Runners Needing Assistance to Finish a Race- Wednesday’s Weekly Discussion

Runners Needing Assistance to Finish a Race- Wednesday’s Weekly Discussion

I want to try something new on Wednesdays.  There are a lot of things constantly happening in the running world.  I want to try and open up a thoughtful discussion on a variety of topics.  Some will be general and some will be based on current events in the running world.  Please join the conversation below! Let’s also, please be respectful of differing opinions.  

This weeks weekly discussion topic- Runners getting assistance to finish a race.

It seems like there is an increasing number of stories on runners who are struggling to finish a race, often times unable to stand on their own two feet.  In swoops another runner to save the day, and help that runner complete the distance.  This isn’t completely new to the running world.  However, with the increase in technology and how quickly an image can go viral on social media, we see it being shared pretty much every major race now.

As this continues to happen, there is an increase in discussion on whether the running world should support this behavior.  A variety of reasons that people believe it should be celebrated.  Others feel like this goes against the rules and that those runners should be disqualified or not receive a finisher medal.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings.  I can really see both sides.  I am not sure I have a strong opinion either way.  My biggest concern is always going to be safety for all involved.

Here is a summary of some of the discussions happening around the web

Supportive 

  • This is an awesome representation of our running community.  Runners are selflessly sacrificing goal times to aid other runners.  Not to mention, those runners helping are tired too.  How awesome is the running community!
  • It’s an example of sportsmanship at its best, it should be celebrated.
  • Acts like these, help build our sport.  We need more!
  • It doesn’t affect the results, so who cares
  • The people who care, are usually elitist jerks (non my opinion, but have read it in multiple locations)

Unsupportive

  • Rules are rules.  Every runner who enters the race, needs to comply.  This is against USATF rules.  (Applicable to  races governed by USATF)
  • A finisher medal is EARNED.  If you didn’t complete the race on your own, then unfortunately you didn’t earn the medal.
  • Allowing this could open a can of worms.  Where do you draw the lines?  Only okay for “slow” runners? Who gets to decide how slow? Is being carried really different from other modes of transportation?  How far out can you be carried and still be eligible?
  • Allowing a runner to lean on you is okay, but when the are no longer walking on their own two feet, they should be disqualified. (examples below)
  • Genuine medical concerns.  A runner is struggling so much, that they can not hold themselves up. The runner could have a variety of unknown health concerns that need medical attention.  Instead of getting the athlete the immediate help, the runner is carried a few hundred feet through the finish line.  While most of the time, the runner will be okay.  It is not worth the risk.

There seems to be a good number of runners who want to support the idea but also want to see the rules of the sport enforced.  Some feel like a DQ might be too strict for most of the runners in this scenario, but making sure athletes who earned an award or BQ did so on their own abilities.

So what do you think?  Do your opinions fall somewhere on the list above, or do you have another view point?  Does your opinion change if you are the person being carried?  If I were being honest, I probably judge myself harder than I would judge others. So while I may not have a strong opinion on others finishing in this manner, I would not want to be carried through a race.  I would rather take the DNF, and get me medical help right away!

 

Join the conversation! Thank you so much for reading, be sure to subscribe! 

 

 

Weekly Recap- April 17th, Recovering from Boston Marathon

I did it! I ran the Boston Marathon. I didn’t exactly hit my time goal, but I feel very proud of the effort I put in on race day.  I am close, I will reach my goal.  After Monday, I didn’t get much running in.  Spent the week focusing on recovery.  Check out my weekly recap

Monday- Boston Marathon.  Check out my race report!img_2958

Immediately after the race I walked back to my parent’s hotel, showered and got some fluids. Even as an adult, when I feel yucky I just want my mommy to take care of me.   I put on compression pants and compression socks.  We went out to lunch, but my stomach wasn’t really ready to eat.  I ate about half a chicken breast and some salad.  The walk back to my hotel was about a mile.  It may have been a hot day for running, but it was perfect walking weather.  I think this was the best thing I could have done.  I felt so much better when we got back to the hotel.

img_2971  Once we got back to the hotel, Lululemon had a party! It was neat, we went down to the pool and had a drink.  Had a snack and hung around for a short amount of time.  Shortly after the after party, we walked over to Fenway to meet up with some friend. The Boston after party was pretty disappointing so we headed over to a restaurant/bar that had a roof top patio. After dinner/drinks is was already pretty late.  My husband and I went for a short walk and grabs some super burgers to take back to our hotel room. I really think the walking helped my legs feel good.

 

 

Tuesday- 0 miles

I slept so hard!  I woke up with sore quads, but overall felt surprisingly well. As long as I could avoid stairs, I was pretty much good to go.   We packed up and headed to the airport.  Once on the plane, I couldn’t get comfortable.  I really wanted to walk around more. After the plane ride, and long car ride, I  felt pretty crummy.  I took a bath and pretty much relaxed with my kiddo the rest of the evening.  I am lucky my husband was so sweet and helpful.  Taking in the luggage, walking the dogs and mowing the lawn as soon as we returned.  Tuesday was my worst day.

Wednesday- 0 miles

Back to work! I still struggled with stairs and hills. Luckily I work in a building with one floor.  I had some minor soreness in the morning that seemed to disappear as the day went on.  It was a long day back, because my kiddos had a track meet that evening.  Again, I think walking and being on my feet all day really helped with recovery. Under my work clothes, I did wear some compression shorts and socks.

Thursday- 10 minutes running

I got in 10 minutes of super easy jogging at track practice.  I didn’t even complete a mile.  After practice I spend some time foam rolling and stretching.

