Several years ago I started blogging to keep myself motivated to write, much like training for a race keeps me motivated to run, even on an 8 degree February morning at 5am. I was fortunate that last year, Boston.com invited me to share my words with a much bigger audience. I started Run Along and you read it!
As a result, I not only had a new reason to write regularly, but also the chance to experience all sorts of new things. I entered races I had never considered running; I ran with run clubs I had never participated in; I met many new people, including my first "Twitter friends" most of whom I still have not met in real life. For all these opportunities I am extremely grateful.
Boston.com is ending the Community Voices blogs of which Run Along was part and this will be my last official post. I'm working on my next project and like running a new route, Iím out exploring the course. You can follow me on Twitter @chrissypants629 to keep in touch and find out where the next turn takes me.
Thank you for reading over the last year. This has been so much fun, but it's time now to move on. I hope you will run along with me.
My cousin Liz started running with a New Yearís resolution in 2013. That year, I ran her first race, the Harpoon 5-Miler, with her. She has since completed a bunch more including 2 half marathons. Iím proud to say sheís hooked.
Iím even more proud that she decided to fundraise for her next half marathon, the Heartbreak Hill Half. Sheís raising money for a camp for kids with disabilities that her sister attended before passing away last fall. Liz set her goal to raise $1000 and is surprised that she has already surpassed it with over a month to go before the race. Iím not.
Fundraising is way scarier before you get started. Having raised money for 8 Boston Marathons and several other races in between, Iíve gotten over that fear. Here are some of my tricks and tips that have helped me fundraise year after year.
- Fundraising will be most successful if the cause is meaningful to you. People are often uncomfortable asking their friends and family to make donations. If a cause is truly important to you, you shouldnít feel bad asking for donations. After all, itís not like itís ending up in your pocket. And chances are if the cause is important to you, itís important to some of your friends and family too.
- Trick you family and friends into donating by paying for goods and services they would purchase anyway. OK, so donít exactly lie to them, but you can find ways to raise funds without making direct asks. Even if someone doesnít have a specific tie to a cause, they might be willing to pay for a wine tasting event or bid on a auction item. This year, I held a ďspa dayĒ fundraiser at Tranquility Day Spa. I spoke to the owner after a pedicure one day and told her I was running the marathon for the Alzheimerís Association. Long story short, she said sheíd love to help! My friends had no problem scheduling appointments for massages and manicures and Tranquility generously donated 50% from all services to the Alzheimerís Association.
- Donít discount even the smallest donations. I have friends who each year get a chunk of their fundraising done doing an old-fashioned boot drive, soliciting donations in a boot walking through stopped traffic at busy town intersections. (The first time I heard the term, I actually didnít know what a boot drive was.) Lots of loose change collected over a few hours on a Saturday afternoon has equaled over $1000 in donations for them!
- Have a strategy. Just posting your fundraising link on Facebook does not raise thousands of dollars for most people. Have a few ideas planned to increase your chances of reaching the most people. It might take some planning, but the worst that can happen is you raise more than you planned.
- Get creative. I fundraised for my first race in 2004. Sure my networks have grown and changed, but there are a lot of folks who have been getting emails from me for all 10 years. Every year, I try to find a new idea. This year, it was creating t-shirts. I designed a shirt around this yearís race and with permission from the Alzheimerís Association, sold them to the team, in addition to my friends and family. I worked with One Billion Shirts to produce the shirts. I chose them because in addition to making a great shirt, they also donate $.25 from each shirt back to the charity of the customerís choice. And as it turns out, they were also really nice to work with.
- Say thank you. Whether someone donated $5 or $500, let them know you appreciate it. I try to send quick email and Facebook thank yous as donations arrive. After the event however, I take the time to create cards, usually with a photo from the race and a personal note to thank my donors as well as let them know how the race and my fundraising ended up.
Since I canít write the check myself, fundraising for a charity is one way for me to try to cause change around issues that are important to me. And combing it with running just makes it more fun. Yet despite my unsolicited, hardly-an-expert advice, I know fundraising will never appeal to some. But if you are considering it, I would encourage you not to let your fears get in the way of doing something I can guarantee will make your race even more rewarding.
Consider my 2 cents your first donation.
Since I watched my first Boston Marathon from my Cambridge apartment on April 16, 2001, Patriotís Day has been one of my favorite days of the year. As I later volunteered and then ran the race, I grew to not only love the event, but also the spirit of the city on this particular day each year.
