Good morning! I’m finally sitting down to write this newsletter at 9:45 on Monday night and I can’t promise that it will be interesting, informative, inspirational, or even coherent. I did just crack a beer though and will enjoy it while I try to make sense of my race at yesterday’s 127th Boston Marathon. This one is going to take some time for me to process but I can say that it was the most fun, best executed Boston I’ve ever run. It’s such a hard race, even when it goes well.
I had three goals going into this one: 1. Find joy in every mile, even if/when it sucks. 2. High five at least three kids along the way. 3. Thank volunteers at every opportunity. If those seem like a competitive cop-out, so be it, but after 2021’s literal shit show, where I was so focused on outcomes that I wasn’t fully present for the experience, I knew that my legs would do what they were trained to do if I got my priorities straight.
The highlight of the day for me was sharing so many miles with Levi Miller and Fernando De Samaniego Steta, two of my closest friends, not to mention my two most frequent training partners for this cycle. Fernando got out ahead of me and Levi in the beginning but we caught up to him a few miles into the race. The three of us rolled mile after mile together through 16 before separating in the Newton hills. We also shared the most comical but memorable post-race-group-hug-to-keep-warm shuffle back to their hotel in the pouring rain but that’s another story for a different day.
Going into the race I knew that I had sub-2:30 marathon fitness, I just wouldn’t know if it was sub-2:30 Boston Marathon fitness until I got out there. Early on it was clear to me that sub-2:30 likely wasn’t in the cards and that the worst thing I could do was to force my hand. (Trust me, I’ve tried. It never works out. The marathon, especially Boston, is undefeated in this game.) So I committed to racing smart, making good decisions, and trying to keep the effort as steady as possible through the hills so that I could race hard over the final 5-mile stretch to Boylston Street. That plan worked out well. I moved up throughout the race and passed more people than I could possibly count. I’ve run six Bostons and this was the first time I felt like I was actually racing the last five miles and not just surviving them. It was a lot of fun. I really wanted to negative split the race but ended up with the most even halves I’ve ever run here—1:16:43/1:17:31 for a 2:34:14 finish. (If you’re a number nerd, you can geek out on my Strava data here.) Not my fastest Boston but the best I’ve ever raced it.
It was also the best I’ve ever fueled for the marathon distance. I took a Precision Fuel and Hydration chew 20’ before start, started with (and drank down) a bottle of PF, ate four PF30 gel during the race, downed another bottle of PF at Mile 16, and drank water at every other aid station on average. In total, I took down 720 calories and 180 grams of carbohydrates from the start of the race to the end. Energy and stomach were both great throughout. (Note: PF&H is one of the morning shakeout’s annual partners. If you’re interested in trying Precision Fuel & Hydration products for yourself, check out this link and save 15% off your first order.)
All in all it was a really special day along the course, maybe the most energetic Boston I’ve experienced in all the years I’ve attended this race. Unfortunately, as it was brought to my attention a couple times last night, not everyone was allowed to bring the same energy and that’s a bunch of bullshit. I remember running by this cheer station and it was going off—in the best way! Exactly what you want as you’re about to buckle down and bring it home. No threats to runners, just loud love and endless enthusiasm for everyone running past. I understand the need for public safety at a big event—there were plenty of police officers monitoring various sections of the course—but to physically barricade a group of mostly Black and Brown folks for making noise at a marathon is ridiculous, unacceptable, and worst of all, racist. I hate to wrap up this recap on a negative note but it’d be wrong to ignore this issue and not address it.
Thank you to everyone reading this for the interest and encouragement in the buildup to this year’s Boston Marathon. It meant a lot and kept me going when the going got tough. To my wife, Christine, I’m forever grateful for your love and support in everything that I do. To my training partners, this was a team effort. Thank you for letting me be a part of the squad. And to the athletes I coach who also raced, even if I didn’t see you out there, you were on my mind throughout the day and inspired me to practice what I preached out there. I’m not sure how many of these I have left in me but this is one I’ll enjoy and cherish for a while. I smiled and gave out a bunch of high fives and said thank you a lot. The rest took care of itself.
