Boston 2014 Weekend Recap

I was inspired by a few others’ race recaps, so here is mine.  A quick lead-up to the weekend is that I actually didn’t plan on running Boston 2014 until about 5 weeks before.  Although I had “qualified” twice, both years happened to be years that the race filled (2012 – the last year before the time was tightened & 2014 – due to the increased demand spurred from the tragic bombings).  For 2014, my 3:03:39 at CIM 2012 ended up being 17 seconds short of getting a slot.  Through a random conversation, and Lyndsey’s career connections in the running industry, I gratefully stumbled across an invitational (yet not light on the checkbook) last-minute entry.


On the upside, I was now running Boston 2014!  Less than ideal though – Lyndsey wouldn’t be able to make it, I hadn’t necessarily been ramping up for the race, and I had already committed to pacing 3:35 at Carmel the week prior.  That being said, my Team LTD nemesis DMV would be attending, along with the Fleet Feet Chicago crew, and I could bum along on some of the Adidas/Fleet Feet/Competitor Boston365 perks.


Whether or not I knew it at the time, my key training events included:

-My longest Birkie ever at almost 5 hrs thanks to horrendously slow snow

-15×1 mile repeats at roughly race pace with Myles during the RNR NOLA marathon (Jeff Galloway method)

-4 Wednesday night FF Racing workouts

-Last minute hilly 17 miler in Barrington at 100% effort with the likes of Chris, Drew, Sascha, and Katelyn with me getting chewed up and dropped off the back in the final miles

-26.2 mile “shakeout” run in the warmth of Carmel 8 days prior to Boston


I liked to joke that it was “quality not quantity” in the weeks leading up to the race.  That being said, my expectations were tempered and I reasonably expected I could run a 3:15 or so.


A few of my observations from race weekend in general:

-Boston is a very nice city to visit

-Before the Vande Walles arrived on Saturday, I spent Friday wandering around Cambridge and Harvard.  Friday evening, I joined the Boston365 group at McGreevey’s downtown where I got to sample the Sam Adams 26.2 and several other Eastern brews.

-They have Divvy, but call it Hubway, and it is awesome as a visitor who needed get around quickly!

-Watched the 5k with Dan, Kyle, and Mark with some insanely fast times and a crazy number of people running it.

-Dan and I did a quick shakeout run ending with strides and a delicious breakfast sandwich that was recommended by one of our coworkers.

-We also watched the Pro Mile Races where we high-fived the winners and I chatted with Sara Hall’s parents.

-Fenway is cool, but I still prefer tailgating at Miller Park.

-Expo was jammed (as many booths as Chicago, but a quarter of the floor space).

-Dave and his parents joined for the Competitor event where we literally rubbed shoulders with Frank Shorter, Kara & Adam Goucher, and Lauren Fleshman.

-Per Dan’s past experience, I’m in agreement that fried rice is a solid meal leading up to a marathon.

-Sunday was low key and Dave had reservations made at the famous Cafe Luigi for dinner.

-Having Tess and Steve there for race support was excellent!


Alright, so finally – Marathon Monday:

Dave (shooting for 3 hrs) had talked me into going out with him at the start (the invitational entry fortunately still seated me per my qualifying time).  This didn’t take too much convincing.  I had also turned down the VIP bus for the “full Boston experience” tour that Dave offers.  This tour comes complete with a school bus ride to Hopkinton and plastic sheets to lay on and use as blankets while you wait in athlete’s village.  Our setup was stellar and I almost felt sorry for the folks crammed on the VIP coach bus.  Eventually it was time to make our way into the corral, which was meticulously organized.


The start was relatively calm and we were quickly enjoying the downhill, which lasts for the majority of the first half.  While some (most) recommend to go out conservatively and save your legs for the hills, I was acutely aware of my training and knew that no matter how I went out, there wasn’t going to be much “saved”.  So we continued on (attacked) at 3 hr pace.  Here’s what I was thinking the first half of the race:

-”at least will get a good tan today”

-”hmm, Mile 2 – seem to have a good sweat going on already”

-”water at every mile – that’s nice!  Can set a new PR for most water cups drank during a marathon.”

-”wow, there is a lot of downhill – glad I have that KT tape on the quads.”

