ďThe 2014 Boston Marathon will be a special event for the City of Boston and all of the municipalities along the course, as well as the sport. The B.A.A. and all involved with producing the event and staging the race are committed to retaining the characteristics which make the Boston Marathon unique. As we seek to do this, official entrants (registered participants), volunteers and spectators may be asked for additional cooperation in certain areas, including transportation, baggage and other logistics.Ē
I recall reading this on the BAA website when registration opened in September. So I canít say Iím surprised by the BAAís announcement Wednesday that they have changed their baggage policy and will restrict the items allowed by participants in all marathon venues.
The biggest change will be that runners will no longer have the option to bring belongings to Hopkinton that they would like to have meet them at the finish line. In the past, runners were given a plastic bag by the BAA that they could fill with clothes, food, cell phone or whatever fit. The bag was stored on a school bus in Athleteís Village and then driven to Boylston Street to meet runners when they finished the race.
Not having baggage drop off in Hopkinton is inconvenient, but other races have done it before. The New York City Marathon offered it as an option for runners in the 2013 race. It was a brisk November morning when runners of that race waited on Staten Island, and somehow they made it work. My friend Laura ran the race last fall and chose to go ďbagless.Ē She said that not having a bag at the finish worked out fine. Boston Marathon runnerís will be able to leave any clothes behind when the race begins. Volunteers will collect all clothing left in Hopkinton and donate it to charity. The BAA will provide new ďwarmth retention capesĒ for runnerís at the finish to keep them a bit warmer than the standard Mylar blanket usually given out. Boylston Street will likely empty out more quickly and less congested as runners finish. Itís inconvenient, but itís doable.
The difference at Boston will be the BAA has prohibited participants from bringing any bags out to Hopkinton on the BAA buses. Depending on what time they plan on dropping runners off at the start, it could be several hours that runners are waiting for the race to begin. My biggest concerns are 1) Iím always cold and will need to find A LOT of clothes I donít mind never getting back to wear to Hopkinton and 2) Iím always hungry and will need to figure out how to bring food with me so I am well fueled for the race. One friend was also concerned about where to carry her role of spare toilet paper, which is totally valid if youíve ever been in the port-o-potties at a race this large. Weíll have to trust the BAA does a good job fulfilling its promise to provide food, beverages and post-o-potties in Athleteís Village.
Oddly enough, a fanny pack, no larger than 15x5x5 is permitted to carry small personal items that runners want to take with them to Boston, such as cell phones, house/hotel keys, ID, nutritional items, such as Gu and as one friend noted, extra toilet paper. I did some research on fanny packs and most are smaller than this max size. A 15x5x5 inch fanny pack actually has quite a bit of room, and is probably larger than Iím willing to carry 26.2 miles. I found one fanny pack that is 14x5x4 inches and while I wouldnít carry it for marathon, it could hold a few things and get me to the start.
Some of the items prohibited this year (glass containers, strollers, suitcases) are often not allowed at races. Other items, like personal hydration systems like CamelBaks, may physically affect some runners. And while prohibiting runners from wearing large bulky costumes may disappoint spectators, it will be nice NOT to get passed by the guy in a banana suit at Mile 19 this year.
The BAA has always discouraged unofficial entrants from running the race and with this yearís larger numbers, I can understand why they feel even more strongly about that. New this year, however, the race is prohibiting unofficial entrants on the course, like cyclists who in the past rode the course early in the morning while the streets were closed or the military ruck-marchers.
I polled my friends on Facebook to hear how they felt about the new policies. This highly unscientific research sample included runners and non-runners, those at or near the finish line last year, those stopped on the course and those who were a bit further away.
Many understood the changes, but not all agreed with them. Those running said they would figure out how to make things work, despite the inconveniences. A few agreed with the changes and acknowledged the security measures made them feel a bit better about attending the event. Many, however, were frustrated by the changes and questioned their real impact improving security. And some questioned how changes, like the restriction on carrying larger flags and unauthorized participants now including military ruck-marchers, will impact some of the spirit around the race. Sure these guys were never registered entrants, but didnít they always get some of the loudest cheers as they marched by?
Personally, Iím still unsure how I feel about the changes. Iíll use the need to find throw-away layers as an opportunity to clean my closets and figure out how to eat properly before the race. Itís frustrating that the actions of 2 people now impact the actions of tens of thousands. As one friend commented, the announcement was a sobering reminder of last yearís events. She and I, probably like many runners, flip back and forth between excited for this yearís race and nervous about our emotional response come April 21st.
But there are changes. And they are changes that almost certainly wouldnít have been implemented this year if not for the events at last yearís marathon.
Since watching my first Boston Marathon in the spring of 2001, ďMarathon MondayĒ has become one of my favorite things about living in Boston, and Iím sure Iím not alone. Whatever individual opinions are held about the new changes, I think they all come from a similar place; however we each define it, we all want the Boston Marathon to remain a special day for runners, for Boston and for the entire running community.
I know Iíve got a marathon to run in just, gulp, 54 days.
But I canít help look ahead a bit until June 8th, when I will run side by side with my cousin Liz in the Runnerís World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon. After running the same half marathon, though not together, in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, I look forward to sharing all 13.1 miles with my only relative who would even consider running that far.
Last week, Runnerís World announced a new partnership for the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon & Festival with Boston Children's Hospital. This partnership will emphasize the free kidsí runs on Friday, June 6, at 6 p.m., kicking off the race weekend.
ďWith this partnership, we see a unique opportunity to work with a world-renowned research and healthcare facility to get kids running and help reverse trends in childhood obesity,Ē said Runnerís World Editor-in-Chief David Willey. ďWe hope to play a small part on laying the foundation for kids to grow up healthy and active.Ē
ďThe Runnerís World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival aligns with Boston Children's Hospitalís mission to help children develop healthy and happy lifestyles that last into adulthood,Ē said David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Childrenís Hospital. Runners interested in fundraising for Boston Childrenís Hospital are invited to join the Miles for Miracles Team.
For about 8 hours a day, when I am not eating, sleeping, running or writing about running, I work on research that seeks to improve childhood obesity (though not at Childrenís Hospital). I believe itís an important issue, as are the efforts in the community, school, home and doctorís office that play a part in addressing this health concern.
A report released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a significant decrease in obesity in 2-5 year old children and no significant change (positive or negative) in almost all other age groups. Thatís really big news after years of continuously increasing obesity rates.
While the race is certainly not going to fix a decades old problem, I commend Runnerís World and Boston Childrenís Hospital on raising funds to support this issue and encouraging more children to get out and be active.
And maybe a few of us big kids too.
I donít know what my problem was this morning. I procrastinated for an extra 15 minutes before I finally left my apartment and started my run. Why? Because I was nervous to attempt todayís 18 miler alone.
I am very well aware that I have been spoiled training for my last 6 Boston Marathons with the Run to End Alzheimerís team. I never have to think about when or how Iíll get water throughout my run. And time passes so much quicker with a few running buddies to swap stories with each week. But with most of the team running the half marathons in Hyannis or Hampton this weekend, there was no organized team run this Saturday.
I did run 15 miles by myself on a treadmill last weekend. But that was different. There was no ice for me to slip on. My water bottle was stashed nicely in the cut out on the ďdashboard.Ē And if something happened at Mile 8, I was not stranded miles from home; I could simply get off the treadmill.
But I eventually made it out the door. My boyfriend offered to meet me at around Mile 8, which would be right near Boston College and bring me some water to relieve one of my worries. I had something to look forward to (almost) midway through my run, and my hydration concerns resolved, so it was time to go.
