Thursday, March 26, 2015

Boston Marathon Tips you Haven't Heard

If you are like me, you have read practically everything when it comes to the Boston Marathon race tips and what to expect. If you've read any amount, there are some that we've all heard. Most notably, Boston lulls you into overconfidence by starting out downhill, wears out the quads of those who start out too fast, and you pay for it in the Newton Hills and infamous Heartbreak Hill. I promised myself not to write about that, but I just did. Hopefully, here are a few tips that I've picked up that perhaps you haven't heard of. I will admit up front that most bloggers are plagiarists (myself included,) so I must credit others for helping me put this list together.

Athlete's Village in Hopkinton
Athlete's Village

Unless you are staying near the start line, or are an elite athlete with concierge delivery you will be spending 2-3 hours in Athlete's Village in Hopkinton at the start of the race.

Taking your picture in front of the "It all starts here" sign in Hopkinton takes about 10 minutes so you're left with a lot of time on your hands. It's largely a grass field and regardless of the unpredictable weather it will likely be cold and damp and your lightly broken in lucky race shoes will get wet. You want to avoid starting a race with wet shoes so pack an old and/or cheap pair of shoes to hang out in with your race shoes in your dry check-in bag. You have a 1/2 mile walk to the corrals so you can wait until you get in your corral before you change into your pair. (tip courtesy of my buddy Tim.) One new "twist" with the 2014 marathon that's also in place again this year is NO BAG CHECK so whatever you bring on the bus needs to strap on your body for the race or be discarded in the village or corrals. This means a likely trip to Goodwill to buy layers of clothing to keep warm. Like the NFL stadium rules, you are limited to the clear bag that's provided to you at the expo. The other interesting challenge is what to do with your phone. I didn't want to carry mine in the race so that meant no pictures in the village. You'll have to think that one through.

You'll have time to kill and will want to stay warm. I've seen inflatable rafts, sleeping bags (in years past,) and lots of space blankets. Everything is outdoors and under tents, but I also stood in line for a pre-race massage one year. This not only killed some time, but I spent most of the time indoors in the school gym where it was warm vs. being outside.

Scream Tunnel Euphoria
For Men Only

For the women out there, you can skip this paragraph, but I've read about your sports bras and nipple issues (we men have nipples too) so indulge me here. I just explained that you're sitting around for two hours and you will be hydrating yourself and trying to time your last trip to the green phone booth (porto-potty,) but for as many toilets they have, they can never have enough. I got to the village early last year and there was no line at all, but by the end of the stay, long lines prevaled. You have to hydrate so make sure you have a "big mouth" Gatorade (or the like) bottle and save it once it's empty. Either in the village or in the corral you can deftly cover yourself and (ahem) slip yourself over the large target and fill 'er up. Cap it and toss and you will have a guilty yet relieved smile before start. This won't help the ladies or "number two" but could come in handy. While you think it may be your runner and God given right to pee on a bush when nothing else is available, Boston's finest will fine or arrest you. Goes without saying, avoid the discarded Gatorade bottles at the start.

Soak the Expo

Meeting Bart Yasso and Mark Remy from Runner's World
Everything you've heard about the magnificent Boston Marathon expo is true. We've all been to expos and it motivates you to see all the phenomenal athletes and products in one place. You are rubbing elbows with the sports most elite athletes, and running in the mother of all marathons, the Boston frickin' marathon so enjoy it. Load up goodies, buy the celebration jacket (even if purple is not your color) and soak it all in. Each year, there are unique handouts. I have several cowbells from my previous Boston Marathons, but they weren't handing them out last year, but you can stop by the John Hancock booth and pick up extra oval 26.2 stickers. Another one of my favorites was the
Toyota race towels with logo which has been a great gym towel for me reminding me on tough gym days of why I'm there at 5 in the morning. The biggest highlight for me is the video of the course in the John Hancock booth. If this is your first Boston, it's quite helpful to see the entire course including interviews with past runners. Far better than looking at an elevation map.  I admit I "teared up" the first time I saw it realizing I was fulfilling a dream. Plan your time there...a lot to see, but you can walk away having met Hoyt or Yasso with a souvenir picture to prove it.


Photo Opportunity

Just rounding the corner of Hereford
There's a million things to do in and around Boston and you've likely scoped all that out. One tip I picked up online was that if you want some good pictures around the finish line of you or family, Sunday is the day to show up. There's a 5K that morning in years past finished along Boylston, but was in the Boston Commons area last year ('14.) The caveat to this one is that someone spotted my finish line photo prior to the race online and pointed out that it's bad luck to touch the finish line before you race. I hadn't heard that one before, and must have broke the myth because I have had some great races and usually stop by on Sunday.

