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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

The Gift of Running – a reflection on my first book about running

It has been just over 4 years since I published my first book on running.  It was written to gather all of the basic info about running into one easy to read source.  I just wanted to share what I had learned.

The response was surprisingly awesome.  I have heard from a lot of folks over the last four years that have gotten stronger and faster.  One of the things they often share is not about the technical info, but about my stories of trials and tribulations.  I never claimed to be perfect or know it all.  I just wanted to share what I learned.

Well, 4 years later I am still working on my third book.  I have been waiting for the time when I felt like I had a strong enough new message to make it worth the reader’s time and effort.  Well, I finally have the ideas.  Instead of writing a brand new book, however, I am going to update and expand the original book with new info and new stories.  The original book still stands the test of time.  I just have a few ideas to update and some new research based ideas to offer.

  • updated training plans
  • research insight: How long should the long run be?
  • low mileage and high performance
  • no more wasted miles:  placing effort where it will make the biggest gains
  • balancing the social and achievement aspects of running
  • strength training updated
  • cross-training and triathlon

The 2017 updated version of “The Gift of kindle book cover prototypeRunning” is under construction.  I expect it to be available for purchase early next year.

 

Here is the first book:

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The Gift of Running, the first book in the Wise Running series by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book.

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

________________
I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .
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26.2 Miles of Joy: Race Report for St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon 2016

It was glorious:  26.2 miles of pure joy.
The level of energy was amazing all the way.
I had a sinus infection and I was on antibiotics.
I was fighting cramps from mile 3.
I was on pace to qualify for Boston until the last 6.2 miles, when it got really tough.

There is no conflict between these statements.  They were all true simultaneously.  What a great weekend!st-judes-2016

Why I Registered for St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon

This story starts out many weeks before the race.  The race director for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon had a conflict that kept him from working the expo at the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon.  He contacted Muna and me to see if we would be willing to go represent our hometown marathon and our club, the Knoxville Track Club (www.ktc.org).  From our perspective the question could have been worded like this:

“Would you like an all-expenses-paid trip to Memphis where you can talk about a marathon that you love that is run in a city that you love speaking with new friends that you will meet who all love kids and/or love running?”

It did not take us long to make that decision!  🙂

Not long before we were to run the Savannah Marathon on November 6, we were told that KTC would receive one free entry into the marathon because we were an exhibitor at the expo.  We were asked if one of us would like to run it.  Muna had been working towards the Kiawah Island Marathon which was the week after the St. Jude’s Marathon.  I was not planning to run a marathon during this time, but I had plenty of training throughout 2016 and was certain that I could relax and run a Boston qualifying time at St.Jude’s.  With that in mind and a free entry, I registered.

And Then Reality Set In

In the weeks before this marathon, I was maintaining my running fitness while I worked on other fitness goals.  About 9 days before the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon, however, my throat was sore.  I waited it out.  I did not have any other symptoms for the first 4 days.  On day 4 the sore throat was worse.  On day 5, I had sinus congestion and a headache.  On day 6, I had a full-blown cold and a sinus infection.  I started on antibiotics the day before we traveled to Memphis.  I would be on day 4 of antibiotics on the morning of the marathon.  Not good!  Antibiotics can leave you a bit dehydrated and knock out the balance in your digestive tract.  Digestive issues during a marathon can be disastrous.  I had to decide:

  • Should I race at all?
  • Should I transfer to race the half marathon instead?
  • Should I run the full marathon and lower my expectations?

I decided to lower my expectations.  The plan if I had been healthy would be to aim for a 3:05 to 3:15 depending on how I felt during the race.  As race day approached, I knew this was no longer possible.  I tested my legs and I could tell that my lactate threshold was clearly affected by the sinus infection and/or antibiotics.  I felt okay, but I would not be able to go my fastest.  How fast could I safely go?

Race Day

After two days of meeting great folks at the marathon expo, I was motivated to simply give it my best shot.  I know my body well enough to know when it is being pushed too far.  (interpretation: I have made enough mistakes to know when I am am moving from questionable to stupid.)  Under normal circumstances, I would run by pace primarily for the first 20-something miles and then finish by feel. I decided to start the first few miles of the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon slower than I would usually run a marathon and then race exclusively by feel instead of pace for the last 24.2 miles.  More importantly, I decided that enjoying the race was more important than qualifying for Boston.

