Eastern Mass Apple Picking

apple picking apples growing on tree with green leaves

New England Fall apple picking is one of my many fond childhood memories! Even now as an adult, there’s  something magical about an apple picking trip to a New England apple orchard. Apple picking, or pick your own apples, isn’t unique to New England, but I do feel like we have helped get the Fall tradition started and we’ve got our spin on it and out own unique apples, McIntosh! Apple picking is really accessible to anyone and I really enjoy being in a New England orchard seeing groups of friends and families out enjoying a beautiful New England Fall day.

Eastern Massachusetts Apple Picking Guide

Why just Eastern Massachusetts?

This post is a guide to all the apple orchards in Eastern Massachusetts I could find. It is guide to apple types and other things local farms offer. I disappointingly had to limit to Eastern Massachusetts because if I included Western Massachusetts (or Southern New Hampshire) there it would be too many, 33 isn’t too shabby right? They’re also in alphabetical order. I also disappointingly didn’t get to include a couple of places because I couldn’t get any apple information on them and some never got back to me (updates possible!).

Important Apple Picking Guide Notes:

(PYO) – Pick Your Own – those marked  are the apples I’ve been able to verify you can actually find on a tree.

Call the farm before you go! It’s why I’ve included their numbers in this guide. Especially if you’re looking for a particular type of apple, all apples are seasonal! Or it’s late in the season (toward the end of October) a lot of apples get picked out. If you’re using a phone you should just be able to tap it.

Directions: Click the town in the farm profile, Google Search window will come up with the farm location.

It’s my hope you check out a new apple picking place! There are some absolutely great and fun apple orchards in Mass. (Plus it will hopefully lower your chances of having to wait in a long line for cider donuts!)

Apples ready for Picking at Boston Hill Farm

Eastern Massachusetts Apple Picking Orchards

Why write a post about pick your own (PYO) apples in Eastern Massachusetts?

I was out mid-October last year with friends and ended up at a couple of apple orchards where all the apples had been picked out. We had to scramble to find a place with apples and ended up at less publicized farm and had a great time (and the lines weren’t hours long for cider donuts). It made me realize there are a lot of great apple farms within driving distance from Boston that aren’t as well publicized and hard to find, thus this list.

What does PYO mean?

PYO stands for Pick Your Own, it can be any kind of fruit.

Why would you want pick your own?

It’s fun! Plus, a lot of people are interested in knowing where their food is from. Apple Picking season, aka Fall, is really one of the only times during the year we celebrate knowing exactly where our food is from. If you’re new to New England or the Boston area, you might not have lived in a part of the US that has apple picking or so much pick you own fruit. This list is a few places that are driving distance from Boston, there are many great places that didn’t make the list only because of distance.

Where should I be going to an apple orchard?

Anywhere near your house can be great, provided it has what you’re looking for. If you have kids, hayrides and activities might be a deciding factor. If cider donuts and apple types is more important, there are definitely plenty of places for you on this list

What are the advantages of going to a smaller farm?

The lines you find at bigger orchards are often much smaller or not there, and the farm has more character. Plus a lot of smaller, less publicized farms, grow some really awesome and unique things!

Does the farm near my house have apples?

Maybe? If you’re looking for apples, you can’t always assume the farm down the street, or the town over, has apple picking (one farm I grew up near has only had apples for the last few years). Many apple orchards specialize in different kinds of things, for example making this post, I found an apple type called ‘Winter Banana’ I’d never heard of before, I’m hoping I get to track it down this season!

How do I get to the apple orchard?

Plan to drive! Most apple picking places are located well outside large urban areas. Some rare farms are accessible by public transit (T, MBTA, regional bus) but most are well off a major highway or interstate.

Happy apple picking season!

red apple iconAutumn Hills Orchard
Groton, MA
978-448-8388
Apple Type:
Cortland
Cox Orange Pippin
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Ida Red
Kendell
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Newtown Pippin
Nothern Spy
Paula Red
Pink Lady
Rhode Island Greening
Spencer
Spigold
Suncrisp

 

red apple iconBelkin Family Lookout Farm
Natick, MA
508-651-1539
Cider Donuts Weekend, Kids Activities, Maze, Hay Pyramid
Apple Type:
Cortland
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Red Delicious
Shizuka

 

red apple iconBerlin Orchards
Berlin, MA
978-838-2400
Apple Type:
Cortland
Ginger Gold
Gold Supreme
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Paula Red
Red Delicious
Redfree
Shamrock
Spencer

 

red apple iconBolton Orchards
Bolton, MA
978-799-2733
Apple Type:
Arkansas Black
Baldwin
Cameo
Cortland
Empire
Empress
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Golden Russet
Granny Smith
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Hudson Golden Gem
Jonagold
Liberty
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)

 

red apple iconBolton Spring Farm
Bolton, MA
978-779-2898
Cider Donuts, No kids activities
Apple Type:
Blushing Golden
Baldwin
Cameo
Cortland
Crabapple
Empire
Fuji
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Ida Red
Jonagold
Jonathan
Macoun
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Northern Spy
Paula Red
Red Delicious
Rome
Royal Gala
Spartan
Spencer
Tydeman
Vista Bella
Zestar

 

red apple iconBoston Hill Farm
North Andover, MA
978-681-8556
Cider Donuts, Small Petting zoo
Apple Type:
Cortland (PYO)
Ginger Gold (PYO)
Macoun (PYO)
McIntosh (PYO)
Paula Red (PYO)
Red Delicious (PYO)

 

red apple iconBrooksby Farm
Peabody, MA
978-531-7456
Apple Type:
Cortland
Early Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Red Delicious
Summer Granny
Summer Mac

 

red apple iconCarlson Orchards
Harvard, MA
978-456-3916
Cider Donuts Weekends, No kids activities
Apple Type:
Baldwin
Braeburn
Cameo
Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Northern Spy
Pink Lady
Rome
Royal Gala

 

red apple iconCarver Hill Orchards
Stow, MA
978-897-6117
Cider Donuts Weekends, No kids activities
Apple Type:
Blushing Golden (PYO)
Cortland (PYO)
Empire (PYO)
Ginger Gold (PYO)
Honeycrisp
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (PYO)
Red Delicious (PYO)
Romes (PYO)

 

red apple iconDerby Ridge Farm
Stow, MA
978-897-7507
Apple Type:
Baldwin
Blushing Golden
Cortland
Crabapple
Davey
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Golden Delicious
Gravenstein
Ida Red
Jersey Mac
Lodi
Macoun
McIntosh
Melrose
Mutsu (Crispin)
Northern Spy
Red Delicious
Rome
Royal Gala
Spencer
Winter Banana

 

red apple iconDoe Orchards
Harvard, MA
978-772-4139
Apple Type:
Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Golden Supreme
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
Red Delicious