This year was the sameÖbut different. It's been a crazy year of lows and highs but I think the marathon was the grand celebration that everyone wished for after the year of hurting, healing and hoping. It was not just the spirit of the city that shined but also its will.
The 2014 Marathon had one of the highest official finishing rates in the raceís history, with 90% of starters finishing before the course officially closed at 6:15, according to competitor.com. However, if you count all those who came in after 6:15, the rate was more like 99%. Finishing was the goal, even if everything else was going wrong; these runners did not run with their legs, but with their hearts.
Boston has found some comfort over the last year when there have been reasons to celebrate as a city. If the Red Sox winning the World Series last year was the icing on the cake, Meb winning this yearís Boston Marathon was the cherry on top. The first American to win the race on over 30 years, Meb Kefelzighi ran a personal best of 2:08:37 to capture the victory.
Meb winning was pretty darn awesome. I saw runners crying as the news spread from the crowds through the course (Afterall, I was still in Newton and the man had the laurel wreath on his head!) But what may be even more impressive was this story of how the US runners, led by Ryan Hall, worked together to help an American win the race. This race was not only important to Boston, or even the running community, but perhaps the entire country.
For the spectators, it seemed it was still, as I heard it described, a ďgiant block party.Ē But to me, it also felt like the crowds were more engaged, really rooting on each and every runner, wanting them to finish. I know there was a greater security presence along the course this year, and while I certainly noticed that, I also noticed there were more signs, more ďteamĒ t-shirts and more cowbells.
Iím sure it was only by coincidence, but I seemed to catch more of my friends and family along the course than last year, which was a tremendous boost. For the first time, however, my parents and boyfriend were not at the finish line to see me on Boylston Street. Although they tried, a slower than usual train ride on the D line from Newtown-Wellesley Hospital, where they did see me pass, did not get them to Boylston Street in time.
I thought I would be more emotional making those final 2 turns on to Hereford and then Boylston. Perhaps it was the positive energy of the crowds, the comfort of seeing my friendís family or the cramps starting in my shins that I was not going to let slow me down, but surprisingly, not a tear was shed.
I finished slightly slower than I had hoped, but not disappointed. I walked through the finish area, clear-headed and taking it all in. For the first time, I had run this marathon with my phone in my ďfanny pack.Ē The bruise it left on my lower back was worth the sense of relief it brought, just in case.
Happily, I didnít need it except to find them after I had gotten my medal and warmth retention blanket (which really was warm!). I hobbled down to the corner of Boylston and Arlington, to reunite just feet from where we met last year. The hugs were just as tight, but anxiety and panic were replaced by joy and pride.
It was a great day for Boston. It was a great day to run.
Despite the rain and clouds, there was no hesitation getting up Tuesday morning to run. I knew for the last 364 days that I would run on this day. I needed to run, and not just because the marathon is less than a week away. Running is how I deal with everything, at least in part, that causes me stress, discomfort or pain. The anniversary of the most frightening day of my life met the criteria.
I was also a bit anxious for the Marathon Tribute I was scheduled to attend that afternoon. When offered the opportunity to attend, I knew I could not miss it. Yet, I had no idea what it would entail and how I might respond. The pit in my stomach on my bus ride to the Hynes Convention Center felt more like I was going to the dentist to get a cavity filled. What if I cried my eyes out?
tribute: (noun) an act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration.
Fortunately, the Tribute was just that. It paid respect to the lives lost, celebrated the successes of the survivors and the strength of the community. The program consisted of musical performances and speeches from survivors and politicians, including Mayor Menino, Mayor Walsh, Governor Patrick and Vice President Biden.
The speeches for the survivors were inspiring. While honest about the difficulties and challenges they have faced over the last year, I was amazed how each was able to give thanks to the community that has and continues to support them.
My greatest comfort came from Mayor Menino. As he walked on stage to a standing ovation, I felt a calm similar to when, as a child, my mother would tell me everything would be all right. He told the audience ďThis day will always be hard,Ē but that this place will always be strong. He reassured the audience that included survivors, first responders, medical professionals and marathon volunteers that they ďare strong in this broken place.Ē His words felt like a giant hug on the room.
Following the tribute, the crowd filed down Boylston Street, filling the grandstands, to observe a moment of silence at 2:49pm. I held it together through the tribute, even the survivorís speeches, but those darn bagpipes get me every time. The rain seemed to fall a bit harder while we stood there, but no one complained about getting soaked.
