2018 Year End Review

It’s time for the 2018 year end review and a look towards 2019.

Well, it’s that time of year again. I’ve seen a few 2018 End of The Year reviews by other bloggers and thought I better get mine written before we start talking about spring marathons!

2018 Running Review

I actually ran fewer racing miles in 2018 than I did in 2017. 186.4 vs 203.2 miles.

It seemed like a busy year and I didn’t expect to see fewer miles at the end of 2018. On a few occasions people would say, “didn’t I see you at a race yesterday” or “didn’t you just post on Facebook at another race” or “do you run every weekend?”

Usually the answer to those questions was yes!

Boston Marathon 2018, marathon running
Boylston Street, Boston

In April I ran the BAA 5K on April 14th and The Boston Marathon on April 16th. I ran 5Ks on both April 21 and 22. I ran a 5K on Saturday and then a Half-Marathon on Sunday on September 29/30 and October 27/28.

On September 3rd on Labor Day Weekend I ran the A Run For Gratitude Mr 8K in Boston and then drove to Malden and ran Irish American 10K. It was blazing hot that day and I had a touch of heat stroke that weekend. Not fun.

I posted from The Boston Garden about the Martin Richard 8K and when I got to Malden a few people asked if I was just in Boston. Even with the heat stroke, that was a fun day.

Over several stretches I raced every weekend for three weeks in a row. Several times I ran two races on those weekends also.

Then I didn’t race from July 15th to September 3rd. I do a lot of events for my job over the summer which makes racing difficult.

It seemed like a busy running year, but I was busy with work and family also.

Injury and Recovery

In 2017 my injuries didn’t act up until The Eastern States 20 Miler in March. I felt a twinge in my left knee in the first five steps of that race. By the end of the race my knee was okay but I was totally wiped out.

Throughout the rest of 2017 my knee bothered me but I was able to work through it. For many 5K and 10K races I was able to run under an 8 minute pace.

I developed swelling on the inside of my left knee. I got checked by an orthopedist and my PCP and neither one thought it was anything to be concerned with. I was able to run and an x-ray didn’t show any problems.

The swollen area didn’t hurt and what ever was under the skin was solid. I never did see my x-ray but the doc said I didn’t have anything to worry about.

The knee pain and swelling lingered into 2018. I ran The Great Stew Chase 15K in January at a 10:36 pace. In April I ran the Boston Marathon at a 10:55 pace even in the wind and rain.

As 2018 progressed my knee hurt less and by October the swelling started to go away. I’m not sure what happened. I didn’t take anything for it or change my routine very much. But the swelling is almost all gone now.

Even with the recovery I didn’t run many 5Ks at a less than 8:00 pace. For most of the year I felt slow and out of shape.

Finishing 2018 on a High Note

On September 30th I ran my first of three half marathons in 2018. I hadn’t trained very much and still felt like a walking box of lard. But something happened during that race.

I started slow and planned to take it easy. The early miles went well and I fueled early and hydrated well. By mile eight I hooked up with another runner and we killed the last five miles.

smuttynose rockfest half marathon, New Hampshire halfOur pace increased each of the last three miles and we basically sprinted the last two miles. I’ve never finished a half marathon feeling so strong. It was The Smuttynose Rockfest Half which I’ve run before and always felt destroyed at the finish line.

My time was 2:00:29 which was faster than my 2017 time, but not particularly fast for me.

What was so great is that I felt in control. I always try to have a plan and run the plan, but this time I blew away the plan and ran very well. It still makes me feel good just thinking about that race.

The next weekend I ran the BAA Half, ran my plan and had a good race. Three weeks later I ran The Howling Wolf Half at an 8:55 pace on a more challenging course.

I wasn’t sure what was going on but I felt healthy and I was running strong.

Honolulu Marathon, Andy Nagelin
Honolulu, 3:30AM

On December 9th I ran The Honolulu Marathon for the second time. In 2017 I crashed and burned on this course. My pace was 10:34 due to five pit stops and plenty of walking late in the race. My knees were bothering me after 18 miles or so. Everything just went wrong.

I had prepared to run in the Hawaii heat, but apparently not enough.

For 2018 I didn’t train particularly hard. October and November were both about 70 mile months. Nothing crazy.

But during those late year half-marathons I started fueling early. I also started paying a lot more attention to my pace. I always like to be in control, but I was on top of it now. I had my shit in tight little baggies aka I got my shit together!

When I got to Honolulu I wasn’t sure if this was going to work. I prepped last year and still fell apart.

In 2018 I really discovered how important it is to know the course. I knew the first hills came about the 10K mark. I knew not to push the early hills and I kind of knew where the hills were.

I ended up making one pit stop because my pre-race routine got screwed up. At one time I tried to walk but my legs wouldn’t let me.

I ran all of the hills on the way back and cruised down the last hill to the finish.

After the race, besides chaffing, nothing really hurt. My sister even said she could hardly tell that I’d just run a marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that good after a marathon.

My finish time was 4:26:42 or a 10:10 pace. They only give you a finisher’s medal for that time, but I beat my 2017 time by almost 11 minutes!

I have no idea what is going on. I feel good and I’m running well.

2018 is ending on a high note and I have no explanation.

2018 Year End Review Numbers

What running year end review would be complete without a few numbers?

Total Races Run – 26
Total Racing Miles – 186.4
Total Runs – 121
Total Miles – 789

My total runs and miles were up a bit from 2017, but not by a lot.

My only PR was a new Hawaii Marathon PR by 11 minutes. I’m hoping to set a 10K or half-marathon PR in 2019.

2019 Goals

I set goals, I don’t set resolutions.