 

red apple iconDowse Orchards
Sherborn, MA
508-653-2639
No Cider Donuts or kids activities
Apple Type:
Astrachan
Baldwin
Cortland (PYO)
Empire (PYO)
Fuji (PYO)
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious (PYO)
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Ida Red (PYO)
Jersey Mac
Jonagold (PYO)
Jonathan
Macoun (PYO)
McIntosh (PYO)
Milton
Mutsu (Crispin)
Red Delicious
Rome
Royal Gala
Russett
Spartan (PYO)
Spencer
Staymen
Winesap
Zestar
More Varieties

 

red apple iconDrew Farm Country Store
Westford, MA
978-807-0719
Apple Type:
Cortland
Empire
Golden Delicious
Macoun
McIntosh
Red Delicious

 

red apple iconFairmount Fruit Farm
Franklin, MA
508-533-8737
Apple Type:
Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh

 

red apple iconGeorge Hill Orchards
South Lancaster, MA
978-365-4331
Cider Donuts, Hayrides, Maze, Educational Programs
Apple Type:
Baldwin
Braeburn
Cortland
Empire
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Honeycrisp
Jonathan
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Northern Spy
Pink Lady
Red Delicious
Rome
Winesap
Winter Banana

 

red apple iconHighland Farm Orchard
Holliston, MA
508-429-8370
Apple Type:
Braeburn
Cortland
Fuji
Golden Supreme
Granny Smith
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Pink Lady

 

red apple iconHoney Pot Hill Orchards
Stow MA
978-562-5666
Cider Donuts, lots of activities
Apple Type:
Akane (PYO)
Baldwin (PYO)
Cortland (PYO)
Crabapple
Empire (PYO)
Ginger Gold (PYO)
Golden Delicious (PYO)
Gravenstein (PYO)
Honeycrisp (PYO)
Jonagold (PYO)
Macoun (PYO)
McIntosh (PYO)
Mutsu (Crispin) (PYO)
Northern Spy
Paula Red (PYO)
Red Delicious (PYO)
Royal Gala (PYO)
Sansa (PYO)
Spartan (PYO)
Spencer (PYO)
Vista Bella
Winesap

 

red apple iconIngaldsby Farm
Boxford, MA
978-352-2813
Cider Donuts
Apple Type:
Cortland
Empire
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Macoun
McIntosh
Spencer

 

red apple iconKimball Fruit Farm
Pepperell, MA
978-433-9751
Apple Type:
Baldwin
Blushing Golden
Brock
Burgundy
Cameo
Chestnut
Crabapple
Elstar
Empire
Fuji
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Golden Russet
Granny Smith
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Jersey Mac
Jonagold
King Luscious
Lodi
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Northern Spy
Paula Red
Red Delicious
Rhode Island Greening
Rome
Roxbury Russett
Royal Gala
Spencer

 

red apple iconLong Hill Orchards
West Newbury, MA
978-363-2170
Apple Type:
Baldwin
Braeburn
Cameo
Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Ida Red
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Northern Spy
Rome
Royal Gala

 

red apple iconMann Orchards
Methuen, MA
978-683-0361
Apple Type:
Braeburn
Cortland
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Golden Russet
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Paula Red
Red Delicious

 

red apple iconNicewicz Family Farm No Website
Bolton, MA
978-779-6423
Apple Type:
Brock
Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Mother
Paula Red
Red Delicious
Vista Bella
Westfield Seek No Further
Wolf River

 

red apple iconOld Frog Pond Farm
Harvard, MA
978-456-9616
Apple Type:

50+ varieties

Organic Apples,

Limited amounts of each

 

red apple iconParlee Farms
Tyngsborough, MA
978-649-3854
Apple Type:
Cameo
Cortland
Empire
Fortune
Fuji
Fulford Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Paula Red
Red Delicious
Sansa
Shizuka
Snowsweeet

 

red apple iconPhil’s Apples No Website
Harvard, MA
978-456-3361
Apple Type:
Cortland
Enterprise
Fuji
Golden Supreme
Goldrush
Honeycrisp
Liberty
Macoun
McIntosh
Red Delicious

 

red apple iconRogers Spring Hill Farm
Haverhill, MA
978-372-4780
Garden Center, Hayrides, kids activities, no cider donuts
Apple Type:
Cortland (PYO)
McIntosh
More+

 

red apple iconRussell’s Orchard
Ipswich, MA
978-649-3854
Cider Donuts, Kids Activities
Apple Type:
Baldwin
CandyCrisp
Cortland
Empire
Fuji
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Goldrush
Granny Smith
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Ida Red
Jersey Mac
Jonagold
Liberty
Macoun
McIntosh
Mutsu (Crispin)
Northern Spy
Paula Red
Pink Lady
Pristine
Red Delicious
Roxbury Russet
Suncrisp
Sweet Sixteen
Vista Bella

 

red apple iconSchartner Farm
Bolton, MA
978-779-5588
Apple Type:
Cortland
Empire
Gala
Golden Delicious
Ida Red
Macoun
McIntosh
Northern Spy
Paula Red
Red Delicious

 

red apple iconShelburne Farms
Stow, MA
978-897-9287
Apple Type:
Akane
Autumn Crisp
Baldwin
Blondee
Braeburn
Cameo
Cortland
Cox’s Orange Pippin
Gala
Ginger Gold
Granny Smith
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Ida Red
Jonagold
Jonathan
Macoun
McIntosh
Newtown Pippin
Northern Spy
Pink Lady
Spigold
Winesap
Zestar

 

red apple iconSholan Farms
Leominster, MA
978-840-3276
Cider Donuts, Kids Activities, Wagon Rides
Apple Type:
Baldwin
Crabapple
Empire
Gala
Ginger Gold
Golden Delicious
Golden Supreme
Gravenstein
Honeycrisp
Jonagold
Liberty
Macoun
McIntosh
Northern Spy
Paula Red
Red Delicious
Rome
Shizuka
Zestar
More+

 

red apple iconSmolak’s Farm
North Andover, MA
978-687-4029
Cider Donuts Daily, Kids Activities
Apple Type:
Braeburn (PYO)
Cameo (PYO)
Cortland (PYO)
Empire (PYO)
Fuji (PYO)
Granny Smith (PYO)
Gravenstein (PYO)
Macoun (PYO)
McIntosh (PYO)
Mutsu (PYO)
Northern Spy (PYO)
Red Delicious (PYO)
More+

 

red apple iconTangerini’s Farm
Millis, MA
508-376-5024
Cider Donuts Weekends, Hayrides, Haymaze
Apple Type:
Cameo (PYO)
Cortland (PYO)
Fuji (PYO)
Gala (PYO)
Ginger Gold (PYO)
Honeycrisp (PYO)
Jonagold (PYO)
Macoun (PYO)
McIntosh (PYO)
Mutsu -Crispin (PYO)
Red Delicious (PYO)

 

red apple iconWestward Orchard Farm
Harvard, MA
978-456-8363
Cider Donuts Daily, Playground, Adult Activities
Apple Type:
Braeburn (PYO)
Cortland (PYO)
Gala (PYO)
Golden Delicious (PYO)
Granny Smith (PYO)
Macoun (PYO)
McIntosh (PYO)
Mutsu -Crispin (PYO)
Spartan (PYO)

Apple Icon made by Freepik CC

Back to Running: 3 tricks to start again

Back to Running a hill

For the Love of Running

I’m back to running! I have been running for more than half my life and it something I really love. Something in me just loves cruising around the landscape or looking down a hill right after you just ran up it, knowing that every small footfall brought you to where you’re standing. Or mornings, seeing your neighborhood wake up and shuffle out the door. I’ve said before I like running in the morning and it’s still better than coffee!

