Thursday, April 30, 2009


Wind in rustling leaves.
Filtered sunlight dancing.
Silent footfalls echo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bring on the heat!

A tepid 88 degrees out there today made for an unusually warm run. First time back out since the marathon, I did about 2.5 miles to get the muscles going again. Right calf still feels like someone whacked me with a pipe and it was definitely an issue during the run. Tendon behind the right knee is also still a bit sore but other than some minor aches I feel alright. Perhaps 5 hours of paintball on Saturday was not the best way to get the legs to heal but what are you going to do.

This was also the inaugural run of my new pair of Mizuno Inspire 4. So far they feel good, the middle-outer part of the right shoe was not digging into my foot like other shoes have been. A few more runs will be required to make a final determination but so far so good. And just in case you were wondering, they are blue.

Friday, April 24, 2009


So that's it, the marathon has come and gone. Now I can look back and reflect on it in totality. What makes Boston different from all of the other races out there? Why do people keep coming back for it year after year? Like any long running event the element of tradition certainly comes into play. It definitely doesn't hurt being the oldest marathon in the world. As the only marathon with a qualifying requirement to get in the sheer prestige factor is also quite evident. Obviously that is a huge draw for serious runners, but is that enough to get ordinary people, even non-runners, to spend so much time and effort to participate in what could be a very painful experience. Obviously the ease of the course isn't the big incentive, because that course is just plain hard.

Now that I have done it I am stating to get a better idea of what drives people to run Boston again and again. Naturally I was originally drawn by the glamor and prestige of the event, and let's face it, growing up near Boston it just gets in your blood. Everything I knew about the marathon has started to change. For the first year it wasn't about the elite runners and the battle for first place; I didn't even find out who won until around 3PM.

I think the one thing that keeps bringing people back to Boston is just that, the people. They were everywhere; cheering, partying, having fun. From the kids handing out oranges, the messages in chalk on the street encouraging the runners, all of the people willing to give up their day to volunteer or just cheer us on. I've never seen anything quite like it. At one point I literally ran through the middle of a party that had spilled over into the street.

The only regret from the whole day is that I wish I wasn't so tired in the last part of the race so that I could more thoroughly enjoy the overwhelming crowds from Cleveland Circle to the finish. I've never experienced anything quite like it, it was amazing. Turning onto Boylston street was absolutely mind-blowing; thousands of people lined the street to see us, normal, every-day runners cross the finish line. Now I understand, this isn't just a race, this is an event. One that I hope to be a part of next year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the books

I did it! My first Boston Marathon is in the books.

We lucked out on the weather. It was cool and cloudy with an increasing headwind the closer we got to Boston but no rain. Other than the wind it was perfect running weather. We spent the time before the race at a house right near the start in Hopkinton so we were warm and had a bathroom all to ourselves. A definite perk.

The race:
I was in the second-to-last corral so when I lined up I not only couldn't see the start but I had no idea where it was. We were looking up hill along Route 135 at the thousands of people in front of us. The announcer finally declared the start of the heat and the crowd began to move forward. Slowly. All told it took 11 minutes just to get to the start line. We inched our way forward, up the hill until all of a sudden, we were off!

I quickly settled into a rhythm and was able to hit my pace even though I had thousands of people to get past and spent a significant amount of time on the sidewalks and roadside. The first few miles I just concentrated on pacing myself and taking it all in. All I could think of was that I was finally doing it, make sure to enjoy!

The first ten miles went great, right on pace. Unfortunately I totally forgot about all of the GNRC members and family that were volunteering at mile 8 and I blew by and didn't notice them until after I had grabbed a cup of Gatorade and caught a glimpse of a club jacket. Mile 10 at Natick center I found the family and made a quick stop to give the kids a hug. So far the race was going great.

Just after Natick I came across a couple of barefoot runners. Crazy.

Around the 20K mark came Wellesley College. I could hear the screams long before I could even see the girls. What a great stretch of road that was. I would have no problem doing a little loop and getting to run through them again. Hundreds of young co-eds screaming, high-fiving, and begging the runners for kisses. To be a young single man again, ah. That stretch made it all worthwhile.

