I knew it was going to be a tough day when I broke a sweat just walking to the starting line.
On top of it all there were the multiple warnings sent by the BAA, which I have to say were freakishly scary. While I certainly was not going to defer, it did make me rethink how I was going to approach yesterday’s race.
Of all the warnings/advice put forth by the BAA, the one the really resonated with me read as follows:
For the overwhelming majority of those who have entered to participate in the 2012 Boston Marathon, you should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.
While I had run in heat before, I certainly don’t remember heat as intense as this. Yes, I was there in 2004, but to be honest I must have erased this from my memory bank as I really don’t recall the heat being as much of a factor.
Therefore, while I was certainly not scared by the heat, I knew that it was something that could not be ignored, and most importantly an element to be respected.
Needless to say, I knew that this was not going to be a day to shoot for a personal record, and about five miles into the race, I knew that this was not even going to be a day to shoot for re-qualifying. As a result, I made a conscious decision to just slow down my pace and soak in the experience.
While it was certainly far from an ideal day for running, it was an ideal day for spectating. This was apparent by the throngs of people lining the course. While this is not necessarily unique for Boston, the energy that these folks provided was clearly needed on a day like yesterday. To all those out there with the hoses ... thank you! To all those handing out water, oranges and flavor ice ... thank you! To the fire departments and towns who opened up their hoses and hydrants ... thank you! To the BAA for a race well done… thank you!
Needless to say, yesterday was quite an experience. While my time yesterday was far from my best (actually my worst by about 28 minutes) I still felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
To me, yesterday was not about beating the clock. It was about beating the elements. It was about mental toughness. It was about keeping my streak alive. In the end, it was simply about the joy of just crossing the finish line.
Congratulations to all!
See you again in 2013.
We caught up with the men's and women's winners, fan-favorite Uta Pippig, Former Patriot Tedy Bruschi, and more runners at the finish line on Boylston Street on a hot Patriots' Day for the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.
HOPKINTON -- Before the start of the 116th Boston Marathon, Brian Gerhardson's was told by family and friends to ditch the costume.
"They tried to discourage me," said Gerhardson, sporting a Bollywood Party formal Indian shirt, pants, and a poofy gold turban.
Gerhardson has worn a costume in every Boston Marathon he's run. With the heat climbing to 71 degrees by 9 a.m., antsy runners were still weighing whether to defer until the 2013 race.
"The heat alone would be tough," Gerhardson said. "But the heat with the costume [will] be that much more challenging."
This is Gerhardson's 11th Boston Marathon and 29th overall.
"My name has never showed us as a registered runner, but my name has been in the news every year."
It's the costume.
Just get on the bus and go.
That was the sentiment from the majority of runners who lined up on the Boston Common Monday morning to board the buses to Hopkinton, where they will hit the starting line for the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.
The hot topic this morning is the heat.
"We'll run a little slower, but we'll be fine," said Allyne Winderman, from Los Angeles, before heading to Hopkinton. Winderman said she ran a marathon in Honolulu with temps in the 80s, but it was probably more humid than it will be in Boston today with finishing line temperatures in Copley Square forecast in the high 80s.
"I'm not lovin' it," said Kristen Kelly of Virginia Beach, Va., who hopes to complete her seventh Boston Marathon.
Anthony Coburn arrived from Sydney Australia to run his first Boston Marathon and his 11th marathon overall. "Chicago was hot in 2007, I remember that one," Coburn said.
"I'm just looking forward to having a few cold beers afterward," said Hamish Coleman of Tauringa, New Zealand, on running his first Boston, and seventh marathon overall.
"Slightly worried," was the sentiment from Kim Bench, who came from Draper, Utah to run her second marathon with her sister Amy. "But we're tough women."
Ask anyone who has trained for and run a marathon, and you will likely get a much different answer. Why? Simply stated a marathoner is much more than a person who is able to run 26.2 miles. Yes, this is the defining feat and characteristic that enables us all to join this elite club, but to sum it all up based on one’s ability to cover a certain distance on a certain day, in my opinion is not the true definition of a marathoner.
Specifically, marathoners are much more than just runners in a race. We are the embodiment of a series of values. It is these values that ultimately define who we are, as they not only enable us to not only cover mileage on race day, but also ensure that we get to the starting line.
It all starts with a goal. We’re able to envision a distant objective that we will strive to achieve. We don’t thrive on instant gratification, but rather we thrive on the notion of accomplishment. We know what we want, but we also know what it takes to earn it. We set goals because we love to challenge ourselves and we’re not afraid to do so.
Yes, we set goals, but we also know how to achieve them. Specifically, we know how to plan. The actual race is just a single day, but the journey to get there has been months, if not years, in the making. To say that we don’t know how to plan would just be laughable! Whether it’s training, diet or sleep, to run a marathon you literally have to plan your life around it.
A marathon is not a one-night stand; it’s about getting into a committed relationship.
You can have a goal and a plan, but to accomplish it you need to stick to it. You need to be committed, because being a marathoner requires sacrifice. I’m sure that during the course of your journey to Boston there were times when you questioned what or why you were doing what you were doing, but still you persevered. Ultimately, marathoners are not afraid of commitment; rather we embrace it as a core value of our being.
At the core of it all, we have a love for running and what it brings to us both spiritually and physically. Running is not just something that occurs within your legs or your mind, but rather it comes from the heart. It's about passion. Marathoners view running as part of who we are, not just something we do. We’re always cognizant of our last run and thinking about and planning for the next one. In short, we don’t run to live, we live to run.
The beauty of the above values is that they apply to all of us.
While we're all running on Monday for different reasons and likely at different speeds, we’re still united by a shared experience. Whether we consciously realize or not, a big reason we’re here is because we have all exhibited and embodied these values.
Therefore we should all take pride in the fact that we have made it to Boston, not simply because we are runners, but because we understand what it means to be a marathoner.
Our minds are swirling with thoughts and anticipation. We're excited. We're anxious. We're ready! With this being said, the following is a musical interpretation of just a few thoughts that are currently running through my head and maybe even yours.
I want to run
Yes, I’m ready to take this on. The hardest thing for many of us in these final days is simply just holding back. Many of us have been prepping and running on daily basis, but we’re now saving ourselves and our bodies for the big day.
I want to hide
To say I’m not anxious would be a lie. I know I’m ready, but I also know what awaits me … an incredible physical and mental challenge. The thought of running 26.2 miles can often seem overwhelming, whether your goal is to just finish or do so in less than three hours. Needless to say, its OK to be nervous, as this just shows that you have a true understanding and respect for what you are about to do. At the same time, you need to look at what you have done to get to this moment. You’re here because you’ve earned it.
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside
Race day is about letting go. It’s the moment when you put everything to the test. No matter what has brought you to Boston, this is the time when you show yourself and those around you what you’re made of.
I want to reach out and touch the flame
Who does not have a sense of burning desire running through them at this moment? You’re ready. You’re able. You want to go! There is a fire burning within all of us at this very moment. It’s representative of a passion and desire that lives within us all. The flame was lit the moment you started this journey and come race day, you will touch it and it will carry you across the finish line.
Where the streets have no name
Who is not thinking about the course, looking at maps and plotting a race day strategy? However, are you really thinking about the fact that the race starts on East Main Street?
For one day, the roads become the route. It’s not about the streets, it’s about the miles. You’re not running on Commonwealth Avenue, rather you’re running up Heartbreak Hill. When the gun goes off and you get out on the course, be prepared to step into history and one of the most incredibly inspiring and energetic atmospheres you will ever witness.
I want to feel ... sunlight on my face
Who is not hoping for a beautiful day? Not only will this make for a great run, it will ensure the streets are lined with people to cheer you along. I can only hope that the weather gods look favorably upon us come race day.
See that dust cloud disappear without a trace
Race day is about looking forward. Specifically, when you're out on the course, the key is to not look back, but to remember what you have learned. This will keep you focused on the finish and what lies ahead.
Therefore, take some time to think about what learned about yourself throughout your training and how you can leverage that experience on race day. It will prove to be a very valuable asset and key to your success.
I want to take shelter from the poison rain
Now is a time to focus on the positive and that which has inspired you along the way. Therefore, you want to be sure to shelter yourself from any form of negative energy, as it’s all too easy in these final moments for your head to get clouded with doubts and concerns. Think of the marathon as the moment where you will show to yourself and to others your strength and ability to rise above it all.
Where the streets have no name
Yes, the aforementioned paragraphs are my interpretation of the song by U2 from the perspective of a runner who is counting down the final moments leading up to race day. However to be inspired to create my own meaning and interpretation, in my opinion it is the hallmark of a great piece of art and a powerful song.
I’m sure Bono was not thinking about the Boston Marathon when he initially wrote this song, but take a moment to watch the below video of this performance from Boston in 2001.
Just look at what he does at 1:37 seconds into the video….he runs!
Videographer Scott LaPierre tells the story of Russell Trottier, who is running the Boston Marathon this year to raise money for Down syndrome awareness through the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. Trottier's third son, Colin, has Down syndrome.
For details, or to support Trottier's effort, check out his Web page.
To tell why you are running the marathon, or why you run at all, we invite you to submit words, photos, or videos at our Why I Run gallery.
A marathon is a journey. While it’s ultimately about race day and the 26.2 miles we all will look to cover, in reality it’s much more than that.
It simply starts with the decision to run.
Then there is the registration process, which to me is really about making a commitment…a commitment to run and get to the starting line.
Then there is training. For many of us this is where the true challenge of running a marathon lies, as it requires commitment that extends far beyond single day.
Finally there is race day; the point where you ideally realize the fruits of your labors and go for it all.
For some the goal is a world record. For others it’s about breaking three hours. Some aspire for a new PR. For others it’s about simply finishing and proving to ourselves and others that “we did it.” But no matter what your personal goal may be, we all have one common objective associated with our respective marathon journeys and that is to cross the finish line.
Therefore, in order to make it across the finish line, we spend countless hours training and preparing ourselves both mentally and physically for the challenges of race day. A solid training program ideally ensures that when we line up at the starting line, we know expect from ourselves in order to successfully complete the journey from Hopkinton to Boston on Marathon Monday.
However, as much as I like to think that I know what will await me on race day, in reality it is in many ways a great unknown.
While I have prepared for many varying scenarios I may encounter, the truth of the matter is that when it comes to race day, I must also be ready to expect the unexpected.
What do I mean?
In short, 26.2 miles is a long distance and there is a lot that can happen between the starting line and the finish line. Some factors we can control, others we can’t, but it’s how we react and respond to these unforeseen circumstances that can significantly impact the race day experience and associated results.
For starters there’s the weather.