-”another 5k split at 3 hr pace – everyone watching online must be wondering what the heck is going on”


I then tried making a deal with Dave.  Essentially, I was providing him a service by pacing him out on target to 3 hrs, so I should rightfully be compensated.  We tossed around $100, comping my hotel room, and I thought we had settled on $1/km, but I must not have caught all the terms.  I understood that I had to finish under 3:05 to claim the compensation, but he suggests that I actually had to finish within 1 minute of him.


I also was very consistent about eating a gel every 30 min – I knew upfront this wasn’t going to be one of those LRs where you try and see how long you can go without fueling.


About halfway in, Dave pushed the throttle a bit more and I became a little cautious about how many 6:40s were in my legs, so I dialed it back closer to 7:00s and a small gap started open up.  Around this point I decided that I might as well keep going for it (break 3:05 and run close to a PR), so I gently settled in for a couple miles to reevaluate at a later point.  At mile 18, I performed another check, did the math, and buckled in telling myself all sorts of twisted logic for the final stretch:

-I was pacing the 7:00/mile group and they were all counting on me.

-I’ve read articles about bodies naturally having a best time of day to workout, mine just happens to be the 10 am start of the Boston Marathon.

-Dave clued me in earlier that we’d be running during lunch and that they’d be serving hills to eat.  I was getting a bit hungry.

-Have just read “Racing Weight”, my ideal “racing weight” just happens to be a couple lbs heavier than my last PR.

-I kept comparing the hills to the Birkie, which actually made them seem quite minimal.  I had provided myself some leeway to run 7:30’s on the uphill sections, but didn’t run any miles slower than 7:23.

-Dan’s reaction when my 3:03:39 was 17 seconds too slow, “just run faster” – it’s so obvious now.  Why didn’t I just think of that last time?

-Studies show that once you build endurance, you don’t lose it very quickly.  It’s been just a relatively short amount of time since I ran 3:03.


Hearing that Meb had won was also uplifting.  I should mention, the cheering from the crowds was RIDICULOUS!  As you bounced from town to town, you could hear a low rumble that turned into a roar as you got closer.  Traveling through Boston College and then into downtown, I’ve never been in a race so loud – it was awesome!


The very final miles, my legs were pretty toasted (mostly from the downhills), and I was somewhat nervous about my muscles locking up, but I just attempted to stay relaxed and relied on the (mental power of the) 6 strips of KT tape covering my legs.  Still chugging along at ~7:00/mile pace, and one to go at the Citgo sign, I knew I’d have a pretty solid PR.


Finished it off in 3:02:05.  I don’t plan to make a habit of running races with the similar haphazard preparation, but everything worked out in this case.  There is certainly a sense of calmness that comes from starting the season with a personal best.  I now also better understand the hype/excitement that comes with Boston.  It’s certainly different than what was previously in mind, but I’m unsure as how to describe the variance.  Lyndsey and I have a number of friends who are planning on 2015 and we’ll likely join in as well!

2013 Cheesehead Half Marathon

A quick update from Aaron on the 2013 Cheesehead Half Marathon:

My initial plan was to go out at 7:30 – which I knew was probably an ambitious goal, but I figure why not try it. First two miles went out too fast with a 7:00/7:16. I remember thinking at the time that I’d probably regret that. Held on till maybe 9 or 10 miles, but surely enough, I faded pretty hard the last few miles and ended up coming in at 1:41:51 – which I suppose is still a PR on a USATF certified course, but not an ‘absolute PR’ as I ran a 1:39 in the Spring at the Parkinson’s Half in Cottage grove. The Parksinson’s race is pretty ideal for dropping fast times (even excluding the possibility that the course may be short…ha) as its completely flat, small, and in cooler weather. The entire course is almost a straight out and back on a trail so there are no turns/tangents to worry about.

Now just focusing on getting ready for twin cities – got a solid 3 more weeks left. Hope Berlin training is going well! I mentioned to Eric that we’re considering going to visit our friend in Germany and maybe I’d run the Bonn Marathon. Perhaps still just an idea tho, but in general trying to figure out what my Spring race will be…

Here’s what else I got on my horizon for 2013– maybe I’ll catch ya at one of them!