My first 3.5 miles from home to the corner of Washington Street and Comm Ave in Newton were a little dicey. Poorly shoveled sidewalks kept me in the on the roads and led to several tight squeezes between snow banks and oncoming traffic.
But as soon as I turned the corner up the first of the Comm Ave hills, I felt silly I ever worried about running alone today.
The carriage road was painted with neon clothed runners and charity team logos like the Marathon Coalition and Dreamfar. In the miles between the Newton firehouse and Cleveland Circle, I shared hellos, hugs or high fives with at least 10 running friends.
But even among those I had never met before, there was a sense of community, of a Boston running community, present along the marathon course today. Early in my run, while the roads were still a bit icy, runners would shout to those behind them to look out for slick spots. Runners coming towards me several times warned me of upcoming slippery patches they had just passed.
Runners were not the only ones out this morning either. Volunteers staffed water stops all along Comm Ave to help keep runners hydrated. Staff from the running store True Runner were out pouring water and Gatorade for runners.
The Newton Firefighters offered water and laughs as I struggled through the middle of todayís run. Even when these guys are not handing out water, the restroom and water fountain inside is a regular stop for many runners. I should seriously bake these guys cookies or something to say thank you for the number of times Iíve stopped there.
And the Heartbreak Hill Running Companyís Heartbreak Bill was a photo favorite for many runners stopped at the traffic light at Centre Street.
I donít know why I was so concerned to start. Todayís weather didnít hurt the turnout, but for the next 8 weeks, the marathon course will be full of runners. As I told a friend after my run, itís that time of year again. For residents of Comm Ave, it might mean pulling out of their driveways takes a bit longer these next few weekends. But for Boston runners, itís one of the best parts of having the marathon in our own backyard. Even on a solo run, you donít have to run alone.
It may be a little unfair for me to complain, since I just got back from a week in St. John, but it was pretty much necessary for my own sanity. My post-vacation glow was the only thing that kept me from cursing aloud when I got sprayed with slush while waiting to cross the street today.
But both this less than ideal weather and my vacation did allow me to put into practice some handy tools I've learned about training in less than optimal conditions. What can be less than optimal about a gorgeous Caribbean island, you might ask?
1. The roads in St. John are super hilly. Like Summit Ave hilly, with turns, without sidewalks and along cliffs. Add tourists driving on the left side of the road for possibly the first time and I didn't exactly feel safe running in very many places.
Both before vacation and now that Iíve been home a bit, the winter weather has me tweaking workouts as well. I really donít want to wreck my marathon training by taking a digger while doing a tempo run on icy roads. So I have resigned myself to a few more treadmill runs than I would like, hoping the payoff is worthwhile.
However, in doing so, I add about 20 minutes to my workout time to drive to and from the gym and dress/undress while there. (Iím also way too much of a wimp and would not consider leaving the house without several layers over the shorts and t shirt I run in once at the gym.) Already waking up early (and going to bed too late), itís tough for me to make up for some of this lost time.
On days like these when I have less time for my workout, I prioritize quality of miles over quantity of miles to get the most from my workout. My former running coach, Dean Hebert, taught me the importance of quality over quantity in general and has a great blog post in which he outlines his rubric for substitute workouts.
When my 8-mile run can only be 6 miles, I try to get the greatest bang for my buck on each of those miles. If I can plan in advance for a crazy week at work or vacation, I will bust my butt the weeks before and then cut back and reduce my overall mileage the week things get busy.
And if I canít plan ahead, then I will do the best that I can to adapt my schedule and still get the most out of whatever runs I can. Because training is important, but stuff happens Ė weather, work, life Ė and sometimes we need to have more than just flexible hamstrings to make it all fit.
A few weekends ago, I ran a race where the temperature was quite cold. It took my toes a good 3 miles to stop aching, and by mile 11 I couldn't feel my face. But whine as I may (and perhaps did a little) I had to shut up upon running past the first water stop around mile 2, where volunteers were bundled up and pouring cups of cold water, while still smiling and cheering for runners as they passed by.
If you have run races but have never volunteered at one, I strongly encourage you to do so. I guarantee you will view your next race a little differently.
This past weekend I volunteered at Super Sunday, a 5 Mile and 5K race put on by the RACE Cancer Foundation. I got involved with RACE shortly after my uncle passed away from cancer in late 2008. As is often my response to things that feel beyond my control, I felt like I had to do SOMETHING. Volunteering at a race that gave back to cancer based charities felt like something. And so began my involvement with Run Against Cancer Events.
What I didnít realize would happen from this first Super Sunday race and those that followed, was the new understanding and appreciation I would have for volunteers at the races I have run since. Not that I ever took them for granted, but now I make sure to say thanks when I grab a cup of water, or a course marshal directs me to turn left.
Here are a few things you might not know about those not running at your last race:
- The volunteers probably got up earlier than you did and arrived at the race location while it was still dark to begin setting up.
- Those working the registration table spent more time with their gloves off than on, flipping though bibs and pages of runnerís names when you checked in.
- The cold, rain and snow are not fun to run in, but they are even less fun when you are not moving. Unless you count handing out cups of cold water.
- That sticky spot you run through where everyone tossed their Ĺ empty cups of Gatorade? Guess whose shoes have been standing in it the whole race?
- After you have had a beer or 3 at the post-race party, the trash and recycling does not remove itself from the beer garden/tent/gathering area.
- They do this for free.
At this yearís Super Sunday, race director J Alain Ferry told me that over 60 volunteers were stuck out on the course when the bus service that was supposed to pick them up never showed. Other volunteers came in cars to shuttle them back to the finish area and many walked back where they then jumped in to their next task, assisting with the post-race party or cleaning up.
Kathleen McGonagle, the volunteer executive director of RACE believes the success of the races they are involved in is largely due to the generosity of their volunteers who care about giving back to their community and fighting cancer. Some may give their time to support the running community, while others may volunteer to aid the cause behind the race. TargetCancer, the main beneficiary of Super Sunday, provided over 30 volunteers.
I know that carrying around a clipboard and wearing an orange safety vests seems glamorous, but donít be fooled. Remember to thank the volunteers at your next race. The event couldnít run without them.
When registration for the 2014 Boston Marathon took place last September, 2,976 qualified runners were not accepted due to the large number of registrants. For runners who missed this cut off, or have qualified since then, well, letís just say, I hope you like yogurt.
Last week, Stonyfield Organic was named the official yogurt sponsor of the Boston Marathon. As part of its sponsorship, the company will form Team Stonyfield, giving away nine entries to runners who missed the entry cutoff for the race.
Runners looking to join Team Stonyfield can enter for the chance to win a spot www.stonyfield.com/teamstonyfield. The tenth member of Team Stonyfield will be one of the companyís own employees. The only requirement to apply is that runnerís have a qualifying time from a USATF-sanctioned marathon run after September 22, 2012. The 9 selected runners will receive a bib, team uniform and travel stipend.
There are no fundraising requirements with theses bibs. I feel like this is a bit of a shame, as many good causes could benefit from a few donations raised by these runners. But Iím always pro-fundraising and by not including a fundraising component, it probably makes the applicant pool that much deeper for Stonyfield.
Applications are due by midnight on Monday February 3, 2014. The application looks fairly straightforward, some basic information and a 200 explanation of why you want to run for Team Stonyfield.
I would be shocked if even the most lactose intolerant runner turned down an opportunity like this.
Well, maybe it's not ALL about the schwag, but good race schwag does go a long way.
