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Marathon #21 is done. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 4:28:46 yesterday. Of the 21 marathons I’ve run, it was my third fastest (I did the Dallas Marathon in 4:28:00 when I was 17 and the Chicago Marathon in 4:05:27 in 2003.) And yes – I was surprised, as this was my fourth marathon in the past eight weeks.
When I got to Philadelphia on Friday I was tired and mopey, as evidenced by the post I wrote on Saturday titled The Last Marathon of the Year. When I talked to Amy she gave me some encouragement and told me that I’d get it done no matter what. Nonetheless I just felt flat and listless. My partner Ryan and his wife Katherine joined me for dinner Saturday night (Katherine ran the marathon also) and we had a nice Italian dinner at a local place called Giorgio on Pine. The food was tasty but the vibe was off and the service was slow so we sat around and worried about the race.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling good. The hotel (I stayed at the Four Seasons near the start) did an awesome thing I’d never seen before – they had a special breakfast for marathoners consisting of oatmeal, toast, a banana, a bagel with cream cheese, coffee, and a gatorade. I gobbled everything down but the cream cheese, met Katherine in the lobby 30 minutes before the start, and walked to the starting line.
The marathon and the half marathon had 27,000 runners, which is a ton of people. I made my way back to the second to last corral (where the 5 hour runners hang out) and settled in to wait for the start. They did wave starts so I didn’t cross the start line until about 7:25 (the marathon started at 7:00).
The weather was perfect. Cool but not cold, almost no wind, and a light cloud cover so it was light but not sunny. I had decided to run without any time queues so while I had RunKeeper broadcasting my race live, I had turned off all the audio notifications. This was the first time that I’ve run a marathon without knowing my pace at every mile split. So – I just ran.
As with all marathons, the first three miles were uncomfortable as I settled into a rhythm. We were pretty clogged up so there was a lot of dodging people, but things eventually settled down. I missed a mile marker somewhere and was at mile six before I realized it. I felt great so decided to run a little harder from mile six to the half marathon point. I didn’t overdo it, but kept a solid pace. I passed a surprising number of people (remember – I started in the back at a 5 hour pace) so I knew I was solidly ahead of a 5 hour marathon.
I went through the half way point feeling great. As I turned a corner, I saw finishers coming my direction. This turned out to be inspiring – from mile 14 to mile 16 I ran opposite the faster runners. I just zoned out, watched them, and picked up my pace. At mile 16 I was still feeling good and passing people so I kept cruising. I had no idea what my actual pace was, but I knew I was doing 10 minute miles since they had clocks at each mile and each time I passed one the minute ended in a six (e.g. 3:16:21).
I finally hit the wall at mile 21. I knew it would eventually happen – I literally felt my legs downshift. I went through that mile at about 11:30 and decided I’d just cruise at this pace until the end. But at mile 23 I got a second wind, could smell the finish line, and picked it up again. By mile 25 I was running as hard as I could – I’m sure my form was hilarious, but I continued to pass people as I headed for the finish.
When I crossed the finish line I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket and ended the run. I saw 4:29:02 on my phone and was completely surprised – I had no idea I was under 4:30:00.
Philly – I’ll remember you fondly.
Tomorrow I’m running the Philadelphia Marathon, which will be the sixth marathon I’ll do this year and the last one for 2011. This year I’ve done marathons in Cincinnati, Madison WI, Bismarck ND, Newport RI, and St. Louis. My times have ranged from 4:47:27 to 5:24:45. Overall I’m pleased with what I’ve done, especially since I didn’t chance my normal life tempo for them.
As I sit alone in my hotel room the day before the marathon, I feel really flat and tired. I know at my core that it’s been an incredibly intense year for me and while I had an amazing summer, the last three months have been as busy, frenetic, and full of travel as any other time I can remember. I’ve run three marathons since labor day so I know that is adding to the fatigue, but I also know that my long runs have given me lots of Planet Brad time as I wrote yesterday as part of the RunKeeper Fitness Freak blog series.
This is the first marathon that Amy hasn’t joined me for. She’s in Tucson (where I’m heading after this) and even though we both talked about her coming to join me, I encouraged her not to this time since it was a lot of travel in the middle of a trip for her. My partner Ryan and his wife Katherine are showing up later today (Katherine is running the marathon also) so I’ll have some friends around, but I’m suddenly regretting not having her here.
When I reflect on my week, I was extremely happy. A bunch of good things happened, I had a few awesome board meetings, some of the companies I’m involved in released / announced neat new stuff, and I got to spend a ton of time with students at CU Boulder (Monday), University of Michigan (Thursday), and MIT (Friday). So the only thing I can pin my flatness on is fatigue.