Friday-  0 miles

I did a bit of walking and yoga during my plan time.  In the evening I used the massage stick and foam roller.

Saturday-0 miles

I did zero running, but I think I did quite a bit of work.  I spend most of the day cleaning and organizing.  I packed away my daughters out grown clothes and shoes and got out all her new spring stuff.  My child has an insane amount of clothes and shoes. We also spent some time walking the mall and shopping.  My legs felt really good.

Sunday- 11.8 miles at 7:32 pace, total time 1:29:29

I was planning on getting up to an hour easy of running.  Some of the other girls were getting in their medium/long run in at a flat trail and I tagged along.  I planned on turning early, but felt good so I just kept going.   Aside from the heat, I felt good.

I took a week to really soak in the adventure that I was able to be a part of in Boston. I was a great trip. This week I am going to begin thinking about my goals and looking at a timeline and races to fill in.  I don’t plan on doing any big races until the fall, but I will probably hop into a local 5k or 10k throughout the summer.

 

Boston Marathon 2017- Race Report

Boston Marathon 2017- Race Report

Run like a Bos(s) experience

I have to start out with thanking my amazing friend Diana and Lululemon for making my trip to Boston a once in a lifetime opportunity. Lululemon hosted 80 runners at The Verb Hotel  for the weekend of the Boston Marathon.  This experience included many great perks like breakfast, snacks available, fun group runs, transportation to the starting line, uplifting speakers, rest and recovery rooms in the hotel, pedicabs to and from the expo, and a pretty awesome after party. I was blown away.

The atmosphere of the hotel paired with a fun crew of runners  picked helped make the weekend feel very pretty laid back. Our hotel was about a mile from the starting line and less than that from the expo. Right next to Fenway Park.  It was really fun to be a part of the area of town. Tons of extremely friendly Bostonians that were very welcoming.

*Slide Show images pulled from the amazing collection included in the links below.  Check it out!

Lululemon, Run Like a Bos(s)- Monday

Lululemon, Run Like a Bos(s)- Sunday Pictures

Lululemon, Run Like a Bos(s)- Saturday Pictures

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Athletes Village-

One of the many, many awesome perks that Lululemon offered our group was transportation directly from the hotel and bag check. This really helped my morning start off  relaxed. When we arrived at athlete’s village it was a pretty emotional moment, like, holy crap this is really happening.  A couple of friends and I found some space under the tent so we could stay out of the warm sun as long as possible.   I chatted with so many runners and shared so many stories. It was pretty fun. I was worried about the amount of time we would be waiting for the race to start, but it seemed like time flew by.

The lines to the bathrooms were long, but not unmanageable. I was pretty put-off by the large number of males willing to urinate right on the school building we were waiting at.  This seemed extremely disrespectful to a community that completely welcomed and supported the runners.  As we headed to the start there was another section of porta-potties and the lines were even longer. I think it was mostly nerves, but I need to make one more stop before getting into the corral.img_2979

The walk to the start was  fun, there was a giddy friendly atmosphere.  More chatting and meeting new runners.  Officers and military lined up every other yard.  People were stopping to thank them and take pictures.  I felt a weird sense of calm.  Not normal for this very anxious runner.  I am happy I was able to be in the moment, and enjoy the journey. Not stressing like I normally would, before a race.

Mile 1-5

It was already warm in the extremely crowded starting corrals.  As the race started it was pretty difficult to do much more than a shuffle.  There was a lot of bumping and I was cut off and elbowed more than a few times.  I found myself a bit overwhelmed and concerned.  It did help me keep my pace under control but it also made it really hard to run a smooth consistent pace, in a straight line. I was surprised by the number of runners completely stopping, walking or cutting across without taking into consideration the tons of other runners around them.  The first mile I was plowed into by a guy trying to make his way into the woods to pee.  He cut right through a group of us.  There were, again, a large number of men peeing in the woods the first 3 miles, tons of them. I started to get a side stitch around the second mile.  It was pretty dull but I was sort of concerned how that would impact my race. I think I may have drank too much water, too close to the race. I wonder if drinking earlier would have avoided that.  Luckily, it disappeared around mile 5.  I took my first Cliff Shot at mile 5.  I have a pretty weak stomach and have found, taking ½ a gel at a time, but more frequently seems to help me.  So that is what I did here.

Mile 6-10

It was at this point in the race where people seemed to have found their pace and begin to settle into the groups they were with.  It was still extremely crowded and the water stops were completely chaos.  At mile 6 a water table was knocked over causing a ton of people to rush to the opposite side of the street to avoid collisions, which only caused further congestion and bumping into each other.  I grabbed a few oranges from some kiddos along the side of the street. They went nuts when I did. I basically attacked the pieces like a vampire just sucking the juices out.  It was very refreshing and helped get rid of the Cliff Shot taste. I’m not a big fan of the taste and textures of gels. Mile 8 was the first place I began to see a runner struggle.  She looked pretty dizzy and the locals were very quick to get her some medical support.  About mile 10 I saw another runner starting to struggle with leg cramps.  I took my second (half) gel just before the mile 10 marker.