You Are a Rock Star

Last year (2014) with the emotions surrounding the first Boston Marathon since the bombing, the crowds were out in force at every step of the course. Given that, there are probably three spots where you feel like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith where the fan adulation is palpable. The first is the
infamous scream tunnel in Wellesley. If the wind is blowing the right direction, you can hear them from a mile away. More like the first arrival of the Beatles to the U.S. (or One Direction for those teens and Millennials.) It must be a quarter mile of the all-girls college lined up behind metal barriers with signs saying "kiss me." I'm married and of course would deny if I ever stopped for an innocent smooch with a coed, and I now have a daughter in college so it's a bit creepy to think about, but it's absolutely insane. Be careful, you will run too fast through here as your adrenaline is going ape-shit. The second area is after "Heartbreak Hill" around Boston College. Think drunk frat boy version of Wellesley--equally loud and again motivates you as you start heading downhill into the city. The last section is the infamous "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston" short block near the end of the race. It's a slight yet short uphill street among dense buildings and huge throngs of fans with deafening cheers that catapult you to the finish.

As I said, the best advice is to soak it all in. This ranks up there with my wedding and birth of children on the most memorable personal events in my life. I'm sure there are more obscure Boston Marathon tips so please comment, tweet, or Facebook post them for me and others. BLOGLOVIN

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Great Mail Day

Some mail days are better than others. Bills and junk mail normally clog the mailbox, but checks and run-related gear are more fun to find when you turn the key to find what's inside. I have been traveling for nearly ten days and came home to find a few exciting things worth sharing.

Tracksmith BQ Singlet

I wrote about Tracksmith awhile ago. They are a Boston-area based run apparel company focused on high-end retro run gear for men (women's line is coming out in Spring '15.) I ordered their BQ singlet several months ago and they finally produced the singlet which arrived with a hand-written note saying they will be rooting from their offices at mile 13.1. They also have a New York version (I may have to order) and requires verification of registration to order the shirt. High quality and crazy cool designs.





































The Celebration Jacket

Adidas and the Boston Athletic Association can't seem to avoid controversy with the celebration
jacket. I ran in 2011 when they had the green and black design, but opted to use iron-on logos vs. the traditional stitching. Last year was the ice-cream truck version; orange sherbert with those god-awful stripes on the back, but the stitching was there. This year, they cut corners again, and used the same design (with ugly stripes) but went with purple. My wife's comment was that it was rather feminine. My comment was that it wasn't as ugly as last year's jacket. I lean towards the symbolism and sense of accomplishment with the jacket vs. what color or design they use. I wouldn't want to come across as complaining, I loved opening this package even if it's a purple jacket...and no, I won't wear it until I cross the finish line. #Superstitious

Seeking Boston Marathon Stickers

I redesigned my logo quite awhile ago, but still had an ample supply of stickers based on my first blog logo. The only problem with version 1.0 was that they used paper backing, and would not hold up as a car sticker. For the Boston Marathon expo and upcoming FitBloggin15 conference I'll be speaking at, I wanted a version that could go on a car so I ordered three inch square vinyl stickers. I bet you want one, don't you? First ten that post on my Facebook (I'm upset with them right now,) and in comments below will get one either handed out in person in Boston or dropped in the mail as inspiration to get your BQ.
New SBM Stickers ready to be handed out in Boston!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Desert Storm

First off, I have to apologize as I've been off the blogger grid, but with Boston a mere 31 days away, I've been anything but dormant. Work has been busy (in a good way) with a fair amount of travel which has cut into my second career as a runner and writer. The travel has been manageable as it's mainly been domestic west coast travel. Over the past couple of Boston Marathons, I've had my share of international travel which can be a lot of fun, but heinous on the marathon training schedule. Traveling west is much easier on the body than traveling east and I've done a good job of scheduling my travel to not just get the runs in, but capture some fantastic runs on the road.

I have to admit, I was nervous, or downright scared (understatement) eight months ago when I had serious doubts if I could return to racing at the level I was at prior to my accident. The broken ribs and separated shoulder were a concern, but a bigger concern was how would my collapsed lung rebound. As I've wrote here, I've had two simulated Boston Marathon training runs over the last month that have been huge confidence boosts. As I write, I'm sitting at 539 training miles en route to the Boston Marathon and during my nine mile recovery run this morning, I was thinking, "too bad Boston isn't next Monday" as I feel ready to run a marathon.

This didn't happen overnight and seems that only in the last few weeks, I somehow "turned a corner" and feel as strong as I've felt in a long time a month away from a marathon. #knockonwood

I do have some superstitions and I probably cursed myself with the confidence I'm putting in writing and a lot can happen over 30 days, but I like where I'm sitting. Not every day, or every week has been perfect and in fact, I had a bit of a scare this last weekend. My energy has tended to "ebb and flow" a bit depending on the training that week and the travel. Last week I headed out to Seattle and had a couple good runs at sea level along the water downtown. Tuesday was a eight mile tempo run that was absolutely fantastic and pushed myself a bit with a 7:14 overall pace. This was a mere three days after a simulated Boston training run of twenty miles. Not a surprise that Wednesday was a "chore" to knock out a recovery run again in Seattle before heading to San Diego for the weekend on Thursday.

