Congrats to Jeff D for a smart, tough run at the Boston Marathon which featured warm temperatures and a grueling headwind which was very tough on all the competitors. Jeff had some injury limitations this training cycle but he and Coach Lesley were able to manage those limitations to the best of his ability and get him to the start line ready to go. With Coach Lesley’s help he had a pacing and nutrition plan and committed to running a smart race. And we are so thrilled to report, he nailed it!
Coach Lesley reports: Jeff did an amazing job both in training and on race day. He took to heart the conversations we had and plans we made. He asked great questions and tried everything out in practice and reported back in about what was working and what was not. When I met Jeff he was already a good athlete and a hard worker but over the past months I have seen him become not only a good athlete but a smart athlete and this will take him far. Well done Jeff! I can’t wait to see what is next.
Jeff writes: I honestly think it could be the best race I’ve ever run. It was grueling. I never suffered in this race and think it was probably the smartest race I’ve ever run. If had a disappointment it’s my fade on miles 23-26 which I really wanted closer to 8 but I just couldn’t pull it off in the wind. I think the heat especially early in the race sapped me a bit too. All in all I left it all on the course. Very satisfied. My legs are crushed.
How did your training go?
I generally follow a 14-week training regimen which Coach Lesley helped me build in late January. We no sooner got the plan together and refined when I ended up with a tendon injury in my lower right leg after being a little too aggressive with track intervals in early January before I’d reached out to Coach Lesley. At the time I thought it was just a small “tweak” but over time it became progressively more painful and I saw a specialist that Lesley recommended at Virginia Mason in Seattle. It turned out to be a soft-tissue strain that I could train on — but it really changed how aggressive we could be over the next 10 weeks leading to Boston so we had to fairly significantly revise the original plan. With Lesley’s advice, we focused on making sure I could get my long runs in weekly or every other week with a lot of focus on aerobic training on the elliptical as well as fairly intense core workouts for strength, balance, mobility/flexibility. There was very little opportunity for any speed or tempo work although we did our best to get it in late in the cycle as my injury started to calm down. I was also aggressive with PT and scheduled appointments for dry needling, sonic massage, and workouts on an Alter-G treadmill in Bellevue (highly recommended!). Although my training for the marathon wasn’t the original plan, our revisions to the plan went very well as I was able to work through an alternate approach with less emphasis on weekly volume and speed — and still get to the starting line in Hopkinton and feel as though I had a shot to run a competitive race.
What was challenging for you this day and what did you do to overcome the challenges keeping in mind your race day plan?
The biggest challenge in this year’s race was absolutely the weather. Downtown Boston was forecast for 64 with a headwind of 10-12 mph out of the east and the western towns of Hopkinton, Natick, Wellesley, and Newton forecast for the upper 60’s to low 70’s. Given the race doesn’t start until 10:00 AM and my wave (wave-2 at 10:25 am) it was already 67 degrees at the start of the race and got progressively warmer from there. I really started to feel the heat around mile 13 leading to and through the Newton Hills in miles 16-20 and started to slow down and adjust my pace – trying to keep even effort while staying hydrated (I packed about 20 oz of water and nutrition in a utility belt — and took in about 2oz of water or gatorade every mile at the aid stations). The wind was starting to also really pick up but as we got progressively closer to Boston — but thankfully as we crested heartbreak hill at mile 21 the air cooled into the low 60’s although the wind out of the east became stronger and was a dead headwind. So really for this whole race it was either the heat, wind or both for 26 miles.
In terms of overcoming the challenge of the weather I was fortunate that my “B” goal of 3:44 aligned with what I would need to run under more challenging circumstances. I knew by mile 10 that 3:33:00 wasn’t going to happen and shifted my focus on trying to stay below 3:40:00. I knew if I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 in 2:58 that I could run 42:00 or 8:00 pace and get to the finish line. I managed to get to mile 21 in exactly 2:58 but wasn’t able to hold an 8:00 pace running mile 22 in 8:17 but then fading in the wind — and in reality just trying to enjoy the last few miles as there really is nothing else like the final right hand turn onto Hereford Street followed by the final left hand turn and 700 yards down Boylston and the finish line.
I didn’t mention it in my blog, but we nailed the nutrition and hydration plan. I actually took gels at mile 3, 11, 17 and 21 with the 8oz of the Vitargo with water at 7 and 15 miles. I took in 1 – 2 oz of either gatorade or water every mile to augment too. People were getting crushing as the race went on and it got warmer… So I was happy to have a plan that anticipated all this!
REST. My body needs a cooling-off period away from marathoning. I’ve been in continuous training mode since Labor Day 2015 as I ran the mid-December Honolulu Marathon before launching right into Boston marathon training after only a couple of weeks of rest in December. Once my tendon injury fully heals, I am going to focus on getting fast again and rebuilding my speed base focusing on some 5K’s, 8K’s and half-marathons.
I will run the Boston Marathon as many times as I can BQ. It’s simply that fun — and challenging — of a race.