Thursday, April 23, 2015

Boston Marathon 2015

As you all know, it was a really bad winter to train for the Boston Marathon. Most of here in the east coast and especially here in the Boston area, battled freezing cold temperatures and record setting snowfalls. So it was no surprise when the weather for Marathon Monday called for a cold and rainy day. Why not? We've toughed it out this far, why not one more punch in the gut... LOL

As in previous years, my day started out at about 4:30am with coffee and breakfast to then head out to Worcester to catch the Central Mass Striders's bus to the start line. We arrive at Hopkinton at 7:30 to then hang around til our start times. Elites start at 10am, but for us mere mortals, we get to start at 11:15. Thats a lot of waiting around.

At about 10:30 or so, I start heading towards the start line corrals which is about a mile or so away from athletes village. I meet up with my good friend Chuck, which I had planned on running with, and head on to the start. Chuck and I run about the same pace, so it was cool to have someone to run with. We had talked about running together for weeks so I'm glad it worked out.

It started raining as soon as we headed to the start line

This was Chuck's first ever Boston, so I can tell he was both excited and nervous. He kept telling me that if at any point I wanted to take off on him during the run, to just go. But I kept assuring him that I was with him for the long run. I've known Chuck for almost 23yrs. He is a great guy, a role model and a great friend. I was honored to be able to run with him.

The race starts on time and off we go. For the first 5 miles or so, you are just fighting the crowd and trying to find a good rhythm. Its so hard to do, with thousands of people all around you. We were probably doing about a 9:30min pace at the start.
Even with the rain, there were tons spectators showing their support. It was unreal. At mile 6, a handful our Tri-State Running group were out there showing us some love. It was awesome to see them out there.

We ran good throughout the race. I know at times I wasn't feeling it and thought to myself that if I were running alone, I probably would have stopped to take a breather or two. At mile 11, I had side stitches that were killing me. But the fact that I was running with Chuck kept me going. He showed no signs of being tired or hurt. If he did hurt, he did a good job of not showing it. I at times was dying inside... LOL..

Once we approached the Newton hills, we kept mentally preparing ourselves. "We got this man"... "Nice and steady",.. "Just a few bumps and then it all down hill"..., we kept saying to each other. Anything to keep us going at this point.

Half way up Heart Break Hill at about mile 19 or so, I catch a glace of a tired and cold, but beautiful lady standing in the rain. It was my mom. Standing next to her, my proud father. I told Chuck to keep going and that I would catch up. I had to stop to greet them. I gave them both a hug and a kiss and wanted to chat for a sec, but my dad snapped a picture and said "Go, go, go!!" ... so off I went.

As I raced up the last hill, I had nothing left. I couldn't pick up my feet. So I started walking and ate my last Cliff bar. I convinced myself to at least start a light jog up the hill which helped. Somewhere near the top of Heartbreak I saw the TV news interviewing some guy. I find out later that night that Forest Gump would make a cameo in this news report:

"I just felt like Running"

As I slowly go over the top of Heartbreak (mile 21) started walking again. "Ugh, here we go again" I thought to myself. This the exact same spot where the last two Boston I crapped out. I walked for a bit, but it was cold and the wind really started to pick up. So I started a slow jog again just to stay warm. By mile 22, I started feeling a bit better. My legs weren't as heavy as they we were at mile 21.
As I approached mile 23, I glanced down at my Garmin and realized that I was 27 mins from the 4 hour mark. I'm not that good at math to begin with, and during a marathon is probably not a good time to start calculating a pace\time equations. But after having visions of my math teacher reciting "My Dear Aunt Sally" theory, I realized that if I stayed at this pace and not walk, I can probably make it under four hours.

With that in mind, I got a second wind like no other. Where my pace had been closer to a 10min mile since I stopped to see my parents, I had picked it up to an 8min pace. At mile 24 I caught up with my friend Chuck and I patted him on the back and as I gasped for air I let out "C'Mon Chuck, we can still make it!" .... all I heard was "Go. Go get your sub four"... That was all I needed to hear to go on.

