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My 2012 Boston Marathon Experience

My 2012 Boston Marathon Experience

This was definitely a marathon to remember. Ten days out, various sources said race day would be in the mid to high 80’s. But why believe a forecast that far out? These guys and gals have a hard time with a 24-hour forecast.

As the day grew closer the forecasted temps varied from the 60s to as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Then a few days before the race it became more certain that this would be one of the hottest, if not the hottest marathon day on record.

Memories of Boston

As time goes on memories fade. This was my fifth Boston Marathon and the memories of all of them are probably all jumbled together. I remember my first because everything was new and unknown to me.

Each hill, each hand slap from a child on the side of the road became part of the joy of that run. The next three all have their moments and thankfully I have a few photos to help me recall those races.

Scientist say that we have selective memories and that no two people remember events exactly the same way. Even how we remember things can change over time.

Everyone who ran Boston has their own unique and special memories and hopefully came away with a beautiful experience that they will look back on and cherish the rest of their lives. I know that I will never remember anyone in the sea of faces I saw Monday. I made eye contact with some people, shared a smile or a whoop and for a moment we shared something special. They won’t remember me either. But that’s okay.

Since my first marathon, which was Boston, one of my favorite experiences is interacting with the kids on the side of the road. I love slapping their little hands as I run by. They look excited and it gives me such a great feeling to be a tiny little part of their day. They give me a boost and I’d like to think that my brief hand slap helps make their Marathon day special as well.

Everyone says the crowds in Boston are the best. I’ve never run another big city or big event marathon like Boston so I don’t have a true comparison to make. But to see all of those people out their handing out food and drink, ice and Vaseline is truly amazing. No one asks any of these people to do this. It is all out of the kindness of their hearts, a desire to help and lend a hand, and to participate in a small but important way in this great race. Every bit of assistance I received from them during this race helped to keep me going and eventually reach the finish line. I wish I could thank them all personally.

The Journey Begins

I woke up around 4AM and was immediately in first gear. I had to leave the house by 5AM in order to make it into Boston by 6AM to meet the Children’s Hospital Boston Team at the Westin Copley hotel. Our bus left at 6:15 sharp and I did not want to miss it.

I washed up in the sink, got dressed, re-checked my bag and headed out the door. Somehow all of that took most of an hour. I may not have been fully awake at that time.

As I drove down the street from my house I still hadn’t decided if I was going to take the train from Medford or drive into Cambridge and park at work. I wasn’t even sure the trains ran that early. It was a holiday after all.

At the rotary I decided to park in Medford and take the train in. It may have been the first train of the day, but it rolled into the station about 5:18AM. I think I was the only runner on the train at that point, but at each stop a few more runners got on board.

I had planned to get off at Copley Square but the driver announced that the station was closed due to the Marathon. So, I got off at North Station with the rest of the runners on the train. We all looked a little tired and groggy, but excited.

I hoped on the green line and sat next to a runner from Tupelo, MS. We talked about the hot day that was expected and he said whenever it was this hot in Mississippi he would run inside! We all got off at Park Street and hustled up the stairs and onto the street. I wasn’t sure which way to go to get to the Westin Copley so I asked for directions twice, just to make sure. On race day I did not want to go in the wrong direction, waste precious energy and be late for my bus.

I was a little late getting to the hotel, but was not the last person there. I checked in with Team coordinators and took my seat on the bus. There were plenty of seats and we left about 6:20. I zoned out and snoozed a bit on the ride out to Hopkinton. We arrived and got off the bus around 7:30.

Pre-Race in Hopkinton

As soon as we stepped off of the bus we could feel the heat. I was wearing a singlet and running shorts, and as I stepped off the bus, I could feel the sweat rolling down the center of my back. The sky was clear and the sun was bearing down on us.

It was probably 75 degrees and the race didn’t start for us for another three hours. Feeling the sun on my skin made the concept of heat real. How much hotter would it get and how would it make me feel? If this were a July afternoon I would have stayed out of the sun and heat during the prime hours of 10AM to 2PM. But I was going to run a marathon today.