Having run 20 marathons, I’m not concerned about finishing the one tomorrow. I don’t really care about my time – I’d be happy with sub 5 hours, but it’ll be whatever it’s going to be. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day, the course looks interesting, and there are apparently over 30,000 people running the full and the half, so I’m just going to go with it.
Over the last few weeks, many people have asked me and encouraged me about my marathon running. While I describe myself as strongly intrinsically motivated, as I sit here I realize that the encouragement is helpful. So – to anyone who has been supportive, thank you! And, if you want to track me tomorrow, it starts at 7am EST (although I probably won’t cross the start line until at least 7:15am) and I’ll be broadcasting my progress on my RunKeeper account.
I love America.
I ran the Zeitgeist half marathon yesterday in Boise, Idaho with my friends Pam Solon and Mark Solon (Pam kicked our asses). It was a cold and icy morning with a beautiful blue sky. The course is hilly – a long two mile hile at mile 2 and then a one mile hile at mile 8. But following each hill was a corresponding downhill so that evened things out.
The most awesome thing about a half marathon is at 13 miles you only have 0.1 mile left, not 13.2 miles. While I knew this, I didn’t really appreciate it until I hit the 13 mile marker and could see the finish line. Even though I finished in 2:21:03, I did the last three miles all sub 9:00 (8:44, 8:38, 8:56).
Boise was a blast. I’ve been here once before and stayed with the Solon’s that time as well. They’ve become great friends – I’ve done a few investments with Mark, but I just love hanging out with them. Their kids are turning into interesting little people, they are awesome hosts, and they are great people.
On Friday night I did a Beers with Brad event at The Watercooler. About 75 local entrepreneurs showed up and we spent two hours talking about entrepreneurship, Boise, and how to create long term, sustainable entrepreneurial communities. We also had pizza and beer, which was a good warmup for a great pre-run Italian meal at Asiago’s.
A good night sleep, followed by coffee, a quart of Mark’s amazing blueberry peanut butter smoothie, followed by a dump, or two, and then a half marathon. Note to self, don’t drink a quart of smoothie before a race unless you want to have to stop twice on the course to pee.
The race was beautiful. A half marathon is a long training run for me at this point, but there’s always a notch of additional energy around a race. I ran naked (no music) – just enjoyed Boise, the scenery, the people, and the funny conversions I heard at the back of the pack (e.g. “don’t tell Jim and Scott I’m also sleeping with Mike – he’s really good in bed, but I don’t want them to know.”)
We did the normal post race “eat a bunch of food” thing at Smokey Mountain Pizza. We eschewed naps and watched a Will Ferrell movie instead. Our goal was hilarity – we had a total fail as Mark picked Everything Must Go. Not bad, not good, but not funny.
A quick hangout followed at friends house and then dinner at Highlands Hollow Brewhouse. Yes – the fries were awesome and they even had a bunch of veggie things.
The line of the weekend was when Pam, who has just started using Twitter and Facebook again after a hiatus, said “I need more friends.” Feel free to help her out.
The only thing missing was Amy.
Marathon #20 is in the books. Yesterday I did the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon with Matt Shobe. The amazing Amy Batchelor once again sherpa’d for us. The weather was perfect, the course was pretty but hilly, the support was outstanding (as it typical of Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons), and I came in at a solid 4:51:26.
This race was an experiment – I wanted to see if I could do a marathon two weeks in a row while living my normal life. Last weekend I did the Amica Newport Rhode Island Marathon, ran out of gas around mile 16, and struggled home in 5:13:36. Prior to that marathon I had been on the road all week and crisscrossed the country (Denver to SF to Rhode Island). Last week was another heavy travel week – Boston to NY to SF to St. Louis. I did all the normal stuff I did with two exceptions – I didn’t drink any alcohol and I was obsessive about rubbing Purell on my hands throughout the day.
When I got to St. Louis Friday night I was tired and my left shoulder hurt. I always have pre-marathon hypochondria so I figured that since I don’t run on my left shoulder, that was as good a place as any to have some pain. Amy and I had room service, I went to sleep early, slept in, went to the marathon expo, took another nap, went out to Italian dinner with Matt and Amy, and went to bed early.
At 7:30 Sunday morning Matt and I were off and running. Well – not really – it was a 20,000+ person race so it took us 15 minutes to cross the start line. I felt tight and uncomfortable the first three miles but just let the crowd carry me along. We went past the St. Louis Ballpark which is a beautiful stadium, cruised through downtown, and by mile four I was starting to settle down.
