Sunday, June 14, 2020

Race Report: Royal Beast 12 Hour Endurance Run 2020

Quick Summary:   12 hours, 48.3 miles, 2/1, then 1/1 R/W

Coming out of the Covid-19 induced cancellation of so many races, it was fun to finally take part in an event again, even though the event was substantially reduced in footprint at the last minute.   This was my first-ever 12 hour endurance run, setting a new PR for the longest time I've ever ran.   It went well and I was pleased with the outcome.  Here’s how it went.

The far I went each hour and the important distance times:

Hour        Total Mileage      Segment Mileage
1                  5.2                            5.2
2                10.3                            5.1
3                 15.3                           5.0
4                20.1                            4.8
5                24.8                            4.7
6                29.2                            4.4
7                32.5                            3.3
8                34.7                            2.2
9                38.5                            3.9
10              41.9                            3.4
11              43.8                            1.9
12              48.3                            4.5

Half Marathon:    2:33:21
Marathon:            5:19:39              
50K:                     6:29:08

48 solo runners started the race.  I was the oldest runner in the field.   Amazingly,  I placed 7th of the 48, was 1st of 3 in the men 60-69 AG and the oldest person ahead of me was 46 years old, who placed 5th.   The race was won, outright, by a 33 year old female.

The numbers tell the story.  And, in 12 hours of running, 7am to 7pm, much goes through my mind.   I’ll spare you most of it.  The day came down to two adjustments, though

Gory Details:

The race took place at Southeastway Park, a hidden gem SE of Indy.   About 200 acres totally surrounded by flat, plain cornfields, this mature, well-planned and tended public park emerges....thousands of lush trees, open space, many picnic areas, three large, modern playgrounds, all tastefully tied together by a series of hard-surface, all-season walking paths.  It was scenic and the middle of nowhere.   Our race utilized a 1.93 mile loop along the perimeter of the park.  It was a great setting for a race.   I got there early and backed my car up to the path near the start/finish line.   This worked perfectly to grab food and fluids as the day progressed every couple of miles.

The first 50K went quite uneventfully and enjoyably.   From the start, I did a 2/1 run/walk pattern, carried 10oz of fluids which I drank and then reloaded every lap and just settled in.   No problem...just keep going and I hit the marks you see above. 

After getting through the 50K mark though, the wheels started to come off.  I started cramping below the knees, not only the usual calf muscle culprits but my left foot and the tiny muscles running along the shin.  Yikes.  I was not yet to 7 hours and I really wanted to keep going but was not going to in that condition.   I racked my brain for similar situations in the past and recalled the seemingly miraculous properties of chocolate milk, which I had in my car.  But I’d never drank milk DURING a race, only afterwards.   Would it work?   I had nothing to lose.   

So, just after the 7 hour mark (2pm), I took a break.   I got the cooler from my car and my food bag, found a nearby shelter with a picnic table in the shade with a pleasant breeze blowing through.  I sat down (wondering if I could get up again) and, in 15 minutes, drank 20 oz of chocolate mile, a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke (the cold and fizz tasted really good), ate a full PB&J sandwich I had packed, changed into dry socks and donned compression sleeves over my calves.   I could feel my heart rate come down, my core temp lower and a renewed sense of normal.   I packed up and got back on the run, wondering what would happen.    Amazingly, I was back to near normal.   I logged only 2.2 miles that segment, as I had sat 15 minutes.   But I bounced back and was moving, cramp free, feeling new again.  I shifted back to a 1/1 run/walk at this point and continued in that way to the end.   

(Note:  I named my compression socks "Alan Greenspan" years ago...but that's a story for another day.  "Alan" was good to me yesterday, though)

The second adjustment happened 3 hours later, just after the 10 hour mark (5pm).  While I was still moving comfortably, a real sense of fatigue hit.  No cramping or pain but the energy was gone.   I decided I needed to rest a bit more, as the core temp was creeping up.   Once more, I grabbed what I had planned as my post-race cooler and downed a second round of chocolate milk and Diet Coke, this time with half a PB&J and a whole bunch of salty tortilla chips.  Again, the time seated in the shade, refueling and reorienting really helped.   I took almost 25 minutes this time, as it had become evident it was more important to finish strong than chase down a fading hope of covering 50 miles.   