Children’s Hospital Boston rents out the Masonic Lodge in Hopkinton for race day. Our bus parked in the parking lot out back and we entered the basement of the building through the back door.

It was nice and cool inside and they had tables at the front of the room loaded with food and buckets full of ice and drinks for us. Across the room from the doorway they had a table with all of the supplies a man or woman would need for race day. They were really taking care of us. I walked half way to the back of the room and took a seat on the end of a row of metal folding chairs.

I started my pre-race routine and made sure I had everything I needed. Then I went up to the food table and grabbed a Gatorade and some Fig Newton’s and went back to my seat. They had about a dozen porta-potties in the parking lot for us. They were roped off so that only Children’s runners could use them. A dozen porta-potties for about 200 people. What a luxury on race day! I never waited for more than 5 minutes to use a clean porta-potty. I even got to use a real bath room inside The Lodge!

I must have gotten up to get food or use the facilities a dozen times. It was partly nerves, but by the time we were ready to line up my belly was full and my colon was empty. Perfect!

I called my buddy Jeff who was at Hopkinton Drug with his team. I walked outside and headed down Main Street. It was hot and everyone I walked by seemed to be looking at my shirt and I humbly felt a measure of respect from them. I was a nut, but I was running for a good cause. I went into a shop where some guy was selling race and running shirts for a dollar. Some of them were nice and I was tempted, but I have so many shirts all ready.

I hung out with Jeff and his friend Chuck for a few minutes and we talked about the race, of course. It was so hot just standing there. All around us people were putting on sun screen and changing into their running gear. There was a sense of excitement in the air. I decided I needed to get off of my feet and get back into that cool basement for a while before the race. We wished each other a good race and I headed back to The Lodge.

About an hour before the race the Children’s Team all went upstairs for a final pep talk from our coaches. They told us we had all worked hard and the marathon was not a test but a celebration of our hard work. No one had anything to prove and they encouraged everyone to take it easy. Our coach Jeff encouraged everyone to be careful of heat stroke and to head for the First Aid tent after the race for an IV. Quite sincerely he said he was going to get one after the race.

We then headed outside and posed in front of The Lodge for a team photo. In the heat it seemed to take forever to get everyone in place and in the frame. With several cameras pointed at us, many photos were taken and we all headed back inside. Later some of us went out to see the first wave of runners start. With the crowd I couldn’t see them, but I did hear the starting gun this year. I went back to my pre-race routine of eating a little, checking everything several times and several more visits to the porta-potties.

Around 10AM they told us to put our bags into the luggage hold of the buses and to get ready to head for the corrals. I checked my belt and made sure it was stuffed with all of my GUs, Band-Aids and Chap Stick. For some reason I also had cash in there.

I grabbed half of a sesame bagel and slathered some peanut butter on it and ate most of it while talking with the coaches. I loaded my bag on the bus, hit the port-potty again and did some light stretching.

About 10:20 or so we headed up the driveway to the street, the race marshals opened the barricade for us and we walked into our spot, right in front of The Lodge. No wasted effort walking half a mile to the corral. Fantastic!

As we stood there waiting our turn to start other runners in lower numbered corrals came by us on the right side of the road. Someone yelled out “Bruschi” and people started saying that Tedy Bruschi was in the crowd beside us and heading for his starting spot. He’s a pretty tall guy and I was able to see him and his team in their blue shirts as they jogged past to their start. He was about 10 feet away when he passed by us.

As we moved towards the starting line the announcer revved us up as the boom camera swept over us. We were on TV! Not sure it was live TV but the camera got everyone fired up. People were throwing their hands in the air and whooping it up. As if we weren’t fired up enough!

It did help break some of that last moment “before the start” tension. Everyone is excited that the moment they have been working for, for so long, is about to happen.

For some people this is the culmination of months if not years of work. Some people have traveled great distances to be in the race. Some have begged family, friends and co-workers for donations to the charity they are running for. All of us have worked hard and all of us are anxious to see if we did enough and can we make it.