I don't typically sign up for a race because of the goodies the event provides. My priorities usually go as follows:
1. Race is organized by a company/race director with reputation for good events
2. Convenient date
3. Convenient location
4. My friends are running
But race registration fees are not cheap, so when events give out some cool stuff, it's a point in the event organizing category. This all occurred to me after bringing home what I consider some great race schwag recently. Travelling for the weekend, I ran the Brrr-ooklyn Hot Chocolate Half Marathon Saturday. I was hoping that heading a few miles south might yield warmer temperatures, but that was not quite the case. Yet, I had a great time at this event put on by NYCRuns.
With my $50 registration fee, I received a long sleeve technical shirt, a mug and a pretty sweet finisher's medal. In addition, since it was a chilly 21 degrees (but closer to 8 degrees with the wind), the race provided foil blankets and hot chocolate, and plenty of food at the finish. The race was also well organized with 7 water stops, great volunteers and emails with finishing times sent less than 2 hours after I finished the race.
At a time when registration fees for 5Ks are often $40-$50, I sometimes wonder where all that money goes. I have helped organize races and I understand there are costs that these fees must pay for or in some cases charities that benefit from the event. But sometimes, there are events that seem a bit expensive for what they are offering. I just think it is worth noting a race where I thought the fee was in line with the distance and I truly felt like I got my money's worth.
I don't race in NY all that often, but my family is here, so on the occasion I am back and am looking to run, I will definitely look up the event schedule for NYCRuns again after this experience. I made sure to say thank you to NYCRuns, as I have to other race directors who put on good events. I want to encourage them to keep doing so!
And even if it's not the only reason to sign up for a race, hopefully they also keep the cool schwag.
Since I began running, I have turned my dislike for the activity into a love for the sport. However, week after week, race after race, I found that it not just the sport, but in part, the running community that keeps me motivated and excited to run. I think itís so important that I blog about it.
I am typically not surprised when I hear stories of runners helping other runners, or the larger community. We are, in general, a good bunch. We may stop during a race to help another runner who tripped and fell. We use running races to fundraise for causes important to the physical, social or mental well-being of the communities we live in. We organized races, such as #onerun , to support one another and local businesses after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Yet, I am still surprised, and more importantly impressed, at the way the running community world-wide responded last week to the death of runner Meg Menzies.
Meg Menzies, a mother, wife and runner from Ashland, Virginia, was killed Monday morning, January 13, 2014 by a drunk driver on her morning run. Meg was training for the 2014 Boston Marathon and was an involved member of her local running club, the Richmond Road Runners.
Shortly after her death, Meg's friend Brooke Roney set up a Facebook page for an event called Megís Miles. I emailed Brooke today to ask how the idea started. She wrote to me,
ďI posted in a running group on Facebook called Women's Running Club about my friend's death and that it's a tragic reminder of how we should all be careful on the road. Some of the women in the group were commenting about how we should dedicate our runs to Meg on Saturday the 18th. The name Meg's Miles was suggested and I just created a Facebook Event for it. I thought if people used the hashtag #megsmiles and posted pictures, thoughts, prayers, etc it would be kinda cool to have all in one place on each social media platform.Ē
Runners near and far to Richmond, VA supported this event. Olympian Kara Goucher tweeted
Thanks to social media, the running community does not need to be defined by geography. Runners across the world posted on the Facebook page that they dedicated their miles to Meg on Saturday. Over 96,000 have joined the Facebook event. Using the map developed by organizers, over 3,900 people around the world marked their runs for #megsmiles.
It is a scenario that every runner knows is possible, but no one really believes will ever happen to them. According to local reports of the accident, Meg Menzies was running during daylight at 8:15 am and running against traffic, as runners are taught to do. The driver was intoxicated and it was reported that he ran off the road as he reached to adjust the radio.
I didnít know Meg. But as a runner, when I heard this story, a shiver ran up my spine as I thought ďThat could be any of usĒ. As a human, my heart ached for her family and friends. So on Saturday, my Boston Marathon training group, the Run to End Alzheimerís Team, and our partner training team, Team Brookline dedicated our miles to Meg.
The support and condolences communicated over the course of the last week acknowledges the power of social media, but is also a tribute to just how strong the sense of community is among runners.
I asked Brooke her reaction to the response that #megsmiles has received. She told me,
ďI was expecting a couple hundred people MAYBE to respond to the event. So the fact we had 96,000 people all over the world running for Meg was simply phenomenal. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I didn't do anything. It's everyone else who shared the event and kept gathering support for Meg that did it all. Very proud to be a part of the movement.Ē
It does not mend the pain and suffering that I am sure her loved ones feel right now, but perhaps they can feel a bit of comfort in the international outpouring of remembrance to honor their daughter, mother, wife and friend. The Facebook page acknowledges that not coincidentally, #megsmiles can be read as Megís Miles or Meg Smiles, which is a wonderful way for her family and friends to remember her.
For more information about events and fundraisers, a website, www.megsmiles.com is being developed. Her friends hope to use this tragic loss as a way to raise awareness about drunk and distracted driving and runner safety.
The running world was buzzing this week about...fashion?
Adidas released its 2014 Boston Marathon apparel and runners let their opinions loose on social media. Most notable was the feedback on the 2014 Boston Marathon jacket, perhaps the most distinguishable piece of gear to identify marathoners. Each year, many runners look forward to seeing the new colors and design of the official race apparel in the months before the race. After the 2013 marathon jackets became somewhat of a collector's item, perhaps they were a little more likely to fall into the spotlight.
And speaking of bright lights?
This year's jacket comes in "solar zest", a very bright orange. I don't have strong feelings for or against the colors, but I did smile when I read one comment that referred to the color as "Cheetos' dust." Based on how it appears on my computer screen, it is better than the rest of the women's gear in "orange glow," or what to me looks like the inside of a cantaloupe. (It's a pet peeve when athletic companies try to girlify their women's apparel. Just because I am female, doesn't mean I want to wear pastel colored gear.)
Opinions varied from the pleased and excited to disappointed and disgusted. Boston Magazine initiated an online survey to capture people's reactions. Some of the comments from their Facebook wall include:
I'm running the marathon this year for my Dad who has kidney cancer. The ribbon for kidney cancer is orange, so for me it is a match made in heaven.
I'm so glad it's different. I ran 2013 and every time I see that blue jacket it knocks the wind out of me. Happy to have another chance to cross the finish line and happy to move on with some new colors.
I love it. All runners need a safe color to run on the road
I like it but it brings memories of HoJos to mind.
of course I'll buy it, but I am really disappointed and will most likely continue to proudly wear my 2013 jacket ... it didn't need to be the baa blue & yellow or red/white & blue, but orange? really?
It's the biggest trophy to a runner to have that blue and yellow jacket - I've earned it twice but still don't have it. I'm proud, and love Boston, but I am disappointed.
this would make a nice Easter jacket.
I think they really dropped the ball.. No embroidery at all just iron on stuff.. $110, which is more than last year and the jacket is not great quality at all.. Poor marketing.. However they know we will all buy it.
I don't love or hate the jacket. Or orange. The jackets were orange and black in 2012, and black and orange in 2007. To be honest, I've never been really excited by the colors or design. I buy the jackets, or some other apparel, to have a memento from each marathon I run. I think it's important way to recognize the time and effort that went into the race. Even now, as I celebrate the 10th anniversary of my first Boston Marathon, I still wear my 2004 jacket.
