Archive for March, 2011

Charleston, South Carolina

Posted: March 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

“It’s not too late to be what you might have been” -George Eliot

George Eliot was actually the pen name of English novelist and journalist, Mary Ann Evans.  She used a man’s name to ensure her work was taken more seriously.  Imagine that!  Thankfully, much has changed since the 1800’s.  I noticed this quote under a street light during my run this morning.

I ran 10 miles along the waterfront and through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina long before the sun began to rise.    I ran through the area of the Charleston slave markets and breathed a huge sigh of relief, thankful that dark period in our country’s history is behind us. 

This city oozes a Southern charm.  I ran by a storefront that had a mannequin with a Seersucker suit, pressed white shirt and a pink bow tie.  You certainly don’t see that very often in New England.  Some of the cobblestones near the waterfront mansions were so dramatic that I couldn’t run on them…reminiscent of the one day cycling classic Paris-Roubaix!

It was wonderful to run in just shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  The cool breeze from Charleston Harbor contrasted with the heat I was generating from a challenging tempo run.  It’s so nice to run in complete quiet and darkness…a perfect beginning to the day.  I’m heading to the airport soon to fly to Louisville, Kentucky.  I’ll be at Fort Knox tomorrow and hopefully discovering a wonderful place to run there.

I’m starting to get more excited about the Boston Marathon as it’s just over a month away.  Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the south, I am looking forward to returning home to my family.  I’m also looking forward to running 12 miles with the Marathon Coalition TEAM this Saturday.  We’re going to be running towards the finish line…but we’re going to turn around before we get to Hereford and Boylston. 

This marathon journey certainly brings us closer to being the person we want to be!


Columbia, South Carolina

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

I left New England yesterday afternoon and arrived in Columbia, South Carolina late last evening.  Columbia hosted the 1996 Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon.  This morning I decided that I needed to avoid the treadmill in the hotel’s fitness center so I logged onto to explore the possibilities.  All recommendations led me to a 10 mile out and back course in Riverfront Park approximately two miles from the Marriott. 

I left the hotel @ 6:00 a.m. in total darkness.  Within two blocks I encountered an extremely large group of homeless men.  Soon afterwards I passed the Oliver Gospel Mission where they had just served breakfast.  As I passed through this group of men the smell of cigarette smoke, stale coffee and despair hung heavy in the early morning air.  I felt awkward as I ran past them with Newton shoes,  Garmin GPS, I-pod, etc..  Why does it take the misfortune of others to help us appreciate the abundance in our lives?  I adopted a much different perspective for the balance of my run.

As I approached Riverfront Park a platoon of Army cadets from nearby Fort Jackson were maintaining their combat readiness by completing an extremely early morning run.  They directed me to the trail beside the Columbia Canal.  I felt so alive and fit as I crossed an amazing wooden bridge and onto the path.  This Canal was constructed in 1840 to transport tobacco and cotton to the local market.  It fell into disarray during the Civil War and the introduction of trains practically ended its existence.

The light from the antique lamps reflected off the water to illuminate the path.  Within the first mile 5 foxes stepped onto the path and attempted to hide as  I approached.  They eventually scampered off into the nearby woods.  The moss draping off the trees, the warning signs about alligators and the Rocky Shoal Spider Lily were constant reminders that I was no longer in New England.  Over 200 species of birds, from the Carolina Wren to the Bald Eagle, utilize the Canal for either nesting or migration.

It just seemed so magical to be running through this area and I had it entirely to myself!  The first sign of morning light appeared just as I departed the Canal path and made my way back to the hotel.

I would rank this run in the Top 5 of amazing runs that  I’ve experienced in 35 years.  I will be completing fewer runs on hotel treadmills and exploring the local areas more,  wherever I happen to be!

Long Run Recovery

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Marathon Coalition runners ran 19 miles on the Boston Marathon course yesterday.  We ran from the Mile 20 mark @ Centre Street and Commonwealth to just beyond Mile 11 and back.  Without the wind it would have been an absolutely perfect day.  We take a step back in our mileage next week to just 12 miles.  It’s amazing that we only have one long run remaining (20 miles on March 26th) before we begin to taper.