Enjoy.  To engage in and experience joy.  That is what I did.  Memphis and the supporters of St. Jude’s do an awesome job of supporting runners.  They are there cheering every step of the 26.2 miles.  The aid stations were always completely stocked with what runners need.  More importantly, they were filled with adults and kids that appreciated us for supporting St. Jude’s and going the distance.

Whether they were at the aid station, lining the streets, standing on the overpasses, or sitting on their front porches, Memphis and the St. Jude’s people gave all they had.

  • They thanked us.
  • They cheered.
  • They encouraged.
  • They rang those cow bells.
  • They reached their hands out to high five us.
  • They showered us with joy.

After the first two miles, I decide to spend the next 24.2 miles giving it back.  Yes, I watched my pace periodically.  Yes, I paid A LOT of attention to my body and how it was feeling.  I had to back off periodically.  I had periodic twinges of that pre-cramp feeling.  But I also gave back.  I gave enough energy to run a solid marathon.  But I also gave emotional energy back to our encouragers.

  • I thanked them.
  • I cheered for them.
  • I clapped for them.
  • Where there was music, I danced.
  • Twice I stopped for a few seconds to play air guitar.
  • I smiled and shouted, “More Cowbell!” countless times.
  • I reached my hand out for as many high fives as I could.
  • I smiled and looked them in the eye wherever possible, trying to beam joy back in their direction.

In the end…

I was fading faster than usual in the last miles of the marathon.  I had used up nearly all my energy.  High-fiving was getting harder.  In the last 1.5 miles, I had to be satisfied with a very small wave to the supporters instead of a high five.  I gave what little I had left to the fans and to finishing the race.

I had been on pace to qualify for Boston (BQ) until the last several miles.  At my age, a 3:29:59 would be enough to make the claim that I qualified for 2018.  I would have liked to accomplish that, but I did not feel disappointed when that pace slipped away.  I felt strangely satisfied.  Although I had kept it as a possibility and worked towards it, the BQ was not the real goal of the day.

Hundreds of supporters had made me smile.

I had made hundreds of supporters smile.

It was a glorious day.

26.2 miles of pure joy.

______________________________________

Enjoy the run!

Coach P. Mark, WiseRunning.com

______________________________________

.About St. Jude’s:

St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Please support the effort.
Start by visiting https://www.stjude.org/get-involved.html

 

Chasing a Seventeen-Year-Old Me (updated 11/30/2016)

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us.  They are essential to really keep us alive.”  — — Robert Schuller

‎”You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~Jack London
.
Call it a mid-life crisis.  Call it dreaming.  Call it whatever you want.  I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me.  I was 17 when I consistently ran 4:45 for 1600 meters.  I was 17 when I ran a half-marathon in 1:20:48.  I was 17 when I got tendinitis.  After a couple of years of doctors, specialists, & physical therapy, nobody could figure out why I had this tendinitis.  I would run once in a while, but my competitive days were done… or so I thought.
.
My tendinitis issues started in 1984.  Now fast forward to 2003.  I decided that I was getting out of shape and I started jogging.  This time, my tendinitis did not show up but I had knee issues.  Another specialist and another round of, “There is nothing we can do.”  I was told to stay off hills and run 3 miles or less.  So for a few years I jogged 3 to 7 miles on a feel-like-it basis, every so often.
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When my life was turned inside out back in 2009, I needed stress relief badly, so I turned to fitness.  I joined a gym and started training for a marathon.  Well, I should say that I started running a lot and hoping that would help me finish a marathon.  I can’t really say that I had a plan.  In the 2010 Knoxville Marathon, I totally bonked at mile 17 and walked the rest of the way…mostly in the cold rain…shivering..muscles locked up… but I finished.  5 hours and 35 minutes.  It was hell.  I was hooked!
.
I put the weights down and focused on training for the 2011 Knoxville Marathon.  This time, I followed one of Hal Higdon’s plans.  I modified the advanced I plan.  I also learned about electrolytes and Yasso 800s.  I felt fast enough to run 3:40 or so, but alas I had still not learned enough about electrolytes and nutrition.  I had to settle for 3 hours and 55 minutes.  Much better than the first try!
.
After this one, I followed Hal’s advice and used the momentum from this marathon to earn some personal records (PRs) in shorter distances.  He was SO right.  I had done very little speed training.  Most of my track work was about pacing more than speed.  Still, my training had made me much faster.  I found myself running a 5k in less than a 7 minute pace for the first time in over a quarter of a century!  A month later, I averaged a 7 minute pace for a 10k!
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“What else can I accomplish?” This was the question That I asked myself.  Moreover, “What do I WANT to accomplish while I am still young enough to get fast?”
.
I set my sights on a 6 minute mile.  In the next 5k, I ran the first mile in 5:47.  I obviously couldn’t maintain that speed, but it was my first sub-6 mile in a very long time.  I ended up finishing the 5k in 20:46.  I kept pondering…”How fast can I get?”
. As of 11/30/2016, my best times (not including high school) are:

Marathon

3:08:22

Half Marathon

1:27:42

10K

39:43

5K

18:35

 1 Mile

5:23

800 meter

2:21

Full Triathlon (Ironman 140.6)

13:59:43

Half Triathlon

6:06:30
I am now 49 years old and I have qualified for the Boston Marathon on the courses at:
  • 7 Bridges Marathon, TN
  • Shamrock Marathon, VA
  • Indianapolis Marathon, IN
  • Savannah Marathon, GA
  • Boston Marathon, MA
  • The Seqouyah at Pinson Mounds, TN
At this point I am still wanting to achieve a sub-3-hour marathon.  It is not about the final destination, however.  It is about loving the journey.    🙂
.

Qualifying for Boston was just bucket list item #1.  Also on my bucket list:

  • Run 1 mile under 4:45.
  • Run a 5k under 17:40.
  • Run a half marathon in less than 1 hour and 20 minutes  ( I can probably make it faster, but this specific time would be enough to defeat the 17 year old me)
What I am not doing is setting time limits.  I obviously can’t wait forever, but injuries/mishaps will occur along the way.  I have to give myself that latitude or I will go crazy.  I set goals and display them publicly to push myself, but I want to enjoy the ride.
 .
I am chasing the shadow of a 17 year-old me…
I am finally getting close enough to see him…
and I think I can pass him before this race is over!
.
Happy Running!

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10 Days Before the Marathon

wise running logo 7_25_12The hay is in the barn.  It is October 28 and I just ran the last key workout for the Savannah Marathon.  That leaves 10 days between today and race day.  It takes a full 10 days to see the full benefit of any particular workout, so this is a logical stopping point.  I will not get any faster.  Through rest and easy running, however, I will keep my speed and increase my health.  The little bumps and bruises, the sore parts, the cramps, strains and all of that, those things need time to heal.  They need to be gone by race day.  Fresh legs with no soreness but all of the speed I have earned through a thoughtful and hard-fought process of training.  Yes, 10 days ought to do the trick.

Getting to This Point

Much of my summer was focused on track meets and developing raw speed.  It was in mid-July that I first started sprinkling in some marathon-specific workouts.  I still had a few track meets left as well as a half-iron distance triathlon, so I was not fully devoted to marathon until later.  My long runs began to get longer and I sprinkled in some tempo runs here and there.

In August, my monthly mileage gradually went from somewhere in the twenties to somewhere in the thirties.  Throughout September, I averaged 41 miles per week.  Through experience, I have learned this is the sweet spot for my marathon training.  I make the most progress at about 40-44 miles per week.  Some people can handle a lot more.  This is me.  I have stayed right around there through the first 3 weeks of October, too.

My longest runs are every other week.  At first I was measuring by miles, but after 16 miles I start measuring by time.  My long runs went from two hours and twenty minutes, to two hours and forty minutes.  I completed two 3-hour long runs.  The Sundays between these very long runs were in the 10 to 12 mile range.

My training paces have changed over the months as well.  In July and part of August, I was doing a lot of short (200 meters to 800 meters) intervals at 5:40 pace or faster.  I gradually decreased time at those ridiculously fast paces while increasing time and distances at paces ranging from 6:30 15257355495_c5aa8f7266_oto 6:50.  These are the paces that I want to run during the marathon, so I have run a lot of mile repeats and tempo runs in this pace range.  No, I do not plan to average 6:30 miles in the marathon.  I would like to average in the 6:50 range.  I have to plan for time to walk through water stations and take a potty break.  Hence, I practiced 6:30’s and 6:40’s to aim for an average in the 6:50’s.  🙂

I have done races along the way, but I considered them all to be training runs for the marathon.  I wanted to maintain two to three key workouts per week.  That meant that I could not afford to rest up to really kill any races along the way.  So, they were just training at a good pace.

The 10 Days of Taper

So here we are, 3.5 months after the first marathon-specific workout.  The hay is in the barn.  I will take it easy.  All runs will be at 8:00 pace or slower except for a few strides now and then.  This is enough effort to maintain my speed but easy enough to heal completely in 10 days. My scheduled miles for this week add up to 26.  Next week, I will run 9 to 12 miles before race day on Saturday.

