Your Boston Marathon Experience

Your Boston Marathon Experience

I’d like to thank the 54 people who took the time to complete the survey. I know you are always being asked to fill out surveys and join mailing lists. If you are like me, you have little spare time to sort through your in-box and answer surveys.

Survey Results

First, the demographics. I looked at Running USA’s 2013 Annual Marathon Report to get some numbers for comparison. I had to combine Running USA’s male & female percentages and run a complex algorithm in my head to come up with my combined percentage by age group. It’s complex stuff. Their sample size was much larger than mine. I have no doubt that there were people 24 or younger and 75 or older that ran Boston. They just didn’t make it into my small sample.

Age Responses % Running USA %
18-24 0 0 8
25-34 11 21.15 30
35-44 23 44.23 31
45-54 13 25 21
55-64 3 5.77 8
65-74 2 3.85 2
75+ 0 0 0

In my survey the 35-44 age group, at 44%, has a much higher participation rate than the national average of 31%. The 45-54 bracket is also higher than the national average (25% v 21%). If my survey is representative of the entire 2014 Boston Marathon field, it looks like the Boston Marathon is for middle-aged folks with the 35-54 brackets consisting of over 73% of the field.

This may indicate that the expense of registering for and traveling to Boston deters younger runners from participating. Or it could be a sampling error.

The Running USA survey shows that female participation peeks in the 25-34 age bracket (35%), where male participation peeks in the 35-44 bracket where both sexes have a 31% participation rate. Male participation continues to trail off but at a slower rate than female participation as they age.

My survey has a Male/Female split of 55/45% and Running USA has a 57/43% split for all marathon finishers in 2013. The numbers are essentially the same.

Now for the fun stuff – survey answers

Combining questions 1 & 2:

For 14 runners, 2014 was their first Boston Marathon, for 3 runners Boston was their first marathon ever. I combined the results into the table below.

# of Marathons # of Boston
1st 3 14
2nd 6 11
3rd 4 5
4th 3 9
5th 3 2
> 5 14 8
> 10 12 2
> 15 * 3
>20 4 *
> 30 5 *

For a lot of people this was their first or second Boston Marathon (14 & 11 respectively). I didn’t align my questions exactly, but this is for fun, not for science. While the experience with Boston skews to first or second running, the group as a whole is well seasoned. Fourteen people have run more than five marathons and twelve have run ten. Four people more than 20, and 5 people more than 30 marathons. Almost 65% of respondents have run 5 or more marathons.

Question 3 was, “What was your favorite part of the Boston Marathon?”

Marathon experience
Favorite part of Boston 2014

















While no one favorited the pasta dinner,
32 people gave a shout out to the crowd/spectator support,
23 people said the best part was finishing and
21 people said the Boston Marathon Experience and Running The Boston Marathon were their favorite parts of the event.

I’ve never been to the pasta dinner. I hear it’s crowded and the food isn’t great. The BAA also assigns specific seating times. If you are there with friends, you probably won’t be able to eat together. Runners are a friendly crowd, but if I went I’d like to go with my running buddies.

Question 4 was, “Feelings about Heartbreak Hill”.

22 people said the crowd support was awesome, which is a good thing because that’s what it takes sometimes to get up that hill. Three people even said it was their favorite part of the race! Wow. One person even answered – That’s not a hill! I always say that with a Crocodile Dundee accent.

It was evenly split with 14 people saying, “I hate that hill!” and “No big deal”. Only 3 people said this was their first Boston. Everyone else had run this hill on race day at least once. The hill can be a harsh surprise for newbie’s. It can also be cruel to experienced and knowledgeable runners also.

Question 5 was, “Would you run another marathon?”

Only 4 people said “No”. 48 people said yes (20), “I want to run Boston again” (15) and 13 said they had already signed up for their next marathon.

Question 6 was, “What do you wish someone had told you about the Boston Marathon?”

Wish I knew before
Wish I knew before


This question drew twelve comments.

3 – Train more on down hills

3 – Felt prepared knew what to expect

2 – Train more in hot weather

One person each said that, they wish they knew there were porta potties near the corrals, that it could be so hot, bring more food, and leave the fuel belt at home.

Question 7 was, “What would you do differently next time?”

What I would do differently
What I would do differently










No one said they would go to the pasta dinner! I’ve never been. Is it really that crowded or the food that bad? No one said they would go out faster, which is smart. 14 people said they would go out slower next time.

This question drew six comments:

“Not live in arctic weather patterns” – must be a New Englanda!

“Run Faster” – I think we’d all like to do that!

“Not run a 50 mile race two weeks before Boston” – agreed.

“I ran the exact race I planned to run the past two years” – very impressive.