Those last two miles were a blur. All I remember were the chants of "Go Beardman!!" and "Run Forest Run!"..... I just put my head down and focused on the next step. The crowds got louder and louder as I approached Hereford St.. As I made that right, I remember getting those thoughts of "I can't believe that I'm actually here" like I did those two previous years. This is where it all felt real.

Left onto Boylston and I heard someone scream out my name. My TSR group, the same group that had cheered me on in Framingham at mile 6, where there, screaming with excitement! I can't tell you how good that felt!!!

Someone snagged a grizzly picture of me on Boylston!

My Garmin had gone into power save mode so I had no clue what my time was, but I knew I had to be close. As I approached the finish line the time for our wave read 4:05 so I was unsure if I got the sub 4, but as I crossed and finally stopped my Garmin it read 3:59:29 !!! Did I get it??

I saw my wife and daughters shortly after as they were calling for me and my wife informed me that she got the text result and I had indeed got my sub 4!!! 3:59:27 !!!! The rain, the wind the cold did not matter at this point!! I finally broke 4 hours at Boston!!!

But after a few pictures with them, the cold, rain and wind did matter. I was freezing!!!

Me and my two beautiful daughters

My friend Chuck came right behind me with an impressive 4:01 for his first ever Boston !!
Chuck really knows how to get the crowd roaring!!!

I am so honored to have run this race with my friend Chuck. He was a big part of my life when I was 17-18yrs old when I went into the Navy. I respected him and always looked up to him. It was recently through our running club that we reconnected again. When he ran his first marathon back in the fall of 2014, he sent me a massage saying how much I had inspired him to run his first marathon. It felt like my life had come full circle. Chuck is a great athlete, a great runner and an around great guy. Proud to call him a friend. 

Congrats Chuck on fulfilling a lifelong dream of running Boston!!!


Another successful marathon in the books. This for me is marathon #9. Already feeling the peer pressure of doing a fall marathon. I have gotten a few FB messages about running the MCM in DC. Haven't decided on anything yet. But the likelihood of marathon #10 happening in the fall is on the positive side. I just dont want to decide right away. But the fact remains that I would like to do Boston again next year. The excitement about this race pulls me in every time. Just hoping the stars align for next year for this to happen.

As always, I want to thank my lovely wife and daughters for putting up with the crappy weather and hanging out at the finish line for hours to see me cross. They mean the world to me and I thank god everyday for making me the luckiest man alive. 


Three days later, my legs are slowly recovering from the race, but the cold, wet weather of that day finally took its toll on me. I'm currently battling a cold that just wont quit. And the sucky part about it is that my boss in in town this week, so I have to suck it up and get to work. It it wren't for that, I would have taken the week off. Ugh...

oh well... Thanks for reading. til my next adventure!!

- Jose

Monday, March 30, 2015

Three Weeks til Boston... and Beyond

Three weeks til Boston and the carb loading begins with this:

Sam Adam's 26.2 Boston Brew!!

This past weekend was my last of my longest long runs (say that 3 times fast) ... The Boston Rehearsal run. 21 miles on the Boston course, from Hopkinton to Boston College.
The day started out on the "wrong foot" as I was about15mins late for the bus that takes us to the starting line. Ugh!... The sad thing is that I was up early, I was just dragging ass around the house and couldn't get my shit together. It was just one of those mornings I guess. But at least the 30 or so people on the bus waiting for me were cool about it. They could have just left me behind :)

We started the run shortly after taking a group picture.

Picture credit : Pete Hogan

It wouldn't be New England and it wouldn't be right, if of course it didn't snow. Why not? Soon after we started running it started snowing. Nothing big. It wasn't sticking to the ground, but the flakes fell just about the entire run.

The run itself was awesome. I ran it with 4 of my good friends from my running group Tri-State Running. We ran together up until Heart Break Hill where I took off to challenge the infamous beast. These guys will kill their marathon! They did awesome!!

Three of them doing their first Boston, the other doing the Providence Marathon in May.