During the run, I encountered so many of the runners that Lori and I coached while at Team In Training.  It brought back years of amazing memories. 

It’s important to remain focused upon completing a long run.  Too many runners surrender to the distance once they take their final step of running.  However, the next several hours, and even days, will play an instrumental role in your recovery.  Here are my recommendations for proper and effective recovery from a long run:

  1. Gradually allow your heart rate to return to its normal level by walking for several minutes.  Continuing to move when your body and mind are begging you to stop will serve you well.
  2. Change into dry and comfortable clothing and begin to eat, hydrate and stretch.  Chocolate milk is the best post-run recovery drink as it provides the perfect ratio of carbohydrates and protein.  Other great choices include V8 and pickle juice to replace sodium and other important electrolytes.
  3. I prefer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bagel with peanut butter, banana or pretzels after a run.
  4. Thoroughly using the stick and foam roller while eating and drinking are highly recommended.
  5. An ice bath is the master link in the chain of success.  This can actually be a bigger challenge than the long run but you’ll soon become a believer once you’ve attempted it.  In the summer you can spray your legs down with a garden hose or, if you’re fortunate enough to live near a stream or the ocean, you can simply submerge yourself after your run.
  6. Taking an afternoon nap is the perfect capstone to an ideal long-run. 
  7. One complete rest day followed by a day or two of cross-training will allow your body to fully recover.
  8. Pay close attention to any persistent aches or pains and ice accordingly.

You should find considerable comfort in your running accomplishment.  Long runs are the cornerstone of a successful marathon training program.  Ironically it’s the attention you give to the non-running activities that determines your success throughout training and on marathon day.  Focusing exclusively on the act of running and neglecting the long-run recovery suggestions is a recipe for disappointment and failure.

Develop your long run recovery plan and you’ll approach the starting line with absolute confidence.

My Apologies

Posted: March 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

I would like to apologize to all of the loyal followers of this blog for being so inconsistent recently.  I have tried to post something meaningful or inspirational every day but obviously have fallen well short of that the past several weeks. 

My work schedule is far more demanding this time of year.  I often leave my hotel my 7:00 a.m. each morning and often return after 11:00 p.m. with incredible amounts of e-mails related to work and my coaching.  My priority is to respond as quickly as possible to every Marathon Coalition runner that has a question or needs reassurance.  Consequently I have sacrificed sleep and my personal workouts to be as responsive as possible.

I am approaching nearly 10,000 unique views in just a few short months so I feel badly that the quality of my blog has recently diminished.  Although my schedule won’t slow down until the academic year concludes, I am going to make a greater commitment to posting daily.  I don’t have an archive of articles that I recycle, I literally sit down at the computer and decide what the post will be immediately before writing.

I just returned from Chicago and will be departing on Sunday for a week of travel in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.  My work, coaching, social life (albeit very limited), training for Boston, and MY FAMILY are all so fulfilling and I am extremely grateful for the life that I have so I hope I don’t appear to be complaining.  I never dreamed of having such an amazing family or such a fulfilling life!

I never take for granted the unique opportunity that I have been given the past 15 years to coach so many amazing runners.  The chance to make the slightest difference or provide a moment of inspiration in the life of just one person is what continues to drive and motivate me to be the best role model and coach that I can be.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as I attempt to balance the scale of life!

The following article was posted on the B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Associations website).   I am encouraged by the changes/improvements the B.A.A. continues to make to the marathon.  Having the chip embedded in the back of the number prevents everyone from having to bend over once they cross the finish line to remove the chip from their shoes…that act required a herculean effort that will now be avoided!

HOPKINTON, Mass. – The B.A.A. will employ a third wave for the start of the 2011 Boston Marathon, creating a more efficient and improved running experience for participants in the 115th edition of the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon.  This year’s race will be held on Monday, April 18: Patriots’ Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Working in cooperation with the Town of Hopkinton and the Hopkinton Marathon Committee, the B.A.A. will institute three waves of mass participatory starters. Each wave will include approximately 9,000 official entrants, and each wave will be identified by its background bib color in a coordinated, patriotic color scheme: Wave One (red bibs), Wave Two (white bibs), and Wave Three (blue bibs).

