance in Charlotte, coached by Jamey Yon, on Wednesday mornings at 5:30am, a 8-14 Mile Half Marathon to Marathon Pace Tempo on Friday, and a long run with a fast finish on Sunday. Building up for the Marathon I have run training weeks of 62, 61, 69, 73, 80, 85, 90, and 87 miles. I will run weeks of 100, 100, 100, and 75 to close out my training before tapering.

Typical 100 Mile Week:

Week of August 1st, 2016 to August 7th, 2016
100 Miles
13 Runs
Average of 7.69 Miles Per Run

Runs:

Monday: 15 Miles (12 @ 6:47 Pace, Moderate)(4 @ 7:17, Recovery)
Tuesday: 14 Miles (11 @ 7:17 Pace, Recovery)( 3 @ 7:28 Pace, Easy)
Wednesday: 18 Miles (4 WU, 4 @ 6:30 Pace, Hill Workout)( 7 @ 7:22 Pace, Recovery)(3 @ 7:06, Easy)
Thursday: 10 Miles (7 @ 7:35 Pace, Recovery)( 3 @ 7:39 Pace, Recovery)
Friday: 17 Miles (2 WU, 12 @ 6:14 Pace, MP Tempo)( 3 @7:09 Pace, Recovery)
Saturday: 5 Miles @ 7:13 Pace, Recovery
Sunday: 20 Miles @ 6:55-7:00 Pace

Conclusion:


As of right now, I am debating hoping into the News & Sentinel Half Marathon in West Virginia on August 20th, or the OrthoCarolina Classic 10K on August 20th in NC. If I do not do either of these, I will instead run a 16 Mile Tempo/Time Trail around the same date. I will also be posting more regularly in the future now that I have some bigger races coming up. Finally, I am also now on Strava! I post all of my training with paces on the app or website! Thank you for checking out my blog and following up on my training! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Almost Home: James Joyce 10K Race Recap, and Training Update

On Sunday, April 24th 2016, I competed it in the 33rd Annual James Joyce 10K in Dedham, MA. This race does not start until 11AM so Hannah and I were able to sleep in before heading out. We ended up leaving Boston at around 9AM and taking the Orange Line to Forest Hills and then taking an Uber the rest of the way. Once we arrived at the Endicott Estate, where the start of the race is located, I went over and registered. I grabbed some water and then listened to some music before going on about a two mile warmup. I was able to run a good portion of the first mile of the race, which featured a slight downhill. I knew we would be coming back up that way toward the finish so I kept that in the back of my mind. I took off my sweatshirt and put on a new pair of compression socks that I bought last week at the Boston Marathon Expo, I had run in them one other time this week, but really wanted to test them out in a race situation. Soon enough I was waiting around at the start line, but I was not able to do many strides because the USATF Masters National Road Race Championship started a few minutes before us and were blocking the way. This was somewhat of a nuisance during the actual race because you had to weave around people at certain point, but overall it was not too big of a deal and didn’t ever cost me any time. 

The official starter of the race ended up being Uta Pippig the first woman to win the Boston Marathon three consecutive times. Soon the gong sounded and we were off and running! I quickly watched a very large pack of elite men escape off into the distance. My plan was to start off conservatively and run even 5:40 splits to finish right at or under 35 minutes. I quickly settled into the group of elite women running for the B.A.A, the Saucony Racing Team, the Boston Track Club, or the Cambridge Running Club. There were around six or seven of us and I felt like running in a group would help push me along so I stuck with them. The slight downhill of the first mile pushed me to a faster time in the first mile than I was expecting in 5:28. I continued to hang onto this group of women and soon we entered the windier section of the race after leaving East St. On the first hill of the course the pack split up and there were now only five of us. I had taken the hill conservatively and pushed the downhill to connect back with the front of that group. We ended up hitting the two mile marker in 11:11, which was a little fast but nothing to worry about. A few minutes after passing mile two I just felt my legs start to burn a little bit as I attempted to hold onto the surge of the group I was with. At this point I dropped off of the front two women and settled into my own rhythm. I was running with the 3rd and 4th place females and attempting to limit the distance that the other gained on me. Pretty soon we came and passed mile three in right at 17:00. The race did not have official 5K splits so I estimated that I probably crossed in about 17:34-17:35. 