I love running but a couple of months back, I decided to step away for a while. I have met quite a few people who have consistently run for decades, including both my high school and college coach. Long term runners who’ve never stopped are truly inspiring but, I personally need to take months off to get some perspective or focus on something else. Plus as someone who does not remotely have a runner’s body; running takes it toll, running is a high impact sport and I need to take a break now and then to feel alright and heal. It’s hard to step away, I having been injured on more than one occasion with a bum leg or foot, it’s hard to step away for a while because running feels like a privilege. It’s great to be out there on the open road, but as the song says ‘everything has a season.’ Stepping back has made this blog suffer, but from now on, I’m hoping I’ll be back on here more often.

Back to Running

After taking off time off, the first couple are far from easy physically.

  1. Personally, the first day back never feels too bad during the run, what I think is ironic is walking, afterwards is hard part. Be prepared for sore muscle for a few days and stretch. You will soon realize you were using muscles in ways you hadn’t been. I usually don’t mind stairs, but I hate going up and down them right now!
  2. Having spent a few days going out doing shorter runs, I take a day off and it usually feels great. I also think it makes you stronger, since it gives your body time to adapt. The next run after the day off always feels a little easier, since your body has had the time to adjust to the task you’re putting to it.
  3. Who cares about the time or the pace at the beginning? For the first few weeks I usually pick a route a lot shorter than you know you used to be able to do and just do it. Keeping the new schedule has been hard enough my muscles are sore! I haven’t timed my runs over the last few days simple because honestly, I don’t want to know. It’s too early to be thinking anything about pace or time and getting out there doing it is the goal.

Hitting Mileage, what’s that?

I’m sure I could get on Google and figure out how short the runs have been over the last few days but right now I don’t care. I’m back to running! It’s a great feeling and it really is a great release from all the day’s stresses. Plus the weather has been really great the last few days! It’s finally to starting to feel like summer.

Summer running

Boston is a great city to run in, I was driving along the Charles and the Esplanade. Seeing people cruising along near the water’s edge reminded me about how many great places there are to run around Boston there are. It always seems to be windy but going across the Mass Ave bridge is always fun and the view of the Boston only runners and walkers get to experience is just awesome. Seeing the runners and walkers enjoying the great weather, I wanted to be out with them. I’m looking forward to getting back at it. Summer Running is just simply fun for how many other people are out and about. I lost focus with my running because I didn’t have a set goal. I’m going to train for something longer, just which something is the open question. There are a lot great races around the Boston Area and I would to be in at least a few of them.

My 5 favorite Boston trail running spots

fun-run trail

Charles River Reservation Boston & Cambridge,MA

If you are looking for true trail running this isn’t really a good place to go because it’s impossible to escape pavement, but there is a lot of dirt trails right along the River’s edge and the views of Boston and Cambridge are second to none. Plus it always feels like the unofficial running park of Boston since there is usually so many people regardless of the day or time.

Mystic River Reservations Various Cities North of Boston

fun-run trail I feel like this is the most overlooked park system in Boston, usually because people are too busy commuting right past you. What’s nice is you can be that close but still feel really far away because you can’t hear or see them at various points.

Franklin Park/Emerald Necklace Boston, MA

Lots of great trails and open space, it’s really hard to feel like you are in the city despite being very close to downtown.

Fellsway Stoneham,MA

It’s full of quite a few boulders but feels more like New Hampshire than just north of Boston. It’s great way to escape the city and do a loop around one of it’s ponds.

Blue Hills Boston, MA

Has miles of trails, a great view of the city, and you can take the T to get there.

I think I’ll probably be in any or all of these at some point in the next 6 months!

Happy Running!

Is Running Good for your brain?

runner on the mindGood for your head?

It became conventional wisdom a few years ago that was ‘good for your heart is good for your head.’ Many doctors had already been talking about the benefits of exercise for years but the brain conversation changed the conversation, because we could now do something for our brains! Marketers, like me definitely noticed, the same product began being offered as ‘brain healthy’ with very little proof. When all of this came out, I didn’t think much of it. It was good advice and I was already hooked on running, so seemed mostly like a reason to keep going. It also just made sense to me, what’s good for your heart is also good for your mind.

Is running good for brain?

Last month there was a study out of Finland trying to answer the question about what kind of exercise you should be doing for your brain health. After having rats do different types of activities, some lifted weight, others ran, and another were couch potatoes. The scientists tested all their brains and found some interesting results. They found that the brains of the rats who had run the farthest had more new neurons floating around their heads than either of the two other groups, these were adult rats. What this meant wasn’t exactly clear, but it was pretty safe to conclude that running had been good the rats. They didn’t find any of those new neurons in the weight lifting rats or the couch potatoes. They didn’t say that lifting weight was bad, but it didn’t have the same measurable improvement as running.

Running Further = Smarter?

Those who were doing the study were not willing to say you would definitely have the same affects in humans. But they did say there might be a similar mechanism for humans, though it’s too early to say. It’s good to point out that there has been quite few studies that have been done in rats and then found to not work in humans. Rats are mammals and have a lot in common with humans, but they are not exactly the same physically as us, so it can be hard since science can have a breakthrough in rats and not have it translate to humans at all.

It isn’t even remotely scientific, because it’s my body and I’m not a scientist, but I think we might have a similar biological process to the rats. Running is one of the best stress relieving activities I know about. It totally clears your head better than anything else and helps me focus. I’m not sure if it makes me smarter but it definitely can’t hurt the blood flow to the brain and maybe time will prove it grows brain cells, only time will tell.

Happy Running!

Fun Run?

fun-runWhy Run?

I’ve had many people ask me over the years “you run for fun?” to which my response is often either a sheepish or enthusiastic “yes.” After that I’m never sure where else to take it, because even longtime exercisers who have run for a while have told me that they only do it as ‘a great workout’, they don’t believe in a fun run. Even multi-sport athletes have told me they wouldn’t run if their could avoid it. “I would walk.” I’m not sure on people’s objection, except to say it’s not a sport for everyone and running is hard, but it gets easier with practice. It can be hard to start, but you definitely should!

Can you make a run fun?

Starting can often feel a lot like trying to push a large rock, it does not move at first, but with consistent effort it can and does start moving at first but it’s way easier once things have started moving. For me, the initial two weeks are the hardest, when you decide whether you want to start running. It’s during those first weeks, you deal the most consistently with sore muscles and joints. Personally for me, getting out of bed is the hardest and I feel like after you’ve been at it for two weeks and you’ve found a routine it makes all the difference, that can include running with a friend. After you’ve run for a couple of weeks, it’s then you can start enjoying your runs. It takes some time to get to that point but it’s a plateau you want to get to.