It seemed to work...while I only covered 1.9 miles in that segment since I sat so long, my final hour on the course was worth 4.5 miles, even at the 1/1 run/walk.  

As the time wound down, I crossed the start/stop line with 11 minutes to go, not early enough time to do another full 2 mile lap.   But I didn’t want to stop, keen to see just how far I could go in 12 full hours.   So I pushed with what energy I had left, using my own watch and Garmin.   I smiled and truly enjoyed those final minutes and felt terrific.    48.3 miles...done and happy. 

People ask me "Why run?" and running for 12 hours is even more curious.  For me, it's about figuring out how to keep doing this thing I enjoy.   And this race captured the criticality of thinking, executing, adjusting and tweaking a plan, on the fly.   The two adjustments at 2pm and 5pm made the day both successful and fascinating to me.   Yeah, it's not everyone's cup of tea but I sure enjoyed it.

A good race.   And a fun feature was having my wife and my three best running pals in a text group all day...I posted to them and they connected in such a fun way all day.   Virtual fans...they helped urge me on!

Some inconsequential learnings from the day...which I post mostly for my own benefit...skip these unless you are fighting insomnia:
  • Food supply.  I packed quite a bit of food to take but realized that all carbs aren't created equal.  The bananas were perfect, as they usually are.   Easy to eat on the run, digest well and no waste.  I had one gel which was unsatisfactory.  I had some sweeter items...I ate a few Oreos but they didn't sit so well.   Tortilla chips were a plus.   Not only did I eat a bunch at 5pm but grabbed 5 or 6 on many laps.  Licking the salt off my fingers when I was done with them didn't hurt either.  Fluidized carbs via both Gatorade and Liquid I.V worked very well. 
  • A long sleeve tech shirt as sunscreen.   I really don't like the feel of sunscreen lathered all over me.  Yet, being in the sun all day isn't smart.   So, in anticipation of this event, I ordered a couple of lightweight, long-sleeve tech shirts with UPF50 ratings.   But, wait, you wear long sleeves in hot weather?  I tested them the last couple weeks on afternoon runs in 90F temps (remember...nothing new on race day...).   Surprisingly, they worked great.   They were big and "billowy", I wore it untucked and thus got a lot of airflow under and over the shirt.   Surprisingly comfortable and zero sunburn.  
  • Drinking big gulps vs sippy cups.   In trying to stay hydrated, I observed it was hard to get a big quantity of fluids as I drank from my handheld water bottle while I ran.   I tried too modifications
    • From my 10oz handheld, I would unscrew the cap and just gulp fluids, rather than taking the small stream through the lid.   
    • When I refilled at each lap, I often drank from the handheld, refilled, drank again and then filled again to take off.   
    • In short, I found just taking these big gulps really helped get more fluids down. 
  • Recharging batteries at a long event.   Total nerdness here, but I managed to figure how how to keep my phone, Garmin and bluetooth speakers charged all day.   Too much to go into but having a reliable portable charger made all the difference.   

So there you go...a full, long Saturday.   I was happy to be out racing again, even if the event was officially unofficial.   A good 40-50 folks showed up anyway.

Persevere.   And make adjustments to keep persevering.


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Race Report: Groundhog Day Marathon, 2020

Groundhog Day Marathon, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Saturday, February 1, 2020

4:50:33, 11:06/mile aggregate pace
60th of 96 overall
1st of 3 in Men 65-69 AG
Marathon/ultra finish #91

This was a fun race, set up on the theme of the movie Groundhog Day, where the same thing keeps happening over and over.  Thus, the route was six identical laps in a big city park, each 1/6th of a marathon distance, about 4.4 miles.   Weather was actually pretty good for early February in central Michigan...34F, heavy grey clouds, not much wind, and light snowfall for the final 3 hours of the race.