As much as I would love it to be 55 degrees and overcast, we may not be so lucky. It may be warmer; it may be colder. It may be sunny; it may be raining. Therefore, you need to be ready for whatever kind of weather is delivered. To simply hope for or plan around a certain scenario, is a recipe for assured frustration. Now maybe we might get lucky, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Then there’s your body.
We’ve all trained hard and prepared accordingly, but how your body reacts on race day may be much different than it has reacted during training. First off there’s the excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with race day. Then there’s the fact that you’re running 26.2 miles and the toll that takes on your body. As much as I pace myself during training, I always exert more on race day, and this adds whole other level of physical stress. Finally, there are the unforeseen cramps and aches that are bound to arise during the course of your run. Yes, running marathon is exhilarating, but it comes with a price. In short, your body is very likely going to throw you some curve balls and you’re going to have to address them on the fly.
On top of your body, is your mind.
I know I’ve said it before, but running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. What you think about and how you perceive your physical state via your mental mindset is critical. Speaking from experience, nothing amplifies discomfort more than a mindset that is focused on it. Yes, in my experience this has always been an area I have found most challenging about running a marathon. For me, if there is ever a reason for hitting a “wall” it’s at the point where the mind meets the body and the mind recognizes and acknowledges discomfort. While we all know that we will likely feel some level of discomfort during the course of race, the challenge arises from the fact that we don’t necessary know where or when it will occur and the impact it will have on our performance. However, the harsh reality is that for most of us it’s not a matter of “if” it’s just a matter of “when.” Therefore, how you choose do mentally address and deal with these kinds unforeseen issues can have a significant impact on race day.
However, while running a marathon is likely to bring a host of unexpected challenges, one quality that I have always found to be common across all marathoners is that of perseverance.
We did not get to the starting line because we signed up yesterday. We have gotten there via a long and hard journey of commitment. Along the way we have likely encountered many challenges that have made us question what we are doing and why. Yet in the face of this adversity we still persevere.
I’ve always found it key to realize that race day is by no means an isolated experience. In reality it is the final phase of the journey you embarked on when you first committed to run this race. So while race day in Boston is sure to be exhilarating (trust me, it is), it’s also bound to bring along some unforeseen challenges. The key here is not to be surprised; know that your body and mind will test you in ways you did not expect. However, it’s also the ability to overcome these challenges and persevere through them that also makes the journey of running a marathon and finally crossing the finish line, so extremely rewarding.
As we all know, many changes have come with registering for the forthcoming 2012 Boston Marathon. Qualifying times were cut by five minutes and they essentially introduced a seeded registration process that assured priority entry to those with the fastest times. Therefore, even if you met the qualifying standards for Boston, you were by no means guaranteed entry, unless you have exceeded your qualifying time by several minutes. While simply qualifying for Boston has always been a challenge, these new standards have now raised the bar even higher.
However, along with the new qualifying standards came another little known change…the Consecutive Participant Waiver. In short, if you had completed 10 or more consecutive Boston Marathon’s (2002 – 2011 inclusive) and met the qualifying standards for 2012, you were granted a waiver associated with the new registration process and had the option to register early. Therefore, while the BAA’s new standards clearly give preference to faster runners, this policy also showcased that they did recognize “the streakers” and were going to ensure that as long as you could qualify, you’d able to get in the race. For those with streaks, this meant that it was not about how fast of a time you qualified with, but rather just that you qualified. Now this may sound trivial, but based on how competitive registering for Boston has become, this does provide a bit of breathing room.
Having just completed my 10th consecutive Boston run last April, while I had heard rumors of a “streak waiver,” it was not until I received an email in mid-August from the BAA that I knew it was official. Up until this point while I had been cognizant of my streak, being officially recognized by the BAA brought not only a tremendous sense of pride, but also some extra pressure. In short, my streak was no longer just something that was personal to me, but the BAA acknowledgement made me feel like my marathon status had somehow just been elevated. While my streak heading into 2012, barring injury, was assured to continue meaning that come this April I would have 11 consecutive Boston runs under my belt; heading into yesterday’s Chicago Marathon I now felt compelled to see if I could secure my spot for 2013 and Boston Marathon No. 12.
In other words, I suddenly felt a new sense of pressure to see if I’d be able to maintain “the streak”, which meant that I would need to run a 3:15:00 or better.
Streaking In Chicago
As this was my forth time running the Chicago Marathon, I felt that I had a pretty good grasp of the course and what to expect. I had also submitted my start time from this year’s Boston Marathon and as a result got seeded in Corral A, just behind the elites. Therefore, I knew that I’d be able to hit a good pace quickly. Additionally, the weather was good, but not ideal….mid 60’s at the start which meant that it would only get warmer throughout the race. Now, I’m not one to complain about the weather, and conditions like these certainly bring out the spectators, but it certainly can impact performance. Additionally, my two fastest times, including my only sub-three hour race, have been recorded in Chicago. Therefore, taking into account my history with the race, and despite the race day conditions, I felt like I was in a pretty good place to accomplish my goal.
The Race - October 9, 2011
As the gun went off, I was able to quickly hit my pace and by mile 8 I was running comfortably with the 3:00:00 group. However, by mile 10, they slipped away. Not to worry I thought, as I was still running a solid pace, but at the same time I still had 16.2 miles to go. As the race wore on and the temperature started to rise, I could start to feel the impact of the conditions, but the incredible crowd support and amazing volunteer staff kept me in check.
However, by mile 20 the 3:10 pace group snuck up on me and soon passed me by. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself, as getting passed by the 3:10:00 group meant that my window was closing and I could feel myself losing some steam. At the same time, I knew that as long as I did not see the 3:15:00 group I would be okay.
As I came into the final stretch at mile 24 on South Michigan Avenue, I was just around the three hour mark and now the pressure was on. I knew that if I did not turn it up a notch that I would not only fail to re-qualify, I would just miss doing so. (I have to say that sometimes if you set a goal, it’s more painful to just miss it, than to miss it completely.) Therefore, despite the pain and discomfort, I reached into my reserves and gave it everything I had.
As I entered the final stretch towards the finish line I knew it was going to be close. Once the finish line clock came into view I saw it turn over to 3:14:00 and with the seconds ticking away I eventually crossed around the 3:14:20 mark. While it was close, (my official time was 3:13:57), I had accomplished my goal and I knew my streak would now live through at least 2013 or 12 Boston Marathons.
Of course, had I not made it I still could have looked to my forthcoming Boston race this April for another shot, but at least the pressure will be a bit less. However, I will say that while being officially recognized as a “streaker” is great, it definitely made yesterday’s race a bit more interesting and mentally challenging for me.
Additionally, having now run 21 marathons over the past 11 years, what amazed me about yesterday’s race is the continual challenge and inspiration that each marathon provides. As yesterday clearly demonstrated, when it comes to running marathons whether it’s your first or your 50th, every experience is unique and each one is special. It’s a big reason why many of us come back time and time again.
I will also say that I certainly never started running marathons, let alone Boston, with thought that I would ever have a “streak.” It’s something that has just sort of happened. While my “streak” is certainly rewarding; it’s not about racking up numbers or races…it’s much more than that. Sure I’m proud it and I’m happy that my performance yesterday has assured that for the near term it will continue. However, when I really think about it, my streak is truly a symbol of my love for running and my desire to continually challenge myself. Without these factors, there is no way I would be in the position I’m in today, and it’s also why I’ll see you at the starting line this coming April and again in 2013.
On a side note, I do want take a moment to offer my condolences to the family of William Caviness. As a father of two young children, his death in yesterday’s race really hit home for me. By all accounts from what I have read, he was a very experienced runner, veteran marathoner and on top of all of this a firefighter, dedicated to serving others. May peace him with him and his family.
Over the years I’ve been running, I’ve heard many proverbs, but one that has stuck with me goes something like this… “May your feet move swiftly and may the wind be always at your back.” I can’t remember who said it, or where I heard it, but as a marathon runner it’s a statement that has resonated with me through the years.
Well nowhere was this message more apparent to me than when I set out for a training run last Sunday morning. Currently, I’m training for the Chicago Marathon which is coming up on October 9, and as a result I’d reached a critical juncture in my training. Therefore despite the fact that a visit from Irene was looming, I was not about let her interrupt my training schedule.
In the days prior, I had checked the weather and it appeared as if Irene would not be visiting Boston until mid to late morning. Therefore, I made a conscious decision that I was going to get-up at 5 a.m. so that I could have my 19-mile training run wrapped up by a little after 8 a.m. Well, as luck would have it, for some reason my clock got set incorrectly (we just moved two days earlier and were still getting settled) and the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m., not 5 a.m. as planned. Somehow I did not realize this at the moment, and by the time I did, it was 4am. I was already wide awake, so I just decided I’d get an early start. Needless to say, it was actually a blessing in disguise.
As I set out on my run, yes it was early, but it was eerily quiet. The streets were completely empty and I don’t think I saw another person out and about until almost six miles into my run. During this time it was raining off and on, but nothing too severe. However, as I ran along the Charles towards the MIT boathouse, I could certainly start to feel the wind pick-up. While I was certainly wary of the situation, I maintained a very singular focus of making sure I was getting in my miles. Plus, the solitude associated with the situation made things very, very peaceful.
It was not until about 8 miles into my run that I finally saw another runner out on the Charles. Well, at least I was no longer alone. We both looked at each other as we crossed paths, seemingly acknowledging that we were both in the midst of a “unique” undertaking. While no words were spoken, it was clear that we both had a mutual passion that not even a hurricane was going to come between. As I then continued on for the next 11 miles I saw about two or three more brave souls and dodged more than a few flying branches. While the wind was definitely at my back, it was also at my side and in my face. But fortunately my feet moved swiftly and I got my miles in.
Yes, I was tired, but in my mind I had beaten Irene!
In hindsight, when I look back on this experience, it reminds of me of how much we all endure in the process of training for a marathon. It’s about dedication and commitment to a goal. It’s about maintaining focus on and not straying from your objective. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to training for, and ultimately running a marathon, you need to deal with the hand that Mother Nature provides. For me personally, I’ve trained in sub-zero temperatures, 90+ degree heat, rain, sleet, snow and even on ice, all to ensure that when it comes to race day, I’ve gotten my miles in and that I’m ready.
And while I thought I had virtually seen it all, I can now add one more item to this list of training conditions - a Hurricane!
In my last race, the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I ran a 3:18:36. I’d trained as hard as I ever had, ran the best race I could, but yet I still fell short. Additionally, I also realized that my 2012 backup plan, the forthcoming Chicago Marathon, would occur well after 2012 Boston Marathon registration dates, which are now in mid-September, so that was out the window as well. Fall marathons have been a key part of my Boston success, but not this year. Therefore, I had never gone into a Boston race knowing that there was no other buffer. (Could I have looked at another marathon between now and September? Of course, but without a ton of spare time, this was not looking like a completely viable option.)
