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Guest Post: Ryan’s Second Boston Marathon

One year ago, Jess and I were returning from the Athens Marathon when we heard the news.  There was a bombing at the Boston Marathon.  Our ride home was silent; we were in shock.  When we got home and watched the news coverage, shock turned to heartbreak.  Two men had used one of the great traditions of the running community to kill and injure innocent people.  We felt as though something had been taken from us.  It was then that I knew that I had to be in Boston in 2014.  I wanted to be part of the crew that took the marathon back.

Jess and I at the finish line this year.
Jess and I at the finish line this year.

Two years ago, I was preparing to run my first Boston Marathon, and I had one goal in mind: To run it in under 3-hours. Or, in runners’ terms, “run a sub-3”. Unfortunately, record-high temperatures forced me to back off of my goal and basically just try to survive the 85-plus-degree temperatures. Truthfully, two years ago, I do not believe that I was ready to run a sub-3. I was probably more in the 3:05-3:10 range. I ran my first sub-3 in Akron in 2012, and a second time in Athens in 2013. However, I wanted to do it on the hardest marathon course I’ve ever run: Boston.

Boston 2012
Boston 2012

When this training cycle began, I was feeling good about where I was. Unfortunately, some ankle tendinitis in January really halted me. I did a 15-miler in the snow and I can only assume that the uneven surfaces got to me. One night, I remember breaking down to Jess and telling her that I did not think that I would be able to do Boston. I could barely walk without experiencing any pain and I just saw no way I could get in the workouts I needed. I took 2 full weeks off of running and did some spinning and swimming. It was not the same, but it still helped me keep my fitness level. In the next 2 weeks, I had to ease back into running. So, I felt like I missed almost 4 weeks of true training.

2As we got into March, things started to click again. I was able to really nail my key workouts (intervals, tempo runs, long runs) and my confidence was building. As the time came to taper, I felt like I was ready for Boston. But was I ready to go sub-3 there? Had I really done enough preparation for the hills? There was only one way to find out!

My buddy Steve, a local elite runner, told me that if I ran the first half of the race conservatively, then I would be passing people like crazy after Heartbreak Hill. See, in Boston, the early miles consist of multiple downhills. Many runners hammer these downhills and think they are on pace for a PR. Then, they get to the Newton Hills in miles 16-21, ending with the famous Heartbreak Hill. Maybe they survive up to that point or maybe they don’t. However, if they hammered those early downhills, it is highly likely that their quads are shot for those last 5.2 miles. It is common to think that it is the uphills that hurt the most. In Boston, it is the downhills. If your quads are shot after Heartbreak Hill, miles 22-26.2 will likely consist of a lot of walk-running.

My buddy Ryan and I in Hopkinton
My buddy Ryan and I in Hopkinton

On race-day, I spent the time before the race hanging out with my buddy Ryan. We had a solid 3.5 hours once our bus arrived in Hopkinton, so we just relaxed and talked a bit about our training. When the time came to line-up, I remember him turning to me and saying, “This is why you trained. This is why you’re here.” Those words stuck with me throughout the entire race. Next thing I knew, it was time to roll.

I stuck to my plan on running conservatively on the early downhills.   My plan was to run even-effort, not even-pace. Therefore, I should feel approximately the same in each mile. If the terrain was downhill, my split would be a bit faster; if it was uphill, it would be a bit slower. This strategy truly worked for me and I was really pleased with how well I was able to put the brakes on when the downhills arrived. I still had some fast miles, but I felt like I was truly saving my quads for the Newton Hills.

As the miles continued to clip by, I was overwhelmed by the crowd support. Just imagine a 26.2 mile parade…this is the Boston Marathon. Obviously, this year was truly special. In 2013, something was taken from us; in 2014, it was our turn to get it back. People chanting “Boston Strong” all throughout the course gave me chills. I knew I was truly experiencing something special.

"You gotta keep you head up"-Andy Grammar was in my head a lot during this race.
“You gotta keep you head up”-Andy Grammar was in my head a lot during this race.

As I got into the double digit miles, I started to think, “Man I feel good.” However, at that point, it is still too early to “make a move.” There is simply too much distance. I got to the half-marathon mark at just over 1:28, which was right where I had hoped. The second half would be much harder and I would surely lose a little bit of time. How much I would lose would depend on how ready I truly was for this. As I saw the sign, “Welcome to Newton”, I knew it was go-time. Rolling hills continued to click by, and my body was holding up nicely. Yes, it was hard, but I felt like I really had it in me. I remember saying to myself “2 slow, 1 fast, 2 slow, then it’s on”. This was referencing miles 17-18 (2 slow), mile 19 (1 fast) and miles 20-21 (2 slow). This strategy was based on the terrain of these miles. I knew what was coming, and so I had planned for it. Before I knew it, it was time for miles 20-21 and I really felt good. However, Heartbreak Hill was coming…

I ran mile 20 a little faster than expected, but I was feeling good. Then came Heartbreak Hill. I turned to the person next to me and said, “Let’s go…this is why we train so hard.” Kind of cheesy? Sure. True? Most definitely. While going up Heartbreak was not easy, my body really felt ready to tackle the challenge. Next thing I knew, I was at the top and I was seeing signs saying that we had conquered heartbreak. Then, it time for the moment of truth. Were my quads shot? If they were, I was not going to reach my goal. If they still had some juice, I was good to go. I knew immediately that they still had some juice in them and I could not have been more excited. The guy next to me asked if it was smooth sailing from here on out. I told him as long as you still have some gas in the tank, you got this. There are a great deal of downhills in these last 5.2 miles and if you’re hurting, you are pretty much done. That is a blunt statement but it is true. The downhills HURT. I remember two years ago having to stop and walk multiple times, and I was running at a pace much slower than I was running this year.

10Shortly after realizing I had juice left and my quads would hold up, I looked to my left and saw Jess yelling and cheering for me. It was a moment I will NEVER forget. I pointed to her and yelled “I love you! I got it! I got it!” It was then I knew that I was about to crush these last few miles.

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I will not lie to you…these last 5.2 miles were not easy. Fortunately, it was just a little bit of pain. I still had energy and the slight discomfort was nothing I could not handle. Next thing I knew, my buddy Steve’s advice was dead on. I was passing people left and right. My paces were increasing! Barring something unforeseen like something locking up on me or a serious cramp (both of which, make no mistake, were still possible), I was going to run a sub-3.

13The rest of this race will live with me forever. The miles clipped by as I saw my paces stay right around the 6:45-6:50 mark. When I had exactly 1 mile to go, I mentally stopped for a second and decided to soak it all in. This is what it was all for. Freezing cold runs outside, getting up at 4:30 AM to get miles in, running 800 meter repeats into the wind, and even once having to do a 16-miler on the treadmill (side note, Jess can do crazy high mileage on a treadmill…it’s pretty amazing). All of those memories came into my mind and I knew that the hard work was so I could enjoy this moment, a moment I would never forget. The infamous “Right on Hereford, left on Boylston” to the finish was on its way.

12As I made my way down Hereford and turned left onto Boylston, I was grinning from ear to ear. I could see the finish line and my legs felt swifter than ever. As I finished, I just could not stop smiling and thinking about what I had just experienced. I came in at 2:58:40 (6:49 min/mile), a time that qualifies me for the 2015 Boston Marathon (I am not sure I will go as I would like to do another traveling marathon next spring, but it is nice to know I can go!). This was easily the most fun I have EVER had running a race, and I truly believe that it was the best I have performed in my running career. A marathon had never felt so smooth to me and I had never executed a race plan as precisely as I did here. Now, all that was left was to wait for Jess.

I am Boston Strong
I am Boston Strong

As I waited in the family meeting area for Jess to arrive, I felt some of the strongest anticipation I had ever felt. When we finally saw each other, it was one big emotion-fest. Yet again, another moment from today that I will never forget. We spent that evening celebrating with beers at one of the best beer bars I have ever been to, Sunset Grille in Allston. It was a perfect way to end the day.

15One thing I want to say is that this race proved to me that I do not have to run 70-80 miles per week during marathon training to run a good time for the marathon. I know many people who believe that they have to get their weekly mileage into the 70’s and 80’s (I was once one of them). For me personally, all this does is get me injured and it lowers the intensity of my most important workouts. I have seen runners go crazy with mileage only to “bonk” during the marathon. My mileage during this training cycle never surpassed 56 miles per week. The difference was that my key workouts (intervals, tempo runs, and long runs) were totally spot on. I was able really ramp up the intensity during these workouts, and that was truly a difference-maker to me down the stretch during the Boston Marathon.

I don't know when I'll run Boston again but I will run it again.
I don’t know when I’ll run Boston again but I will run it again.

I am not sure what is next for me other than being a pace leader for the 3:30 group at the Cleveland Marathon and hopefully going for another sub-3(and possibly sub-2:55) in Akron in the fall. Otherwise, I am looking forward to a summer of speed races and enjoying life with my amazing wife and of course, our dog Bodhi.

Just a reminder that we are still fundraising for Jordan’s Family Foundation through May 18th.  Help us promote awareness around congenital heart disease!

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Guest Post: The Quest for Sub 3 is Complete

Editor’s Note: Here is a little guest post from my favorite sub 3-hour marathoner! Also, my fiance, totally not biased or anything 😉

Two years ago, I ran my first marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston. At that time, I had no thoughts of ever trying to run a sub-3-hour marathon. To me, that was sort of a “life running goal” that I would maybe try to accomplish after having more running experience. This past May, I tried to run a sub-3 in Cleveland. I was on pace for about 18 miles, but then faded quickly and finished in 3:04:41. At that point, I decided that I would work very hard this summer to try to run a sub-3 in the fall. There are a few flat marathons in the fall that are fairly close to home (Columbus and Presque Isle came to mind). On the other hand, I absolutely love the Akron Marathon; I cannot explain why this race is so dear to me, but it just is. Unfortunately, it is not flat at all; it is definitely not a PR course, let alone a course to try to run a sub-3. However, I could not resist the notion of running Akron again. So, I decided that I would run Akron this year in hopes of running a PR (sub 3:04:23) and then go for sub-3 at the Inland Trail Marathon in November (a pancake flat course on a bike trail).

As the summer started to wrap up, I ran a few races that started to make me believe more in myself. I ran a 5K PR and a half-marathon PR in August and early September, respectively. At that point, I started to feel differently about Akron. Could I run a sub-3 there? They had supposedly crafted a slightly flatter course (more on that later). I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, Akron was the race for sub-3.

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Before the race

Fast forward to race day. I am at the start line more excited than I’ve ever been for a race (I had been absolutely jacked all week). By the way, any race that begins with fireworks going off is awesome; well done, Akron. As I went through the early miles, I have to be honest in saying that I did not feel confident that today was going to be the day for sub-3. The first half of the course is faster than the second half, but unfortunately, you cannot run it aggressively. Otherwise, you will pay for it in nasty second half.

Around mile 6, I just started feeling like maybe sub-3 pace was going to be too much with rolling hills I had already ran through and a few big hills coming later on in the second half. However, I continued to press on; I decided that I absolutely had to go for it.  I was pumped to see my buddy Christian around mile 9; seeing your friends while racing is always so helpful.  The miles continued to tick by as we approached downtown, knowing that our ascent to the Towpath would soon be approaching. Around mile 10, I saw my buddy John Fay (yes, it is rare that we ever call him solely by his first name), which pumped me up a bit. I also knew that I would be seeing Jess soon, so that was an exciting thought. After passing by her and yelling a quick “Love you!”, I pressed on. Just before mile 12, we shot down a super steep downhill before our turn into the Towpath. Another runner and I said that we felt like we were looking down from the Magnum at Cedar Point (an exaggeration, of course). This would be ideal in a speed race, but it is not a welcome sight in a marathon. The downhills really trash your quads for the rest of the race, making the future hills potentially very painful.

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That’s me in the distance. Non matching clothing.

As we got down into the Towpath, I sort of just decided to zone out a bit. There is not a lot of crowd support down there, so personal reflection can be a key. At this point, I was well on pace for sub-3, but had the worst yet to come. The surface of the Towpath felt good on my body, and I was able to knock off some solid mile splits down there. Then came mile 18 and a turn up Sand Run Road for a nasty, nasty hill. I heard a few runners say afterward that they found this hill to be worse than Heartbreak Hill in Boston. All I will say is that it’s very close. This hill was a new addition to the course, and I had no idea what I was in for. Let me just say that it was an unwelcome addition and I contend that the new Akron Marathon course is every bit as challenging (if not more challenging) than the previous course. After getting to the top of this hill, I immediately started to doubt myself. My quads and hamstrings had taken a beating from rolling hills all morning, and this hill may have been the finishing blow. However, this mile split only ended up being about a 7:10, which was above what I had been running all day (as I had stayed between 6:40 and 6:50). Fortunately, this split really did not set me back much time-wise. That thought was a confidence builder…but could I hold on from there?

When I first started back on flat surface after the hill, my hamstrings felt very sore and I was unsure of what my next mile split would be. Somehow, I was able to pick up right where I left off prior to the Sand Run Road. My current mile pace went right back to about 6:50 and I was rolling again. At this point, I had some negative thoughts; I thought, if the rest of this course was flat, then I would definitely run a sub-3. Unfortunately, Heart Rate Hill around mile 21-22 was yet to come. I was afraid that this would perhaps seal my fate (can you tell I can be a bit of a pessimist?). When I got to mile 20, an official said that I was on pace for a 2:58 marathon. Now I knew that if I could hold on, the goal was within reach. While 2 minutes seems like a lot of room for error at that point, it is definitely not; if your legs are spent at mile 20, then you are done. Sometime between mile 20 and 21, I saw my Sunday morning running partner Brent and his kids. This was a huge boost. I hope they enjoyed the way that I stuffed my face with a peanut butter Gu in front of them (in preparation for Heart Rate Hill). I then saw a Twitter buddy, Susan, who reminded me that Jess was only about 5 miles away to greet me at the finish line. What an awesome thought!

Somewhere around mile 21

When I got to Heart Rate Hill, I remember thinking, “Wow, this isn’t nearly as bad as I remember”. I am very confident that I felt this way because I had already gone up the Sand Run Hill, which was much worse. After Heart Rate Hill, we went through Stan Hywet, which has many awesome sights and crowd support. I was finally becoming a believer; sub-3 was within my grasp.

The last few miles began to tick by. I saw another buddy, Matty O, around mile 24. He yelled at me like a drill sergeant (“Come on! Suck it up!), and I loved it. I remembered that mile 25 can be kind of fast, and next thing I knew, I ripped off a 6:29 mile there. It was at that point that the emotions started to become overwhelming. I knew that barring a catastrophe, sub-3 was seriously going to happen. As I began to approach Canal Park, I was in absolute disbelief. I was going to do it!!! I remember thinking, “How am I going to screw this up? Am I going to fall? Pass out?” Fortunately, none of that happened. As I entered into the stadium, a huge smile showed up on my face. I saw 2:57 and some change on the clock and knew that my dreams had come true. As I began to sprint out the last hundred meters I saw my friends Steve and Beth, both of whom knew that I was hoping to break the 3-hour mark. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:57:47. Not only did I run a sub-3 marathon, but I ran a 6-minute and 36-second PR.I was elated. An insane summer of battling heat through long runs and speed workouts had paid off. All the hard work, pain (sometimes), and sacrifices were absolutely worth it.

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Finish Line!!!!

After crossing the finish line, I got a little emotional and had to put my shirt up to my face. I then told myself to not be a pansy and I pressed on. It was then that I saw my running buddy Frank’s dad, who is always supporting Frank and I at races. He just looked at me, pointed, and said “Yes!!!”. I was so pumped up. Only one more thing was needed: I needed to see Jess and nothing was going to stop me. I grabbed my food, got a quick picture taken, and walked up from the field to the stands. There was Jess, teary-eyed and excited. It was one of those moments that I will never ever forget.

Garmin shot

So what’s next for me? I will do some speed races in October, November, and December. I do not plan to run the full marathon at Inland Trail anymore, but will likely run the half. I plan to do the Athens Marathon (Athens, Ohio that is!) in April and the Cleveland Marathon in May. I am hopeful to run sub-3 times at those races as well, but I will worry about that later. My main focus will be to get my lovely fiancée 100% healthy so that she can qualify for Boston again. I will use my 2:57:47 to register for the 2014 Boston Marathon, and I am confident that Jess will have a Boston Qualifying time of her own to register with. I have to say that I am very excited for us to run the Boston Marathon together as “The McCartney’s”

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Guest Post: Ryan’s Boston Marathon Recap

Note from the Editor: Ryan does not have a blog of his own but is an amazing writer and I really wanted everyone to hear his Boston Marathon Recap. Enjoy!

From the moment I first decided to run a marathon, I had one goal and one goal only: to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. My first marathon was the Columbus Marathon in October of 2010. I ran a 3:05:31, which, at the time, met the Boston Marathon qualifying standards (the qualifying time was 3:10 or under for males ages 18-34; the new qualifying time is 3:05 or under). Simply put, I was on cloud nine. Unfortunately, when the 2011 Boston Marathon registration window opened the next day, it immediately sold out. Because I was at work for the entire time that the window was open, I was shut out. What began as heartbreak turned to anger; it just seemed cruel for me to feel so happy and then so disappointed. I then remembered that there are much more important things in life and that I would get another chance. I ran 2 marathons in 2011 and ran Boston qualifying times in both. Just before running the Akron Marathon in September, I was able to successfully register for the Boston Marathon (huge thanks to the amazing girl who runs this blog for submitting my registration while I was at work). Knowing I was going to run Boston changed a lot about how I trained. I decided that I had to give this my absolute everything.

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As I began to think about goals for Boston, my first thought was to PR. I needed to run under a 3:04:23, and since I had done that in Akron, I felt confident that I could do so in Boston. When I revealed to Jess that my training for Akron was not ideal (no speed work and skipped long runs), she told me that if I truly buckled down, I could go for a sub-3-hour marathon in Boston. At first, I did not believe that. However, as my training went along, I noticed significant gains in speed work, long run pace, hill work and race times. I began to believe in myself; sub-3 was the goal.

RyBib
Packet pick-up

Let’s fast-forward to Boston Marathon weekend. The dreaded news began to hit the internet about 5 days before the race; temperatures were likely to be in the 70’s for the race. That is terrible marathon weather. 2 days later, the projected high for the day jumped into the mid-80’s. With a 10:00 am start time, this was going to be one difficult (and perhaps dangerous) marathon. I did not panic at first; I told myself that sub-3 remained the goal. As we got closer to race time and I started feeling the warm temperatures over the weekend, I knew I had to adjust. Things got serious when the Boston Athletic Association sent out an e-mail warning only the “fittest” runners to participate; they even offered the option to defer your bib to 2013. I then read the words that I did not want to read: “For the overwhelming majority of those who have entered to participate in the 2012 Boston Marathon, you should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience. “ Disappointment began to set in, along with some fear. I remember telling my family and friends the night before the race that I felt as though I was about to “walk the plank”. However, the thought of deferring never once crossed my mind. I was going to run the Boston Marathon in 2012 no matter what. As the day finally arrived, I had to come to grips with the fact that my adjustment to my pace had to be much more significant than originally planned.

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After a 45-minute bus ride on the morning of the race, I made the walk from Hopkinton High School to to the start line. I was already sweating and had a small headache (a sign of heat exhaustion). What started as a goal now turned into survival. I wanted to run a strong pace, but knew that anything new goal pace would easily turn into a DNF. It was at that point that I decided that there was no time goal; surviving the heat was the goal.

Groupshot
A couple local runners at the start.

The first few miles brought worry to my mind. Yes, I felt good, but I could feel the heat taking a toll on my body. As you can imagine, that is not a good sign so early in a marathon. The first water stop was almost a stampede. Everyone cut over from the middle to grab water. I literally had to stop running to get my water. At about mile 4, I found myself locked into a comfortable 7:20, much slower than my goal pace, but very comfortable if I wanted to finish in one piece. As the race continued, I grabbed water at every single water stop, which is not something I normally do in a marathon. Spectators had their hoses out, which helped to cool us off. Around mile 9, I did something that became a crucial strategy for me down the stretch; I grabbed a handful of ice cubes from a spectator and put them in my hat. This helped to cool my head and give me a small bit of relief from the heat. At this point, my legs felt fine, but I was incredibly hot. I started to see runners with bib numbers in the hundreds stopping to walk. I remember seeing a guy with a top-200 bib number completely stopped in his tracks along the side; he looked like he was completely done. Obviously, this was not an encouraging sign. You could spot multiple walkers everywhere you looked.

