When your #BQ isn’t

Last fall I ran a 3:13:55 at the 2012 KC Marathon. I was elated – finally a BQ after 2 unsuccessful attempts! However, soon after posting that time, I ran across a blog that informed me, much to my horror, that a BQ didn’t necessarily mean you’d be running the race. Boston has a double-secret (ok, it’s not actually secret) cutoff time that is only established after all registrants submit their names. I don’t recall what the cutoff was for which prior year, but I do know that one of them was in the BQ-1:30 range, i.e., if you didn’t beat the BQ time for your age by 1 minute, 30 seconds, you weren’t running.

Since I had a BQ-1:05, I knew that I once again had a time that probably wasn’t going to get me to Boston. (In my marathon “debut” I put up a time that would have got me in under the old 3:20 standard but I ran it about a month too late to register for 2012 . Since registration was closed, it wasn’t good enough for 2013).

With that in mind, I attempted my first spring marathon, the Garmin Olathe Marathon in April 2013. It can be very hard to train for a spring marathon during a Midwest winter. I put in the work, and my reward was the 3:11:03 I needed to beat the BQ-1:38 cutoff for 2014. That race came just one week after the senseless bombings at Boston 2013. I never doubted that there would be a Boston 2014, but it was to some degree an open question in the aftermath. I was unashamedly emotional at the finish line of Garmin.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t let off the gas after KC 2012. You never know when you might need a few more seconds.

#ketogenic diet: week 5

I’m at the 5 week mark today. This week went MUCH better than the previous one. After a real low spot leading into the 4 week mark, I was getting discouraged. However, after re-emphasizing fat and trying again to make sure I didn’t over-emphasize protein, I felt much better. Two more tricks have been 1) trying to make sure I get enough salt (thanks, bullion cubes!) and 2) a Fourthmeal/snack about an hour before bed. Altogether, I have had much more energy upon waking, and I haven’t had any malaise/run-down feeling this last week. It had been getting particularly bad in the evenings. So, it looks like I’ll try to keep this up at least through the KC Marathon to see how it affects performance!

“Fun” with numbers – my #BostonMarathon chances! #runreal

With the announcement today that 7500 people signed up for the 5000 spots left, I decided to see what number I am sweating by the end of this week. So, fun with math. Engineers: feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Btw this is based on the assumption that the times submitted are equally distributed across the 5 minute range.

My time is a 3:11:03 (a BQ-3:57 for the 3:15 cutoff). Using the BQ-3:57, that means I’m in the 79th percentile for the 5 and under group.

There are 5,000 spots remaining. So, solving for x in this equation should yield the number of equally distributed registrations that cannot be exceeded for my 79th percentile time not to make it:

x – 5000 = .79x

If you want to use this equation for your own time, figure out your percentile and put it in the spot of the .79 in my equation. I’m not going to show my work. Plus, I cheated and used an equation solver. But I did make up the equation myself. Could you smell that burning smell?

Solving for x yields 23,809. So, if more than 23,809 people register this week, I won’t make it, since 79% of 23,809 = 18,809, or 5,000 less than 23, 809.

My head hurts.

By the numbers: #milleniumclub and #ketogenic diet

I realize this is kind of a “yay, me” post, but I went over the 1000 mile mark for 2013 today on my am run. No, I didn’t go to a strip club, as the title may suggest. That number may not seem like a lot to some, but it’s an all-time high for me. I was in the 900s in 2012 and 2011, the latter being the first in which I first upped my mileage into the marathon training range. Prior to that I was a casual 5 miles, 3 or 4 times a week.

A quick ketosis update too: another low spot last night. I was feeling REALLY lethargic and discouraged. The RHSW suggested I check my levels, the result: 0.3. Not good. So, I ate a small fourthmeal of a hunk of cheese and some cole slaw. I checked fasting this am, and hit a 1.7. I felt better on waking, but still felt like I was struggling during a pretty fast (sub 8) 6 miles with Jeremy, followed by a 1 mile cool-down. I suspect that I may not be eating enough fat, or too much protein, or a combination of the two – despite my considerable efforts to push fat. I am at the 4 week mark. I am going to give this thing two more week and then make a decision on whether to go forward or punt. If I haven’t kicked the malaise by then, I’m not sure this is going to work for me. If so, I’ll go back to my semi-Paleo diet but return to the ranks of the carb-burners.

#ketones – kinda like diesel

I am nearly a month into my ketogenic diet experiment. There have been some highs and lows. Most recently on Monday – an “off” day – I felt some big-time malaise. Really low energy. However, on Tuesday after going to the gym in the am with the RHSW, I felt really good. Another good day today after 8+ miles in the am.

On my run this morning, I came up with the analogy of how burning ketones in your body is kinda like burning diesel in a car. If you’ve ever driven a diesel, or even just read about them, you know that they don’t accelerate quite as fast as a gasoline-powered car. However, once they get up to speed, they can go much farther than a gas car.

Ketosis feels like this. I’ve never been a morning person, but it seems to make things a bit more draggy in the morning. However, if I take off on a run or work out, that seems to trigger enough ketone production that I coast the rest of the day with a pretty good energy level. I suppose a diet that encourages you to be active every day isn’t a bad thing!

I’m still committed to sticking this out through the KC Marathon to see what performance benefits/detriments it holds after having acclimated (which probably wasn’t fully accomplished for HOA). On the bright side, if it’s a bust, then donuts.