Do shoes help make a fun run?

I’m not a huge advocate of spending a lot of money when you first start. I have seen way too many people, buy way too much stuff too fast, but invest time and money in shoes. When I first started running in high school I had a pair of shoes I had got for gym class, they were cool to look at it they just did not fit. I got so many blisters my first month. At the time, I told myself that I was breaking in a new pair of shoes. Honestly I haven’t got so many blisters before or since and they were on the most random spots, like on the tops of my toes! If they ‘don’t fit you must acquit’; find another pair! I did learn a lot about how to to dress blisters, but is not an experience I would wish on anyone. Initially spend the extra money for a pair of shoes that fits well and does not rub the wrong way. Lace up and get out there, the weather has been great!

Happy Running!

3 Reasons for Hill Running

hill runningI think it’s one of the hardest parts of running and I’ve even met long time runners who HATE hill running, some who will even go further just so they don’t have to go up them. Hill running is a challenge and regardless of how long you’ve been running, hills always make you take notice. Personally I think including hills in running workouts is a lot like eating your veggies as a kid, they’re good for you and it’s a great way to get better.

Preparation, if you are training for a 5K or something longer like a 10K, you never know when they are going to come along. A lot of races have a hill right at or near the beginning. The Turkey Trot I have done for many years, Feaster Five, is mostly uphill for the first mile of both the 5K and 5 mile. Going up hills is a great way to learn how your body will respond when you first begin a hill and it is important to realize that you won’t be able to keep the same pace you had on the flat ground. Many people do hill repeats or run stadiums to get the benefit and the practice. Practicing good technique is helpful like ‘leaning into the hill’ to help your body carry itself forward.

Many hills types are out there and if you haven’t thought about it before, going on foot up a few will freshen your perspective; the main two are long and short. Short usually have a high incline. Long can go on for a while with usually gradual incline, for example we had one hill I ran in college, that was well over a mile long, it was definitely a mind game. You could also sign up for the Mt Washington Road Race, which has plenty of long and short, but no downhill. If you do find yourself on a long hill, I find it best to look at your toes and find a rhythm to reel in the top. I personally like rolling hills best, because they’re close together and you get plenty of downhill for your efforts. After you’ve gone down the first you feel like you’ve got momentum for the second…at least at the beginning. I haven’t found a lot of great rolling hill places, it’s mostly been in rural areas. (If anyone finds any in Eastern Mass please let me know!)

Calorie burn can be one of your main reasons for hill running, it simply burns more calories. Going up an incline increases your heart rate and in turn increases how many calories you burn for the same distance and period without it. I like the extra calorie burn and I simply like doing hills because it gives you something to physically scale. It is right there and it feels good to put in hopefully a few minutes of effort to come down the other side. It feels great to be ‘over the hump’ and rolling on down the other side.

Happy running!

How long is a 10K?

How many miles is a 10K?

10 K(kilometers) = 6.2137 miles. How long is a 10K, it’s double a 5K. In my experience, it’s the second most common race distance after a 5K (though it’s a distant 2nd). When there is more than one race at one time it is often paired with a 5K. It’s unusual to find it as a stand alone race, but there are some exceptions (see the end of my post).

What is a kilometer?

It is a international standard of measurement of distance for 1 kilometer = 0.62137 miles. (10 kilometers x 0.6137 = 6.2137 miles) A unit of distance measure standardized by International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Kilometers are regularly used in Track and Field events for measuring distance. It is also the most common unit of measurement internationally. Learning to train in kilometers can help you better prepare you for longer races by knowing your kilometer pace.

Why run a 10K?

First answer, I think most people would give is preparing a longer race. It is often the first step in the quest to train for greater distances. You actually have to begin to prepare for because at minimum it’s going to take at least 30 minutes plus, unless you are truly athletically gifted.  I enjoy the 5K, but there is something really enjoyable about doing a 10K, at the very least it’s bigger calorie burn and there are usually less people. If running is something you are looking to pursue and have just started training, or looking to, it is great way to meet people who are also interested in running.

10K vs 5K?

I like the 10K better, because depending on the course, you can usually set a pace and see it come together. It is not a good race to start running with because it is long; 5Ks are a better starting race (which is why they’re more popular). When you have started training and have done a couple of races over a 5K, a 5K begins to feel like breeze and it is over pretty quickly. At 6.2 miles, it starts to be a race that takes preparation to complete, finally getting to where hitting mile times, or hitting split times breaks up the race and keeps you in it. It’s a fun race and it really can help you better understand how your head and body respond to going the distance.

How is a 10K in related to a Marathon?

A 10K is roughly 1/4 of a marathon (or 23.8% of a marathon to be exact). A marathon is 42K or 26.2 miles. Running a 10K as part of your marathon training is a really good idea because it can give you a better idea of where you are in your training.  Training for marathon takes a lot of time and learning how to pace yourself is key.

What should I wear during a 10K?

After you’ve  spent sometime training for a 10K it is really good idea to think about what you’re going to wear during runs and races. Depending on how many distances runs you during you’re going to start noticing the things you wear a lot more because of where your clothes rub. For example when I started running I was using baggy windbreaker pants, but they were simply not comfortable after a few miles simply because they had a tendency to rub. I started looking around for a different style and ended up with some close fitting Sporthill pants, that were warm and really easy to run, during cold weather.

Should I eat during a 10K?

Under normal circumstances, it isn’t really necessary because the race simply isn’t really long enough.  But if you need to or you’re training for a half marathon or full marathon, a 10K is a great opportunity to learn how to eat during a run. The longer races I’ve done I depended on a the gatorade they had on hand, which I think really hurt my overall performance. I’m a big advocate of thinking about what you’re going to eat during race and learning to wash it down with water. There are a variety of ways to carry it, from an inside pocket to tucking it into a belt. I swear I haven’t been to a race yet (no matter the distance) without someone with one of those belts with small bottles in it, but I personally think that’s overkill. Having someone along the course is really the most ideal, so they can hand you food during the course of the run really is ideal.

How long is a 10K, do I eat during to eat?

Preference makes a big difference, to people and the best advice I could give you is try everything. For example Powerbar got started by a marathoner looking for that extra energy during the last mile few miles. To me personally the idea of having to chew and breathe during a race does not appeal to me at all and might even be dangerous. I think that’s the main reason that other things have been developed since then.  A lot of long time runners I’ve met swear by energy gels, which I think make a lot of sense.

Great 10Ks in New England: (In no particular order)
Tufts 10K is a women’s only race and one of the bigger 10k in New England

Beach to Beacon started by Joan Benoit Samuelson and is a great way to run in Maine

James Joyce Ramble is inspired by the famous author

BAA 10K great race and fairly big right in the heart of Boston

Happy Running!