In heading out to Hopkinton, I realized that Monday's race was pretty much “it”. However, Boston has always been a very tough race for me. In the 9 times I had run Boston prior to Monday, I’d only had four qualifying times and my three slowest marathons on record have been run in Boston (2003, 2004 and 2007). Therefore, I felt the odds were not in my favor.
I wondered to myself, do I still have it in me? Can I hit the 3:15:00 mark, so that I will have the chance to at least register for next year’s race?
In prepping for the race, one thing that was in my favor was the weather. Not too hot, not too cold; just enough sun. Good for runners, but also good for spectators. This dual factor is something I always take into account on race day, as I favor weather that not only is good for runners, but will encourage spectators to line up and cheer us all on. Fortunately, Monday was one of those days, and the crowds were out in full force, which is just so incredibly motivating.
While I was certainly a bit anxious, my body also felt good. I was able to keep a good pace throughout the race and fortunately did not experience any major cramping or discomfort. While I had certainly trained hard, you just don’t know how your body will react on race day due to the pure amount of stress that running a marathon puts on it. In my experience, some days things click, and other days they don't. Fortunately things “clicked.”
A key factor was that my mind remained clear. Instead of focusing on my body, I was really focused on all that was around me and thoughts of “why” I was running. I distinctly remember that around mile 17, just after the Power Gel area, I started thinking about my kids. I envisioned an image of me holding both of them in my arms, wearing my medal. I thought to myself, “this is why I’m here”, and that single thought just pushed me. In hindsight, the fact that this occurred just prior the Newton hills was true blessing, as I was able to tackle them with vigor.
As I crossed the bridge into Kenmore Square, the clock hit 3:00:00 and at this point, I knew I had made it. I was going to re-qualify. The only question to me at that point, was would I be able to shave enough time off so that I could register early? As I ran down Bolyston Street, and the finish line came into view, I soon saw it inching toward 3:09:00. At point, I realized that I had not only accomplished my goal of running a sub 3:15:00 race; I exceeded all my previous expectations. Due to a slightly delayed start, my official time was 3:06:59. I had just recorded my best time marathon time since running Boston in 2006!
Monday once again showed me how the marathon is more than just a race. Yes, I’m very happy and proud of my time. But more importantly, it made me believe in myself and my abilities. My doubt was replaced with confidence. Questions were replaced with answers. Monday’s race was a true test of my will and I won!
See you in 2012.
Ask any marathoner "why" they are running tomorrow, you will not only get an answer based on athleticism, but also a story rooted in inspiration. Yes, it takes a lot to run a marathon … training, patience, discipline, perseverance.
But what inspires us to take up this quest is what in many cases keeps us going. While it’s perfectly clear as to "what" we all will be doing tomorrow, "why" we all are doing this is not a question that is so easily answered. While the sources of inspiration are often very personal and differ for many, the passion it ignites within each of us is a common thread that ultimately joins all marathoners.
For me, inspiration has come from many areas and sources over time. There have been elements of inspirational consistency throughout my marathon career, but each year has also brought unique circumstances.
For starters there has been the notion of challenging myself. Before running a marathon I had run a few races here and there, but I had never undertook an athletic endeavor that required so much time, training, and both physical and mental endurance. Simply hearing stories of friends who had run and completed marathons inspired me and I wanted to join the club. Sure I had expectations around how I'd like to finish, but my goal was to just simply complete what I started and do so in a manner that I was proud of. This meant moving from the rank of "runner" to "marathoner." To all my friends who ran marathons before me, thank you for your inspiration.
Qualifying for Boston is something that has been a continual source of inspiration. While each marathon I have run has been an incredible experience in itself, Boston has always stood apart from the rest. I can't tell you how many times I've mentioned running marathons to others, only to be asked if I've ever run Boston. While Boston's qualifying standards are not easily met, and are only getting tougher, the fact that participation requires more than just signing up and/or winning a lottery is a source of inspiration. Unlike most marathons, where the primary goal is to just cross the finish line, those running Boston have two goals: Crossing the finish line and making it to the starting line. This has not only inspired me when I'm running in Boston, but all other marathons.
Without qualifying standards, I can only wonder what the race would be like or what kind of marathoner I'd be. However, having to qualify has provided a continual source of inspiration as it has always pushed me to test my limits in over a decade of marathon running.
Some look at marathon running as a selfish activity. Yes, it's not a traditional team sport like baseball, basketball, or hockey, but ask people why they are running and the perception of marathon running as a selfish activity will change.
Just ask Dick Hoyt. Does he run for himself? No he runs for his son. Just ask someone who has lost a loved one. Do they run for themselves? No, they run in memory of someone else. Just ask anyone who's running for a charity. Are they running for themselves? No, they are running to raise research funds for and awareness of causes, issues, and disease that impact so many aspects of society. As for me, I'm running for my kids and family. While my kids are too young to fully understand what I will be doing tomorrow (my son is 2 ½ and my daughter is a mere six days old), I can only hope that one day my marathon running will serve as a source of inspiration as their lives unfold.
When the gun goes off tomorrow, we'll all be partaking in something amazing. It will be an experience that we will all take with us forever. During the race there will certainly be a lot of challenges. You will hurt. You will experience discomfort. This is all because of "what" you are doing. However, in these moments don’t think about the "what." Think about the "why." It's in these moments that you’ll grasp the true spirit of the marathon. It's what has gotten you this far and what will carry you across the finish line.
With approximately 10 days left until race day, you can be assured the marathon will start to occupy more space in your mind. Not that it doesn’t occupy enough space already (you’ve been training for months after all), but as the reality of race day approaches you’ll start to think about it more and more. While everyone has unique thoughts “running” through their mind as race day approaches, in my experience there are always a few items that seem to occupy space in every marathoner’s mind.
The Weather Forecast
As today is Saturday April 9th, the 10-day forecast leading up to race day is now available. Yes, maybe you’ve consulted the Old Farmers Almanac, but I’m a bit more pragmatic when it comes to the weather forecast, and 10 days is about as far out as I go.
With the 10-day forecast now available this enables you to see, with relative accuracy, what race day conditions will look like. This will certainly drive what gear you’ll want to bring not only for the race, but also to the athlete’s village in Hopkinton. Trust me, the athlete’s village can get pretty chilly, as its still mid-April here in New England, so prepare accordingly. Additionally, the forecast may also determine plans around your overall race strategy in terms of how you’ll approach the course. What I mean here is that a prediction of 85 and sunny requires a much different race day strategy than a prediction of 45 and rain. No one can deny the fact that weather plays a huge factor when running a marathon and the forecast in the days leading up to race day can have a big impact on your psyche.
Your Physical Condition
You’ve spent the past several months getting your body prepared for race day and are very likely in some of the best shape of your life. Therefore, how you feel physically in the days leading up to race day definitely starts to occupy more and more space in your mind.
It’s during this time that I often embark on what I like to call “validation runs.” These are not necessarily long runs, but rather runs aimed at just keeping me physically in-tune; making sure that all is well with my body. What I often find fun about these runs is that I’ll look to run 10 or 14 miles, and while I may have felt something at these distances several months ago, when I run them know, it’s as if I’m running just a 5k. These runs definitely help me to validate that I’m physically ready for race day.
On the flipside, you often do become slightly more aware of any issues that have been nagging you. Depending on what they are, it may be worthwhile getting them looked into or at the very least taking some sort of corrective action to address them. The key here is to acknowledge, not ignore, them as these kinds of issues can weigh heavily on the mind in the days leading up to race day.
Your Mental Condition
Whether you realize it or not, over the past several months you have not only been physically preparing for race day, but mentally preparing for it as well. When you think about it, the act of simply preparing to run 26.2 miles is a pretty amazing feat. Therefore, training for a marathon is much more than just about getting your body physically prepared for the act of running 26.2 miles; it’s also about getting your mind prepared to run this distance as well.
In the days leading up to race day, I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how I’ll approach the race and its various components. In my opinion, your mental condition leading up to race day is simply tied to the notion of being “ready” to run the race. What I mean here, is that your mental condition is directly tied to your level of self confidence about being prepared for race day and what it will throw at you. At this juncture, while it’s perfectly normal to have pre-race jitters, I will say that based on all that you have done to prepare for this moment, and no matter what’s going though your mind, as long as you can say you're “ready”, you’re good to go.
As race day approaches, be sure to think about and prep for what is going to be a truly amazing day. Race day in Boston is truly a unique experience…the crowds, the course, the energy, your fellow runners, all will impact you in ways that no amount of training and foresight can really touch. With this being said, no matter what the weather forecast says, no matter how you’re feeling or what kind of thoughts are running through your head, if there is one thought that should occupy your mind in the coming days, it’s that you are about to run the granddaddy of them all, the most talked about race of 2011; you’re about to run…THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!
I’m a morning person by nature. Monday to Friday the alarm clock goes off at 5:30 a.m. and on weekends I’m usually up by 7 a.m.. Yes, having a two-and-a-half-year-old son has something to do with this, but in reality it’s how I’ve been living my life for quite a while. For me morning is a time to be savored, not slept through, and what better way to savor it than with a run.
Finding the time to run and train can often be a challenge, but there is just something about getting up and running first thing in the morning that makes it easier and more enjoyable versus running at other points during the day. Now every runner has their own routine and set of rituals, but for me a “rise and run” approach, is a big reason why I’m still running today and why I’ll be lining up at the starting on in Hopkinton on Monday, April 18th.
Morning is “My time”
By running first thing in the morning, I am doing so before being hit with all the other facets of my life…work, kids, etc. When I wake-up to go on my run, in my house everyone else is still asleep. I’m then able go out for my run and by the time I get back, most of my other family members are just starting to wake up. Therefore, I’m not trying to plan my run around the schedules of others; instead I’m just dealing with myself and the challenge of getting out of bed at 5:30 a.m.
Morning is “Obligation free”
What I mean here is that when you rise and run, you unshackle yourself from the obligation of running later in the day. Now, as much as I love running, when I do run later in the day, much of my other daily activities, particularly what I eat and drink, are done with the consideration of my forthcoming run. For example, if my intent is to go for a run around 5 p.m. this obligation will be on my mind much of the day, so I’ll modify certain activities based on this fact. Now this may sound obsessive to some, but simply stated if you’re going for an afternoon run you know it requires and you’ll need to modify your behavior and activity accordingly. Now for some this may not be a problem, but for many this means making sacrifices.