Soon after I entered the toughest mile of the entire course. This mile weaved through the Noble and Greenough school and featured steady rolling hills. I could feel quite a bit of pain in my legs so I focused on rhythm and recovering on the flats and downhills. I was pretty much running on my own at this point, but I was not necessarily making up ground, or being passed. I did have a few runners only a couple seconds ahead so I focused on maintaining and closing the gap during this hill mile. Right as we exiting the school I saw the fourth mile marker. I could tell I was a little bit off my goal, but not terrible. Four mile time was 22:53. At this point I had entered a long flat stretch of road that I was really able to pick up my pace. The rest of the race after this point ended up being almost pancake flat. I focused on reeling in a member of the Cambridge Running Club and trying to reconnect with the female elites during this mile. I did not get an accurate split of the last two miles as one was too short, and the other was too long. Right after passing mile five there was a gradual downhill before we turned back up the street the way that we had started. I knew at this point that I had less than four or so minutes to go so I was doing everything I could to keep my pace up and try and reel in anyone ahead of me. Mostly this mile I maintained my position. As I approached mile six I could see the clock ticking past thirty four minutes, but I was still a little bit off. I knew that sub 35 was now out of reach, but I could still come pretty close. I dug in and sprinted hard the last two tenth of a mile. I was able to make up around seven or eight seconds on the fourth place women alone in just the last 100 meters. I finally crossed the finish in 35:26, a new PR! 

I ended up splitting this race pretty evenly with 5K times of around 17:35 and 17:51 respectively. My last 2.2 miles after the four mile split were run at right about 5:42 pace. Later on after the race I learned that the women I had finished only one second behind, Melissa Nash, was actually a Bentley University graduate a couple years back! After the race I cooled down and hung around the post-race party. I ended up placing 29th Overall and winning my division. Initially, I did not expect this race to be quite as competitive as it was this year. It actually turned out to be great for my race as I was able to pivot perfectly off of other runners, which I have not been able to do recently as this was the first really competitive race I have competed in quite some time. I feel like I could have run a little bit faster with fresher legs, if I had decided to take a recovery week instead of a normal volume week this week. Legs are still adjusting back to the high mileage I have been running the last month or so and this left me a little less fresh than I would have liked. Afterwards, I received a very unique award for finishing first in my age group. The award ended up being two books, one of which was a collection of works by James Joyce, the Irish writer by whom this race is inspired! It always great when a race can give out an award that has special meaning to the race itself, and it also gives the runner something to remember the race by. I know I will certainly remember this race!

Final Sprint!


Training Update: 

This race capped off a 65 mile week for me. Last week I finished right at 70 miles, and the week before that I was at 60. I'll be raising my mileage a little bit higher the next few weeks as I prepare for the Black Mountain Monster on May 21st. I have decided to drop down to the six hour event as a tune-up for the Dusk to Dawn 50 Miler in June rather than attempting the 12 hour race and not being ready to compete again by the 50 Miler. On may 12th i'll be running in the River Jam Race series at the White Water Center. I'm very excited to be racing on the trails again! There are so many races there that I have wanted to run this year but could not because I was at school. It's tough reading the results for races you know you could have done well in. There is also a slight possibility that i'll jump into a half-marathon sometime over the next few weekends to try and lower my 1:19:28 time that I ran in September 

Week of April 4th, 2016 to April 10th, 2016

60.3 Miles 
11 Runs 
Average of 5.48 Miles Per Run
7.08 Hours of Running 

Runs: 

Monday: 11 Miles (7 @ 6:59 Pace, 4 @ 6:58 Pace)
Tuesday: 8 Miles @ 7:10 Pace 
Wednesday: 9 Miles (5.75 Tempo Run @ 6:13 Pace, 3.25 @ 7:00)
Thursday: 10 Miles (6.5 @ 7:01 Pace, 3.5 @ 7:05 Pace) 
Friday: 6 Miles @ 7:10 Pace
Saturday: 7.2 Miles @ 7:43 Pace
Sunday: 9 Miles (5 @ 6:54 Pace, 4 @ 7:06 Pace) 

Week of April 11th, 2016 to April 17th, 2016

70 Miles
10 Runs
Average of 7.0 Miles Per Run
8.02 Hours of Running

Runs: 

Monday: 14 Miles (9 @ 6:51 Pace, 5 @ 7:00 Pace)
Tuesday: 9 Miles @ 6:47 Pace
Wednesday: Steady State 10 Miles @ 6:35 Pace
Thursday: 13 Miles (9 @ 6:53 Pace, 4 @ 7:03)
Friday: 6.5 Miles @ 7:06 Pace
Saturday: 8.5 Miles @ 6:48 Pace
Sunday: 9 Miles (4 @ 7:01 Pace, 5 @ 7:00 Pace) 