The Treadmill above them all

I have never been a huge fan of treadmills, but for a lot of people that’s how they run. Often you just don’t have a choice either because of you’re nursing an injury, or the temperature is extreme when you have time. Thinking about treadmills has got me wondering, where would be the most extreme place to use one? Antarctica? Mountain top? Well the most extreme actual place I’ve actually heard of, the space treadmill! Astronauts need to train a lot simply to keep muscle when they’re circling the earth, so a lot of them run in Space.

Space Treadmill

The most famous treadmill that I know, is part of the International Space Station (ISS) and where it was installed in 2009. Before it was installed they had a naming contest for the node that would be part of the station. Late night comedian  Steven Colbert heard about it and got his fans to help him win the contest. The node ended up being called Serenity like NASA originally wanted, but they ended up calling the treadmill – COLBERT, or  the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill.  Steven Colbert seemed happy to have his name in space and I’m sure only NASA knows how many times its circled the earth by now.

Running without Gravity?

I have to say my first thought is that it would be totally amazing to be in space! But if you’re up there for days, weeks, or even a year, you have to worry about the effect of zero gravity. Human beings are meant to live in gravity. How our bodies function and allows us to move around is because of gravity, so training on the treadmill is really important just to keep muscle mass and the skeleton strong. They simulate gravity by using a series of straps on the astronaut as they run and I would think after you’ve been floating around for a while it would be great change to have your feet on some kind of ground.

The treadmill has had a good use since it was put in space since a lot of astronauts are avid runners! Most recently, it was reported British Astronaut Tim Peake, will be running the London Marathon in space at the same time that the race goes off on Earth. It’s exciting to think someone will be running that far in Space! Awesome if he finishes because he’ll definitely be the first man to run a marathon in space! The problem is that just some reporters got inventive and said he would be the first person to run a marathon in space. The problem is it isn’t true. The first person, was Sunita Williams from Needham, MA, who completed the Boston Marathon back in 2007 in space. She even printed out a number to put on the space treadmill as she ran. It was a cool highlight of the race that year and from everything I’ve heard she’s kept running since then. She also appeared on the Colbert Report to talk about the space treadmill. It’d be cool to run in space and I think it would be only thing to keep me on a treadmill.

Happy Running!

Ryan Hall Retiring

First a shout and congratulations to Belmont, MA’s own Becca Pizzi! She finished the World Marathon Challenge! And set a new world record!

I first found out recently that the great American runner Ryan Hall was retiring. I’ve followed his career for a while and it’s really is too bad. He has been one of the greatest runners American Runners of this generation. He set and still has the US national record in the half marathon of 59:44, beating the previous record by almost a full minute back in 2007. Around New England he is better known for the solid times he has put in the Boston Marathon starting around 2009. He came in 3rd over all that year and then fourth in 2010. Boston 2011 was by far his most impressive showing in terms of time in Boston with a time of 2 hrs 4 minutes and 58 seconds, which was by far one of the best recorded by an American recently.

I first became aware of Hall back when he won the Olympic trials in Houston and set the half marathon National Record. He was pretty new on the scene and we both had finished college about the same time. (Our college careers were nothing alike, winning National Races…yeah…) I followed a lot of his races and was thrilled when he finally started participating in Boston rather than going to the London Marathon, like he had the two years before. I would have loved to see him at a race either along a course or on a track before he hung up his racing shoes. Using one of his ‘slow’ marathon times, he averaged with a pace of 5:15 per mile, which I probably could have kept up with him for maybe like 2 miles 10 years ago. He was an amazing runner.

I would agree Hall’s times have not been what they were before and I think it stinks he is stepping away, US Track will miss him for the foreseeable future. I really admire his commitment to the things he has accomplished. I think it takes a lot to say, ‘I just don’t have it anymore and I have a standard I need to keep competing.’ (Not everyone has the inhuman longevity of Meb) I have only trained for a marathon at the low end of the amateur level, so I don’t think I can imagine the thousands training miles he has done in his professional career, but his times and races still remain highly impressive. I will miss hearing about his latest accomplishment or difficulty, though given his drive and mentality I doubt this is the last we’ll hear from him.

Happy running!

7 Marathons 7 continents 7 days, whew!

I have to say I was surprised and excited to learn last year that someone from around Boston was going to attempt to run 7 Marathons in 7 days! Becca Pizzi from Belmont, MA is part of the 2016 World Marathon Challenge which is a 7 continent challenge, including Antarctica! From the numerous interviews I’ve read about her, from the Herald to People it sounds like she does a lot to prepare for her races and that she’s had a lot of practice. She’s done 45 marathons even before she even toeing the line this past Saturday. She was quoted as being “born to do this.” She makes me feel like a slouch, I’ve only ever run a marathon! Here is the schedule and her results as of my writing:

1st Marathon Saturday 1/23 Grand Total (GT) – 26.2 miles
The first marathon that this multinational squad attempted is on the Union Glacier on Antarctica. It would be neat just to go to Antarctica! It is summer down there which means the conditions were definitely colder than what we’ve had around Boston at 14ºF for the four lap course. Pizzi finished in 3 hrs 57 min 19 sec.

2nd Marathon Sunday 1/24 GT – 52.4 miles
The South American marathon was in Punta Arenas, Chile in the region famous for its scenery, Patagonia. It is a small city of 150,000 people at the southernmost tip of South America, making it the closest civilized place to Antarctica. Per World Marathon Challenge’s Facebook’s page it was a 4 loop course. Pizzi finished in a time of 3 hrs 44 min 18 sec.

3rd Marathon Monday 1/25 GT – 78.6 miles
The ‘local’ North America marathon was in Miami, FL. It was a 4 lap, point to point race along Miami’s famous South Beach in iconic Lummus Park. Running along the beach will definitely be a change from the snow of the Antarctica. Pizzi finished in a 3 hrs 41 min 20 sec hrs.

Casa de Campo Mapa
Casa de Campo, Madrid, Spain

4th Marathon Tuesday 1/26 GT – 104.8 miles
The European marathon is in Spain’s capital Madrid. It will probably be the highest course at 2100 ft of altitude. They will be doing a 10 loop course in Casa de Campo, one of the world’s largest municipal parks. (See Above map) It looks like they will be staying in the flatter part of the park, close to the ‘Lago’ (Lake). Pizzi finished in 3 hrs 48 min 19 sec and is leading the women’s field!

5th Marathon Wednesday 1/27 GT – 131 miles
The African marathon is in Marrakech, Morroco which is an old city with a large historic downtown. It will be a flat 4 lap course near downtown and the last time during the race, they will not be running on the beach. It will mostly like be pretty warm, dry and sunny. The city second highest of the trip on a flat plain at 1529 ft with the Atlas Mountains off in the distance. Pizzi finished in 3 hrs 50 min 47 sec.

6th Marathon Thursday 1/28 GT – 157.2 miles
The Asian marathon is in Dubai. The course is point to point along Dubai’s waterfront and it looks like you can see those man-made islands everyone talks about. It will definitely be one of the warmer places they’ve been so far with an average temperature of 75ºF, which is a winter temperature. It is a good time of year to be running in Dubai because the average temperature in May is 100ºF, never mind the summer months! Pizzi finished in 4 hrs 14 min 41 sec.