Mile 11-15

This is where I began to realize I was going to have a tough day.  I was already feeling over heated and was needing water at every water stop.  The water stations were so crowded it really killed the flow of the run.  I started skipping the water stops and was able to grab water from spectators along the course.  You didn’t have to go far to find someone handing out cups, and ice and full cold water bottles.  I grab a cup ever chance I had.  I would sip on it and then dump the rest on myself.  Runners were grabbing water bottles and passing them around, sharing with each other and encouraging each  other to stay cool.  It was really neat to see the support and camaraderie.  When we got to the Wellsely Scream Tunnel runners began darting to the side to get a hug, kiss or high five from the famous girls. I used this opportunity to keep in the middle and try to gain some consistency in my pace, breaking free of some of the crowd.   I did get a boost of energy going through this part it was really fun to read the signs.  As we left the Wellsely tunnel, I sucked down my 3rd, half energy gel.

Mile 16-20

Just after mile 15 I saw one of my local running buddies.  I was focused on catching up to him.  At this point my pace was feeling more difficult to maintain. My breathing was okay, and I didn’t have any muscle issues.  I just felt drained of energy at this point.  Like I was missing that next gear.  I am guessing maybe the sun was depleting my energy levels faster than I expected. It was frustrating. It was at this point I started noticing a large increase in runners needing medical help. A lady had fallen and hit her head and a gentle men was laying on the ground surrounded by people.  Mostly, it was runners who had stopped themselves at medical tents, along the way.  As I came up to mile marker 18 I was feeling pretty hazy.  I felt like I had medicine head and starting to feel sick and dizzy.  I contemplated stopping at a medical tent.  I went back and forth on what I should do.  I took a risk, and kept going. I grabbed two cups of Gatorade and a water, sucking them completely down.  As we got to the top of the second hill, the hill just before heartbreak hill, my stomach was completely wrecked.  I threw up just as we started to finish the down hill. The crowds at heartbreak hill were great, I felt a sense of relief as we came over the top. My stomach felt much better.  I was feeling pretty beat up, but I also felt confident that I was going to make it through.

Mile 20-25

I took a second to calculate what it would take to break the 3 hour mark.  I started to surge for a little bit, I was cruising for a second.  It didn’t last long though, and I was sliding back to a pace that hovered between 6:50-7:10.  I was checking my watch constantly trying to keep myself pushing closer to that 6:50 pace. It was tough, I relied on the energy from the crowds here. There weren’t too many girls around me, at that time, so I think I got more than my fair share of cheers as many people were picking me out and yelling my number.  There is a point where you go slightly down hill and under a bridge, followed by a short uphill. This was when I felt my quads strain.  I guess it was one too many downhills, my legs were finally as mad as the rest of my body.  A man alongside of me was going up the hill and just seemed to run into an imaginary object and fall backwards.  He seemed dizzy but luckily didn’t hurt himself when he fell.  The officer in the area was very quick to get him medical help. As I passed each mile marker  I kept recalculating my target pace. Hoping I could pull some hidden energy out of my hat and push through to a sub 3.  Mile 24 was probably the hardest.  I was in denial still that I was going to fall short of my goal.  I kept trying to surge and couldn’t push through for more than 10-15 seconds at a time.

Mile 26-Finish

It was so loud that last mile.  Some how I can always hear my dad in races.  He yelled that I looked strong, I think he was lieing to me. It gave me an extra push.  I got so excited when I got to Hereford, I knew we were getting close.  As I turned onto Bolstyn I tried to sprint.  I don’t think my speed changed all that much but I was giving it my everything.  It seemed like that final stretch was never going to end.  You can see the finish line and it feels like you aren’t getting any closer.  The noise is almost deafening, so many people lined up along the way.  I saw the clock counting and I pushed with everything I had, to keep it under 3:01. I finished with 1 second to spare, 3:00:59.  I later found out, I finished at the 100th overall female.  That’s pretty neat and gave me a huge boost.

img_2985

After the race

As I finished I was filled with a wave of mixed emotions.  I was so proud to have pushed myself through such a struggle, for such a longtime.  I knew it was going to be tough. However, I wasn’t expecting to struggle so early. I had a brief moment of disappointment to have missed the sub 3 goal.  I was able to quickly move past it and felt proud of myself and the journey I just had.  I was greeted by many of the medical helpers.  One lady was pretty insistent that I was lacking color and wanted me to get checked out at the tents, but I assured her I just needed to keep moving.

img_2958

The walk to gear check and then to the family meeting area was horrible.  I may have teared up a bit. My husband and mom were waiting for me and quickly took care of my every needed. I was supported by mom, dad, husband, aunt and grandma along the way. A shower, some rest and food helped me bounce back pretty quickly.

Although the race was more difficult than I had imagined, and I struggled for quite a while.  I am super happy to have had this experience. I feel like I learned a lot about my own personal strength, and can walk away with pride.  I still cannot believe the amount of people along the course that come out to support the runners.  They cheered, they danced, they made signs.  They seriously took care of your every need, bringing paper towels, water, snacks, gels, Vaseline and anything else you can imagine. I got to share the same course as some of the world’s best runners.  I am filled with a sense of accomplishment.img_2960

I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do next.  I’m going to let this race sink in, let my body heal and reflect on my goals for the second half of this year.  I feel torn between trying another marathon and crushing that sub 3 goal and taking a break from marathon training to work on some shorter race distance training. I have some pretty lofty goals. I think writing them down and assessing which goals are the most attainable and working towards them one by one may give me the best chance for success.

 

 

 

Boston Marathon Featured Runner Q&A- Micheal Perrotti

I am excited to feature a different runner each day as we count down to Boston.  I love that each runner is unique, coming into Boston with a diverse background and goals.  Their journeys all lead to the same place.  You can read about my journey, Reflection and Countdown to the Boston Marathon.

