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Boston 2012 - When Execution Matters?

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Lauren
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Alex Kubacki
fostever
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Chris M
jon c
Jerry
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KathyK
Michele "1L" Keane
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Mike MacLellan
Vivian
Mark B
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Martin VW
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Post  Martin VW Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:56 pm

I suppose a 5 year journey that's ending deserves a wrap up. Half full: I exceeded anything I ever thought possible in 2007 as a 49 year old novice runner. Half empty: I leave the sport having failed to realize my potential in the marathon distance.

A bit of quick background for context, for those that were only on the bus for the last few stops. Sorry for being redundant for those that know the back story.

I started as a "one and done" marathoner in 2007, having never even run a 10K. That "one," a 3:31:47 in Hartford, earned me a BQ.

In 2008, I ran Boston. I ran it well enough, 3:18:07. Started approx. 13,000th, finished 3,866th, so I passed 9,000 runners. And, I left the sport.

In 2009 I brought a friend out to the start, and cheered from the sidelines. Afterwards, I reflected on my 2008 experience and knew I wanted to take one more shot at the Boston course. I knew that I could train differently and prepare differently and achieve something closer to my potential. I spoke with my family, we agreed on my making one more attempt, and I began down that road.

In 2010 I ran my expected qualifying race, in Chicago. I had a great training cycle, despite a hot summer, and felt fully prepared to run a sub-3:05, certainly a sub-3:10. But, the weather turned out to be hot, mid-70s for most of the race, and while I PR'd by nearly 5 minutes at 3:13:24, it wasn't the day I had trained for.

In 2011 I made it through the Boston registration quagmire, and was training, but not well, due to work and family commitments. Then, I had a snowblower accident and was not permitted to train for 6 weeks. I opted to skip the 2011 race, rather than run it on a very minimal level of training, and set my sights on 2012 as that one, final, self-actualization moment.

I had another great training cycle. 100 workouts (exactly, as planned) in 20 weeks. Over 1,000 miles, many of them on the Boston course. I hit all of my training paces, in the right HR zones, which were based on McMillan's ranges for a 2:55 marathon. I PR'd by close to 3 minutes at 1:25:43 in a Half Marathon 4 weeks before the race, on a hilly, windy course. I was primed to close the door as I had been planning, for the last three years.

Then the forecasts hit. As it became clear that the heat was not going to miss us, I tried to convince myself that my self-actualization goal was to execute the Boston course well, a goal that could stay intact, if I ran the race I wanted. I would hit my planned HRs and let the pace be whatever that was. I wanted to run the first half at slightly under 80% of Max, and then I would allow my HR to slide above 80% for the second, harder half, both because of the course profile and cardiac drift. I knew from my experience in Chicago that anything harder than that wouldn't end well.

Well, I did all that. Here are my 5K and Half splits:

5K 23:02 78%

10K 23:04 80%

15K 23:05 80%

20K 23:40 80%

Half 1:38:02 79%

25K 23:57 81%

30K 24:31 84%

35K 26:05 83%

40K 27:22 82%

Half 1:48:53 83%

Full 3:26:55 81%

I held it together for as long as I could. I revised my goals on the way, tracking first versus a 7:15 pace (3:10:00), then 7:30 (Course PR), then thinking about keeping every mile below 8:00, then 8:30, then 9:00. I hydrated for days, cut back on caffeine and cut out alcohol. I had a 20 oz bottle of Smart Water on the way to the start and carried another, picked up another from a colleague at the halfway point, picked up another from a colleague at my running club's "Elite Stop" at the 30K point. I had 9 GUs. Whenever I felt like stopping, I remembered my vow to never walk in a race. Whenever I felt like quitting, I refused because I didn't want to set that example for my boy. I reminded myself, several times, that I was, after all, running the Boston Marathon. I stayed in control, as a father and sole provider for my family, never putting myself in harm's way.

And, I finished. I never walked a step. I executed my plan, I ran my race. I started approx. 7,000th, finished 2,631st. I finished 5th on my running club's Master's (40+) team, which finished second overall to BAA's own very strong Masters Team. I know I left it all on the course, and ended up in the Medical Tent, 100% clear-headed, but with leg cramps that prevented forward motion after getting my bag.

Those are all very positive results. Yes, I'm still done. I never want to run another marathon, ever. I gave it what I could afford to give, I did a commendable job, I learned a lot about myself, about my ability to still test my limits, well past middle aged. I'll look to PR the 5K and 10K distances this year, then become a jogger.

But, we don't measure performance by heart rate. I'm leaving the sport with a 3:13 marathon PR, and that just isn't going to sit well. I'll be able to put my ego aside and say "3:13" without feeling compelled to add "but, it was a hot day." Outwardly, it will seem reconciled.

Inwardly, I'm not so sure. It's never been about what others think, it's always about how I feel about myself. That sting I'm feeling today will lessen in time, unquestionably. Will it ever go away? Not so sure.