I took a rare rest day on Friday. I've typically worked out seven days a week with one day off every third week. I clearly needed the Friday rest day as I was still a bit sluggish on Saturday on a nine mile tempo run around Ocean Beach (San Diego.) During my two mile warm-up, I was traversing my way towards the waterfront along the surf and tourist sidewalks. The sidewalks are old, cracked, and buckled, and I was clearly dragging my tired feet as I caught the lip of a section of concrete and took a nasty tumble. This would be the first fall since my fateful fall last July, but fortunately, the butts of my hands and right knee took the brunt of the fall. My ribs were fine, but I completely torqued my back which would be in pain for the balance of the run.

The following Sunday morning, I felt like an old man getting out of bed as my lower back wretched in pain. I emailed my run coach that I wouldn't be doing my long run. After running my son to the airport, I picked up coffee and donuts for my wife and aunt and figured I would be "laying low" this
Sunday morning. Stubbornness and stupidity kicked in after half a cinnamon crumb donut, and I decided that I would try and run a few miles to see how my back responded. I ran twelve. I didn't push the pace, my back was tender, but it loosened up along the way. The San Diego piers and scenery was pretty, but my awkward gait was not.

My wife and I continued on our Southern California Spring Break by driving over to Palm Springs for the week. We both needed a break and this vacation was intended to focus on relaxation, avoiding the work laptop emails, and of course maintaining my Boston Marathon training. My back was giving me "fits" up through Wednesday and my ribs were hurting at night which was disrupting the sleep I desperately needed. Early in the week, the workouts were routine; swim on Monday, recovery (with stomach issues) on Tuesday, and a "modest" tempo run on Wednesday. As prescribed by my coach, I stuck to the core/strength training getting in solid workouts each day on top of the running. I even added a second workout on tempo day adding another mile swim for the week.

With ribs hurting, my sleep on Wednesday night was not the best yet I woke up feeling full of energy on Thursday. I was hoping for something light on the training calendar, but today's recovery day was seventy five minutes. Not for the timid. For nearly a week, I've felt either exhausted or battered. As I started out on my eight plus mile run, I felt invincible. It was nothing special. Slow pace (8:34 minutes per mile) but my energy was insane, and my heart rate and lungs felt like I was walking. At several times during the run, I even broke out my "air drums" as I ran to my iTunes. I couldn't help but think of the irony in that seven months ago, I wasn't running yet and when I started back up, my heart felt like it was going to burst out my chest like the alien in "Alien" at a 9:20 pace. I showed up a bit battered and tired in Palm Springs, but leaving having taking the desert by storm.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Meme Monday: Pushing Your Limits

How often do you push yourself in a week during a marathon training program? I typically work out 6-7 days a week during marathon training, but only two of those push my limits in terms of pace. This was last weekend during a Boston Marathon 20 mile simulated training run. This was on a slightly hilly course with six by two mile progressive marathon goal-paced interval sets with a half mile float (20-30 seconds slower than goal pace) between. This one pushed my limits for sure, but a huge confidence boost. Sets were; 7:25, 7:27, 7:28, 7:25, 7:19, and 7:18. #pushyourself

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I'll Be Your Coach Karlie

As runners we are presented with a precious gift and that's to lace up shoes every day, walk out the door, and explore the world around us with our own two feet.

Runner's World sent an email out this morning about a supermodel, Karlie Kloss who is certainly built like a runner (even though she doesn't think so...think VERY long supermodel legs) but detests running as she posted on her Instagram.

Runner's World has done their part by putting together a Catwalk to 10K(#CatwalkTo10K) training plan (HERE.)

I consider it my philanthropic duty to offer up my coaching services to Karlie at no charge (especially since it appears that she's starting her training in Paris.) I feel I am overqualified for this important position because I;

1) LOVE running and am convinced I can make you love it too.
2) I love running in Paris too.
3) Like yourself, I loathed running and actually made fun of runners in high school, so I can relate.
4) I have matching running tights.
5) With my training you can occasionally "splurge" on food, drink beer, and still maintain your supermodel figure.

To answer your Instagram question you posed on my first day of running, "What inspires, motivates, or challenges you?" Challenges inspire me! One small goal at a time which has never been stronger as I've battled back from serious injury to racing in my fifth Boston Marathon next month. I'll await your tweet, Facebook page comment, Instagram Direct Message, or blog comment below to begin your coaching.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Do Marathons Ever Move Indoors?

Boston got hammered again in the last 48 hours with snow. Let's hope it melts by next month's Boston Marathon. Locally, the trails are covered in snow in Denver and more snow is showing up today. How has your winter training gone, and at what point do you move a run indoors?