Marathon Fever Strikes Greater Boston Area!

With just days to go until the 117th running of the Boston Marathon there is a certain excitement in the air around Boston. Every runner I know is talking about the race, their past experiences with it or their anticipation  of this year’s run.

Marathon Fever is here!

At this time last year we were all watching the weather by the hour and hoping for the best. As Patriot’s Day grew closer the various forecasters converged on the opinion that race day was going to be hot, the only question was how hot. It turned out to be the hottest marathon day on record.

Here is the current forecast for Marathon Weekend.

Marathon fever strikes Boston
The latest from Boston Globe and WBZ – forecast for Marathon Weekend.

Most runners prefer temps in the high 40s to low 50s and I think Marathon Monday is looking pretty good. When the race gets started it will probably be in the low to mid 50s and you may feel a bit chilly in the corrals. You should either wear a trash bag or bring a shirt that you can throw away. They do collect dis-carded clothing and donate it to local groups.

Do you know the way to Boston?

For you runners, here is a link to the BAA’s course maps. The elevation map looks more detailed than previous versions. If you bump up the display to 200 or 400% you can really see a lot of detail. If this is your first Boston take a few minutes to study this map. On my first run I was surprised to find hills early in the race. Everyone said it was basically flat or down hill. Not so. They’re not big hills but you will want to know about them so that you can plan accordingly.

Some people drive the race route, walk it or run it. Having some familiarity with the course can be helpful. No one wants a surprise on race day. If you cannot go out on the course, spend some time looking over these maps.

I’ve run The Boston Marathon several times. The hills are like old friends and it’s a contentious relationship!

Going Green

The BAA is making efforts to go green. They have used paper cups every time I have run and they will probably continue. They have cut down on their mailings and I think most people registered on-line. At the end of the race they will have separate bins for trash, recyclables and compostable materials such as banana peels.

You will get a Mylar blanket with the BAA logo on it at the end of the race. Most of them get tossed but I think they look sharp and make a great keep sake. You can always fold it up, put an elastic band around it and put it in the trunk of your car to have for an emergency. It will keep you warm if your car breaks down on a cold morning on the way to work.

I just know someone out there has a creative idea to turn these blankets into something cool. There will be thousands of them stuffed into trash barrels all around the finish area.

The BAA is going half way and making it easy for you to make wise decisions. It is now up to you, the Marathon Runner, to go the other half way and utilize the green options that have been made available to you. You don’t have to be a tree huger or crunchy granola to understand the value of a clean environment. You are a runner, you relay on the environment for your sport.

Have a great race! I’m getting excited just writing about it!

Cheers,

Andy

Pre Race Checklist

Pre Race Checklist

In the 24-hour period before a race I have a fairly consistent routine. Over the years I’ve figured out what works for me. I have a check list of items to get ready, a diet I follow and am careful with my physical activity.

I avoid the gym and running in the days before a race. For a marathon this usually involves a week or two of taper. For a 5K my last run may be a day or two before the race.

I’ve learned to cut out high fiber foods before a race as my gut usually doesn’t need any help on race day. I don’t go crazy carbo-loading. Some people swear by it and eat huge amounts of pasta and bread and enjoy some beers. Instead of making a point of carbo-loading I try to relax and enjoy an extra slice of French bread, an extra slice of pizza or maybe an extra beer.

Packing and preparing

Running kit, running shoes, pre race check list
Packed fours times, probably one more will do!

Like many runners, by the time a big race is 24-hours away, I’ve packed my bag several times all ready! You can never be over prepared, but you sure as hell can forget something.

I usually pack several pairs of socks, different shirts, hats, gloves, and jackets. I can’t control the weather on race day, or any other day for that matter, but I can be prepared for any conditions within the 95th percentile. Beyond that and they normally cancel the race.

If I’m driving I’ll print out a MapQuest or Google Maps map and directions. If you are going to a new location a good tip is to print a detailed map of you final destination. It’s great to have a map with your last highway exit, but it might be more helpful to have a map showing the cross streets on the way to your parking destination.

I’ll do the map even if there is a GPS in the car and everyone has MapQuest on their phones. Technology can really suck when it doesn’t work.

I always plan ahead for my race day food also. For me it’s usually a bagel with butter and lots of coffee. I also bring food to eat in the last few hours before the race while we are waiting around. Usually a banana, maybe another plain bagel or a power bar. At my last race I tried carbo-loading with donuts. A friend of mine swears by them. So instead of two bagels, I had two donuts. My race was okay but I felt like crap afterwards. No more donuts for me!

Food is one of the things that you can control almost 100%. Bring what you like with you and eat smart the night before. Over time you learn what your body likes. Once you know what works, or kind of works, you can experiment. A few weeks ago I tried donuts.

For The Great Bay Half Marathon I’m trying a few new things. I’ll still eat my bagels and I may have my pre-race Cliff Bar. But, I’ve decided to try Gatorade G-Series 01 Prime Pouch.

pre race nutrition
Gatorade Prime Pouch 01

This 118ml drink has 25 grams of carbohydrates, 100 calories, and several B vitamins that are supposed to help your body turn carbs into energy.

My stomach is pretty strong and this product is made for high endurance activities so I’m not anticipating any problems.

For the race I’ll bring along my usual pockets full of GU. In this case, GU-like product; PowerGel from PowerBar. These packs are less viscous than GU and they seem to work just as well for me. To be honest, I

PowerGel Quartet, pre race checklist
The Power Quartet!

don’t have a preference for either brand. Both have great flavors and ones that are just not.If it’s warm on race day I wont be wearing a jacket or vest so I may have to figure out another way to carry all of these.

When I finished Boston last year they gave us Gatorade Recovery, or 03 Recovery. It was surprisingly awesome! It was a hot day and I was spent, so cold water would have tasted pretty good.

I’ve had it once since then and it was still very good. When I was at the grocery store last night I picked up a carton of the stuff. They only had

pre race checklist
Step 3 in Gatorade’s G-Series.

one on the shelf! And it was Mango Pineapple. Not my favorite flavor combo but I’m more interested in the “recovery”  part of this beverage. It’s 24% apple and banana juice with 12 grams protein and 14 grams of carbohydrates.

The Gatorade Prime 01 will be new but I’ve been taking GU and PowerGel for years. So the only thing I’m changing pre-race will be the 118ml of Gatorade beverage. I’m trusting that their chemists and nutritionists know what they are doing and that I won’t be hurling in the bushes mid-way through the race.

After the race they will have food available for us. The 03 Recover beverage will be a little something extra for my body. I doubt that trying these products once will be enough to tell if they make any difference. The temperature could be a bigger influence on my performance.

That being said, I did notice an increase in energy the first time I tried a GU. Over the years since then I have continued to feel the energy boost when I eat a GU or PowerGel. Some people don’t feel anything, but it works for me and many others.

Maybe adding these products to my race meal will make a big difference in how I feel. I think Ryan Hall drinks a large coffee before he runs a marathon and doesn’t use any of this stuff. I love coffee but I have to run twice as long as Ryan does to get to the finish line. He just runs twice as hard as I do!

Now that this post is written I need to go and do the final pack. Clothes – Check, Food – Check, Sunglasses – Check, Map – I need to print that out. Who’s driving this week anyway?

High Tech energy, pre race checklist
Not exactly a whole foods meal!