Staying focused and enjoying the little bit of shade

Miles 12-13 brought some excitement as we approached Wellesley College, an all-girls liberal arts school. You could hear the girls screaming from a half of a mile away, and their “Kiss Me” signs were awesome. As a side-note, I did not kiss any of them Smile. I knew that the dreaded “Newton Hills” were approaching at mile marker 16, so I began to mentally prepare for them. It was at this point where I realized what this race meant for me: I was about to learn what I was made of. Could I overcome the disappointment of having to back off of my goal? Was I able to handle a marathon in this heat? I knew deep down that these lessons (whether they were good or bad) were ones that would ultimately make this a memorable, fulfilling experience. Once we finally reached Newton, the sun truly felt hotter than ever. There was no shade in sight, and as my legs began to tire, I felt nearly helpless. I decided at this point that I was not going to look at my watch anymore; I was going to run as well as I could without regard to time. What I learned in miles 16-21 is this: going uphill is not the challenge; going downhill is. I had done a great deal of uphill work in preparation for Boston. Downhill work was still a key part of these workouts, but I had no idea the pain that downhill running can cause. The up-hills on the Newton Hills were not bad at all, in my opinion. Yes, they were tiring, but I felt comfortable on them. Even as we rose up the infamous “Heartbreak Hill”, I felt comfortable. I even had to ask a guy next to me if this truly was THE “Heartbreak Hill”. Unfortunately, the down-hills became something I completely dreaded. As soon as we’d reach the crest of a hill, I knew pain was in my future. It was a pain I could tolerate, but with the heat, I felt very miserable. Many times, I began to doubt myself. I walked for about 20 seconds immediately after “Heartbreak Hill”, something I had never done in a previous marathon. Once I started to go again, I felt like I would be able to finish strong. My quads were hurting and I felt like an endless supply of water was not enough to keep me hydrated; however, the race was nearing its finish.

Running past the Citgo sign

Somewhere around the end of mile 23, just when you think the worst is over, you reach another hill. This hill was milder than the previous hills, but at this point, it was an unwelcome sight. Again, going uphill was feasible; downhill was painful. There were people walking everywhere. As we reached mile 24, I began to think about how I usually feel so excited and strong by this point of a marathon. This time though, I found myself taking a few seconds to walk and ponder how I was going to do this. 2.2 miles should be nothing, but the heat had sucked the life out of me. I then decided that the pain was worth it; this was my moment to take in and remember. At mile 25 we reached the famous Citgo sign and it was that moment that I will never forget. I started to think about all of the training runs in the snow and wind, the way I felt the moment I found out I got into Boston, and how proud I was when I got to go pick up my bib. For that moment, the heat and pain were an afterthought. I was about to finish a temperature record-breaking Boston Marathon. Time did not matter; I was about to be a survivor. These thoughts carried me through the next mile. As I turned the corner onto Boylston Street for the finish, I again began to enjoy the moment. I rarely smile at the end of a race, but I could not help but crack a smile, if only for a few seconds. That smile did not do justice to the happiness I felt inside. As I crossed the finish line at 3:23:49 (way off of my original goal time), I cared about only one thing: seeing Jess, my parents, and my friends (Renee, Laura, Bill, Bill, and Nate). After walking for what seemed like hours (it was maybe 10 minutes or so), I finally got my cell phone and determined where I would meet all of them. As we met up, the conversations and hugs shared are memories that will last for the rest of my life. The heat and quad pain went to the backseat; they simply did not matter anymore.

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Nearing the finish

So where does this leave me now? The Boston Marathon was truly the most amazing marathon experience I have ever had. Being welcomed in town after town by incredible crowd support made the whole thing feel like a 26.2-mile running parade. It was truly amazing. Unfortunately, the work that I put in for a sub-3 marathon was really not utilized in this race. I want redemption. Therefore, I am now going to upgrade from the half-marathon in Cleveland to the full. This leaves me with about a month for recovery, which is not a great deal of time. However, 3 of the guys that I began the Boston Marathon with are also going the same route. We put in the work, we are hungry, and we are ready to focus on time, and not simply survival. See you in Cleveland Smile

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My Boston marathon supporters!

Finally, I want to thank all of my family and friends for the outpouring of support on Twitter and Facebook. I feel truly blessed to know people like each and every one of you. I also want to thank everyone who donated to Jordan’s Family Foundation. The humbling experience of seeing the generosity of so many folks is something that transcends any marathon high. I hope you know how many people felt the love and compassion that came from your generosity.