Posts Tagged ‘Steamtown Marathon’

One of the, if not the, most celebrated foot races on the planet is happening right now while I sit here in Austin, TX half a country away from where all the “action” is this morning.  It’s funny how things change as in 2010 and 2012 I was mixing it up out there, fighting the good fight from Hopkinton to Boston.  The first year I ran Boston I had a second marathon looming just 13 days later running for Dom and his battle against cancer.

Last year the marathon Gods had a little bit of fun with us dropping 87 degree temperatures on race day and we simply trotted it in along the storied course.  Never really “racing”, just hanging tough in survival mode and gutting out a very pedestrian performance, but one that given the conditions on the course were just fine with me.

After finishing the race last year I think that I finally got “Boston” out of my system.

It’s an amazing event, attracting fabulous runners from all over the world and I am very proud to have been a part of the race not only once but twice.  But right now my focus is on more personal, measurable goals.  It is not important to me where I run my next marathon or next 2,3 or 5 – but how I run them.

I want to be fit, focused and fearless.  I want to prepare in such a way that I am in position to maximize every bit of my ability and channel it into a one-day performance where I peak for 180 minutes (or hopefully less) of racing.

Steamtown, Austin, CIM, Charleston, SC – the destination doesn’t really matter it is all about the journey.  A healthy outlook for a lot of things – racing aside.

This morning two runners who I have a ton of respect for are having a very different Boston Marathon Monday.

One is having surgery to address a nerve issue he has struggled with in his foot for well over a year and a half.  He is one of my best runner-buddies here in Austin and I have missed seeing him at runs and races over the last year+.  Although before his injury the only thing I saw of him at races quite often was the back of his shirt.  Brendon has a long history of thumping me pretty soundly in most local races in our age group.  But seeing him struggle with injury and knowing the lengths he is willing to go to get out there running healthy has been inspiring.

Physical Therapy, Active Release Therapy, Rest, Rehab, Acupuncture (seriously) – I’m pretty sure Brendon prayed to various tribal lords and even tried voodoo and witchcraft to get healthy.

If his surgery goes as expected, Brendon will be back to training in about 8 weeks and hopefully he and I can wage a few epic battles this fall and winter as Brendon 2.0 takes on Joe 3.0 as a pair of aging 46-year-old top age groupers.

I also thought about my friend Richard Blalock from Charleston, SC who is actually battling it out on the course today in Boston.  Richard a life-long runner who suffered an unfortunate accident when he was a young boy had a deteriorating condition that was making it impossible for him to run.

After exhausting ever method and treatment possible, Richard missed the sport so much that he had elective amputation so that he would be able to run again with a prosthetic leg.  Yep.  Elective surgery to remove the lower half of his leg so that he could run again.

Richard today is running Boston as a 60 year-old amputee runner – you can read about his journey at –

IIAGDTR stands for – It is a good day to run.

Yes it is Richard – congratulations on making it all the way back and to the grandest stage in the sport for an amateur runner.

So on Boston Monday – this everyman runner from Austin Texas is spending some time not thinking about my own journeys from Commonwealth Ave. to Hereford Street to Boylston Street.  But of a couple of friends who I wish the best for and hope that they are able to stay out there doing the best that they can as long as they want to.

In the end, that’s what it’s all about.  Fast or slow, it hurts just the same.  It’s just important to be out there giving your all and trying your best.

I’m going to remember that on October 13th up in Scranton, PA.  I have a feeling that is going to be a special morning.


One of the more interesting things I find about distance running is that there really  is no “best way” or “right way” to prepare for races universally.

Some runners thrive on high-mileage weeks where others break down or suffer from over-training.  Other runners focus on leg turnover, interval workouts or threshold pace runs but stay away from the “long stuff”.

Some race far better than they train, others are the exact opposite, where after posting impressive workout after workout come race day they leave their best running on their trail, treadmill or neighborhood and fail to deliver at their event.

Mental, Physical, Genetic Pre-disposition and Nutrition all play a role in how to best prepare a runner to reach their maximum potential.  “Working hard” is only a small piece of the puzzle, but it is the one that many of us focus on the most and assign the greatest value.

Perhaps that is because we think we have the greatest amount of control over the work ethic piece.  The fact of the matter is on Saturday morning quite a few of the 178 male finishers who “beat me” in Charleston, SC probably do not work as hard as I do at the sport.

Likewise, of the more than 35,000 runners we were fortunate enough to finish in front of – there are a large number who work harder than I do.

The hard work part is just a piece of the pie.  Focusing on the right workouts, creating the perfect “cocktail” to force positive adaptation is the goal in any well thought out and executed training program.

After seven years of training, running and racing I have finally come to the conclusion after reading Dr. Jack Daniel’s book “The Daniels Running Formula” – I am going to spend the next 2-3 years perfecting my own preparation for the 1/2 marathon and marathon.

On a cool day with good race conditions and a neutral course I can cover 13.1 miles in 83-84 minutes.  If I am able to improve my half-marathon time by just 1%, I will take :49 seconds off of my Half-Marathon PR and make me a 1:22:45 guy.  A very respectable time for a 45-46 year old runner.

That time of 1:22:45 would project to a Marathon time of 2:53:00-2:55:00 using the most widely accepted formulas that in a sense ask you to double your half-marathon time and add somewhere around 7:00 minutes.

1% improvement and we are in a position to accomplish all of the goals that we have out in front of us.

Reducing our 5K PR from 18:02 to sub 18:00 minutes.

Breaking 1:23:00 in the Half Marathon.

Breaking 3 Hours in the Marathon.


Having never been formally coached, having never had training partners or a peer group to lean on, learn from and push me to new levels – I think that is a very realistic goal and expectation to set.

Of course we are running in a race we cannot win against Father Time.  We may be losing 1% of our ability over the same period of time naturally, so the reality is we probably need to make a 2% improvement through our training and approach, while losing 1% to age and deterioration of our speed and endurance.

Even still, I like our chances for success.  For the first time in a long time I have a hard tangible goal out there that was not just arbitrarily chosen based on past performance or a round number such as 2:59:00 or 1:25, 5:00 flat or 18:00.

When you have a goal in front of you and you have a plan on how to get there, this is where that hard work piece comes back into play.  It is a matter of staying focused, running each and every workout with a specific purpose and pushing hard enough to put yourself in a position to be successful.

If you are able to do that, you are going to be pretty darn tough to deal with on race day.  Even the approaching heat of our impending Austin Summer is doing very little to dampen my spirit or determination right now.  Come October when Fall arrives to upstate Pennsylvannia, the leaves begin turning colors and there is a cool, crisp morning dawning over Scranton Pennsylvania there is going to be a slightly built, quiet Texan boarding a bus to the starting line of the Steamtown Marathon.

There will be very little distinguishing him from many of the 3,000 runners strapping on their race shoes that morning other than the quiet confidence that all the hard work and heavy lifting has already been done.

There will be little in the way of chatter or bravado.  No talk about race splits, mileage totals or how much hill work has been done in preparation.  Ear buds in, steely eyes on the road from the front of the bus downloading ever twist, turn, tangent and ripple on the road that he will be racing over in a couple of hours.

Race day.  October 13.

Boom goes the dynamite.