The Race Begins

The gun went off and as I headed towards the starting line I got ready to start my watch. As I started to jog and got to the starting line my watch seemed to be working.

After I crossed the starting line, I headed to the right side of the road because I knew that was where all the shade would be. Plus I love being close to the crowd and slapping all the hands that are out stretched, especially the little kids. There were a lot of people and I was consumed by the moment. Thrilled to be on the course, excited by the challenge and loving the crowd.

After about half a mile the pace picked up to about 9 minute miles and there was a little more room to move. The problem with running on the side of the road is that is where the slow people and walkers move to. I don’t know if some people gave up at the starting line or planned to walk all the way to Boston, but there were walkers in the first mile or so. So as I slapped hands I had to keep an eye out for slower people. I had my name on a piece of duct tape on my shirt and people kept calling out my name. It was pretty cool.

Then as I ran past this guy he yelled, “Go Andy”. His voice sounded vaguely familiar and he yelled again, “Go Andy” in a familiar tone, like he recognized me all of a sudden. I turned to look back but at the time he just looked familiar. My mind was focused on the race and I could not think of who he was. I thought it was a family friend, but my mother-in-law said he was at work Monday. I have no idea who it was but the way he yelled my name sounded like he knew me. Maybe someday I’ll find out who it was.

After about a mile and a half I realized my watch was not displaying the information that I expected. My heart rate monitor died a few days before so I wasn’t wearing it, so that data was not displaying. I had come to rely on monitoring my heart rate to know how hard I was working. I knew that data wouldn’t be there but I didn’t anticipate my watch displaying different data fields.

All it was showing me was how far off my pace I was in terms of minutes and distance. I decided that I could figure out my pace based on the 9 minute pace I had programmed in the watch, how many minutes I was behind pace and then divide that by the miles run. This early in the race I felt like I could handle that level of math.

In the first 2-3 miles I figured that I was running 9:20 miles and as my watch showed the pace at each mile. I was pretty close. Around mile 4 I couldn’t take it anymore and had to stop and fool with the dam watch. I pressed enough buttons and got it to display my current pace, total running time and miles. That was all I needed and I was happy with that. Besides, I couldn’t waste anymore time walking that early in the race. Later in the race the watch kept scrolling to other screens and I’d have to press a button to make it go back to the screen I wanted. What a pain in the ass! I have a love/hate relationship with my Garmin.

Editor’s note: These were all rookie mistakes. At the time I still didn’t know how to work my Garmin!

I had been running with a large bottle of Gatorade. This allowed me to skip the first two or three water stops and get into a thinner section of the pack. When I got to the water stops I’d move to the middle of the road, slow down a bit but keep on running. The Gatorade got warm very fast so I decided to start taking water at the stops and drink the Gatorade in between.

Eventually the bottle was empty and I had to get rid of it. I couldn’t roll it across the road because I was afraid someone would step on it and fall. I decided to throw it to the side of the road but had to make sure I got it over everyone’s head and didn’t hurt anyone. I noticed an old man walking on the side of the road and timed my throw to miss him and the other runners.

As I tossed my bottle I noticed a small tree on the side of the road and my bottle was heading right for it. The bottle hit the tree, bounced off and almost hit the old man! I think it almost hit him. I felt like a total ass, even though it was completely unintentional.

In the heat of the day

As the miles ticked by it kept getting hotter and hotter. People with hoses kept dousing us as we went by. The water felt as cold as ocean water on a hot summer day. A few times it almost took my breath away.

Eventually the tape with my name on it fell off; then the Band-Aids keeping my nipples from chaffing fell off. I put on new Band-Aids and pressed them back into place when they fell off. At mile 8.4 I had to take off my shirt. It was either that or wait for the blood to soak through my shirt.

For about 4 miles or so the viewing public had to see me run by topless. I had my game face on; I didn’t care. Somewhere before the half-way point I decided to put my shirt back on. I’m not sure exactly why. I knew it would hurt, I would eventually bleed and it would look gross to some people, hell most people. But I also didn’t want to run into Boston without my shirt.