However, probably the biggest challenge for me is that when I don’t rise and run, running later in the day simply becomes an obligation. Once I’m running I’m thrilled to be out there, but for much of the day I’m thinking about the fact that I still need to get my run in. The challenge here is that you essentially need to organize your day around getting your run in and plan accordingly. This means competing with all of life's other distractions and trying to make sure that they don’t cause you to stray from your obligation to run. Now, I know what my life is like and as much as I would like to say each day starts and finishes like I had planned, in reality that’s not always the case. As a result, if I was someone who relegated running to later in the day, such as evenings or after work, I can guarantee you that I’d be lucky to get a run one or two times a week! However, when I rise and run, it becomes some that is almost automatic and instead of thinking about running as something I have to do, it’s just something I do.
My mind is open
What I enjoy most about my morning runs, is that it’s a time when my mind is most open. I’m able to mentally prepare for my day and think about what’s to come. Rather than thinking about what I’ve done that day, I’m thinking about what I am going to do. This sense of spiritual freedom is incredibly motivating and at the same time it’s very relaxing. I do some of my very best thinking during my morning runs because in the morning, the mind is much more of a blank canvass. I have to say that it’s this mental component of running that really keeps me motivated and why I continue to run day-in and day-out.
Carving out time to run and train, with all that life throws at you can be tough. Ultimately, what rising and running really has shown me is that running is much more to me than just physical activity. It’s a part of the day that I truly do cherish and running first thing in the morning, keeps me motivated on a number of different levels. I’m constantly reminded of how important running is to me and how it’s a big part of my life. I will also say that after a great morning run, no matter what the day holds in store, not only am I completely relaxed, I know that whatever is thrown at me that I’m ready to take it on.
However, what I find interesting about a “marathon plan” is that very rarely is it comprised of just a single component. A marathon plan is ultimately comprised of many sub-plans. It’s these other plans that, in my opinion, provide the motivation to get us through the challenges of preparing for the race and provide the vision of how we’ll handle race day and in many cases, how we’ll look to celebrate after the fact.
The Training Plan
Training is a necessity, but in order to be successful you need to plan ahead. This is inclusive of building up your mileage, choosing your routes and budgeting your time. Training requires long-term planning skills because it’s something that you’ll be doing for months prior to the race. Therefore, mapping out and executing a training plan is a critical step in the overall marathon process, as you need to physically prepare yourself for race day and the 26.2 miles that lies ahead of you.
However, a training plan is also about mental preparation. Yes running is a very physical activity, but there is a strong mental component to it as well. What I mean here is that on race day your body will hurt, I can guarantee that, but it’s your mind, not your legs, that makes the decision about how to handle this. Therefore, if you’re mentally prepared for what lies ahead, it will make dealing with the physical challenges you’ll undoubtedly face much easier to address.
The Race Day Plan
This is something we all think about … what we are going to do on race day and how are we going to handle various situations. As you execute your training plan, we all run through scenarios such as the start in Hopkinton, the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel, Heartbreak Hill, and of course the finish.
I’m sure you’ve wondered if you should start out slow or go out strong and see where your body takes you. If you have a set time you’re looking to finish in, what will you do to maintain the pace needed achieve it? When you hit Heartbreak, if your quads are burning, will you walk to conserve energy or just push on through? At Wellesley College, will you stop to give a girl a hug or will you continue to plow through toward the halfway point? Finally when you make the turn onto Boylston Street, will you kick it into overdrive, or just savor the moment as you see the finish line in sight? While none of us know exactly what race day will bring, we certainly like to make a plan for how we might handle various scenarios on the course.
As this is my 10th Boston race, I’d like to say that I’ve seen it all and don’t need to create a plan. However, having this knowledge only makes me more aware of what awaits me on the course and the need to create a plan for how to handle these situations. I have to say that when I think about race day and the plan I will execute, it’s as much about me being practical as it is about being filled with excitement for what awaits.
The Post-race Plan
Now this is something I’d like to believe we all think about. I mean, with all that is physically and mentally involved with preparing for and running a marathon, it’s hard not to envision what you are going to do once it’s over. While you are certainly going to be tired, you will also be filled with adrenaline and incredible sense of accomplishment. Now some may dream of an ice cold beer, for others it’s about celebrating with loved ones and family. I bet that many of you already have your Facebook status planned or have thought about what you are going to Tweet. I have to say, that as much as I love running marathons, a big part of what motivates me to this day is thinking about how I feel once I have finished the race and accomplished my goals.
And by the way, yes I do have a post-race plan … I’m getting together with my wife and a bunch of friends at our neighborhood bar to celebrate running my 10th Boston Marathon and 20th marathon overall. Yes, I’m excited to run, but I also can’t wait to share the experience with all my friends after the fact.
Ultimately, a marathon plan is really all about having vision. To be successful and run a marathon, you just can’t be short-sighted. You need to have foresight. You need to plan on many levels.
Think of your marathon plan as your path. Whether you realize it or not, it's what has guided you from the moment you decided to register, and will continue to guide through the moment you will cross the finish line.
There’s no denying that interest in running marathons is at an all-time high. Registration is up. Races are selling out in record time. And, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, in 2010 the number of marathon runners crossing the finish exceeded the half-million mark for the first time at 507,000.
Not only has the number of runners increased, so have the number of marathons. In 2010 more than 35 new marathons were launched according to Running USA. These new additions have brought the total number of official U.S. marathons up 625 -- a 213 percent increase since 1985!
With marathons getting more and more popular, they have also attracted interest from another key sector -- marketers. Yes, along with runners, interest in marathons as marketing vehicles has increasingly grown in popularity. Sponsorships are nothing new, and they provide valued funding that enable races to operate, offer prize money, and attract top talent. And nowhere is this more prevalent than in the financial services sector, where the three U.S.-based marathon majors are all sponsored by the following organizations:
- New York: ING
- Chicago: Bank of America
- Boston: John Hancock
We’re Considered a “Pre-Qualified Demographic”
According to a recent article in Ad Age, marathon runners are a very sought after demographic. We’re viewed as highly educated, considered to be high earners, and in many cases we’re not afraid to travel and spend on hospitality. Additionally, if you’re looking to connect with an international audience, marathon runners are not viewed as homogonous bunch, but rather as a “global group”, as many runners travel from abroad. According to Ad Age and New York University professor of sports management Bob Boland, the benefit to sponsors is that “marathoners are a pre-qualified demographic: You’re getting interest and commonality, as opposed to having to attract them on their own.”
We’re Considered “Planners” and “Goal Oriented”
But when it comes to the financial services sector and their interest in the marathon, this is where things get really interesting. The following is a quote from ING America's chief marketing officer, Ann Glover:
“The parallels between running and preparing for your financial future speaks to our customers…the point is to remind those planning for their retirement that, like running a marathon, "you're in it for the long haul"…From a demographic and psychographic standpoint, the marathon touches all quadrants…but runners in particular are "planners and deliberate and they do their best to achieve their goals".
Personally I view this as a great compliment. I mean there are a lot of reasons why companies spend a lot of money sponsoring various sporting events based on the demographic make-up of those audiences. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “are these really qualities that are representative of me?” However, in the case of the financial services sector and the marathon, I personally feel that they have nailed things spot-on.
We’re all definitely planners. Running a marathon takes months of preparation and if you are going to be successful, you need to stick to a focused plan. Whether your goal is to break the three-hour mark, win the race, or just finish, it requires an incredible amount of foresight and planning. This is definitely one of the areas that make running a marathon so challenging, yet so rewarding.
We’re certainly goal-oriented. Plans require goals, and the marathon is a very goal-oriented endeavor. However, what’s unique about marathons is that success is based around the achievement of both short and long term goals. As you train and work to increase your mileage week-in and week-out, you set and achieve various short and near-term goals. However, it’s the overriding long-term goal of the actual “marathon” that keeps us all motivated. It’s the marathon itself that provides the long-term goal and motivation associated with achieving the many shorter-term challenges we must accomplish to get there.
Now will all of these factors increase my likelihood of absorbing ING’s, Bank of America’s or John Hancock’s messaging? Does this mean as a result of running marathons that I am more likely to think about planning for my retirement then if I didn’t? Who knows.
But in understanding why marketers do choose to invest so much in the marathon, what it has illuminated for me are the many positive characteristics that marathon running represents. We’re all part of a very special community, and to be part of this community, you need to possess some pretty unique, and in my opinion, most excellent qualities. I can’t say that I deliberately realized I possessed these qualities when I started to run marathons, but in understanding the values that marketers attach to the marathon, if asked by someone to describe myself tomorrow, I have to say that I’d be proud to describe myself as a “goal-oriented planner”.
The 2011 Boston Marathon marks a big milestone in my marathon running “career.” OK, running marathons is not my full time job, but it's almost like a second career when I think about the amount of time, energy and effort I have put into them over the past 10 years.
Specifically, 2011 will mark my 10th consecutive Boston Marathon and 20th marathon overall. Additionally, and this is maybe a bit of lesser know feat, with this marathon I will have crossed the 500 mile plane in marathon running. Yes, when I cross the finish line in Boston on Monday, April 18 I will have officially run 524 “marathon miles.” In short, the 2011 Boston Marathon is a particular race that I have thought about for a long time.
It's times like these that make one pause for reflection. I ask myself, how did I get here? When I ran my first marathon in October of 2000 in Chicago, did I ever think I’d be still doing this 10 years later; let alone preparing for my 10th consecutive Boston race? To be completely honest, the answer is no.
When I reflect on the last ten years, a lot has changed. I’ve lost my job, but then started a successful company. I met a wonderful woman, who later became my wife. I’ve become father to a wonderful little boy and very soon we'll be adding daughter to our family. In short, my life has been full of change over the past 10 years.
However, one constant during the past decade has been the marathon. I’ve been running two per year, one in the fall and Boston in the spring. In a world of constant change, it has proven to be a key anchor.
It’s about long term vision. It’s about goal setting. It’s about dedication. It’s about believing in “you.” I’m not just talking about the race, but also the journey it takes to get there. No matter how many marathons’ I’ve run, these challenges never subside. They are always there. I guess that’s what makes each individual race so incredibly rewarding, in that it’s a constant test of yourself and your being and when you cross the finish line, no matter what your time, you’ve won.
Yes, there has been a lot of recent press about how much marathon’s have grown in popularity over the past 10 years. In truth, since I started running marathon’s in 2000, the number of people crossing the finish line through 2009 has grown by 32 percent (Source: Running USA with Athlinks (2009) and Active.com (2005-08)). Some of this press has been good, some has been negative. But I would like to think that a big reason for the growth in popularity of the sport is that more and more people are discovering today, something I discovered a decade ago.
