The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-330 – Passer-by and telling stories
(Audio: link) [audio:]
Link epi4330.mp3
Team Hoyt Boston 2016 Campaign ->
MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -
Hello and welcome to episode 4-330 of the RunRunLive Podcast. This week I have a chat with Matt about his experience recording the MarathonBQ audio book for Audible. I haven’t got the green light from audible yet. They are still processing the finished product – which is a good sign because if they have issues with audio production they get right back to you.
I was interested in chatting with Matt about what it was like to be on his side of the table recording my words and about the conversational story telling medium that podcasting has become. Podcast have become, or maybe they always were, the glue in community building.
There’s really not much of a leap between you and I talking right now and the shaman telling stories as the firelight dances on the puebla walls in prehistory. It’s a human thing.
In Section One we’re going to discuss how to come back from having the flu in the middle of your training cycle. In Section two we’ll talk about the good and bad of setting big hairy goals.
I raced the Rock n Roll Phoenix marathon last Sunday. As a story telling experiment I journaled my thoughts the morning before the race, the day after and then two days after. I’m going to drop them in here to see if it gives you some insight into the runner’s mind.

It’s 6:00 AM local time. I’m in a nice Renaissance hotel on East Adams Street about 6 blocks from the start line. The race starts at 7:50 for some odd reason. I’ll leave here around 6:30 – 6:45 and jog over for my warm up. It looks to be about ½ a mile.
When this podcast drops we will know the results of this race. Right now we do not. I stand once more staring into the abyss that is long distance running.
I’ve been suffering from taper madness for the better part of two weeks. I have been terrified of this race all week. My friends look to me and shake their heads. How can YOU be terrified of a race? Haven’t you done this 50 times? Didn’t you write a book about this?
That doesn’t keep my mind from running around in circles like a cage of rabid weasels.
I sit here in the stench of menthol that rises from my old legs and I am fine. The test is here and the waiting is over. Now all that is left is a few hours of honest suffering.
Status? I got in a few great weeks of speed training in the fall with some decent mileage. I broke out of that schedule in December to run some races. I switched to a couple weeks of long tempo and some decent core work to tune up for this race.
I have no injuries and nothing is bothering me. On a scale of 1 -10 I feel like I’m about a 7.5 in terms of fitness. I feel a bit heavy but I’ve stayed off the scale.
The gym at work flooded just days after it opened from the remodeling. Instead of step-ups runs I closed out my training with some shorter fartlek runs. In some of these I saw signs of life. I tapered well, if not a bit too deeply but I wanted to make sure my legs were fresh for this effort.
I sit here in this hotel with my wife gently snoring behind me and it is almost time to go. I’ve got my old wine-soaked Hokas, short shorts, my Squannacook singlet and a Boston Marathon hat. I’ll carry a bottle of UCan in one hand and some gels and endurolytes in the other.
It’s 46 degrees and clear. The road stretches out before me. It’s time to step into the arena.