At this point it felt like the pads on both my little toes were being ground up and pulled off anyway, so what was a little more discomfort? I probably wouldn’t even notice.

A little after the half-way mark I met up with my buddy, Jeff. I think it was after mile 14. He was walking and I could tell by the look on his face that he was in a bad way. He was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t see his eyes, but his body language said he was spent.

We walked for a bit and ran until the next hill. Then we walked a little longer. When we got running again I knew I had to keep him going. Before mile 16 I said, let’s get to the next light. It was about 100 yards away. Then to the mile marker, another 50 yards after that, then to the water stop, 50 yards after that. We walked the water stop and continued walking up the next few hills and running the down hills and flats.

By the time we got to the 95 overpass it was a struggle for both of us. We started running on the bridge and up the hill after that. Shortly after the bridge they were handing out PowerBar Gels. I grabbed two or three. The first one I got was vanilla, which I’m not a fan of. So I grabbed two more further down the line. I sucked one of those babies down and in a few minutes I could feel the energy come back into my body. Those things really do work, and you can feel it.

Heart Break Hill

Around mile 17 Jeff’s boss Tim jumped in and ran with us. I asked him not to run us too hard as we were in pretty rough shape at that point. I’m not sure he understood how exhausted we were, and especially Jeff.

We started the first of the three hills in the Heart Break Hill series. Something kicked in with me and I charged up the hill. I felt like a little race car weaving up the hill to get around the other runners. I looked back and Jeff and Tim were close behind me, so I kept on pushing. When I knew they were able to keep up it became so much fun to push up the hill. I think this was my favorite part of the Marathon.

We kept charging as we hit Heart Break Hill itself. We were close to where our running club had a water stop and I knew we would get refreshed there. At 20.44 miles we saw the club water stop.

My buddy Dave walked up to me with two cups of cold, flat Coke just like I asked for. I must have looked puzzled as I stood there looking at him and the two cups of Coke. All I could think was, were both of those for me? Does he have a bottle I can take with me?

It seemed like Dave stood there forever with a pleasant smile on his face while that little thought process tumbled through my foggy mind. They were both for me and I gulped them down. I think I ate something and someone gave me an orange slice. I knew I was altered. I couldn’t even think.

They took a couple of quick photos and the three of us were off. As I pushed up the rest of heart break hill like a little Porsche I lost the guys. I looked back and couldn’t see them behind me anymore. I kept going and looked again. Still not there. I knew my mind was foggy so I turned around and jogged backwards up the hill looking for them. I could not see them running or on the side of the road. I really thought they were there but I must have forgotten what they were wearing. They had to be there.

The push to the Finish

In what seemed like an instant I decided to push on at my best pace and see how well I could do. No PR was possible at this point but I figured let’s not give up yet.

As I came up to BC I went to the side of the road and slapped hands with the crowd. I figured it would slow me down and help the guys catch up. I never saw them again that day. Some of the guys at BC must have been hammered, because a few times I thought they were going to take my arm off with a hand slap.

At the 35K mark my watch said my time was about 3:43. I still had four miles to go and my legs were shredded, toast, spent. I was running on Gu packs, Gatorade and sheer will power.

I told myself that I still was running under 4 hours and let’s see how far we can get before the watch says 4 hours. It was my little head game that I was still under 4 hours, so I wasn’t late yet.

It took me almost 34 minutes to cover the next 5K at a 10:55 pace. Somewhere between 35K and 40K I hit and passed 4 hours. I don’t recall seeing that on my watch. I was just looking for mile and Kilometer markers.

There were still lots of people on the course and they gave me lots of encouragement. So many people yelled, “I love Children’s Hospital”, or “Go Children’s”. They didn’t know me at all but somehow when I heard things like that it helped me keep going.

