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Getting by with some help from my friends

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  March 13, 2013 07:55 AM

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100chrissyhoran.jpg Chrissy Horan is one of six Boston Marathon entrants testing Polar personal training gear and blogging about it for Boston.com
Marathon training in New England this winter has not been easy. Weekend snowstorms have made plotting long run routes challenging, while the unshoveled sidewalks and black ice have made my 5:30 a.m. runs treacherous Ė when I have attempted them. As if resorting to the treadmill is not difficult enough, to make it worse, I lost my iPod while travelling early in February and have not yet found a suitable replacement.

It is at times like this when I am extremely glad to have a group of friends to meet for my long run each week. The Alzheimerís Associationís marathon team, like many other charity teams, holds supported long runs every Saturday morning. The team runs are great because 1.) volunteers man water stops along the route; 2.) the team coach and team leaders coordinate several point-to-point runs along the course allowing runners to see different parts of the marathon course and making for more interesting long runs and 3.) running for several hours with others is WAY better than running alone!

300friends.jpgThis year, I have run most of my long runs with my friend Dale. Dale is a pretty amazing guy, but probably someone I never would have had the opportunity to meet if we had both not decided to run for the Alzheimerís Association. Heís a 57-year-old former BMW mechanic from Newburyport. Not too much in common that might bring us together besides running and a cause we are passionate about. But that just makes our runs together more interesting.

This past Saturday, the planned route had been a point-to-point run from Framingham to the finish line on Boylston Street. However, after Fridayís greater-than-expected snowfall, we decided the sidewalks, and likely still the roads, may not be safe for running. Plan B was to meet at the top of Heartbreak Hill and run loops out and back both directions. Not nearly as exciting. And all the more important that I didnít have to do it alone.

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But we managed. I completed my first 20-miler this training season, running 15 with Dale.

I also used my Polar RC3 GPS for only the second time, and am happy to declare relative competence using my new personal training computer. After a test run on Wednesday morning, I felt pretty comfortable with what buttons did what and how to use them. And Iím pretty sure that the errors that have occurred so far, like ending my sessions instead of pausing when I stopped to tie my shoe, or keeping my watch running instead of pausing it when I stopped for a bathroom break, were the userís fault. At this point, I think itís just fine-tuning the settings to some of my specific personal preferences, but all the information I wanted during my run was there.

I even like the heart rate monitor. I had one heart rate monitor years ago that I trained with briefly, but it was uncomfortable and I didnít always feel it was accurate, so I gave up on it relatively quickly. However, I kind of like the idea of evaluating my effort based on my heart rate and can certainly see getting used to wearing this one.

I even used it on Sunday when I hosted (and participated in) a spin-a-thon Ė a three-hour spin class to raise money for the Alzheimerís Association. I was on and off the bike to greet people and make sure they had everything they needed for the class, but rode for about two hours total. I used the heart rate monitor to make sure I kept things under control the day after my long run. This was not too difficult, as my legs were pretty much in agreement that they were not going to work too hard. Hereís my heart rate data for 1:20 of the two-hour ride (I forgot to put the heart rate monitor on for the first class).

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My legs are feeling good. The temperature is warming up. My inner nerd loves figuring out what to do with all this new training data.

I canít wait for my next run!

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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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