Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shout out for my dad and bro

This weekend wasn't exactly mine.

Two others within the immediate McGrath clan had stellar performances.

My brother Alex ran 24:04 on the William & Mary home course to win his conference meet in a course record. He ran 25:17 to win there earlier this year, so the improvement curve was huge! Here is a link to the write up, and if you click on the video, after a 30s commercial, you'll see a few race highlights, and a series of short interviews between Alex and his coach: http://www.tribeathletics.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=608329&SPID=83403&DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=205720894&DB_OEM_ID=25100 Alex ran Saturday and you better believe his run was fuel for the fire for my marathon on Sunday.

Meanwhile, my dad Art McGrath, at the age of 61, ran the Nashua Telegraph 10k. He works nights, so he had about 4 hours sleep before driving to Nashua for the race. He romped over the course in his age group and ran 2 out of his 4 fastest 5ks of the year on this course: http://coolrunning.com/results/12/nh/Oct28_Nashua_set2.shtml

All this to say, we're a running family and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be the guy I am without them!

Monday, October 29, 2012

CCM 2012

This past Sunday marked my second visit to Falmouth, MA for the Cape Cod Marathon. Unlike last year's trip, which involved a stressful drive through an ice storm down to Falmouth the morning of the race, this year team Whirlaway reserved rooms at the Falmouth Inn. Brandon Newbould, Christin Doneski, Kaz and I rolled into town around 3:30 and picked up our numbers at the expo. We ran into lots of familiar faces and it was cool to be able to relax and catch up for a while. I was feeling pretty tired on the drive down, put all the positivity and excitement surrounding the race had me feeling good and optimistic.

Joe Navas joined us for a trip along the last 13 miles of the course. The second half features a few good hills and it was helpful to remind myself to be conservative early on. My memory from last year's race gets pretty hazy after mile 18 or so. All I can recall of the last 5 miles from 2011 is bloody feet, lots of walking / hopelessly stretching, coastal flooding and soliciting a stranger in a car for their Gatorade. I was determined to have a better finish this year.

Dinner at 6:30 with most of the team at an Italian restaurant attached to the inn. Had lots of bread and olive oil, Veal Parm over spaghetti, and one Long Trail IPA. Sat near Hammond, Spinney and Newbould and had a blast listening to Hammond's stories. They flowed endlessly until it was time to turn in. Read a bit and lights out sometime around 10pm.

I slept better than I could have hoped. Felt great waking up and wandered over to Dunkin' Donuts for my pre-race bacon egg and cheese on a croissant. It has never failed me for a long run. Coffee down the hatch and then it was time to hang out and hydrate.

I warmed up 10 minutes or so with Brandon. Soon after, it was down to 15 minutes before the cannon fired. I took down a Gu and some water, started jogging into town and immediately threw up the water I had just taken. Weird. Left a nasty taste in my mouth for the start. A little scattered getting onto the line and finding teammates. I see Lauren and give her a hug and the next thing I know the cannon has fired and we're off!

The first few miles was the sorting out process. I had mixed feelings about my plan to run 6:10s for a majority of the race. Some people recommended sticking to my pace plan no matter what, while others said to run relaxed and be sure I was feeling in control by halfway. I ended up siding with the latter philosophy, and ran by feel as a pack formed including a couple Western Mass guys, one GBTC, one SRR, at least one team RUN guy, Navas and myself. I'm probably forgetting some people. The pack was moving well and the race was officially on.

I stayed towards the front of the pack as Navas and a RUN guy went ahead for a few miles. By around 13 miles they came back to us and right around that time I made a slight move on a long gradual downhill. Miles 13, 14, 15 were my fastest on the day. I glanced back a few times and saw the pack stringing out but certainly still within striking distance. There was separation and then suddenly Sonny from Western Mass was right beside me. We were clear of the pack and moving on after a GBTC and BAA guy who came into view. In the back of my mind, I knew there were some really strong runners just a few seconds back and I fully expected them to come storming back in the final 10k.

Sonny and I exchanged leads over the next 5 miles. He finally got the better of me somewhere around mile 22-23. He moved strong up one of the biggest hills on the course. I encouraged him to get after the GBTC guy ahead and that was the last I saw of Sonny! I ended up catching GBTC after going through Woods Hole and crossing the wooden bridge there. Finally we're moving along the ocean and I'm feeling relieved to be beyond the point where last years race blew up for me.