There were moments when someone would yell out and I would make eye contact with them. In my endorphin addled mind I felt that we had brief moments. They were feeding me their energy and I was sucking it in like a breath of fresh air. That moral support is so unbelievably important in those last miles of the Marathon.

Often I’d give a thumbs up or a smile. A few times I hollered back in fun and good nature and I think everyone got it. I was just having fun. We were having fun. And what’s a marathon without a little of that?

I walked and ran as much as I could down Beacon Street in Brookline. There are small hills, probably better described as a “rise in the road”. But they were killer freakin hills to me at that point.

I almost bumped into someone and said sorry, but I could barely steer at this point. They smiled at me and gave me that look that said, “I feel exactly the same way”, and it was okay.

2012 boston marathon,1 mileAt mile 25 I rallied and started running. My recollection is that I ran most of the last two miles and 385 yards. I think when we went over the Turnpike the rise for the bridge slowed me to a walk, but I kept running.

Then the “1 mile to go” sign. Oh My God! I had to keep going, I was almost there.

I remember running through Kenmore Square and worrying that the uneven road or pavers in the intersection would catch my shoe and I’d go down.

As Comm. Ave dipped under Mass Ave I saw a runner laying on the embankment with his feet up the embankment. He had an oxygen mask on and 3 or 4 EMTs and cops around him.

Less than a mile to go. He looked like a runner, and I knew that anyone of us could go down at anytime at the final stage of this grueling race.

I felt bad for the guy and the worry creeped into my mind. I pushed on and struggled to keep running as Comm. Ave rose back up to street level.

 

 

 

2012 boston marathon,herefordFinally the corner onto Hereford Street. Thank God! The corner to Boylston looked so far away and uphill. If you know Hereford, it’s not really a hill. There seemed to be so many runners as we got to the corner of Boylston Street. I worried about running into someone or tripping.

As I turned the corner onto Boylston Street it was like coming into a packed stadium. The crowd was loud and the area seemed huge. We all seemed to be moving so slow. Some people kicked it in and ran in the last few hundred yards. I’ve done that before, but not this time.

At this final stage of the race I knew that I had left it all out there on the road. I had held nothing back and I had given it my all. My legs ached with every step and my feet were killing me. This was Boylston Street and Runners don’t walk on Boylston Street on Marathon day!

It was by force of will power that I continued down the street and made it to the finish line. As I went I looked into the crowd to see if there was anyone I knew there. I didn’t see anyone, but it was fun looking into people’s eyes as they cheered and clapped. They seemed so happy and excited like they had waited all day just for me! It was beautiful. Probably a fantasy induced by endorphins, but it felt real at the time.

I crossed the two timing strips on the road at the finish line and stopped my watch. It said 4:30 and change. I made it. It was way off my PR but better than some of my other marathons. It was a grueling day. I could have trained harder but once again I got my number with a fairly short 5 week window to ramp up. Maybe if I had trained a full program I would have been more confident and gone out too hard and had to drop out of the race.

I did learn some lessons during this run, but this has gone on way to long to include those lessons in this post. If you made it to the end of this post, thank you. I hope it was at least amusing to read.

I’ll jabber on about what I learned next time in a much briefer posting.

Thanks for reading.

Boston Baked my Beans

Ok. It’s still a little early the day after the 2012 Boston Marathon. That’s the best headline I could come up with.

It was hot and grueling, but I made it. This was the most challenging marathon I have ever run since my first marathon. I was completely spent at the end and had nothing left to “run it in”.

It was all I could do to run down Boylston Street. When I turned the corner off of Hereford Street onto Boylston the thought of walking it in actually crossed my mind.

My legs ached and the finish line looked like it was a mile away. I knew it was only about a quarter-mile away and there was no way I was going to walk the last quarter-mile of this thing. In a flash the thought of walking was gone.

Hereford,boston marathon, boston baked my beans

Since I’m at work today and they expect me to get something done, and I’m a little tired, I’ll post my recap in a day or two. If you ran yesterday, please take the survey.