You can also follow “Marathon Mike” on twitter @sneakerseminal

  1. Can you first, give us your Boston Marathon “story”

I did not run cross country or track in school, and did not begin running until 5-6 years ago (I am currently 40).  During my 20s, I battled weight issues, asthma, and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.  Started to get enjoyment from running by running 1 mile on treadmill, leading me to seek out further races such as 5Ks and 10Ks.  Ran my first marathon in 2013 (Steamtown Marathon-4:47:00 finish time). I knew nothing about the particular requirements for the Boston Marathon, but as I ran more marathons, it was clear to me that it was the goal race for anyone running marathons.

I am entering as a qualifier.  This is my second year as a Boston Qualifier, but my first race.  For the 2016 race, I qualified at the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon with a 3:08:04 (-1:56 under cutoff, while the cutoff was  2:28) For the 2017 race, I BQd  three times for the race: (2015 Steamtown Marathon (3:06:50, 2016 Myrtle Beach (PR) 3:03:43, and 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon 3:03:52. 

 

  1. What does running the Boston Marathon mean to you?

The Boston Marathon means a great deal to me. It is the result of many hours and days of training and running in good conditions and bad.  It is also a result of the support that I have from family and friends as I have sometimes had to turn down social events to make sure that my training was getting done. 

 

  1. What do you look forward to most about running Boston Marathon?

I look forward to challenging myself on such a historic course. To compare my performance with all the greats that have run the course before me.  I am also looking forward to taking my family to Boston.  My wife, who was diagnosed with early breast cancer in 2015, which she has recovered from, loves Boston, and it will be amazing to take her there. 

 

  1. How will you define success, on race day?

It is very difficult to gauge success this far out because so many things can change, like weather. My success will be based on my ability to take what the course gives me.  I also want to make sure I honor the training that I have done, and all the sacrifices that I have made by giving it my best. I want to finish the race knowing mentally and physically that I had nothing left in the tank to give.

 

  1. Do you have a favorite piece of clothing or tech that you always use for training or racing?

               I try to keep my clothing as minimal as possible.  Ankle socks, tank top, and short shorts and I am good to go.  I know others do not, but I always listen to music on my runs and my wireless headphones and ipod nano are always with me.

  1. How has your training gone, leading up to Boston Marathon? Any advice?

 My training has gone well, so far.  It has been a mild winter in Western PA, so I have only had  to run inside twice all season.  If I am to give any advice from someone who just recently started marathon running, it would be to sneak in naps whenever possible.  I try to take a short nap every afternoon.  Sleeping and recovery is often a part that I did not respect as much as I should have early in my marathoning.

 

  1. What part of the marathon do you find most challenging?

 I am sure everyone is different, but I don’t love long runs.  Living in a small town, cranking out 20 miles on a trail solo every week can get a little bit tiring.  On a positive note, it has helped me develop skills (like mantras) that help me focus and bear down late in races.

 

  1. What has been your favorite race (any distance) up until this point?

 I am absolutely in love with marathons.  I have run shorter distances, but 26.2 is my favorite. It takes me a long time to feel warmed up, so 5 and 10Ks often finish before I have felt really comfortable.  My favorite race so far is the Pittsburgh Marathon.  A really challenging course, and the site of my first BQ.  It is a course that will push you to the limits, but the atmosphere, medal, and post-race food are amazing.

 

  1. Do you have a pre-race routine, ritual or good luck charms?

The night before marathons, I always sit back and watch a few episodes of the classic show “Matlock” on DVD.  It helps me relax, and not feel anxious. Something that provides some fun and humor that I do is having my wife paint my toenails crazy colors before a race.  My feet are often pretty beat up going into races, and this is a fun way to just relax.  Blue and Yellow nail polish will be packed for Boston.

  1. What inspires you as a runner?

I am inspired everyday by the fact that I can get out there and run.  Having many health issues early in my life, such as asthma, I appreciate every day that I can log miles.  You never know how long you will have your health.  My wife’s cancer a few years ago was a reminder that you can’t count on your health long term.  That was a big part in my signing up for my first 50 Mile race in July.  I feel that I can run it, and I may not be able to (physically or mentally) in the years to come.  Seize the opportunity.

 

  1. Anything else?

I would like to thank my running coach, Mr. Mark Hadley, who is the founder of Maximum Performance Running (MPR).  He has been an amazing coach of mine since July of 2014.  His focus is not just on running, but strength training, recovery, and being very supportive.  I would not be in Boston without his help.  http://mprunning.com

 

I also have a blog, https://runteachlearnlife.wordpress.com where I try to honestly share my running journey.  I wish I updated it more, but try to write meaningful things when I do sit down to do it.  I have shared a pretty lengthy 2-part series on my journey to Boston.

You can wish Mike good luck and send her some positive words of encouragement for the big day, in the comment section below.

Thank you so much for reading! Please like, share and subscribe!

Boston Marathon Featured Runner Q&A- Jen Tiemen

I am excited to feature a different runner each day as we count down to Boston.  I love that each runner is unique, coming into Boston with a diverse background and goals.  Their journeys all lead to the same place.  You can read about my journey, Reflection and Countdown to the Boston Marathon.