But, I'm done, for all the right reasons. I've had fun, I've got some friendships that I value, some of which will stay intact, some of which will undoubtedly wane - it's inevitable. As difficult as the time commitment makes this sport at times, I've received great support from Deb, my wife, and I've been a good role model for Billy, my son. I've learned a lot, mostly from others, and I've paid it forward.

It's a tough, unforgiving sport. We're all better people for it. If you don't have one to your credit yet, keep extending yourself until you do. It's worth the pain, the sacrifice, the effort. Don't be crazy about it, but get outside that comfort zone.

One last thanks to all of you that thought of me Monday, to all of you that helped me these past five years. Good luck and God bless.
Martin VW
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Post  Seth Harrison Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:19 pm

Martin, you certainly did execute your plan to perfection. A 3:26, just 13 minutes off your PR, is pretty amazing. I'm sorry to read that you're hanging up your marathon shoes for good, being that I have a BQ time for next year that I hope will hold up, and I would have enjoyed hanging out with you one more time before or after next year's race. That said, it seems that you're at relative peace with what you've accomplished in this sport (as you should be), and it makes sense to move on. If this is indeed your last marathon, you went with one for the ages! All the best to you and your family!
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Post  healdgator Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:25 pm

Martin, I feel your pain. Still, congrats on all you have accomplished. You should be very proud.
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Post  Kenny B. Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:29 pm

Martin,

Solid report! I believe in conditions like this you have to look at your HR as it won't lie to you. Your plan was executed pretty brilliantly all considering and the outcome was impressive regardless of it not being your preferred time.

Good luck with jogging and who knows we might see you creep around these boards once again getting ready for another marathon!

PS: you can jog marathons you know!
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Post  Julie Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:40 pm

Good job, Martin. If you think it's time to be done with marathons I'm sure you know yourself well enough to make that decision. Of course you can always change your mind, right?
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Post  Mark B Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:00 pm

Martin, you may not have achieved your time goals, but you executed this race as well as you could have given the circumstances. That, in the end, is more important than any number on the clock.

Enjoy your jogging, and good luck on whatever challenge you decide to tackle next.
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Post  Vivian Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:25 pm

Congratulations and way to go out strong. You have much to be proud of in your marathoning career.
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Post  Mike MacLellan Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:27 pm

Hell of a run, Martin. Sounds like it was perfectly executed, to me.
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Post  carleenp Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:53 pm

Wow. That was an amazing read. And yes, you executed that perfectly. Well done! As Vivian just said, you have much to be proud of in your marathon career.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:34 pm

Excellent job, Martin -well done and it just proves once again what a solid training plan will do for you even with less than stellar conditions. I'm very glad to have met you before you hang up those running shoes, and I hope you stick with running even if it is 5 and 10Ks as I know that is still setting the example that you want for your son (Billy stuck, I see - no more Wilhelm sp?) If not, I guess you still have hockey! My daughter and her friend are both going to BU - so hockey it will be for the next 4 yrs (of course, no experience would beat Saturday's playoff game except it the Bs had won!). Hope to see you on the roads in Boston when I come visit and train on the hills.

Don't be a stranger.
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Post  KathyK Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:58 pm

Leaving it all out there for your last marathon is an excellent way to leave the sport, Martin. The time committment certainly is significant...that's what's getting in my way right now...too much else going on in my personal life.

Anyway, big congrats on a job well done on your entire marathoning career!
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Post  Dave-O Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:06 pm

I was hoping you'd write a report. Boy am I glad you did.

First and foremost, what you have accomplished as a runner in your two limited "careers" is very impressive. As you said, you've exceeded all initial expectations. That alone should be enough to enough to walk away proud. But you did much more than that. You pushed your body to the limit despite not even particularly enjoying distance running.

I know the result Monday wasn't what you wanted - and more importantly, wasn't what you were trained for. Marathoning is an unfair sport in that there's that one variable you simply cannot control. You had two races ruined by the weather.

I have no doubt that you achieved the best possible result on Monday. You executed the right strategy and dug deep, never giving up. You left it all on the course, and in the end, I hope you take some satisfaction in that, numbers be damned.
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Post  Jerry Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:11 pm

Is it hotter than Chicago 2010?

Great job, VW!
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Post  jon c Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:12 pm

Martin,

First of all, thanks for your advice on transportation to us before the race. I am sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you before we left the food court. My daughter had summoned me and reminded me that we had other business to attend to while in Boston. Smile

I am glad that you took the time to tell your story here as I had not heard it before. I am sorry to see that you may have some things unfulfilled. It appears to me that you have a bit of natural ability given your age group and time. It also appears that you worked extremely hard and planned well in order to maximize what you could of that ability. That said, we all have different goals and reasons to do what we do and in this life there will always be things that for one reason or another are not able to be completed like we envision they could have. Guess that is one of lifes mysteries.