Not only am I going for a personal record (PR) at the Savannah Marathon, but it also the one year anniversary of our wedding.  Muna and I got married on the way to the race last year.  It will be a great day no matter how the race turns out.  Gotta keep things in perspective.

 ______________________________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

.

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_______________________________________________________

Wise Running Shirts & More

Find yours HERE:

I love running shirt

2014 Progress Report on My Own Training & Performance

In the midst of watching my run coaching clients make progress and set personal records, I have forgotten to reflect on my own progress as a runner.

A lot has happened in the last year or so.

  • I injured my knees in late November of 2013 and did not run for 4 weeks in December.
  • I was clipped by a car while riding my bike in February 2014, suffering a concussion.
  • I ran my first Boston Marathon in April, which turned out to be my second slowest marathon time.
  • I focused my summer training on the 800 meters and 1 mile distances.
  • I competed in my first “USA Track and Field” sanctioned track meet.
  • I became a RRCA certified running coach.
  • I ran two mile races on the road and 5 track meets in the summer.
  • In between track and mile events I also completed my very first triathlon, the “Storm the Fort” Half-Iron Distance.
  • I did a total of three triathlons in 2014, two half-iron distance triathlons and one sprint triathlon.

Townsend 15KSetbacks

Due to the time off from the knee injury and concussion, my fitness level suffered.  I lost a lot of progress.  I have been pushing hard all year just to get back to level of fitness that I had a year ago.  I have loved the training.  I enjoy pushing myself.  On the other hand, it has been extremely frustrating to work that hard and not achieve any personal records.  Very discouraging.

Progress

Yesterday was a big victory.  No, I did not win a race.  I was even a full minute behind the winner in my age group.  Still, it was a big victory.  I set a personal record (PR) in the 15K distance (about 9.3 miles).  That feels pretty good.

I still have a ways to go.  I am still a bit behind where I was in February of last year.  That is when my fitness last fully peaked.  I ran a 1:27:42 on a hilly half marathon course.  This is 9 seconds per mile faster than the 15K I ran yesterday.  Hence, I am close, but not quite all the way there.

When will I get there?  Well, I have 2.5 weeks left before I taper (ease up and heal) for the Savannah Marathon, which is on November 8.  I will have 5 key workouts in that 2.5 weeks.  I may not reach a PR at Savannah, but I should be very close at that point.

Conclusion

Whether I peak at Savannah or not, I know the time is very soon when I will be able to earn a few more personal records.

  • My training is balanced, pushing just the right amount.
  • I am eating healthier than ever.
  • And, most importantly, I am enjoying my training.

When I am not enjoying it, I change it up.

Remember This:

Enjoying the run comes first!
It is more important than progress and personal records.

 ______________________________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

_______________________________________________________

Wise Running Shirts & More

Find yours HERE:

I love running shirt

Wear a Wise Running Shirt to Your Next Race!

Are you a Wise Runner?  Show it proudly with this New Balance Tempo Performance Tank!

shirt pic 2 

It is available for $20 plus shipping costs.

This unisex tank comes in Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large.  
[I am wearing a medium in the photo, and I am 6’1″.]

Email me (pmark.runner@gmail.com)the quantity and sizes you wish to order.   I will email you a Paypal invoice of $20 per shirt plus the shipping.  You can then click the link in the email to pay by credit card, debit card, or Paypal account.  Your shirt should be mailed out to you within 2 weeks.

Runners in the Knoxville area can purchase a shirt from me directly without the need to pay shipping.

Assessing Progress: Keeping Race Results In Perspective

 

wise running logo 7_25_12At last night’s track meet, my 800 meter result was two seconds slower than last year.  My first reaction was disappointment and frustration. I am sick and tired of not making significant progress.  Upon reflection, however, my slower performance is a sign of good things.

How could this be?  When you look at race results you must ask yourself some key questions:

Was that the best I could do on that given day, under those specific conditions?

For my 800 meter race last night, my performance was solid during most of the race.  My first lap was a couple of seconds slower than the plan, but the strong wind accounts for that.  Good start.  I lost some mental focus in the first 100 meters of the second lap.  By the time I realized what was happening and managed to refocus, I had run about 130 meters slower than the planned pace.  From there, I was able to regain my intended pace and then accelerate for the last 150 meters.

Does it show progress from recent performances?