As we waited for the ceremony to start, I recalled where I might have been the minutes leading up to the bombing; I crossed the finish line at 2:45 last year. I thought about where my parents and boyfriend were at 2:49. I didnít know at the time they were in front of the Old South Church. I thought about how the next (maybe?) 10 minutes were possibly the scariest 10 minutes of my life. This day will always be hard.
As Mayor Menino said in his speech, strength thrives even in the heartaches of today because of the people of Boston. All of the speakers reminded me how community, whether the city of Boston, the running community or survivor support groups helped the wounds inflicted on this city and itís people heal. On the anniversary of the marathon bombings, as we grieve and recover, each in our own way, we reflect on the past and move forward together.
As always, let me know what you think and whatís going on in your running community. Post comments here or email me at RunAlongBoston@gmail.com.
12 miles. Just 12 miles today! I tried to mentally prepare for todayís ďlongĒ run as I would for an 18 or 20 miler, but I just felt so much more relaxed as I drove out to Heartbreak Hill to meet the Run to End Alzheimerís team for our final group run.
Note to self, maybe this is how I should have been approaching long runs all season.
I chose to meet for our scheduled team run rather than head to the finish line for the Sports Illustrated photo shoot which welcomed the public to fill Boylston Street for pictures for an upcoming magazine cover. Not surprising to the people of Boston, or the running community, the shoot was not lacking subjects despite my absence.
For me, it was important to fully participate in my last team run. This is the group I have trained with for month and the training partners with whom I have shared many miles. Our planned route was from Newton to the finish line, so at the very least, I figured I would get to see the end of the photo shoot. As I ran down Beacon Street with some of my usual long run partners, Bob, Ken and Dale, we saw a ton of runners heading back our way, presumably coming from the photo shoot. While it may have been common to see runners in large packs along the Newton Hills all winter, I have never experienced that on Beacon Street. Runners in their team singlets and 2013 race shirts ran towards us with high fives and shouts of ďNice job!Ē. Some were friends, but most strangers other than the fact they shared the bond of the Boston running community.
We did make it to the finish line and while the crowds had in fact largely broken up, many people still remained; including Carlos Arredondo, who in 30 seconds of interactions and photos with my teammates made me feel relaxed and at ease.
We may have lingered a little longer than a suggested on such a run, but something else that still had not left the finish line was the World Series trophy. Although Iíve lived in Boston for all of the Red Sox World Series titles since 2000, Iíve never seen the trophy in person. So that obviously warranted a photo.
Todayís crowd on Boylston Street was not about being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but rather about being part of something that represents who we are, whether itís Boston, running or both. The event will not be the last held on Boylston Street before next Monday. Whereas last year, Boylston Street was shut down for days following the bombings, one year later, around the same time, it will thrive.
While I was waiting for my chance for a photo with the World Series trophy, I noticed I was standing on the finish line. I kissed my finger tips and bent down to touch the painted asphalt and whispered, ďFor a great race.Ē And I have no doubt it will be.
I recently saw a photo passed around on Facebook that said, ďA marathon is hundreds of miles, the finish is the last 26.2.Ē And while the runners can show you the logs to prove this is true, very few people see that side of the marathon.
Although sheís not running the marathon herself, photographer Lucie Wicker wanted to do something to highlight this special marathon and the months of preparation that goes into getting ready for the big day. A photographer specializing in lifestyle fitness and activewear photography, Lucie decided to create a Boston Marathon project, photographing runners around Boston throughout the winter.
ďEven though it (the marathon) is run in the spring, obviously a lot of the training goes on during the worst times of the year and I wanted to highlight this (I find this particularly admirable and impressive!). To the average spectator, this might get overlooked,Ē Lucie emailed me. It was a tough winter to run and many of her photos capture the less than ideal running conditions we trained in.
I was really excited to learn about the project and honored to be asked to be a subject. Of course the day I met Lucie was the first 50-degree day in early March. Even though I didn't get photographed in the ice and snow, look at this amazing shot she got!
The show features over 20 other runners. Whether intentional or not, I think the project does a great job capturing who runs Boston, from the qualified runner with 20 marathons under his belt to the marathon newbie raising money for an important cause. I havenít met many of the other subjects yet in-person, but Iím in some pretty impressive company, from local speedsters to some runners with incredible hearts.
