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The Boston Marathon is less than a week away! The weather forecast, so far, is setting us up for a great day -partly sunny with a high in the upper 50’s. I always hope for nice weather because that will encourage more spectators to come out. I can clearly remember not just the sound of the crowd but the feel as I passed through the center of Wellsley in 2011.  The cheering was beyond loud, it was deafening, like it was literally traveling through me. It was awesome! I’m expecting that times 10 this year!  The crowd was a little more subdued in 2012 because it was so hot.Boston_strong_edited-1

When I crossed the finish line in 2012 in the 90 degree heat, I decided right then that I would take a break from Boston in 2013. Watching the events of the 2013 marathon unfold on TV brought a sense of anger and sadness to me. Marathon Monday is supposed to be a day filled with joy, pride and happiness.  Everyone is there because they want to be, whether they’re running, volunteering or lining the course cheering for the runners. People who have qualified for the race have a sense of personal achievement and pride.  The people running for the charities have their hearts filled with pride because of the difference they are helping make. Everyone has worked hard to get to the starting line of the Boston Marathon and each person should have the happiness of crossing the finish line and celebrating with their friends & family. That was thoughtlessly taken away from so many people last year, leaving physical and emotional scars. I have heard many stories of people who are coming back with more determination than ever this year; to cross the finish line, to have their closure. I’m really looking forward to hearing their stories after.

There is a Tibetan saying – ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ The support that the world will have for the city of Boston, the runners and everyone associated with the marathon will be overwhelming. That will reinforce the strength the running community has this year, which is already immeasurable. It’s going to be a great year to run Boston!  As I have been reflecting back on past experiences and thinking about this year’s race, I came up with the following list that I hope will enhance the Boston marathon experience…

Things for runners to do on Marathon Monday:

Talk to someone you don’t know on the bus to the start. My first year I sat next to an older fellow with a long grey beard. After asking him his name and where he was from, I asked him how many times he has run Boston. Without saying a word, he unzipped his warm-up jacket to reveal a home-made race bib he had pinned to his shirt. It said: “BILL, 25th Boston, 100th lifetime marathon”  This was the year he would make the Quarter Century Club!

Breathe. The long early downhill miles are not as metabolically demanding so you won’t feel the need to breathe as deeply. You can probably carry on a conversation without too much work. This can set you up for cramping and early fatigue later in the race as the course levels out and heads into the hills.  Try to take a few really deep breaths every mile to keep the lower regions of your lungs trading oxygen for CO2.

A little motivation at the 40k mark

A little motivation at the 40k mark

High-five 50-100 cheering spectators in a row along the course. Nothing picks you up like being right next to the crowd and drawing from their energy. That strategy has helped me through some tough sections in the past.  Technique is important here to keep moving: don’t make full hand to hand contact because each hand you hit slows you down just a little and you’ll be reduce to a walk after just 4-5 people.

Thank a volunteer. Whether it’s the bus driver that you pass at 7am, the person handing you water at the half or the person putting your finisher’s medal around your neck, the marathon would not be the experience it is without volunteers. Be appreciative and let them know it!

Smile. Researchers have been looking more closely at the ways our brain effects our performance. Keeping a positive attitude is paramount, whether you’re trying to set a new PR or just finish the race. I try to keep positive words in my head (“up”, “light”, “fast”) and congratulate my self for staying strong up a hill or keeping good running form when I’m tired. The minute negative thoughts enter our head, we start a downward spiral that makes us feel worse and slows us down.

Remember you’re running The Boston Marathon. People come from all around the globe to run this race because of its history.  It’s one of the few remaining races that’s not shrouded in cheating, doping or other unnecessary drama. This is also a race where you can actually compete against the best runners in the world! True, you’re probably not going to run next to them on the course, but you’re still running the exact same course on the same day as the best.  I consider myself fortunate that I grew up about 40 min from the start line and now only have to drive a few hours to get to the race. I never take a single step of it for granted.

 

Are you running Boston?  What would you add to the above list?

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