My first goal is to run 12 half-marathons in 2019. I’ve already signed up for seven, so I’m well on my way.

My second goal is to run a total of 1,000 miles both training and racing. I did a few training runs from my house in 2018. If I can do this more frequently in 2019, 1,000 miles should be achievable.

My third goal is to add another state where I’ve run a marathon. Running Boston again would be great, but I’m not counting on it.

What are your goals for 2019?

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Run well my Friends!


Honolulu Marathon 2018

The 2018 Honolulu Marathon was a great run on the beautiful island of Oahu. Coming from a cold climate, there can be challenges running in the Hawaiian heat. Read my full race recap.

I can’t believe that I’ve run The Honolulu Marathon twice! When I ran this race in 2017 I thought it was a once in a life time experience. Much like my first time running The Boston Marathon.

It was my great fortune to have the opportunity to stay with my sister and her family in Honolulu again, and run this tropical marathon two years in a row.

The Road to Honolulu

After October, organized marathon training pretty much ends in my area. For those of us running a November or December marathon, we are pretty much on our own as far as training goes. Occasionally a small group will get together for a Sunday long run, but not often enough.

In 2017 I ran four half-marathons between October 1st and November 19th as part of my training program. It’s much easier to run that distance and push hard when it’s a race. In 2017 I felt like I needed more training and this year I felt the same.

In 2018 I only managed to get three half-marathons into my schedule. All summer and into the fall I felt out of shape and unmotivated. Then I ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on September 30th.

My plan was to run 9:30 splits and see what happened. It wasn’t until about the 10K mark that I began to feel confident and began to push myself.

I ended up running 8:45 and 7:38 the last two miles and crossed the finish line feeling great. My finish time was just over two hours but I felt like I had won the race! I’ve never accelerated my pace at the end of a race like that.

My average pace ended up being 9:11 which was much better than I had hoped for. After the race I drove to the airport and attended a conference for the next week.

When I returned, I ran the BAA Half Marathon and finished in 1:58 or a 9:04 pace. The BAA course is much more challenging than The Smuttynose, so I was further encouraged.

Three weeks later I ran The Howling Wolf Half and did pretty well also. This course is even more challenging than the BAA course and I ran the first six miles with a friend who was not feeling well.

My finish time ended up being slower than my 2017 time, but I knew why. There weren’t any surprises and there wasn’t anything to fix.

In 2017 the hills in Honolulu knocked me out. The elevation gain was only about 100 feet for each hill, but I was running in 80° heat. After adjusting to the cold of Boston, my body was not prepared for that type of heat.

Honolulu Marathon Elevation Map, Hawaii Marathon
Honolulu Hills

This year, to prepare for those hills I ran the Middlesex Fells Way hills twice. And I ran them in both directions. The first run was about 8 miles and my second run was around 12. I think that these hill runs helped me with The Howling Wolf Half and in Honolulu this year.

My last run before Honolulu was our Tuesday Night Club Run. It was only about 6.2 miles. After the run I felt like the run had been too short, my training too lax and I felt very confident in my ability to run The Honolulu Marathon. Go figure!

I arrived in Honolulu two days before the race. Walking through the airport I could feel the heat and humidity. I hoped that I had packed the right gear to run in these conditions.

While I had avoided any weight gain over Thanksgiving and was close to my goal weight, I still felt like a walking box of lard. There were moments when I thought I was going to do a tourist run for the fun of it. I was in Hawai’i, there was no turning back now.

Running The Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu Marathon, Andy NagelinI awoke around 2:45 or 7:45 Eastern time. I was dressed already and doing a final gear check when my sister and brother-in-law got up at 3AM. I had a quick cup of cold coffee and part of a rice bowl I had saved from the day I arrived. For some reason I seem to run better on rice than I do on any other carbohydrate.

They dropped me off around 3:30AM and I walked down the street to the start area on Ala Moana Boulevard.

Honolulu MarathonSince I ran the race in 2017, I assumed I knew where things were. Last year there were all kinds of porta-potties on the island side of the canal in Ala Moana Park and not a lot of runners hanging around at 3:30AM. This year all of the porta-potties were on the ocean side of the canal.

After walking all the way to the last bridge over the canal, race volunteers told us we could not go over that bridge. No explanation and the people with me did not speak English. I turned around and hustled to the next bridge cursing the race organizers the entire way. Not only were the facilities not where they should have been, but I couldn’t even get to them in their maximally inconvenient location. I was pissed and it wasn’t even 4AM yet!

When I got to the next bridge I encountered yet another cluster fuck. The bridge was too narrow to accommodate runners trying to move in both directions. As I made my way across the bridge something inside me jumped around as the lines came into view. Lines! WFT! There weren’t any lines last year at this time when the porta-potties were where they were supposed to be. Why the hell had they changed this?

My plan hinged on getting into one of these dark closets at least once and preferably twice before the race. Now I wasn’t sure I’d get through the line once.

My pre-race routine is very specific and any disruption can really screw me up.

Honolulu Marathon 2018, porta potties When the door finally opened for me I saw a disgusting mess like I’d never seen before. The urinal was almost full and I could see toilet paper piled up in the toilet. What The Fuck! And when the door closed I had to deal with this shit in the dark.

The lines were too long to try another porta-potty. We only had about 20 minutes to the start, so I had to go with it.

I carefully took a seat and realized that both rolls of TP were empty! Let me say it again, WTF! This is not how I wanted to start my day. Fortunately there was half a roll sitting next to the toilet.

When I went to use it I could see in the faint light brown splotches on the roll. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, I thought as I unraveled a large wad in an attempt to avoid the shit. How bad could it be, right? I’m on a goddamned mission here!

After I left the porta-potty I had to make my way across the tiny bridge again. Last year I remember them telling people in the park to come to the start area as the bridges were too small for everyone to move at the last-minute. They were not kidding!

I tried to chill and not be pushy, but I was pissed and getting impatient.

When I finally made it across the bridge I headed to my corral. I had a blue bib which meant I was in the second corral after the pro runners. I’d never get close to this position in Boston!

I was in this corral last year and watched civilians walk up to the first corral after the elites. That pissed me off also because I knew they would be walking within the first mile and getting in my way.

Honolulu Marathon StartThis year my corral was almost empty and I didn’t see people from further back corrals making their way to the front. The situation seemed odd, but at least it would work better for me.

When they made the final call to the corrals, we moved forward and my corral filled in. They played the National Anthem and told us to get ready for the start. While the National Anthem was playing I had to re-start my Garmin.

At 5AM they gave us the start and the crowd surged forward and then stopped. We walked for a bit and then picked up to a jog. As we approached the start line our pace increased and we broke into a slow run just after crossing the starting mats.

As soon as they started the race, they also let loose with the fireworks. How many races have fireworks? As we approached the start line I was able to check them out. It was pretty cool!

Honolulu Marathon FireworksAfter the start I had to pay attention to the pot holes in Ala Moana Boulevard, other runners and walkers! When I began to almost run into walkers I checked my watch and it was just about at the 1K mark, or 0.65 miles!

There were walkers last year, but I watched those idiots walk to the start. I didn’t see the hoard of civilians this year. They must have walked onto the course from the park.

After the porta-potty fiasco my patience were running thin. I did swear out loud several times as I passed people walking. I even put my hand on a few shoulders as I passed to make sure I didn’t knock anyone down.

I just couldn’t believe it. I thought I might run the race as a tourist? These people were already tourists!

The crowd thinned a bit by the one-mile mark and I was able to make my way around the walkers and started to run my race. Mile one came in around 10:15, but I was okay with that. A slow first mile isn’t unusual and generally is a good idea.

As we ran through the shopping district I looked around as much as I could. There were all kinds of high-end brands like Gucci and Mercedes along the way. Many nice high-rise buildings with great views of the ocean.

On The Road in Honolulu

As we ran through town I enjoyed the view and started to get a feel for how things might go. I had decided not to stretch before the race because I’ve been reading about how it can reduce muscle strength. This was a new thing to try which is not a good idea before a marathon.

We made our first big u-turn just before mile two. Runners were thinning out a bit and there were fewer walkers to deal with. Mile two came in under 10 minutes and I was beginning to hit my stride.

Some buildings and condo towers had Christmas lights. There were tropical trees with lights wrapped around their trunks and branches and we passed more high-end stores.

As we ran along we passed some spectators who seemed to be mostly Japanese. They were very enthusiastic and seemed to be part of a team or tour group.

We took a few turns and headed towards Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. It was still before sunrise but already warm. Before mile one a guy in front of me was sweating profusely.

Just after mile five I could see the ocean off of Waikiki Beach. I could also see Diamond Head and knew that our first hill was coming up.

At the 10K mark we took a left to go around The Honolulu Zoo. I remembered from 2017 that this road was a hill and that I did not want to power up it. It was too early in the race to expend that much energy.

As I tried to control my pace lots of runners went past me. Some of the volunteers holding the tape down the middle of the road held out their hands for high 5’s. It was a good distraction for me from all of the runners passing me. I could smell the zoo, but it didn’t seem as strong this time.

At mile seven our first real hill started. From studying the map I knew the rise was about 100ft over the next mile or so. It’s only a 2% incline but it sure feels a lot steeper. At almost exactly mile eight we crested the hill.

I lost some time on the hill but this year I ran down the back side and made up some time. It was pretty steep and I tried to run like I was on egg shells. At mile nine the next hill began.

This hill was about 60ft, then a decline and then another 40ft or so hill within a half mile. By 9.75 miles we were on another steep downhill. More egg-shell running.

The ocean had been in view for all of these hills and I could see the horizon. Unlike last year, there were no clouds on the horizon. That meant that when the sun rose we were going to get the full force of the sun.

Without the clouds the sky was also getting bright sooner than it did last year. We were still kind of in the dark at this point last year. I worried about the temperature rising faster than it did last year and how I had hoped to get to the half-way mark before the sun came up.

With the clouds it pretty much worked last year. But in 2018 it would be day light well before the 13.1 marker.

After Diamond Head we took a left at about 8.5 miles and ran through some neighborhoods. There were parks and schools and people standing in front of their homes cheering us on. Not a lot of people, but there were some.

The Long and Winding Road

We were now leaving Honolulu and at mile twelve the ocean came back into view between hills and homes. It was a beautiful sight!

It was now getting close to 7AM and the sun was peeking over the horizon. All along the coast there had been on-shore breezes but with the sun rising the breeze turned into wind on occasion. It was still very comfortable though.

As the miles passed, I noticed that my watch clocked in about 0.15 miles before the official marker. As I approached the half marathon marker my watch chimed in early also.

Honolulu Marathon, Japanese Runner
Japanese Runner at the Finish

As I approached the half marathon mark I noticed that it was just another mile marker sign. Nothing special. Often there are race officials and some spectators since it is a major milestone in the race. I didn’t see timing mats, but I did get a time at the 21K mark. My time was 2:10:57. Just about 10 minute miles on the nose.

I was just where I wanted to be.

The road continued along the shore and was mainly flat or low rolling hills.

