Since I was pumped about my success at the Mayors Marathon, I was ready to tackle another marathon soon. What better than the grand daddy of them all? BOSTON. I signed up for the Boston Marathon and bought my plane ticket that October. A good six months before the race. I was going to put more effort into this marathon than I have for any race in my life. I have had a good year of running up to this point. I got a PR for the 5K (16:48), Marathon (2:53:16), and 10K (34:49). I was pretty comfortable running 40-50 miles a week, but I knew I could step it up and do some higher mileage. I also made a huge investment that fall. I bought a precor treadmill (best purchase of my life). I knew if I wanted to get serious about training I would need a treadmill. Especially in Alaska where the elements can be too much outside. Or you just need a break and want to run with shorts and a t-shirt on. It was a higher end treadmill. I bought it on sale for $3,500. Some people said I was crazy. I could've bought a nice snowmachine, etc... I just knew I would come out of the winter fit, which is better than sitting on a machine riding around the snow anyways. I also didn't want to have to go to the athletic club to use one. Most clubs only let you go for 30-60 minutes at a time plus I didn't want my sweat flying all over the people next to me. I put my treadmill upstairs next to the window. I have music set up and I can stare out my window to keep me busy. I would like to eventually get a tv set up in their to watch sporting events or movies to pass the time on an easy run.
I had a lot of help for this marathon. The people who helped me the most were Jerry Ross, John Clark, Monica Tibbetts, and Kris & Kristi Waythomas. I went into Skinnyraven one day to ask Jerry and JC to set me up a plan to get ready for Boston. Jerry pointed me to a book called "Advanced Marathoning" by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. In this book I found and 18 week-more than 70 miles a week plan. Jerry used this book a lot when he was preparing for Boston the year before. So, I trusted him and bought it. I followed the 18 week plan perfectly. I didn't miss one workout and I completed every single workout too. I guess you can say that I got lucky. I didn't get injured. I did get sick a couple times, but I just lowered the intensity a little but still did the workout. I have always been pretty good to follow plans I have set out for me. At least in my athletic life. Having followed this plan to the T, I had a lot of confidence going into Boston. I had some family running Boston as well. My cousin Michelle from Kansas City Missouri, my uncle jim and aunt Lamae Ritchie from Bemidji, and my dad also came from Fairbanks for support. It was sure nice having everyone their. I also met a new friend named Kurt Fiene who is a visually impaired runner. He is legally blind and still gets after it. He is quite good too. He ran right around 2:52 I believe at this years Boston. I got to know him through my cousin Michelle. They met when she still lived in Omaha, Nebraska. Since my relatives knew Kurt and were on the "Team with a Vision" we all got a rock star start. I didn't have to take a bus to Hopinkton and wait 4 hrs. until the race started. We hoped in a van around 8:30 that drove us right to the start basically. I changed my shoes, went to the bathroom, and slow jogged to the starting line and only had to wait 15-20 min. before the start. The conditions for the race were awesome. The temp at the start was in the mid 50's and may have gotten into the low 60's during the race. Their was also a very small cool breeze which helped. Their wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was out. I actually got a sun burn on the right side of my face and body during the race. The race starts with a downhill the first few miles and if I didn't watch it I could've started out way too fast. I purposely ran slow the first 5K. It ended up being the slowest 5K of the entire race. I ran it in 20min. flat. I knew I was a little behind my sub 2:45 goal, but I didn't panic. I was able to pass Lance Armstrong around the 3 mile mark. It was pretty cool to see him. Shorter than I would've of thought. I was feeling great just about the entire race. Going past Wellesley college was awesome. You could actually hear them about 1/2 mile away. I couldn't believe how loud the screaming and cheering was. I felt like kicking it down to sub 6min. pace but I knew better. I was just feeling good. I checked my splits every mile and I was getting a little faster than my goal time. I took a gu every 5 miles and drank gatorade and water at every water stop. I still remember pushing it pretty hard up Heartbreak Hill while people were dying and feeling great. Once you get to the top its pretty much downhill into boston. I stayed on pace even though the last 2-3 miles were pretty tough mentally. My last mile split was 6:08 and I finished with a time of 2:44:01 good for 252nd place overall. It was another great feeling that's hard to explain. I had finished the race and was greatful it was over. I started to reflect on all the hours I put into this race. To make a plan and stick with it. Then to actually achieve your goal that I set forth. It was quite overwhelming. It is a great feeling. It also left me with a taste to run even more. I knew I would be back for another Boston soon.