“Not get injured the month before” – every runner’s nightmare. We all get a little crazy in the weeks leading up to the marathon. One night, as a car approached, I actually thought for a moment that it would be better to get hit by the approaching car than twist an ankle on the sidewalk. Ca-razy. I stopped running at night after that evening.

“Train in Florida” – sign me up. I ran in 2012 when it was 85°F. This year I think we hit 70°F. It was hot, but not in the biblical sense.

Questions 8, “Did you hit the Wall?”

24 – No – Smooth running the entire way

9 – Yes – at Mile 20

We received 19 responses on this one ranging from mile 6 to mile 24. 9 people hit the wall between miles 14 & 18, 6 people hit the wall between miles 21 & 24. The person who hit the wall at mile 6 had run Boston three times previously. I think the heat surprised a lot of us. We also had a cold and prolonged winter this year.

Questions 9 & 10 were the demographics we discussed in the first part of this article.

So there you have it. It’s been almost a month since the 2014 Boston Marathon. I hope everyone is recovered and looking forward to a long enjoyable summer of running.

Run well my friends!


© anagelin 2014

Bloggers convention in Boston

Who’s running the Boston Marathon this year?

Since this is a running blog, I assume most of you are runners. I bet some of you are running Boston this year.

This seems like a great opportunity for some of us to meet in person at The Boston Marathon Expo and have a bloggers convention! Race day we will be split

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up by our start times. It won’t be like the old days when we took the earliest bus we could to Hopkinton and hung out for hours.

I am taking Friday April 18th off. If any of you are interested, I’d love to meet you at the Expo. If this is your first Boston Marathon I’d be happy to show you around a bit and answer questions. The Expo is a lot of fun and they always have freebies.

Even after two years I still feel like a newbie blogger and would love to talk with other bloggers and find out about your experiences.

Run well my friends, and see you in Boston!


March Madness

March Madness Marathon Training continues!

For February I had 142.8 on my training schedule. I managed to get in 42.47 miles or just under 30% of my goal!

My goal for March was 189.2 miles. This would have been a 4x increase over February. Tonight I adjusted my schedule for the rest of March.

My legs are still sore from a combination of wearing my Newtons for a 10K treadmill run after not wearing them for months, and the New Bedford Half. I ran 10K Thursday but will rest until our Sunday Long Run which is 17.8 miles this week.

training, running, new hampshire
Eastern States 20-Miler

I’ll probably take Monday off, run 10K Tuesday night and maybe a few miles on Thursday. On March 29th I have the April Fool’s 4-Miler and on March 30th I have the Eastern States 20-Miler. After that one-two punch I’ll take March 31st as a rest day.

Eastern States is sold out, but the April Fool’s 4-Miler will have race day registration. Or you can register now. 😉

With all of that, I should finish March with 141 miles. That will be 3.3x what I ran in February. I’m pretty confident about the 17.8 SLR this weekend, but I know the Eastern States 20-Miler will be a slog. That will be the real test.

The home stretch

For April I have one more long run (12.5 miles) and a 5K race. My goal miles are 76.5 over 20 days. I have lots of short runs scheduled, some of which will get cut. If I don’t hit 76.5 miles I should still be okay.

For the past six months or so I’ve been doing a lot more leg work in the gym. My cardio is pretty good. I’m hoping this combination of good cardio and strength that I did not have for Baystate will propel me to a respectable finish at Boston.

That’s about it on how not to train for a marathon. It is March Madness!

Run well my Friends!


Boston Marathon Training 2014

Thursday night I finally sat down and updated my Boston Marathon Training work sheet.

I was doing okay with the training ramp up until my treadmill/knee incident on January 19th. My goal miles for January were 122.3 but I only managed 81.09. A lot of those miles were on the treadmill so I could avoid the cold weather and stay healthy.

Due to my injury, I took the week from January 19th through January 28th off completely. This was my heavy ibuprofen and icing phase. On medical advice I did not run at all. I even DNS the Derry 16 Miler. I couldn’t even give the number away! It’s a tough race right on the Merrimack river. So it’s cold and windy. On the 28th I finally started using the elliptical.

If it weren’t for the elliptical I would not have had any miles for almost a month. The elliptical took a bit of getting used to. One of the positives that I’m taking away from my injury is that I finally learned how to use an elliptical. This machine does work different muscles, so it will be good for cross training, and it does give you a good cardio workout.

On February 16th I finally went for a Sunday run with the MRC. Since it was my first real run since my injury, I cut my run short and only did 7.91 miles. Just about everyone else did 16 miles that day. Mine was not a #SLR.

I managed to pick up a flu bug and was sick on Monday and Tuesday. Monday was Presidents Day, a holiday. Getting off of the sofa for a glass of water felt like running in the last 0.2 miles of a marathon. Less painful, but just as draining. Tuesday was better but I did not have the energy to go to work. Wednesday was better, but I did not run all week.

