Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Marathon Day like no other....

For the last 6 years I’ve used this post-marathon blog to give insights to what race day in Boston is like and how I did personally in attempting to achieve the finish line. This one will be different.

When I sat down to write this blog I found myself just staring at the screen. Even days later I’m at a loss to organize and express the range of emotions of the day and days that followed. So I’ll ask your forgiveness in advance if you find this blog a bit unorganized, over emotional at times and lacking the usual humor. I hope it is easier to read than it was to write.

Nervous excitement is the best description I can give for the emotional state of the runners at the staging area in Hopkinton. As I’ve mentioned before, it looks like a mini-Woodstock with runners spread out over the fields and just about every available dry space around the school. Because they close the roads into town at 7:30 most runners have to wait outside for 2-3 hours before the start of the race. That’s a lot of pent-up nervous energy.

I rode out from Boston to the start in Hopkinton with a couple of busloads of charity runners who are part of the Charity Teams group. These are some of the runners who agree to raise $5000 for a race-sponsored charity in order to get an official race number. On my bus most of the runners were first time Boston Marathoners and many were first time marathoners. Susan Hurley is the angel that runs Charity Teams, which trains these runners to be able to complete the run and at the same time helps them with the challenges of fund raising. In the most elite marathon in the world these runners will measure their achievement not by their race times but by the funds that they raised to help others and making it to the finish line.

The weather was perfect and by all accounts this should have been a day of great pride, accomplishment and joy accompanied by runner stories about battling aches and pains, Herculean efforts to conquer Heartbreak Hill, wading through a sea of cups at water stops and humorous costumes and T-shirts. Instead the stories are about the disappointment of being stopped less than a mile from the finish, the fear of not knowing what happened to family members and friends, and the horror of discovering a relative or friend has been injured.

From a running perspective I had a good day. I ran the second half of the race a bit faster than the first half. Tired, sore and happy to have requalified for next year, I shuffled through the post finish line gauntlet where the volunteers hand you water, wrap you in a mylar blanket, give you a bag of post race food and put a medal over your head. All this takes about 15+ minutes and then you enter a section a few hundred yards beyond the finish where you pick up your clothes that you checked in at the starting line. I was standing at that point changing into warm clothes when the explosions went off, the plumes of smoke shot into the air, and the world turned to crap.

My view towards finish line 10 min after the explosions

 From where we were we couldn’t see beyond  the finish line to determine what had happened. I started moving back towards the finish line but the stream of hundreds of incoming runners funneling down the street prevented any movement in that direction. Shortly after, the stream of runners just stopped and first responders had cordoned off the road to keep people out and allow room for emergency vehicles to get in.

Runners stopped less than a mile from finish.

Out on the course, the runners had been stopped or redirected to a safe area with little or no information about what was happening. Social media took over and runners with phones began filling in others on what was happening. The cell phone network went to hell as runners tried to call family to let them know they were safe, family members called runners to check on them and runners still on the course tried to arrange logistics to get into Boston or get home. I was waiting at the finish for a friend who I offered a ride home. He was safe over a mile out but it took me almost 30 minutes of dialing and trying to text him to finally get through.

My story was tame compared to some of my friends and acquaintances. A family that until recently lived across the street had a son who graduated high school with my son Nick. He was running and his parents were standing near the finish waiting for him. Both parents are still in the hospital with numerous shrapnel wounds. One of the charity runners from our bus had his wife and kids in the Forum restaurant waiting for him when the bomb went off outside. They were blown off their seats as a hail of glass blew into the restaurant. The mom of another runner from our bus is still in the hospital and was operated on yesterday. The boyfriend of another of the charity runners from the bus lost both his legs.