7th Marathon 1/29 Friday GT – 183.4
The Australian and final marathon is in Sydney. I think once I got here, I would be so happy provided you weren’t feeling too beat up at this stage. It looks like the route is a point to point course. That is one high mileage week!

Good luck Becca Pizzi & Happy Running!

Buttoned up Running

runningbuttonI saw a lot of different news stories late last year about people completing races in some non-running outfits. There was a recent Amish runner, Leroy Stolzfus who competed and finished the Harrisburg PA Marathon in Amish clothing. His time was good, he ran it in three hours, 5 minutes and 45 seconds, only missing his Boston Qualifying time by less than a minute. There was also a Canadian blogger Nicholas Mizera, who broke the World Record for the half marathon while wearing a suit in one hour, 35 minutes, and 47 second. It makes me wonder, why the heck have I spent so much time and energy getting the right running clothes, never mind the money?

I’ve tried a lot of different running outfits over the years I wish I could say I hadn’t. I don’t even normally care about the idea of an outfit, but while running I’ve learned the hard way: it’s better to have a plan. I have plenty of stories, of how water changes the your most comfortable article of clothing into one of the most painful things you’ve ever worn. Unlike Nicholas or Leroy, running in a regular shirt to me sounds like a nightmare. Not because of fit, but because what happens over the course of a race; if it starts out as light and airy and it often becomes wet and clinging, especially if it’s cotton.

In a race situation a lot of people dress for the start; the thinking is, it’s cold I better wear a jacket! Running or otherwise it’s always best to dress for the weather, but personally I try to dress strategically, it’s better to think about what you will feel like while you’re in motion. I personally usually stay away from traditional jackets. Seams can be absolutely awful if they are in the wrong spot. I a love close fitting base layers close to the skin, I find it it rubs a lot less and gives you plenty of warmth. In the non-running world I could care less wicking fabric, while running I love the stuff.

Personally I try to stay as streamlined as possible (I feel sorry for the people who see me run by) because extra fabric rubs and regardless of the material it gets heavy when wet. I have seen people run in everything from jeans to sweatpants if you’re comfortable with it, go for it.  I personally think jeans are way to heavy and rub way too much and sweats are way too baggy. I’ve had lot of rubbing on long runs with just ‘normal’ running clothes. The very idea of wearing normal pants just sounds painful. It’s pretty hardcore to wear normal pants but I can’t say that I think it would come with a price, the only kind of blistering you should have is a blister pace.

Happy Running!

The humble hat & winter running gear

Lately, the weather around Boston has been a strange mixture of unseasonably warm, cold rain, and sharp wind. All I personally do is daydream about a blue skied spring day and prepare with the right warm clothes. Here are 3 of the best running gear items I have found useful running outdoor workouts.

warmhatRunning leggings are totally key. If I went through my closet, I would find a lot of race T-shirts and then a close second would probably be non-cotton leggings. I have different lengths of tights, full length and some for cyclists, and more than a couple pairs of winter running pants. Tights are super adaptable, they can act either as a base layer or on ‘relatively’ warmer days as the main one. For me, nylon is fine, but it is useful to have cuffs that help it stay tight and not ride up your leg, also think about where the seams are. Close fitting pants are my outside layer and cold weather solution. I know some people like baggier, personally I can’t  stand it. When it’s windy (like it has been the last couple of days) the extra cloth bunches up or catches in the wind, personally I find it makes me colder. To me having your layers closer to your skin makes all the difference

Synthetic Socks, or blended fiber socks are awesome, with at least some nylon that wicks easily. Hopefully you’re not as much of a klutz as I am whenever I’m outside in the winter, I always end up getting my feet wet. Either I don’t succeed in jumping entirely past a puddle or my foot gets splashed by a passing car, for me it’s best to be prepared. Some people swear by wool, which is a great material and I love my sweaters. Personally I’ve tried it while running and it just feels hot and the longer you wear them the heavier your feet become. I know this isn’t a clear stance but just don’t wear cotton socks, often they aren’t thick enough and when they’re wet can be blister problem.

Warm hats, I’m know this sounds easy, but hear me out, the ones they normally sell as athletic stores are pretty flimsy. Companies like New Balance or SportHill make great things they just don’t give much thought to hats, which is sort of ironic because they want your thoughts in them… Running ear warmers are useless! Please just wear a hat, I know it messes up your hair, I’ve been there, I had long straight hair for a number of years; I just think of it as an occupational hazard. I personally wear a lot of ‘non-running’ hats, made by friends of mine and I know it messes up your hair, but keeping your head warm makes a huge difference to simply getting you out the door. The more of the head they cover the better, you shouldn’t have your ears showing and this is one place wool is a lovely thing. I hope you stay warm this winter!

Happy running!

How many miles is a 5K?

how manymiles is a 5K
The 5,000 meters (5K) = 3.10686 miles and it has been one of my favorite races for as long as I’ve been running. It is a race that is just long to be a race about stamina, but not too short it’s a sprint. It’s also a great race to start training, especially if you haven’t done a lot before.

I hate track 5Ks,  it’s the only time I haven’t liked the race. Indoor tracks have no standard distance and I’ve done races on tracks where it took 11 laps to get to a metric mile and some that took 20. (Honestly with 20 laps per mile, you did so many it was hard to keep them straight since it felt like just twirling in place.) Thankfully most modern indoor tracks are 200 meters, which is only 8 laps per metric mile. With an indoor track never assume the distance unless it’s clearly marked because there is no standard. Once you move outdoors the standard track is always 400 meters, even the really old ones. I love the 5K, but give me a hilly road race over the track any day.

I’m glad for the running I did in college, as my stats clearly show, I was merely an ‘ok’ in Cross Country though I’m not sure I would still be running if I had tried for Buffalo level training (those guys are totally amazing). I will say what I really liked is we trained intervals metrically. Miles are a great measurement and I love them, especially for long distances runs and you should know your average time for the mile, it’s just almost all races are in meters. If you have aspirations ‘to do a marathon’ keeping it metric can make preparation way easier by giving you an attainable goal. I know a lot of people in the US think of the marathon as 26.2 miles and believe me, that feels a lot more familiar and impressive than the “official measure” of 42 kilometers (42K) but thinking about it metrically can help you keep to your goal.

For example, let’s say I’m a new runner and I think I would like to run a marathon. I signed up for my first 5K and I finished in 30 minutes. (Yeah I finished my first 5K!). If you trying to calculate your possible marathon time fight the impulse to translate it into miles, keep it in metric: the average 1K time (6 minutes). At 42K that that equals 252 minutes or 4 hours 12 minutes for the marathon. It might not be easy to replicate your 5K time, especially right off the bat, with training you might even see your average 1K time decrease but it at least gives you an idea of what you’re capable of, all by staying metric.

Happy Running!