I ran it for two reasons; get in some winter miles and assess my fitness for the spring running season.   In that sense, the race was a total success.

Race started on a narrow bridge, which was fun and kind of unusual.

I'd guess about 400 runners total, with 3/4 running the half marathon option.

We went off right on time at 8:00am.   The running path was excellent, wide-enough asphalt which had been swept clean of earlier snowfalls.  It looked pretty much like this all the way around.

The organizers had two aid stations set up and the volunteers did a terrific job.   I fell fully in love with peanut butter filled pretzel balls...salty and tasty...every couple of miles...nice to grab.   I also continue to like my option of wearing the hydration pack rather than a waist water belt.   That all worked great and way more comfortable.

The race pretty much was just running and I just enjoy running.   The tale of the race is captured in my individual lap times, which are helpful in this case as they are all exactly 1/6 of the total distance.   Here is my time and pace for each of the six laps

  1.  41:09, 9:25/mile
  2. 45:46, 10:22/mile
  3. 46:24, 10:37/mile HM split:  2:13:19
  4. 50:39, 11:35/mile
  5. 53:52, 12:20/mile
  6. 53:13, 12:11/mile
I ran the first lap steadily and it felt fine but became quite clear to me by the time I finished the 4.4 mile loop that such a pace was never going to hold up all day.   I backed off to a 4/1 run/walk early in Lap 2 and carried that on through mile 18, which was toward the end of lap 4.  At that point, I realized the fitness was gone yet I'd have no trouble finishing if I just dialed it back and kept moving.   So, I then shifted down again, this time to a 3/1 run/walk (i.e. run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute) and that held up over the final two laps, as the times show.   18 good miles, 8 lousy miles...given the total number of miles I've run in the past three months, that's a fair assessment of where I am at the moment.

I felt good as I wrapped up the final lap back onto the bridge and, boom, done, marathon/ultra #91 in the books.

I walked back over to the nearby heated HQ tent to get my medal and official finish time.   To my utter surprise, the man looked at his laptop, told me my (lousy) time and then informed me I had won my AG.  I was incredulous...I really thought it was a cruel joke, having run so poorly.   He assured me he didn't joke about such things and sent me over to the awards table.   He made eye contact with the Prize Lady and she started digging stuff out for me.   A coffee mug, a stocking cap, a couple of race-labeled neck buffs and, most significantly, a new pair of bluetooth sport speakers.   They are designed to let you listen to music (or, in my case, top level soccer from England or podcasts of interest) while you are running while not blocking your ears.   Safer, right? Nice prize, I'll see how it works.

Two other nice parts of this race (many races, actually) are conversations along the way.   On my lap 6, I caught up with a long-time running buddy, who had a tough day with a calf injury.  We walked together for about six minutes and it was a great catch up with Mark,  as we discussed retirement, running, Lean Manufacturing and how to fix the impeachment mess.   Not bad for a short walk during a marathon.  You're welcome.   Then, after the race, I happened to have a wonderful conversation with a young couple who had both finished Western States 100 mile run in the past few years (this is why you read other people's t shirts).  That was a treat...and they seemed to appreciate meeting someone who knew what "Rucky Chucky" was.   And they paid me quite a compliment: "You're not walking like you just finished a marathon."  I'll take that as a win.

So, the assessment from this race helps me know how to plan running for the rest of the spring.

Thanks for listening!!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Race Report: ONU Indoor Half Marathon 2020

ORN:   13.1 miles, 2:22:28, R/W 6/1

I finished the Ohio Northern University Indoor Half Marathon on January 26 in 2:22:29.   105.5 laps on a 200m track.  Some are put off by multi lap indoor events but I actually enjoyed it.   I think this is my 9th such event. Took about 30 minutes or so to find a rhythm, but that came and settled into consistent lap times.    With my current level of fitness and where I am in the training cycle, I was totally fine with the time.