A well thought out and executed plan, as others have already said. Congrats and best wishes for the future.
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Post  Chris M Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:03 pm

If you asked me to list my top handful or so of best "running days", one of mine would be going up to Boston on a business trip but squeezing in time to head out to Medford with you for a fun track workout and then great steak and wine at Abe & Louie's. We were buddies before we met up in real life at Disney to do the Goofy Challenge together and even better friends now after all the times that we've gotten together to do a little running and some chowing down. You and I are similar in that unlike many who run a lot, that Nike shirt that says "Running Sucks" sums it up for us a lot of the time. There's a bunch of times I question why do all this with all the time commitment, being tired so often and race disapointments. But to be fair, I've met some great lifelong friends like you through this running nonsense so it can't be all bad. As you drop the curtain on your marathoning days, I do want to THANK YOU for all the help you've been to me right from the start. Its relatively easy to get out there and run/jog often but tough to truly race and train to race. You've been a huge part of encouraging and pushing me to test those limits and not settle for just running around aimlessly. I've still got a long way to go to maximize training and racing as well as you do but you give me something to strive for.

As for Monday.....does a time like that reflect what you were capable of? Pffff! Hardly. A 5:10 miler like you who built up his endurance engine as perfectly as you did this cycle to have both that speed and distance capability should have been granted a 2:XX Boston victory lap if there is any justice in the running world. The weather ended up being a cruel joke on those plans but know that you did everything perfectly leading up to the race and taking what you could out of the day itself with your normal excellent race-day execution. Congrats on doing it right.

ps Jeter is overrated.
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Post  Admin Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:38 pm

Good job, VW. You did what you could with what the running gods gave. You have much to be proud of and nothing to regret. You gave everything you could. That's all any of us can ask of ourselves.

I hope you smash your shorter PRs and keep your running spirit! However, should you become a jogger I know that you'll give 100% to whatever comes next. Also, just because you aren't racing marathons doesn't mean you can't talk running... Don't be a stranger.

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Post  JohnP Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:01 pm

Congratulations on a very well run race, Martin. Your systematic approach really paid off, it's too bad there is that one merciless factor that hits us all, the weather. You can walk away with your head up though, I do believe you would have gone sub-3 with good weather conditions. Nice job.
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Post  fostever Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:41 pm

VW, You ran a solid race and unfortunately had no control when it comes to the elements. If this is you last marathon and you don't pull a Brett Favre or a Michael Jordan you can also pride yourself on beating a Gold Medalist, Joan Benoit Samuelson in your last race. Seeing that she has in the past several years run in the low 2:50's, it shows that you were definitely primed for at least a sub 3:00 if not much more. Way to excecute the best you could on an extremely unfair weather day. It was an honor to finally meet you. I didn't realize how tall you were, which is another testimony to overcoming the odds, since height is not an ideal marathoner trait. Anyhoo blessings to you and your family.
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Post  Alex Kubacki Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:28 am

Great executed race. Well done. Congrats and best of luck going forward.
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Post  mountandog Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:05 pm

Martin,

I am also disappointed we were unable to hook up this year. Perhaps next year you will still want to visit old friends.

I have always been impressed by your methodical and rational approach to training and the insight and knowledge you have into your own capabilities. I have admired your balance between your running goals and your work and family. You and I have been on very similar paths with very, very similar goals, but being two or three years behind you has allowed me to observe from a distance how its done. I have been taught well.

Congratulations on a race well run, a running career well managed and a life well balanced. Most of us will never know when its time to stop something. Therefore, I also congratulate you on your wisdom.

My best always.
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Post  amyjoann Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:56 pm

Great race my prediction you are finished with marathons and onto ultras..........haha
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Post  Lauren Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:34 pm

Congratulations, Martin. A job well done on a brutal day.
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Post  John Kilpatrick Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:35 pm

Thanks for the report Martin - you are some kind of runner for sure and had an incredibly strong race with some disgusting conditions. To each their own, but I don't know why you can't keep running marathons or whatever for a variety of reasons. Whatever you decide I always have appreciated your inputs and hope you stay with us when you can - as I've told you before you are a real asset to some of us and an inspiration to many of us. Congrats on a fine performance and that is really cool about your running club and their results. Great job and don't be a stranger!!!!!

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Post  Scott C Tue May 01, 2012 5:18 pm

Martin it was good to catch up pre and post race. Knowing how competive you are, I understand that your primary measurement of success for your marathon career as being the outcome - or the 3:13. I'm hopeful that in time the things you displayed that you could control in the entire marathon process - your dedcation, committment, full-on passion and immersion in the science of the sport and unbridled "all in" approach that defined your marathon journey take on a greater portion of your view of your ultimate success. Those who have embarked on that same marathon journey know that the times you ran, at the ages at which you ran them, and in the conditions in which you competed, were impressive regardless of what the inanimate clock displays.
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Post  Penelope Wed May 09, 2012 2:27 pm

Nice job! You definitely made the most of the hand you were given in terms of the weather. Best of luck in your future goals!
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