2016 Glass City Marathon Race Report: Boston Marathon Qualified!

2016 glass city marathon outfit -- achieving millennial

My 2016 Glass City Marathon outfit.

My rendition of the 2016 Glass City Marathon race report features a milestone for every marathoner: I qualified for the Boston Marathon.  When I FINALLY ran my first marathon in 2014, I never thought only 18 months later that I’d qualify for Boston a year and a half later.  It’s a story about dedication, effort, and hard work coming to fruition more than anything running related.  It’s amazing what we can achieve if we put our heart and soul into something.  Success doesn’t come overnight, you have to work for it. Eventually, you will succeed!  I went from 4:15 to 3:03 in 18 months.  Nothing easy is worth a damn.

Background

I had registered for Glass City years ago, but from injury did not start.  It happens.  In the fall I was looking at either the 2016 Glass City Marathon, in Toledo, Ohio, or Cleveland Marathon to run.  The courses look to be comparable in profile, but Glass City is two weeks earlier in the spring than Cleveland.  One on hand I’d have two more weeks of training for Cleveland from my 50M ultra (literally) abomination, but I’d roll the dice with weather.  April 24 sounded “safer” than Cleveland.  And boy was it a great decision. Spoiler: BEAUTIFUL WEATHER!

Training

I thought for the 2016 Glass City Marathon I’d  graduate to running 80+ miles per week with quality.  That is kind of a big deal for runners because you’ll be able to get extensive endurance via running 9 times per week and run quality and speed workouts.  I slightly modified Pete Pfitzinger’s greater-than-70 MPW plan, from his first edition of Advanced Marathoning.  Pfitz’s plan (interesting it’s “easy” to locate his 55 and 70 week plans online, but good luck at the high mileage ones) has runs everyday with two quality weekly sessions (quality sessions are strides, lactate thresholds, and marathon-pace runs).  Interestingly, I find it easier to run everyday than take a day or two off.  I always seem flat after rest days.  “Rest” days on high-mileage plans are 6/4mi recovery doubles.

At the beginning of training for the 2016 Glass City Marathon I ran into a bump when I went back into training too soon after the Rocks and Rocks 50M DNF.  I had a recovery week, in which I certainly “recovered” too hard on my Trek, then ran a full-fledged 85 mile training week.  I couldn’t tell if I wasn’t recovered or “overtrained”.  My heart rate was racing, a sign I needed time off.  After the failed marathon-paced long run, I decided to take a week off everything.

I came back fine!

It was a short cycle — very short, but very, very well executed.  It culminated in my first 100 mile week (that took 13 hours 40 minutes).

Here’s the weekly mileage, per Strava (the numbers are just for organization’s sake: this is NOT a standard cycle):

  1. 85
  2. Rest/Recovery week 🙁
  3. 91.5 (yeah, who jumps back into running PRing his weekly mileage?!)
  4. 82
  5. 88
  6. 80.3
  7. 100
  8. 63.9 (start of taper)
  9. 47.7
  10. 43.3 (includes marathon)

So, I only really had a 5-week cycle, which isn’t even a cycle (actually, it’s less than many running coaches’ sessions of periodization).  But, I’m pleased as can be.  Some runs were better than others – that normal sort of thing – but there’s nothing I’d change about my training, from what I knew then.  More on that later.

I hit the peak just right.  After my 100 mile week I’d need a drastic cutback week regardless.  By the middle of Week 9 I was feeling about race ready.  At the end of that week most of fatigue disappeared.  My taper was setting up nicely for the 2016 Glass City Marathon.  I ran Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of race week, then took the rest of the week off.  A trick I learned from my “running coach” Dean.  At that point, there’s nothing you can do to improve your race.  Your legs feel great, and you want to run! And you’re bouncing off the walls.  Rest is fitness training as well.

I surveyed my friends for coffee of what they thought I’d run:

Melanie 2:55.59
Dean 2:56.13
Pat 2:57.28
Tim 2:57.50
Matt 2:58.40
Sean 2:58.59
David W. 2:59.59
Gord 3:00.59
David S. 3:01.12
Aaron 3:02.14
Bryan 3:03.29
Susan 3:03.58
Brendan 3:04
Jim 3:05
Terry 3:06.11
Bagge 3:07.15
Alex 3:08
Drock 3:09
Judy 3:10
Gareth 3:12
Alan 3:12.18
Gator 3:15.58
Alen 3:20

You can see a little variety.  The slower times assume I crashed and burned.  Susan won.