Name: Jen Tiemenjen tiemen

  1. Can you first, give us your Boston Marathon “story”.

This will be my second Boston marathon, having run my first one in 2015.  I’ve been a runner for many, many years (started in a summer track program when I was 9 years old).  For almost 30 years, running was an outlet for me – physical and mental – but not about goals related to running.  Since the summer of 1980 I’ve had only short breaks from running due to other life changes – pregnancy, crazy medical school rotations, long residency hours.  Running has always been there for me, a physical outlet, an emotional boost, something I did just for me.  It saw me through parenting as a single teenager, making it through college with a toddler, marrying my fabulous husband, having 2 babies in medical school, surviving 10 years in practice in a small town, middle of the deliveries, hours spent at the bedside with the family of a dying patient, chasing my 4 children through their school years.  I could always lace up the shoes and have some time just for me.  Later, one kid or another would sometimes join me for a run and I discovered they’ll tell you anything if you get them running!

In 2007 a friend asked me to run a half marathon with her.  I still remember the first time I ran 10 miles in a row, and how excited I was!  That first half marathon (the Indy Mini) was a blast, and I was hooked on longer distances.  In 2008, I ran my first full marathon as a charity runner at the Chicago marathon.  Although I completed a training program for that marathon, I was really focused on just finishing it and enjoying it.  I managed both goals, although it was a super hot day and I experienced cramping for the first and so far only time in a race, finally feeling better in the last few miles.  I finished in 5:01:45 and was as proud of that as I could be.  I’m still proud of it, to be honest.  Although I enjoyed the marathon, I thought I’d be one and done.  Marathons require so much more training time, and my job has crazy hours, so I thought I’d focus on the half marathon.  I ran several more over the next 3 years.

In 2011, we moved to Kansas City and I changed jobs with less call.  I decided to run another marathon.  I did some reading and slowed down my long run so I didn’t require so much recovery time after, and added more miles during the week.  To my surprise, I ran a 4:25 marathon at KC that fall.  In 2012, I found my running tribe here, and suddenly had all kinds of a fantastic running friends who were always willing to run.  I ran more miles, and signed up for another fall marathon.  To my even bigger surprise, I broke 4 hours at Twin Cities, finishing in 3:53..  As a lifelong slower runner, who ran only for enjoyment, I’ve still always followed the national running scene and loved to watch the major marathons.  I’d watch Boston on TV every year and think about what an honor it would be to compete in such a historic race, but it had never seemed like I would have a chance to qualify.  That 5:01:45 marathon was well over an hour slower than my needed qualifying time.  And then I broke 4 hours, and suddenly, It seemed like Boston might actually be a possibility

It took me 2 more tries to qualify.  I always say I got an hour faster in the marathon just by running more miles, but to get that last 10 minutes I needed a year of also incorporating speed work, and adding some strength and flexibility training.  In November 2013, I ran 3:42:49 at the Indianapolis Monumental marathon, qualifying by 2 minutes 11 seconds.  It was perfect day and everything went right, from start to finish.  I hit the finish line doing such an ugly cry that they thought I couldn’t breathe and dragged me half way to the medical tent before I could assure them that I wasn’t experiencing a medical situation, but a psychiatric one!  I held my breath during registration, but that 2:11 was enough to get me in for 2015.

Actually running Boston in 2015 was a rough experience.  It was just above freezing, and it rained the entire race, starting 3 minutes before we took off.  I was so cold, and wet for 26.2 miles, with 20+ mph headwind in my face the whole way.  I made all the rookie mistakes – went out too fast, trashed my quads on the downhill early miles, and crashed and burned on the back half with a 16 minute positive split.  I didn’t requalify for 2016, going a little over a minute over my new qualifying time at 3:56.  Luckily, I was able to put together a  good training cycle again in 2015, and qualified for 2017 by more than 11 minutes (getting older is fabulous for Boston bound runners – I only need a 3:55 now!)  This Boston will be a little bit about redemption.

2. What does running the Boston Marathon mean to you?

Running the Boston marathon, to me, is the biggest honor a regular, non-elite runner can reach. Long distance running is fairly unique among sports in that regular athletes get to compete on the same stage as the world’s elite.  I ran the same course that Kathrine Switzer once made history on, where Bill Rodgers won 4 times, where Salazar outdueled Beardsley, where my idol Meb Keflezighi won in 2014.  More importantly, it’s the marathon (and city and country) that showed the world it’s strength in coming back from terrible tragedy after the bombing in 2013.  It’s the marathon with the biggest charity contribution of any race.  The marathon Team Hoyt ran 32 times.  The marathon a whole city comes out to support every year, without fail, for more than a century.

In 2015, during the most physically miserable race I’ve ever run, I was struggling up Heartbreak Hill and I passed another runner, a double above knee amputee, who had his hand on his guide’s shoulder, his head down, and was powering up that hill.  I took a minute right then to remind myself that I am so, so fortunate in life.  I have a great family, a fantastic husband, a job that is my calling.  I can run!  And I get to run the Boston marathon!  I finished that race with a smile on my face, and I intend to enjoy the heck out of Boston 2017, too.  This is my chance to play just a little bitty part in history.

3. What do you look forward to most about running Boston Marathon?

There are almost too many things to mention. Loved the expo even, with volunteers who find your bib for you, and seem to know how much this race means to so many runners.  Loved having a shake out run the day before with my friends from home.  Loved the bus to Hopkinton, where every conversation I could hear was about what we did wrong in our training – not enough miles, not enough hills, had an injury, slept in more than we should.  Loved running through the little towns along the way, and all the spectators out in the freezing rain cheering anyway.  Loved the big sign on a fire station “26.2 miles is wicked fah!”  Loved the Wellsley girls with my favorite spectator sign yet (a college girl standing in the freezing rain holding a big sign that said “Watching you run is making me wet!”)  Loved turning onto Boylston St and hitting a wall of sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard.  Loved crossing that historic finish line, and having a volunteer wrap me up in the mylar jacket, and another volunteer re-wrap me a few steps later because I didn’t look covered enough to stay warm.  Loved taking the T back to my hotel and having a college student give me his seat and his congratulations, and tell me about his mom who ran it last year.  Loved walking in to Starbucks the next morning for a coffee and having the staff clap when they saw my Boston jacket.  There’s nothing like it!

