Saturday, April 24, 2010

PR with a Poop - Part II

Written by - Aaron Linz

Gun goes off and it takes about 30-40 seconds before I hit the starting line. I do not remember the last race I was not less than 5 seconds from the start line but Boston has some of the best runners in the world. The pace is quick and tight as the roads are narrow at the start. I jump off to the far left shoulder to avoid traffic and am running with my CRC long sleeve shirt on over my singlet and my CRC head band. Jay is about 10 meters in front of me.

Despite the traffic, the excitement of the first mile puts me at 5.54. Ok, good but too fast. Next mile 5.47! Ughhh…I am feeling good but this is ridiculous pace. I think I threw off my long sleeve at a couple of kids and was down to my singlet. Lots of fans and did lots of high 5’s to kids along the way. At mile 5 I really force myself to slow down and I hit 6.14. Jay inches away from me but I can still see him. I contemplate catching up with him but I worry I will not run my pace if I do. I try to latch on with some folks and strike up a conversation but nothing. Guys either up at that level or at Boston were just really competitive. Every half and full I have run, I usually kill at least 5-7 miles chatting with some folks. It is something I look forward to and enjoy about the distance. I am not sure why but that just did not happen.

So….that gave me more opportunity to play with the crowds which some of you know I like to do  I would wait until we passed right into one of the small towns along the way that was like 5-10 people deep on each side and I would yell something like “Way to go fans”. Or if I saw a dunkin donuts, I yelled “Can someone get me a donut?” Stupid stuff but the crowd would respond and go nuts. A lot of those folks had been waiting for an hour or so already and we were the first runners they saw.
Around mile 7/8, I started to not feel so good. Every marathoner goes thru periods in the race were you don’t feel good and have doubts. The trick is to get yourself thru those rough patches. I was a bit nervous about the pace and was concerned I was going to let myself and others down if I ran bad after all I had put into it. I then remembered Thomas and the whole 100 mile race experience. It reminded me that I love to run and I needed to have a smile on my face and ensure I enjoyed the run.
I settled into a good pace and focused on getting to half way.

Around mile 11/12, my stomach started to act up. Unfortunately, once you start thinking you have to go, then it pretty much is downhill from there. I made a decision to get to the water stop at the half way point and then attempt a bathroom break. My splits were well ahead of where I wanted to be and frankly, the rest would be nice. Right past the 13.1 water stop on the left I saw a straight shot into the porta john. Zoomed in, did my business and out I am pretty sure in about 40 seconds as that mile was 6.50 and I was averaging right at 6.10 around then.
Would I have run 40 seconds faster had I not stopped? Debatable. Anything that happens during a race is part of the race. If you get stuck in traffic, get knocked over, have to use the restroom, need to change clothes…these are all the challenges of a race that one must overcome to run well. I was feeling marginal without the bathroom break so would I have continued to maintain the same pace? I don’t know. All I know is I got a quick rest, got my adrenaline flowing again and was back at it.

From 13-16 I was in cruise control mentally preparing myself for the hills. The one exception was heading thru Wesessley. I could hear the cheers from about a half mile away and when I went thru there, the ladies did not disappoint! Thousands of co-eds with signs and cheering loud. Very cool. No kisses for me but I definitely got lots of High 5’s.

As we neared the hills, I literally shouted out “Bring on the Hills” as I was pumping myself up for whatever was ahead. I had heard a lot about the hills at Boston and while they were not small, I thought they were reasonable and forgiving. For each big climb, there was an equal or greater flat and downhill after. I was able to keep my pace pretty good through the hills. Threw my head band off somewhere along the hills as it probably weighed 2 pounds at that point.
Somewhere around mile 17 I heard a familiar shout and saw my buddy Billy’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton. It was very comforting to see and hear them as they cheered for Billy and I throughout high school in our cross country and track meets. Super nice folks. They drove all the way from DC to see their son run and I feel equally fortunate that I got to see them.

I had a few other cheers for me specifically that were either CRC folks and in one case, I think my former college coach.

The parties and crowds were growing bigger along the way. Since the whole state of Massachusetts was off, some of the college parties at this point were packed with kegs, folks grilling and folks on roof tops (literally) cheering! Pretty cool party scene!

Before the race, my plan was to run the first half controlled. Maintain in the hills and really try to race the last 21 miles. Instead, I got to the top of heart break hill at mile 21, threw my singlet off and I was absolutely beat! I pretty much went into survival mode. I was trying to keep a good pace but I had little awareness of who was passing me or I was passing. All I remember is some fella from Boston and nearby Summerville or something like that were getting a ton of cheers from folks. I was now known to the crowd as “Skin guy” or “Shirtless guy”. Apparently, this was very comical to lots of fans as I got both yelled at me a lot. All I had to do to acknowledge was a quick thumbs up or a wink and they would go crazy again with cheers!

At 21 I thought that I would focus on getting to 24. If I could get within 2 miles without my body falling apart, I would be ok. I got to 24 and thought, if I can get to 25 I am fine  The crowds at this point were HUGE, really loud and thank goodness as I could have cared less about a PR at this point. I was just constantly reminded each step how much my body hurt all over.

