Sunday, November 23, 2008

Calling It A Year

Covered with mud, the Lowell Cyclocross was a blast. It was a challenge riding after all the rain, but I approached it with the right frame of mind - to have fun! That said, I'm calling it a year. I will run the Ayer 5K Thanksgiving race with my 8 year old daughter - her 1st 5K. Next week I'll ride the course and hang around and drink beer with the boys at the Sterling cyclocross. I will then take a three week respite from running and focus on other things; swimming? I have yet to swim more than two day a week. Need to figure out a room by the pool and get serious. Any way, the off-season approaches and it is always a time I struggle with, but I may push up the '09 start time to around the holidays and get back in gear early. I have big plans for the Boston marathon and Lake Placid 2009. I want to go to an entire new level and break all the barriers thought impossible! Hope everyone is concluding their season and is starting to think about taking a rest as the Pros are doing it and it is good for the body. It has been a long year - almost 11 months of training this year! and it is easy for me to call it a year and take a break! -Kyle

Monday, November 3, 2008

Manchester Marathon Race Report

5Th Overall
Official Chip Time: 2:56:59
28th Marathon (PR still Boston 2007 2:53:11)

This was big race for me, having never made podium at a marathon before and certainly not at a race this big. The whole race was broadcast live on Manchester TV Channel 7.

This course was HARD. I had been warned that it is a hilly and challenging course, and not to disturb the Boston Marathon gods, but this was the hardest marathon I have ever run. The weather was of course blustery and cold with a strong headwind at times, which didn't help the pace. I'll still take these conditions over warm day any day!

After the race I had come over to the officials to ask if they had a results listing for the marathon, when I heard Greg Meyer call out "Kyle Bowers from Boxborough, MA." I came out to the podium confused and actually had to ask the race director, who explained to me that they were doing the top five finishers male and female. We all posed for the media snapping pictures - wow! - what a rush. And then I found out that I had won a couple of hundred dollars in prize money! - another first. I also got to chat with Greg Meyer (last American to win the Boston Marathon 1983) for some time, which was really cool.

It has been an up and down season for me. 8 weeks ago I did my first 3 hour run, not knowing if my Achilles would start to bother me after the first hour. It didn't and I got some confidence that I could start endurance training again. I then trained as hard as possible for the next seven weeks and then stopped. Certainly, not a traditional training period for me, but my running came back. Okay, enough tooting my own horn, the race report:

Everyone (half and full) started at the same time, which means you don't know who you are running against until after the first half. Quite a few Kenyans present at the start and a big mob of fast runners. I had heard afterwards that several marathoners tried to stay with the half marathoners and later paid. This course leaves downtown and heads right for the hills. The hills in the first few miles weren't bad, but we had a constant headwind. After several miles I realized I wasn't anywhere near my pace. The race then does a section of rocky trail which zig-zags (bye, bye marathon pace) and then back onto the roads and more hills. I'm now looking at my watch ... I'm way off pace by minutes, thinking I will be lucky to break 3 hours! More hills, sharp turns and roller coaster descents. The last 1.5 miles finally we come down out of the hills, almost all gradual downhill or flat and I manage to make up a lot of time. I stay right (don't look at the 1/2 marathon finish) and pass the half in around 1:27. The spotter at the half yells out "tenth!" I have three guys in front of me and can see no other runners. I reel them in over the next 1 mile and we run the next four or five miles together. A couple of times someone drops off, but comes back. At one point I'm saying to myself "they're dropping me." We stayed together and the pace felt fast. Then the bad joke, we go from some modest hills and flat to a hill that goes up and keeps going. I am now swearing I am never come back to this GD race again, ever! We round the corner and OMG - there is still more hill - at least 1/3mile! Finally, finally we hit 19miles and are running downhill toward St Anselms college. At 20 miles I pass a Kenyan who is walking while I pass - everyone cheer!!! I then drop the guys I have been running with for over 5 miles. Then at 21miles another victim of the first half is having leg cramps. I can now see a young guy who is at least 200 meters away, but I am reeling. He doesn't look good and I catch him on a downhill right after 22 miles. I am now running alone with several guys behind me that I know are real good runners. A long stretch ahead and I can see no one. I am still running hard trying to put a surge on. I know they aren't far behind because I hear the clapping behind me. I am trying to push and want to stay out of their sight. I know if I can stay out of their sight that will reduce the likelihood of a late race challenge. I'm getting a zing though and it feels like I am leading the Boston Marathon. I actually had someone yell "fifth!" - but it didn't sink in. Running hard across the footbridge with less than two miles I continue to push. Finally downtown and 25 miles - up another sharp hill, what a surprise. At the top I take my first look over my shoulder. If there is anyone within 30 seconds of me I wanted to know right then. I would rather try to push the first half of the last mile and see what happens rather than them closing on me, but no one was there. I had a half mile of confusion, no marshal or cops - I was actually thinking I might be off course, but wasn't and then proceed to run in the median of a street loaded with traffic and then the end... watching the clock in the final ten seconds of 2:56 I pushed hard with my hamstring doing weird cramping things. It felt good. Maybe it wasn't such a bad race after all!!

Here is a link to the Union Leader article: