Happy new year! It’s been like 5 years (feels like 20) and so much has happened (that will be for another post). But there’s no good excuse to stop writing – it’s something I love to do and somehow I lost course. I’m turning a page now, on Dec 31, 2016, and hope this doesn’t happen again.

Anyway, happy to report that I just recently signed up for my 9th marathon, the Napa Valley Marathon, in the beginning of March 2017. As mentioned, it’s been far too long and man oh man am I wayyyyy out of shape. This one is to see if I can actually still complete one of these things still!

I’ve pieced together a highly modified (i.e. significantly reduced the mileage) Higdon Intermediate-1 schedule and will see how this serves me. I’ll most certainly report my progress here.

Last note I’ll add – it’s damn nice to be back. Feels really great. I came to a revelation of sorts (for me) recently while listening to a Tim Ferris podcast about year end reviews and what not. He was describing how it’s really important to put two vacations on your calendar, one in June and one in Dec, at the beginning of the year because the anticipation of that vacation brings significantly more joy than the actual vacation experience. It reminded me of this blog, and how I use to schedule marathons meticulously in large part because of the excitement and anticipation I felt.




Another great year of running done.  The most high profile event of the year for me was the PR (2:52) at the Chicago Marathon.  But the marathon readiness series races was probably the highlight of the year – really had a really great time out there, and I’m particularly proud of finally coming in under 1:21 in the Half marathon.

I’m blessed not to have been sidelined by injury or anything else disallowing me from running.  Total mileage was pretty much identical to 2011 – only 3 marathons less than two years ago.  Biggest, and nicest surprise, has to be getting my long runs in with the Sunday morning crew…don’t know how I did it solo before, seems crazy and a really long time ago.

Goals for 2013?  First and foremost, stay healthy and keep running.  Would be nice to come in under 2:50 in the marathon.  And it would be pretty cool to finally run 3,000 miles for the year.  Definitely a lot going on non-running wise this year, so I’ll just need to prioritize accordingly while not neglecting my favorite past time.

Total miles: 2,844 (2011 = 2,851)

Total # of runs: 421

Number of marathon: 2 (Chicago and Honolulu; 8 in total)

Calories burned: 311k

Avg distance: 6.75m

Running highlights:

  1. Marathon PR (2:52:22 – 10+ min BQ)
  2. Half Marathon PR (1:20:40)
  3. 20k PR (1:16:47)
  4. 15k PR (00:57:04)

With enough time (9 weeks) between Chicago and Honolulu, I decided shortly before running Chicago that I would also race Honolulu.  A few weeks after coming back from Chicago I offered to pace my Sunday morning running friend, Richard, to a sub-3:00 marathon attempt.  Richard and I had been placing very comparable results in the Honolulu Marathon Readiness Series races, so it seemed to make a lot of sense.

The Training

After a couple recovery weeks, I got my weekly mileage back up to 65 to 75 miles, kept running the Sunday morning long runs with the guys, and threw in a few tempo and track workouts.  Definitely a little load to manage, as Chicago was the “A” race of the year.  So I took it easy, enjoy all of my runs, and kept things very light and casual.

Richard and I agreed on a positive split strategy, having us cross the half as early as 1:27:30 to make room for an expected fade through Kahala and back up Diamond Head.  We were going to run the flat miles slightly faster than goal pace (6:49/mile), slow down on the uphill, and pick up a bit on the downhill.


Darin, Yuki’s boyfriend, drove us down to the start the morning of the race, and we met up with Richard 30 minutes prior to 5:00AM start time.  30,000+ runners at the start (40th anniversary of the Honolulu Marathon so the highest attendance ever!), so it was very congested, and we only had time to snake up to the start, find a bush and take care of business, then the fire works were going off and we were officially on our way.  I was carrying a water bottle and 4 Peanut Butter GU gels for the ride.

Mile 1 -3 (6:49, 6:44, 6:41)

We were concerned the first couple of miles would be slow, but we elbowed are way up to the very front moments prior to the gun going off, so we actually did not have too bad of a time getting into a stride.  We’re focused on hitting our splits, and given that the first 8 miles or so are quite flat, we decide to run a little faster.  By mile 3 we’re on Kapiolani Blvd heading back towards the mall.