-Brewer mini (pace)
-Twin Cities
-Haunted Hustle (middleton) (pace)
-Madison Half (pace)

Carmel Marathon Weekend 2013

Back in winter I had received an email from the Carmel Marathon Pace Director looking to fill some open spots with some of the finest pacers in the country.  I originally wasn’t settled on my schedule, but ran it by CES pacing buddy, John Nygen. John, said he’d also be in and we decided to get locked in and make it a weekend, potentially with Sam and Lyndsey running the half.  Well John goes and gets engaged, then eloped, then a job down south, which leaves me solo again.  During this time, I had been also recruiting Dave to get his BQ done (during this time, I was holding the Team LTD Marathon Record with a 3:03:39 set back at CIM).  


Dave had wanted to keep a low-profile and wouldn’t even confirm that he had signed up until he finally got overly annoyed with my almost daily email reminders.  With one friend confirmed, it was time to make some more and hopefully recoup some of my travel expenses from when I deferred on the $1 Megabus tickets (I don’t know why I didn’t want to risk the $3.50 at the time).  I emailed the Pace Director and found two others from Chicago that I pinged about carpooling.  The first, Heather, was more than happy to provide a ride with her friends and even a floor to crash on in Lansing for Saturday night, as long as I registered for double…hmm, tempting.  Then Steve Hughes (Marathon Legend) emails me back that we could ride together and we’d come back Saturday as he was planning on a 50k back here in the suburbs for Sunday.  All of a sudden I’m feeling like a whimp when I’m telling people that I’m only running one marathon this weekend.


Friday morning I put some hard hours of work in before meeting Steve in the loop.  We walk a couple blocks to his truck and start the weekend adventure.  Steve doesn’t believe in tolls, so we avoid the skyway.  However, due to all of the flooding and the other interstate being closed, we ended up taking a tour of the south side.  Fine by me, it’s Friday afternoon and instead of cranking out some forecast analysis at work, I’m roadtripping to a marathon and swapping battle stories with one of the few athletes in the world who has run 100 marathons within one year.


We arrive at the expo and it’s your typical small-town expo – we locate our pacing gear and race packets.  I also entered the raffle for the car – big mistake, these people at Sundance won’t stop calling me about the “free” cruise that I won.  Dave was right on our tail, and we all rondevued at the hotel, which was some great accommodations for a pacing gig.  I should also mention that Steve is very quick with his words and the three of us bunking in a room together made it quite entertaining.  But the night, didn’t end there, one of the hosting Marathon Maniacs, Elaine and her family, was graciously hosting a pasta dinner for other Maniacs and Pacers.  This spread rivaled in size and far surpassed in quality, many of the expo pasta dinners that I’ve attended.  And the best part was all the other cool people that we met!


Back at the hotel, Dave, Steve, and I scrutinized the weather forecast.  When I had packed Thursday evening, it was supposed to be sunny and 50’s.  Well now, the lows were in the 30’s with highs in the 40’s.  Fortunately at the last second, I had tossed in some running tights.  I even put on a light base layer top, so much for an early start to the tanning season.


Race morning arrives and it’s cold.  Steve hangs out in the truck, while I get my bag checked so that I’d have it right after finishing.  I caught up with pacing friend, Scott Dahl in the corral.  I had forgotten my medals to donate to Medals for Mettle, but fortunately we’d be meeting up in Green Bay a couple weeks later.  He asked where Dave was at – already up front and ready to race with shorts and a jersey…jealous.  Before the national anthem, Chad from VEM found me and we caught up – he was running the half and also rocking Brooks Pure Project shoes!


My group and I chatted over the pace strategy…this time, like every other pacing event, I opted for the tried and true even-split strategy.  We got rolling, and I was somewhat excited to be warming up a little bit and really excited to have an awesome group!  Believe this was the first solo-marathon I’ve ever paced.  We went through the first couple miles on target and was really making some great friends, then the mile 6 marker was missing, which seemed odd, but it was right at an aid station, so maybe I just missed it.  Turns out the course was remarked and certified (excellent job Carmel Marathon crew!), but some of the markers were either missing or off.  At mile 9, we get a marker again, but we’re plus one minute (Garmins didn’t agree).  I decide to play it safe and treat the marker that we’ll never get back that distance – I inform the group and everyone agrees. From here we chip away 5 seconds a mile, running 8:05ish.  At mile 18, we still had a decent group with us, but like always, that quickly vanished.  An older fit gentleman and his younger female friend stick with me.  They were rocking it and move ahead around mile 21.  The last 5 I was on my own picking up one for a bit here and there.


