|Chrissy Horan is one of six Boston Marathon entrants testing Polar personal training gear and blogging about it for Boston.com|
I consider myself pretty lucky that I can find someone or somewhere to run pretty much whenever I want. I’ve met many of my friends through running : at run clubs, volunteering at races, and as part of teams. And then there are also the folks who I don’t know by name, but pass along my own routes on a regular basis – headphones guy at the track or the girl with the blue hat I pass on my regular morning loop around 6:10 am. My friend Sarah told me that one morning, while recovering from an injury, she went out for a walk instead of a run. Three of the “regulars” on her route around Jamaica Pond stopped to ask if she was okay.
We have running paths practically everywhere including along the Charles River, Fresh Pond, Jamaica Pond, Castle Island, and the Back Bay Fens.
Oh, and we have the world’s oldest annual marathon.
This Saturday marked one of my favorite Boston running traditions – the charity teams’ long run from Hopkinton. With 3 weeks until the marathon, this is often the last 20+ mile run before most runners begin their taper for the race. While I’m not sure if it is “official” in any capacity, it certainly has become a save-the-date-worthy event for many runners, on charity teams and otherwise, training for Boston.
Probably a few thousand runners departed Hopkinton between 7-10 am. Port-o-potties were available for runners in Hopkinton and along the course, as well as police detail directing traffic at the busiest intersections. As I stopped at the Alzheimer’s Association’s water station in Wellesley, a woman drove up beside me and asked, “What race is this?”
From the Newton firehouse to Boston College there are support stations hosted by running clubs, running stores and charity teams, giving away food, drinks and often other goodies. Complete strangers offering Gatorade, jelly beans and encouragement as runners head up the hills of Comm Ave. It’s hard not to feel a little warm and fuzzy.
As for my run, it went better than I had hoped. My legs felt heavy all week after the race last Sunday and my runs seemed like harder efforts than the paces showed it. On top of that, I learned that my buddy Dale was sidelined with some foot pain. Running 22 miles is already not exactly a walk in the park; running it alone is a true test of mental toughness.
But I lucked out. While waiting for a port-o-potty in Hopkinton (where I’m sure many important conversations have been had), I chatted with Glen and Celia, friends of a friend from New York, in town just to run the course as part of their own Boston Marathon training. They would be running my pace for the first 11 miles, and just like that scored myself a pacer and 90 minutes of conversation. Those 11 miles flew by!
Celia is training to run a 3:20 at Boston (you go girl!) and she and Glen picked up the pace for the second half of their run. Despite being on my own, 11 miles didn’t seem that intimidating. I chipped away, one mile at a time. I held a steady pace for the remaining 11 miles, slowing just a bit up the hills.
I’m still enjoying my Polar RC3 GPS. I am starting to play with the screen options to decide what information will help me most on race day. Each screen shows 3 training functions such as overall time, overall distance, lap time, lap distance and heart rate. While I know I’ll keep the overall time visible, I’m having a hard time deciding what other functions I want to view.
Besides being a great day to run, Saturday was the signal for me that the race is truly near. Less than 3 weeks to go and I feel surprisingly prepared given my “laid back” training season. Now it is time for me to figure out everything else for race day – what my watch screen will show, what flavor jelly beans I want to eat during the race and what color I’m going to paint my nails. You know, the important stuff.
The countdown is on!
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 15-time Boston qualifier who's completed 11 consecutive Boston Marathons and 23 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 12th 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