4. How will you define success, on race day?

I try to always have a few goals. Success for me as I get older, is ultimately about enjoying the process and staying healthy to run another day.  I’d initially hoped to requalify at this Boston for next year, since a good friend has qualified for the first time for 2018.  I don’t know that I have that in me given my recent training.  If I can run a smarter race and not have the giant positive split, I’ll be happy.

5. Do you have a favorite piece of clothing or tech that you always use for training or racing?

I’m not particularly tied to anything. I do practice the habit of nothing new on race day.

6. How has your training gone, leading up to Boston Marathon? Any advice?

Training has not been great, is the short answer. Worked way too many hours this winter and early spring.  I had some very promising speed workouts, but not enough time to put in the miles I usually do.  I’m not sure what to expect on race day.  One of the biggest things I’ve found important for me as a runner was adding mid-week medium long runs.  They’ve done a world of good for increasing my endurance and seemed to be the key to feeling more comfortable on race day.  I missed a lot of them this cycle.

7.What part of the marathon do you find most challenging?

Like most people, that last 10K. I’ve heard it said 20 miles is half way in the marathon, and it sure feels like it out there.  Once you hit the 25 mile mark, you know you can do it, so I try to mentally divide up mile 20-25 and make little goals for myself (just make it up this hill and you can take a little jog break.)  I also try to pick out someone important in my life to dedicate a mile to, and then spend some time thinking about them.

8. What has been your favorite race (any distance) up until this point?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but it’s probably Boston, for all the reasons mentioned above.

9. Do you have a pre-race routine, ritual or good luck charms?

Before a race, I always lay out my clothes the night before and attach the timing device. I eat 2 pieces of toast for breakfast, 1 with peanut butter and cinnamon sugar on it.  I get up early enough to spend some quality time in the bathroom and take care of business.  I eat a gel about 20 minutes before the start.  Other than that, details vary.

10. What inspires you as a runner?

I’m inspired the most by all the regular people I know who make running a priority in their lives. I’ve met so many amazing people through running, and seen so many amazing accomplishments.  The elite runners are also amazing, but I have friend who is a full time junior high teacher and coach who has run a 2:49 marathon (a woman!) while also inspiring so many runners as a coach, young and old along the way.  Another full time junior high teacher/coach friend who has run increasingly amazing times, while also helping coach her friends and writing the most engaging blog along the way.  And yet another full time elementary teacher who trained hard while her husband was deployed for a year and she single parented their child, and qualified for Boston for the first time.

I have a friend who is a full time physician, mom to 2 fabulous kids adopted through foster care, who paces multiple races a year so she can encourage other runners and help them achieve their goals.  I have several friends for whom running is part of their mental health self care – folks who nobody ever identified as an “athlete”, and yet they’ve run ultra marathons and supported other runners through many amazing feats.  I have several friends who have run through cancer treatment.

I’m inspired by my friends who always help me out, too – I just post that I need to run, and nearly always someone shows up and keeps me company for some or all.  Runners are amazing people.

Anything else?

Nothing else to promote, other than a plea to take time to think about what you can contribute to the world! Encourage a friend, reach out to a stranger struggling in the gym, give to a charity, smile at anyone you can.  We’re all in this together!

  You can wish Jen good luck and send her some positive words of encouragement for the big day, in the comment section below.

Thank you so much for reading! Please like, share and subscribe!

Boston Marathon Featured Runner Q&A-Beth Z.

I am excited to feature a different runner each day as we count down to Boston.  I love that each runner is unique, coming into Boston with a diverse background and goals.  Their journeys all lead to the same place.  You can read about my journey, Reflection and Countdown to the Boston Marathon.