Half way mark and I was close to pace for a 3:30:00, just slightly behind. Everything was still great, a little pain in the right calf muscle but otherwise on target.

Then came the hills. That put a dent in my pace but nothing too serious. Hills aren't too bad, you just have to power through them and expect to lose a little time. By the time Heartbreak Hill loomed in front of me I was starting to feel drained. The infamous hills had taken a toll on my energy levels.

At some point I just happened to be on the right side of the road as I ran by Claudia. All of a sudden she was running beside me for a bit and then just as fast I was off on my own again. Weird how those things work.

After Boston College the real race began. It was all downhill, 5 miles and a nearly 250 foot elevation change. The media may talk on and on about Heartbreak Hill but the runners always talk about the downhills. And now I know why. They really chewed up my legs and left me hurting. I have never had an issue with my quads, that is until I entered Cleveland Circle. By this point the legs were all but done; my calves were screaming and my quads were threatening to seize up at any moment. Turning onto Beacon street the race really began.

At this point all I could do was try to hang on to a decent pace and hope that my legs didn't seize. Around mile 23 the right one did. Luckily it was a mild cramp and I only had to stop for a few seconds. From there to the end it was touch and go whether it would happen again. My pace had slackened about 30 seconds from where I had hoped but I just didn't care.

It was almost an entirely mental race at this point. Every muscle in my body was screaming at me to stop and walk. It would be so much nicer if I just walk for awhile. Go on, just rest for awhile.

All I could do was plant one foot in front of the other. Just one more step. Then another. And another.

Kenmore Square and the screaming masses was suddenly all around me. Last I'd heard the Sox were up 12-1. Keep running. One mile to go read the sign painted on the road. One mile, eight and a half minutes. Keep running.

I headed into the underpass under Mass Ave. Suddenly my vision dimmed, I felt faint. WTF? That's never happened before. And then it was gone, back to focusing on running. Right on Hereford. There's Boylston, almost there.

Finally, the last turn onto Boylston. There's the finish, way, way, way down there. Keep running. Thousands of fans lining the street cheering us on but I could barely hear them. All of my focus was on finishing, and not seizing up my legs and looking like an idiot in front of the world.

Then I crossed the finish line. The painted blue and yellow finish line that I had seen and crossed over countless times before. But this time was so different. I was an official runner, one of a select few given the honor of crossing that line on that day. I had made it. The training, the anxiety, the pain; it was all worth it. My watch read 3:35:03, a new PR by over 5 minutes.

Slowly I walked away from the finish, glowing in my performance and what I had just done. As I made my way along it then hit me, OW! My legs freakin hurt! Ow, ow, ow. I limped to the chip removal area where a helpful young lady untied my shoe, removed my chip, retied my shoe, and placed a medal over my neck saving me the sure embarrassment of bending over and finding that I couldn't get back up. God bless her.

I hobbled over to the family meeting area wrapped in my mylar blanket clutching my food and water (why did they skimp on this part? a bottle of water, a bagel, and some chips? seriously? no Gatorade? no other food? c'mon now) I stood at the family meeting area with legs becoming increasingly sore and slowly freezing in the (I swear) sub-zero temperatures I was finally rescued by my knight-in-shining-armor, Tim, and his big yellow jacket. It could have been a pink frilly smock as far as I was concerned.

The race was done. I had a medal. I am an official Boston Marathon finisher.

And at that moment all I could think of was "I hope the legs heal quick so I can start training for Mt. Washington." Running is a disease with a 76,000 step program as its only cure. (average steps for a marathon)

Now, the important numbers.

23,211 runners
22,898 finishers
Time of start: 10:41 AM
Half: 1:44:36
Finish: 3:34:57
Pace: 8:12
Time of finish: 2:16 PM
Place: 8748
Division: 3255
Number of marathons completed: 2
Hours gone without having to pee: 9
Calories burned: 3393
Gu packets consumed: 6
Days until the 114th Boston Marathon: 364

Friday, April 17, 2009

Home stretch

Marathon weekend is looming large. Only a few more days until the race. This past week I have mellowed out a lot, probably because I have done virtually no running. It's been a kind of suspended time of just waiting around waiting for something to come.