At about 15.25 miles we took a left onto Hawaii Kai Drive into a valley community created by and named for billionaire industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. The course through residential Hawaii Kai loops around an inland waterway. Looking up from the road you can see Koko Head, a volcanic crater eroded on one side by the ocean into the popular snorkel spot, Hanauma Bay. At about 17.5 miles we took a left back onto Kalanianiole Highway at Maunalua Bay Beach Park.

This is a man-made community not one that evolved over time like all of the other communities we ran through. The inland waterway looks like a Florida lagoon created to provide water access for residents.

It did look like a great area to live in, but it seemed to lack the soul of the other communities we ran through.

In 2017 this is where the wheels came off the bus. Where we turned into the development there was a row of porta-potties. As we looped back on the main road and passed that row, I made my first of probably five stops. Each time I started to run my legs were stiffer than the previous stop.

I was out of juice and my hips and quads were sore. The last eight miles were some of the most painful that I’ve ever run.

This year I was better prepared. I fueled early and was pretty good at managing my hydration. I still had to stop for a pee at this stop.

I could tell I was in danger of becoming dehydrated but my bladder was full. It’s challenging to drink cold water when you gotta go like a race horse!

So I copped a quick squat and got under way in about a minute. Almost as good as Shalane Flanagan.

I was relieved a second time when it didn’t hurt to start running again!

On Our Way Home!

Honolulu Marathon Ocean ViewWe were now less than eight miles to the finish! That’s still a long way to go but I made it past the point of last year’s disaster.

I was happy to get a cup of ice water or Gatorade at many stops on the way home. It was great knowing I could drink as much as I want and not worry about it.

At each mile, familiar landmark or intersection I reflected on how I felt at that point the year before. I was doing great!

I was still on track to run a 4:30 marathon.

Before mile twenty-two we hit a 40ft hill. I was running tight to the right side of the road to stay in as much shade as I could. As I pushed up the hill I passed quite a few people walking up the hill. I was really surprising my self. At this point last year I was walking also.

At some point around mile 23 or so I had a moment of weakness and decided to walk for a bit. I don’t know why. But then something funny happened.

Usually each time I walk it gets harder to start running again. After my pit stop I didn’t have any problems getting back up to speed. This time when I started walking, it was like my legs were wound up with elastic bands. While I tried to walk my legs wanted to keep on running! It was like I had lost control of my legs and they wouldn’t stop running. That was a clear sign that I had no business walking!

At mile twenty-two we turned left onto Kealaolu Avenue along the Waialae Country Club. This road ends and the route turns right onto Kahala Avenue, a neighborhood of luxury homes fronting Kahala Beach and Black Point. Kahala Avenue merges into Diamond Head Road at mile 24, circling back around Diamond Head crater.

At about 23.5 miles we began our last series of climbs. The first climb was from about sea level to 50ft in about a quarter-mile. After a short flat we ascended about 65ft in about a mile.

From about 115ft we descended back to sea level in about a mile. At this point last year I couldn’t even make my self run. I bargained with my self that I would walk the down hill and then run into the park for the finish. I was barely able to even do that.

This year I pushed up the hills and ran the twisting down hill to the zoo. I could hardly believe how good I felt.

Now granted, feeling good at the end of a marathon is in relative terms. I was dehydrated, my legs and feet were tired and I was slightly altered. If I felt like this on a Tuesday afternoon while sitting at my desk at work, I’d ask someone to call an ambulance for me! No kidding.

As I pushed up the hill and ran the down hill I passed a lot of people. Most were running like I was running last year. It was shear will power propelling these people towards the finish line. I knew exactly how they felt.

Aloha Kapiolani Park

Finally the winding road arrived at Kalakaua Avenue and we entered Kapiolani Park. The road was finally flat again and I began to look for the finish line. Soon after getting onto Kalakaua Avenue the finish line came into view! It looked like it was a mile away and kept getting further away.

I had the same sensation you get running towards the finish line on Boylston Street. It’s like a dream where you keep running or walking but you never get any closer to the finish.

I was exhausted by this point in the race. It was basically the last 0.2 miles of the marathon. Somehow I was able to scrape together another shovel full of coal and toss it into the old furnace.

I haven’t downloaded my Garmin data yet, but I was able to muster some sort of a kick at the end. I passed a few people and kept up with a few.

The clock said something like 4:29 as I approached the finish line. I knew I crossed the start line a minute or two after the start of the race, so I might get under 4:30!

I went under the race archway, but there weren’t any timing mats. I looked down the road a bit and saw that they were about 10 yards further. I kept up the effort and crossed the finish line a little out of breath.

I saw a guy with medals and hobbled towards him. He saw me walking funny and we both grinned as we made eye contact. He put the medal over my head and I said “Mahalo!” then a young lady put a seashell necklace around my neck. It was all really cool.

I knew they had showers at the finish line and wondered how that worked. Did they have a tent area for us? Oh no. They had a series of shower heads set up about three feet apart. A few people were standing there fully clothed taking a shower. Somehow this struck me as a good idea.

I took off my running belt with my phone in it and clipped it to the nearby barricade. I never considered that someone would take it. Without a thought about the water temperature I walked into a shower of ice-cold water. Holy shit! It was like jumping into the Atlantic on New Year’s Day.

I wasn’t self-conscious at all with my strange sounds from the shock of ice-cold water running down my over heated body. As the shock wore off the cold water began to actually feel good.

I was probably in there for a minute, just like an ocean dip, but it felt much longer.

Honolulu Marathon Medal
Now That’s a Medal!