Saturday I ran The Half at the Hamptons. I must have been the best rested runner that day. No running for a week! I managed to come in under 2 hours. Under the circumstances that is pretty good. My knee never bothered my the entire race. My hips bothered me for the last few miles. I need to work on that.

My goal miles for February were 142.8. I ended up with 42.47! I am screwed! My goal miles for March are 189.2. There is no way I can more than triple my miles this month. Well, maybe.

The New Deal

Eastern States 20 mile, Boston Marathon training

I have a 5K, a Half Marathon and a 20-Miler in March. I also have four Sunday Long Runs of 18.1, 20, 17.8 and 20. Those will get me over 110 miles if I can finish all of those long runs. I have to finish the races, but I can cut the SLRs short. I may hit 150 miles this month if I am careful and take it easy on my long runs.

April miles are 88.2, including the Boston Marathon. I’ll probably fall a little short in April also. I traded a 14.8 SLR for the Over the Rainbow 5K, part of the LOCO series.

I love races and I’ll get to hang out with friends and drink beer while all of my other friends are out running The Great Bay Half. I think trading the Half for a 5K was a good move. Great Bay is one of the toughest half marathons I have ever run. With only two weeks to Boston, I wasn’t going to race at all. A friend talked me into the 5K and beer drinking. Gotta love friends!

Any thoughts of a PR at Boston are out the window at this point. This year it is about

Boston Marathon training

more than just running. Not having any pressure to have certain times at certain points of the race will allow me to enjoy the festivities more. It’s always a great time, even when it hurts. It’s Boston. What’s not to love?

Run well my Friends.


Being Flexible

Being flexible was the theme of BAA’s recent Clinic

Many runners sustain injuries while training for a marathon, especially their first marathon. At the Boston Athletic Association’s recent Runner’s Clinic they discussed the importance of being flexible with your training plan and your race goal.

It’s not always an injury that forces us to be flexible. Life gets in the way of training quite often. Regardless of the reason for you to modify your training program you cannot ignore a change in your circumstance. Piling on extra miles to make up for a missed run is not a good idea. Thinking you can still shoot for an aggressive goal even after an injury or significant reduction in your training is also not a good idea.

You need to be flexible

Injuries need to be addressed. Continuing to run with a persistent pain is foolish. While you “tough it out” and run through the pain you may be causing additional and significant damage that may reduce or eliminate your future running. Is it really worth it?

I always say it is better to survive and run another day than it is to be a hero. Or stupid. You need to listen to your body and stuff your ego.

Life is about living and running is just a part of that. Work obligations need to be attended to. Your family needs you to be involved and engaged. If you have to travel or work extra hours for work, then you need to plan your training around that. Guess how you pay for running?

Like time, family time can never be repeated. Once your child’s birthday party is over, it is over. Don’t sacrifice important time with your family to run. If you are really that dedicated you will skip the cake and ice cream and go for your run after you help clean up from the party.

Training Flexibility

Since my knee injury about two weeks ago, I’ve had to be very flexible with my training. I didn’t do anything leg related for 10 days. I went to the gym a few times but only did core and upper body work. This helped me feel like I was still doing something and not turning into a blob.

I’ve seen a nurse practitioner who advised me to continue taking ibuprofen, ice my knee and not run any races. So far so good. Next week I have an appointment with a physical therapist. The PT I chose is a runner and several people in my club have used her and had great results.

This week I started using the Elliptical thingy at work. Every time I am on one of these machines I feel like I’m learning to walk again. It’s such an odd and un-natural movement. During my third session this week I started to feel comfortable.

A guy I run with once trained for a marathon using only the elliptical and stationary bike. That race is still his 3rd best PR. This was really encouraging to hear.

Goal Flexibility

I’m being flexible with my goals: I’m not looking for a marathon or a Boston PR. All I want to do is get to Hopkinton in good health and be able to cross the finish line. If I have to use alternative methods of training to achieve this, that’s what I’ll do.

In my mind I’m even reshaping what this race will mean to me, what it will be all about. I’ve run Boston a few times. In prior years I’ve trained hardly at all out of ignorance and other years I’ve trained hard with a goal in mind.

BAA, Boston Marathon,
Boston Marathon 2006 – somewhere in Newton

I’m past the date on the calendar where a good program would set me on course for a PR. I also can’t jump back into training and push extra hard to make up for lost time. When my PT gives me the green light I will be following her plan. To avoid re-injury, I have no doubt that my miles on the road will be reduced. I’m hoping she will be okay with me piling on the miles on the elliptical and bike.

This year Boston may be more about having a good time than achieving a goal. I always enjoy the crowd. By the time I get to Brookline I’m as altered as the drunks yelling to me from the curb. We have a good time.

Run well my friends!


© 2014 andrew nagelin