As I neared 25, I was pretty damn sure I saw Jay up ahead. When I fall apart, my head goes back and forth and I sway too much. When Jay does not look good on a run, his head and whole upper body bob a bit too much from one side to the other. While I will not lie that it was motivation to reel Jay in, I immediately felt bad as even though he was on pace for a PR, I know he was hurting bad and was off his stretch goal. Shortly after 25 I caught Jay. For months we have trained together and on our last intervals we always shout out the famous words “UNO MAS”. So…after 4 long months training together and preparing for Boston, with a mile to go, I had the opportunity to utter “UNO MAS” at the perfect time to Jay above the crowd roar! It must have got him a bit pumped as he surged on me and I thought no chance I would be able to respond. But, I kept him in contact and then noticed he was fading. I had no idea how far away the finish was especially since there were fans everywhere so it was hard to peak up ahead around corners. I decided to just go and pick the pace up as at this point, I was going to get a PR and was close enough that even if I cramped up I would be ok.

The final turn and off in the distance was the finish line. I was a bit unclear exactly where the finish was which sounds stupid because there is a huge temporary bridge over it but what confused me was exactly where the finish mat was. I don’t know how but I saw Megan Hovis clear as can be to my left with her huge smile and cheering like mad for me. It was surreal because out of thousands of folks at the finish cheering, it was like she was the only one there and that was super cool! I was kicking to the finish but there was not much left in the tank. I think I caught 1 or 2 guys but I probably got past by one of two which is not like me. With about 15 meters left, I felt a bad cramp in my right hamstring so I slowed just a little. I crossed the finish line and immediately bent over to rest. 2.42.41!!!...over a 3 minute PR from Marine Corps Marathon in October of 2009.

My splits:
Mile Split
1 5.54 6.13 pace
2 5.47 37.04 10k
3 5.56 1.19.21 half
4 5.52 260 overall place
5 6.14 2.42.41 finish time
6 5.58
7 5.59
8 6.12
9 6.05
10 6.11
11 6.09
12 6.1
13 6.06
14 6.49 (restroom break)
15 6.16
16 6.12 12.25 missed split so just divided to get 6.12 and 6.13
17 6.13
18 6.18
19 6.12
20 6.22
21 6.31
22 6.14
23 6.24
24 6.24
25 6.29
26 7.33 (includes 385 yards. Missed 26)

On the flight home I came up with the scoring below. I had time to reflect and think about what I did well and what I might be able to improve upon for a future race.

Training Consistency A+
Fairly injury free and sick free cycle. Had some injuries but did not miss much time and was able to keep training going. Had more miles and more 6 day efforts than ever before.

Workouts B
Intervals were good. Long runs good. Not enough tempos and especially marathon pace tempos over longer distances.

Taper A

Pre Race Weekend B-
Ate too much night before and ate greasy meatballs with spagetti which was stupid on my part. Did yard work Sat and hamstrings were really tight Sunday. Started race with left hamstring still tight.

Pre Race Morning B
Struggling with this. Seeing Megan. I think I am eating stuff that is leading to stomach trouble.

Race Hydration/Nutrition C+
Thought I drank ok but skipped some stops and should not have. Didn't take enough GUI and need to consider something else because I am so tired of GUI. Put myself in dangerous place after as visited medical tent. Lost 40 seconds at mile 13.1 to use the porta john to poop.

Effort B+
Splits did not fall off as much as I thought. Was surviving 4 of last 5 miles rather than racing but kept it together and did a good job to compete the last mile.
Pace B-
Too fast at start despite telling myself over and over not to.

Weight A
Was 162 for MCM which was post college low, Got to 159 before Boston. Passed folks on uphills and felt good on uphills which is a good gauge.
Form B+
Really thought about it and ran upright but always an area that I need to be aware of.

Stretching/Strength B-
Should do more core. Get content and not consistent with stretching.

Here is some analysis I did to compare my two most recent (and most successful) marathons. More mileage for Boston but not significantly more.

MCM vs. Boston Training Cycles

3 months Runs Monthly Mileage Average
MCM 72 743.5 10.3 7/22/2009 10/22/2009
Boston 79 861.9 10.9 1/16/2010 4/16/2010
7 118.4 0.6

4 months
MCM 95 966 10.3 6/22/2009 10/22/2009
Boston 104 1146.9 11 12/16/2009 4/16/2010
9 180.9 0.7

Next race:
Finisher's medal
Jay shout
Medical Tent
Holder family
Sight seeing.


  1. Good stuff Aaron!
    -Mike M.

  2. I love this...felt like I was running it with you..until that part that I was cheering :) You looked great out there and should be SOOOO proud!

  3. Pr With a Poop. Best title ever

  4. I was already fired up after reading Jay's post, now I'm off the charts after reading your's. Gonna bust my ass so I can be there next year.
    Great job dude, especially considering the, um, issue. 40 seconds?! If you gotta go, way to make it fast! =)