For me, running a marathon is an incredible experience, not just a race. The experience transcends the race, be it consciously or unconsciously, and the positive qualities it exudes permeate into several aspects of both my personal and professional being. I like to think that it’s helped be become a better, stronger and more fulfilled person.
10 years ago, it was truly just about a race. But 10 years later, I know it’s so much more than that. It’s why I’m still here today. And God willing, while I’ll continue to run marathons in the years to come.
This year's Boston Marathon training season (my 18th) has been a bit of a challenge to say the least.
Trying to train these past few months involved having long training runs canceled, dodging cars behind six-foot snow mounds, and cursing out people that didn't shovel their sidewalks.
Now that there is a little over six weeks to go before the Marathon I've run out of "wiggle room."
Our Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge coach Jack Fultz always tells us that he builds in a little wiggle room in our four-month training schedule. I should learn to treat this like vacation time, i.e., don't use it all the first few weeks of the year.
As runners ramp up their mileage, a lot of strange sounding words start to dominate post run conversations at Crossroads on Mass. Ave.: Plantar Faciitis, Iliotibial Band Syndrome ( I.T. Band), and patella tendinitis to name a few.
Treating an injury when you think you should be running is a delicate balance. Thank God there are people like Jake Kennedy of Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy out there to help. In addition to annually organizing the "Christmas in the City" event, which makes sure that hundreds of underprivileged Boston children receive a warm coat and a special Christmas gift, Jake helps dozens of runners make it to the starting line every year.
Despite the fact that his clinic is constantly booked, Jake never says no to anyone. Two weeks ago, two of my running companions met with Jake after they were sidelined with patella tendinitis and were barely able to walk, let alone run. One of them commented that the clinic looked like the Land of the Misfit Toys, but this past week they both ran outside and are feeling a lot more confident about the third Monday in April.
This past Saturday I was able to complete an eighteen mile run on a hilly course. And Sunday I played 18 for the first time this year.
The Marathon must be getting close.
Speaking of I.T. Bands, the I.T. Band of Somerville will be entertaining the crowd at my annual Shifter's 5k run to benefit the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. The run takes place on Saturday April 2 at the Wave Sports Pub in Waltham.
You can sign up at www.shifters5k.com. Hope to see you there.
With the 114th Boston Marathon still fresh in my memory, I have to say that I’m already thinking about next year. Yes, my legs are killing me and I’m still pretty beat, but at the same time I’m running on adrenaline. Needless to say, the positive energy that’s pulsating through my body certainly outweighs, the physical discomfort I’m currently enduring.
So, what is it about the Boston Marathon that fuels such passion and why am I already thinking about next year’s race even though its 364 days away? While there are many reasons, the following are just a few:
The City of Boston
Simply stated, Boston is about the marathon. While many other cities have great marathons, they have to accommodate the city; the city does not necessarily accommodate it. For example, they’re typically on a Sunday and run early in the day in order to avoid congestion.
Not only, is it on a Monday, there’s a holiday surrounding it – Patriots Day. Additionally, the start of the Red Sox game, 11am, is essentially timed to ensure that when the game is over the Red Sox faithful will pour out of Fenway into Kenmore Square to support the runners as they push through the final mile.
All of this helps to create a race day atmosphere, which in my opinion, is unrivaled anywhere.
The Crowds & Fans
From Hopkinton to Boston, there is never a dull moment. The energy along the course is just fantastic and certainly keeps me moving along. Whether it’s seeing my family, the ladies at Wellesley College or a hearing a stranger calling out my number, I’ve never felt alone on the course.
Therefore, if you choose to return, you can always count on a very supportive and festive environment to carry you across the finish line.
Completing the Journey
I have to say that the road to Boston is no simple task, training and race day included. When it comes to training in the months leading up to race day, winter can brutal. This is especially true for those of us living in the Northeast, or anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line for that matter. Training in freezing weather, pushing through snow or dancing on ice, can certainly make you question what you are doing. As for race day, thoughts of the Newton Hills, especially Heartbreak, are always looming. As I was running I had to constantly remind myself to save my energy, as the hills can wipe you out if you’re not careful and don’t plan accordingly.
However, once you cross the finish line and you reflect on what you did to get to this point, you realize that you’ve overcome these challenges and realized your potential. Ultimately attaining what at one time seemed almost unattainable, turns running Boston from a dream into something that is very real, and this only fuels the fire to return.
If you were fortunate enough to qualify, this will surely bring you back, as you have essentially earned your spot in next year’s race. I can’t begin to tell you the number of people I have met who say that their reason for returning to Boston was simply “I qualified”. Within marathon circles being acknowledged as a “Boston Qualifier” is essentially an honor we bestow upon each other and if you’ve earned it, you are almost obligated to return.
In short, becoming a “qualifier” is a level that so many aspire to, so if you do achieve it or you already have and do so again, my guess is that this will be enough to bring you back.
I will say that that these are just four reasons and are by no means meant to represent all the reasons why so many people return year after year. On top of these are the many, many, many personal and inspiring stories that carry people throughout this journey. No matter what your reason for running was yesterday, one thing that cannot be denied is that running and completing the Boston Marathon is an incredibly inspiring experience.
So, if I had to really sum up why I keep returning back to Boston, it’s for the very simple reason that after each race, I leave feeling incredibly inspired…about myself, my fellow runners and my community.
With this being said, I’d like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to everyone who ran in this year’s race and I hope to see many of you again next year, as I know for sure that "I’ll be back".
If you are already thinking about next year, be sure to check out my other post called Leveraging the "offseason", as this will provide some good guidance on where to go from here.
Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis was among those greeting a throng of exhausted and emotional runners as they crossed the finish line in the 114th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
This a Zimbabwean proverb that once I saw on the back of a t-shirt a while ago, and it’s something that has always stuck with me. To me, this quote is all about recognizing potential and understanding what you’re capable of. While you may not be the greatest dancer or the greatest singer, that fact that you can walk and talk still means that these are talents or components of the human spirit that live within us all.
After leaving the running expo yesterday, for some reason this proverb again popped into my mind, but I thought of adding another line to it as well.
The great thing about running is that it’s an innate trait associated with physical development. It’s something we all can do. It’s not exclusionary, but rather something that’s all-inclusive. In short, whether you’re running to catch the train or running to finish the Boston Marathon, it’s something that as human beings is part of who we are.
What then, is a runner?
If you can dance, are you a dancer? If you can sing, are you a singer? If you can run, are you a runner? In my opinion, the answer to all of these questions is no. While I have been able to run since the time I started walking, I’d like to think I only became a runner, when I was around 19 years old.
Becoming a runner, was not easy, as its much more than just running. Sure, you need to run, but for me it was a gradual metamorphosis and about incorporating running into my life.
For starters, a huge challenge was creating a routine. While many people start to run and continue at it for a few weeks or months, one of the big challenges is just simply sticking with it and incorporating it as a routine part of your life. However, once you have a routine nailed down, running starts to become easier, as you begin to understand how it fits into your life, not how life fits into it.
Being a runner is also about self-identification. Think about, when someone asks “are you a runner” and you respond by saying “yes”, what does that mean? To me, it’s about saying that running is not just something I do, but its part of who I am. Running is a sport that requires dedication, endurance, patience, commitment and so many other core human values.
So when you say that you’re a runner, not only are you making a statement about your physical self, you’re also showcasing to others a value system.
Being a runner is also about life. For me, running is part of my daily being. The days I don’t go running are the ones where I feel something is missing. Running is such an essential part of my life that it’s just part of what I do. For me, this was a key transition to truly becoming a runner, as it’s almost something now that I unconsciously do, versus consciously recognize. As a result, it has made running a great part of who I am, and in reality something that is much easier to do.
Being a runner is about the marathon.
I mean this both figuratively and literally. From a figurative perspective, a marathon is not about the race, it’s about commitment. It’s not about instant gratification, it’s about endurance. It’s not about the thrill, it’s about passion. To run a marathon, you need to not only commit to the sport, you need to commit to yourself. In short, to run a marathon, you need to be a runner.
From a literal perspective, the marathon is the crowning achievement for any runner. It’s the ultimate test. Whether you finish in 2-plus hours or 6-plus hours, we’ve all just run 26.2 miles. However, a marathon is so much more than just a race, in reality it’s a journey. Why we all do this, I can’t really say. We all have different reasons, we all have different stories, but in the end we all share one common bond that comes with crossing the finish line. It’s that we all are runners.
I'm not sure if Tom Petty ever ran a marathon but his words ring true this week.
After several months of following a training schedule, suddenly there is nothing to do but wait and worry. Last weekend, I held my annual road race at Waverly Oaks Athletic Club.
The weather was beautiful, the turnout great, and most importantly we raised several thousand dollars for innovative cancer research.
This past week we did our last Thursday night run from Newton to the Crossroads Pub. It seems so different running in shorts and in the daylight, but the pizza and the company was as good as ever. Funny how all winter we look forward to completing our training, but when we do we feel a bit sad that it is coming to an end.
Sunday I ran for the last time before next week. Doyle's 5-mile run in Franklin Park is a perfect way to put a wrap on a solid (albeit limited) preparation for Monday. I just glanced at the clock and realized that on Monday at about 2:30 p.m., I will hopefully be nearing the end of my 17th Boston Marathon.
The next few days will consist of healthy eating, getting hydrated, one last massage, and catching up on sleep. Saturday will be time to go to the runner's expo and pick up my official No. 22707.
Sunday is the best part of the marathon experience for me when pproximately 1,800 people will gather in the Copley Marriott for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Pasta Dinner. Along with 500+ runners and families there will be several young heroes that are waging a much tougher battle than conquering a few hills in Newton.
Over fifty patients from the Jimmy Fund clinic will be honored during the afternoon program.
Each patient is paired with a Dana-Farber runner that built a special relationship with them over the past year. When you see these children slowly making their way to the stage with their running partner, your own personal challenge pales by comparison.
I wish it were Monday already.
If you’re looking to connect with the Boston Marathon online, one thing that’s for sure is that there is no shortage of options. If you go and search “Boston Marathon” via Google, you’ll be faced with over 1,270,000 options to choose from between web sites, blogs and more, all dedicated to or containing topical information on the race. With so much to choose from, one medium I always find very interesting and useful is Twitter.
The reason being is that Twitter is about quick, short and easy to digest bits of information, that enable you to feel almost a personal connection with those who are authoring the tweets. While websites and blogs are great sources of in-depth information, Twitter is a great way to quickly get information and insight into the race on a more “personal” level. Twitter is also a great way to connect with other passionate runners, and see what they are into via the people they “follow” and who’s into them via their “followers”.