beth
Name: Beth Z. 
Follow Beth on Twitter and Instagram: @bethrunsfast
1. Can you first, give us your Boston Marathon “story”  
I wanted to run Boston for the longest time (probably since early high school) due to its prestige and history. I’ve been a runner since I was a kid; I ran cross country and track all through middle and high school and for two years in college. I ran my first marathon at 18 (Walt Disney World, 2009) and returned to the distance in 2012 (Sunburst Marathon). After Detroit that same year, I decided that I wanted to qualify for the Big One and ran a series of marathons in an attempt to qualify. Finally with my eighth marathon, I qualified with a 3:25 and some change. I was ecstatic! I then lowered my qualifying time that fall in Detroit with my PR race of 3:19:59.
My first Boston was awful. I didn’t dress well enough for the weather (a waterproof layer would have saved my race… lesson learned) and I ended up basically walking the last 4 miles struggling with possible hypothermia. After that race, I swore that I’d return to seek my revenge. Job changes kept me from committing to Boston 2016, but I re-qualified in Houston in January 2016 for Boston this year!
2. What does running the Boston Marathon mean to you?
This year, running Boston means seeking revenge for my 2015 race. Boston is and always has been a challenge to me to both qualify and finish the race strong. This marathon is also going to be my last for a while as I return to running shorter distances. So as I seek revenge for my 2015 race, I’m aiming for even the slightest PR (assuming conditions aren’t ideal).
3. What do you look forward to most about running Boston Marathon?
I’m looking forward to the support, the camaraderie, and absolutely OWNING the course this year! I will finish strong… or be hobbling towards a PR!
4. How will you define success, on race day?
On race day, finishing without totally bonking and having to walk the last few miles will be a success. I’m aiming for a PR (which I’ve been training to crush if the conditions are ideal), but I really just want to enjoy the day and not put any pressure on myself to perform. My A goal is to PR and my B goal is to have fun!
5. Do you have a favorite piece of clothing or tech that you always use for training or racing?
I try not to get attached to things that I might need on race day just in case I forget something. It leaves me room to improvise especially since I will be flying in from vacation for my race. As long as I have some Vaseline and my shoes, I can purchase and make anything else work!
For training, I use my Camelbak Marathoner vest for self-supported long runs. I’ve also fallen in love with my New Balance Zantes for training and they will be used for racing the marathon. I also recently purchase a SPIbelt to carry my Salted Caramel GU and phone on race day. I can’t tell you how many people borrowed my phone after the Boston Marathon in 2015 because we were all crammed on the busses trying to warm up afterwards and they had no way of letting their families know. If you can swing it, I would suggest carrying your phone.
6. How has your training gone, leading up to Boston Marathon?  Any advice?
My training has been phenomenal! This is the best shape I’ve ever been in for a marathon, so even if conditions are less than ideal, I’ll be shooting for a PR.
For anyone training for any distance, my advice is to find consistency. Consistently hit your training mileage each week, get out the door and run, go to the gym, work on your core strength, and stretch. Do them consistently and you’ll see results. Yes, you’ll have a bad week here or there, but as long as you come back the next week and jump back on the wagon, you’re going to be fine. Consistency is what’s getting me to the start line with confidence this year!
Advice for Boston: Take the first few miles slow and steady. You can make up time in the second half. Don’t trash your quads in the first few miles of downhill running because that mistake will come back to haunt you in the last few miles (and frankly, for the next week as you are hobbling around telling people about how awful your race went).
7. What part of the marathon do you find most challenging?
Really, the beginning is the most challenging (especially at Boston). You’re going to feel good and you’re going to have to hold yourself back. That’s hard to do sometimes. Just remember that if you hold yourself back early, you won’t be struggling [nearly as bad] through the later parts of the race.
8. What has been your favorite race (any distance) up until this point?
Honestly, Boston is my favorite. It’s the one that I say people have to run if they ever get the chance. There is crowd support nearly the entire way, there’s a ton of history, and it’s a challenge to both get into the race and to finish. If you’re not prepared for the course, it will eat you alive and leave you hobbling for a week (sorry for 2015, quads).
Aside from Boston, I loved the Flying Pig Marathon and the Detroit Marathon for the support and the sights, respectively. Locally, I enjoy getting out for the mile race on the track in June and the Turkey Trot in November. Both are high energy and fast races!
9. Do you have a pre-race routine, ritual or good luck charms?
Not anymore. I mean, I try to at least shave the night before, but I can hardly guarantee that! It’s better to not have anything that you *have* to do pre-race because if it doesn’t all go to plan, you might psych yourself out. I just ensure that everything that I am wearing and carrying the next day is set aside and ready to go the night before, including shoes, number, clothes, belt/phone/gels, and breakfast.
10. What inspires you as a runner?
Chasing my goals has been inspiring me as a runner. I have finally surrounded myself by other runners chasing the same dreams and I gain a lot of motivation from them. We all have bad days, but we support and encourage one another. And we all go out and let loose occasionally (come on Boston… I’m ready to celebrate when I get home). It’s both accountability and motivation!

Check back tomorrow for our next featured runner!  You can wish Beth good luck and send her some positive words of encouragement for the big day, in the comment section below.

Thank you so much for reading! Please like, share and subscribe!

Boston Marathon Featured Runner Q&A- Eric Strennen

I am excited to feature a different runner each day as we count down to Boston.  I love that each runner is unique, coming into Boston with a diverse background and goals.  Their journeys all lead to the same place.  You can read about my journey, Reflection and Countdown to the Boston Marathon.

Name: Eric Strennen

  1. Can you first, give us your Boston Marathon “story”

I’m a 56 male and started running 5 years ago. At the time, my life was pretty hectic. I was working on my master’s degree while working a full time job. As the stress levels increased, I found myself at the neighborhood bar a little more often than before. After one particularly ragged morning from a hard night of drinking, I decided I needed to find some other outlet to manage the pressure. A friend recommended that I try a little running.

Like a lot of people, running had a negative connotation for me. As a youngster in team sports, it was often used as punishment for not working hard enough in practice. Often times when I ran distances to get in shape for sports activities, I would develop shin splints. In general, it was at the bottom of my list of fun physical activities. However, I thought I would give it one more try.

Upon recommendations from a few friends, I looked into the C25K method to start running. It prescribed a very gradual increase in time and distance as well as alternating walking and running. After reading several articles on possible causes of shin splints, I also worked on changing my running stride from a long heel-striking stride to a short mid-foot stride. Most of my running was done on a treadmill at the gym. Surprisingly, after 3 months I had not developed shin splints and I could easily run 3 miles without feeling gassed – cool!

When I first started running I had no serious aspirations to compete in races. At most, I thought I would do an occasional 5K once or twice a year. My first 5K was a Color Run. No timing, pretty low key and no pressure. I had a fun time and felt a sense of accomplishment and thought maybe with a little more work and dedication I could work up to a 10K. I ran my first 10K three months later, finished second in my age group and I was hooked.