Yes.  Even though I finished slower than last year at the same event, I did make progress.  My most recent 800 meter race in June was 2:29.  This was 4 seconds faster.  So, compared to recent performances, this 2:25 is progress.

Moreover, the comparison to last year might not be fair.  There have been three events that occurred in the last year that made me slower: two wrecks and a knee injury.  In light of the fact that I took one full month off from running, it is a pleasant surprise that I am only two seconds slower.  That is a fairly good recovery.

What did I do well during the race?

The thing that went very well in yesterday’s 800 meter race was mental focus.  In many recent events, I have lost my mental focus about half way through the race and never regained it.  I have tailored my training to overcome this by practicing getting fatigued and then running at race pace.  It has pushed my body to prepare to battle through fatigue.  It has prepared my mind to recover focus.

What aspect of your race do I want to improve on before the next race?

I still had 130 meters in this 800 meter race where I did not maintain focus, so I will continue to work on that.  I know that training is working.  I see the improvement.

With all of this in mind, I know that my current training is effective.  I have every reason to expect some personal records to fall over the next few months.

Every race is another opportunity to assess progress and make changes if needed.  I have another 800 meter race in four weeks.  I would like to see a 2:15 this year.  🙂

Remember This!

Aim high, but keep in touch with reality.
Give yourself credit for every little bit of progress.
This becomes your courage to push for your best in the next event.

 

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Experimental Training: Staying the Course

Back in January, I reported that I was engaging in “experimental training” focused on building speed.  I summarized by saying:

  • I will run less frequently, but with greater intensity.
  • The speed-work I run on the track is going to be much faster and more intense than I would ever recommend to a client.
  • I will work harder on power through intense speed-work and additional weightlifting.
  • My long runs will still gradually increase as I prepare to run the Boston Marathon.  This remains the same.  There is no substitute.  The experimental side of the long runs for now is that my tempo runs will be embedded within those long runs each week.
  • I will replace my easy running days with cross-training on the bike and in the pool.

Has the experiment paid off yet?

No.  At least not in terms of scoring personal records.

In fact, I have had some relatively slow races lately.  Am I getting slower?  No, I am not.  I am training as fast as ever. ImplementationDip

What I am going through right now is called an implementation dip.  I am challenging my body in new ways.  Hence, my body is changing in subtle but important ways.  In the graph at the right, I am somewhere in the red zone.  My performance had plateaued, so I implemented alternative training and my performance dipped down.  As I continue with the new training, the performance will begin to rise again.  When the change is complete, I can expect my performance to not only match my prior level but to begin exceeding it.  By staying the course on this plan, I should begin setting personal records again before fall rolls around.

On a related note, this is messing with my head a little.  In races this year, I have not felt exactly the same as before.  As a result, I have not been able to make good pacing decisions.  When I get past the implementation dip, the feel of races will be more consistent.  This will help me better adjust my pacing during races and maximize my race performances.

Have I seen any benefits so far?

Yes.  I am healthier, with fewer aches and pains.  At 46 years old, that is a big deal.

I am running fewer miles and doing more cross-training that causes less wear and tear.  I am still doing a lot of cardiovascular work to enhance endurance.  It is just in different formats.  Fewer aches and pains means I am more comfortable doing strength training.  This in turn allows me to get faster.

It also breaks up the daily grind by offering alternative training sites and experiences.  Having fewer runs per week makes my runs feel even more special than before. Even though I have added biking, swimming, and some triathlons, I am still a runner.  That is where my goals are.  That is where my heart soars.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

 

Boston 2014: My Race Report

I was aiming to finish the 2014 Boston Marathon in about 3 hours.  It took me almost 2 hours longer than expected.  My nerves got the best of me.  It was my first Boston.  I was so excited and nervous that I made a few rookie mistakes.  Most of them revolve around my usual routine.  If your routine gets you to Boston, keep following it!

The Mistakes

The mistakes have nothing to do with training or my race plan.  I was well-trained and had a solid plan.  I boston 2014 runningfollowed the plan almost exactly for the first 5 miles.  a 6:40 pace almost exactly.  This is what I had trained for.  It was the right strategy.

Then the bottom fell out.  I was gradually getting weaker and my top pace was slowing.  I tried to slow things down for a bit and then level out to a 7:00 pace, but that quickly fell by the wayside.  I was getting weaker.  This is how the last 6 miles of a marathon feels when I am doing well, but this struggle was not at mile 20 or 21.  No, this was mile 6.  And I was getting weaker at a much more quickly than I would at the end of a good marathon.  Something was very wrong and I knew it.

