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Training Journal

My journal of running, training and racing.

Boston Marathon 2014 - Race Recap

Mark Junkans

I qualified for Boston in my second marathon, the 2012 Houston Marathon. Since that time I've done several triathlons ranging from half to full ironman distance along with a 24 hour event where I ran 119 miles. Throughout this time, I’ve maintained my aerobic base, but have felt like my marathon specific skills have been going backwards instead of progressing.

After a disappointing result at the Houston Marathon in 2014 due to lot of oversees travel and some injury, I was determined to have a good race in Boston and try for a personal record. Things progressed nicely during the 10 week lead up to Boston and I finally began to feel like I was back in marathon shape. Even so, I still had a difficult time completing a couple of the more difficult long runs that included tempo and pace work. I was still hopeful that I could hit a 2:45, but a 1:23 hilly Atlanta half marathon three weeks out from the race left me concerned. That pace felt perfectly fine, but the hills were definitely a factor. Either way, I was going to do my best.

Race Day

Ken and I ready to go race. Notice his fanny pack.  I was as jealous of his fanny pack as he was of my high split shorts..

Ken and I ready to go race. Notice his fanny pack.  I was as jealous of his fanny pack as he was of my high split shorts..

Race day came and I couldn't have been more relaxed and excited at the same time. Eric, my gracious host, dropped Ken Chitwood and I off right in from of the house where I was able to wait with the Skechers Performance Elite Team. This was awesome, and we were able to just chill out and relax for a couple hours while we waited for the corrals to begin to fill up.

Livin' large at the Skechers house near the start.

Livin' large at the Skechers house near the start.

I had decided to run with Jonathan Hill from Ireland who is on the team, as we were both shooting for the same time. When the gun went off, we were caught up in a slow moving crowd, and our first mile was ridiculously easy. We both kept telling each other that this was a good thing, as our plan for the first five miles was to go out slower than goal pace anyway despite the downhills.

After mile 5 or so we were able to open up a bit, and held to below goal pace for the middle section. Our effort was so easy at this point that both of us were tempted to run harder, risking burnout later on in the race. Our pace hovered around 6:15 give or take.

Jonathan Hill and I cruising along and chatting it up near Ashland.  He killed it with a 2:45 marathon.  

Jonathan Hill and I cruising along and chatting it up near Ashland.  He killed it with a 2:45 marathon.  

At about the halfway point, my left quad started to get wonky. I told Jonathan about it and we tried to burn it off a little by increasing pace. At about mile 14 I knew things were only getting worse, so in shame I broke off and walked for about 30 seconds to try and bring it back. I cranked things up again and tried to settle back into my goal pace, but I soon hit the Newton Hills (I knew that the hills would be my nemesis since I train in flat Houston). So, instead of hammering the hills at goal pace, I decided to just take it easy and keep an even effort throughout.

After the hills I tried to rally, but knew that to do so would mean a lot of pain and a potential bonk. I just didn't think that my legs had it in them to push to the end without a blowup. I just kept a steady effort that around a 3 hr marathon pace. Part of this decision was making sure the wheels didn’t completely come off, and I honestly just wanting to enjoy last part of the race as I entered Boston. I totally fine with not hitting a PR and totally soaked in the moment. The wall to wall crowds, the wall of sound, and the runners around me were so overwhelming that I was getting pretty emotional the closer I got to the finish.

As I turned onto Boylston street, all I could think about was my dad, my mom, my family and everyone I was running for. That stretch was like a total time warp and seemed to last an eternity as the end of race tunnel vision was in full effect. I will never forget the finish, and have never been so proud to wear a race medal. Normally it would just goes into a pocket and get hung in the garage. This one is different because of what this race means for the city of Boston and for the whole running community.

Holding up my little victory sign.  God is good!

Holding up my little victory sign.  God is good!

I finished up with a time of 2:52:46 or an average pace of 6:34 per mile. I’m not entirely happy with how the race went, and still need to meet my 2014 goal of a sub 2:45 marathon. So, I'm looking for the best fall marathon to train up for. Flat, fast and cool please.

Never been more proud of a medal in all my life.

Never been more proud of a medal in all my life.

During this cycle I averaged 70-80 miles per week, and hit a couple peak weeks in the 90's. Coach Caleb was awesome, as usual, and did his best to prepare my legs for a fast race. Where I dropped the ball was in lifting weights and climbing stairs to prepare for the course. I was fast enough, but just not strong enough. That needs to change, as does my Lactate Threshold, giving me an even bigger window to work with.

For nutrition, I took two scoops of UCAN Superstarch and had about about 240 calories of Island Boost from a gel flask. I also got a sip of water from most of the aid stations, but in the final 5 miles or so just skipped them.

I will definitely be back to Boston, but with Rocky Raccon 100 Miler at the end of January, I'm not sure what kind of marathon shape I'll be in next year. Need to make some decisions….

Thank You's

  1. My wife Natalia for putting up with my training and racing schedule.
  2. My mom and siblings for tracking and cheering for me.
  3. Eric and Amy Sahlberg for hosting me at their home.
  4. Coach Caleb Masland for doing all the thinking for me in training.