So with three weeks left, there is nothing left to do, but to mess it up. So I'll be sticking to plan as much as I can and avoid any injuries. I have been getting my miles in pretty much throughout my training, so these last few weeks should be that bad.

My only goal in Boston is to run it under 4hrs. I came close last year (4:01)... and it bothers me. I'll be running it with my friend Chuck (pictured above). Him and I are about the same pace and his goal is the same as mine. So hopefully together we can push each other towards that goal. I can't wait!


I know I shouldn't be looking past Boston, but I have a few races lined up. One only three weeks after  Boston - Ragnar Cape Cod. Which my friends and I are doing as a 6 person ultra! So training will continue even after Boston. Two weeks after that I have another race that I'm hoping to get in,..  then in June I have 7 mile race up Mount Washington that my friends and I got in via lottery. 

Woohoo!! So super excited about the next upcoming weeks. Physically, I feel good, but I am a little achy here and there. So I need to make sure I run smart the next couple of weeks.

I haven't been keeping up with my blog as much as I would like. I think I say this every time I blog. But life has been getting in the way. Not saying that in a bad way. Life has been good. Just busy.

I'll leave you with that for now. I'm sure I'll blog again. But if you want an almost daily update of my training and of other stuff I post about... follow me on Instagram - AndSoitBurns.

Til next time!!

- Jose

Friday, February 13, 2015

Winter Training Sucks!!

Everyone that knows me, knows how much I hate winter. As soon as daylight saving times ends in November, I become grumpy winter Jose. Just ask my wife... she'll tell you.

Sure the cold weather and snow make for some epic frozen beard pics.....

It's cool the first or second time.... but not when its everyday...

......But enough is enough!!!

February and March are my high milage months of my training. Long runs vary anywhere from 12 milers to 20 milers. Already in the past couple of weeks we have been hit with record cold temps as well as record breaking snowfall! 79 inches so far in the month of February with more coming this weekend!!

Luckily, I have been able to get my long runs in (so far). But it has been either during a snow storm, just before the a snow storm and\or in freezing cold temps.

It's good to have friends as crazy dedicated as me

Thats not the worst part though. It's dealing with the dangerous conditions. Not only icy roads and the snow, but people in cars that either can't see you due to high snow banks or them driving like maniacs on already dangerous roads! My friends and I have had some very close calls. Just a week ago my friend Kristen and I were at a lost for words at how close a speeding car flew by us!

Why not run on a treadmill you ask? For one, I dont own one and second I'm not paying a gym membership. Plus... I dont really know how to use one. I've run on them only 4 times in my running life. They have all been different and every time I had to ask for help to turn it on. Not embarrassed at all (ok maybe a little)... So outside it is for me. And it's where I would rather be.


Now there are rumbles of the Hyannis Marathon\Half Marathon, that is scheduled on Feb 22nd, might be canceled. According to their website it's still on, but with the approaching storm this weekend and another one possibly mid week, the local police dept is concerned about the safety of everyone involved., runners and volunteers. Legit concerns, but sucks for everyone that signed up and trained for it. A large number runners from our local group, Tri-State Running, signed up for the half, including myself. With a few doing the full. I was going to use it as part of my training for Boston, but to do so, I swapped my long run (19 miles) that weekend for this weekend instead. Would love to "just do" 13 miles this weekend..


I did escape the snow this week for a bit. Worked out of our NYC office where there less snow than back home. I was able to get a few good runs while out there. A good 9 miler through Central Park and then a couple of miles on the The High Line or the Park in the Sky as it's also called.

A very unique run indeed

The High Line is a park that was built on NYC old elevated railway. It's truly amazing to see! If you ever come to NYC, please take the time to visit this park. It's free to enter and an easier way to get from one block to another without dealing with traffic. It's very beautiful come spring and summer time.


The break was good, but back to business, back to the snow. Need to whip out 19 miles Saturday morning before the storm. I will be running 6.5 miles in the AM to meet up with the running group to then run 12.5 with them. I'm glad someone else planned and mapped out a run for Saturday. Just takes the thinking out of it for me. I just show up and run.


Is summer ever coming??

-til next time