Having dealt with Diabetes since the age of 14, he wanted to do something special to celebrate the discovery of Insulin 100 years ago. With that in mind, Stephen set out for the quad. Running Boston 4x back-to-back to run 100 miles for 100 years. This is the story of Stephen England and a breakdown of his 100 miler.
As a competitive runner, surely you have circled the Boston Marathon as a “must” on your career goals. A marathon that only accepts runners who meet a certain qualification standard, its reserved for the best amateur runners in the world. While the course is difficult with rolling terrain and “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 21, Stephen England decided it was time to up the challenge.
In order to complete the quad on time, Stephen started his journey at 3PM on Sunday October 10th. He was allowing himself 6 hours per marathon, a time he thought was well within reason. Having been a sub 3 hour marathon runner and completing multiple ultras, he was ready for the challenge. The largest hurdle he would face is fully supporting himself due to no aid stations and running through the night. His plan was to carry money and stop at 24 hour service stations along the route. Prior to the run, Stephen performed a few running assessments with the COROS POD to identify his running efficiency. Being a strong and proven runner, Stephen noted that his cadence always remained over 178 when he was being efficient. This cadence resulted in the lowest form power and best left/right balance. Running for such a long time, he knew this one cadence number would be key for him to reduce additional strain on his body while he was actively running.
Marathon Number 1:
- Stephen started at 3PM and began running in his aerobic endurance heart rate zone at a cadence of 180. Knowing he had a long day ahead of him, he remained calm and steady. Throughout the first marathon he had plenty of water and food on hand as all of the stores were open and he could stop as needed. Throughout the first 26.2 miles, Stephen was able to let the miles tick by, shuffle uphills, and maintain his cadence and efficiency throughout. By the end of the first leg, he text his buddy in the area for some nutritional help. Much to the joy of Stephen, he showed up with pizza and waters for the next 26.2 miles. First marathon completed in 5 hours 35 minutes. Smooth sailing!
Marathon Number 2:
- After having pizza and carrying extra water in his backpack, Stephen took off for the 2nd marathon. At this point, stores were still open, but street lights were on and it was dark. This next 26.2 would take him from 9PM until 3AM. On his first leg, he noted a vending machine about half-way and a citgo gas station near the city of Boston. Those were going to be his fill up stations. The running portion of this leg began to slow. Stephen was able to keep his heart rate low by walking all of the uphill sections. When on the downslope, Stephen would get back to a light run and maintain his cadence of 180. As Stephen arrived at the vending machine outside of a convienant store, he noticed they were set to close soon. He ran in and gave the cashier a $5 in exchange for singles. Upon exiting he thought “no, I better go back in and exchange a $20 for singles”. The store was closing and this vending machine was his lifeline!
- As Stephen continued, he noticed large groups of cyclists coming by. After seeing 3 to 4 pelotons pass, he finally asked what was going on. One of the cyclists responded “this is a yearly tradition, they shut down the streets for the marathon so we ride them at night!”. While Stephen was out there on his own, he was also amongst many individuals utilizing the closed streets. Along with the cyclists, Stephen became aware of another individual doing the quad. There was a runner about 4 miles ahead of him with a caravan of support. This runner had already done the quad 3 other times in his life and was running it again! While it was the middle of the night, Stephen still had plenty of motivation and others around to keep him going! Stephen finished the 2nd marathon in 6 hours and was still on pace.
Marathon Number 3:
- This is where the true journey began. It was 3AM now, stores were closed, after the Citgo in Boston, he only had the vending machine ahead. Cyclists were starting to call it a night. His buddy was fast asleep and not available for any emergencies. Stephen was truly on his own. His only goal during this marathon was to make it back in time for the start of the actual race. Throughout these 26.2 miles, Stephen focused on a fast shuffle and running when possible. When looking at his data, this was the hardest section of the entire 24 hours. Cadence dropped, ground time increased, there was little momentum. To try and help the situation, Stephen came across a Wendy’s that looked to be open. Drive thru only. After assessing the situation with multiple cars in line, he deemed it better to keep moving than wait 20 minutes for coffee and may not be served without a car. Eventually, he stumbled upon a Dunkin Donuts. After running 70 miles, he walked in and stood in line. “I found it remarkable that nobody looked at me any differently, I had just run 70 miles through the night, but I was just another customer. Everyone thought I was just waking up early for the race!”. After getting his coffee and something to eat, Stephen continued on. Next stop was the vending machine! “As I was getting my snacks, a police officer rolled in. He looked at me and asked what I was doing. I noted I was running and this was my only source of food. You could tell he was a bit skeptical, but alas, another fun interaction during my journey”. The first few miles of Boston are downhill which means these last few miles for Stephen were uphill. He had to get to the start line for the race, and his final 26.2. “As I ran the last 2 miles, people were shouting at me that I was running the wrong way!”. “I just laughed to myself and kept on running”. He was late to the race, but didn’t mind. “If I would have started in my appropriate wave, I would have slowed everyone down. It’s probably better I was late so I could be towards the back”. Stephen ran his 3rd marathon in a little over 6 hours and was now done with 78+ miles.
Marathon Number 4:
- Here we go, this was it. The last leg and the actual BOSTON MARATHON! By this time, Stephen was exhausted. He thought multiple times “how am I going to get this done?”. Sure enough, he focused on placing one foot in front of the other. “I was lucky to find 2 other runners that were at the same pace as me. We ran together from mile 4 until mile 13. We laughed, joked, and told stories. These 2 ladies helped me focus on anything other than how I was feeling.” After mile 13, his buddy came to find him. “Hey Stephen, if you don’t finish this by 5PM, we aren’t going to catch the train home (NYC)”. Stephen wasn’t in any shape to push harder, but he also didn’t want to ride home solo. “I left my two female running buddies at mile 13 and pushed onwards with my friend”. From the data, you can see a distinct return to 180 cadence and heart rate drifting upwards the last 13 miles. Stephen used his coaching cue of 180 cadence during this final stretch to increase his running efficiency and reduce his form power. For being on his legs this long, it was an incredible accomplishment to lift the pace! Stephen went on to finish the Boston Marathon and ultimately his 100 miles for 100 years of insulin. When it was all said and done, Stephen ran 106.68 miles in 25 hours, 9 minutes, and 24 seconds. His average pace was 14:09/mile.
Analysis of Data
When running 100 miles, typical metrics such as pace only serve as outcome goals. Rather, we had a focus with Stephen of maintaining aerobic heart rate and always getting back to 180 cadence when running. Through training and past assessments, we had identified this cadence as ideal for not only running efficiency, but also posture, stride height, stride ratio, and left/right balance. Throughout the run, Stephen’s pace slowed which is to be expected as fatigue sets in. However, throughout the entire run, he was able to maintain a lower heart rate. This is what allowed Stephen to continue without extended periods of rest. Overall the run was performed focusing on process and performance goals which led to achieving his outcome: 106.68 miles.
It’s amazing what the human body is capable of. For Stephen, he set out with a specific plan and approach for his running abilities. By focusing on his cadence and efficiency, he was able to complete his 100 miles for 100 years on one of the hardest marathon courses out there. We wanted to say a big congratulations to Stephen England on accomplishing this feat. Our users continually amaze us and the adventures they take their COROS watch on. Continue to do great things, continue to explore perfection!