The absolute coolest part of the race happened at mile 25 when a group of four women (1 racer and her 3 friends wearing Boston gear) come up to me.  They asked how I was doing and I let them know, “Right on time.”  Those were three sweet words to them and they quickly translated that to their struggling friend that she was going to qualify!  I told them that I love getting passed at that point in the race and they resoundingly communicated that they love passing me!


Pretty along the last 5 miles, I kept thinking about Dave, hoping that he had finished by then.  I crossed the finish on schedule and he was there waiting for me in the chute.  A big grin on his face and points to his watch with a 3:02: success!  A great day in Carmel, IN!  We had a couple hours until Steve brought in the 5:30 group and were able to have lunch with some family friends – Sue, Mike and Maddie.  


I had done my job, Dave had reclaimed the Team LTD Marathon Record, and Steve was one marathon closer to 300.  As I enjoyed my McD’s softserve cone on the drive back to Chicago and Lyndsey, I felt very satisfied with the quick 27 hr boondoggle out of the state.

Chicago Spring 1/2 Marathon

Back in January, I had signed up for the Chicago Spring 1/2 Marathon which was held on May 19 here in Chicago. I hadn’t raced a 1/2 Marathon since RnR Chicago 2011, where I PRed by 11 minutes!

Going into this race, I felt confident that I could PR, but was unsure of where I was at fitness-wise. I knew I could easily achieve sub 1:45, and be pretty close to 1:40. While speaking with a co-worker of mine, Jordan, I convinced him to sign up and pace me!

I had been doing a ton of speed work including 400, 800 and 1600 repeats with Eric on Wednesday mornings. I could tell these workouts have helped me run at a faster pace for a longer distance. 

The morning of the race, I wake up and get ready to go. Eric wasn’t here to check and double-check that I had everything, so I was quite nervous that I’d forget something! But thanks to my handy-dandy Fleet Feet Sports Race Day Checklist, I didn’t!

I headed over to the Red Line to catch it downtown. It wasn’t coming….it wasn’t coming….it wasn’t coming. Just as soon as I almost left the platform to go and catch a cab, it finally rolled into the station. Ugh. Stressful.

Got off at Lake Station and headed east toward the lake. I hadn’t done a ton of preparing for the race, so I didn’t even know where it started from. I called Jordan while I was on Randolph and he directed me to this small little oasis in the city! The park was so cute and I was so happy it wasn’t the overwhelming Millenium/Grant Park situation.

The line for the restrooms were minimal, so we made use of that and then hit up gear check (sort of a shit-show) and headed to the start. 

I knew the course would be pretty quick as it utilized the lakefront path from Randolph heading south. Changes in elevation were minimal. The temperature outside was pleasant – not too hot. The race plan was to run 8:00s for 5 miles and then let it rip. Well of course, that didn’t happen. We were pretty consistent running 7:50s the whole race. At around mile 5 my toes started to go numb. This made for an unpleasant feeling the entire rest of the race. It was pretty much all I could think about. I tried thinking more about form, but that didn’t help.

I didn’t know many others that were signed up for this race, but was pleasantly surprised to see Ellen and Karen yelling at us as they were heading south! We gave them a big shout and wave and kept going!

My feet were still bothering me, so much that I thought my second toe was broken. I started to drop off pace between miles 8-10. I even had to stop and walk a little to get some blood flow to my feet.

Around mile 11, I was really struggling. So much that I thought I should just give up and walk the entire way back. Jordan gave me a little boost of confidence and got my butt in gear to finish the race. I crossed the finish line in 1:42:02…a PR by about 8 minutes! I was pretty impressed with myself. I know I can break 1:40 next time! Thanks Jordan!


Jordan and I enjoying “Secret Park” after the race!


My swollen feet. Recovery socks provided by CEP.

Post-race brunch was pretty hyped-up, but wasn’t that great (the pancakes were good, though). We met up with Karen and Ellen who invited us to the Columbia Yacht Club for brunch. We delightfully accepted. I had the most delicious Cucumber Vodka Bloody Mary!

Great day all around!

Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2013

Welp. The running season in Chicago has officially started. Wait…did it end? Not to my knowledge, as I have not stopped training (cut back during the frigid months, yes). 

The Shamrock Shuffle 8k is typically considered the “home-opener” of the running season here in Chicago. It was my second year participating in this race!

Last year, I set a PR of 38:08 and was hoping to break 37:00 during Sunday’s race. Leading up to this event, I had been following a half-marathon training program for a 1/2 in May. We have been doing weekly speed workouts (ugh..the worst, but they totally pay off), hitting up a few long runs with hills (in Verona and Houghton) and even a 10k XC ski.

I wasn’t as mentally prepared as I normally am for races. I was comparing my splits from last year at this time to this year and I am in significantly better shape. Donning new Fleet Feet Racing gear…I suppose I had to be ready to race.Image


It was a pretty brisk morning, but the sun came out just as the race was set to begin. About 7:55am, we headed over to the start corrals which closed at 8:15am. The place was JAMMED. I totally appreciate the BoA volunteers for taking time for checking peoples bibs before they entered the corral, but man it was slow. Come 8:15, I still wasn’t entered into the ABC corral area and I got nervous – they began to shut the gates. People started pushing and we all flooded in. Scary. Once inside, I still had to get to the B corral. Well that was nearly impossible as it was jammed. I eventually snuck in and all the way across C corral to the left side of the corrals and all the way up to B. I was relieved. Still in shock, though.

Saw Eric right at the start:


The race plan was to run 7:30, 7:30, 7:15, 7:15 and sub-7:00 for the race. That was completely thrown out the window immediately as I ripped off the first mile in 7:12. Another quick mile in 7:09. The course was apparently re-routed, which I had thought as we were running, but didn’t even think twice. Mile 3 was a little slow, but by creeping on other people’s times it was the same – heading west against the wind didn’t help. This was 7:25 for me. My 5k split was a PR at 22:30. Mile 4 was OK in 7:11…I missed seeing Eric at the mile marker. The last mile was pretty rough…uphill finish at Roosevelt. I was blitzing by people, but I was unsure I had enough gas to go to the end. I finished and looked at my watch and it said 35:47. I was shocked…thinking it definitely said 36:47! What a great race! Next year, I will break 35:00.

Fleet Feet Racing had a pretty good day as a lot of people PRed!

American Birkebeiner / Kortelopet

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in my first cross country skiing race – the Kortelopet 23k – which is part of the American Birkebeiner race series.

As mentioned in the What to Wear – American Birkebeiner blog post for Fleet Feet Sports Chicago, I had never done anything like this before. I had no idea what to expect. In 2010, Eric did his first Birkie and in 2011 my dad, Joe, did his first Birkie. All I remember them talking about were “…those damn hills.” Great.

As we lack hills in Chicago, I didn’t train much for this part of the race. I relied on my bike trainer workouts for leg power and long runs for endurance.

Friday evening was spent dining on pasta and waxing skis to perfection. This is a lot more work than picking out your outfit for a running race. Having the correct wax is absolutely critical and is directly related to performance. If you’re an elite racer and have a shitty wax job – it might be devastating to your race.

Here is our professional waxing station:


Saturday morning rolls around and I arise – nervous – eat breakfast (oatmeal w/ Peanut Butter and Banana slices) and slam coconut water and regular water. The Birkie crew had taken off early to catch the bus from Hayward to Cable, the Korte crew slept in and headed out later. In the middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin, there were major traffic jams trying to get to the start. I won’t go into too many details.

Telemark Lodge provides pre-race lodging for the skiers. Upon arrival, I had about 40 minutes to spare before my wave took off. I spent that time using the ladies room for the 100th time that morning (I get nervous), walk to the starting area, drop of my gigantic bag of post-race clothing and head to line up.

As in some larger running races, XC ski races start in waves to help with congestion on the trail. Eric was assigned Wave 3 based on last years time, Tyler was in Wave 4 and everyone else varied based on their previous times. Since I was a first-timer, I was assigned to Wave 8.   After the wave was released I was pleasantly surprised to see Jeanne yelling for me!!! A few moments later, Rachel and Brent were yelling for me. I was pretty pumped I had fans at VERY beginning of the race.

