Sabado, 10 de Octubre, 2015

I wake up around 4:15am in the dark. After a small breakfast – some black coffee animal crackers – I relax until it’s time to go. Around 6:45am, I walk about 15 minutes from the hotel to the starting area, leaving me with about an hour before the 8am gun.

I recognize lots of these guys and have a nice chat with Dan Vassallo. We leave to warm up together around 7:30am, running for about 10’. It’s nice to get away from the chaos of the start. Back in the park, I do some light drills and use the bathroom again. The weather is already not too cold (I thought I’d be freezing, but the sun is out and it feels fine), so I decide I’ll race in just shorts/singlet and headband – no need for hat/gloves/warm-ups.

I jog over to the start line at about 7:50am and freak out a bit since they’re already doing the national anthem, but there’s plenty of time and – as usual – I end up standing on the starting line for a while feeling antsy. No strides and drills are pretty limited because of space.

The all-black kit with HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 2

The all-black kit with HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 2

The goal for this race is to serve as a training stimulus for the 50k (8 weeks away) and to also practice racing and hopefully earn some money. Jon and I had decided that the game plan would be to go out around 50k race pace for the first half (around 1’10’30 to 1’11’30) and then try to accelerate towards goal marathon pace in the second half. This would bring us in around 2h19-20 which should place favorably, given the history of this race. At the end of the day, though, this is a training effort and we want it to fit into our calendar like another hard long run. There was no significant taper (I ran 120 miles the week of the race) and we’re hoping to get back to the grindstone shortly after.

When the gun goes off, I tuck in behind Matty P. He had said he wanted to run the first 5k “easy”, so I figure maybe he’ll be running my pace. I figure that at least he won’t go out crazy fast in the first 1km or mile. After the first turn around 400m in, I look at my watch and it says we’re running 3’10/km, so I pump the breaks and relax. The pack (which also includes the half at this point) quickly runs away and I’ve found myself in no-man’s land. I pass the first mile in 5’22 – perfect.

The marathon splits from the half around 1.5 miles and I can see there’s a pack formed in front of me with 6 runners – Matt, Jonas, Sam Alexander, one Kenyan, and two others whom I don’t recognize. I briefly run alongside a runner I don’t recognize in red/white striped shorts (Faulkner, I think). But as we come towards mile two, he begins to pull away and I don’t want to run any faster. I’ll run solo for the rest of the race.

It takes a lot of self-confidence and trust in our plan to commit myself to running in no-man’s land for 25 miles. But I’ve done enough long runs at this point – including other marathon races – that I do have faith in what I can do, and I let them all go.

I see my folks and Mariana just before 3 miles and they tell me that the pack is 45 seconds ahead of me. This is great news for me because I know that I’m running about 5’20/mile which means that some of those guys in front of me are almost certainly running too fast.

I pass 5k in 16’48 and settle into a great rhythm, running in the 3’20s per km (low 5’20s per mile). I know the course has a lot of turns and is a bit rolling for the next 8 miles or so, so I try not to worry about my splits, but just focus on my breathing and relaxing and doing what I’ve done a million times already. Just another solo long run…

I pass 10k in 33’40 (16’53 second 5k) and still feel fine. If anything I’m starting to feel better with each mile – again, just like in the workouts. The course continues to roll and wind its way through the other side of the city before we arrive on a highway around mile 9. I get my bottle, have some powerade, and then decide to run a bit faster, just to see how it feels. I run 3’16 and my 3rd 5k is the fastest of the day in 16’40.

I try to stay relaxed but keep the pace and focus on this slightly higher level. Between this and the fact that the course has straightened out, I find myself running faster. I pass 20k in 66’47 (16’27 5k #4, again fastest so far) and shortly after pass the half-way in 70’33.

I’m still in no-man’s land but I’ve been timing the gap up to Faulkner (who has also been running alone) and it’s been relatively consistent around 30 seconds. As I pass the half, I begin to really accelerate and focus on working my way up towards Faulkner. I haven’t even seen the lead pack in a while, so he’s my only point of reference. When I pass my parents and Mariana at mile 14.5, they tell me he’s 14 seconds up and the leaders are almost 3 minutes up. I figure this means they went through halfway in 68-low/mid which – again – I think is great news because probably only 1 or 2 will be able to hold that pace. Meanwhile, I feel amazing and I’m running faster every mile. I pass 25k in 1’23’03 (16’15 5km #5, fastest so far).

This section is a long out and back. I quickly catch and pass Faulkner and I begin to see the leaders shortly after. I can tell they’ve split apart and I’m gaining on some of them. There’s a turn-around at 17 miles, so I see Jonas, then Matt (quite far ahead) and then a pack of 3 (Alexander, Kenyan, and one other) who I’m sure I’ll catch.