© anagelin 2012

Notice to all 2012 Boston Marathon participants

The BAA posted this advisory to their website earlier today. I still plan on running the race but I will not be going for a PR. I think that saying that I survived and finished will be good enough. We may end up running the hottest Boston Marathon on record. Be safe.

Boston Marathon Advisory

We are looking closely at the current weather situation which is projected to be quite warm. The B.A.A. is closely monitoring this situation for race day decisions. If the temperatures reach certain levels, running will put even the most fit athletes at risk for heat injury. We are now making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit or if you have any underlying medical conditions (for example-cardiac disease, pulmonary disease or any of a number of medical problems), you should NOT run this race.

  • Inexperienced marathoners should not run.
  • Those who have only trained in a cooler climate and who may not be acclimated (for at least the last 10 days) to warm weather running conditions should also consider not running.

For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions:

  • Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration.
  • You should frequently take breaks by walking instead of running.
  • This will not be a day to run a personal best. If you choose to run, run safely above all else. Speed can kill.
  • Heat stroke is a serious issue and is related to intensity of running as well as the heat and humidity.

Good hydration is important but over hydration can also be a problem. Thirst is an indication that you are under-hydrated. You should maintain hydration levels slightly greater than your hydration program in your training, but not excessively so.

Even the fittest athletes, that take precautions can still suffer serious heat illness. Recognizing symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others is critical , this may include headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these, stop running immediately and if symptoms persist seek medical attention.

Boston Marathon Co-Medical Directors, Dr. Pierre d’Hemecourt and Dr. Sophia Dyer

Go to www.baa.org GOOD LUCK PARTICIPANTS! Sincerely, B.A.A.

Run well my friends,

Andy

Great Bay Half Marathon 2012

Great Bay Half Marathon 2012

was this Saturday in Newmarket, NH. I traveled to the race with friends and met more once we got there.

Great Bay half marathon,review, new hampshire running

The Great Bay Half Marathon has a well deserved reputation for killer hills.

There are three significant hills and it seems like an endless series of smaller hills. Parts of this race are on country roads out in the woods and some of those roads are dirt. I could actually smell the woods! Some of this race is along the coast where you can see The Great Bay on one side and rolling fields on the other side. Just beautiful.

I thought the race was well-organized and my hat is off to Club Loco for producing another great running experience. My friends and I sat in a great pub on Main street for a little too long and missed the last shuttle bus at 3PM. One of Loco Mike’s crew was kind enough to give us a ride out to the industrial park where parking had been well-organized and coordinated for us runners.

I think most of us will be back next year. If you have never run this race, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year. This race is part of the Will Run for Beer Series.

Have a great day and thanks for reading.

© anagelin 2012

How I became a Runner

How I became a Runner

When I was 38 years-old, if anyone told me that I would be running races when I was 48 years-old I would have told them that they were crazy. When you are not a runner the idea of running seems crazy.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to go out and run? To a non runner it seemed like so much effort and such a waste of valuable time. When I was 38 I was a busy guy with a family and a long commute to work. The last thing I needed, or thought about, was another way to spend my time.

Unemployment & Uncertainty

In the late 90’s I worked for a large technology company. We rode the wave of Y2K and the Dot-Com boom. Companies were buying all kinds of hardware and software. Y2K scared the hell out of a lot of people and the Dot-Com boom made a lot of people foolish. We were busy and we all made pretty good money. By mid-2000 the party was over and by February 2001 I was out of a job.

I spent the next 13 months out of work. I had never been laid off before and I had never been out of work for that long in my life. We were fortunate that we lived in a small house with a small mortgage and my wife had a good job.

In the first three or four months that I was out of work life was great. I had my severance package and was confident that I would get another job soon.

I did a lot of projects around the house and spent extra time with my kids. We had two young children and when the unemployment checks and severance money ran out it began to get a little scary.

Getting laid off was a real blow to the ego. It didn’t matter that my whole office got laid off due to events beyond our control. As time went on and job offers failed to materialize it began to wear on me.