I ran five 10Ks the following year. I learned a lot that year. Some races went very well and a few I struggled in. Going out too fast, managing effort vs pace, nutrition and fueling, recovery and sleep and many other factors that go into a race and race preparation. Crazy how something as simple as running can be so challenging!

I finished my master’s degree at the end of 2013 and that opened up more time in 2014 for my new favorite hobby – running! I increased my weekly mileage and competed in 2 half marathons as well as a handful of 10Ks. I also got connected with a great running group through a friend of a friend. We meet Saturday mornings and do long runs together. Many of the group members have run half and full marathons and are a wealth of knowledge. It’s also quite social and makes the long runs go by quickly. The support and encouragement that we provide each other is invaluable.

After my second half marathon, I decided I wanted to further test my limits and race in a marathon. I had heard good things about the Green Bay marathon, so myself and 3 other friends from my running group signed up for it and ran it May 2015. It went well and I ran it in 3:50, only 10 minutes off my BQ time qualifier!

It was time to get a little more serious about this marathon thing, so I looked at a lot training plans and chose Hansons Marathon Method. I read the book cover to cover and religiously kept to the training plan. I ran my second marathon Oct. 4, 2015 at the Milwaukee Lakefront marathon. The week before this race they announced the cutoff times for Boston 2016. I read so many sad stories on the message boards about qualifying runners who missed entry into the race by a few seconds. Those stories provided great mental fuel over the last few miles of the marathon. It was an ideal race day about 50F, overcast and light wind at my back. I had a wonderful run going until mile 24, then I ran too fast down a long downhill segment. My quads were trashed and my legs turned to cement. I also started hitting fuel depletion about that point. My mind and vision became foggy and I could only see a narrow tunnel ahead of me. I kept replaying those sad stories in my mind and it drove me to the finish. I have a video of me coming towards the finish line and my form looked like something from a zombie movie! I finished in 3:32:33, 7 plus minutes below my BQ time – whew! I was fried and delirious but thrilled with my accomplishment.

  1. What does running the Boston Marathon mean to you?

To me running the Boston Marathon is the Super Bowl of marathon running and will be the most esteemed athletic event that I have ever participated in. I’m an average guy that has squeezed every bit of ability that I have to qualify for it. I am grateful and humbled to be allowed to run in this event.

  1. What do you look forward to most about running Boston Marathon?

All the historic towns and crowd support. I have read Bill Rodgers book (a couple of times) Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad to the Top of the Running World and want to relive the journey he describes.

  1. How will you define success, on race day?

Making the right decisions to run a smart race will make the day a success. For me that means, assessing the weather on race day and adjusting pace times accordingly, not running the first half of the race too fast and saving enough to conquer the Newton hills. I also want a clear head running down Boylston, so I will keep close tabs on my nutrition and hydration.

  1. Do you have a favorite piece of clothing or tech that you always use for training or racing?

I have a bright orange singlet that seems to bring me luck at many of my races.

  1. How has your training gone, leading up to Boston Marathon? Any advice?

Training has gone well, but not perfect. I decided to test my limits with a more challenging Hanson’s training plan than I’ve done the past few marathons. It went well for the first 2 months, but then had my first inflamed Achilles injury ever. It became swollen and I stopped running for 2 weeks. I followed my PT’s direction and recovered in 2 weeks (record time)! I was able to ramp back up and finish at 90% of the mileage of the training plan. 3 weeks out and I feel very fit and ready. I guess my advice is to be wary of over-training.

Additionally, I do yoga 2-3 times a week, body pump 1-2 days a week and have a sports massage 1-2 times/month.

  1. What part of the marathon do you find most challenging?

It’s an overused phrase, but the last 10K, where the second half of the race begins. I have to use every mental weapon in my toolbox to carry me through those last 6 miles.

  1. What has been your favorite race (any distance) up until this point?

My favorite marathon race up this point is the Chicago Marathon. Fun course through lots of different neighborhoods, great crowd support and flat/fast course route.

My favorite race distance is actually a half marathon. I can push the pace, it doesn’t require months of dedicated training and I’m not sore for a week after it!

  1. Do you have a pre-race routine, ritual or good luck charms?

Pre-race routine: Wake up 3-4 hours before, drink herbal tea and water with hydration tablet (Nuun). 1.5 hours before eat wheat toast with peanut butter and bananas. 45 minutes before drink 16-20 oz of eFuel energy drink, 15 minutes before take a packet of Gu.

Ritual: I’m a big fan of repeating mantras like “Pain is Temporary”, “Run the Mile You are In”, “The Strong Get Stronger” and “The Hills are My Friends”.

Ritual: As you can see from my pics, I wear a nasal strip. I keep my slow and deep by inhaling through my nose and the nasal strip really helps!

  1. What inspires you as a runner?

The positive energy and support that I encounter with everyone in the running community. It has changed my life and makes it easy and natural to give back to it.

  1. Anything else you want to share?

Last thing to mention is I have a supportive wife, Nanette, who comes to many of my races to cheer me on. I have a 27 year old daughter who started running 3 years ago and has the running bug, too. She ran her first half marathon last year and I got to pace her through it. Probably one of the most special race experiences I’ve ever had. Such a lucky man!

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Check back tomorrow for our next featured runner!  You can wish Eric good luck and send him some positive words of encouragement for the big day, in the comment section below.

Thank you so much for reading! Please like, share and subscribe!