Mile 4 – 6 (6:38, 6:37, 6:30)

Some fast miles here because we want to save some time prior to getting to Kapiolani Park and Diamond Head.  Winds are picking up and it’s not nice heading out through Waikiki I remember.  Also quite upsetting how few water stations there are on the course so far.  Either way, Richard is breathing well, we’re both laser-focused at the task at hand, and trucking along very smoothly.

Mile 7 – 9 (6:44, 7:06, 6:44)

Heading back through the park and up Diamond Head (hence the slower mile 8) then back down and up through Kilauea Avenue.  I do notice the wind again and it’s concerning for sure.  Humidity is not bad as expected, but I’m quite the sweater and I’m sweating quite heavily already.  So I concentrate on taking in a lot of water, take my first gel somewhere in here.  Pace is still good, and we’re on track for a good first half split.

Mile 10 – 12 (6:41, 7:44, 6:37)

A good mile 10, then in mile 11 I need to make a pit stop so I tell Richard to keep going and I’ll catch up with him.  Mile 12 is faster in order to make up some of the time I lost.  Still haven’t caught up with Richard, which is a good thing, and I hope that he’s still feeling strong/confident.  Definitely difficult to pick up the pace much faster than 6:30ish given the strong head winds blowing around 35 mph!!

Mile 13 – 15 (6:41, 6:50, 7:05)

Pace starts to drop in this stretch as we’re running right into the wind.  I remember really feeling gas-ed at this point in the race and being concerned that I would not be able to catch up with Richard and bring him home under 3 hours.  I look around and several other runners are struggling to get through the wind.  We do our best drafting one another, sharing in the responsibility, but we’re all fairly off pace (one going too fast and another going too slow) so I end up running a lot of this by myself (cursing my luck throughout).  I crossed the half way mark right at 1:30:00 and think to myself there is no way I can do another one of these if things continue on the way they are currently going.

Mile 16 – 18 (6:58, 6:43, 6:47)

Going through Hawaii Kai at this point, and getting off of the highway and on Hawaii Kai Drive is a blessing, no more wind!  I usually hate this loop but this time it feels amazing, comfortable, and significantly easier than the head wind!  I’m also feeling much better and feel like I’ve gotten a second wind (no pun intended).  Splits show some recovery in pace.  Still no sign of Richard and I think wow he must be jamming. I’m really excited for him and the thought of trying to catch up to him.

Mile 19 – 21 (6:47, 6:52, 6:53)

Probably the most comfortable and enjoyable stretch of the entire marathon.  Tail winds on us (no complaints) but also seeing all of the other runners cheering us on gives me a nice boost of much needed energy.  Still can’t see Richard, but I’m ok with that because I know he must be doing well.  I see several familiar faces, including my sister, and everyone is smiling and enjoying themselves out there.  Super awesome to be a part of it all.  One mile more and we’re off of the highway, heading back through Kahala for the final home stretch!  Legs are definitely feeling fatigued.  And my stomach is still wonky and all over the place (need to fix this – help!).  But I’m relaxed, enjoying the moment, and continuing to push.

Mile 22 – 24 (6:56, 6:42, 7:04)

I just trying to keep an average goal marathon pace at this point.  Always tough going back through Kahala on that last, long stretch.  My legs are pretty shot at this point, the sun is starting to creep out, and I’m starting to really not like this run anymore 🙂 Between mile 23 and 24, on the uphill climb I see Richard’s girlfriend and ask her how far ahead Richard is ahead of me. She has a puzzled look on her face and tells me she hasn’t seen Richard yet!  I’m so confused and don’t know what to do, so I sprint up the hill looking for Richard.  Don’t see him, so I drink some water, use the porter potty, and wait about 30 or so seconds for him.  Still not 100% confident that he’s behind me, I decide to keep going forward.

Mile 25 – 26.2 (8:24, 6:09)

I jam down Diamond Head, figure I might as well finish as hard as I can. I can’t do math at this point, so I’m still pushing to see if I can squeeze in just under 3 hours (hence the reason for 6:09 for mile 26!!).  At the last turn on the home stretch I realize there is no way, so I ease up significantly, relax and take it easy through the final 100m down the shoot.

