If You Print It, They Will Come

March 14, 2014

Sure, you’ve got a closet full of race shirts. But how many of you have a shirt from a race that doesn’t exist?

The imaginary race has theme music too. But you have to imagine your own lyrics:

Remember the 69.9%

March 7, 2014

It’s only March, and already the media coverage of this year’s Boston Marathon is more intense than ever before. Unfortunately, most of the coverage ignores the majority of the runners who will line up in Hopkinton on Patriots’ Day, the Boston qualifiers.

startApproximately 30% of the entries for Boston this year went to non-qualifiers. Of the remainder, only a very few have any hope of winning. That leaves the qualifiers, about 69.9% of the field, who make up the true heartbeat of the Boston Marathon for me and many of my friends inside the running community.

As the world’s oldest annual marathon, the Boston Marathon has always carried special significance, making it one of the few races (other than the Olympics) to get any attention outside of the running community.

In years past, for a week or two prior to Patriots’ Day, marathon updates ranked with Celtics and Bruins news in the Boston media (though always lagging behind the Red Sox). The results of the race would make sports pages around the world the next day.

But after the bombing at last years race, there’s a massive hullabaloo in the media across the country whenever there’s any new news related to the Boston Marathon.

27th-benefitAs a runner living in the Boston area, I’m inundated with marathon coverage. Multiple stories and TV segments discuss the bombing, its aftermath, and charity efforts surrounding the marathon, for both the victims of the bombing and other worthy causes. There are even a few stories about the elite runners, a reminder that the marathon is not only a celebration of civic pride and resiliency in the face of terrorism, but it’s a race, too.

It’s not wrong that the great majority of media interest involves bombers, charity runners, or Kenyans. Just like it’s not wrong that people like Neil Young or Justin Beiber. People like what they like, and the media caters to that.

But the 69.9% see things differently. For them, the significance of Boston is increased by the fact that most people can’t get in unless they beat the qualifying standard time for their age and gender in another race.  The standards are by design difficult enough to eliminate the majority of runners, so qualifiers have always taken justifiable pride in earning a number for the race.

This year, the unprecedented demand for entries to the race meant that many of us, after sweating for months or years to meet the qualifying standard, still needed to sweat out the registration process to see whether our precious numbers would be snatched from us at the last moment.

On top of that, it’s always been hard for qualifiers to go out and run their best after spending the hours before the race sitting outdoors in a field, often in nasty weather.  This year, the new security procedures implemented in reaction to last year’s bombing will make it even more difficult for qualifiers to run their best race.

Given all the challenges we have to overcome just to make it to the starting line, we qualifiers want people to know we take our Boston Marathon seriously as a race, not just as a 26.2 mile parade. The fact that that tends to get lost in the hubbub makes me a little sad.

So this one’s for you, my brethren (and sistren) of the 69.9%. May the wind be at your backs on (a cool, but dry) Patriots’ Day!

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

“From the Gun” in Level Renner

March 2, 2014

Mar-Apr 2014 Level RennerRead my short story, “From the Gun”, in the March-April 2014 edition of Level Renner magazine.

Yes, Level Renner is still #Free.

Pace Yourselves – April Is Coming

February 11, 2014
Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

Happy 57th Birthday, Gary Allen

January 29, 2014

Just got back from a 21-mile run, much of it with Gary Allen as part of his run from Maine to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

Yesterday, Gary spent three hours in the hospital being treated for dehydration. He continued on, against the advice of his doctors (well, duh).

Today is Gary’s birthday! He’s back on track (on the roads, whatever), shooting for 57 miles on his 57th birthday. Your donation can help make the day a happy one for Gary and for the injured vets supported by the Wounded Warrior Project. Click here to visit Gary’s site and make a contribution.

“Man running from Maine to Super Bowl to benefit Wounded Warriors” on Boston.com

January 28, 2014

Boston.com has published my article on Gary Allen’s 500-mile run from Maine to the Super Bowl to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Gary plans on running about 50 miles a day. He welcomes anyone who wants to join him for a few miles. I plan on joining him for 20 or so tomorrow.  That’s enough for me.

You can follow Gary’s progress and donate to the Wounded Warriors by visiting his web site:


January 15, 2014

2014 goal listIt’s a new year, and I’m looking for a new goal to provide some focus for my running. Without a goal, I just go out and run McMiles. That’s better than not running at all, but it lacks the spice that a worthy goal provides.