With this being said, I have scoured Twitter and the following are some interesting Boston Marathon related profiles that I have uncovered and wanted to share. It’s a mix of profiles from the media, sponsors, race enthusiasts and some of the elites. Definitely take a look and if you are inclined to do so, follow some or all of them, as you’ll be fed a steady diet of insightful and interesting race related content that will keep you informed and entertained in the days leading up to and well after race day.
- Profile: http://twitter.com/B_A_A_
- Name: Boston Marathon
- Location: Boston, MA
- Web: http://www.baa.org
- Bio: The Official Twitter account of the Boston Athletic Association and the Boston Marathon
- Profile: http://twitter.com/RunBoston26
- Name: Mary Kate Shea
- Location: New England
- Bio: Past, Present & Future Elites: Boston Marathon
- Profile: http://twitter.com/bostonmarathon
- Name: WBZ Boston Marathon
- Location: Boston
- Web: http://wbztv.com/bostonmarathon
- Bio: Follow WBZ's coverage leading up to Marathon Monday. We'll also be live tweeting the big race.
- Profile: http://twitter.com/GlobeMarathon
- Name: Boston Marathon News
- Location: Boston, MA
- Web: http://boston.com/sports/marathon/
- Bio: Boston Marathon news coverage on Boston.com
- Profile: http://twitter.com/JHFS_Boston26
- Name: JH Boston Marathon
- Location: Boston, Massachusetts
- Bio: John Hancock Financial Services celebrates their 25 year sponsorship of the Boston Marathon. Elite Athlete news, community programs, employee runners and more.
- Profile: http://twitter.com/ryanhall3
- Name: Ryan Hall
- Location: Mammoth Lakes, Ca
- Web: http://www.ryanandsarahall.com
- Bio: I am after the abundant life that Jesus offers, believing that nothing is impossible with Him.
- Profile: http://twitter.com/runmeb
- Name: meb keflezighi
- Location: Mammoth Lakes
- Web: http://www.MarathonMeb.com
- Bio: Christian, Husband, Proud father of two girls, Olympic Silver Medalist & 2009 ING NYC Champion
- Link: http://search.twitter.com/
- Description: This is Twitter’s search engine and to get a pulse of all activity and tweeting that’s happening around the marathon at any moment in time, just enter the following: #BostonMarathon
Additionally, are their other Boston Marathon related Twitter profiles you've come across and have found interesting and useful? If so, please share your comments with me.
The following came my way via Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge runner Bill Kelly:
BOSTON, Massachusetts -- Four-time Boston Marathon champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot has withdrawn from the 2010 event because of "an injured right hip," although the marathon community remains skeptical.
Cheruiyot, of Kapsabet, Kenya, first won in 2003 and then three-peated from 2006-2008. He set the course record in 2006 at 2 hours, 7:14 minutes.
Last year, it was obvious that Cheruiyot was visibly impressed, if not distracted, by the upstart, 38 year old, first timer Bill Kelly, which no doubt contributed to the end of his three year streak. Not only did Kelly log a personal best of 5 hours, 41 minutes, beating the street cleaning crews by nearly 20 minutes. He also sent shivers down the collective spine of the competition in how, with the tremendous support of family and friends, he was able to raise over $10,000 for Dana Farber cancer research.
More than a hundred people supported his effort and dozens shared touching, heartfelt stories about their battles with cancer. Kelly honored each of these fighters by proudly displaying their names on his shirt, ensuring the thousands of people along the course got as long a look as possible at each and every one of those names. Kelly promised to continue this tradition again this year and encouraged everyone to send him the name of someone they know and love that has battled cancer. "Sure a Kenyan could wear those names for 26.2 miles", Kelly told reporters, "but they will flash right by you. With me, you KNOW you are going to get some quality air time..."
Leading up to the race last year, Kelly repeatedly indicated this was a "one-time" affair. However, the stories and support kept coming and it became quite obvious that the job was not done. As a result, this fall Kelly decided to invest in a second pair of running shoes, moved his entire family to Heartbreak Hill, and reportedly trained outdoors "multiple times."
These events clearly shook up the entire field, in particular Cheruiyot. "Look, I've had my success. I've won this thing 4 times, 3 in a row!" he was seen telling passersby who barely seemed to care. "Then this aging treadmill jockey joins the field in 2009 and I drop completely out of the race?! I see where this is going... Now he has new shoes AND runs outside? My hip doesn't feel too good."
Kelly claims he is not focused on the rest of the field. "They know who I am. When they see #22724 on their tail, they can either run faster or get out of the way. I am nearly twice as big as most of those guys, and most of the course is downhill. If you were 120 pounds, would you want this barreling down on you?"
Still, Kelly clearly is extremely humbled by the generosity of his family and friends last year and hopes in these difficult times to simply try and provide some entertainment. For anyone who has the ability and desire to contribute to the cause, any amount is of course most appreciated and they can always do so at his web site.
By Chris Murphy, Globe Travel Staff
A love letter to Boston ... and Brookline, Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Framingham, Ashland, and Hopkinton.
Thank you for yesterday's gigantic exercise in good will. Starting with my running club, the Colonial Road Runners, which granted me a Marathon waiver, helped me train, and got me to the starting line.
Thank you to the extremely generous woman in Hopkinton who let me and my friends use the bathroom in her house as we schlepped to our corrals. To the runners I met from Dublin, Toronto, and Sao Paolo. To the bands, the drummers, and the guy who was playing the theme to "Jurassic Park" on his trumpet when I went by.
To the runners dressed as Batman and Robin, a giant cheeseburger (Go Big Sandwich!), cross-dressers, a British bobby, the man who ran in a tuxedo and black sneakers (did you propose to anyone?), and the runner with the inflatable Pesky Pole strapped to his head.
To the kids who blew bubbles, gave passing high fives, and offered Twizzlers, orange slices, Popsicles, and Kleenex. To my husband, John, who wrote Go Chris! on my shirt, and to everyone who thought the exclamation point was an "i" and yelled Go Chrisi - well, that was just sweet.
To the man who told me I better get going because his money was on me. To the baseball fans holding signs to inform runners that the Red Sox were ahead.
To the Wellesley College women with their screams and free kisses and the Boston College dudes slapping my hand, especially the one who told me to dig deep. To the two runners I saw who ran with prostheses, the brave man running with an oxygen tank on wheels behind him, and the two I saw running blindfolded (with guides) to raise money for the Perkins School for the Blind.
To all the other charity runners.
To Santa Claus and the giant furry chicken who patted me on the back. To my friend Susan, who gave me a hug at Mile 15.
To the endless army of ever-gracious volunteers who must have been out there all day, you earned those jackets.
To the runners I saw supporting a woman who ran into trouble at Mile 25.
To my brother-in-law Matt who steadied me afterward and kept my legs moving around the Public Garden until my posse arrived with warm clothes.
To my boys, Rob and Ryan, who made me a lovely cheering sign.
To the police and State Troopers who kept the peace.
To the crews who are still cleaning up. To the friends, family, and co-workers who wished me well.
For every loud, messy, miserable, crazy, wonderful step of the way, it was a privilege.
What a day!!!
Personally, I could not have asked for better running weather. Not too cold, definitely not too hot. Just enough cloud cover to shield the sun, yet not completely block it out. All in all, the weather gods really set the tempo for a great race day.
I have to admit that after arriving in Hopkinton, I was a definitely chilly, which meant that I basically stayed bundled-up right up until I threw my gear bag in the bus. However, once the gun went off, I warmed right up.
While there was a slight headwind at times, I personally found this refreshing more than stifling. Additionally, the temperature throughout the race was such that when I passed by the water stations, I was grabbing Gatorade and water to hydrate, versus quench my thirst.
All of this meant that I was really able to focus on the run, versus my body, which in my opinion makes all the difference in world. What I mean here is that in my experience, my best races and times have always been the result of race day experiences where I’ve been able to successfully focus on what’s going on around me, versus what’s going on within me, mainly the physical discomfort of running 26.2 miles. Therefore instead of wondering where the next water station will be or how my knee is getting sore, I’m able to just soak up all that is great about the running the Boston Marathon. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, the cheers of everyone who lines the roads in Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, and Natick who are so key to setting the tone for those first 10 or so miles, the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel, everyone in Washington Square (particularly my mom, wife and son, who at 5 months old was watching his first marathon) and all the folks on the Kenmore Bridge, Comm Ave., and Boylston Street for that final push to the finish.
On a personal note, I have to thank the folks on the Kenmore Bridge, as I did start to really feel some pain just after mile 24 that I thought might just kill my race. The thought of getting over that last bridge was daunting, but hearing all that cheering just enabled me to block out the pain and really gave me what I needed for the final push to the finish line. Thank you!!!
I also had the good fortune of briefly running alongside Team Hoyt (Rick & Dick), which is always incredibly inspiring. I also saw at least two competitors with amputations who were easily running sub-seven minute splits…amazing! Seeing these kinds of scenes, as well as just being in the company of my fellow runners reminds me of how running, or even just watching, a marathon is inspiring on so many levels.
On a personal note, I had the good fortune of recording my best time since 2006 and in the process re-qualifying, which is always gratifying.
In closing, I just wanted to congratulate everyone on a great race and I hope to see you all again for the 114th running in 2010. Cheers!
Less than 24 hours!!! The anticipation is killing me.
If someone were to ask me right now, 'How do you feel?', I’d have to simply respond that I’m just plain anxious! By this point, I’ve picked up my number, been through the expo, put in an ungodly amount of time getting ready for Race Day, and am in the final moments of what I like to call my “idle” phase in which I stop running in the days leading up to race day. Therefore, I just want to get to the starting line in Hopkinton and start running this race.
Ask anyone who’s run a marathon previously (or even if you’re a first time competitor), the days leading up to race day are filled with emotion. These feelings can range from fear to excitement depending on who you are and the journey you’ve taken to get to this point. Feeling emotional is completely understandable. Just take a moment to think about all that you’ve done to just simply get to this point. It’s been an incredible journey!
The thing about running a marathon is that it’s not something that you can do overnight. The actual race is one thing, but the journey you embark on to get there is another. We all have our own reasons for why we are here and taking on this challenge. As a result of all that we have endured, in these final days, the race itself becomes an event that just seems to loom larger than life itself.
While race day is the pinnacle of the marathon experience, it’s also a day unlike any other. No matter how hard you’ve trained or what you’ve endured to get to Boston, nothing can compare to what you’ll actually experience and how you will feel the moment the gun goes off. While training ensures that we’re all ready for this moment, what happens and how you feel once you are out on the course is a completely different and unique experience.
In the end, if someone were to ask me, why do you keep running marathons and putting yourself through all of this, sure I have a variety of answers and reasons, but it really boils down to the feeling and emotions associated with the race day experience. It’s why I keep coming back and ultimately can explain why I’ve been bitten by the marathon bug.