The three-wave start will not increase the field size of the 2011 Boston Marathon.

The start times for the 2011 Boston Marathon are as follows:

 Start time  Approx. No. of Entrants       Bib Color 
 Mobility Impaired: 9:00 a.m.  6  
 Wheelchair Division:  9:17 a.m.   30  
 Handcycles:  9:22 a.m.   24  
 Elite Women:   9:32 a.m.  50  
 Elite Men & Wave One: 10:00 a.m.   9,000  Red
 Wave Two: 10:20 a.m.   9,000  White
 Wave Three: 10:40 a.m.   9,000  Blue

Next month’s Boston Marathon has a field size of approximately 27,000 official entrants, including those in the wheelchair division, visually impaired athletes and those competing in handcycles. 

“The introduction of a third wave at the start of the Boston Marathon will provide a better pre-race and starting experience for our runners,” said Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Race Director.  “We continue to study methods to improve the race for our participants, and we are pleased to have a partnership with the Town of Hopkinton which allows an improved staging area and start for both the participants and the Town of Hopkinton’s residents.”

In recent past years, the field of runners started in approximately two, equally-sized waves.  The addition of a third wave for 2011 enables the B.A.A. to divide the field into three, smaller, equally-sized waves. The result will be a more enjoyable race for participants, many of whom gear their entire recreational lives around running the Boston Marathon.  Fewer runners in each wave allows for more orderly loading and staging in the corral system pre-race, and – after the race begins – less density not only in the early miles but also throughout the entire 26.2-mile course.

On race day in 2011, no significant change in the start times will occur.  In the main, mass participatory waves, Wave One (color-coded red) will begin at 10:00 a.m. as it has in recent years; Wave Two (color-coded white) will begin at 10:20 a.m.; Wave Three (color-coded blue) will begin at 10:40 a.m. Last year with two waves, the first wave started at 10:00 a.m. and the second wave began at 10:30 a.m.

This year, the final, official runner in Wave Three is expected to cross the starting line at approximately 10:50 a.m. Last year, the final, official runner in Wave Two crossed the starting line at 10:47 a.m.. Official timing and scoring in the Boston Marathon is held open for six hours after the last, official entrant crosses the starting line. Runners are timed using the net time it takes to run the course which serves as their official time.  The amount of time it takes an official entrant from the starting gun until crossing the starting line does not add to their total time.

Runners in the Boston Marathon are seeded based on their qualifying time with the fastest runners starting closer to the front. For the 2011 race, runners who have qualified with a time of approximately 3:22:42 or faster will start in Wave One (red bibs) while those who have a qualifying time of approximately 3:45:56 or faster will start in Wave Two (white bibs). Runners with times greater than approximately 3:45:56 will start in Wave Three (blue bibs). Exact time breaks for the three waves will be ascertained in two weeks when bib numbering of the field occurs.

The starting procedure at the Boston Marathon has changed three times with improvements in the past ten years to better accommodate the field. In 2004, to better showcase the women’s elite field, the B.A.A. implemented a separate start for the top female runners, beginning a half hour earlier than the rest of the field. In 2006, the second wave was added to the start, with 10,000 runners beginning at 12:00 p.m. and 10,000 beginning at 12:30 p.m. In 2007, the start was moved to 10:00 a.m., giving runners a better opportunity to experience optimum race day weather conditions.

Also new for next month’s Boston Marathon, the timing and scoring device will be affixed to each official entrant’s bib.  Beginning in 1996 and continuing until last year, runners in the Boston Marathon were required to affix the timing and scoring device to their footwear.

Home Sweet Home!

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is so nice to be home after spending 8 days in Texas.  My flight into Providence arrived late so I didn’t go to sleep until 2:00 a.m. and was awake at 5:15 a.m….I was exhausted.  But the Marathon Coalition had a 13 mile run scheduled and I wanted to run.