My second marathon was a much bigger success for me. In the beginning I was going to run the Grandmas Marathon again, but I decided to teach summer school which kept me in town. The Mayors Midnight Sun Marathon was perfect because it fell on the same weekend anyways. I basically kept the same Dick Beardsley Marathon training program, but did a much better job following it and getting my long runs in. I was feeling pretty good, but still didn't know what to expect as far as time. My goal was to run a sub 3 hr. marathon. I ran the Curtis Menard 5K four weeks before Mayors in a PR of 16:48 almost a minute faster than my previous record. Plus, I did that with strictly marathon training and no taper. The next day I ran with Jerry Ross, Casey Miller, John Clark, and Jens Beck. All four of these guys were top runners in Anchorage and I wanted to gain some knowledge from them. They took me on the mayors marathon course up to mile 16 and gave me some pointers. The run felt really easy for me and I finished the run having run 22 miles. If I would've just finished the marathon course that day I would have been right around 3 hrs. So, this gave me some huge confidence that I was ready.
I had a plan on race day to go out conservative and if I felt good to pick it up. I really wanted to break 3 hrs. so I also printed out a pace band for 3 hrs. to follow if I needed. I also found Esther Jurasek who is a great female marathoner in Anchorage who always runs around 3 hrs. and I knew that her goal was to break it too. She had no idea who I was, but I followed her for the first 9 miles. We were just under 3 hr. pace. I was feeling really good so I decided to leave my comfort zone and pick it up a little. I took a Gu every 5 miles and a couple times I took a defizzed Coke. The extra caffiene really did give me a quick perk when I was feeling tired. My good friend Kristi Waythomas was the one who taught me that trick and she was on the course handing them to me a certain spots as well. I was definetly flying pretty good the 2nd half, but was getting tired. I finished in 2hrs. 53min. 16 sec. I was very happy. My first half was in 1hr. 27min. and the second half was 1 hr. 25 min. So I had a negative split. My father and kids were their when I finished and I felt great. Couldn't walk, but felt great!
Well, What can I say? I guess I can call myself a runner now. I've taken running pretty serious for the last 3 years. I have always ran though. I ran cross country in high school, ran to stay in shape for wrestling in high school and college. I've done plenty of 10K's during college and post college. I've always enjoyed a hard 20-40 min. max run. But what really got me hooked on running was in 2006 when my uncle told me I should sign up for the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.
I was going to have a few of my cousins, aunts and uncles running in the race too. So, I signed up and did a moderate Dick Beardsley 18 week marathon training program. It was probably closer to 12 weeks since I wasn't very focused the first month and a half. I did some long runs (I did one 20 mile run), but mostly 6-10 mile runs. I really thought I could fake my way through it and run 7:00min. miles and run under 3:03 for my first marathon. Needless to say race day was warm and humid in Minnesota in June and I was on 7:00 min. pace up until mile 9 and by mile 15 I was finished. I wanted to quit and I was walking during every water break and then some. My friend Eric Christenson came to run from mile 20 to the finish and I slowly started to run consistently again. I finished with a time of 3hrs. 26 min. and very humbled by the marathon. My cousin Michelle who I really wanted to beat ran great. She ran around 3hrs. and 14 min. She kicked my butt. Instead of saying I would never run another marathon again, I came away with a lot of respect for the event and wanted to prove to others and mostly myself that I can run a marathon well if I trained correctly.