After the bombing at last year's race and the emotions, good and bad, that followed, I guess I envisioned the style would be something more classic, commemorative or patriotic. The words that come to mind when I see this jacket are trendy, fresh and Miami.
It's fine. I might still buy one. And I'm sure, even at $110 a pop, many others will too.
Orange may not be the new black, but come April, the streets of Boston may be seeing a lot more of it.
Race directors from the well known New England relay race Reach the Beach announced on Wednesday that they will be merging with the Ragnar Relay Series. Entering their 16th year, Mike Dionne and Rich Mazzola are best known for their original race in New Hampshire, a 200 mile team relay starting at Canon Mountain and ending at Hampton Beach. The pair later started a Massachusetts relay in 2010 and one time New Jersey relay in 2012.
As part of the partnership, Reach the Beach Massachusetts will fold into Ragnar Cape Cod, which has occurred around the same weekend in May since 2012. Reach the Beach New Hampshire will remain, with New Balance still the primary sponsor, but will have the additional support and resources of Ragnar.
I have run RTB NH 5 times, volunteered at RTB MA twice and ran Ragnar Del Sol in AZ back in 2011. So I have some experience with each race.
I had a good experience running Ragnar del Sol, partly due to my awesome van mates (5 guys and a lot of fart jokes) and partly because I was running in Arizona in February. But beyond that, I thought it was well organized and had enough volunteer and safety support. (Ragnar also requires each team to provide 3 volunteers for the race.)
But it was not Reach the Beach. Maybe it's a New England vs. AZ thing, but while Ragnar Del Sol was well organized and my team was fun, the race just had a different feel.
Reach the Beach New Hampshire was started by 2 guys and a lot of the original volunteers were their family members. Having participated in the race 5 times in the last 7 years, to me, the race still has some of that homegrown feel. Two guys also started Ragnar in 2004, but in Utah. Iím not sure how this national company can bring that to the Cape Cod and New Hampshire races, or if they want to.
This happens all the time, right? A small venture grows to a point it needs the support of a larger business. As the race has grown, support through sponsorship and other resources I'm sure are necessary to sustain the traditions started and accommodate more runners, and so I assume partnering with Ragnar is the next step along these lines.
I want to be excited for Reach the Beach to succeed as a result of this partnership, but change can make me nervous. Iím a little worried that the race that has become a traditional request for a vacation day for me each September will lose itís feel and become just a business.
And on a personal level, Iím also concerned about their charity partnerships. The Alzheimerís Association has been an official charity partner of both the New Hampshire and Massachusetts relays for the last several years and the race raises a good chunk of change for the organization each year. Nothing was mentioned in the announcements about any of the race charities.
While it seems ridiculous to think I would not want to run 17 miles with no sleep, eat mostly peanut butter and jelly and live in a van that smells like old running shoes for 30 hours, I reserve the right to be choosy and will make the decision to run this race year by year, as the race partnership develops.
Afterall, there are much simpler ways to reach the beach.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this afternoon while waiting in very long line when I read this Tweet from @mreils
I googled Team MR8 and read a few articles. I felt goosebumps as I read that the Richard family has established the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation to invest in education, athletics and community to support his now famous message ďNo more hurting people Ė Peace.Ē
The first initiative of the foundation will be to recruit a team to run the Boston Marathon, Team MR8, named for Martinís initials and his favorite number and age. Applications are being accepted until January 17th. Runners will be notified by January 27th is they are selected for the team.
The Martin family announced the launch of the foundation and marathon team in a blog post Monday.
The foundation is asking applicants to commit to raise $7500 for the organization. While this is much steeper than the BAA requirement of $4000, I actually do not think that they will have any trouble finding interested runners. If my experience with the Run to End Alzheimerís is any indication, there are many runners who are capable of raising $7500 and definitely interested in running the marathon. The Alzheimerís Association turned down many quality applicants, simply because there were so many of them and limited numbers to give out. Neither the website or application for Team MR8 specifies how many numbers they will be giving out.
Last week, the Boston Athletic Association also announced they made 50 marathon numbers available to the One Fund Boston. Applications for this team are due Tuesday January 7th at 5pm. The fundraising commitment is $8000 and the team will be supported by local running store, Marathon Sports.
The Boston Marathon has long been known for its qualifying times and competitive runners. This year, it seems the charity runners will be getting quite a bit (of well earned) attention. In case there was any doubt, the Boston Marathon will be a different race this year.
Welcome! Iím excited to meet you! Your predecessor 2013 was a quite handful and while she had some wonderful moments, Iím so glad you are here.
Iím sure you have heard about last yearís Boston Marathon. Obviously, it was an ending to the race that no one could have predicted. It certainly was not something I ever expected to be a part of first hand. Nor did I expect prior to that day that my marathon recovery, more emotional than physical this time around, would take way longer than previous years.
But 2013 did bring together the running community like I have never seen before. Whether it was the moment of silence at the London Marathon or the tributes at many other races thereafter, or the runs organized along the marathon route to offer support and healing to the running community and raise funds for those most seriously affected by the bombings. While I think you have a head start, 2014, I think the spirit around running in Boston throughout the year will be phenomenal, especially for the marathon on April 21st.
Just like last year, I am again training for the Boston Marathon with the Run to End Alzheimerís team. You have brought back many of last yearís teammates and a bunch of wonderful new folks to the team, so we are already off to a good start with our largest team ever! 2013 helped me fundraise just under $9000 for the Alzheimerís Association. It would be pretty great if 2014 will be the year I hit my new fundraising PR. (Help me exceed my goal by making a donation here.)
And while youíre not off to the best start, do you think you could improve upon the winter training weather 2013 gave us?
Only 2 days in, and Iíve already had my first treadmill run of the year. Letís not make this a regular occurrence, ok?
Iím pretty sure the 2014 Boston Marathon will be an incredibly memorable event for the entire running world. I hope you are also filled with some personally memorable moments, like maybe that marathon PR that has been eluding me. I promise 2014 will be my favorite year if that happens! Iíd also like to run some new races, and maybe travel to some new cities to do so. I swear I will stick to my strength training program if it means staying injury-free through 2014 to accomplish all this.
Several friends (and Iím sure many others) ran their firsts 5Ks, 5 milers, half marathons and marathons in 2013. I hope you continue to keep these new running friends inspired and recruit a few more to join the club.
2013 also brought the running community a new marathon record in Berlin. Maybe in 2014, itís the ladiesí turn to break some world records?
Color runs, electric runs, mud runs and zombie runs all seemed to explode in 2013. While I canít say Iím signing up for these races yet, Iím all for getting folks off the couch. And maybe 2014 will also be the year we change the direction of the obesity trend in adults (18 states, including Massachusetts have already showed some slight decreases in obesity rates among children).
2014, I have to say I hardly know you, but I like the possibility of what you might bring. Looking forward to a memorable year!
I stumbled into my first yoga class after a kickboxing class at an old gym. I was on a ďtry something newĒ kick and decided I would stay for the 60 minute Hatha yoga class. I have always been pretty flexible, so I thought Iíd manage to hold my own, despite not knowing the name of a single pose. What I also did not know was the other benefits practicing yoga would bring.
Iím hardly an advanced yogi, but I have been practicing yoga pretty consistently for about 10 years. I havenít yet mastered Salamba Sirsasana (headstand) without a wall or come even close to Galavasana (flying crow).
As a runner, yoga has been both a teaching tool as well as a way to balance the physical strains of running and keep my body healthy. Hereís what I have learned from yoga that I take with me when I run:
- Breathe - Simple right? Inhale. Exhale. But if I listen to my breath, I can learn more about how I am feeling during a run than I may realize.