I definitely felt sluggish and didn’t have any leg speed.  I simply tried to maintain a steady pace throughout the run and not lose my running efficiency.  I continue to have residual pain in my left Achilles but it only bothered me the first two miles.  I used the Pro Stretch afterwards and iced.  I slept with the Strassburg sock and it seemed to help.

It’s a beautiful morning so I’m going to ride my mountain bike in North Grafton.  Lori is taking Rider and Macie Jo to the Community Barn for an event sponsored by the Grafton Land Trust (New England Animal Adventures).  I’m going to join them during my ride.  This will be my first ride of the year outdoors so I’m excited.  I’m going to have to rely heavily on my biking as I work through my Achilles pain.

This is the time of year that I begin to dream about riding my motorcycles.  I always wait until after the Boston Marathon however.  Here is a picture of my chopper:

Lori and I spend a lot of time riding motorcycles, bicycles and horses so that is how we came up with the name Rider.  He’s absolutely lived up to his name…he was riding a scooter before he was two and rode his bicycle at three.  He received his first motorcycle on his third birthday and has been riding them ever since.

Well, I’m off to enjoy the day…it’s so wonderful to be home with my family!

Longhorn Fever

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

I finally arrived in San Antonio after an extremely intense conference in Houston this past week.  I leave for Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas tomorrow morning @ 6:00 a.m.. On Friday I’ll be visiting the University of Texas in Austin and arriving back in Providence just before midnight.

I ran 6 miles on the treadmill this evening @ 7:30 pace.  I focused on sustaining my efficiency during the run by maintaining a steady 180 steps per minute rate.  I stretched thoroughly afterwards and just hope that my Achilles won’t be tender in the morning.

I visited Whole Foods and have stocked my hotel with several days of organic foods.  I’ve become a huge fan of the LARABAR, particularly Peanut Butter Cookie and Cashew Cookie.  They’re 100% real food composed of fruit, nuts and spices; they’re ideal for between meals.  Properly fueling and hydrating for the long runs should extend beyond just 1-2 days beforehand.

Our step-back week of 13 miles will provide a welcome reprieve from over two months of gradual mileage increases.  Our last long run (20 miles) is just 3 weeks away.  We’ll then begin our 3 week tapering process.  Most runners should consider adding a new pair of shoes to their rotation.  I like to run the 20 miler in the shoes I plan to wear in the marathon.  After the 20 miler I’ll set them aside until Marathon Day.

People take great pride in the state of Texas.  I saw a bumper sticker today: I am Not From Texas But I Got Here As Soon As I Could.  I love Texas, particularly Austin, but there truly is no place like home!

Necessary Rest

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Most of the correspondence I’m receiving is related to aches, pains and soreness after the long runs.  Everyone is concerned about taking an extra day off from running and losing their hard-earned fitness. 

Proper fueling before, during and after the long runs will help reduce muscle soreness as well as aches and pain in tendons and ligaments.  Proper hydration is equally important.  The majority of runners I coach still do not take regular walk breaks or wait too late to incorporate them.  Incorporating regular walk breaks from the outset of runs will help to stave off fatigue and muscle soreness.

I’m comforted when I see a runner begin to eat and use the stick and foam roller immediately upon returning from a long run.  When they comment they’re planning to take a 5-10 minute ice bath when they return home, I’m convinced they’re do all they can to quickly recover from their long runs.  Focusing exclusively on the running aspect of training is only half of the marathon training equation for success. 

Many runners are surprised that muscle soreness may worsen several days after a long run.  This soreness is an indication that you body is healing.  An extra day of active rest consisting of lower impact cross training is the best solution.  A few runners are incorporating water running with a lot of success since the benefits are equal to running without any impact.  Spinning and the elliptical or ARC trainer are also viable options.I have always been an advocate of erring on the side of caution with respect to soreness, aches and pains. 

Not taking necessary rest can cause injuries to develop and place a major obstacle in your marathon training preparation.  Listen closely to how your body is responding to the gradual increase in mileage, take the necessary rest, and you will be assured of sustaining the momentum that will guarantee that you arrive at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in relative comfort!