Exercise as stress relief

A few years before all of this we had purchased a treadmill. Like all buyers of treadmills, my wife and I had high hopes and visions of trim bodies in our future. We were gonna get fit! With a treadmill in the basement it was gonna be so convenient. Like most treadmills, it turned out to be the most convenient place to hang cloths. And that’s about all it got used for.

About half way into my extended unemployment I re-discovered the treadmill. When my projects around the house were finished I had nothing else to fill my days. I could only look for non-existent jobs for so many hours a week. After I dropped the kids off at school and did the shopping and whatever else needed to be done, I had hours to kill before it was time to go pick the kids up.

I started out with a 15 minute walk at a moderate pace a few days a week. Then I walked five days a week and started to walk longer and increase the incline. Eventually I got to the point where I was walking 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. I don’t remember the pace or incline I built up to, but by the time I went back to work I had lost 30 pounds!

I think what mainly drove me to use the treadmill so much was the stress relief. Not fitness. I had a lot of time on my hands and way too much to think about. I had two young children and way too much career uncertainty. Anyone who has been unemployed for a long time has thought about being unemployed forever at some point in their ordeal. For a guy in his late 30’s it was scary to think that way.

Not only did the workouts provide a distraction from my worries, they also gave me something to look forward to and allowed me to set and achieve goals. While my career was in the tank I was making great progress physically. When I finished my workouts I felt like I had accomplished something that day. For a guy who is unemployed that feeling of accomplishment was important.

While I was doing all of this I never once thought of it this way. It was just something to do each day. It wasn’t about fitness, sanity or stress.

I was compelled. It seemed as natural as day follows night. I did not plan it or need to make room for it in my schedule. I would just start-up the treadmill and try to go a little further and or a little faster than I did the day before.

A New job and a new Life

In March of 2002 I finally started a new job. I was thrilled and grateful to have a job. The position turned out to be a good career move, but I had no idea how much it would change my life.

The building I worked in had a small but fully equipped and staffed gym. I signed up and continued doing my treadmill workouts and added some weights. I couldn’t work out for two hours a day anymore, but I still got down there two or three days a week.

It turned out that some of my new colleagues were changing up in the locker room and then heading outside for a run. The concept of going out for a run at lunch time was completely foreign and inconceivable in my mind. Those guys were runners and that’s what runners do. For the most part they were in good shape and had plenty of running stories to talk about.

In the fall of 2002 my new running friends started talking about invitational numbers to run in The 2003 Boston Marathon. Our company was a Marathon sponsor and got a certain number of “invitational” numbers.

My friends who were runners were sending in their names for the company’s random drawing for these numbers. None of them had run a qualifying time for Boston, but for an invitational number you didn’t need to run a qualifying time.

They kept telling me that I should go for it. Many of them had run Boston before through the company’s invitational numbers and said it was a great time; a one of a kind experience. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I replied to the email and tossed my name in the hat.

A chance encounter with fate

I didn’t get picked when they pulled the names from the hat. I was a little disappointed and a little bit relieved. Some of my friends did get a number and they started training in November. It was getting cold and they were running about the neighborhood in tights!

They kept talking about their training and the race. Their excitement was contagious. I began to feel more disappointed that I hadn’t been picked.

In the middle of December we heard that one of the runners who had been picked got hurt. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but he could not continue training and had to drop out. He worked in a different office and I had no idea who he was.

I was fortunate enough to get picked to receive this person’s number. It was now late December. My friends had been training seriously for a month now. We all took our Christmas vacation.

I started training in January of 2003 after the holidays. I would go running at lunch time with some colleagues who were runners of various levels of experience. Some of whom were also training for Boston but most of them were just running to keep in shape.

I had never trained for anything in my life. I did not know what or how much I needed to do of anything. I had never seen a marathon training program or any other sort of athletic training program. I had some sneakers that were not too old and some cotton gym shorts; nothing fancy or high-tech. I knew absolutely nothing about running and had none of the equipment or experience. I followed the lead of my colleagues and did what they told me.