Starting Saturday, April 5, the photos are also being exhibited at sweetgreen located at 659 Boylston Street, or right at the Boston Marathon finish line.
My run Saturday led me past sweetgreen, so I stopped in with some friends to say hi to Lucie while she was hanging photos.
The display will be up through marathon weekend. It looks phenomenal. Check it out. After all, getting to Boylston Street to look at photos of runners training is way easier than training for the marathon.
Itís funny, but you never know when the paths in your life will cross. I started working at MassGeneral Hospital for Children a few months ago doing childhood obesity research. I knew from my years running the Boston Marathon that MGH had a marathon charity team, though nothing more. Recently, a running connection introduced me over email to the programís champion, Dr. Howard Weinstein. So I walked down to his office last week to meet him in person and learn more about the team.
Dr. Weinstein is the chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at MGHfC and the team raises money to support his department. Dr. Weinstein himself has run 24 consecutive Boston Marathons and he doesnít sound like he has plans of stopping anytime soon. Itís hard not to root for a team that raises money to combat childhood cancer, though as it turns out, they do much more.
When the team began in 1998, its purpose was to honor the patients at MGHfC. And while the team has grown from 10 runners that first year to over 150 this year, that goal remains. Many of the runners apply to participate in the Patient Partner Program. The program takes the matching process seriously, involving a child life specialist and psychologist to help determine the pairs. Several of the runners were once patients themselves.
The runners may meet their patient matches several times throughout the season, but the highlight is the team pasta dinner that takes place marathon weekend. At the dinner, a medal ceremony is held where runners honor their patient matches by giving them a medal that is in fact made by the same jewelers that make the marathon medals.
Patients, their parents and the hospital staff can all feel part of the team thank to the mural that covers one of the hallways in the Hematology/Oncology unit at the hospital. The idea for the mural came in early 2013, and after a lot of meetings sorting through photographs and newspaper clippings, the design was developed and it was hung on the hospital walls on Columbus Day 2013.
For patients, and the clinicians too, the mural is a brief escape from what usually takes place in the hospital unit. For the runners, the marathon is a test of endurance, like that which their patient partners exhibit every day. And thatís why on April 21st, the Mass General Marathon team will be fighting cancer one step at a time.
If youíd like to donate to the Mass General Marathon team, click here.
Saturday, I ran the first 6 miles of my long run with my Alzheimer's teammate Ken. Like many runners this weekend, the Run to End Alzheimer's team bussed our runners out to Hopkinton and took part in what has now become an unofficial marathon training tradition, a final 20+ mile long run before the marathon from the starting line to somewhere along Comm Ave.
Ken has been running marathons since before I was born. And still kicks my butt. He has run 10 Bostons, and has qualified for them all. "There are more runners out here today than there were the first time I ran Boston," he told me as we ran through Ashland.
Ken's first Boston Marathon was in 1970 where according to coolrunning.com there were 877 runners who started that year?s race. I'd estimate there were several thousand running this weekend.
This unofficial event has grown since I trained for my first Boston Marathon in 2004 in the number of runners as well as the involvement of the communities along the route. There were police out directing traffic at the major intersections to make the experience safe for runners and hopefully less burdensome on the towns we run through. The police were fantastic, and with the exception a few runners I saw who thought they owned the road, most runners were very appreciative and respectful of their instructions.
The run has become somewhat of a mini-marathon, with spectators coming out to watch and cheer as runners make their way through neighborhoods. While I ran up the hills in Newton, A woman, who looked like she might be out for a walk herself, jokingly shouted, "Look at all these smiles! What is wrong with you people!?"
Many of the charities had water stops set up along the course to support their runners, and any other runner that might need a splash of Gatorade, a pretzel or a few Swedish fish. While the team name may have been on the banner taped to the table or t-shirts on the volunteers, there was a sense of community helping each runner out there on Saturday to succeed, in what for some may have been their longest run yet.
And it was not just the charities supporting the runners. Companies like Runner's World and Saucony gave out water along the route, while Newton's local running company, the Heartbreak Hill Running Company's Heartbreak Bill continued as he has all winter to offer runners a moment to rest with a memorable photo-op.
Adding one more layer to the community effort of this run was the collective action by runners to give back to a group that has been supporting us for year, the Newton Fire Department. On the corner of Comm Ave and Washington Streets, runners, very much including myself, have often stopped at this firehouse to use the restroom or water fountain inside. Saturday, many runners gave back to the Newton Fire Department by making donations to the Newton Firefighters Children's Fund (http://nfdchildrensfund.com/index.html) as they ran by. The firefighters have been out supporting runners with water throughout the winter, and this week, the runners gave a little back.