By mile 8, I had gone from Goal A (3 hours), to Goal B (3:05), to Goal C (3:25), but I had to give that up too.  No, the rest of the race would be about survival.  It was time to move to Goal D: finish the race without an injury.  By the last mile, I was struggling hard to get a 15 minute pace.

My mistakes were made before I ever left the hotel room to go to the starting line.  First, I didn’t eat carefully enough for the month before the race.  I have a gluten intolerance and I was “glutened” at a restaurant about 3 weeks before Boston.  I had mostly recovered but I was not 100% going in to race day.  Second, I drank Gatorade for a couple of days before the race.  Good for electrolyte loading, bad for carb loading.  The sugar spikes your metabolism and causes you to deplete your carb supplies.  Rookie mistake.  Got nervous and forgot my own rule: stick with the routine that is working.  The third mistake probably had the biggest effect.  I forgot to take my electrolyte supplements with me to the start line.  Everyone has their own level of need for electrolytes.  My need is much higher than the average person.  I did not even think about this until I was struggling in mile 6.  I am a coach.  I blog about these things.  I teach these lessons.  I am more embarrassed than disappointed.  I knew better on all three counts, but my nerves got the best of me.  Not going to happen next year!

The Positives

Even though I struggled hard for over 20 miles, there are a lot of positives in this experience too.  First, the race is extremely well-organized and extremely secure.  The Boston Marathon is a class act and the runners are all class acts as well.  The whole environment was uplifting.

Cheering fans lined every step of the course, all 26.2 miles of it.  There was no break.  The support was overwhelming and I was thankful for it.  Whenever I got too down on myself for my errors, I just looked over at the side, waved my hands a little, and the crowd went wild.  Awesome support.

This is the year after the bombings.  At every moment in the entire experience, we were safe.  A guardian angel from law enforcement and/or our armed services was there watching like hawks.  It wasn’t just the course.  There was a wide perimeter of security around the entire towns of Hopkinton, Boston, and every town between.

Did the terrorists scare the crowd away?  No.  The crowd was double the usual number.
Did the terrorists scare the runners away?  No.  The crowd of runners was MUCH larger than last year.
Were the crowd and runners focused on a possible bombing?  No.  We thought about it, but the security blanket offered by the law enforcement agencies was enough to let us focus on excellence and fun.

Boston 2014 with MunaLast but not least among the positives was the presence of my wife, Muna.  Muna is a running coach, too.  She hasn’t run Boston yet, but she is really close to qualifying.  It will happen.  Even though she ran a 19-miler on Sunday, she was not there as a coach or a runner.  She came to support me.  She stood by me and tried to calm me down before.  She was there encouraging me after.  Muna knew what my expected time was and she saw the reports of my progress throughout.  She knew I was struggling.  She knew I was getting worse as I went.  I had two extra hours of struggle during the race.  Muna had 2 extra hours of worrying about what might be wrong.  Then she had to wait as the medical support got my electrolytes back to a stable range.  She took care of me.  Despite the enormously positive experience with the people of Boston and their marathon, Muna was my biggest positive of the race.  Thank you, Muna.

How Do I Feel About My Race?

boston and Knoxville

My first marathon was the Knoxville Marathon in 2010. My first Boston Marathon was in 2014. Both were slow and painful. These are the ones that mean the most.

If this had been a goal race, my bad day would have been much more devastating.  To be sure, I am disappointed.   I am embarrassed by my rookie mistakes.  But it was not a goal race.  Even though I trained for the distance, the focus of my training is presently on shorter races: the 800 meters and mile.  No, it was not a goal race.  It was a victory lap.  It was a victory lap for the 4.5 years it took to go from novice to Boston.  Hence, it was not as devastating as it could have been, because I still have that progress.  I have still qualified for Boston 3 times over the last two years.

Looking ahead, I am determined to come back next year and get a sub-3 hour marathon at Boston.  I have been inching closer to sub-3 for a couple of years now.  I will take another shot at it in Savannah in November, but most of my training will still be focussing on the short races.  After Savannah, I will turn my attention to Boston without being distracted by the short races.  I will follow my safe routine.  I will bring my electrolytes.  I will conquer the Boston Marathon.  I always return to the site of a bad run to conquer it as soon as I can.

The Boston Marathon is a great race with awesome runners, and super fans.

I just had a bad day.

I shall return.

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“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

— P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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