HOA #marathon in @skorarunning Base #ketogenic race report

I ran the Heart of America Marathon on Labor Day in Columbia, MO. The HOA is considered “one of the most difficult nonmountain marathon courses in the nation,” going from downtown Columbia down to the Missouri River and back up. I placed 3rd in my age group and ran the course almost 3 minutes faster than last year. The field had a ton of talent up at the top – despite running faster I came in 23rd – I was 11th last year! Sometimes, whether or not you pick up any hardware depends on who else shows up – even if you have a great day. I ran a 3:19:51.8 – a 7:37 pace. Lucky for me, only two faster guys my age showed up, so I got this:


I wore the Skora Base shoe. I put over 100 miles on this shoe pre-race and was very comfortable with it going in. I’m really happy with how it functioned during the race. I used an Iniji toe sock which kept me from having any blistering or rubbing between the toes. The Base held up great on what is primarily a pavement course. There is a three-mile section of gravel just before midway – although this is actually my favorite surface to run on in the Base. I love how this shoe just disappears – if I’m not thinking about my shoes during a marathon, that’s ideal. You need something on this course with the gravel section and a significantly long newly paved section that is rough, not smooth (I’m sure there is a highway construction term for this). Some guy ran it barefoot last year, but I didn’t hear about anyone trying this year. You would have to go in the ditch on that new section – nobody’s callouses could hold up to it. The Base was just enough without being too much.

Here’s a shot of the shoes at the finish line:


This was my first race on the ketogenic diet. I switched over on 8/15, so I may not even be fully keto-adapted. I cut out fiber the day before, eating primarily fat with some protein. Unfortunately, I either went to bed too soon after eating the night before the race, or had some food poisoning. I woke up just over an hour before my alarm was going to go off, and seriously thought I was not going to be able to toe the starting line. Either way, I don’t believe this had anything to do with my dietary switch. I haven’t had any such issues before long runs. Fortunately, when the alarm went off at 4:45, I felt better, so I decided to give it a go. I had two cups of coffee with heavy whipping cream for a bit of fat. I was slightly concerned that I might be low on potassium after eating zero veggies the day before, so I added a 1/4 tsp of No Salt (potassium chloride) to my second cup of coffee. It was one of those spur of the moment decisions. I need to research this more to see how long potassium stays in the system. Too much or too little can be dangerous, so don’t try this at home. I liberally salted food the day before, so no worries on the sodium front – I also had a 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds the day before for some magnesium. I drank about a liter of water – half when I got up, the other half right before the gun. I ran the whole race on nothing but water. No Gatorade, no gels, etc. Just the fat in my body. The proof is in the pudding – I was a little distracted after the race – lots of friends and family around – but I checked my ketone levels 40 minutes after I stopped running, and they were 5.4 mmol. Definitely “in the zone” and then some, without getting too high.

So, on to the race itself. My plan was to go out at a 3:10 pace and see what developed. I didn’t have any trouble whatsoever keeping that up on the first half of the course, easily hitting my target pace of 7:14 with the exception of mile 2 (a 7:25 thanks to the Providence hill) and mile 8 (a 7:53 on a tough uphill stretch on Old Plank road). I cruised down through the gravel stretch to mile 12.5, an aid station just before Easley Hill. At this point I was on target, but knowing a negative split was unlikely. I jokingly asked the high school kids manning the aid station at Easley if it was all downhill from there, and they corrected me with some horror before I let them know I was joking. I got a good laugh out of them. Easley Hill, just ahead, is the worst of the hills – there is a stretch of about 1/3 mile that is over an 11% grade. Beat that, Heartbreak Hill!

My HOA “mentor” – the amazing Tom May (just a few years my senior, he ran a personal course PR just over 3:01 this year) advises running Easley Hill until you reach the guard rail and your heart rate redlines, then walk briskly while your HR goes down until you can start running again. I did this, and looked back to see some runners catching up to me as I walked. However, when I hit the top and started running again, after a few minutes I had opened up a sizeable gap on everyone who gassed themselves running the 11% grade. Thanks Tom!

Once you top Easley Hill, there’s a feeling that the worst is over – for a while. I had several great miles in this middle section – buoyed my awesome race-chasing cheering section! I was overtaken by one guy I never saw again, and also passed back and forth with the women’s winner and another guy through Rock Bridge State Park.

Mile 20 is completed at the top of another big hill – I again alternated some brisk walking and running near the top of this one, and was rewarded with overtaking another runner shortly after. I never felt a “bonk” per se thanks to the fat-burning – and my next couple miles were back down in the sevens. However, this course has one last trick up its sleeve – the long uphill on Providence to Faurot Field ending at the 24 mile mark. I slowed a bit on this hill and took a quick walk break – my third – about 10 seconds – to get my pulse back. I was the passer and passee on this tough final stretch. There were only a few people in view at this point in the race, but there is nothing that motivates you to keep moving like hearing footsteps. Again, no bonk, although I did notice some generalized tightness developing in my leg muscles in mile 25. Thankfully, no calf cramps, as I have occasionally experienced in the final 6 miles. I managed to kick it back up to target pace for the final 0.6 as I came onto Broadway. I love how you can see the finishing chute from a fairly long way off at HOA. Simon Rose – a local media personality – was announcing finishers. I played soccer against him when I was in law school – I should say football though as he’s from Manchester! The crowd was really loud and enthusiastic at the finish – what a great reward, topped off by having my immediate and extended family there for hugs and photos. I also reconnected with Tom May and Andy Emerson, another local runner (tops in my age group – I believe he had run Leadville 2 weeks prior!).

The sense of community at this race is capped off by the pizza party and awards ceremony at Shakespeare’s after the race. I abstained from the carbs – barely…

HOA – I’ll be back!