I am still feeling great and pass 30k in 1’39’21 (16’17 5k #6) and I’ve almost reached this pack of 3. I finally catch them around 20 miles (1’46’35) and now I’m in third. I pass my parents shortly after and they tell me that Matt and Jonas are 2’25 up. I almost can’t believe it – I was sure I’d have gained more on them, but it seems like they’re both running well. Still, a lot can happen in the last 10km of a marathon and I feel great, so I tuck my head down and keep going.

Mentally, these next few miles are very challenging. I still feel good physically, but after passing my folks, the course is quiet – empty even – and monotonous. I can’t see anyone in front of me or behind me and I can’t yet make out the skyline of Hartford to tell me I’m almost done. Still, somehow I run the fastest 5k of the race from 30-35k (16’10).

I maintain a solid pace though 38km and then just kind of space out and the pace drops a bit. I really think this is more a mental lapse than a physical lapse, and after 2km, I’m passing 25 miles and I’m back in it.

The last mile and a half is quite tough – a steep climb up the onramp and over the bridge over the Connecticut River, then a short downhill and then back uphill all the way to the park. I knew this was going to be hard and I’m pleased to have it in front of me as it kind of wakes me up. The bridge isn’t as bad as I expect and now there’s less than a mile to go and the worst part is over.

I think of it like the last rep of a hard workout and just find a totally new and unexpected gear for the end of a marathon. I’ve never felt that good and just hang on to that speed all the way through. I can see the clock from 200m away and I can see I’m going to run 2h19. I cross the line in 2’19’36 and I’m very excited. The last 340m was at 2’43/km (65sec 400m pace).

A well-executed long run

A well-executed long run – excited to finish!

Overall, this was a fantastic race and training effort. I seldom feel like I really ran as well as I could have hoped, but today I did. I did exactly what I wanted to – I solo’d a 2h19 marathon and ran a big negative split and it doesn’t feel like the kind of race that will leave me wrecked for days.

This gives me great confidence that what I’m doing in training is working well and my fitness is already ahead of where I would have wanted it to be 8 weeks ago. I’ve got another 8 weeks to the World 50k and 18 weeks to the Trials. I feel like I’m finally learning how to race the marathon and I can’t wait to test that out on these big stages.



Fluids/gels: gels at 10k, 20k, 30k, 37k, bottles at 14k, 23k, (missed 33k)

1 km 3’21.8 (3’21.8)
2 km 6’45.7 (3’23.9)
3 km 9’59.6 (3’13.9)
4 km 13’22.8 (3’23.2)
5 km 16’47.7 (3’24.9) – (16’47.7)
6 km 20’06.1 (3’18.4)
7 km 23’29.7 (3’23.6)
8 km 26’59.2 (3’29.5)
9 km 30’21.5 (3’22.3)
10 km 33’40.8 (3’19.3) – (16’53.1)
11 km 37’00.9 (3’20.1)
12 km 40’24.1 (3’23.2)
13 km 43’42.2 (3’18.1)
14 km 47’04.4 (3’22.2)
15 km 50’20.4 (3’16.0) – (16’39.6)
16 km 53’37.8 (3’17.4)
17 km 56’53.4 (3’15.6)
18 km 1’00’09.3 (3’15.9)
19 km 1’03’28.4 (3’19.1)
20 km 1’06’47.3 (3’18.9) – (16’26.9)
21 km 1’10’07.7 (3’20.4) – Half Marathon 1’10’33
22 km 1’13’23.0 (3’13.5)
23 km 1’16’36.2 (3’15.3)
24 km 1’19’48.7 (3’13.2)
25 km 1’23’03.2 (3’12.5) – (16’14.9)
26 km 1’26’27.6 (3’14.5)
27 km 1’29’45.8 (3’24.4)
28 km 1’32’49.8 (3’18.2)
29 km 1’36’06.1 (3’04.0)
30 km 1’39’21.4 (3’16.3) – (16’17.4)
31 km 1’42’35.9 (3’15.3)
32 km 1’45’48.6 (3’14.5) – 20 miles in 1’46’35
33 km 1’49’04.1 (3’12.7)
34 km 1’52’16.6 (3’15.5)
35 km 1’55’29.1 (3’12.5) – (16’10.5)
36 km 1’58’44.3 (3’15.2)
37 km 2’01’58.1 (3’13.8)
38 km 2’05’14.6 (3’16.5)
39 km 2’08’40.3 (3’25.7)
40 km 2’12’00.8 (3’20.5) – (16’31.7)
41 km 2’15’32.1 (3’31.3)
42 km 2’18’42.0 (3’09.9)
42.34 km 2’19’37.6 (0’55.6)