It all goes back to my very first marathon, Chicago 2000.
I had been an avid runner up to this point, running 6-7 miles daily to keep in shape, but had never run longer distances. However in the summer of 2000 I made my first visit to Chicago in over two years (I grew up there) to see some old friends and had a really good time. As a result, I vowed that I would make an effort to return to Chicago more often so as to ensure I did not lose touch with my roots as well as some of my oldest and dearest friends. Therefore, in order to ensure I stayed true to this vow, I decided that the following October I would run the Chicago Marathon.
Having never run a marathon before, I was a little unsure of how to approach training, and instead of buying a book or joining a team I just decided to construct my own training program. On top of this, I decided that I would not actually register for the race until I knew that it was something I was definitively committed to doing, in that I had hit certain training and distance goals. Fortunately, I stuck to my guns and in early September I signed up and was now fully committed to running my first marathon. (On a side note, this just goes to show how popular marathons have become, seeing that in 2000, you could still register less than a month before the actual race).
Before I knew it, I was in Chicago and I was sitting at dinner with my father having my “last supper” on the eve of race day. I remember him asking me if I felt I was ready, which I certainly felt I was. I also remember him asking me what I had hoped for in terms of a time. I said that I was not really sure, but a few of my friends who had run marathons previously had done so in around four hours, so I thought that if I could match that, I would certainly be happy. He then asked me about the Boston Marathon, and I remember telling him that it would be great to run it one day, but it was a race you had to qualify for and I felt that there was no way I would be able to do that.
Sure I had trained and felt that I had a good shot in completing the race in about four hours, but qualifying for Boston…no way. To be honest, getting a Boston qualifying time was not why I was running the race. I had made a commitment to return back home and I honestly just wanted to prove to myself that I could run a marathon. Being able to run Boston would be great, but I really did not give it much thought as I did not really have plans to run any more marathons beyond this one and the time needed to qualify for Boston just seemed way out of reach.
All of this was based on the fact that that this was my first marathon, and the only experience I was drawing on was training and a few 5K races I’d run in previous years. The one thing I did not count on or understand was the power and energy that comes with race day.
Sunday, October 22nd -- Race Day.
As I got to the start, I decided that I would be a bit ambitious and run with the 7-minute mile pace group. Could I really keep-up this kind of pace throughout the race? To be honest, I was not 100% sure, but based on how I was feeling at the moment it seemed like the right choice. As I looked around at all my fellow runners who were most likely feeling something similar, while it’s hard to explain, I just felt a real sense of energy…and the race had not even begun. Surrounded by all of these fellow athletes just got my adrenaline pumping.
Then the gun went off!
Since I’d positioned myself towards the front of the start, I was able to hit my stride pretty quickly, and I remember hitting my first mile in under 7 minutes…way too fast I thought. Therefore, I decided to try and slow down a bit, but something about the energy of my fellow runners and the people lining the streets just kept me going. As much as I tried to hold myself back, I found myself just pushing harder and feeling great.
Soon at mile 10, I remember someone calling out what approximate place you were in and I remember hearing as I passed by…1,000. Upon hearing this I was in a slight state of disbelief…I was in approximately 1,000th place in a race with over 27,000 runners, in my first marathon. However, I was just feeding off the energy.
I then remember hitting the halfway point in around 1:28:00, and suddenly it hit me, that I was running at a pace that was way, way beyond anything I could have ever imagined. But, I still had 13.1 miles to go and a lot can happen between the halfway point and the finish line. However, it was suddenly at this point that I realized that maybe qualifying for Boston could be a reality, and suddenly I had a new goal in mind.
With thoughts of Boston suddenly filling my mind, I somehow found the strength and will to keep-up my pace. Again, the Race Day energy was all consuming and the thoughts of potentially running Boston began to overtake any feelings of pain and discomfort that come with the final miles of running a marathon. By mile 26, my pace was such that I even briefly flirted with the idea that maybe I’d break three hours, but that was not to be.
As I crossed the finish line, I did so in 3:01:27 and much to my disbelief I found out that I had indeed qualified for Boston!
This to date stands as my second best time on record, but in my annals of marathon running my most important time. The reason being is that it demonstrated to me how powerful the actual Race Day experience really is and how it can bring out the best both physically and mentally within any of us. Race day had brought out something within me that was completely unexpected. Sure it was there, but I guess I did not know how to unleash it. Race day brought it out and as a result it made me realize that things that I did not think were possible were actually achievable.
While it’s been almost 9 years and 15 marathons since that October day (tomorrow will be by 16th marathon, 8th Boston), I have to attribute much of why I continue to run marathons to this particular day and experience. While every race is different, and surely Race day in Boston is unlike any other, it was a true testament to the power of the entire marathon experience, especially race day.
In the end, Race day is where you transform from trainee to marathoner, and in the process of this metamorphosis you undoubtedly learn a lot about yourself and ultimately why running a marathon is really so much more than just a 26.2 mile race.
The Red Snakes are coming. (Photo courtesy of Kaji Aso Studio)
The following was submitted by Joe McGonegal
Gombatte! Try your best!
Among Boston’s bandits is one well-organized troupe
Though they are cheered on as much as registered runners, sneered at by purists and nearly ignored nowadays by race officials, Boston’s “bandits”—or unregistered runners—are as much a part of Boston Marathon history as John Kelley or the Kenyans.
With registration for this year’s race closing in January, there may be more bandits than usual.
But thanks to the Red Snakes, a small group of local runners and artists from the Kaji Aso Studio in the Back Bay, Boston’s bandits have felt acknowledged on race day for the past three decades.
This April 20, the Red Snakes will again target hundreds of runners in the Boston Marathon and get to them just as they cross the finish line. It’s likely that those targeted runners will be just as surprised as they are each year.
The Red Snakes will hand bandits a simple, hand-stenciled certificate that celebrates their accomplishment and congratulates them on their finish.
It began in 1971 when Kaji Aso, an art professor at Tufts University, started running the Boston Marathon in the back of the pack with his students. After a few years, he termed his group of runners “Red Snakes” because, as Aso Studio instructor Gary Tucker, 49, explained, “they’re hard to kill, and very passionate.”
In 1971, Kaji Aso, an art professor at Tufts University, started running the Boston Marathon in the back of the pack with his students. (Photos courtesy of Kaji Aso Studio)
“Encouragement was a big part of [Aso’s] persona, so this fit him perfectly,” Tucker, who was a student of Aso’s at Tufts, said of the group’s formation.
Tucker and Kate Finnegan, 52, the Aso Studio’s current director, ran the race together with Aso over a dozen times. By the late ‘70s, the group got an idea.
“That started a long time ago,” said Finnegan as she sifted through photos and memorabilia from Aso’s files in the upper room of the studio a few weeks before this year’s marathon.
“It used to be that the [Boston Athletic Association] would take down the finish line after four hours,” said Finnegan. “So we wanted a way to celebrate runners who came in after that.”
The solution: a finisher’s certificate for the bandits.
“Each year after we finish,” said Finnegan, “we rest a bit, and then we turn around and start giving these out. And people started collecting them over the years!”
At first, the Red Snakes found the demand overwhelming. “We used to make thousands,” said Finnegan. “Then, when it switched to the Hancock sponsoring [the race], they now keep the finish line open later. Our job isn’t as necessary as it used to be—we’ll print 300 or so this year.”
Those straggling down Boylston Street after six or seven hours on the course see the Red Snakes’ banner: “Welcome, Slow Runners!”
1976 Boston Marathon champion Jack Fultz, who served as elite athlete liaison for the race and now coaches the Dana Farber Team, befriended Aso and the Red Snakes early on and even sported a Red Snakes t-shirt in the 1981 race.
“They're the most notorious bandits in the marathon,” Fultz said of the Red Snakes. “But running for [Kaji Aso] was special—it was a form of meditation.”
While Fultz admires the Red Snakes, he hesitates to encourage all bandits from jumping into the race at Hopkinton. Estimated to be in the thousands each year, bandits are often criticized for draining race-day resources and clogging the already packed streets.
“You can't stop them,” said Fultz. “It's a public road. And it's a PR thing, too. You don't want to be the big old nasty organization keeping people who aren't hurting anybody.”
Finish director Tom Meagher cares less about PR than about protecting the integrity of his finish line.
“Up till the three hour mark, we’re yanking [bandits] out,” Meagher said. “I tell security, ‘get them out of there!’ We’re not going to give these people a stage. From the corner of Exeter [Street] to the finish, we yank them.”
There may be more bandits this year than usual, according to Dave McGillivray, the Boston Marathon race director. In late January, race directors cut off registration when they reached 25,000—several weeks earlier than in most years.
“People are saying all those qualifiers who didn't get in will increase the number of bandits,” McGillivray said. “My sense is that although they're disappointed they didn't get in, they have their own standards and they don't want to run this race that way.”
McGillivray “bandited” Boston himself in his teens and is less adamant about pulling bandits from the starting line on race morning in Hopkinton.
“The BAA’s position is that we certainly don't encourage unofficial runners from running,” McGillivray said, “but we recognize that it's part of the tradition that a certain number of them will show up.”
“Right or wrong,” McGillivray said, “we factor them in, too. When we order port-a-johns and water, we actually say there’s 29,000 in the race, not 26,000”—the number of registered runners. “It's a conundrum for sure. On the one hand you feel like you’re accommodating them, but it’s safety too.”
At this year’s starting line will be a dozen Red Snakes carrying on Kaji Aso’s tradition.
Asked how they get inside the secured city limits on race morning, Gary Tucker laughed.
“It’s privileged information I’m about to tell you. We meet very early. We have to leave here by six because we have to be in the Hopkinton city limits by eight. And one of our members, who owns a house in Hopkinton, hosts us until the race starts.”
As they cross the starting line, the Red Snakes chant, “Gombatte! Try your best!”
Just over 26 miles later, Tucker, Finnegan and others will raise the Red Snakes banner, turn around, and celebrate the bandits coming down Boylston Street.
Funny I have been training for the Boston Marathon for the last 16 years, and the week before is always the same. No matter how diligent you were with your training, there is always the feeling that you should have done more.
Running with many first timers with the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge, I get to experience the excitement/dread of the upcoming race.
With the tapering process well under way, many runners are feeling all sorts of aches and pains. I have come to realize that giving your body a rest is also giving your mind an opportunity to worry about things you can't control.
For the last four months, we all were following a set training schedule and didn't have much free time for consternation. The fun part is that, after many cold evening and weekend runs, the rest of the area is starting to focus on April 20.
Seeing the local media start mentioning the race makes all of the runners realize that they are part of a world class event steeped in rich tradition. One of the most fun things for me is to see the mile markers get a fresh coat of paint this week. Even the casual observer knows that something big is happening in Boston.