I really do love running on this day. Last year, I blogged about this same run and said it was Boston was running at its best. Well, it seems that post is now outdated. One year later, what I thought was the best just got even better.
A few years after we graduated from college, one of my best friends and former roommates mysteriously and frighteningly started losing her hair. It was odd because she was a 27 year old woman in good health and no reason to be losing hair. It was frustratingly scary because no one could tell her why or what was wrong. She travelled across to country to see specialists. Yet it took probably a year for her to be properly diagnosed with alopecia and treated. And happily she has her beautiful long dark hair back.
Years ago when my friend was dealing with this, I had not heard of NORD, the National Organization of Rare Diseases. I have since learned of the organization and more recently learned about the team running the Boston Marathon and fundraising for this cause.
Since 2008, members of the Genzyme Running Team have been paired with rare disease patient partners, and devote months before the Boston Marathon to training, raising awareness and fundraising. Genzyme has been a longstanding partner of NORD, and recently the Genzyme/NORD NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Fund was created, in part due to the fundraising efforts of the Boston Marathon team. The fund will help those who have applied to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undiagnosed Diseases Program, but who cannot afford the basic medical tests needed to make them eligible to participate in the NIH program.
The Town of Ashland supports Team Genzyme by providing them with the marathon bibs that allows team members to fundraise for NORD. This year, the team is the largest ever at 30 runners, with several qualified runners and runners who were unable to finish the race last year returning with bibs in addition to 15 runners running with Ashland bibs.
In addition to the funds, the Team also raises awareness about the NORD and its services. Once a year, on Rare Disease Day, the Team organizes a relay run that travels between all 4 of the Genzyme offices in Framingham, Waltham, Allston and Cambridge. Employees can run a leg the relay, with patients, family and friends invited to join the last leg.
At each office are informational sessions and materials to educate others about NORD and rare diseases, as well as fundraisers for the marathon team, like bake sales.
The runners from Team Genzyme, like many other charities, recognize their opportunity to run can also be used to raise funds and awareness for a deserving organization. With 36,000 runners on the course this year, you may not see all, or any of these 30 runners in the sea of marathoners, but know they are out there channeling their passion to run to help others with rare and undiagnosed diseases.
If you would like to donate to NORD on behalf of Team Genzyme check out their team fundraising page here.
Having run several marathons, I have learned a great deal about how my body and mind work with regards to the training process. I know how many days of the week I can run and how many I need to strength train to prevent injury. I know my knees aching are the first sign my shoes are ready to retire, usually at about 300 miles. I know I can eat oatmeal and peanut butter for breakfast before a long run, but hold the banana, please, until after. And despite the fact that I still think Chocolate Outrage flavored Gu tastes like brownie batter, it makes my stomach do cartwheels, so I stick to Honey Stinger Energy Chews to fuel me during my runs.
I also know that specifically when training for Boston, March is a tough month to get through, both mentally and physically. By mid-March, I have been getting up early almost every day of the week and logging runs or workouts to help me get ready for the race. Long runs take over my Saturdays by this point, including the time to run 18 + miles and then recover afterwards with a hot shower and (hopefully) a nap.
This year, Iím feeling it more than usual. As my mileage and training intensity ramps up, somehow, the one thing I forget to increase is sleep. Add a 2-week long cold and a new puppy to the mix and I am just exhausted. (But check out this post-race congratulations!)
As a result of probably a combination of all of these things, some of my recent runs have been less than spectacular. Logically it makes sense why I have not crushed the last few weeks of training as I felt I should be capable of doing. However, mentally, I keep fighting with myself that this downward slope will keep me sliding through April 21st.
At least to help change things up a bit this weekend, the Run to End Alzheimerís team did a point-to-point run along the marathon course. We took a bus out to Framingham and ran in to the finish line of Boylston Street. After spending many of the past several Saturdays running out and back along the middle of the course in Newtown and Wellesley, it was good to get back and see another section Iím a bit less familiar with.
As a long run, at least to me, this route most closely mimics the marathon. While I did not run the first 7 miles of the marathon course, starting in Framingham allows for a relatively flat course for about 8-9 miles. The Newton hills come earlier than in the actual marathon. However, this route forces me to practice running the section of the course that always challenges my mental toughness, Boston College to about Kenmore, where I am tired from finishing the hills, but not quite close enough to the finish.