In the midst of all this tragedy were tremendous examples of selflessness and heroism. Volunteers and spectators around the finish line jumped in to help first responders deal with the wounded without concern there might be a third or fourth bomb. A spectator near the finish jumped the fence and saved the life of one of the injured spectators by putting a tourniquet on his leg and comforting him until first responders could get him to the hospital. It was the boyfriend I mentioned earlier who lost both his legs.  
Forum Restaurant
When the bomb went off outside the Forum Restaurant, the family I mentioned earlier were helped out the back of the restaurant by bystanders so the children wouldn’t have to face the carnage out front, and then given shelter at a nearby condo. At the same time a number of the men waiting for charity runners rushed out through the broken glass and into the street to help the victims. They are the faces you see in the pictures carrying victims and pushing wheelchairs. When I crossed the finish line I was near a marine who had just finished in full gear with a heavy pack on his back. He was headed to the medical tent for blisters. I later heard he was in the middle of getting help when the bombs went off. He jumped up, put on his boots, blisters and all, and rushed out to help. From all over I heard stories of people sharing phones with runners so they could call their family, spectators giving stranded runners clothes literally off their backs and money to get home or to their hotels, restaurants providing free food, and people opening their homes to runners and family members who were stranded for the night. And then there are the race volunteers, first responders and law enforcement who responded quickly to help the injured, the racers on the course and the families who were worried and waiting at the finish line. While I would like to believe all this would happen in any city in the US, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Bostonian.

So where do we go from here? I’ll make a few predictions. I believe that this will not materially change the format of the Boston Marathon. If that was the goal of the bombers they picked the wrong city and unquestionably the wrong event. We are marathoners;
dedicated, stubborn, passionately addicted to our freedom on the roads and undeniably a little crazy. Not the kind of people that scare off easy.  
I believe
that this will not reduce either the number of runners or the number of spectators next year. In fact, I expect this will be the best attended marathon in the history of the race.   My daughter wrote this assessment from a spectators view .   It eloquently sums up what I heard from many others.   I believe that some of the injured spectators will ultimately run the Boston Marathon. On that day I hope to be running along side them to see it.

Finally, thanks to all who reached out to me to make sure I was OK. It was heartwarming to receive all your messages at a really difficult time. Some of you asked if I will be back next year? Absolutely! I’m a runner and when faced with pain and tragedy running is what we do.

Please add your thoughts and comments, they are greatly appreciated, especially after this week.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

And then there was ONE ….

Boston Marathon Start
One day until THE race. THE Boston Marathon. The Holy Grail of Marathons, the marathon of all marathons. At least that's the way most marathon runners think about Boston.

There was a lot of proof of that on display yesterday when I went into Boston to pick up my number (15780) for the race (I’ll be starting around the middle of the 27,000 runners). While we waited in line I spoke to a number of runners who had made the pilgrimage to Boston to run it the first time. No question it is one of the oldest and most elite marathons in the world (outside of the Olympics) with qualifying times that will eliminate most casual runners (is there such a thing as a casual marathoner?). As the popularity of running marathons has increased they have even lowered the qualifying times in the last few years. Did I mention you need to re-qualify every year? So to earn a number to be at the starting line did not mean just a commitment to finishing, it was a commitment to racing.

The excitement around the number pickup area was contagious. Runners having pictures taken in front of maps of the course holding their numbers in front of them, trying on the bright yellow Boston Marathon running shirt they just received, going through their bag of "goodies" that come with their number, or registering to have their progress on the course sent to their family’s cell phones. Think graduation day, with the runners receiving their numbers like the graduates getting their diploma. For a short time the excitement and reality of reaching this point replaces the nervousness of the upcoming race.

There is also a runner’s expo where you can sample and buy almost anything that has to do with running. It is amazing to me that I was ever able to finish a marathon 30 years ago without the help of all the new shoe, sock, compression shorts, hat and clothes technology that I’m now told is a "must" for success. Not to mention the energy drinks, power cookies, energy bars, yogurt drinks, gels, candies, grains and mixes I need to be taking before, during and for days after the race. They have catchy names like Reboot, Bioplasma, and Chia Shots that will deliver the necessary proteins, Omega 3, fiber, electrolytes, carbohydrates, fluids and antioxidants. Silly me, I thought I just needed to eat a lot of pasta and drink a lot of water. If I listen to the marketing pitches on what I need to do to survive I should already be dead.


Back to the first time runners standing in line. The stories from those qualified Boston Rookies were as varied as the places they came from. The young guy from the mid-west who ran his first marathon and he said it was a fluke that he ran fast enough to qualify for Boston. He felt he needed to do Boston at least once in his life and felt this might be his only chance. The mom from California who started running 5K’s (3.1 miles) to teach her children about health and exercise and found it has changed her life as well. It was her children who encouraged her to come to Boston and they are there to cheer her on. The older gentleman (had to be in his 70’s) who didn’t start running till late in his life and had this on his bucket list. He and his wife shared a passion for outdoor activities and she will be there to cheer him on. It will be her last chance as she is terminally ill.