Week of April 18th, 2016 to April 24th, 2016

65.5 Miles
9 Runs
Average of 7.28 Miles Per Run
7.46 Hours of Running

Runs: 

Monday: 7 Miles @ 6:55 Pace
Tuesday: 12.5 Miles (9 @ 6:49 Pace, 3.5 @ 7:16 Pace)
Wednesday: Tempo Run 10 Miles (5 WU @ 7:07 Pace, 5 Tempo @ 5:53 Pace)
Thursday: 11 Miles @ 7:05 Pace 
Friday: 8.5 Miles @ 7:03 Pace
Saturday: 7 Miles (4 @ 6:54 Pace, 3 @ 7:13)
Sunday: 10K Race 9.5 Miles (3.25 WU/CD @ 7:23 Pace, 10K Race @ 5:41 Pace) 

Conclusion:

Had some great runs and some not so great runs during the last few week of running. Focus now will be on increasing mileage and shifting my training toward my summer races. I will be returned home to Charlotte for the summer on May 10th so I will also have to readjust to the heat. Excited to have lots of time to train and race this summer though.

Some other exciting news: I have decided to enter the Lehigh Valley Marathon on September 11th, 2016 to lower my marathon time before the 2017 Boston Marathon Registration opens. This race is point to point with a slight net downhill so I am very excited to train hard over the summer and see what I can turn that training into. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Year of the PR: Training Update, and Shifters 5K Race Recap

As far as improving on my times in various events, this has been a breakout year. In the last 6 months I have smashed my half marathon PR in September and marathon PR in November by 3.5 minutes and 13.5 minutes to 1:19:28 and 2:53:16. I also lowered my 8K by 40 seconds in November to 27:59 and now my 5K PR by 15 seconds in April to a new time of 16:43! To top all of this off, I made my Ultramarathon debut in January with a 9:55:06 in the 100K. All my hard work is now starting to pay dividends in events I did not even expect it.

On Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 I competed in the Shifters 5K in Waltham, MA. I decided last minute to hop into this event because I wanted to see if I had improved on my 8K effort from two weeks before hand. The race starts at 1:00pm so I had plenty of time to sleep in a little bit and get ready for the race. The forecast called for cold rain, and sure enough it was pouring out when I woke up. I got ready, ate a bagel for breakfast and then waited for my friend Dave Menard, who also ran the 5K, to come drive us to the race. When we got to the race we quickly registered and then ran the course to get a feel for it. The course had one giant hill at the very start but made up for it on the last mile which was almost all straight downhill. I was feeling alright on the warmup, but not great. My goal heading into this race was too get in a solid effort and hopefully push under 17:30. As the race came closer to starting I surveyed the competition and did some strides and stretches. Soon enough, we were on the start line and the rain was coming down pretty hard. The siren went off and I jumped to the front. My plan was to start conservatively and push hard as soon as I crested the hill. This led to a five or six of us all hunched in the lead until I blew it open when we hit the flats. Only one guy stuck with me and he went hard, even passing by me for about a half a mile. The two of us hit the mile right at 5:37. I was feeling pretty good and my turnover felt surprisingly high. The second mile featured the most turns on the course although it was largely flat. All I could think about this mile was keeping the 2nd place guy behind me until we hit the downhills. Just before we hit mile two I threw in a surge to try and keep him off balance and I believe that I opened up a second or two, which he quickly closed. We both passed mile two in 11:10 with a 5:33 second mile. When I turned and hit the downhill I took off with all the speed I had in my legs and put in a huge surge. We were flying on the downhill, but I did not feel like I was opening up too much of a lead. I kept hitting the pace hard and finally rounded the last turn of the course before a long straightaway to the finish. I could feel myself slowing down a little bit but not too bad. As I closed on the finish line I looked back and saw that I had the win safely in the bag. It was at that point though that I noticed the clock. I had assumed that I would finish somewhere in the 17:15s based on how the race had panned out so far, but I was shocked to see 16:30s ticking up on the clock. I pushed as hard as I could and finished 1st Overall with a new PR of 16:43! Second place came in just behind me in 16:48. He said that his Garmin recorded a split of 5:04 for the 3rd mile, meaning that my third mile had come in at 4:59 to 5:00! I was pretty ecstatic with this result and I think I am looking good for a sub-35 10K at the James Joyce 10K on April 24th, 2016. After the race Dave and I headed over to the Cooper House Tavern where they were having an after party with music and free food. For my win I ended up getting and medal as well as a 40$ gift certificate to the restaurant. All in all, a great race that also capped off a solid week of training. That now brings me to my last two weeks of training…

