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!

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!

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!

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.

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!)

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.


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.