But despite the high bar for qualifying, for several thousand dedicated runners, a ticket to the starting line is within reach if they are willing to take on the added burden of not only months of training but also months of fund raising. The BAA and John Hancock (race sponsor) provide charities with access to a limited number of race numbers if the runner is willing to raise $4-5000 for the charity. A friend of mine, Susan Hurley, coaches several hundred of the charity team runners and helps them with their fund raising. Almost all would never qualify and many have never run a marathon before (the equivalent of getting to ride in the Kentucky Derby as your first horse race). I’ve had the privilege of running with a number of these runners and all have stories for why they are doing it and amazingly almost all of them are centered on helping someone else and frequently in memory of someone they have lost.

It all comes together as we stand on the starting line Monday. For every runner, getting to the starting line was a journey and every journey has a story. For some it will be about the competition and the glory but for many others it will be about making their life, the lives of the people around them, and the lives of the families in the charities they support, a bit better. It’s amazing to me the positive ripple affect this one race will have touching so many lives. Now if we could only bottle that and give it away at every expo….

One more day….

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I can fix it myself!

Ever meet one of those people who refuses to hire a plumber, electrician or other repairperson because they can fix it themselves? You know the type, they have the partially fixed lawn mower in the garage for the last two years, or the wires hanging out of the ceiling in guestroom where that fan and light were going to be installed. My wife would say it’s a guy thing, something equivalent to never asking for directions or yelling at the TV during a sporting event. Making it a "guy thing" means she can insinuate it means me without actually accusing me directly.

She may have a point. I recently decided to fix a burner on our cook top. Online it was described as a 20 min. job and needs a $30 part. Several trips to the parts store, several hours of finagling and $100 later I managed to fix the burner but took out the burner light in the process. Pam would call it a comedy of errors, I call it a learning experience.

But what does this have to do with running? To some degree it’s that same "I can fix it myself" mentality that carries over into running injuries. I just don’t find it rewarding to run off to a doctor every time I get a cold, some achy joint or muscle, or flu symptoms (another guy thing?). I figure I can fix it myself or worst case it will degrade to something worst like pneumonia or torn tendon and then I can justify I need a professional to help. Part of this is learned behavior. I get injured running, I go to the doctor, they ask me how it did it, I tell them, and they tell me to stop running. Like that is going to happen.

But there are times when you do need to turn to a professional. I was on a run with my daughter one day and I rolled my ankle on a curb. I jump back up and start limping around saying "It’s OK, I’ll just walk it off" (another guy thing?). Within a minute I had a muffin top forming over the top of my shoe. OK, so I can’t walk it off, but if I just ice it the swelling will go down and it will be OK. Next day when the foot turned black (not black and blue…black) it seemed appropriate to get it checked. Eight weeks later I got off the crutches and out of the cast.

This year I reached another one of those points. Last year I ran 3 marathons in less than 12 months without any serious injuries. But in the fall I came up lame with a mysterious back of the knee/hamstring problem. Even resting it for a couple of months didn’t seem to make a difference. So I found it completely rational to go seek professional help. I went online. But despite the sage advice of other runners nothing I seemed to do could heal the injury. I finally broke down and went to a doctor.

Apparently I’m not alone. A recent study found that 50% of runners get sidelined each year due to injuries. The aging population of runners and accumulated injuries over the years have a lot to do with that. I’d say I’m guilty on both counts. Some of these injuries come with classy names like, Dead Butt Syndrome, Nippi Erectie Rubatosis, Shin Splints, Blackened Toenails, Runner’s Knee, and Snapping Hip. But most of these injuries are fairly minor and with some early advice/research and a bit of TLC they can be handled by the runner. One thing running does teach you is to listen to your body. Pam would say listening isn’t my strong suit but relative to running I think I’m getting better at it.

We haven’t fixed my problem but between the doctor and I we managed to get me to where I can run, although very slow and with limited mobility. It looks like it will be another one of those years where we won’t know until the second half whether the legs will hold up or not. But of course it they don’t, I can always try to fix it myself.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Inspiration from ????

During the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, track star Derek Redmond was favored to medal in the 400 Meter sprint. Half way through the race he pulled up lame with a hamstring tear (very painful, I can attest to that). The story of what happened next has been ranked as No. 3 in a list of the 50 most stunning Olympic moments. You can watch the video here .