After 105 laps, I ran the final lap as hard as I could and was happy to hit the finish line:

The men's winner set a record at 1:24.   First female finished the HM in 2:01.   The full marathon men's winner went 3:29.  In a loop marathon, you really see just how fast the leaders are as they zing by you time and time again.

The event was a fund-raiser for this small D3 school's XC and Track programs and evidently has been quite successful to raise funds for needed equipment.   The deal for the team is they have to show up and manually count laps for each runner...a one-to-one connection between counter and runner.   Each counter also had to make a poster for his/her runner and they had a contest on who had the best poster.   I met my counter, Kameron, before the race.   She was delightful.   Here we are after the race, with the poster she made which I got to take home.   Like anyone else would want it, right???

It also afforded a road trip with my local running buddy, Jon.   The conversation there and back again was wonderful.   Really appreciate this guy...good friends matter. 

In addition to the HM, I did more running before and after the race just because I need the miles.   Got a total of 16.2 miles done on the day and that felt good.   And I just plain never get tired of Race Day, in whatever form it comes.

Persevere.   Even when you go in circles.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Year in Review

2019 distance run:   1,538 miles
Total distance run since 2004:   21,538 miles

The year was an interesting one, with some real highs and some forgettable moments. 

First, the numbers.   My miles for each month in 2019. 

Yikes!   Look at those ups and downs.    This captures the year.   The first three months were in final preparation for the Boston Marathon...March's 200+ miles was an all-time monthly record for me.  And I ran Boston on April 15. 

And then looked what happened.  A total falloff. 

In retrospect, it's not surprising.   I had shot for Boston for eight years.   Finally making it, I fell into a strange sense of goal-lessness.  I didn't even grasp it at the time but I really had a hard time dragging myself out of bed to train on way too many mornings through the summer and early fall.   October really wiped things out as I ended up with a nasty flu bug for three weeks. 

Remarkably, I re-calibrated in late November via a curious observation.   I shifted a habit I've held since beginning this era of running in May, 2004, specifically getting up at 5:15am to train.   This just got harder and harder.   I started trying running in the afternoon, instead...taking running gear to work, changing around 5pm in our small locker room, heading out on our city's running trails which go right by our plant and getting in my miles.   Remarkably, it seems to work.   I got the miles in, ran a 50K trail race comfortably on December 28 and I may well continue with this through the spring.   Summertime??  I'll need to get up early. 

Amazingly, 2019 was an improvement in total miles over 2018.

2018 had a time of injury from Plantar Fasciitis.  I'm pleasantly surprised 2019 improved over that.   And I'm hoping for more consistency in 2020, for sure.

Without a doubt, though, the highlight of the year, perhaps the highlight of my running hobby all-time was running in and finishing the Boston Marathon.  Two pix to wrap up the year of that special day. 

Have a great 2020, folks.



Sunday, December 29, 2019

Race Report: HUFF 50K Trail Race, 2019

Race Summary:
50K, 6:25:42 (12:25/mile pace)
    Lap 1:   3:02:47
    Lap 2:   3:22:54
Overall:   85th of 153
M 60-69:   6th of 11
Lifetime ultra/marathon finish #90

I ran The HUFF 50K trail race on December 28, 2019.   This is the ninth year in a row I’ve run this race and have 8 finishes and one DNF (in 2017, in scary cold temps, when I dropped after lap 1).  It’s two laps of a 15.5 mile course in Chain O Lakes State Park, not far from Fort Wayne, Indiana. The park is a giant glacial deposit and has an amazing amount of up and of the few places in northern Indiana on which to run Real Hills.  (if you are interested, use the search function and you can find my other HUFF race reports)

I drove up on Friday afternoon, had a fitful night’s sleep in a mediocre motel but got to the race site by 6:15am and secured a primo parking spot well ahead of the 8:15am gun, with time to slowly eat some oatmeal, nap a bit and get set for a long day in the woods..  