Week of March 21st, 2016 to March 27th, 2016

65 Miles 
10 Runs 
Average of 6.50 Miles Per Run
7.54 Hours of Running 

Runs: 

Monday: 10.2 Miles (6.2 @ 6:37 Pace, 4 @ 6:57 Pace)
Tuesday: 11.3 Miles @ 6:56 Pace
Wednesday: 8.5 Miles @ 6:58 Pace
Thursday: 10 Miles (7 @ 7:00 Pace, 3 @ 7:04 Pace) 
Friday: 10 Miles @ 7:03 Pace
Saturday: 8.5 Miles (6.2 @ 7:39 Pace, 2.3 @ 6:26 Pace)
Sunday: 6.5 Miles @ 6:35 Pace

Week in Review:

Pretty solid week of training, but it was difficult on my legs to readjust to the higher mileage. Felt a lot of fatigue towards the end of the week. Switched out my shoes and got a new pair of the Mizuno Wave Hitogami’s as well as a pair of the HOKA ONE ONE Challengers.


Week of March 28th, 2016 to April 3rd, 2016

60 Miles
8 Runs
Average of 7.5 Miles Per Run
7.20 Hours of Running

Runs: 

Monday: 8.1 Miles (5 @ 7:22 Pace, 3.1 @ 6:55 Pace)
Tuesday: 7 Miles @ 7:07 Pace
Wednesday: 19.3 Miles @ 7:27 Pace
Thursday: 4 Miles @ 6:43 Pace
Friday: 6.2 Miles @ 7:18 Pace
Saturday: 8 Miles (5K in 16:43, 4.9 Miles @ 7:40 Pace)
Sunday: 7.5 Miles @ 7:08 Pace

Week in Review:

What started off as a pretty bad week turned into a great one by Sunday. Had a little more soreness after my long run than I would have liked, but I do not think it ended up hindering my race on Saturday. Overall, the lower mileage this week definitely helped my feel fresher and I’m ready to crank it up a little bit more this week.


One again thanks to everyone who gives my blog a read. Going to continue to have training updates, race recaps, and probably just more running news in general. In addition, if anyone is interested reading about my workouts or wants to know splits I have my training log up on Athleticore at:

http://athleticore.com/directory/profile_view.asp?id=11073&sort=LName,%20FName&searchbox=FName&searchtext=chase&page=1

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Welcome to Spring: Elizabeth 8K Race Recap, Training Update, and Updated Racing Schedule

On Saturday March 19th, 2016 I competed in the Elizabeth 8K Road Race in Charlotte, NC. My goal going into this race was simply to run strong and consistently and put in a confident performance. I woke up at 6:15am on Saturday, got dressed for the race, and had half a bagel for nutrition. Soon we were off and headed to the race. Cole and I warmed up just about two miles and did stretches and strides on the start line. Going into this race I figured I had a decent chance to place top five or contend for the money available to the top three finishers. On the start line I recognized a few people from around Charlotte that I believed would be right up there with me, including a senior from Rock Hill, SC that I used to race against in high school. When the gun went off I quickly settled into fifth place at a comfortably pace, but unfortunately I had already watched the top three runners slip away. I credit that to my lack of strong mileage recently, which I’ll talk about later in this post. In 4th place, however, was the high schooler from Rock Hill. I focused on holding on a few seconds back from where he was. The Elizabeth 8K course is pretty challenging due to its large number of turns and long uphill’s so I wanted to use the slight downhills to open up my stride and the slight uphill’s to power up and make up ground. I hit mile one, about 5-10 seconds back from 4th, in 5:50. This was the only split I recorded for the race so I am not entirely sure what my other mile times were. As we neared mile two and started going on an uphill section of the course I closed hard and reached 4th right at mile two. I moved into 4th and worked on opening up around a five second gap over the next half a mile. Unfortunately, at mile three I was led off course due to an errant volunteer but I was able to quickly cut through a yard and only lost ten seconds max. I was now back in 5th place and breathing heavily due to my quick change in pace and lose of rhythm. I worked very hard to stick to him and get back into a comfortable pace. Finally, I was able to power by on another long uphill section just before mile four. I opened up another five second gap but I knew that he was not going away. I felt pretty controlled, and felt like I could hold off a surge but I continued pushing the pace in order to avoid having us make contact. As we entered the last quarter mile of the race I attribute the strength I have developed due to my mileage over the last six months in powering me through to take 4th place by four seconds. I ended up finished in 29:00 for the 8K or about a 5:49 Pace. I probably could have taken another 10-15 seconds off if not for the wrong turn, but that is nothing to dwell on. I was pretty happy with my time on a particularly tough course as well as the strength I displaced in holding a consistent pace, which I have not usually been able to do on shorter races.  I cooled down around a mile with my brother Cole, who finished in around thirty three minutes, as well as the runner from Rock Hill, before calling it a day and heading back home.