The other piece I had not thought about until Saturday was that this was the first time for several runners on our team to run down Boylston Street since last spring, and in some cases ever. Folks didnít talk about it too much, but some made mention in photos posted after the run, so it was certainly on a few runners' minds.
My run Saturday was challenging, and not just because it was 20 miles. But itís that time of year, and I know from experience that this is when the fatigue sets in. For the most part so far, I have had good, consistent training and should feel pretty confident regarding my physical ability at this point. More than trying to improve my speed or distance in the next 4 weeks, Iíll be working on my attitude and preventing myself from getting caught up in a few rough weeks. And maybe trying to get to bed a little earlier.
In 2012, I decided to train for a different spring marathon and experienced the Boston Marathon as a spectator. I parked my car in Newton, just north of the Mass Pike. I threw on a backpack stocked with a dry tee shirt (it was 90+ degrees), sunblock, water and suppliesĒ like markers, to make signs, and cow bells to cheer on runners. I walked about 1.5 miles to a spot on the course near Newton Wellesley Hospital, the dedicated Alzheimerís Association ďcheering stationĒ.
If I was going to be a spectator again this year, I would probably adjust this plan.
Six weeks before the 2014 Boston Marathon, state officials announced Monday security restrictions for spectators of the 118th running of the race. The announcement came a little over a week after the BAA announced new policies around baggage and prohibited items for runners.
As with the changes in place for runners, the changes for spectators will require greater planning for those attending the event. Despite new potential inconveniences, I think many, even if they disagree with the changes, will still attend the event.
The list of items include:
- Weapons or items of any kind that may be used as weapons, including firearms, knives, mace, etc.
- Backpacks or any similar item carried over the shoulder.
- Suitcases and rolling bags/rollers.
- Glass containers or cans.
- Flammable liquids, fuels, fireworks or explosives.
- Any container capable of carrying more than 1 liter of liquid.
- Handbags or packages or bulky items larger than 12 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches.
- Large blankets/comforters, duvets, sleeping bags.
- Costumes covering the face or any non-form fitting, bulky outfits extending beyond the perimeter of the body.
- Props (including sporting equipment and military and fire gear).
The official statement says this list of items are discouraged, and may result in delays going through security checkpoints and enhanced screening. While this means that none of these items are technically prohibited, I wouldnít want to be the one testing the flexibility of these rules either.
When you break down the list, I think the change and impact are smaller than the size of the list suggests. Maybe itís the first time itís been in print, but I think some of these items have no place at the Marathon, whether itís one year after the bombings or 20 years before. Iím totally ok with the elimination of weapons and flammable liquids.
While prohibiting coolers, glass containers and cans may put a damper on some marathon parties, I am pretty certain that no one will go thirsty. Fortunately for many fans, they did not restrict Solo cups.
The items that will cause the greatest change to marathon day plans are the restriction on bags such as backpacks, suitcases/roller bags and large hand bags. Having done it myself, standing out on the side of the road for hours, often walking a ways to just get to that spot, itís nice to have my bag of supplies, whether it's clothes, food, or chapstick, with me for the day.
For those watching the race with young children, itís probably a little more than nice, and closer to necessary. One of the consistent concerns Iíve heard is that the changes to security might discourage those with young kids to attend the race. Iím sure there will be some parents unwilling to sacrifice this experience for their children. Others may go but choose to watch from more accessible, less congested locations. But for other families, it might just be too complicated.
Along those lines, Iím still a little unclear on the policy around strollers. Today's announcement did not mention strollers at all. However, the BAA stated that strollers were not allowed in the list if items by official participants, adding that strollers would be prohibited from the start and finish areas.
There will be double the number of police at the event, video cameras and bomb-sniffing dogs stationed along the course. Yet I think the most valuable security measure will be the spectators themselves.
Spectators will be encouraged to participate in the ďSee Something Say SomethingĒ campaign, to be aware of their surroundings and speak up if they see something suspicious. The same collective attitude that sought to put together the many broken pieces left by last yearís tragedy, I believe, will be the best protection the race will have against something like this happening again.
The fans coming out to watch this years race will do so to celebrate the strength and determination of the runners, as they do every year. But this year, we will all cheer for the strength and determination of this city as well. Boston Strong.
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!!