Finish time – 3:01:40

  • 8th marathon complete
  • Boston Qualifying finish time
  • First (fairly unsuccessful) pacing job complete

Richard crossed the finish at 3:05:xx a couple minutes behind me.  What ended up happening was he jumped into a porter potty around mile 17 or 18 and I passed him without knowing it.  It was unfortunate but really unavoidable.  I felt terrible for leaving him out there, not to mention finish the race before him.  But thank goodness he had a good sense of humor about it.  We both enjoyed ourselves out there and had no regrets about any of it.

The Analysis

Another good marathon experience for me (my Garmin splits can be seen here.  Probably will be the last time I race Honolulu.  I’ll probably run it again, but never again for time or really pushing it.  It just isn’t a well-organized and support race for serious runners.  It’s unfortunate but it’s a reality with this one.

I ran with compression socks (never do) and I think they actually helped in the second half.  Not sure I’ll race with them again, but definitely interested.  The compression tights I wore actually really did help and I’ll probably pick that up for Boston.  The Peanut Butter GU gels, unfortunately (because I LOVE, LOVE the taste of them) I think are too thick and might be upsetting my stomach a bit.  I’m going back to the Hammer Gels for Boston training and will race Boston with them.  Definitely need to stabilize the stomach before Boston.  Think it’s the food intake, as well as timing of when I’m eating.  Need to practice on my runs, particularly the long runs.  Might need to take less water breaks during these runs and simulate actual race day conditions more, because my stomach seems to turn like clock work shortly after the 10k mark.  Even this time around I ate significantly less the morning of (half a bagel, apple juice, two cups of coffee) but still had to go.

I’m looking forward to getting ready for Boston shortly after the new year!  Until then, hoping to not put on too much weight, spend time with family and friends, and work on building a good base of miles.  Will check back in later!  Thanks always for your time and support!

This morning we ran the fifth and last Honolulu Marathon Readiness Series race, the Mizuno Val Nolasco Half Marathon, starting at Kapiolani Park and covering the exact second half of the marathon course.

First race for me since Chicago (6 weeks ago).  I’ve been slowly building back up my mileage each week and taking my time getting back into training.  As such, I definitely did not have high expectations for this race.  I did decide to race it, but largely to see where my fitness was at.  The result here would give me a good idea of what I could expect in the marathon three weeks from now.

Quick note on what I ate for my last meal (2 hours prior to the race): I followed the advice I got from several runners who recommended I eat less to avoid stomach issues during the race (most recently at Chicago) and did exactly that.  2 cups of coffee, half a bagel and a small scoop of apple sauce was it for me.  And because of it, I definitely felt lighter and less bloater toeing the line.

Mile 1 – 3 (6:00, 6:16, 6:11):

Fast first mile, but many runners take this first mile fast because the first Diamond Head climb hits you at around mile 2.  Between mile 2 and 3 on the downhill I picked up the pace, going on even effort (slowing a bit on the uphill and going faster on the downhill).  There a lead group of five of us at this point and we’re taking turns heeding the head winds that are picking up.  Night running; sun does start to peak out until I believe mile 5 or 6.

Mile 4 – 6 (6:00, 6:06, 6:11):

This stretch you snake around Diamond Head,  cut through Kahala via Kileaua Avenue and hop on to the highway going east bound towards Hawaii Kai.  I remember getting comfortable in this stretch, breathing a little more relaxed (was struggling getting up that hill after you turn left on Triangle Park).  A veteran runner, Jonathan Lyau and I take turns drafting each other and keeping the pace honest.  We pass #2 runner during this stretch so we’re starting to fight it out for the second position here.

Mile 7 – 9 (6:16, 5:58, 6:05):

We turn around shortly after the mile 7 marker.  I always get a boost of energy seeing fellow runners cheering us on (probably speaks for the sub-6 mile here).  Jonathan and I are still going at it; my legs feel good – slight fatigue starting to kick in, but nothing unmanageable here.  Light rain drizzles us throughout the race, by the way – which I welcomed (anything to keep cool).  We take the turn off of the highway back through Kahala at mile 9.