Prerace

I’ve never been to Toledo, but have passed by twice (when we beat UM and MSU back during my college days).  Saturday started overcast and cleared as I traveled north from Columbus.  I love me a sunny day.  The 2016 Glass City Marathon’s expo is on the campus of the University of Toledo (who in recent history has beaten Michigan).  The nicer thing about smaller campuses is you can park and walk to your destination in a few minutes — hassle free!  (I’m saying this as an Ohio State alum who’s alma mater is a royal PITA for people unfamiliar with campus).

Thanks from redeeming points from my Chase credit card, my two-night stay at the Red Roof Inn (The Chingy song, “Holiday Inn”, was almost “Red Roof Inn”) set me back a whole $37.  It’s about 1.5mi from the starting line, and I planned on walking to the marathon.  That’d be my warm-up and cool-down.

I was a no-frills room.  Because it didn’t have a fridge, microwave, or coffee maker, I improvised.  I brought my cooler to put my fruit smoothie, two Tupperwares of pasta, and one of pineapples and cantaloupe.  I also brought a thermos of coffee for the morning.  Black, just like the sky at 3:30AM. I watched Avatar, for the first time, Saturday evening.  It was alright; I wished I had seen the 3-D version.  But $2.8B can’t be wrong, right?

2016 Glass City Marathon Swag

2016 glass city marathon swag -- achieving millennial

TONS of swag at the 2016 Glass City Marathon! And this only includes what we got before the race!

You got a lot of cool stuff from the Glass City Marathon.  A pair of socks (they look nice, but let me run in them for a few months to give my final verdict), a tech shirt, a T-shirt, a race magnet, a glass finisher’s mug you can use to put your TWO BEERS into, of course your 40th Anniversary finisher’s medal (which has a spinner thing to play with), and probably more stuff I’m forgetting.  I don’t do races for swag, but it’s really awesome when you get a lot of cool stuff.  In addition, Glass City is a pretty “cheap” marathon.

Race Day

I woke up at ~0330.  I’ve never been a person who rolls out of bed and starts the day.  I need some time to move

2016 glass city marathon prerace selfie -- achieving millennial

This is how I look when I wake up at 3:30AM. Yeah.

around, get something to eat and drink and find the bathroom.  Duly so on race day when you don’t want to EVER use the bathroom during a race.  With lots of time to kill before setting out, I watched a couple of awesome TEDx talks.  I love that motivational stuff, because it’s true.  You can accomplish what you want when you decide you want it and take action.

After texting my friend Aaron, who ran the half (his marathon is in three weeks), I headed out around 5:20.

I had to get a clear gear check bag, which meant that I had to do more walking before the race, but I didn’t care.  That was my warm-up, right?  Walking a little more wouldn’t wipe me out during the race.  I inadvertently rendezvoused with Aaron at the race-day pickup.  He came out of no where and gave me a healthy pat on my gut.  We got our picture taken.  And we was out.  Short and sweet.

The weather was beautiful!  It would be in the 40s, with a slight south wind, and clear skies!  Some people want 30s and overcast but since I’m not running to win, I’ll take slightly-less-than-perfect conditions.  Combining the marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, and 5K  about 8,000  athletes ran.

In the starting Coral I chatted with a guy also trying to BQ.  He’s more into ultras, so we had something else to talk about before the race.

For the race I wore my Altra hat, Altra compression socks, Altra The One 2.5 racing flats (AMAZING shoes!  I’ve worn racing flats before that feel like slippers, but these shoes actually wear like shoes!!), yellow Marathon Maniacs singlets, Time to Run short shorts a Ski-belt, and Nike racing gloves, which I took off a few miles into the run.  And an iPod shuffle, which didn’t play the songs I wished it had.  Silly me for keeping some bum songs on the playlist.

2016 Glass City Marathon

aaron and I at the 2016 glass city marathon -- achieving millennial

Aaron and I before the race. Picture courtesy of Aaron Quiroz.

I’m not sure why, but the race started a few minutes late.  At that point, we all want to start.  The air horn sounded around 0710.  As usual, everyone went out the chute like a bat out of hell.  My only thought was “are you all really gunning for sub-1:30/3:00?”

After a mile or two people started settling into their respected paces.  I joined the 1:30 Pacer Tribe.  The Tribe was led by a bad ass female.  And she was on spot for the most part (1:30/3:00 is a 6:51.9 pace and she wasn’t more than a second or two off — kudos for her, although pace precision isn’t as important for 13.1 races).