I do have one short-term goal to tide me over while I look for something better. My 2013 goals didn’t require much in the way of speed. Since I wasn’t worried about race times, I let myself eat whatever I wanted. I also rode my bike a lot, especially in the summer while I couldn’t run. A long ride almost always included a stop for something to eat (something you can’t do as easily on a long run).

It’s not easy for me to gain weight, but I was up to the challenge. It took a lot of muffins, burgers, and bacon, but by New Year’s Day I weighed 155 pounds. That was the most I’ve weighed since I began running over 20 years ago, about 7 pounds more than I weighed at the 2012 Cape Cod Marathon.

I don’t need to lose weight. Mostly, the extra weight keeps people from thinking I’m unhealthily gaunt. But it doesn’t help my running. There’s no need to make running any harder than it has to be.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to see how quickly I can get back down to my fighting weight while still ramping up the mileage to get ready for Boston in April and Vermont City on Memorial Day.

The key to running higher mileage with insufficient fuel is to take it easy. I’m running 50+ mile weeks, which is high for me, but I’m running almost all the miles at around a 9:30 pace. That’s my marathon survival shuffle pace, but when I’m not racing, it’s the center of my comfort zone.

Dieting, like running, generates lots of numbers to play with. I use My Fitness Pal to set calorie goals for each day and monitor what I eat and how much I burn. As long as I pay attention, my competitive side makes it easy for me to keep my numbers under my target for the day. The trick is to make sure I eat enough to keep going.

I lose weight easily when I make the effort (don’t hate me). I’m down to 151, a loss of about two pounds a week. If I keep at it, another week or two and it’ll be time to find another goal.

It’s gotten harder for me to come up with new goals as I get older.

A good goal is challenging, but it shouldn’t be all-consuming. Running is important, but it’s not everything. A goal has to leave time for work, family, and friends.

It helps if it’s something new. Some runners enjoy accumulating things – miles, marathons, states, consecutive days of running, whatever. For me, that’s just doing the same thing over and over. The only goal I have along those lines is to keep running and accumulate years, until one day I’m winning my age group by virtue of being the last runner standing.

I imagine it’s easier if you’re fast– your goal is to win, at whatever distance appeals to you. My substitute was to try for PRs and Boston qualifiers, but I can’t compete with my younger self anymore, and every year the risk of injury when I run all-out increases.

I still gear up to try run fast occasionally. The last time I ran with a time goal in mind was when I ran a BQ at the Cape Cod Marathon in 2012. I had three goals for 2013, guiding a blind runner at the Boston Marathon, earning my claw at the Great Cranberry Island 50K, and winning my age group for the 3rd year in a row in the small Thanksgiving 5K in my hometown. I went two for three, failing to complete the GCI 50K because of a calf injury.

Nothing in 2014 has captured my imagination yet, but I’m not worried. It’s like everything else in running. Just keep your feet moving, and eventually you get to where you’re headed.

Charity Runners – Go The 27th Mile

January 13, 2014

27th-benefitAre you running the 2014 Boston Marathon to raise money for charity? The 27th Mile would like to work with you to help raise money for your charity, The One Fund, and the victims from last year’s bombing at the Marathon.

We would like to provide you with discounted copies of The 27th Mile for you to sell as part of your own fundraising efforts or give away as prizes to your donors. If you’re interested, please send an email message to the27thmile@y42k.com.

The 27th Mile is an anthology full of articles, stories, and poems about running and runners. All proceeds from sales of The 27th Mile go to The One Fund Boston to support the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. One of the contributors, 1968 Boston Marathon champion and Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, says The 27th Mile, “is not just another running book. It’s varied enough to be interesting, with articles, fiction, and poetry, but it’s focused enough to have a moral, emotional core that will resonate with runners and those who love them.”

More info about The 27th Mile:

Equal Rights (and Lefts) in Level Renner

January 6, 2014

Jan/Feb 2014 Level Renner magazineAnother new Level Renner, with another article by me.  This time it’s “Equal Rights (and Lefts)”, where I bemoan the plight of the supinator.  Click here to read it (and everything else in the magazine) for Free!

The Mathematics of the Aging Runner

December 9, 2013


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96 other followers