Mile 10 – 13.1 (6:07, 6:31, 6:17, 6:02):

Shortly prior to getting off of the highway my chip band that I have around my ankle loosens and I need to quickly stop and strap it back on.  Jonathan opened up the lead, which was probably a good thing for me, because as soon as I stopped I felt my body starting to slow, get heavier (lactate build up!) and the stomach starts to turn a bit.  Mile 11 – stretch through Kahala is my slowest, as I try to get my stomach in check.  Legs suddenly are feeling heavy and slow; turn over speed is decreasing dramatically.  I can tell I’ve lost some fitness since Chicago, particularly since I haven’t been doing much speed work or tempo runs.

Anyway, at this point I’m just trying to finish this thing in 3rd place, which is something I definitely want.  The Diamond Head hill through mile 11 and 12 is cruel, especially if your stomach is hurting and your legs feel like they’re filled with lead!  Somehow I get over the hill and blast on the downhill to avoid getting picked off my the 4th and 5th place finishers (New Zealand runner/friend of mine, Richard Pender, finished in 5th and helped me with those last two 6:17 and 6:02 miles!).

Finish time (chip)1:20:40 (6:09 average pace)

Came in 3rd overall (amongst 1,100 or so runners) and a nice, sub-1:21 PR in the half marathon, which I’m very happy with.  My more experienced marathon friends have all told me that a sub-1:21 half marathon time is a pretty good indication that a sub-2:50 marathon is definitely possible.  Since that’s the goal for Boston, I feel like I gained a very positive experience, which will ultimately help prepare me for a fun day in Boston in April.

As far as the Honolulu Marathon, I think I’m still going to go out for a sub-3.  Hopefully that won’t be too difficult.  I like my chances now.

If interested, my Garmin log can be seen here.

First post since Chicago so a bit of catching up to do.  Week 0 coming back from Chicago was very relaxed – took four complete rest days (I needed it!) and only ran a total of 20 miles.  I decided then that I would try to race Honolulu, so I put a quick 9-week schedule together, which would allow two additional recovery weeks, 4 solid weeks of training, and a 2 week taper.

Week 7 (from Honolulu) I double my miles up to 40m, which included  a 15 mile run on Saturday morning with my running friends (took one rest day as well).  Clearly the strategy for me here is to responsibly, and safely, build back up my mileage.  I think I’m always leaning on the conservative side when it comes to marathon training – particularly given the relatively high volume of running I’ve done the past 24 months.  The right achilles continues to nag and niggle as well, so I’m quite mindful of not flaring that up again and making it any worse.

Anyway, week 6 is again up to 55 mpw, including a Tuesday tempo (LT) run of 11 miles total with 3 @ 6:30/per mile pace.  Ouch – I remember this one being difficult.  I was suppose to do five of those 6:30s, but only managed three.  Topped off the week with my first long run since Chicago, 18 miles, with a nice pick up for the last six miles @ 6:45ish pace (thanks, Richard).

Week 5 (last week 10/29/12 – 11/4/12) I inch up the mileage to 61 mpw (included a rest day on Monday), a 9 mile tempo run with 5 @ 6:25 (yes, got redemption), and 19 mile long run on Sunday.  Everything else in the week is much slower (between 7:30 to 8:15/per mile pace) and I’m getting them in how ever which way I can (i.e. during my lunch breaks at work, early in the morning…some of those miles are with Uma, etc.).

Week 4 (this week) I’ve clocked 43 miles so far and have a 20 mile long run with the guys scheduled for early Sunday morning.  I did my first track workout yesterday – 6 x 800m – and it was tough.  There definitely difficult, but I think I need to stay diligent and respect the fact that these workouts really make me faster.

Game plan for Honolulu?  Currently the thought is I will go for a sub-3 hour time.  Ever since I started running marathons I’ve wanted to say I ran Honolulu in under three hours.   But I have to say my expectations are low, and I feel little to no pressure to really go after it.  Chicago was my goal race for the year.  And with Boston in four months or so, Honolulu does not take the highest of priorities.  I really like how it’s keeping me in shape – as opposed to falling off of the wagon – which is more typical of my behavior after a big marathon.  I just want to make sure that I stay healthy and hungry going into Boston marathon training.