Why is it that a couple of years after a major sporting event most of us have trouble remembering who won (unless of course it it’s your favorite team), yet events like Derek’s stick in our minds. Granted, some of us have reached the age where remembering our own names may be difficult at times, but there does seem to be more of an emotional attachment to the inspirational events in our lives. Without looking I couldn’t remember who won the Boston Marathon 5 years ago even though I ran it. But I can tell you in great detail about the first time I ran into Dick Hoyt pushing his son Rick up heartbreak hill in a wheelchair. I was setting a pretty serious pace when I came up along side them and as I wished him well he turned and smiled (no small feat while pushing his 20 year old son up a killer hill). I still get a lump in my throat when I think about it, and every year since when I have been fortunate enough to bump into them at races. Last year Dick and Rick did it again at Boston for the 30th time.

I saw a report the other night on a woman (Stephanie Decker) who had lost both her legs in a tornado. She was covering up her children protecting them from the house that was coming apart around them. She has artificial limbs now and has learned how to walk with them. Amazingly, she is not bitter at all, expressing her joy at what she has, not her anger at what she lost. Her next goal is to run a marathon.

On April 15th, 20+ thousand runners will descend on Boston for the 117th running of THE Marathon. Among them will be thousands of runners running to raise money for their charity of choice. Each has their own story on how they got there and what inspires them to train for such a grueling event. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing some of those stories over the years. Some make my heart ache, others make it soar but in all cases I take away a memory and a little bit of inspiration that I can use when the going gets tough. It’s no secret that the hard work is not the day of the race (unless of course you count last year with the 90 degree weather), the hard part is the months of training. That’s when you need the motivation to get out of bed early to slog through the snow, or skip that Friday night out with friends to be ready for your weekly long run Saturday morning. When you are running for someone else as well as yourself, it makes the choice a bit easier. I had a friend tell me that between training and fund raising it literally consumes all her free time. She said it as a fact, not a complaint, and I know if I asked her if she regretted the decision to run for a charity she would think I was nuts.

Another friend of mine, Susan Hurley, runs an organization called Charity Teams that helps charity runners prepare to run the Boston Marathon, as well as helping them with their fund raising. Many of them are first time marathoners and over the past few years all of them have finished the race. No small feat given the normal dropout rates in Boston. On top of that, the runners she has taken under her wings have raised over $2.7M for their charities. Most of those runners come with their own stories of inspiration but if they need a bit more they don’t have to look far. Susan is not only a source of inspiration but has positively touched numerous lives in the process. By most definitions a true hero.

So why do we love inspirational stories? Hell if I know. Maybe because a little inspiration is like a swift kick in the butt. It’s a call to action to get us moving. Whether we fall down or it propels us forward is up to us. No question on Marathon day a bunch of us will be using it as fuel to keep us going.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mother Nature can be a real “B----“

That’s “B” for Beauty. I know some of you were thinking I meant something else but I’ve learned you don’t want to mess with Mother Nature. Take this winter in Boston for example. In the last 10 days we have had 2 snow storms that have generously presented almost 3 feet of snow, temperatures ranging from single digits to almost 50 degrees (within a 24 hour period), rain, and of course several days of 25-35 mph winds. Quite a different story from last year’s snowless winter. Last winter’s nice weather (nice being a relative term) of snow and ice free roads and the somewhat pleasant winter runs spoiled me. Of course Mother Nature, making sure to show she is firmly in charge and has a sense of humor, then presented us with 90 degree weather on marathon day. I’d choose 20 degrees over 90 degrees any day. Mother Nature…if you are listening, that wasn’t a request for this year’s marathon.

The toughest part about training for the Boston Marathon while living in Boston is the weather. You have to do your heaviest training in the worst weeks of the winter. It leads to some pretty interesting calendar gymnastics as you try to figure out how to inject 7 hours a week of running into a busy schedule and at the same time work around a somewhat unpredictable Mother Nature. If you could listen in on a marathoner’s conversation with themselves as they are planning their week of runs it might sound something like this….I can do 6 miles Monday and 7 on Tuesday but if it rains Monday and freezes overnight the roads will be icy Tuesday so maybe I should plan to skip Tuesday and run Weds and Thursday except I have an early meeting Thursday and I’ll need to do 10 miles that morning so I’ll have to get up real early and run in the dark which will be tough cause if it is warm on Weds the snow will melt and freeze overnight and I won’t be able to see the ice not to mention that with the snow banks are so high and the streets so narrow there is not a lot of room to scramble when the occasional car runs you off the road so maybe I should skip Thursday and run Friday and Saturday but my long run is suppose to be Saturday and I heard it might snow Friday night into Saturday which will mean running on unplowed streets and you remember how hard it is to run in the snow where it is not only difficult to get traction but you actually can injure your hamstrings and calf muscles so maybe I should try to do the long run on Friday before the storm and then a short run Saturday in the snow unless the storm comes early then I could go back to the original plan of an hour on Friday and do 2+ hours Saturday once the streets are plowed. That might work. Now, what was it I was going to do Monday? Nobody ever accused marathoners of being laid back when it comes to getting their weekly mileage in.