I watched the day slowly enlighten and walked to the start grid.   

The gun went and the day proved wonderful.   The temp was just above freezing at the start, heading for the low 40s on the day, so I wore shorts and three layers on top with worked fine, I was quite comfortable all day long.   The trails were in near-perfect condition; firm but not muddy, not slick at all, very runnable. Even in some of the lower points where water drained across the trail, there was little mud, only some short spots that were moist.   

Lap One was, as usual, quite social with the 50K runners chatting and enjoying the day.   The aid stations are nicely spaced and well-stocked. I tried to not spend much time at the aid stations, I intended to simply reload and get going.    This worked mostly, except for the time I saw the RD, whom I’ve known for a long time, and he’s the type of guy you can’t have a short chat with. But it was good to catch up with Mitch.  

Lap Two always stands in stark contrast to Lap One at the HUFF...once again, it was a solitary adventure.   I think I only saw three or four other runners for the entire 3+ hours, so spread was the field by then. I enjoy this, of course, and just kept going.   The winter woods were just beautiful, the scenes overlooking the lakes in the park were striking, the weather most pleasant.   

I only fell once Saturday...went down pretty hard around mile 6.   Fortunately, I landed on soft dirt and while my glasses got dirty, I avoided a full face plant.   Only damage was ripping up my bib on my shorts, which was easily re-pinned. I had a second near-miss around mile 19, one of those times where I caught my toe and then rumbled, bumbled, stumbled into the brush, struggling to stay on my feet.   I did stay up but that near-miss took more out of me than the actual fall at mile 6. I gave myself a couple of minutes to collect my wits and carry on both times and neither had a lasting effect. 

The Aid Station at Mile 24 is legendary around here for some terrific trail food.   It’s a point in the race where mental and physical reserves are often depleted and they restore both.   In prior years, hamburgers are the main attraction but this year, they upped their game and served bacon cheeseburgers with a pickle on a stick.  Marvelous!! I downed one and it was a treat.   Sorry for the fog on my lens but you get the idea.

The final miles went reasonably well.  Other than a low spot around mile 28 (when, on an uphill slog, I just wanted it to be over), I felt fine and enjoyed the chance to run.   One runner I did see engaged in an interesting conversation, as he had just BQed a few weeks ago, was running his first-ever ultra and we talked about that process and anticipation at length.     

I finally popped out of the woods, ran the final half mile around a lake and finished.   Nicely, my new friend finished about two minutes behind me and we got our photo together.   

Won another belt buckle, honoring a local cross country coach who passed away earlier this fall.  

One observation I made, having run this race so often, was how it is dropping in size.   Only about half of the finishers we've had before.   I could tell there were not nearly as many cars in the park or runners in the grid.   Similarly about half the number of volunteers as in the past.   I wonder if the organizers are tiring of this (it gets little publicity, perhaps relying on reputation?) or if runners are less interested?   Just interesting to observe over time.

So, a good day.   I ran well and that was the goal.   Encouraged. Thanks for listening.   

And, as always, persevere. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Race Report: Indy Monumental Marathon 2019

ORN:  26.2 miles, 5:15:27, at multiple paces. 

So here’s a summary of my experience in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Saturday, November was Three-Act Play

Act 1:   Start to mile 7.5

The entire focus of this (and the ultimate point of the entire day) was a running adventure with my oldest son and his oldest son, our first grandson.   You may recall GS1, age 15, has gradually been running since about a year ago, first with spring track and then fall Cross Country. So my DIL suggested, strongly, earlier this fall he register to run this half marathon...and this was the day.   

The day was chilly, with temps in the upper 20s.  I was slightly concerned the cold weather would cause him to bail but he was totally game.   I met up with DS1 and GS1 a short ways from the start grid a half hour before the gun...from there we got in the back of the pack for the start.   GS1 seemed to really enjoy the entire experience...he was laughing and observing and generally enjoying it all

The race started and off we went.  We quickly settled into a comfortable pace, as DS1 correctly wanted to take on a pace which would allow GS1 to finish.   We agreed to take walk breaks as needed and generally enjoy the experience.   