Betsy, a fellow runner, related a story with a interesting perspective on the marathon. One of her students saw her last Thursday leaving school in her running gear. Proudly the youngster waved and proclaimed to a nearby teacher's aid that "Miss Gott was running in the World Series."
Next Sunday afternoon, I will join close to 2,000 people for the annual Dana Farber Pasta Party. This is the most inspiring part of the marathon weekend. In addition to 500+ nervous runners, there will be dozens of patients from the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Several of our runners pair up with a current or former cancer patient and build a wonderful bond. Many of the children are currently undergoing Chemo or radiation therapy and tire very quickly.
But for a few special hours they are the stars of the show. Many patient partners will be waiting at mile 25 to cheer all of the runners on their way to the finish.
Funny how seeing those courageous children smile makes all those aches and pains disappear.
The following was submitted by William Menda (Bib No. 17,300)
Why is it so important to many of us to qualify for the Boston Marathon and, if possible, re-qualify and return to Boston? Because it's a thrill to achieve something meaningful, even -- or especiallly -- when it comes by a small margin.
For me to get to Boston the first time, I had to run the best marathon I had ever run. Being a middle-of-the-pack kind of guy meant my best marathon allowed me to qualify by six seconds a mile (3:33:20).
Six seconds a mile? That's one or two slow miles, one cramp, one pit stop, or one or two slow hills.
Several of my running friends, on their best days ever, had similar small margins of great success. For faster people, qualifying by larger margins could mean personal records as well, but frequent fast times could lessen some of the pressure, as well as the thrill of just qualifying.
Getting to Boston once (it took me nine years) hardly persuaded me that re-qualifying would ever happen.
So what do you do?
You try. You eat even more carefully. You lose more weight. You train smarter and over time you lose most of your running partners.
The years pass, miles and injuries accumulate, and failed opportunities to qualify become more regular.
Then on one day, one magical day, in one place, fitness, weather, and mental toughness come together again.
Another great effort produces another small margin of great success. The feeling of putting it all together again to achieve such a result at the edge of the limits of one's abilities is incredible.
Many articles decry the relaxation of Boston's qualifying times. Those qualifying times are high standards for most runners. For those of us who line up for the race on April 20, we are running Boston because we ran the absolute best we had ever run just to meet the standard.
That is what makes the Boston Marathon so important to us.
One thing I have always enjoyed about marathon running is the camaraderie and community associated with it.
Everyone who’s ever run a marathon has their own personal experience, and while those who’ve never ran a marathon often react to you with a sense of awe; your fellow marathoners will more often than not, react with a sense of empathy. The reason being is that it’s your fellow marathoners who really understand what running a marathon is all about and what it really takes to accomplish what is both a very challenging physical, as well as mental, feat.
Therefore, whether you are an elite runner or someone who’s running for the first time, the experience of a marathon really creates a sense of community that forms an unspoken bond that exists between us all.
I can’t begin to count the number people I’ve met and bonded with over the marathon experience. Whether it’s on a plane, at a party or even a business dinner, when you’re speaking with someone and suddenly the subject of a marathon comes up, it amazes me how suddenly you can go from being almost complete strangers to old friends. When sharing stories and experiences ranging from training to injuries to race day, the conversation between two marathoners can just take off and flow.
On the bus to Hopkinton, I personally love speaking with people about their qualifiers, as everyone always tends to have a great story and have qualified in different races from all over the country and the world. This is also a great way to find out about other races (or qualifiers) and what they’re really like. Sure when you’re at the Expo you’ll see a ton of booths promoting a lot of races, but nothing beats getting first hand information from someone who’s actually been on the course and crossed the finish line.
One thing about marathon running is that there really does seem to be a feeling of mutual respect that transcends the community. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a first-time runner, we all know that marathon running is an intense commitment, as well as experience. Running a marathon instills a tremendous sense of personal pride that’s not necessarily associated with the “time”, but more importantly the accomplishment. As a result, it’s something that everyone who’s run a marathon understands and contributes to it fostering such great community.
However, a fundamental reason that I personally believe that marathon running fosters such a great community is because at the core of it all it’s an intensely personal experience. Unless you are a true elite runner, when you’re out on the course the person you’re really competing against is yourself. Sure, there might be those few people around you that you mark as the ones to beat, but in reality, these people are not competitors, but rather subconscious motivators. Therefore, when on the course whether you’re goal is to set a PR of just cross the finish line, the person that you’re really competing against is yourself. As a result, when you cross the finish line the result is a sense of tremendous personal accomplishment that not many other “life experiences” can compete with.
It’s these personal experiences that help to create the larger community that we’re all a part of. It’s these personal experiences that make you want to say “Hey, I’ve been there too”. It’s these personal experiences that encourage you to lend a hand or to offer words of encouragement when you see someone struggling on the course.
In the end, it’s hard to pin down exactly the one thing that brings us all together, but maybe that’s exactly the reason why the community of marathon runners is so open, dynamic, accepting and vibrant.
The Local 3 charity race to benefit the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) took place at The Local Restaurant in West Newton this afternoon. The 3-mile run started at 1:00 p.m. under cool and windy conditions. Frank Santo, the owner of the Local hosted the event that annually raises thousands of dollars for innovative cancer research.
Boston.com Marathon Blog contributor and DFMC runner Rich "Shifter" Horgan organized the event, now in its ninth year.
Check out the video summary of the day.
Just four weeks to go until Boston. And to be honest, I wish I was running tomorrow. I am as fit or unfit as I am going to be.
Most people training for Boston will do their final long run this weekend. Three weeks before Boston is always a fun day on the marathon course. There will be hundreds of runners on the course this Saturday.
Most charity groups will be out there early Saturday morning. My last long run may be only 18 miles or so, but I am ready to get it done, then rest up for April 20.
I cut out of our track workout tonight a little early to attend a party in Boston. (What a shock!)
Tonight there was get together for Boston legend Eddie Doyle. Eddie is the real-life Sam Malone. For decades Eddie was the gracious host at the Bull and Finch Pub on Beacon Street, before it became known as Cheers.
It was great to see such running luminaries as coach Bill Squires and the Eliot Lounge's Tom Leonard. One of the things that makes the Boston running scene so much fun is the local races throughout the year.
Everyone gets excited about the Marathon, but it is the other 5K and 5-mile races that make running in Boston a special experience. Over the years there have been some great races that have raised thousands of dollars for local charities.
Back in the 1980's the Freedom Trail 8.1-mile race ran through the North End, Bunker Hill and finished at a great block party in the financial district.
The Milk Run was always 8 days before the Boston marathon and was a final tune up for some, and the first run of the spring for others.
The Doc Linsky 5-miler was always held in early September and wound its way through Cambridge for 20 years.
When these runs eventually ended , new races for new charities took their place. It's always a clear sign that Spring is on its way when the road races start again.
A week from Saturday, April 4, I will be putting on the Local 3, a flat fun race to raise money for the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. Frank Santo, the owner of the Local Restaurant in West Newton, is graciously hosting the event that annually raises thousands of dollars for innovative cancer research. Along with the help from our friends at Harpoon Brewery, we are looking forward to a great afternoon. People can register at www.coolrunning.com
Speaking of Harpoon, they will be hosting their annual Harpoon 5-Miler on Saturday,, June 6 to raise funds for the Angel Fund. The Angel Fund raises a great deal of money to combat ALS.
Time for bed and sweet dreams about my long run on Saturday.
Just returned from a track workout at Tufts.
Coach Jack Fultz, the 1976 Boston Marathon Champion, put about a dozen Dana Farber Marathon Challengers through a tough one-hour workout.
With six weeks left until Boston, there were more than a few aches and pains at the track.
But there is also the feeling that all of the hard work is finally paying off.
After a few sessions with my chiropractor, Dr. Kate, my hamstrings are finally feeling normal. I was able to drag myself through a 15-plus-mile run with the help of my running partner Emily on Saturday. I was gassed on the way back to Lexington, but Emily coaxed and cajoled me to finish the run.
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This is also a key time of year for our fund-raising for Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
This year the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge will attempt to raise $4.85 million for innovative cancer research. Despite the tough economic climate, I am amazed at the dedication of my fellow runners when it comes to their personal fund-raising. Every weekend there is a special event put on by one of our runners with the goal of pushing their fund-raising total.
Thursday night will be our weekly "Crossroads Run." Back in 1993, a group of runners would meet at the Eliot Lounge on Mass Ave., and Commonwealth Ave.
The ambassador to the running community, Tommy Leonard, would welcome us every Thursday night from behind the bar at the Eliot. The runners would leave their bags under the watchful eye of Tommy and take the D-train to the Woodland T-stop. After running the last nine miles of the marathon course, we would find ourselves on the other side of the tap from Tommy.
After a few pints Tommy would regale us with stories of Alberto Salazar, Rod Dixon, and our own Jack Fultz.
There isn't a more caringn genuine person in the world than Tom Leonard.
Every year people will venture to the Falmouth Road Race (which he started) just for a glimpse of Tommy's smile -- and of cours, a few embellished stories.
When the Eliot closed it's doors in the late 90s, we needed to find a new home.
Crossroads Pub on Beacon Street has become our Thursday night oasis for the last 10-plus years. Our fellow DFMC alum J.J. Larner takes care of all of the runners and their friends.
The owner Sam and manager Mike make sure that we are welcome every week, and that there is enough free pizza for everyone. We are joined by our friends from the American Liver Foundation and Joints in Motion teams.
Following in the great tradition started at the Eliot Lounge, Thursday nights at Crossroads have become a required ritual.
Can't believe it is only two more days to Thursday!
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For the fun of it, here's a link to a terrific 2005 column the Globe Magazine's Charles P. Pierce wrote about Tommy Leonard and the Eliot Lounge for Sports Illustrated.
Seems like the marathon has crept up on me this year.
This will be my 16th consecutive year running Boston, and it has been a challenging year. I usually ease into my training by running the reach the beach relay in September and the BAA Half Marathon in October. Things were going according to plan when one night in November my hamstring started to kill me on a short run from Crossroads Pub in Boston.
I took a week off and ran the Gobble Gobble Gobble on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately my hamstring bothered me again, Thank goodness for the free beer at the Buren.
Anyway, enough with my injury woes. My old boss once told me that excuses were like rear ends, everyone has one.
I am getting excited as the marathon approaches. Nothing better than to see the first time runners run their first 15- and 20-mile run. Every year the training is hard, but meeting new people and seeing old friends on the road make Boston a special part of my life.
Time to forget to stretch again and go to sleep. Thursday night run at Crossroads coming up.
- 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