But if you do have to run in the snow or extreme cold there are tools to help. For a start, there are little “studs” you can strap onto your shoes for better traction called Yaktrax (sounds like something you would see in the snow after a college fraternity party). For the cold I like to double up on gloves and socks. Feet are one of the rougher problems as the running shoes are designed to be comfortably snug to begin with and don’t leave a lot of room for stuffing in the necessary 6+pairs of socks I would need to keep my feet from turning into blocks of ice. Of course the feet eventually do thaw out several miles into the run and you are then rewarded with that attention grabbing “prickly” feeling you get when the blood begins flowing again to a frozen part of the body.

And then of course there is all the “great” advice you get online like “run with a buddy or your pet”. I don’t know about most dogs but both of mine are much too smart to sign up for joining me when I’m dressed up with enough layers to look like the Pillsbury doughboy. I did run with a buddy a couple of times but all we did was complain about how cold we were and how stupid it was to be outside. Neither was helpful and I certainly don’t need anyone to remind me of the latter.

While the snow has been a bit of a challenge this year the more significant “pain in the butt” has been the wind. The other day it was blowing so hard that when I ran into the wind it was like being on a treadmill. The legs were moving but I wasn’t going anywhere. At times I was bent so far forward into the wind that I looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame. If the wind had stopped it would have resulted in a rather nasty face plant.

Speaking of treadmills, there is always that option for the less adventurous. Some runners swear by them in the winter and are comfortable running for hours in one spot. I’ve tried it a few times and once I even ran for an hour an half on one. To say it was boring would be an understatement but it certainly gives you a better perspective on what it is like to be a mouse on one of those running wheels. The mice by the way, apparently really like running on the wheel and researchers use it to study autism in mice as well as mouse behavior. How they determined the correlation of mice behavior to human behavior (or for that matter that a mouse has autism) is outside my scope of knowledge or interest but I suspect they would tell me my dislike for treadmills says something disturbing about my mental state.

But I have to admit, I do like running outside in the winter. Just as long as it is not too cold, too windy, too snowy or too icy. In New England that means I’m good about two days a month. The rest of the time I just have to get along with Mother Nature.

Monday, February 4, 2013

If running keeps you young, why do I feel so old?

I was reading an article the other day on life expectancy and it predicted that based on my age, health and parents longevity that I would likely live to be 100. I haven’t really planned for to be around that long and it raises interesting questions on what will come first…running out of money or running out of legs (although I could always compete in the wheelchair division).

And if you are thinking, no one runs a marathon at 100…think again. In 2011 a 100 year old man set the record for the marathon in his age group (granted there are not a lot of competitors in that group). To match his feat (8 hours) I would have to run for 40 more years and not slow down more than a hour a decade. No small feat given how old and battle scarred my legs currently feel. Heck, I’d be happy to keep up with my father-in-law who just won a 5K at 86.

The affect of age on running is like the affect of age on a fine cheese….eventually it just stinks. Getting past the initial aches and pains of the first few miles is like getting that stinky cheese past your nose…if you want to taste the good feeling you have to get through the stinky stuff first. As I get older it seems to take more than a few miles to get past the “stinky stuff.”

Don’t get me wrong, I like running (and cheese), I just don’t like what getting old does to my running. But for all the moaning and groaning about the aches and pains of being an age-challenged runner (it’s not polite to say “old” anymore) I wouldn’t trade being on the roads for any other form of exercise. For me, being a “geezer wheezer “ is just fine.

What does piss me off is being injured. It’s hard enough getting up at 5 AM on cold winter mornings to slog through a couple of hours of below-freezing running in the dark. But to do it limping from a sore hamstring or a painful knee, well let’s just say it’s certainly not the fun part.