Now that I am off to the expo today the familiar anticipation and nerves are starting to creep back in. The nervous excitement I always get before big races. What is the weather going to be like? The crowd? The course? Will I run well or will something go wrong? All those thousands of questions, fears, uncertainties will continue to plague me for the entire weekend, obsessively running through my head again and again. They'll keep bothering me, building the tension and trepidation which in turn will force me to focus more and more on what's to come which will then lead me back to the same questions and doubts. This will go on for days, culminating in Monday morning when I will become obsessively compulsive about everything I do, and eat, and feel, and think, right up to that moment when, finally, the gun goes off, the crowd begins to move, and there is nothing left to do but run.

And all that doubt, nervousness, and uncertainty fades away with every stride. There is nothing but the rhythm of the run and the inevitable finish line. All is right once again.

Thanks to everyone that supported me, it really means a lot. See you at the finish.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Getting down to the wire here. I have pretty much stopped running to give the back of my knee some time to heal. I will get out on Sunday for a few miles as a warm up for the big day.

I have settled on a pair of Mizuno Elixir 4 for the race. They aren't perfect; they rub me in a few places and are maybe a bit stiff in the heel but I hope they work well. I also picked up a pair of Superfeet insoles today to see if they are any good. I will walk around on them for a few days to test. So far the arches feel a bit high but they say they take a few days to settle in. If not I'll just throw in the original insoles.

The weather for Monday isn't looking great. Possible showers. Great.

At this point I just want to get the marathon going. Without the strict training I'm getting lazy and starting to lose my focus. It's like I am on vacation and can just do what I want to without consequence. Gotta stay focused. Just gotta keep thinking about crossing the finish line.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dream racing

I had my first dream about the marathon last night and it wasn't good. I still didn't have a good pair of shoes to wear, I was wearing a cotton t-shirt and basketball shorts. Weird. The start of the race was a running start out of some woods and the first three people trip causing a do-over. Oh yeah, I also had completely failed to pick up my number so I wasn't even going to be able run the marathon. There seems to be some psychology behind this dream.

Lots of other stuff happened (Vin stealing jackets, etc) but those are the highlights. I blame myself stressing out about my shoes and the lingering leg pains. There is a whole psychological whirlwind blowing in my head messing with my stuff.

So I went and bought another pair of shoes today. Mizuno Elixir 4. So far they feel alright so I will get out on them and see what happens. Time is running short, the marathon draws near.

Maybe I will walk over to Copley next week to see the freshly painted finish line; it was still old and faded today. That may perk me up and get me all excited. I always have such a love/hate relationship with races. They are always fun (when finished) and I am glad I do them. It really is the best way to enjoy the sport and test your limits not to mention it is a nice treat for working so hard. But I always get so nervous before the big ones (and some of the small ones) because I just want to do my best and hit my goal. Usually the nervousness wins out and I am just a bundle of nerves for the week before. I guess that is why all this crap with the shoes is freaking me out, I should be stressing out about whether or not I am going to fall flat on my face halfway up Heartbreak Hill and not worrying about how my shoes will hold up.

Time to think of the positive. 26.2 all the way. I've done some decent sized races with a good crowd at the end, but I don't think I have ever done anything approaching this magnitude. I know for sure that this is definitely going to be interesting.

12 days and 1800 dollars to go.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The taper

I threw out my plans of doing another long run this Saturday and instead settled in for a 16 miler (supposed to be 15 but I was led astray). For some unknown reason this was a hard run that left me hurting more than the longer ones I have been doing. It may be because I took a few days off to try and heal up my aching leg due to the ongoing shoe issues (update: I returned the pair that was destroying my leg). Maybe I was just tired or maybe it was just one of those things. Who knows.

Now we enter into taper mode with only two weeks left to go. All I can do now is hope that the weather is nice on Patriots Day and that the run goes well. Definitely looking forward to it and am happy to be running a marathon again.

Happy Opening Day everybody!