So much fun happened, I don’t have time to bore you with all of it.   Suffice it to say, though, the conversation was lively and steady. As a Dad and Grandpa, I was deeply pleased to see the wonderful relationship my son has with his teenage son.   It was open and steady, without the edge which so easily can happen at that age.   

GS1’s longest single training run was just short of 5 once we got near that distance, he was in new territory.   Around mile 5, he reported his right leg was getting pretty sore. We took some walk breaks and then ran but it was choppy.   So, I asked him if he’d like to go to a regular pattern of running one minute and walking one minute. He was fine with that and it worked...we kept that pattern through the split point of the half and full.  His spirit improved and the chatter was back and it was terrific.   

We stopped for one more pic at the break, with hugs and smiles all round. 

They carried on and finished at exactly 3 hours for the HM with a good’s a picture my DIL took of GS1 finishing, with the state capitol building in the background.   

Act 2  Mile 7.5 to Mile 19

Bidding farewell to my son/grandson, I then set out to see what my own pace felt like on this day.   It was quicker than what we had been running and I was steadily passing people. I felt comfortable, not pressing but just running.   I hit the half way mark at 2:35 and it felt slow but that was due to the slow pace early on.   

Around mile 14, I caught up with the 5 hour pacing group.  We were entering a narrow portion of the course so I just glommed on with them...the pace was fine and I figured it would be a five-hour race anyway.   

In this pack, I had some fun conversations, most notably with a guy a year older than me as we talked about “old guys who still run”.   He was happy to hear I had run Boston this year and I learned he too had run 1971, as a 19 year old, when he ran 3:15!! I asked how many ran and he said they were all thrilled it was the Humongous total of 1,200 runners!!   What fun to talk to a guy with that kind of history, still out there running. 

We snaked through Butler University and the Art Park and down onto Fall Creek Parkway, when Act 2 abruptly ended.

Act 3:  Mile 19 to Finish

In a mere half mile, my race went from comfortable to painful.   My left quad very quickly started seizing up. I couldn’t stop ground me to a mere walk.   Full blown cramping, leaving me looking like the Tin Man, stiffly moving along. With 7 miles to go, I wasn’t keen on having to walk it in so started thinking.   I realized I had made a serious tactical error the night before in that I decided, given the cold temps, I didn’t need to pack the usual electrolyte tabs I always bring along.   Dumb, Joe, very dumb. So, how to get electrolytes?? I started drinking from my handheld water bottle, which I had half Gatorade/half water. I gradually swallowed a Gu they had handed out, despite the fact it was mocha flavored and I hate coffee.   I reloaded with more Gatorade and found another Gu pack in a spare pocket. I restarted running on a 1/1 ratio, just as I had earlier with GS1.   

Gradually, the cramping subsided.   I kept the 1/1 ratio to mile 23, when I upped it to 2/1.   That held and I ran that way to the end.   

Finishing the race was a new experience..   I think this is the slowest road marathon I’ve ever run and I was clearly in the back of the pack.  Probably useful for me to know what that feels like to finish in 5:15:27. MInd you, two years ago at this race, I went 3:58 to BQ.   But with sketchy training this fall and a 3 week flu bug hiatus, I pretty much expected it to be in the five hour range.   I still smiled all the way down the final 100m...I never get tired of finishing marathons. But today was much more a day for reflection rather than celebration.