After I got out of the shower and gathered my gear I hobbled towards the tent with the finisher’s shirts. I wasn’t sure where it was but someone pointed me in the right direction.

This is the only race that gives you a finisher’s shirt when you actually finish the race. I like that.

On the way I texted my sister to let her know that I had finished and where I was. Eventually we spoke and she said they could not find a place to park.

My sister and her family didn’t get to spend much time in the park after the race last year and I wanted to make sure the kids had a chance to wander around and maybe get a malasada.

My sister said to do my thing and head for Waikiki Beach where they would pick me up.

I found the malasadas which were hot and covered in sugar. When a young lady asked if I wanted two, how could I refuse!

As I walked away and ate my first one, it sank in my stomach like a rock. What was I going to do with the other one?

On my way from the malasada tent I noticed that they were actually frying the donuts in the tents! Wow. I thought the shop was nearby, but these people set up a donut shop in the park to feed about 25,000 runners. That’s a major operation. I was impressed.

With my shirt over my shoulder and a hot malasada in my hand I headed towards Waikiki Beach to link up. I wasn’t moving quickly and I could feel some major chafing.

I texted my sister and told her I was sitting under the statue of a surfer by the beach. She called me back and said they still couldn’t find parking, so I started walking down the street.

As I looked down the street I spotted their car about three back from the intersection. A cop was holding traffic so I hobbled faster to get there before he let traffic go.

As I approached I could see Liz waving in the window. Just before I got to the car the cop let traffic go and I told them to sit tight. I knew the cop would let me walk through traffic if I needed to, and he did.

As he waved to my brother-in-law to make the turn I yelled out that they were my ride. He said “all right” and let me jump into the car. Marathoners get a lot of latitude on marathon day. It’s amazing what you can get away with when you have a meddle around your neck.

Shave Ice and the Road Home

Just like last year, we headed for the best shave ice shop in Honolulu, Waiola Shave Ice. It’s so good that the TV show Hawaii 5-0 shoots scenes there.

Waiola Shave Ice, Honolulu MarathonIt turns out that the owner had run the marathon years ago and we had a nice chat about the race and how big the medals were getting.

We had a similar conversation last year. But he’s had a million customers since then.

It’s not shaved ice or snow cones. In Hawai’i it’s “Shave Ice.” As I ate mine I got that heart attack feeling in my chest. I was putting ice into an over-heated body and it hurt like hell. I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack, so I just stopped eating for a bit.

We had a short ride home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. After we arrived, my goal was a shower a cold beer.

It was a hot race and I had sweat a lot. As a result I had a lot of chafing in the shorts area. When the hot water first hit that sensitive skin, I’m pretty sure the family heard me gasping and howling a bit. Fortunately the pain subsided quickly and I was able to clean up.

My sister had a foam roller and I made use of that soon after getting dressed.

I thought I had run about a 4:30 race, maybe 4:28. My official time came in at 4:26:42 at a 10:11 average pace. Last year my time was 4:37. I set a Hawaii PR and beat any expectations I had.

If you are looking for a good excuse to visit Hawai’i this marathon is a good one. There were a few issues at the start, but the on-course support was awesome and everyone was full of the Aloha spirit. Surprisingly you can find hotel rooms near the race start for under $200/night.

Flights are expensive and very long from the east coast. Hawaiian Airlines offers direct flights from Boston now for about the same price I paid for one stop. But this is the fifth largest marathon in the US and the farthest west and south. Put it on your bucket list!

I might even do the race again next year!

Aloha and mahalo for all of your support,


How Fast is Fast?

How many miles per hour do they run? It’s crazy fast and they still haven’t broken the two hour mark.

How Fast is Fast for the Marathon World Record

Last weekend I was hanging out with my friend Andy Brown before the Feaster 5 race. We were of course talking about running. He casually mentioned that “those 2 hour plus a few minutes marathoners are running 13 miles per hour”.  I had never thought about it that way. He was right and it was really shocking to think about.

2:03 or even 2:10 is crazy fast. But when you put it in terms of miles per hour it sounds really crazy fast!

Eliud Kipchoge holds the world record of 2:01:39 finish at the 2018 Berlin marathon. 2:01:39 is mind blowing but thinking about his average pace of 4:38.4 is totally mind blowing. How many of us can run a single 8:00 mile? How few of us can run a 7:00 or 6:00 mile? Even one of them?

Anyone running under a 2:10 marathon is running sub 5:00 minute miles! Think about that for a minute. 26.1 miles divided by 130 minutes is approximately 4.98 minutes per miles.

Any runner will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to run exactly even splits. At Wold-Class level running there are also strategies that runners employ to outwit their competitors. These strategies include holding back sometimes and pushing at other times. 

This means that there are moments and perhaps entire miles that are run well below the average of 4:98 to achieve a 2:10 marathon finish.

2:10 sounds like the speed of light to most of us: utterly un-achievable. For anyone to approach that finish time requires immense talent, effort and dedication. Many world class runners pursue this pace just to remain contenders. 

Marathon World Records

In 1897 John McDermott won The Boston Marathon and set a World Record with a finish of 2:55:10. John didn’t run in the high tech gear that we do and there certainly wasn’t any Gatorade or electrolyte beverage along the way for him. 

Most of us will never break the three-hour barrier even with all of the modern gear and nutrition available to us. Besides hard work, it takes a lot of talent to run like that.

These days a 2:55 marathon time wouldn’t even get you into the Elite category. For the past 40+ years the Boston Marathon has been won in less than 2:20 and is trending towards 2:10. The current course record of 2:03.02 was set in 2011 by Geoffrey Mutai. That’s approximately 4.42 minutes miles.

