Friday, October 25, 2013


My goal for this year’s Baystate Marathon was simple.  Finish in less than 3 hours.  That’s it!  One last shot for me to break this ever elusive time barrier before diving headlong into Ultras.  Unfortunately, as the year played itself out, it turned out to be one goal too many.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  This has been an amazing year for me!  A break-through season of trail running in which I was fortunate enough to summit all 48 of the NH 4000 footers AND complete 7 of the regions toughest mountain races.  But, after all the peak bagging and mountain racing was over, I just didn’t have enough left in the tank for a 26.2 mile race at 6:50 pace.

The writing was on the wall (or more precisely, in the log book) long before I toed the line in Lowell.  My mountain running exploits left me feeling a little burnt out and unable to hit my goal workouts, or races.  On my “fast finish” long runs, 7:15 pace felt comfortable, 7:00 felt hard and 6:45 felt impossible.  On my 8m tempo runs (which I typically run at 6:10 pace) it was all I could do to maintain 6:40’s.  And my 30k Tune-Up race was an outright disaster!  Struggling to maintain 7:10’s when I’d hoped to run 6:50’s – or better.

Another issue I was facing was weight gain.  I’m sort of a “tired eater”.  If I’m feeling run down (or depressed) I tend to eat a bit more than I should.  So, I ended up putting on about a pound a week (or around 8 pounds) from the time I finished the bulk of my mountain climbing to the time the marathon rolled around.  Now, 8 pounds doesn’t seem like much (especially when it’s spread over a 6 foot 4 inch frame) but it’s quite noticeable when you try to run 6:50’s while carrying it!

So, with all this new information staring me in the face, I decided to formulate a slightly more conservative race plan: Try to run the first half of the race at 7:00 pace and then see what happens.  If I’m feeling really good – I pick it up and maybe give sub 3:00 a go after all.  If I’m feeling really bad – I slow it down and just try to get a 3:25 Boston Qualifier.  And, if I'm feeling somewhere in between – I hang on tight and nail down a solid 3:10.

The weather for race day was nearly perfect. Temps in the low 50’s with some sun and a little breeze.  The first few miles clicked away easily and I found myself running stride for stride with the 3:05 pacing group.  At that point it was a pretty large pack, maybe 20 runners total, and if the wind got too strong I just tucked in for the ride.  After the Tyngsborough Bridge the pace quickened slightly (from 7:05’s to 6:55’s) and I struggled to maintain contact.  I came through Mile 13 in 1:31:30 (only about a minute slower than the first half of my marathon PR) but the gap to the pace group was growing wider.  I’d close it a bit on the down hills, but it would open again on the ups - or where the wind was blowing more briskly.  Suddenly around Mile 18 I started to feel some stomach discomfort and by Mile 19 I was in the woods – almost exactly where I had to pit at Clarence Demar, back in 2010.

After spending about a minute and a half getting things “sorted out” I was back on the road and on my way to picking up some of the places that I’d lost.  I ran 7:20’s though this stretch and was passing people fairly rapidly.  Around Mile 23 the legs started getting real heavy and the 7:20’s turned into 7:40’s. But, I was passing people, so my spirits were still up.  All the while I was hoping to come in under 3:10, but it was not to be.  I crossed the line in 3:10:34 and in 121st place overall.


Mile 1 - 7:10
Mile 2 - 7:00
Mile 3 - 6:57
Mile 4 - 7:05
Mile 5 - 7:03
Mile 6 - 7:06
Mile 7 - 6:59
Mile 8 - 7:14
Mile 9 - 6:56
Mile 10 - 6:56
Mile 11 - 7:05
Mile 12 - 6:53
Mile 13 - 7:06 – 1:32 half
Mile 14 - 7:00
Mile 15 - 7:07
Mile 16 - 7:16
Mile 17 - 7:07
Mile 18 - 7:17
Mile 19 - 8:49 (pit stop)
Mile 20 - 7:14
Mile 21 - 7:21
Mile 22 - 7:19
Mile 23 - 8:11 (long?)
Mile 24 - 7:40
Mile 25 - 7:29
Mile 26 - 7:36
Mile 26.2 - 1:17 (short?)

Total: 3:10:34 (7:16 pace)

Focusing on the positives:

1. This was my fastest marathon since my PR in 2008.
2. It was my 5th fastest marathon overall – out of 20.
3. I qualified for Boston again – with 14 1/2 minutes to spare.
4. The wheels never came off at the end. I just lost a little tire pressure.
5. If I lose the weight (and reduce the mountains) I might eventually break 3!

What’s next? Checking out the scene at this weekends Ghost Train Ultra with my sights set on entering next years 100 Mile Race. Stay tuned!


  1. Don't count marathons out! You can still do it! Take 2014 for fun, family and a few ultras and come back for 2015 at Hyannis(or another cool marathon) rejuvenated and ready for that sub-3. We know you can do it:)

    1. Nope. That's it. I'm done. I'm giving up the ghost.