Game plan for Boston I’ve decided will be a sub-2:50:00 attempt.  I’ll follow a modified Pfitz 12/80+ training schedule, and I’ll get at it in mid-January 2013.  I have to say I am really looking forward to this training cycle.  Not sure exactly how I feel about the race itself; obviously I’m excited, but I think some of the excitement and energy subsided after I qualified for Boston.  Think I’m still trying to understand and appreciate preparing, and ultimately running, Boston.

2013 is going to be a very busy year, but hopefully a productive and successful year!  Happy running, and will continue to check back in periodically.

Originally the plan was to run the 2012 Berlin Marathon with my sister, but plans fell through and Chicago seemed to be the next logical choice.  I’ve always wanted to run Chicago ever since I started running marathons, because it’s a super fast course, weather permitted, with zero hills.  It’s also my first world marathon major, so it’s a big, high profile race that brings with it a certain buzz and excitement that I couldn’t experience in a smaller race.  Plus, who wouldn’t want an excuse to travel to Chicago??

The training

Overall, it was positive.  All things considered, I felt it was easier building up to sub-3 fitness (and beyond) a second time around rather than the first.  And my fitness definitely improved since the last training cycle.  I followed a slightly modified 12/70+ Pfitz training schedule and, although I reduced some of the mileage here and there, I did my best to keep up with the schedule (so did Uma, my Rhodesian Ridgeback, who accompanied me on many of the runs).  I also had a great Sunday morning running group (5:00AM Paki Crew!) that got me up and through many of those long runs.

Coming off of the “CIM high” of breaking 3 hours for the first time this past December, I took several months off to just relax and spend time with family/friends and focus on my work.  I was also dealing with a nagging IT band issue that flared up post-CIM (running four marathons in one year probably had something to do with it).  So, the mileage dropped down to 20 – 30 mpw.  I started rebuilding my base at the end of April with only slow, easy miles, and got up to around 70 – 80 mpw by June.  I maintained that mileage until mid-July, threw in a few tempos here and there, and then jumped headstrong into the 12-week program.

I ran two tune-up races pre-Chicago: a 15k nine weeks out at 57:04 (6:07/mile average pace), and a 20k five weeks out at 1:16:47 (6:10/mile average pace).  Additionally, there were two, confidence-boosting workouts worth noting: a 12m LT (tempo) workout with 7m @ 6:30/mile pace (7 weeks out).  And a 6 x 1,600m track workout I ran at around 5:35/mile pace (3 weeks out).  I used the results from these runs, particularly the 20k result though, to decide on the following goals for Chicago:

1)    Sub-2:50 (this was my don’t-tell-anyone stretch goal)

2)    Sub-2:52:00

3)    Sub-2:55:00

The travel/pre-race

I used my miles to get a free trip, so I didn’t have the opportunity to fly in two nights prior to the race (definitely preferred/recommended). I caught a red eye from Honolulu Friday evening, with a layover in Dallas before finally arriving in Chicago the morning before.  It was also a busy week in the office, so by the time I checked into Hotel 71 I was exhausted, hungry, and anxious (not to mention freezing my butt off in 30 degree weather!).

I did manage to get down to the expo for a bit, picked up my bib, and walked around.  The highlight had to be meeting Hal Higdon, who had a booth and was selling his books while greeting his fans.  I followed his training schedules for my first two marathons and still read his book, so it was quite exciting for me to shake his hand and thank him for all of his guidance.

I picked up some chicken noodle soup with a loaf of bread, and with Gatorade sucked it all down.  Copying Hal’s night-before routine, I laid out all of my gear for the morning, soaked in the bath and stretched a bit.  Weather forecast was 40 (at the start – 7:30AM) and sunny – as good as it gets for the Chicago Marathon.  Two Advil PMs knocked me out at around 8:00PM and kept me sound asleep until the alarm went off at 4:30AM.

Race day

Race strategy – after much deliberation I decided on chasing goal #1 (sub-2:50), running the first half at around 1:25:00 to 1:25:30, and hoping for a negative split in the second half.  I knew it would be a stretch, but I figured I might not get a better chance in Chicago to do something special.  I was also anxious to push myself a bit and see how far I could take it.  And if I blew up, no sweat, because Boston would be right around the corner.