My coach – Gary Ditsch – has regularly encouraged me to eat gels during a marathon. Up until now I’ve ignored him since I don’t want to carry anything while I run. This time I bought an iFitness pouch and filled it with six gels. There were two spots on the course where they were handing out gels so I decided to have one on every prime number mile. Rather than drinking Ctyomax (which I hate) I just did gels and water this time. As is typical, the coach is right as it made an incredible difference.
Our pace was incredibly steady for the first ten miles. At mile ten, I had to take a dump so we lost about three minutes along with a few pounds. Matt patiently waited for me and then had to listen to me rant about how relieved I was. He’s such a patient person.
We cruised through the half marathon in 2:24. This was faster than we expected as we figured we were on a 5 hour pace. Neither of us was watching out split times – I had RunKeeper going on my iPhone but no audio with the idea that we’d just run.
The course was a really nice tour through St. Louis. There were tons of hills – only one particularly long, but the endless undulation of the course started to get annoying around mile 20. Or maybe it was just that we were at mile 20.
Matt was the perfect running partner. He could have easily done the race 30 or 45 minutes faster but just hung with me. We talked a little on and off, but mostly told jokes and just chilled out running together. My dark miles on this race were 14 to 20. I was a little anxious about running out of gas like I did last week, but 17 passed, then 18, then 19, and I felt fine.
At 20, we decided to run solid for the next four miles and then push the last two. This was the strategy we used when we ran the Huntsville marathon together and it was an incredibly satisfying way to finish. We cranked on the last two miles, passing hundreds of runners, and feeling great as we crossed the finish line together.
I’m incomprehensibly tired this morning. As I wrap up this point, I’m heading to the airport to head home to Boulder for a week. Yay.
Marathon #19 in the “run a marathon in each of the 50 states” is done. I completed #19 in Newport, Rhode Island yesterday. The course was beautiful, the day was perfect, the volunteers were great, and my performance sucked. I finished in 5:13:36 – not my worst marathon, but no where near the 4:45:00 I was hoping for.
While my running base is great, I made three mistakes. I flew across the country from San Francisco to Boston on Thursday and sat hunched over my computer the entire flight. When I woke up Friday morning my upper back and neck were killing me. They settled down by Sunday morning when I woke up, but I was physically tense. Next, while I ate right on Friday and Saturday, I don’t think I ate enough. When I woke up Sunday morning I was hungry – never a great sign before a marathon. I had a normal breakfast (about 500 calories), but I only ate about an hour before the run so I don’t feel like it got stored up properly. Finally, the course only had water the first eight miles and then only every other mile – gatorade didn’t appear until mile 8. I ended up dehydrated and underfueled.
The race looped back to the starting line for the finish of the half marathon. I saw Amy at 13.1 miles and she jogged with me a little. Even though I went through the half at 2:24, I knew I was in trouble. When Amy asked how I was doing, I said something like “I’ve got nothing in my legs – it’s going to be a long 13 miles.” Fortunately, I’ve been there before and know that I can run 13 miles when I’ve got nothing in the tank, so I just soldiered on.
If you look at my mile splits on RunKeeper, you can see the great fade begin around mile 16. I was between 10:30 and 11:30 until mile 16 at which point my pace shifted to around 13:00 per mile. I was able to hold that pace, with a 12:00, a 12:22, and an 11:28 at the end, but that’s because I was working hard with my new friend Puck who paced me in (or I paced him – I don’t remember) for the last few miles.
My friend Warren Katz finished his first marathon (at age 47) and his wife Ilana cranked out a PR for a half in 2:00. It was a huge marathon weekend – my partner Ryan McIntyre ran Amsterdam with Lindel Eakman (one of our investors – his first marathon) and my partner Jason Mendelson did the Amsterdam half marathon (his first, after having major hip surgery a year and a half ago). As a bonus, Ryan’s wife Katherine ran the San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon. Way to go gang!
On Sunday I’m going to run the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon with my friend Matt Shobe (now at BigDoor; was one of the co-founders of FeedBurner). Matt paced me through the Huntsville, AL several years ago and is a great marathon partner. This is the first time I’m doing a marathon on back to back weekends. While I’m crisscrossing the country again this week (New York today and tomorrow, then San Francisco Wednesday through Friday before heading to St. Louis), I feel pretty good “the day after.” I’m in a mild state of disbelief that I’m going to do this again in six days, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels.
Once again my sherpa Amy was amazing. She’s got an awesome blog post up with some beautiful pictures of Newport and the marathon.