New Year Resolutions

calendarRunning into the new year. I, among many, end the old year thinking; how I can make the coming one better? I can’t say I’m usually always been very ‘resolute’ with my ‘New Year’s Resolution.’ (Mmm junk food!) Running is one spot I feel like I’m usually pretty consistent. After having run for well over a decade at this point, I have fallen in and out of shape way more times than I can count. Here are 4 things that help me keep on track:

Realistic Expectations for yourself. If your friend just finished a half-marathon congratulate them, it’s ok you’re not there. If that is something you want to do, you’ll get there just not immediately. Running can be hard to do especially at first and it might not be your starting point especially if haven’t done a lot of running before. If that’s the case it’s better to start slowly and get your cardio training in other ways, it can often be better to walk, use a treadmill or Elliptical. A machine will give you instant feedback about the distance you’ve gone and calories burned. At first, keeping at it is the only thing that matters.

Routine makes all the difference. I’m a morning runner, I often tell people that ‘it’s way better than coffee’ and I personally like seeing the world coming alive in the morning. It wakes you up and gets you going! I know that not everyone is a morning person (believe me I’ve tried too often to cheerily greet people before nine) only to encounter the “I haven’t had my coffee yet” stare. For me it’s important to have a time of day to run, if I don’t, it simply isn’t going to happen. Many people workout at lunch and I’ve seen them while grabbing lunch with coworkers. I personally find it’s not enough time. If that is when you can find time, go for it! A lot of people like exercising in the evening after work, I get it, especially after a stressful day. People can over do it here: take at least a few days off a week.

Goals are so important. If you haven’t run before and are working up to running, that can be your first goal. Or if you have just started running, I don’t think shooting for a marathon is doable in a couple of months, but shooting for a 5K (≈ 3.1 miles) in a couple of weeks is a great idea. It really makes a difference for me, if I have an end goal, it can be the difference between getting up or just lying around ‘just a little bit’ longer. I also think starting with a shorter race can help you figure out if you like running and maybe longer races are for you.

Rewards I feel like so many people forget this one (except if it’s a chocolate ad). If you’re keeping to your routine doing some kind of cardio exercise for 20-25 minutes, give yourself a reward for me it’s eating something, I personally love BBQ, or give yourself a day off. You’ve been making the effort to get more active take some time to celebrate!

Happy Running into the new year!

World’s Longest Half marathon

Recently, in Bangkok, a bunch of runners gotten a little more than they bargained for when they set out to do a half marathon as part of the Bangkok Marathon. The race organizers appear to have added 6.5 kilometers or 4 miles, to the end of the race. It looks to be an honest mistake with a gate being left open. People headed the wrong direction when they were doing the course making it the world’s longest ‘half-marathon.’ It does look like some people, pardon the pun, took it in stride, while others when done, and finding about the additional distance were worried about their health.

I’ve been in quite a few races, not just in New England, where you felt like even before you crossed the starting line you knew the organizers didn’t know their course. Most often in my experience it’s usually cut off distance with a 5 kilometer course turned into 3 miles. It cuts off about 0.1 of a mile which will only cut off maybe 1-2 minutes for the average person but isn’t really a big deal for most people. The issue is if your race is at all choreographed, it messes with your rhythm and with the time you were trying to run. It isn’t easy to add distance, but most often I feel like it can really surprise people of their own capability.

I’m not a huge fan of funky distances, but it is better to be warned beforehand, like the Dreamfar 10k – 2015 I did at the beginning of this year. The course looped around Lake Massapoag in Sharon, MA and it was one of the more scenic courses I’ve ever done. With the lake on one side and the snow and ice on the trees on the other, it had a stark beauty I’ve rarely experienced; it was like running though a serene black and white photograph. Most of the course we did was flat, so what little ice was on the road didn’t really matter… until we got close to a fairly steep hill. The organizers were rightly worried about the competition accidentally entering a skiing stage. It ended up being closer to 5 miles than the 6.2 miles we originally set out to do. It was cold and I was happy to be back inside quicker than expected plus, it was only a mile. On race day funky distances are pain, but taking the long view, I feel like they usually play out in your favor; it would be cool to have been in the world’s longest half marathon.

Bright Running Gear

I know it’s important for the changing of the seasons, but I really don’t like how the sun disappears so much this time of year. It’ll feel like it’s 8 and it’s actually closer to 5pm. It’s a good time of year to think about what you’re wear running; bright running gear is important. If you’re wearing camouflage, people can’t see you and most important people won’t see you. Even if you’re in a place pays close attention to walkers and runners, like the Boston area, it’s still better to be seen. I own a lot of bright running gear and when I’m running around the city I always try to wear something highly visible no matter what time of day or what time of year.

runningstop2 I was out on a training run with a couple of buddies awhile ago. We were all either wearing white or grey shirts.  The run was pretty normal and we were on the sidewalk most of the way until we came up to a one stop sign intersection along the main road we were following. A car came toward the stop sign about the same time we did and stopped. We stopped the same as the car and we were literally standing right next to the sign before we started to cross. The driver didn’t notice us at all and my buddy who was a little ahead of me, sort of saw her as she started to turn onto the street, while not looking. He didn’t get stuck exactly as slide up onto the hood. He was fine, with a little bruise on the side of his leg, but it happened so fast and we barely had time to react. My buddy was fine and we finished the run, finishing in a good time. It did hammer home to me: be seen while you are running; bright running gear is what you want to be wearing.

Since that time I’m amazed about how I didn’t get it sooner and still how many runners still don’t. I love wearing grey, just not while I’m running! I have a couple of bright jackets and shirts that are easily visible. I have shiny vest that are super reflective. A lot of people run with small flashlights or headlamps, visibility for you and for drivers is key, I haven’t started doing that, yet, though there is times I have run with headlamp. Personally opinion, if you can’t look at a bright color for a long period of time because it’s so bright, it’s probably a great color bright running gear. Whether you’re running 5, or 10 minute miles it is simply safer and more helpful for everyone to be seen. Being a driver myself I can assure you, we don’t want you touching their cars. It’s better to be bright than on someone’s bumper.

Race Day – Thanksgiving

Andover, MA – Thanksgiving Day, I ran the local Feaster Five Road Race with my family. With about 8,000 participants in the two races; the 5,000 meters (5K) and the 5 mile. Being part of such a large crowd can be really thrilling but it can also make the start complicated. Usually it makes a big difference between the gun time and my actual time after crossing the line and that happened to me after the start. The only funky thing was we didn’t actually get to line up in the corral because there were so many people.

It is was in the high 40s around Andover, MA. For the race, I rarely get away without wearing a hat but this year all I needed was gloves. The whole race atmosphere was great with everyone happy because of the holiday and to be outside. I started off with my family before we gradually spread out along the course. I don’t usually push out toward the front, in the beginnning, and personally for some of these larger races, I actually prefer to be little farther back because I enjoy weaving in and out, Thursday was no exception. Time-wise, running around people isn’t particularly helpful, but it does add interest to the race and helps me focus on the course.