Because of Boston’s unique course it is not counted as a world record setting course. There is too much elevation loss and it is a point to point race which I guess makes a big difference? I guess the world record folks never heard of Heart Break Hill.

Anyway, it’s my hometown race so it’s personal for me. I’ve run the race eight times and there isn’t much easy about it!

The current World Marathon Record is held by Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His finish time was 2:01:39 for a pace of 4:38.4 minute miles.

To set a 2:00 world record a runner would need to run just over 13 miles per hour or a pace a 4 minutes and 34.6 seconds per mile. 

Eliud Kipchoge completed the Nike’s Breaking2 marathon in May 2017 with a finish time of 2:00:25. This finish time doesn’t count as a world record as it was run on a Formula One track and used other un-sanctioned, though legal, practices.  He needed 26 seconds or 1 second per mile to break the two-hour mark!

So a runner may cross the two-hour mark at a marathon under ideal conditions, but can it be done in “The wild” on a course such as Berlin, New York or even Boston?

There are so many variables in marathons run in “The wild” such as the course it self and weather. In 2018 The Boston Marathon had torrential rain, wind and was very cold. Yuki Kawauchi of Japan won that race with a time of 2:15:58. The race hadn’t been won with a time like that since 1973 when Jon Anderson of Oregon won with a time of 2:16:03.

Can the Two hour Mark be Broken?

Since 1988 the men’s world record has been whittled down from 2:06:50 by Belayneh Densamo in Rotterdam to 2:01:39 by Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin. Berlin is a fast, sanctioned course so the two-hour record may be broken there. 

Eliud would need to knock 3.8 seconds off of each mile to whittle his 2018 Berlin finish down to two hours. That would be a huge achievement. 

In 1954 the the 4 minute mile was broken by Roger Bannister at Oxford University. A 4 minute mile equates to running 15 mph! Only about 1,400 athletes have been able to meet or beat this pace since 1954. And in the 60+ years since then only 17 seconds have been whittled from Roger’s finish time. 

Elite marathon runners run under the 5:00 pace just to be in the top 10 finishers at most marathons. A 5:00 pace is 12 miles per hour. A 4:00 minute pace at a marathon would give a 1:45 finish! I don’t expect to see that in my lifetime or anyone else’s. I just don’t think the human body is capable of that pace for 26.1 miles. 

The pace to hit 2:00 even is 4:34.61. That is only 4 seconds per mile off of Eliud Kipchoge’s 2018 Berlin finish. But is the 2:00 marathon approaching the speed of light?

I’m not a physicist, but the idea is that as you approach the speed of light, the amount of energy to increase speed towards the speed of light increases exponentially. Just like it takes more gas to drive fast in your car.

Can a male marathon runner shave 4 seconds off of every mile for 26.1 miles? I’m pretty sure they will do it on a track under controlled conditions. 

On a World Classic course like Berlin or Tokyo I’m not sure that it can be done. Reaching the sub 2:05 finish is an amazing accomplishment for any human being. Four seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but as you approach the speed of light…

What do you think? It is possible for a male marathon runner to break the two-hour mark on the road?

Runner’s World Pace Calculator

Boston Marathon Winners

Run well my Friends!


Run a 5K with Ryan Hall?

Run a 5K with Ryan Hall?

Ryan Hall, running
Photo: Ryan Hall

This year at the Rock ‘n Roll 5K in Phoenix, that’s what many 5K runners got to do. The 5K is part of the Phoenix Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K Remix Challenge. A weekend long celebration of running.

Several elite runners including Ryan Hall, Steve Scott, Ben Bruce, Dylan Wykes, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and Alan Webb served as pacers at the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k in Arizona. The 5K was run the Saturday before the big events on Sunday.

Ryan paced the 7:30 group.

Only in running can the average athlete participate on the same field and the same event as the elites. It is one of the many things that makes our sport special and exciting.

Meb Keflezighi
Photo: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon

Meb Keflezighi is scheduled to pace the Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio10K on December 4th, 2015! And he’s running the marathon the next day! Meb will be taking it easy and pacing the 7:30 group for the 5K.

I don’t think many people will be keeping up with him for the marathon.

Imagine running two races with Meb? You can at the San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll Remix Challenge this December!

Check out the full schedule of Rock ‘n Roll Marathons for details and who will be there.

These are weekend long running events. Some have elite runners running as pacers at the 5K or 10K the day before the marathon. Others, such as Chicago, have elite runners conducting training events. Shalane Flanagan will be at Chicago in July.

This post was not sponsored by the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series, but I’d consider a complimentary entry! It sounds like a wicked good time!

Run well my friends


Baystate Marathon 2014

The first hour

At 3:30 I awoke from a sound sleep, a dream of forgotten memories.

I was in bed by 9:41 and quite likely asleep before 10PM. Five plus hours of sleep is the usual for me.

I made a 25oz ice coffee last night and added low sugar almond milk to it. I popped a piece of gluten-free bread into the toaster and striped down in the kitchen.

Glide, heart rate monitor and then Under Armor go on first.

Weather Conditions

The current temp in Lowell is 48º with a northwest wind at 14mph, gusting to 24mph, giving a real feel temp of 39º. Humidity is 82%. I should be in Lowell by 6AM when the temperature will be 46º, about the same wind and humidity and a real feel temp of 34º.

At start time the forecast is 46º, 15mph wind out of the WNW gusting to 23mph and humidity at 74%. The real feel temp will be 36º.

As the sun comes up the air will rise to the low 50s but the breeze will keep the real feel, or what we used to call “wind chill” stay in the mid 40s all day. There is little to no chance of rain from partly cloudy skis.