This was the first race that I didn’t carry water on me.  I practiced grabbing water off my car at “race speed”.  The volunteers did a good job handing off water to people running sub-7:00 pace.  I bought a fuel belt a week ago and brought three Gu gels with me — I took them at my usual mile 6, 12, and 18 posts.  Yeah, I don’t consume much during races…

Glass City is a flat marathon.  Of course, living in Columbus, you don’t get much flatter unless you literally live on a plane.  Not that a few rolling hills are insurmountable.  The course runs through neighborhoods and metro parks, and you have have quite a few turns.  There were only a few times during the race in which you have decent straightaways (thank goodness the end did!).  Those seemed like a bigger deal at the time then it does looking back.

I felt good as we meandered about the neighborhoods.  The full and half marathon split is around Mile 8.  I saw THE BEST RUNNING SIGN at that point, “Today’s workout: 1 x 26.2 miles at marathon pace”.  I gave that guy a point and smile.  He earned it.  The next best sign was around Mile 25 (my brain doesn’t ever function at that point) with a girl jumping on a mini trampoline saying, “Call me!  Because you have great endurance!”

I love running through metro parks.  They’re calm and relaxing.  But not something necessarily what I want for a marathon.  I’m an endurance guy first with a lack of “neuromuscular” fitness, per Brad Hudson.  Eventually the strength taken to maintain speed on turns and elevation changes started to take its toll.

Around Mile 18 I felt that I would need to buckle down to make my goal of a Boston Marathon qualifying time, and even moreso if I want to break 3:00 (which all but seemed gone at that point; I didn’t have enough “bank” from the beginning and I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain a sub-6:51 pace even with an advantageous course decline at the end).

All I tried to do was to stay in the moment, and hope my iPod Shuffle would play a good song or two.  No matter how many times I edit the playlist, “power songs” become noise fillers.  I hate to skip songs based on principle, but…

The worst part of the race were Miles 21 and 22, in which I ran 7:30 and 7:28 splits.  That was in a metro park before a following decline, so I knew I wasn’t finished for the race, but damn, I thought that may cost me a BQ-time.  The end of Mile 22 was a bike trail on a slight decline lasting for most of the remainder of the marathon that I had mentally prepared for.  I knew that I just “had to coast” to the finish.  I had to run out the clock.  Ha, “run” out the clock.

Two positive things happened.  One, I wore my yellow Marathon Maniacs singlet, which in itself draws attention.  I’d have people come up to me before and after the race mentioning it.  A volunteer on a bike started talking to me a little bit about being a Maniac.  That was reassuring and refreshing.  And secondly, a women running the last leg of the marathon relay started chatting with me as well.  She had earlier run the 5K.  We were both beat.  It was nice to talk someone at that point in the race.  She was also a bad ass.  Apparently she lived close to the race.  I think.  The last ten miles kind all blend together.

We both struggled at a ~7:10 pace.  My legs were definitely fatigued.  But pain is temporary, glory lasts forever, right? We ran together for about two miles before she said she was going to fall back.  I thanked her.  I waited around the finishing chute but never saw her.  I had about two miles to go when we separated.

I shifted into another gear.  The race was almost over and I ignored my legs.  At this point it’s about the heart of the race.  I ran Mile 26 in 6:49.  The end had a downhill, which I can only describe my running mechanics as that of a newborn calf.  The only clock on the course was at the finish line.  I went into a shuffle-sprint.  I don’t think I could feel my legs.  I definitely don’t remember feeling them.

I finished with the clock reading 3:03.50, my watch reading 3:03.43, and Glass City stating 3:03.44.  I qualified for the Boston Marathon!  I will be very close to the cutoff to register.  Right now, I don’t care.  I’ll get it on my next marathon, if not today.  I ran my heart out, my very best, and now the cards are on the table, waiting for what the dealer turns up.

For as spent as my legs felt while running, they didn’t feel nearly as bad walking around afterward.  I definitely wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere, but it’s the best they’ve felt after a marathon.

My splits:

1 6:59
2 6:51.5
3 6:50.9
4 6:47.8
5 6:50.9
6 6:49.3
7 6:54.6
8 6:54.2
9 6:47.9
10 6:56.6
11 6:59.1
12 6:48.7
13 6:45.9
14 6:50.1
15 6:57.5
16 7:01.9
17 6:58.7
18 6:58.9
19 7:02.4
20 7:08.6
21 7:27.7
22 7:29.5
23 7:15.6
24 7:09.7
25 7:05.5
26 6:49.4
27 (.34mi per Garmin) 2:10.7

I finished 42 overall, 39 gender, 8 age group

My Marathon Progression:

After Glass City

I didn’t have any pizza — I wasn’t hungry.  And for the first time, I felt that I could eat after a race (apparently my

2016 glass city marathon finisher's mug -- achieving millennial

The 2016 Glass City Marathon Finisher’s Mug, 40th Anniversary! Without the beer. Twas tasty.

fitness has improved enough I had stomach food and drink not named water).  After drinking a couple of bottles of water I found the beer line.  What’s a new glass mug without beer?  I got two glasses of some local wHeat beer. Delicious.  I also drank my two bottles of Gatorade with Gatorlytes for a crapton of electrolytes.  I thought my legs would need that.