Epilogue:  Post Race Conversations

I crossed the finish line, hit the stop button on my watch and looked up and who should I see standing the but Deena Kastor, the Olympic Bronze Medalist who came in for the weekend.   I struck up a conversation with her and she was totally delightful! We talked a lot about running, promoting the sport and paying attention. I thanked her for all she’s done for running and a lot was a 10 minute chat with some substance.   That was cool

Then, a little farther down the chute, I saw the Chairman of the Board of the race, the man who originally thought this thing up.   I first met him about four years ago and we’ve talked regularly since. I told him about my three-generational run and he got very excited about that.   He then pulled another Board member in for the conversation and we discussed elements of working with city authorities to pull off such a major event. So, even though my left quad was toast, it was nice my mind was working OK.   

So, there you have it.   I think this is the seventh time I’ve run this’s very familiar turf.   I enjoy marathons so much because of days like this. The marathon is an exacting taskmaster...if gives nor offers any quarter.   You can’t fake pay the price or you don’t and the result shows how many coins you put into the machine. I never tire of it.   



Monday, May 27, 2019

Hanson's Marathon Training--One Runner's Review

Marathon runners are forever wondering just how best to prepare to enjoy and succeed in the endurance contest which is 26 miles, 385 yards.   I've utilized several plans in my (now) 87 marathons/ultramarathons.   Hal Higdon's various plans have served well to get me up to that distance repeatedly.  I commend them.

I opted for a different direction, though, as I prepared for the 2019 Boston Marathon.   The decision settled for me during the 2018 Monumental Marathon, as I ran out of gas in the final miles of that familiar race.   I captured the concern at the end of that post:

With Boston looming in April, I'll do some rethinking on training going forward.  Lots of cold weather runs, of course, here in Indiana.   I'll find a system and see if I can come back.  

And this led me to consider the the Hanson's Training Method. 

I had heard many things about this approach and it simply seemed a step-up for me.  I bought the book and read it carefully.    It was challenging but it seemed a good way for me to progress in both effort and speed.   I knew I needed a clear plan in order to enjoy the challenge of Boston, so I went all in and started.

You can read the plan for yourself.   It's an 18-week plan in which Every Single Run has a purpose.   Pace, distance; rest, stress; tough days, easy days;  progressive weeks; short taper; focus on a single race.   It has three main sections:

  1. The first five weeks just get you going
  2. Weeks six through sixteen are just plain hard
  3. The final two weeks taper
 It was hard and I enjoyed it immensely.

With the program behind me, I'll try to summarize my thoughts.  What did I think of Hanson's Method?
  • It's tough.   It's just a lot of running.   Six days a week.   Only Wednesday off.   Three hard days, three easy days, one day off every week, once you get to week 6.  Multiple 45+ mile weeks, back to back.     
  • Midweek runs are hard.   There are a number of 8 to 10 mile runs on Thursdays.   I tried hard to do them all but a few I have just had to cut short, due to work requirements.   I did my best.   I worried about this early but realized I could only do what I could do, given work commitments. 
  • It demands attention to detail.   Every run has a purpose.   Every run is different.   Every run has a pace.   They fit together as a unit.  I learned this through reading the book carefully and it made sense.   I then made up a spreadsheet to help me keep track...see the photo below of my daily record-keeping plan  
  • It very carefully builds.   This is an amazing part...the miles kept piling up but it didn't feel unmanageable.  It's astounding to me, in retrospect, I could stay with it.   I didn't think it was possible. 
  • It avoids injury.   I've never run this many miles.   I'm 65.   And I had no substantive injuries, only a couple of niggles which resolved by the next day.    
  • I slept a lot.   All the miles tired me out.   Normally, by 9pm, I was bushed and usually in bed.  I had zero expectations of much social life during this plan.  That's a cost of doing this plan. 
  • I ate a lot.   I found myself often very hungry.   I did not do a good job of satisfying that hunger with healthy eating.   I too often filled up on grains rather than vegetables or fruit.  This surprised me and I must plan for it in future.  
  • I quit depending on my feelings.   Many, many times I went out for one of the three weekly hard runs and said to myself "There is no way I can hit the pace and distance today." And when I got out, I did it.   Time and time again.  I've talked with other people who have done Hansons and this is a common reaction.   In their book Luke is very forward saying the program teaches you to run hard on tired legs.   Yeah.   
  • The 16 mile long run worked.   The biggest criticism of Hansons is that their longest long run is "only" 16 miles.   Yet, I did this five times and every time it was on tired legs.  Would it translate to carrying speed through 26.2?  It did...see the results below.  While it seems illogical, all the other illogical things with this system have held up.   And this did too.
  • You can't do it all the time.   In their book, the Hansons emphatically say the MOST you should do this 18 week program is three times in two years...better only once per year.    Yeah.   I'd agree.   It's tough and would likely break you down without spacing. 
  • Don't do it for a spring marathon.   Boston only happens in the spring.  Doing this plan during January and February in the Midwest was just awful.   Getting in all these miles in lousy weather was very hard.  I had to use the treadmill on a few days and that's something I really don't like.   Next time I do this, I'll target a late fall marathon.   I'm keen to see how having the heavy miles in September and October will go. 
So how did this all work??   Let me capture some data for you.   