— I’ve done little more than look at the results of the elite races but my two quick takeaways are: 1. More often than not, Boston rewards experience and we saw that play out in the men’s race as Evans Chebet won for the second year in a row (and Scott Fauble finished as top American for the third time, I think, in 7th). Eliud Kipchoge did what a lot of first-time Boston runners do: took it out too hard on a course that does not reward you for going out too hard, got softened up by the hills, and then did what he could to get to the finish line in one piece. (As I said a couple weeks ago, he’s just like the rest of us!) All of the top men ran positive splits and those that placed well were the ones that survived the best. 2. The women’s race was quite the opposite affair as Hellen Obiri, running her first Boston and just her second marathon, won in a quick 2:21:38. That’s far from a big surprise as she’s one of the best pure racers in the sport but it’s impressive nonetheless. Unlike the men, the top-5 women—including top American and Boston debutante Emma Bates, who did a lot of the driving for this one and ended up finishing 5th—ran negative splits. The next 10 women, most of whom were still in it at halfway, all ran under 2:25.
— Enjoyed this pre-race profile on Kipchoge from Matt Futterman at the New York Times. Given how yesterday’s race played out, I found the advice from a couple former Boston Marathon champions to be particularly prescient. “Amby Burfoot, who won in Boston in 1968, suggested treating the race like the Olympics, where only the gold medal matters,” writes Futterman. “Kipchoge should run as slowly as he can to win, Burfoot said, and shouldn’t take the lead until well past 20 miles. Also, he warned, don’t join the long list of runners who got suckered into thinking all that downhill running during the first 16 miles wasn’t causing major muscle fatigue. ‘Respect the downhills, or they will disrespect you,’ Burfoot said.”
— Nice feature here from World Athletics on American indoor 5000m record holder Woody Kincaid, who gives some good insight on some of what he’s done in training with coach Mike Smith, talks about his dad, who passed away in November 2021, and also discussed becoming a student of the sport since leaving the Bowerman Track Club.
— A big thank you to my partner New Balance for supporting the newsletter again this month (and my work throughout 2023). Yesterday I raced Boston in the new FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 and it rode really nice! They provided nice protection on the downhills and plenty of pop everywhere else. While the original and v2 versions of this shoe were both great, the v3 is next level with a reengineered upper and a propulsive carbon fiber plate sandwiched between a couple layers of lightweight, responsive foam. I’ve worn these puppies on multiple long runs and for two half-marathons thus far this spring and they’re super smooth when you get up to speed—pretty much the perfect long-distance road racing shoe. Snatch ’em up for yourself now and be ready to rip come race day. They’re available at your favorite run specialty retail store or on newbalance.com (men’s sizes here, women’s sizes here).
— Need a good hour’s worth of music to listen to today? Look no further than “The Cabin Sessions” with Of Monsters and Men. Dirty Paws, Mountain Sound, Little Talks and more. So good.
Training Tip: Start the week off right!
Weekends are anything but relaxing for most age-group runners and endurance athletes I know. Use Monday to absorb that block of work and recharge for the week ahead. (Note: Obviously this can be a different day if your weeks are anything but typical.) Prioritize sleep and self-care and use the time you’d normally devote to training to set the rest of your life up well for the rest of the week. Take the day off from activity and just rest if that’s what your body and mind need most. If you're feeling itchy and need to move your body, 20-30' of easy running, walking, or cross-training such as swimming, or spinning is fine. Recovery looks a little different for everyone.
Workout of the Week
Hills and a Steady Chill. This workout is all about that base. It’s a relatively straightforward session that combines a set of short (30-60”) hill repeats with a moderate dose of steady state running (think marathon-ish effort). It’s perfect for athletes early in a training block when they’re building volume and reintroducing intensity without getting too specific just yet. It’s not meant to be that hard. There are a number of ways you can manipulate this workout but I like to start with the hill repeats because the athlete is fresh and we can get more out of this element of it in terms of muscle fiber recruitment, improving power, and running with good form. The steady state afterward should be steady aerobic work—not too hard, but not that easy—and shouldn’t take that much out of you energetically or otherwise. Here are the details.
The bottom line.
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
That's it for Issue 388. If you enjoyed it and want to support my work, please forward this email to a few unsuspecting friends and encourage them to subscribe at this link.
Thanks for reading,
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