I’ll never forget when I went out for my first lunch time training run on a cold Massachusetts January day. As we jogged away from the building, into a 200 breeze I kept thinking, “why the hell are we running away from a perfectly warm building?” This is insane!

boston's run to remember, first race, runner
My First Half

The wind whipped through my clothes and I wished I had a parka on. For a few moments I really did re-consider the whole thing. I wondered to myself, couldn’t I just run on a tread mill for this? Did we really need to run outside in this nasty, cold New England weather? Was I really that interested in doing this? Did I really want to run The Boston Marathon? Did I really want to run the World Series or Super bowl event of running? With that thought my heart rate quickened and I looked up to see my two running mates moving further away from me. Hell yeah I thought, I wanted to do this!

This was the lucky coincidence that changed my life. I got laid off as a result of the economic calamity at the dawn of the new Millennium. I happened to get hired by a company that sponsored The BAA Boston Marathon and I happened to get an invitational number to run the 2003 Boston Marathon.

If I had gone to work anywhere else, I would not be sitting here right now telling you my story. I guess I need to thank my friend Marty for encouraging me to apply for this job and my running colleagues who encouraged me to apply for a bib number.

In my next post I will write about my 2003 Boston Athletic Association Boston Marathon run.

Thanks for reading.

My First Blog Post

Well, here I am. With a little encouragement from some friends and colleagues I’ve decided to start a blog about running.

My First Blog Post

I’ve been running for about 9 years, but only in the past few I have considered my self a “runner”. I wasn’t a high school athlete so I never received coaching or training in any sport while in school.

With no training or background, I made a lot of mistakes. I trained when I had a race. If I did not have a number for a race, I went right back to my sedentary lifestyle. After a few years I figured out that this was not going to be a successful long-term strategy.

One of my early lessons was that consistent training is more important than more miles. And that it’s easier to maintain a fitness level than it is to achieve one!

I started running on a whim

The company I worked for was a sponsor of the Boston Marathon and received invitational numbers each year. Some friends at work told me I should put my name into the random drawing for one of the numbers and see what happens. It was a once in a life time opportunity.

I did not get picked in the November 2002 drawing. But in January 2003 we learned that a runner who was training for the Marathon got hurt and had to drop out. I was the lucky guy to get his number. In January.

boston's run to remember,wakefield, half marathon
My First Half

So there I was a fairly in-active 39 year-old guy with a desk job and I just got a number to run the Boston Marathon! My buddies did the best they could to get me up to speed in less than four months.

My first race ever was the Boston’s Run to Remember, a half-marathon in Wakefield, MA. This race now takes place in Boston and Cambridge. Runners in the Boston area use this race to see how ready they are for Boston. I was not ready.

On April 21st 2003 I ran my first marathon after only four months of training. Most experts suggest that you train for six months to a year before attempting to run your first marathon. So, there was one of my early mistakes!

But how do you say no to an opportunity to run the Boston Marathon? I’d watched it on TV and from the side walk before and knew it was a big deal. I figured I may never have this type of opportunity again. I was excited by the thought of doing it and went into it with a great deal of innocence and ignorance.

I finished with a net time of 5:11, and 16,397th out of 17,046 finishers. I was one of the sorry-looking guys that finishes near the end of the race. But I finished.

Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown.
Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I learned a lot that day and the many days since then. With this blog I will share with you what I have learned and hopefully help you start running, keep running or perhaps improve your running.

I’m not an expert or a professional. I’m an average guy like you who decided to start running and now to write about it.

As I said, I made all kinds of mistakes and I hope this blog will help you avoid many of the mistakes I made. There are many ways to get distracted and discouraged with running. My goal is to help you avoid injury and distraction and adopt an active lifestyle that you can live with for many years.

At this point I’m not sure how often I will post. Sometimes I will write about a race that I have coming up or that I’ve just run. Other times I will pass on nuggets of wisdom or discuss articles or books that I’ve read. I have no idea where this will go or how long it will go on.

Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy the ride!