- Focus Ė Yoga teaches about drishti, focusing the eyes to control attention. When I am struggling during a run, I focus on an object ahead of me and just run towards it. Controlling my attention for short distances helps me to complete longer distances.
- Staying present- Yoga is about the present and what is happening on your mat in the moment. If I am doing a 10x800 workout, there is no pint wondering if I will tire out by the 10th 800 while running #3.
- Core Strength Ė Many yoga poses build and rely on core strength. A strong core is important for runners to maintain good form and avoid injury.
- Rest Ė Every yoga practice ends with the pose Savasana, or corpse pose. Itís a pose of rest, intended to rejuvenate the body and mind after a yoga practice. Rest is good for runners too.
While I try to incorporate stretches into my pre and post-run routines, the mental benefits of a yoga practice still make attending class once a week a worthwhile investment for me. Iím lucky to have one of my favorite yoga instructors, Rebecca Pacheco, teach in a studio just blocks from my home, but there are still some weeks, especially recently, when even that seemed too difficult to fit into my schedule.
Fortunately, Rebecca has a knack for social media and also, conveniently, a passion for running (she ran the Boston Marathon in 2009). In addition to the many videos she has posted on her own website, rebeccapacheco.com, she is the face of the recently launched Runnerís Worldís Yoga Center. The site has 2 25-30 minute classes posted so far, as well as several other short videos of useful yoga poses for runners. Rebecca even throws in some of her usual jokes, which even though Iíve heard more than a few times, still make me smile.
I tried the videos this past month, when snowstorms and travel kept me from attending classes in person. Itís not an exact replacement, but much more structured than my own home practice, where some extra savasana can lead to a nap on my living room floor. For a new yogi, the classes are a good introduction to yoga. I found that hitting the pause button to extend a pose or asana made the classes a bit more challenging for me.
This morning, I treated myself to a yoga class with Rebecca at Inner Strength in Watertown after a chilly 5.5 mile run. I find I usually have a better yoga practice after a run, perhaps because I have lower expectations for myself on these days. And after the speed skating loop I ran around the ice-glossed paths along the Charles, the warm (ok, hot) studio felt amazing.
As I begin my marathon training, I know yoga will be an important part of my weekly routine, both to stay physically healthy and mentally balanced. When I canít get to the yoga studio, I can take advantage of resources like Rebeccaís videos from home.
Iíve just got to be a little flexible.
Does anyone else feel like December went by unusually quickly this year?!
In addition to the normal flurry of holiday gatherings, gift buying and decorating and baking, I've been preparing to switch jobs and beginning the training and fundraising season for the Run to End Alzheimer's marathon team. Add in a few snowstorms to increase the level of difficulty balancing this already tight schedule.
While all of these are good things, they add up. And unfortunately, this blog has taken a hit. I kept up with things as best I could with the "have tos", which took priority over some of the "want tos". And when bedtime was getting too close to the time my alarm would go off in the morning, the "want tos" sometimes had to wait.
Only do that which insists on being done and runs right up against you, hitting you in the eye until you do it." - Samuel Butler
One thing I kept a priority though was running. In addition to the benefits this NY Times post discusses, this important hour of the day helped me maintain my calm for when things would inevitably get crazy later on. It was almost always worth the 60-90 minutes of sleep.
I have missed my time to write the last few weeks, but in the process think I have had the chance to practice what has always been for me a tough lesson Ė accepting that I cannot do it all. I'm never happy when I can't give my best effort, but as it turns out, the times I can do everything and to the best of my ability simultaneously are not very often.
I have tried this month to accept what I could not get done and enjoy those things I chose to do (and tolerate those I had to do). I plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays with friends and family and enjoy every moment. Because in the whole laundry list of things to do this month, thatís really the most important.
Merry Christmas from Run Along!!
Over the 13 years or so that I have been running, I have learned a bit about what I need to do to take care of my body. Whether marathon training, recovering from an injury or preparing for surgery, I have benefitted from the help of a massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor or personal trainer to help me stay or get healthy. And most of these services I have accessed in the same place Ė Joint Ventures Physical Therapy and Fitness.
Iíve been a patient/client at Joint Ventures pretty much since they opened the doors at their Kenmore Square office in 2005. Their mission is to put all the services that patients might utilize under the same roof.
So when I heard about their 1-on-1 running clinic I wanted to see how this practice of coordinated services translated into improving my running.
The clinic included:
ē 60 minute evaluation with a physical therapist
ē 30 minute treatment from a sports Chiropractor
ē 30 minute session with a personal trainer
ē 30 minute massage with a massage therapist
I think I have a pretty solid training routine, but Iím always looking for ways to improve my running, so I was eager to see what the clinic would teach me.
To begin, I filled out a pretty basic intake form about my health, running habits and goals. I met first with physical therapist, Brent Butler. Iíve been to see a physical therapist only when I was injured, so having someone watch me run while healthy was a totally new experience. We discussed the plan for the day and what I had written on the form. We then headed to a treadmill where Brent filmed me running for a few minutes.
Have you ever watched yourself run? In slow motion? Far from the gazelle I like to imagine I am, I saw how my knees are too close together and my foot whips out and my hip drops before I bring my leg forward. Brent froze frames and drew angles to show how I could improve the extension of my back leg in my stride.
At least I would get my moneyís worth with all this to work on.
Next we went to a treatment room where he tested my strength and flexibility in several areas to identify what might be causing my issues. After figuring out my weak spots, we went back to the gym to run through some stretches and exercises to target the areas that need the most improvement, which for me are stiffness in my Illiotibial band (ITB), starting way up at my TFL (tensor fasciae latae) and some associated weakness in my hips. Everything Brent suggested, except one exercise that used a kettle bell, was something I could do at home. I did, in fact use the exercises he suggested in my strength training workout on Monday and was immediately sore in places I am not usually after my usual workouts. I partly blame these Figure 4 planks.
They donít look bad, but, go ahead and try Ďem.
After my time with Brent, he passed me off to Chung Lee, sports chiropractor. In the handoff however, he went over the notes he took during my evaluation and suggested to Chung the areas he might focus on in my treatment session. Chung treated my TFL/ITB with both active release and graston techniques.
If you have not experienced these techniques, the simpliest way I can describe them is different ways to apply pressure to the affected area that helps break up some of the ďjunkĒ clogging up that area and causing discomfort or pain. For the graston technique this includes using metal tool to apply the pressure and specifically for me, it means clutching the side of the treatment table until Chung was done. And while I did not enjoy it in the moment, I did feel better when I walked out of the treatment room.
When Chung finished, I met with personal trainer Kathrine Bright. While I was seeing Chung, Brent briefed her about what areas to focus on with me. She too gave me some exercises that would address my weaker areas. A former collegiate running coach, I also appreciate how she suggested incorporating elements into my workouts that would also help me meet my running goals.
Last, I capped off the clinic with a 30-minute massage from therapist Ryan Holohan. He also spoke with Brent and then asked me where else I might want him to focus the massage (my stress-trapped shoulders, please!). While I would have liked to spend longer on the massage table, it was a good reminder for me to try to schedule regular massages for this marathon training season.
Like Joint Ventureís mission to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to wellness, the running clinic did just that in 2.5 hours. I was impressed by the communication among the staff and even more impressed by the clearly individualized program they developed for me and my particular issues. I was not pushed to come back and pay for additional services, though I'm sure I will. At least to schedule another massage soon.