So why do it? I could point to a recent article by Owen Andersen on the benefits of running to people over 60. Owen refers to a series of studies on the affects including the following:

What other things did mum forget to tell you about running? Well, she probably didn't mention that once you reach the age of 60, your HDL should rise by about 1.5 ticks for each additional 10 kilometres of running that you complete per week. Plus, for each 10 kilometres, your waist circumference will narrow by one centimetre, your hip circumference will do the same, your diastolic blood pressure will dive by .4 mm Hg, resting heart rate will go down by .6 beats, and blood-fat levels will decrease by 3.3 mg/dL. (Full article at )

It could also be that I’m just addicted. After 40+ years of running, I’m a street-pounding junkie. There’s a study on the Live Science web site that suggests that the endorphins released in runners become addictive over time. The study used rats to prove the point, and while I prefer not to be equated to rodents, my wife would certainly argue that when you take away my running the response can certainly resemble the negative aspects of withdrawal.

But the real reason I run marathons is because it’s my reminder that I’m blessed to have the ability and time to do it and I can use that gift to give back to the people who do not. It’s also a way for me to keep my son’s memory alive by dedicating the effort to the charity in his name, “Help in the Nick of time.” I’ll concede I like the health effects of running and there is no question there is a certain “high” to being fit, but before I started running for charities I only ran 1 marathon in 10 years. In the last 6 years I have done 9 and we have raised over $30,000 to help others.

I love win-win scenarios…I get the running benefits, the people we help get hope and assistance, and I get to do something that celebrates my son’s memory. Age be damned, what more can you ask for?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Marathons are for Sissies


When did running a marathon become passé? Recently an acquaintance asked me in passing what I do for exercise. I mentioned that I ran distance races and in the course of the conversation the Boston marathon came up. His response was along the lines of “that’s nice but have you ever done a Spartan Race”. He then proceeded to give me the blow by blow description of what sounded like a 5 mile run with periodic torture obstacles along the way. While he never said it outright, there was clearly a tone of “real men have moved on from simple marathons”.

There have always been crazy people willing to try insane feats of physical effort, and challenging others to join them (usually as a result of copious amounts of alcohol). But it does seem like over the last 30 years that the one-up–man ship has gone beyond what most people would considered reasonable.

I ran my first marathon in 1978, the same year the Iron Man Triathlon was run. At that time the Boston Marathon attracted about 5000 elite runners; the Hawaii Iron Man had 15. The number of people competing in Iron Man Triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a full marathon run - 26.2 miles) has doubled in the last 10 years to 170,000 per year (another 1 million participate in triathlons of shorter distances).

Dwarfing the growth in triathlons is the growth in the obstacle runs. Relatively short by comparison (most are 3-10 miles) their physical challenge is in the obstacles that have to be completed along the way. Standard obstacles might include climbing walls and hay bales, crawling in the mud under barb wire (sometimes electrified), carrying logs or sandbags up ski slopes, wading/swimming across rivers or pools of ice water, crossing logs over pits of snakes (I just made up the snakes), mud and butter covered monkey bars and rope climbs. Some of the more challenging include crawling through small tunnels on your belly, attempting to climb sheets of ice/snow or running through a maze of hanging electrical wires ( They come with names like Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, or Tough Mudder, and participation has grown from several thousand participants in the 2006-2007 timeframe to estimates of over 1 million participants in 2012.

If that is not enough for you there are always ultra marathons, running distances greater than 26.2miles. They come in two flavors: distance based (50 miles, 100 miles, 1000 miles), and those that are time based (as many miles as you can run in 6, 12, or 24 hours). Only 70,000 people compete in these annually. It’s hard to get your head around someone running 500 miles in 7 days but I have a friend (Pippa Davis) who was once the third fastest woman in US in the event. And for the especially sanity challenged you can choose to run these ultra’s in places like Death Valley or the Sahara desert.

Of course for me, I’m just happy to be one of the 600,000 who finished a marathon in the US last year (actually 2 marathons). And I’ll be even happier if the body hangs together long enough for me to make it through this year’s Boston Marathon. Like the last 6 years, I will be blogging my way through another New England winter training while raising funds for Help in the Nick of Time. Join me for what should be an entertaining blog trip leading up to the marathon. It will certainly be a lot more fun than competing in obstacle races, iron man triathlons or ultra marathons.