It’s now 4:20

The coffee is clearing my mind. My watch is charged to 100%. It’s time to have another piece of toast, finish getting dressed and head north. I feel like listening to Led Zeppelin on the way up. Maybe LZ II. I can dig it.

See you in 8 or 9 hours.

Baystate Marathon Recap

When I got home from Lowell, the last thing I wanted to do was collect my thoughts. I was exhausted and the day had not gone as planned.

baystate marathon,tsongas arenaThe drive to Lowell was uneventful. I even got to the Tsongas Arena without getting lost. I made one U-turn, but that was because I knew I missed my turn. Half the street signs in Lowell are missing. Driving in the dark on unfamiliar roads with few street signs, I think I did pretty good.

When I pulled up to the gate no one was there. I looked around for someone to take my money. After a few minutes a lady came over with her cash drawer in her arms and set me up. I got a great parking spot and headed to the arena to pick up my bib.

They were strict about not letting anyone in until 6AM. I hung out with a guy running his first marathon, a mother of two getting back into it and a BC student running her first marathon. They were all impressed when I told then this was marathon #15 for me. I gave a little advice, but they all seemed to know what they were doing.

At 6:02 they let us in. By 6:10 I was headed back to my car to get set up. After I had everything pretty well set up I headed for the porta-potties right outside the garage entrance. I may have been the first person to use this one.

I went back to my car, went through all of my stuff again and leaned the seat back to relax a bit. Around 7:15 I headed for the bag drop and then to stand in line for the porta-potties again.

Minor disaster

baystate marathonThey were lined up next to a canal and it was like being in a wind tunnel. I was so glad to finally get inside the porta-loo and out of the wind. As I redressed and checked my gear I noticed that my Amphipod Micropack was missing. I thought maybe I dropped it outside. Just before I got some hand sanitizer I looked in the shit hole.

My micropack was sitting on top of the pile of TP in the shit hole. WTF! In an instant I had to decide to leave it and everything in it or to pick it up. I reached into the shit hole and picked it up. I had 2 GUs and my crash bag in there.

The pouch was a little wet. I’m thinking, WTF am I doing? It wasn’t soaked, but is was wet in areas. I quickly pulled out the GUs and crash bag. I dropped everything else on the floor, off to the side.

I hope no one saw it and thought, “score!”

I stuffed everything into a pocket, got several squirts of sanitizer, tucked my gloves under my arm and made my exit. My hands were dripping with sanitizer. I figured between the sanitizer and my gloves ,most pathogens would not be able to get to me.

Hanging out pre-race

To get out of the breeze I stood in front of Lowell High School. I re-shuffled the contents of my pockets and put all of the contaminated items in one pocket. I had a bag of fig bars in the pocket where I stuffed the contaminated items. I proceeded to eat those from the bag without touching them. I’m sure the out side of that bag was a bio-hazard.

While standing in line for the porta-potties my friends Lauren and Barry Cossette walked by with their kids all bundled up in a wagon. Lauren was running the half and Barry was there to keep the kids happy until Mom came by. Barry may have drawn the short stick on that one. I saw a few more purple shirts from the club, said hello and went back to the high school for shelter.

Around 10 of they called us to the line. It was nice to be huddled close with other warm bodies. It was freakin cold! I started nursing my Gatorade and then they played that horrendous version of the National Anthem that seems to get played at every race now. Come on all ready. It was cute the first time, now it sounds lazy.

Baystate Marathon Begins

The announcer yelled “Go! Go! Go!” many times. I told a few people that the race gets up to speed fairly quickly. I started 3/4 of the way back and it took 1:33 minutes to cross the starting line.

My goal pace was 8:00 miles. The first two miles were crowded and I ran 8:39 and 8:44. At mile 3 I finally hit 8:00 and thought I would be okay. Through mile 12 I had 4 miles at 8:00 or less. The other six miles were all under 8:20.

Part of the reason mile 2 was 8:44 was that I took my first walking break, I had decided to walk the water stops and the first one was at mile 1.8. It seemed early, but I know this plan works for a lot of people. I walked briefly and everything felt good.

I continued to walk most water stops. At others I grabbed a cup of water and barely slowed down. Thankfully the organizers used paper cups.

Before the turn off of Middlesex Street I saw my buddy Jeff Rushton. He was with his boss Tim. Jeff never mentioned that he was running and even sent a text Saturday night wishing me well. They were going a lot slower than I could afford, so after a minute I took off.

10K reality check

At the 10K clock my time was 53 minutes and change. I needed to be closer to 50 minutes. I was already behind, but still felt good. I knew I could not run all 26.2 miles at 8:00, I also knew that I did not want to bank time. I wanted to run my splits as even as possible and as close to 8:00 as I could. My pace was closer to 8:50.

12 mile reality check

After we crossed the iconic Sherburne bridge, we were on the nice flat, well paved Pawtucket Blvd north of the river. I was beginning to feel tired! I walked the next water stop, had some fig bars and finished my Gatorade. My stomach was full.

At the mile 12 marker I knew the BQ was out of reach. I needed to hit 13.1 miles at 1:40 and I knew that was not going to happen. At 13.1 miles my time was 1:49. That’s a better half than 2 of the three halfs I’d run in 2014. But…

13.1 miles is not really half way in a marathon. It’s more like a third. Mile 20 is really the half-way mark in a marathon.

Before we hit Half Way we crossed the Rourke Bridge. This is a steel bridge with patches of pavement on it. The half marathon folks were crossing in the opposite direction on the left side of the bridge. We exchanged a few whoops!

As we got off the the bridge the Melrose Running Club Cheering Team was there. Here are a few photos.