As the clothes I wore for the Turkey Trot on Thursday still sat crumpled in my hamper, I was out racing again Sunday at my first holiday-themed run of the season.
Yikes, it is December!
Yulefest is a friendly 5K through Harvard Square in Cambridge. Growing in size since itís inaugural race in 2011, this year, about 1500runners completed the race. Due to a delay getting to the starting line, i w as pretty far back when the race started, so a very slow first mile made this jot my beat performance of the year. You can view race results here.
Yulefest is one of 5 races organized by Cambridge 5K. In a short time, this group has gained a reputation for putting on races that emphasize the social aspect of participating in such events. As do many of their other races, Yulefest encouraged costumes and sharing photos on Instagram with contests for both. While I did sport a Santa tee shirt, I was much more subdued with my holiday spirit than some others.
And speaking of tee shirts, the shirts at Cambridge 5K events are reason enough to sign up. They are cotton tee shirts, but the nice, soft ones, often with a pretty good color and design. Now the owner of shirts from 4 events, I wear them a ton.
Even more than their tee shirts, I think Cambridge 5K is also developing a reputation for their post-race parties. Yulefest hosted a block party on Brattle Street, sponsored by 4 local craft brewers. Despite some rain, and the fact that it was only 10:30am, most runners didnít mind hanging out for a few beers and snacks, including soft pretzels and chili.
The only downside to this race was what I assume was an unforeseen glitch in the packet pick-up process the morning of the race. Although early pick-up times were offered Friday and Saturday, a majority of runners chose to pick up their bibs and tee shirts before the race resulting in long lines. I waited for 25 minutes before I was able to get my packet.
On the positive side, the bag check was super organized. At most races there is often a back up here, especially in colder months, as runners wait for the last moment possible to get rid of their bags and warm clothes. A sticker with my bib number was given out in my packet to attach to my bag so it was ready to hand off to the volunteers when I got too the bag check area. Bag check was well-staffed and both drop off and pick up after the race went very quickly.
Although Iím still coming off my turkey hangover, Yulefest was a good kick-off to this holiday season, and not a bad way to burn off some Thanksgiving leftovers either.
If you turkey trotted or gobble wobbled yesterday morning, you took part of the busiest racing day of the year.
According to Runningusa.org, in 2011, Thanksgiving Day surpassed the 4th of July as the most popular day of the year to run a race in the US. That year, there were 698,000 running Thanksgiving day events, compared to 248,000 running 4th of July races that year. In 2012, that number of turkey totters increased to 858,000. One can only assume that number increased again in 2013.
Whether running to compete, catch up with old friends from your hometown or just to burn a few calories before the afternoonís food festivities, lots of people were out racing yesterday morning.
I took the day off on Wednesday so I could travel down to NY to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. And the Wednesday departure was perhaps planned purposefully so that I could be home for the local Turkey Trot Thursday morning. A 5 mile road race, the Garden City Turkey Trot in Garden City NY usually hosts about 3000 runners. Running it for the 3rd time, it is always extremely well organized. More importantly, this was the first year I convinced others to run with me.
Back in Massachusetts, my boyfriendís 9 year old nephew ran his first 5K yesterday, adamant that he would do the full race and not the kidsí run. Iím recruiting him for my team for Thanksgiving 2014 already.
If you participated in a Turkey Trot this year, you can share your pictures at http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/gallery/submit_turkey_trot_pictures/
Runnerís World suggests runnerís make Thanksgiving the kickoff to a holiday running streak. To stay in shape through the holidays, pledge to run at least 1 mile a day from Thanksgiving through New Yearís Day.
Iím not sure if I will be streaking this holiday season, but after all the turkey, sides and pies (yes, plural), I will be heading out for another run again this afternoon.
The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) today announced that the B.A.A. 5K will be held on Saturday, April 19, 2014, two days prior to the 2014 Boston Marathonģ. Registration will be held online at www.baa.org beginning on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. ET and will be limited to 10,000 entrants. The cost to register is $50 USD and participants must be 10 years of age or older to register.
After expanding the marathon field size by 9,000 runners for the 2014 race, the 5K field size has also increased, from approximately 6,000 runners to 10,000. The expanded field size will provide more runners with an opportunity to participate in the marathon weekend activities.
ďIn doing so we are particularly mindful of the desire of a great many people to make an athletic display of their resilience in the face of the April 2013 attack on Boston. With an adjusted location and date, the B.A.A. 5K will continue to provide the boost of excitement and running spirit that have quickly made it a Boston Marathon Weekend tradition embraced by elite and recreational runners alikeĒ said B.A.A. Executive Director Tom Grilk.
The start and finish of the B.A.A. 5K will be relocated from Copley Square Park to Boston Common. The 2014 B.A.A. 5K course will be a scenic tour through Bostonís Back Bay and will take participants down Boylston Street and across the Boston Marathon finish line.
Already a hugely popular race, I would not be surprised to see the 10,000 spots fill up quickly. The change in field is accompanied by a change in location for the start/finish area as well. Instead of Copley Square Park, the start and finish will take place at the Boston Common, most likely to better accommodate the additional participants and spectators.
The inaugural B.A.A 5K was run in 2009, and has since annually taken place on the Sunday before the Boston Marathon. In recognition of Easter Sunday on April 20, 2014, the 2014 B.A.A. 5K will be held on Saturday, April 19, two days prior to the Boston Marathon.
The B.A.A. 5K will mark the beginning of the 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley, a three-race series which combines the B.A.A. 5K, the B.A.A. 10K, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon. Registration for the 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley will be limited. Registration will begin at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, January 22 and will continue until Wednesday, January 29 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Although I canít wrap my head around the fact that Thanksgiving is Thursday, it IS still November and still Fall. But if you ran this weekend, it felt more like January.
With the weekendís temperature high taking place at midnight on Friday, it was all down hill from there. I ran Saturday morning, possibly the friendliest of the daylight hours to run this weekend. However, even though the temperature was around 42 degrees, the winds were kicking up at 15-25 mph. This was great as I ran with a tailwind the first 6 miles of my 12 mile run along the Charles. However, after crossing the Mass Ave bridge, my pace slowed by up to 25 seconds per mile and at times I felt like I was gasping for air as I ran into the wind.
Oh, there may be gaps of warmer, more fall-ish weather still to come, but this weekend was a harsh reminder of what running in Boston during the winter feels like. Today, fortunately was my strength training day, so I didnít feel guilty as I layered up to walk from the parking lot to the gym, before peeling down to shorts and a tee shirt once inside.
My recently new-runner cousin, Liz, has texted me several times in the last month with cold weather running questions. Her most frequently asked question remains, ďHow do you do this in the cold??Ē In additional to good gear and understanding how to layer, I shared with her my biggest tip for staying motivated Ė have a race to train for that will get you out the door for your weekly runs. And while I will be training for the Boston Marathon this winter, I also may have just promised Liz Iíd run a half marathon in Brooklyn this winter as well.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming seasonís weather, I will avoid the treadmill to the greatest extent possible. Including tomorrow morning. Itís not looking particularly warm.
And so I may stand in my hot shower for a few extra minutes to thaw tomorrow morning post-run. And perhaps Iíll wear my compression sleeves under my pants at work until my skin warms up (which means probably all day). But as a runner in Boston, I know it wonít be the last morning I see like this over the next few months. I canít say I welcome the arrival, but it might almost be time to say ďHello, Winter.Ē
I wonder what the runners in Freeburg, IL did to piss off Chad Stafko. It must have been bad as the Wall Street Journal sympathized enough to publish his angry diatribe. And while it is clear he does not care for us motivated, physically active, reflective gear wearing individuals, Iím not sure why Mr. Stafko is angered by the ďhigh visibilityĒ of running in this country.
Some examples from his article that cause my confusion:
"There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats."
Well, donít most bumper stickers tell the reader something they never really asked? And often, arenít they displayed with a sense of pride? I donít think the bumper stickers for Boston University or Stonehill College on the neighboring cars in my parking lot serve any more functional purpose, nor do they offend or anger me.
"Almost every day I see people running: in the city, through subdivisions or out on country roads. They're everywhere and at all times, from dawn until dark, their reflective gear flickering along the road."
How much worse would it be if he couldnít see us and hit a runner while driving? Youíre welcome!
"These 15.5 million are hoofing it through marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, fun runs, night runs, charity runs and what can only be labeled as insane ultramarathon runs of 50 miles or more."
It is worth pointing out that there is still an obesity epidemic in this country and there are many health benefits to being physically active. The fact that 15.5 million less people are not sitting on the couch watching TV is a REALLY good thing.
"When they're not out there sweating through the miles, they can relax with a running magazine. Or these runners, when they're not running, can go shoppingóat a running store."
Yep, just like there are stores and magazines for pretty much every other hobby or sport.
Art, cooking, fishing, interior design, baseball card collectingÖIím not sure itís terribly surprising people want to get their information and goods from people with expertise on the topic and products.
"I have a theory. There is no more visible form of strenuous exercise than running."
Runners may not need access to a field or ice rink to exercise, so they may be easier to see without seeking them out. But I would wager that for every runner Mr Stafko sees, there are 5 more training that he didnít see, running before the kids wake up at 5:00am, after their shifts end at 10:00pm or off the road through trails in the woods.
"These days, people want more than ever to be seen."
So why does that make runners the bad guys? Is it any worse to take a picture with your medal post-race than it is to take a photo sitting at your favorite restaurant or on the beach at your favorite vacation spot and post it on Facebook or Instagram? Sharing and exchanging information; that is social media.
And social media just got A LOT of people to read his article. Maybe someone else just wanted to be seen.
At some point shortly after I moved to Boston, shortly after I started running, I learned that working out first thing in the morning was the best way for me to fit a workout into my day. With the exception of 2-3 crazy friends over the last 13 years, many of these morning workouts have been solo. Even at the gym, the crowd is thin before 6am.
Having trouble finding one person to workout with before sunrise, I would have never imagined I would find, oh, 400 or so others who had the same idea. But thatís exactly what November Project is about and why the other 400 folks were at Harvard Stadium when I showed up for the first time this past August.
November Project was started by Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric, pals and former college teammates looking for some motivation to stay in shape as the weather got colder, without having to spend money.
I had heard about the group about a year ago when my coworker, Renata, began attending their workouts. Here is what I knew before my first workout:
- Workouts are Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 6:30am.
- Mondays require running to a different location each week where the group meet to workout together and then running home. (The locations are usually more than 5 miles from home for me and donít allow me enough time to get home and out to work, so I admit, I have yet to make it to a Monday workout).
- Wednesdays are sets of stairs at the Harvard Stadium.
- Fridays are repeats up the hill at Summit Ave.
- They hug a lot.
- They drop F-bombs a lot.
My first workout was on a 90 degree Wednesday back in mid-August. I was expecting to see a lot people at Harvard Stadium, yet I was still shocked when I got there and saw the number of people stretching, chatting, and waiting for Brogan to kick things off. There were many others who began with the ďearly group,Ē already making their way around the stadium.
Equally impressive was the number of newbies present that morning. I know because while the ďbig kidsĒ started their workout, Brogan pulled all the rookies aside. After introductions and some hugs, followed by exchanges of ďIím glad youíre here,Ē he explained the drill. With a final ďF#$% yeah!Ē we were set loose.
I do think a lot of the success of November Project has to do with the leadership of Brogan and Bojan, at least initially. Whether it is by rallying the ďtribeĒ (as they refer to the group) before a workout or using social media to share stories from the morning, they have built a community that people want to be a part of.
His name is Ron... pic.twitter.com/YySt5qBPqS— November Project (@Nov_Project) August 30, 2013
What I thought would be one or two visits to November Project quickly changed when I completed only Ĺ of the 37 sections, and with uncontrollably shaky legs at that. At the very least I would be back to finish a full tour.
The competitive thing may be the biggest driver getting me to November Project. But I canít ignore the people. SO MANY PEOPLE. I donít have a group of friends who meet up at November Project, so no one but me really knows if I show up. Thatís not the case for everyone. Whether they run every hill or stadium section together or just arrive together before taking off at separate paces, in many cases, its knowing others are there that get people to show up in the first place. However, even if I never met 399 of the 400 people in the stadium, I know when I leave my house of a cold, dark morning that I wonít be out there alone.
November Project is not just exploding in Boston, but has started up in 6 other cities in the US and Canada. They are the cover story on the December issue of Runnerís World (on newsstands and being delivered in November, of course).
I recently asked November Project about their response to the cover. They told me, ďIf someone reads about our movement and it gets them out the door one extra time... well that's a win.Ē
Iíve since been to at least one Wednesday or Friday November Project workout each week but one since that mid-August Wednesday. Iíve completed a max 42 stadium sections and 6 hill repeats up Summit Ave. Nobody really cares except me. But to beat those personal bests, in a setting where someone encourages me to keep going at least as many times as I swear at myself, is why I keep showing up.
This November Project is on to something.
Rarely am I a spectator at races. When I'm not running, I'm usually volunteering. Most of the occasions where I began as a spectator, at some point I switched over to pacer/support crew, running a few miles with a friend.
But this weekend I wanted to stand on the sidewalk, cheer and take pictures. Specifically, I wanted to go and watch the New York City Marathon. Maybe it was because I bypassed a fall marathon myself this year, or maybe it was to support my regular morning training partner, Laura as she took on her 2nd marathon in 4 weeks. Maybe it was because NYC is a major marathon and I needed to see it go off successfully before I was fully ready to run Boston next spring. Whatever the reason, I just knew I wanted to be there this weekend.
The race itself didn't disappoint. I watched from just before mile 18 on 1st Ave. We picked the spot mostly because it was convenient to meet other friends afterwards in that neighborhood, but it was also where I started to collapse the year I ran the New York City Marathon, so I was hoping I could help out those runners who might have unfortunately landed in that boat this year.
As expected, the best part of being on the sidelines was, cheering for those I went to see, but equally enjoyable was seeing others cheering for their runners. Next to me, 4 girls with self-made posters waited for their dad, who came over to kiss each of them, and his wife, and grabbed a few Tylenol before hitting the road again. ďMariaĒ had an entire fan club on both my left and right cheering for her when she arrived. Running around a 4:30 pace, she looked so happy and proud. She stopped to hug a woman who appeared to be her grandmother and blew kisses at everyone else before jumping back into the sea of runners where I saw on her back she was running ďFor PopĒ.
A record 50,740 started the race this year. Finding runners in a race this large is no easy task. Iím glad I was able to see a few folks, including Laura, but definitely missed others. Watching the race reminded me why it's important to dress in colors that stand out and to tell my family and friends what I will be wearing. A few walkers, hobblers and shufflers reminded me why I do not wear my name on my shirt. I did not tell any of them, they were "almost there" or that they "had this" since I know I wouldn't have wanted to hear it if that were me.