As far as training goes I have been keeping it fairly low mileage over the last two months until just the last two weeks or so. I believe part of the reason I had such a hard time recovering was due to the fact that I wore my Mizuno Wave Hitagami 2’s, designed for the 5K to half-marathon distance, for the 100K. In response to this, I visited Greenapple Sports & Wellness over break and had my hips, hamstring, and shins looked at, as well as received some strengthening exercises to incorporate into my routine. I also purchased a pair of HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR trail running shoes for my trail races and ultra. I am hoping that I will be able to recover a lot faster next time with more cushioned shoes. Over the last two weeks or so I have been upping my mileage to 50 miles and have been feeling great. This week I have a goal of 60-65 miles to gauge how my body is feeling. This now brings me to my updated racing schedule… I am planning on entering three big races over the summer: The 12 Hour Event at the Black Mountain Monster in Black Mountain, NC, the Dusk to Dawn 50 Miler in Southern Pines, NC and the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. The first race is near the end of May so I will be pushing my mileage up to 70-90 miles a week over the next two months to prepare.

Full Race Schedule:
Elizabeth 8K – March 19th, 2016 – 4th Overall in 29:01 (5:50 Pace)
James Royce Ramble 10K – April 24th, 2016
River Jam Run 6.5 Miler – May 12th, 2016
Black Mountain Monster (12 Hours) – May 21st, 2016
Memorial Day Trail Race – May 29th, 2015
Summer Track Series – June 2016
River Jam Run 6.5 Miler – June 9th, 2016
Brew Dash 6K – June 18th, 2016
Dusk to Dawn 50 Miler – June 25th, 2016
Grandfather Mountain Marathon – July 9th, 2016
River Jam Run 6.5 Miler – July 14th, 2016
Tread Nightly Half Marathon – July 22nd, 2016
Tread Brightly Half Marathon – July 23rd, 2016
River Jam Run 6.5 Miler – August 11th, 2016
Ortho Carolina Classic 10K – August 20th, 2016

I’ll be posting many more race recaps, training updates, and other information in the near future. Thank you again to everyone who has taken a look at my blog thus far. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Training Update: Weymouth Woods 100K Recovery Process

Its been a long month of recovery since the end of the Weymouth Woods 100K in Southern Pines, NC where I finished 2nd Overall in 9:55:06. As far as "feeling better" goes, I was surprised to feel relatively decent as soon as three days after finishing. I tried a few easy shakeout runs the week after the race, and that's when a variety of nagging aches and pains got the better of my legs. After a rather pitiful session of about a mile and a half on the treadmill a week or so after the race, I decided that my legs needed a break. I took a full week off and then slowly incorporated some mileage back in, definitely on the very low side of my training volume. After the week off, I focused on runs of 3-5 for a total of 18 miles that week. The next week featured a few slightly longer runs with a peak of 8.5 miles for a total of 30 miles that week. I am happy to say that my legs are finally feeling better and that I have the spring back in my step. I had targeted the Tobacco Road Marathon in March but after a hard winter season of racing the Thunder Road Marathon and then the 100K I decided that it would be in my best interest to take some recovery time.

Right now, I do not have a definitive race in mind. I am looking at doing a half marathon in May, and then an Ultramarathon, probably another 100K, in either July or August. In November, I will more than likely be racing the New York City Marathon! For right now, I am going to continue to building my mileage back up to a base of 55-65 miles a week. I'm going to run a few local races when I return to Charlotte over spring break such as the Shamrock 4 Miler and the Elizabeth 8K.

Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has read my blogs post or congratulated me on one of my races. I promise that you will be hearing much more from me in the future. Another training update coming soon.

Tentative Race Schedule:

Shamrock 4 Miler - Charlotte, NC - March 12th, 2016
Elizabeth 8K - Charlotte, NC - March 19th, 2016