Monday morning – A bed and Breakfast outside Sedona, AZ. My legs ache. My quads especially. I’m up early because of the time change and also because of the unsettling ache in my legs. I don’t know if that’s an honest ache from the effort in the race or my legs got pummeled from the awful form I betrayed in those last few miles.
I had nothing yesterday. Nothing. If I was my coach I’d wonder about mental commitment and whether I was just failing to embrace effort. But that wasn’t it. I wasn’t even close to the point where I would have to call on some deeper strength to tip the scales. I wasn’t even close.
I warmed up well. I fueled. I was slotted comfortably in Corral #1. It was a small race for a city marathon. Like most of these Rock n Roll races the masses run the 1/2. We were out and running free right off the line. The course was wide city streets and no hassles with crowding at all.
I fell into my race strategy and discipline right away. I was running within earshot of Eric the 3:30 pacer. He was pushing a 7:55ish pace that would give us 90 seconds of buffer for the high miles. I haven’t downloaded the data yet but it felt like a low to mid-zone 3 effort.
The weather was mid 40’s with a slight breeze as the sun came up. I wasn’t working too hard but I did notice the sweat dripping from my hat by mile 4. You have to pay attention to that in a desert race because you can get dehydrated before you know it.
I was sucking on my bottle of UCan and my energy was nice and level. At the 10k I took a couple seconds to fish out an endurolyte salt pill to stay ahead of the electrolyte loss – Another thing you have to watch in the desert.
Mile 10 was a long barely perceptible uphill pull and I noticed my effort level going up a bit. I kept noticing my legs weren’t feeling so great. Especially my quads and the little uphill had them protesting. I tried relaxing out my stride but I couldn’t figure out how to clear the fatigue.
That’s what it was. Fatigue. Not cramps, fatigue. Like that feeling you get when you’ve done 20 weighted walking lunges and you have to do 5 more. That burning fatigue.
Around 11.5 miles I knew my goal was not going to be met on this day. I thanked the pacer and wished everyone good luck and tried to find a comfortable running pace.
The rest of the race played out like so many bad marathons I have run. Slower and slower paces. More and longer walk breaks. Your classic 15 min positive split. And those last few miles hurt. My legs were cooked. I’m feeling it today.
When you look around for things to blame, for excuses you talk about injuries or fueling or weather. For a mid-packer all those things are 5-percenters. All those things might be worth 5-10 minutes in your goal time.
The only thing that really makes a difference in your racing is training. I don’t think the volume and intensity of my training was lacking but I think the consistency and the timing was bad. I was all over the place with my training in December and raced too much.
I feel guilty when I fail at these races. It’s been such a long time since my last good race in 2011. That was over 15 marathons ago. I remember that day and the fact that it really wasn’t that hard of an effort. It was coming off a decent winter of training but nothing special. I had the world in my hands that day at Boston.
It’s so far away now I wonder if that was really me. I wonder if that me even exists anymore. I wonder what the point is. I feel like a pretender. Maybe it’s time to take up golf. Maybe this sport has taught me all it can.
On my desk at home is a charity entry for the greatest marathon in the world. When I get home I’ll fill it out and send it in without the qualification time. I’ll join my friends for my 18th spring run up to the great race.
On April 18th I’ll be standing on Main Street in Hopkinton. I’ll bring with me the best training cycle I am capable of. I’ll lose the weight. I’ll work the legs. I’ll do exactly what my coach tells me.
It’s on to Boston.

