Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prepping for the Boston Marathon

If you’re a runner on the Monterey Peninsula you’ll always be asked if you have run the Big Sur International Marathon.

Likewise, when I lived in Boston and people always asked if I had run the Boston Marathon. On April 18, I’ll be able to say yes.

I have been itching to run Boston for years and am happy it has finally worked into my racing schedule. And for the record, I haven’t run the Big Sur Marathon, but hope to one day.

Just as the Big Sur Marathon has the jaw dropping climb of Hurricane Point most years, the Boston Marathon has Heartbreak Hill. When my husband Jon and I lived in Boston, we would meet our training group after work and do hill repeats up a section of Heartbreak Hill. At the time, I had nary a thought of running a marathon.

What puts the heartbreak into this hill is not only the climb but the miles you have to run before you make the climb. It starts around Mile 18 and ends about Mile 21, just as things are starting to get tough anyway. You hit a series of three hills during this section with the last being the toughest — Heartbreak Hill.

I have always considered myself a strong hill runner and training around the Monterey Peninsula has gotten me used to running long, gradual hills. I have been trying to simulate a lot of the Boston course on my daily runs. I often run up from the shoreline at Pebble Beach, past Spyglass Hill Golf Course. As I reach the top of Spyglass, I am always a little envious of the golfers on the putting green leisurely honing their games while my legs feel like they are on fire from the climb.

Believe it or not, another tough section of the Boston Marathon course is the first 7 miles. Large parts of this are downhill, which sounds nice but actually beats your legs up a little. When you get to a flat section or need to start running up hill it makes it feel tougher.

My coach, Bob Sevene, says my downhill running needs improvement — actually that it stinks, although he often uses more colorful language to describe it. Though I have been practicing running fast and relaxed downhill, I’m still not sure how I’ll do come race day. Among other things you have to factor in that I’ll be wearing light-weight racing shoes.

Before the race, Sev and I plan on driving the first half of the course, so I can be better prepared. Being from Boston he knows every inch of that course and has been talking about it for weeks. He even has some intricate car/subway system devised for watching the race unfold. I don’t care what he does the day of the race as long as he doesn’t pop up on the course with a cup of coffee in one hand and a glazed donut in the other — although I wouldn’t put it past him.

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