I only came back to running after a 2 month break at the beginning of November, so I was shooting for around 7:30 a mile for the 5K. The first mile of the 5K and the 5 mile are the same, heading up main street in Andover toward the center of town. The first half mile is pretty flat, but then it steadily starts going up. At the top of the hill in the center of town is where the two courses split with the 5K making an almost 360 left turn. The course flattens out for about a quarter mile before heading steeply downhill and meets up with the 5 mile. DMSE Sports always does a great job making sure people don’t cut the course, with an extra chip reader. After the 2nd mile the course goes back up slightly and then another steep downhill with another tight left turn. It then flattens out until you go under the railroad bridge. It’s a down and up then up under the tracks and the final push to the uphill finish in Brickstone Sq. I finished with a gun time of 22:46 and a total time of 22:05 overall averaging a 7:07 mile it looks like I accomplished my goal of at least 7:30 pace. The time put me in the top ten in my age group and accomplishing my goal was enough for now.

After the race, I literally bumped into Joan Benoit Samuelson, while grabbing some water. While saying ‘excuse me,’ I made the mistake of calling her “Mrs Samuelson.” She smiled and corrected me, saying “Call me Joan.”

It was a great time! I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday!

Turkey Chasers – Thanksgiving Day Races

IMG_1414 (1)Every Thanksgiving morning my family has a tradition of running our local race. From the little research I’ve done, it looks to be part of the holiday for a lot of people. In fact the oldest road race in the US is the Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot, started in 1896 (followed by The Boston Marathon). I feel like there are a lot reasons people enjoy the tradition it’s a great way to get outside, be with those closest to you, and get a little exercise (plus it makes space for that extra pie I always end up eating!)

What I didn’t realize is how many races go off in New England on Turkey day, there are 37 races just in Massachusetts! In the other New England states there are quite a few more: 4 in Maine4 in Rhode Island, 7 in Vermont14 in New Hampshire, and 16 in Connecticut. If my math is right, that makes 82 races in New England just in one day! I wonder what the number is for the whole country? If New England is like the rest of the US, it’s got to be one of the busiest racing days of the year, if not the busiest. Consider the number of races going off at about the same time, you would think people would have gotten a little more original with the names, but ‘Turkey Trot’ is the most common with noteworthy exceptions. I just think it’d add to the fun to have different names; The Turkey Chaser, Cranberry Gobbler, or maybe (ironically) The Thankful Turkey? Here are a few of my favorite New England named races: The Wobble n Gobble in Franconia, NH,  The Great Turkey Escape in Redding, CT, and the Pilgrim Trot in Provincetown, MA.

5,000 meters (or 5K ≈ 3.1 miles) appears to be the most common distance, from just looking over the races. It’s a good distance, especially if you are mainly concerned with finishing it. I would suggest trying to do some training before the race; it will make it a lot easier and more enjoyable race day, the route I usually try to go. If you do come to race day without having had the time to prepare, it is best to pace yourself and slow down when needed. If you do a race with your friends and family, trying not to get the running speed above what you can comfortably do while talking. Thanksgiving Day races are a lot like the holiday itself a great time to spend with those closest to you. Happy Thanksgiving!

(If you are in the New England area and would like to do some running on the last Thursday in November, I would encourage you to click on one of the State links to find a race near you!)

City Sports-Boston Closing

city sports boston t shirtI found out a couple of weeks back that City Sports is shutting down after 30 years! I personally can’t claim to remember a Boston without them. If I was running either a race or a regular run, especially in the summer, I would usually see at least one of City Sports t-shirt. They’ve always had a large selection and were eager to equip you for whatever you needed. Plus they had a lot of really convenient locations. They also had a decent running shoe selection if you knew that was what you wanted. I guess it was just their time, I’ve seen new running stores open recently, like Greater Boston Running Company, and in new places. City Sports has been part of the Boston landscape for a long time, a lot like Newbury Comics. Shortly after learning the news, I made sure to hit up the Harvard Sq store because I wanted to make sure that I got signature ‘City Sports: Boston’ t-shirts. Being in another store a few days ago, it looks like the whole chain will be done at the end of the month. Considering all the race shirts I have at this point I’m happy to include them in the mix.

Boston Marathon

History with the Boston Marathon

I have been Boston area runner for most of my life. You learn 2 things quickly talking with New England runners, firstly we love our Marathon and secondly it’s privilege to run it. For all my life it’s been that way, yes it used to be a lot easier to get in, but running, at least to me, has always been an honor.

The New Englanders that have won are still rightly celebrated, like Bill Rodgers who has won 4 times, and the ever running Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won it 3. They have also been a huge staple of a lot of area races for decades and Samuelson is a delight to bump into. Last year, while at the Boston Marathon, I saw her fly by, definitely setting a steady pace well under three hours. I have had the privilege of running in races with both of them over the years though, Samuelson is only one I’ve had a chance to bump into. She might not be as speedy as she was when she was winning the Olympic Marathon, but she’s still highly impressive.

Up until two years ago, when I got to cheer on a friend running the race, I had never actually been to Boston, I had only followed it on TV. The TV coverage is usually great and the coverage usually gets up close and personal as the elite runners, go at speeds I’ve only dreamed about for 26.2 miles. It is exciting to watch the elites battle it out on TV because honestly you don’t that kind of opportunity along the course because they’re just that quick and it is just a straight shot race, no looping. (I saw Meb zoom by two years ago when he was on his way to winning it and he was there and then gone in what felt like seconds). I honestly don’t think it’s the fault of the TV coverage, but until I went to course, I never really had a clear sense of how many people were there running the course. It is really inspiring because it is an activity for everyone, from the seasoned professional to the average person and the truly inspirational Team Hoyt.

2015_bostonmarathon_coursemap

I have talked a lot with people who have trained for Boston and done a qualifying race and from what they’ve told me, Boston is rarely anyone’s personal record (PR) for 26.2 miles. It is simply a challenging course despite what the altitude map might tell you. It isn’t simply the downhill it’s where the hills come in the course of the race and how much you’re asking of your body 

I also can’t seem to escape talking to anyone who has done the Marathon without hearing some reference to ‘Hopkinton,’ the starting town of the race. It then goes though 8 city and towns with a gradual elevation drop for most of the course until you get to the little bump’ in elevation in Newton, which is the hill most often referred to as Heartbreak, it is about the time in the race when you feel like you are running on empty. The race finally ends near Boston’s Copley Square. I have cheered on races for years and it is still something that thrills me about any race, but I have never seen anything like the Marathon crowds and enthusiasm. I suppose with 30,000 runners it is bound to bring out a few spectators? For me it does not explain the many thousands who line the route every year, I think people are just excited about it. People simply enjoy encouraging one another and for Boston 2016, I’m hoping to be among them.

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I have my own site! For a newbie like me, it takes a lot of work to set up a domain and hosting. Thank you to both InMotion and GoDaddy customer service for helping me fix my early errors. The process, has been frustrating at points, and definitely fun; deciding on the colors and theme has a bit of a trick. I have found the tutorials by WPSculptor really helpful because he is really careful to go through every step. I think it will be a bit of time before I find this site is everything I would like it to be. I’ve having been a runner for a long time and I’ve rarely talked about it never mind written about it, I hope this blog gives me an opportunity.