On with the show!
Section one - Running Tips
Coming back from the flu -
Voices of reason – the conversation
Matt – Passers-by
Matthew McDonough is a Podcaster and father hailing from Michigan. Matthew hosts the Passers-by Podcast, the podcast where a random guest comes on and tells their story.
Section two
The peril of the big goal -
Outro -
Closing comments
MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -
Well, my friends, apparently you have failed on you r time goal but you have successfully made it to the end of episode 4-330 of the RunRunLive podcast. I’m going to drop one more journal entry on you and we’ll head for the exits.
I’m still looking for contributions for my Team Hoyt campaign for Boston 2016 if you can spare a dime.
Registration for the Groton Road Race is open. April 24th 2016. Come up and say ‘hi’ – it’s our 25th anniversary.
Wednesday Morning. Navajo Casino.
Sitting in the coffee café listening to Dire Straits and waiting for the sun and my wife to get up. On a call this morning I was asked about the race. “When did you know?” “How did it go down?” “How are you feeling now?” “What are your plans now?”
I’m quite at peace with my race and in general. That was somewhere around my 51st marathon. I would guess 75-80% of them have gone like this. Where I went in wondering what my fitness was and found out that it wasn’t what I thought.
It’s a bit of a bell curve when you get enough races under your belt. And I mean races. Not the meandering parades that is becoming more and more the norm. For me a race means that I’m going to run my best time on that day with the fitness I have.
If I’m racing I’m racing for time and the measuring stick I use is the Boston qualification standard. It doesn’t mean completing the 26.2 miles for the sake of a party and a pat on the back. But that’s a whole other conversation.
My point is; when you’re racing a small percent of the time you are going to show up and have a great day. On those days it comes easily and you run above and beyond your training.
Another small percent of the time you get the truly awful performance where you pull a muscle or have a cramp and the whole thing collapses into an ugly death march to the finish. On these days you run below the capabilities of your training.
For the majority of my races it has just been work. Where the work starts early and the weight of the effort wears you down. It is not your day. You slow down and take the disappointment because it is what you have on that day.
You end up asking those questions and trying to figure out what went wrong. Like your performances the majority of the fault lies not in the long tail items of weather, sleep, nutrition or any of the other thousands of influencers on performance. The majority of your race performance is due to your training. Your training has the largest influence on how you perform on that day.
Thus, my training was bad. Not bad in the sense that I didn’t get enough volume or intensity. Bad in the sense that my timing was poor, I raced too much and I wasn’t consistent or focused. I didn’t peak well and I wasted all those miles.
How do I feel? What do I do next?
I was emotionally wrapped up in this race because I’ve been chasing this time for 5 years now and it’s starting to weigh on me. I also like to make races emotionally important to me because I find that urgency helps me focus my energy. It helps to ‘care deeply’ about the results. It helps to take that attitude into a race. It makes me less likely to give up.
I do understand that it’s just a race. I do understand that it is not a judgment on me as a person and I don’t take it personally. One race doesn’t weigh on my self-worth. Emotionally, in my animal brain I get the disappointment, frustration and anger, but detached in my big brain I see it not as failure but as another data point from which to learn and improve.
That being said I want to make promises that I can keep. It is always a challenging game in life to dangle that carrot far enough in front that you have to stretch and grow to reach it but not too far in front that you create a wash and rinse cycle of false expectations and failure.
We’re on to Boston.
And we’ll see you out there.

Tuesday Morning I got up early to watch the sun rise over the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was spectacular. Really something. I decided I at least needed to run a little bit of the trail down into the canyon. The Bright Angel trail head was right behind our cabin.
It was 18 degrees out, which I wasn’t expecting. I put on 5 shirts under the finisher’s jacket from the race. I had tossed my cloth gloves during the race so I had to wear my dress gloves.
The long switch backs clinging to the cliff face were covered in a packed snow. It wasn’t too bad. I was bit worried it would be sheer ice and all I had were the wine soaked Hokas – not really trail shoes. The descent was easy and I just kept my stride short and steady.
I passed through rock tunnels and past petroglyphs high on the canyon walls. I decide to turn around after less than two miles because I didn’t want to get in trouble with the wrong shoes, no water, no food and my quads still sore from the marathon. Even so it was probably 1,000 feet of drop.
Turning around and heading back up I was forced into a run-hike cadence almost immediately. The canyon rim is at about the same altitude as Denver and the air is pretty thin. I had to step aside to let a couple of mule trains pass.
As I was pushing up out of the trail the day hikers were starting their descents and stepped aside with wide eyed wonder to see me churning up the path towards them. They apparently thought I had run up from the bottom.
You look at something like the canyon that was worn down over millions of years of patient effort by the Colorado River and plate tectonics. Man can dig holes and move dirt with tractors but rain and melting snow can move continents with patient ablation.
I thought about my life and my running and how happy I was to be that 53 year old guy running up out of the canyon on an icy trail to the astonishment of travelers. Maybe it’s that same patient, consistent work that will allow us all to leave behind immense and beautiful works of art, each in our own way.
My advice to you today is to just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t worry about the results. Don’t worry if no one except the mule deer and jack rabbit know and notice and – l’ll see you out there.
MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Direct download: epi4330.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 8:11pm EDT





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