The last meal 3 hours prior to the race: (1) 8oz apple juice, (1) applesauce, (1) bagel with honey, (2) cups of coffee, and (1) banana.  Also worth noting: I did keep up a carb-loading diet (approx. 90% carb intake) for the past 3 days leading into the race.  I was out the door by 6:15AM and walked/slow jogged to Grant Park with everyone else.

Very well organized start I must add – gear check was easy and fast, porter potties were everywhere (so waiting time was minimal), clear communication was provided to runners.  I was given a seeded Corral A start and waited until the very last minute – 7:20AM – before being forced into the shoot.  I peeled off two long sleeve throwaway layers moments prior to the start (checked in my Nike sweatpants) and raced in: singlet, split shorts, arm warmers, throwaway gloves and beanie hat (purchased at expo).  I had a gel flask holder in one hand (four GU gels squeezed in) and a small bottle of water in the other.  I took two gels prior to the race starting – one 45 minutes out, then another 15 minutes prior.  The race started exactly at 7:30AM and it didn’t take me longer than a minute to cross the chip mat.  Weather was 39 at the start (46 at finish).

Note regarding mile splits below: because of the tunnels and inner city swerving, my Garmin was wacky from early in the race.  I really stopped referencing the Garmin, aside from the total time, after mile 10 or so (and no, I did not run sub-6:00/minute miles!).  Even my total time was not reliable after my first restroom break, because I forgot to remove the auto-pause feature (doh).  My official splits are pasted at the bottom of this race report for reference.

Miles 1-3 (6:51, 6:15, 6:32)

Wow – with all of Chicago wrapped around you for your viewing pleasure, I felt like I was on a running/sightseeing tour and high!  It was definitely a little tight for the first two to three miles (and cold, brrr); that and me being conservative attributed to a slow first mile and a fast second.  By mile 3, I get back to where I want to be, right around 6:30 (goal pace = 6:29).

Miles 4-6 (6:27, 6:26, 6:23)

Spectator support is unbelievable – they’re everywhere and it’s really loud.  Pace feels very comfortable and steady.  Runners are still everywhere, but there’s a little more room to move around.  I make a conscious effort to take in water every 15 minutes.  We’re heading into the Chicago suburbs now.  30 minutes into my race I take my first swig of gel and notice that it’s difficult to get out of the flask because of the cold.

Miles 7-9 (6:27, 6:28, 6:28)

All I can remember about these miles were that they were consistent; I’m concentrating pretty hard on hitting my splits and staying focused on a 1:25ish half.  No cramping felt, legs feel good.

Miles 10-12 (6:27, 6:27, 6:26)

Another great stretch of cool, comfortable running.  The changing of seasons is in full effect and it’s so beautiful!  I am cold and thinking I am yet again under-dressed for the  marathon.  Around mile 12 is when my stomach starts to turn for the worse.  I’m having a lot of difficulty getting the gel out of the flask and the small amount I managed to get in my mouth is very thick and solid.  Washing that down in my stomach, coupled with the cold, most probably upset my stomach.  Either way, shortly after the half way mark I am starting to realize I’ll have to pull aside and use the restroom to avoid disaster!

Miles 13-15 (5:53, 5:57, 6:28)

I hit the half way mark at 1:25:34, just slightly behind my target.  I’m quite discouraged at this point about having to use the restroom, because I know I’m going to lose valuable time.  I find and use a porter potty between mile 13 and 14 (hence the reason for the crazy split time).  I bolt out of the bathroom anxious, yet suddenly feeling really, really good.  The discomfort I was feeling was entirely gone, and now I feel I can easily make up the 60 seconds or so I lost squatting.

Miles 16-18 (6:19, 6:18, 6:20)

These miles were strong, and too fast, because I was rushing to try to gain ground.  Legs felt strong, and there were small peaks of sun streaking on to the course, which felt really good as well.  I think I tried to take a small swig of gel here as well, but gave up after taking a small amount in.