I had very little power left to my stride by mile 22. My pace gradually slipped each mile after that one. Miles 24 and 25 were the toughest for me. There was a nasty constant headwind on the beach. I tried to fight through the wind but just as I passed the mile 24 marker I felt the first signs of cramping in my calves. Within seconds both calves were jumping. Just before the 25th marker my right hamstring seized. It was similar to last year, but I was so close to the finish I stretched it hard and shuffled back into an ugly stride. Exactly at the point I stopped to stretch, the SRR guy from long ago blows by me! I'm pissed that I had no idea he was near me (not that it would have made any difference!) and now he's 40 meters ahead. I maintain the gap and start to close it as we both pass a team RUN guy who was hurting badly.

Finally, I'm in sight of main street and both hamstrings cramp HARD and I'm stuck at a standstill. I had run my 26th mile in 6:24 and now I'm stranded in the last quarter mile. Dudes from Level Renner are yelling at me that the race is literally going to be over in 2 minutes if I could just get moving. It takes maybe a full minute to get going at a weak jog but finally I'm moving again. I was really psyched to be finishing and under 2:40 for the first time. It was redeeming to come back and run strong on this course and erase the doubts that plagued me during the taper period. I finished 9th overall, 8th in the Open division. Whirlaway scored high in a lot of areas, and I was proud that the Men's Open team won the team competition for the last GP event of the year.

 Here are my splits:

  1 - 5:48
  2 - 6:02
  3 - 5:57
  4 - 5:52
  5 - 5:53
  6 - 6:05
  7 - 6:01
  8 - 5:55
  9 - 6:00
10 - 5:51 (59:24)
11 - 5:59
12 - 5:57
13 - 5:48
13.1 - 1:18:0x
14 - 5:49
15 - 5:49
16 - 6:07
17 - 5:56
18 - 5:55
19 - 6:05
20 - 5:59 (1:58:48, 5:56 pace) (second 10 mi 59:24)
21 - 6:04
22 - 6:07
23 - 6:12
24 - 6:17
25 - 6:41
26 - 6:24
.2  - 2:40

Total: 2:39:12, 6:04.x per mile.

Monday, October 15, 2012

last long run!

This past Thursday's long run went well, but I was tired. I took the following day (Friday) very easy (58 min) on trails from home. On Saturday I still felt a little sore but headed out for an awesome 10 miler, finishing up with a few miles in the low 6's. 

So by Sunday I was ready to go long again in my "crash course to the 'thon". Met up with some friends from the Sisu project, plus a couple others for a run on the rail trail from Newfields. Vassallo and I ran together the whole way. Germain joined for most of the return portion. It was muddy and wet but the run still felt pretty smooth. I felt far better than I did on Thursday. Here are the stats: http://connect.garmin.com/splits/233482590

21 miles at 6:30 average on trail. Having done this run, I'm confident 6:30/mile for the marathon is possible.  The real question is can I run 6:00 - 6:10? This Thursday I will probably go 4x2m at 5:40. I'll probably throw in some longer repeats at 5:20 pace on Sunday and  5xmile repeats at 5:45 on Wednesday. I'll do just about everything I can to tune up before the big dance. Heck, I might even do a sit-up or two. 13 days to go!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Longer Run

Well....! The running has not been very good or consistent since I started teaching in early September. I think I came into the school year training to the max because my work life had low-stress. Starting a new job and still trying to hammer miles just had me totally run down. I am just getting over a 3 week long cold that included everything from bronchitis to a sinus infection. I've had about 1 week of good running under my belt out of the last 5 and here is my run from yesterday: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/232432485 (10/11). Good run for the first time in a while and I'm hoping it's a sign that I can still move my body for 26.2 on the 28th!! I'm amazed at an avg HR of 171 but I'll blame the hills for that one... 

So, this one was 15.5 hilly miles. I'm aiming for 20 on Sunday or Monday with 8 miles at goal MP and 18-20 the following Thursday. Those runs should hopefully remind my body that it needs to store up some fuel and help smooth out the stride into the low-6s. If it sounds like I'm taking a crash course to the marathon, that's because I am! 

Good luck to the runners at Hartford this weekend!