Rachel was able to capture this crazy start:


I began to catch rhythm and get ahead of the slow people, I discover that the snow is already mashed-potatoey. Boo. The fresh snow from the day before didn’t help much. For the first part of the course, the Birkie and the Korte are together – the trail is quite wide and has rolling hills. I approach the large hill that has a bunch of power lines on it, I quietly say “Holy F***!” and begin the climb. The thing about this hill is that if you get stuck behind the wrong people, you end up waiting for them to climb. I hate that.

Anyway, I got to the top took a deep breath and kept going. The first aid station was coming up and I needed some water. I had heard that the aid stations were quite congested and that was right on the money. I quickly grabbed “energy” and a banana. Turns out the “energy” was HEED + warm water, which almost made me gag because of how warm it was. I quickly got over it and skied on. I think the Korte splits from the Birkie after this point.

As I was alone and had no fans along the course (they were at the start/finish), Boosh’s parents were able to catch Eric and Boosh along the course:


Eric consuming a gel along the course.


Boosh on his way to victory.

I didn’t spend too much time at the aid stations – I wanted to get ahead of all of the slow pokes. It was the perfect opportunity. Though the Korte was separate now, the hills were still jam packed. Ugh. I did enjoy going down them, though! The Alpine ski racer in me completely bombed each hill and gained valuable time.

The course became less crowded as time went on – I was happy with that. I took a gel after Aid Station #2 and had another hot “energy” and banana after the third. At about 20k I met up with Carrie, who was crusin’ up a hill. I told her she was “…lookin’ good.” She replied “Tell Bob I’m on my way!” Bob had skied the Korte Classic.

Ok, so I thought the course was 25k (according to Eric), but it actually was 23k so I was relieved when I could see the finish line from the top of the last hill. I bombed the hill and heard cheering from the right hand side: Ken, Jeanne, Rachel and Brent were all cheering and I almost fell and lost all of my speed. Luckily I have good balance. I crossed the finish line in 1:45:33.1, hopefully securing Wave 3 for next year!

I gathered my gigantic checked bag and Bob came up to me and congratulated me on my finish and snapped a photo. Shortly after, my fan club came and celebrated:


After we regrouped, we took the bus to our respective parking lots and headed to Hayward to catch the finish of the Birkie. We missed everyone’s finish, but enjoyed watching others finish their race.

Team LTD headed to pizza at the Black Bear Pub. We finished the evening with Blackberry Brandy, Shotskis, Hot Tubs and Cake.

Here is a summary of Team LTD at the Birkie/Korte:

Eric Baum – Birkie Skate – 3:30:49.6

Tyler Bushelle – Birkie Skate – 3:40:53.2

Ted Farwell – Birkie Skate – 3:57:52.2

Peter Morelli – Birkie Skate – 2:42:46.4

Lib Diamond – Birkie Skate – 4:33:11.7

Tim Breitag – Birkie Skate – 6:17.42.2

John Perry – Birkie Skate – 4:43:55.7

Lyndsey Marino – Korte Skate – 1:45:33.1

Kemllen Lee – Korte Classic – 3:49.05.5

Katie Farwell (as Robin Goldman) – Korte Classic – 3:49:05.6

Bob Richards – Korte Classic – 2:01:38.1

Carrie Richards – Korte Skate – 2:17: 35.4

Sydney Endres – Korte Skate – 1:33:00.6

Mitch Endres – Prince Haakon 12k – 1:07:51.8

PS – My outfit was PERFECT! My what-to-wear prediction proved correct!

Birkie Preview


Here’s a quick update on Team LTD at the Birkie.

-Ted Farwell: 4th Birkie

-Katie O’Neill farwell: 2nd (?) Korte

-Eric Baum: 3rd Birkie

-Tyler Bushelle: 3rd Birkie

-Joe Marino: Not racing due to injured LCL from Oldtimer’s Hockey

-Lyndsey Marino: 1st Korte

-Kemllen Lee: 2nd (?) Korte

-Robin Goldman: 2nd (?) Korte

-Carrie Richards: ??? Korte

-Bob Richards: ??? Korte

-Sydney Endres: ??? Korte

We are expecting a huge fan base including Ken & Jeanne Baum, Diane & Dave Bushelle, Rachel & Brent Skaw…

Hope to see you on the course!

Living the Dream