Miles 19-21 (6:25, 6:26, 6:23)

Between mile 19 and 20 out of nowhere my stomach started hurting again.  I curse my luck and use the bathroom for a second time.  At this point I’m really upset at the whole situation knowing that sub-2:50 is gone, and I’m disappointed that I couldn’t have better anticipated these issues in advance.  After sprinting out of the restroom, I chucked the gel flask to the curb and threw my throwaway beanie hat on the ground.  I push for the good part of mile 21 with what I didn’t know then was the remaining energy I had.

Miles 22-24 (6:29, 6:39, 6:35)

Between mile 22 and 23 is when I felt that tragic feeling of “hitting the wall”.  I knew it immediately when it snuck up on me, but it was far too late to prevent it at this point.  Things started getting slower and heavier for me; I was running less efficiently because of the glycogen depletion, and less oxygen was making its way to my head.  I was pushing as hard as I could and felt completely spent when I passed the mile 23 marker.  3 more miles to go felt like another 26.2m marathon distance to me.  At some point during this struggle, another Runner’s World runner, Ivy, passes me looking really strong and confident.  I muster up as much energy I have to wish him luck.  The sun is gone, it’s looking cloudy, and the head winds start to pick up.  I’m delusional and freezing and praying that this discomfort ends really soon.

Miles 25-26.2 (6:49, 7:00, 6:41)

These last two miles’ splits speak for themselves and probably illustrate how poorly I was feeling.  Couldn’t be anymore different from the way I felt when I ran the last 2 miles at CIM, where my legs felt heavy but my mind was fresh and alive.  I just wanted out at this point.  All of my friends and supporters cheering me through my training really helped me get through this final stretch.  I thought of them, I thought of all of the hard work I put into this training cycle, and kept pushing.

I’m very light headed and cold after I cross the finish line.  A medical personnel comes right up to me and advises me to keep my arms above my head to avoid passing out.  I slowly walk it off and start to feel less dizzy and nauseous.  I skip all of the post-race picture taking and socializing and limp over to the gear check to get in some warm clothes.

Finish time – 2:52:22 (6:38/mile pace)

  • 6 minute PR
  • 10+ minute 2014 BQ time
  • 7th marathon complete

The Analysis


Under the circumstances I’m thrilled and feel very lucky to be walking away with a 2:52 finish.  It sets me up really nicely for a sub-2:50 chance at Boston in April.  I also felt much more in control, calm, and relaxed racing in a big goal marathon.  I know this experience will be invaluable to me as I continue to try and improve.

Additionally, I now think I know (ha!) the ideal mileage range for peak marathon training – it’s between 80 – 90 mpw for me.  I don’t think I need more than that.  Qualitatively, I will need to dial it up a couple notches for Boston – probably earlier in the 12 week program, in order to make strong enough gains in time.

Lastly, it’s a great feeling to know I am steadily improving and still have room to improve in my marathon time.  I feel like I’m walking away from this marathon with a renewed love and respect for this sport, which is very gratifying.


I think I had the ability to go 2:50:xx or 2:51:xx in Chicago if my stomach cooperated, I got my gels in me, and probably drank a little more water.  Clearly before Boston I really need to re-think my fueling strategy as well as identify the variables that upset my stomach (FYI – I did take one Imodium capsule 30 minutes prior to the start).

Also, even before hitting the wall my body also felt heavy at times.  I think more rest and better hydration during marathon week would go a long way as well.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was way under dressed for my comfort.  I should have raced in a short sleeve shirt and probably added on compression socks to protect my calves.  I would’ve been less cold, my muscles would’ve been more reactive, and I would’ve been more comfortable in the race.


Thank you so much for reading!  I would love to hear your thoughts – particularly if you have any recommendations, suggestions, feedback, etc. on possibly how I might be able to better prepare and race a marathon.

Official race pictures from Chicago

The “5am Paki” running group!  rain or shine, we’ve been starting our sunday morning long runs together at 5:00AM down at Kapiolani Park.   Great group which has grown since Bill and I started doing these together in the summer.  Thank you guys for the great company and support!  Good luck to Brandy at the Portland Marathon this coming Sunday!!

(from left to right): Frederick, Bill, Brian, Brandy, Kim, Richard, Lectie, me

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