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Heart rate key to maintaining pace

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  March 28, 2012 07:36 AM

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100robin_nichols2.jpg Robin Nichols is one of five Boston Marathon entrants testing the Polar RCX5 personal training computer and blogging about it for Boston.com
I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I have been repeating this for the past 15 months. Now, I am 3 weeks away from running the biggest race of my life and I canít believe it is happening.

Iíd love to tell you that qualifying for Boston was easy, but unfortunately, I have not always been a runner. In 2007, I had a 5-month old and needed to lose a lot of weight. While watching the Boston Marathon, I told my husband, that I wanted to run that race. And so it began it my quest to run Boston.

My first marathon was 8 months later and I ran it in 5:12, over an hour and half over my Boston qualifying time. After crossing that finish line, I thought it wasnít possible to ever run as fast I needed to, but you bet I was going to try. I tried and tried, but I hit every roadblock possible. I could never seem to get it right.

Finally, in 2011, I returned to Disney for my 13th marathon. Everything came together and I crossed the finish line in 3:37:53. That 3:40 that had been eluding me for three years was finally mine. I was a Boston Qualifier and I was going to run Boston in 2012.

Through my attempts, I was always the runner who would try new things. Certainly a fancy watch or the newest shoe would get me to run faster. This may not be the case, but new gear always kept me interested.

I am excited to try out the Polar RCX5 and blog about my experience. Recently I decided I wanted to try running by heart rate in order to hit paces. I have used the RCX5 on multiple runs now, including my long run on Saturday on the Boston course. Instead of focusing on my pace, I focused on my heart rate. If I saw my heart rate dropping, I would pick up the pace and vice versa. By uploading my data to PolarPersonalTrainer.com, I noticed that I maintained a fairly decent pace when I thought my pace was dropping. Watching my heart rate really helped me power up Heartbreak Hill without being discouraged. There are so many display screen options on the RCX5 as well as customizations that this next week should be fun to explore even more.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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