>>Here's a screen shot of my training log summary on March 24 in the heart of the training period.   You can see the high mileage each week.   In particular, this was the first time I've ever logged over 200 miles in any 30 day period. 

>>I ran a half marathon on Saturday, March 23, using it as Hansons tempo run.   I comfortably went 1:58.   And then did the required 16 miles at 9:53 the next day.   

>>I had one notably difficult training week, March 4 to 10.    Awful Indiana winter weather settled in, so I had to use the treadmill on Monday and Tuesday.   No speed work on Tuesday.   Took the regular Wednesday off.   But got up early Thursday for the required 9 mile tempo run.   And that was bad...I simply could not wake up and went back to bed, taking two straight days off and zero speed work for the week.    I was worn out physically and mentally.    Work was demanding that week.   Then took vacation day from work on Friday, March 8 and ran mid-day.   I then had to shorten  the scheduled 16 mile run on Saturday due to family requirements, doing 12, not 16.  I then modified the Sunday run to add 4 more hard miles to a 9 mile total run.   Was it perfect?  No.   But I still got in almost 40 miles. 

The crucial proof shows up in results, not process, though.   And I ran two races, the biggest being Boston but the best running being Wisconsin.

>>In the Boston Marathon (race report here), I succeeded in my goal to enjoy the event and absorb all that went on.   But my time was not what I wanted, going 4:40.   I discussed that in my blog post and have come to grips with it.   I will say, though, that the Hansons method clearly gave me the base to work through all the strangeness which is running the Boston Marathon and the final five miles at Boston was the best ever. 

>>Wanting to still take advantage of all this work, I ran the Wisconsin Marathon three weeks after Boston on May 4 (race report here).   In many respects, the experience was the opposite of Boston...a small race on a loop course, very flat, which I had run 4 previous times.  I made a serious attempt to get a sub-four hour time.   It went well through mile 19 but I couldn't hold it and finished in 4:08:49, four minutes shy of a BQ time.   I gave it all I could but the proximity to the Boston effort likely took off the shine.   Still, to do this so soon after Boston was very encouraging. 

So, the key question:  Does Hanson's Marathon method work? 

In my opinion, it does.   There are no magic guarantees in training.  But this plan links the desired results to the day-to-day process.  I'm a 65 year old guy who is not very fast.   And it got me out for more miles than I've ever done, injury free and got me through two hard marathon efforts in very decent shape.   

I'm looking forward to applying it again.   I'm going to apply it again targeting the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 2, 2019.   The 18 week plan will begin on July 9.   Having experienced the plan once, I'm psyched to go at it again. matter what plan you use. 


Here's a photo of one of the three paper schedules I utilized.   I taped this to the back of a closet door in our bedroom and used it to help me keep track of all the details.   If you are interested in the Excel spreadsheet I made for this, email me and I'll be happy to share. 

My paper log for first 8 weeks

Here's a photo of how I kept track of the running on a mirror in our bedroom.   Grateful my wife tolerates me.