For months you prepare for the journey, a mere 26.2 miles. All downhill at the start, a drop of over 300 feet. But the hills near the end define the race. The hills of Newton dictate the training. Training to replicate race conditions, the wise runner mixes long runs with interval repeats on grades to strengthen the legs for the steep climb and steel them for the rugged descent.
Run, diet, rest; everything works together. Long range goals and short-term plans evolve into a race day strategy, culminating in achievement, satisfaction, and the realization of a dream.
We pay tribute to all who run the race!
This quote is posted on the 3rd floor of Nike Town in Boston with an elevation chart beneath it (see below). The Marathon Coalition runners have spent most of their training miles on the hills of Newton. I reminded them last Saturday that the familiarity they have on this segment of the course will pay huge dividends on race day.
The Boston Marathon course is extremely hilly and challenging. It’s so important to be patient and conservative in the beginning. You can easily get into trouble after waiting so long for the start and then unleashing so much pent-up energy on the longest downhill section of the course.
One of the most critical sections of the marathon course is seldom mentioned. Please note the significant downhill just after mile 15 into Newton Lower Falls followed by what I consider the most underrated uphill on the course. Heartbreak Hill is significant because of it’s location between miles 20-21 but the hill coming out of Newton Lower Falls and over 128 is significant because it’s wide open, can be extremely windy and there are very few spectators on this section. It is also instrumental in setting the stage for the 4 mile stretch of the Newton Hills from miles 17-21. Once you take a right onto Commonwealth Avenue at the fire station, you really need to focus on your form and be mentally tough. This is undoubtedly the most challenging section of the marathon course.
While you may hear, “It’s all downhill from here” once you crest Heartbreak Hill…it isn’t true! The last 5 miles, while relatively downhill and flat compared to other sections of the course, do include some rolling hills that seem more significant because of the miles you’ve already run. Patience is a virtue on the Boston Marathon course. If you can manage your energy, particularly before the start and in the early miles, you will be rewarded with a strong finish!