I honestly spent the rest of the day at my hotel room.  I didn’t want to do any walking. I just wanted to hang out.  Plus, my mind wasn’t working so I wouldn’t have done anything constructive.  I did watch most of Jurassic World.  That was also the last movie I watched in a theater.

What I learned

  • My body can handle averaging 80+ miles with quality
  • My taper was spot on
  • My Gu and water in race fueling was adequated (I don’t know if drinking more water would have helped, I usually drink on the light side)
  • My running volume helped maintain my pace when my form and “speed” were faltering
  • #speedkills: I NEED to focus on speed training, quality workouts, and hills
  • Race day execution was spot on
  • My race day strategy was to basically even split, maybe negative split if I was feeling good; I ended up positive splitting by a few minutes, but still met my goals.
  • Precare fueling/bathroom breaks were adaquate
  • My legs were in pain after the race; they felt sore like I had a hard run, but nothing like Columbus or Bigfoot

Motivation

2016 glass city marathon finisher's medal -- achieving millennial

The 2016 Glass City Marathon Finisher’s Medal — the 26.2 circle thingie spins!!

After my 2016 Glass City Marathon I started to post on social media.

I wrote a paragraph, truly coming from my heart, that read:

Today I qualified for the Boston Marathon. Yeah, the marathon runners take the day off work to watch. In 18 months I went from a 4:15 to 3:03. You want to get ahead and go far in life? Hard work. Dedication. Consistency. Nothing easy is worth a damn. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing the work you put in come to fruition. You’ll surprise yourself by what you can achieve if you put in the miles.

I thought I would get maybe 20-30 likes from Facebook friends.  No, as of right now it has garnered 127 likes.  I must have stroke a cord with my friends.  I didn’t want to make it a “look at me” post (although since it qualified me for Boston, now is as good of a time as ever); I wanted to make a point about dedication.  I hope it sticks.

Lately in the day, a fellow Altra Ambassador mentioned me by name about inspiring him!  I’ll take that.  If I can inspire one person a day, then it has been a good day.  You try to motivated a person, but unless it strikes a cord and inspires that person, it’s just breath and air.

I used to think that you can become a jack of all trades.  I could do everything.  You really can’t.  At least expertly.  You have to specialize to become really good at someone.  For endurance sports, that’s long distance running for me.  I can train hard for the marathon, and still run really fast 5Ks and half marathons.  It becomes harder to run fast road races if you run ultras, and let’s not start about tris.

Boston Marathon?

My age group M18-34 requires a 3:05 to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I ran a 3:03.44.  Because of the Boston cutoff, I’m in BQ purgatory until September when registration for the Boston Marathon opens up.  I’ve heard that this year’s cutoff may be smaller than last years (~2:30), but I’m in no way, shape, or form booking hotels for Patriot’s Day next year.  What happens, happens.  I’ll forever be a Boston Marathon qualified runner regardless of running Boston.  I’m a happy camper.

Road Trip

It’s nice getting away for a weekend.  Toledo is a little more than two hours away from Columbus.  So, just long enough to be a road trip.  I’ve never been to Toledo, so it was a nice extra bonus for my first trip up to the city of a Ohio/Michigan skirmish to race a marathon.  Holidays don’t have to be long or far away, but away from it all enough to feel like you’re away.  This was both a “business trip” and a weekend holiday.

What Next?

I’ve registered for a few triathlons.  I don’t want to do then anymore.  Why?  I have no driving ambition to get up to swim or ride everyday, which I’d have to do in order to complete, let alone compete at the half Ironman in August.  Yeah, less than four months away.    I’ve studied too much running recently to want to turn away from it.  I look forward to running too much to want to stop.  Life’s priorities change.  And it totally sucks registration opens up nearly a year before the race.  It happens.  You learn and move on.  It’s only money.  Happiness matters more, I’ve discovered.

So, I’m going to forgo tris to continue my “running career”, which is a year or two away from maybe being competitive.  You live and learn.

Running is my passion.

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