I kept running after crossing the bridge and seeing my friends. It went from, “I can’t let them see me walk” to “I’ll run until the next water stop.” The road was flat or down hill so I ran for most of the way back out to the bridge.

Mile 16 Reality check

When we hit mile 16 on Tyngsboro Road I knew that my PR was slipping away. My watch showed that I was about 3 minutes behind PR time, and I knew the next 10 miles were going to be more challenging.

Things were beginning to hurt and my quads were shredded. My plan was to try and keep from falling behind my goal time by more than 17 minutes. If I could do that I would get a PR.

Going up the ramp to the Sherburne Street bridge was an effort, but I chugged along. There was more traffic than when we crossed earlier. I ran inside the cones on the side of the road. As we crested the bridge I picked up speed and had to call out “on your left” to get by a guy.

I was at the point where I needed to run the downhills to try and keep my splits from getting out of hand. The flat of Old Pawtucket Blvd was welcome. This time when the sign said “18 miles” we really had run 18 miles. And it felt like it.

After the Rourke Bridge on Pawtucket Blvd. a lady in front of me went down. She went down so fast she didn’t even get her arms out to break her fall. I was a few feet away and it looked like she bounced along on her nose. I thought she was unconscious but she sprung up like nothing happened and started running again!

There were four of us near her and two guys grabbed her arms as she was getting up. I expected to see blood shooting out of her nose after the fall she just took. I don’t think she even had a scratch. It was scary and amazing to see.

At mile 18 on, we were all getting tired and altered. It’s easy to catch your shoe on a perfectly flat road when exhaustion has set in.

After mile 24 I took off my vest. I wasn’t going to take any more GU or fig bars, so I wouldn’t need to get into the pockets again. A few people called out “Go Melrose” to keep me going. I was all in black before, so no one had anything to cheer me on with. My club friends from the bridge said I looked like Johnny Cash or a Ninja.

A few times during the race that baritone voice did echo through my head. I often wear black when I run. All but one pair of my running shorts are black. My running shoes are always bright, that’s the way they make them.

Mile 24 to the finish

At mile 24 the end was practically in site. Last year at this point, I saw a guy laying on the side of the road wrapped in foil with 4-5 EMT and police attending to him. He was waiting for a ride to the hospital.

I know how dangerous these last 2.2 miles can be. All reserves are spent, everything hurts. The only thing that keeps most of us going at this point in a marathon is the finish.

I pushed as hard as I could but started to feel like I couldn’t catch my breath. I’ve had this happen before. As much as I hated to, I had to walk a hundred yards before mile 24. I did not want to be that guy. Mile 24 ended up being my slowest split at 10:36!

Mile 25 I manged to run an 8:53, mile 26 9:49 and 7:59 for the last 0.42 miles of the race.

That was my kick. 7:49 for 0.42 miles. At the time I couldn’t run any faster and I was uncertain how long I could keep it up.

As we entered the final stretch of the race they had barriers on either side of the road. As we made the final turn onto Arcand Drive I passed two guys! I couldn’t believe it. I was running on a prayer at this point but these guys were barely moving.

I couldn’t believe it. That little victory gave me the juice I needed to run it in all the way to the finish line. As I got to the line the clock turned 3:49 and I knew I missed my PR by about 2 minutes.

I was utterly disappointed. For a few minutes I thought I was going to have some tears. I was mentally and physically exhausted and emotional. It was my own little pity party and I was gonna cry if I wanted.

Fortunately my guardian angel Mike Hartin was there. He said he would be there and he got to me before another volunteer could grab me. Between the breeze and my own feeble attempts to help, he had to work to get the foil blanket on me.

We talked the whole way and that helped bring me back from the edge. He asked if I wanted to head for the medical tent, but I told him I was okay. My breathing was a little labored, but better. I was just cold and sore. He let go of me and I received my medal. Mike congratulated me yet again and headed back to help other runners.

baystate marathon, marathon medal
Courtesy – Chris Hancock

I staggered to the bag drop tent like Frankenstein. I was slow and had a hard time maneuvering around people. Everyone pretty much had to move for me. I just couldn’t do it.

I put on my jacket and headed for the food tent. Hot soup and a PBJ on whole wheat. I slowly set my soup on the ground and had to think about how I was going to get onto the ground without falling.

I rested on one arm and wrapped the foil around me. As I ate I spoke with two other runners. I moaned about my finish and then the other guy told me he finished an hour slower than he did at Boston. He had a smile on his face.

My 3:49 is 15 minutes faster than my Boston PR from this year. I ran my 2nd fastest marathon ever but did not meet my high expectations. That’s just the way it goes.

There are plenty of excuses and reasons why it happened. Running is my hobby and not my life. My year was full of great family times that I wouldn’t trade for a PR or a BQ.

My marathon season is over. The first time running three in a year. I’m not sure I would do it again. Training is a big commitment and if you don’t do it right, why run the marathons?

Run well my friends,


Baystate quick note

Baystate has been run

My time was 3:49. This is about 2 minutes slower than last year. After my amazing results at Boston and Lubec, I’m a little let down by my performance today.

It was warmer than forecast so I was over dressed. I carried 2x the food I needed so there was extra weight and distractions.

I had high hopes for today and the conditions seemed ideal. I mis-calculated. As always, I could have trained more. Have you ever run a race and not had that thought?

So I’ll try to stop whining in my beer and go get another one.Here is the link to current results. I’ll have a post tomorrow and maybe a YouTube video.

Congrats to everyone who ran today. I hope you had a good race and enjoyed some time with your tribe.

Sleep well!