The 2012 marathon was cancelled as a result of Superstorm Sandy and I was a bit surprised not to hear or see more about that during the race. I did however see a lot of BostonStrong on the course, and my boyfriend, wearing his Patriotís jersey, got cheers from at least 3 runners.
I didnít make it to Central Park to see the finishers where Geoffrey Mutai defended his title from 2011 and Priscah Jeptoo won for the women. But, as amazing as those elite athletes are to watch, I was kind of glad I spent most of my time cheering for those who trained for months and were only seeking to beat the goals they set for themselves.
Watching the New York City Marathon this weekend provided bit of inspiration, a bit of envy and a reminder of what I can expect less than 6 months from now when I run my next marathon.
I'm not a big Halloween fan. I hate being scared and I've never gotten really excited about dressing up in costume. I'm pretty much only in it for the candy.
So it surprised my friends and family that I was excited to run the Devil's Chase, a 6.66 mile race last Saturday in the Halloween capital of the world, Salem, Massachusetts.
Perhaps unlike many of the other 967 runners there on Saturday morning, I was less excited about kicking off the haunted holiday week and more excited about running a nice mid-distance race on a friendly, flat course. Ok, and it was pretty entertaining running next to a giant hot dog.
The race was organized by B&S Event Management. They host a few races throughout the year in the Salem area (not all include costumes). I've run this race in 2011 and the Black Cat 20 Miler in 2012. All 3 times I have run one of their races I have been impressed with the event, from signage along the course to the t-shirts.
If you are a Halloween fan, I'd definitely recommend it as both a good race and fun event. I would say I was in the minority without a costume or Halloween-themed attire.
And if you're not a Halloween lover, I'd still also recommend it as a way to observe the festivities or just run a fast 10k+. At the very least, it's a good excuse to indulge in a bag of candy corn later.
Marathon runners are known to be resilient. Training takes time, strength and sacrifice. It takes the mental and physical ability to keep moving forward after a bad mile, a bad run or an injury. And the race itself, while often said to be the ďicing on the cakeĒ, is not exactly a piece of cake.
Although circumstances made training for her first marathon about 100 times tougher than my first experience, Lee Ann Yanni never doubted that she would run the Chicago Marathon last Sunday, October 13. She registered for the Chicago Marathon back in February and decided to run for the Livestrong Foundation in memory of her father. Her training was going well until April 15th, when Lee Ann was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Watching the race in front of Marathon Sports, Lee Ann was just feet away from the first bomb. She suffered an open fracture of her left fibula (thatís bone breaking through the skin in non-medical terms), shattered her lower ankle, severed nerves in her leg, broke her big toe and punctured her eardrum. She went through 3 surgeries in 5 days to remove the debris in her leg, repair the broken bones, remove 2 muscles in her leg and complete a skin graft to close up the area of her leg that, as she describes, had Ēessentially been filleted openĒ to conduct all the repairs necessary.
Already impressed by her positive attitude, she told me, ďFor a bad injury, it was probably the best case scenario.Ē And, despite her injuries, the question she asked her doctors repeatedly was ďWhen can I run again?Ē Not running the Chicago Marathon was just never an option.
A physical therapist, Lee Ann knew what lay ahead in her recovery process. However, her rehab may have helped her train more for the marathon than she knew at the time. Her recovery was based on milestones: walk with 2 crutches, walk with one crutch, walk without crutches, run. After briefly celebrating each accomplishment, her sights quickly turned to overcoming her next hurdle, much like getting past each mile of the marathon.
Training for this marathon also seems to have played a part in Lee Annís emotional recovery as well. Lee Ann meets weekly with a support group for those injured by the bombings. She says they are working towards ďgetting back to new normals,Ē the routines of daily life as they now incorporate the changes that may have taken place since April. For Lee Ann, that meant running the Chicago Marathon. ďIíve got the runnerís heart. I wasnít going to be happy until I could run again.Ē
While many runners receive praise from their friends and family for their ability to train and complete a feat not attempted by many, Lee Ann has become a symbol of strength and resilience for an entire city. However, for Lee Ann, the Chicago marathon was about running for her dad. The race, which took place on October 13th, was 4 days before the anniversary of his passing.
Lee Ann started her actual running training program only 5 Ĺ weeks before the marathon. In the process, she learned things such as her gait had changed, and she needed a different running shoe to run comfortably. She and her physical therapist played around with walk/run combinations that allowed her to run most comfortably. They decided on a 4-minute walk, 2 minute run plan.
Despite a very different pre-race training program, her marathon experience was very similar to that of many other runners. She arrived at the starting line excited, nervous and scared. Her friend, Stephanie, ran beside her throughout the race.
She recalled the first 5 miles went by quickly. She felt pretty good at halfway point, despite her longest training run being only 11 miles. Getting to Mile 16 was an accomplishment, but the last 10 miles were tough. She laughed a bit when she said, ďMy body didnít hurt much different from 16, 17, 18 to the finish. It just hurt.Ē At Mile 21 she experienced hitting the wall, but like many marathoners was able to refocus at Mile 24 and by Mile 25, she realized she was really going to finish her first marathon.
She ran the last 400 meters or so and as she crossed the finish, threw her hands in the air and tears filled her eyes. They announced her name, ďLee Yanni, Boston Marathon survivor running today!Ē I got goose bumps just hearing her tell the story.
When I spoke with her, a week after the marathon, she noted that what she had done was just catching up to her. She also acknowledged that her recovery is far from over. While the marathon was a huge accomplishment, she still has plenty of work to do. She still has some pain when she walks and going down stairs can be difficult. At work, she gets frustrated that she canít always show her physical therapy patients the exercises they need because she canít yet do them herself.
To manage this frustration, she remembers each milestone that she has overcome and takes in how much progress she has made in just 6 months and what's up next. Sheís accomplished so much, yet she keeps looking forward.
Lee Ann admits that while she was extremely glad to be able to complete Chicago, she still looks forward to running a race without the structured walk/run plan. She is already thinking about how she will build her strength over the next several months so she can run her next marathon. Perhaps one next April.
This might surprise the readers of this blog, but not everyone likes to run.
I know itís hard to believe, but it is true. Fortunately some folks out there are not letting this stop them from trying to get more and more people to experience and enjoy running.
Forest Hills Runners are looking to change the culture of running. They are a community running group based in Jamaica Plain that seeks to get everyone from Olympians to people who have never run a step in their lives to get out and run.
The group welcomes new runners to their weekly runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm at the Stonybrook T Stop. In addition these runs, the Forest Hills Runners are also hosting the 1st Annual Franklin Park Mile this Sunday, October 20. The event, like the running group, welcomes runners of all abilities. The distance was purposely selected to encourage everyone to participate from the seasoned runner trying to set a mile PR to the dad looking to get back into shape.
It is a race, it will be timed, and there will be prizes for the winners. But there will be multiple heats so participants can run their fastest race, with the last heat for children and families.
Although perfectly acceptable, participants donít need dry fit t-shirts or $100 running shoes to run. The race registration fee is only $10, except if you are under 16 years old, and then itís free. The only thing the Forest Hills Runners may share with tobacco companies is the understanding that habits are formed at an early age. As far as they are concerned, the goal is to get as many kids as possible to run on Sunday. And if those kids keep running after Sunday, even better.
One mile can be either a friendly or challenging distance to run. Give it a try if the last time you ran a mile was in phys ed class. Invite your boyfriend, your niece or your neighbor to join you. It may be just one mile, but for some, maybe it will be the one that keeps them running.
You can register for the Franklin Park Mile here. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Hyde Square Task Force and the Franklin Park Coalition.