Advice for Boston newbies

Howdy, friends.

This will appear in the Friday Outdoors section, but many of us will be on the road by then. And we’ll be too busy staring at weather apps to check the news on our phones.

So here’s some advice for how to tackle the Boston Marathon, from folks who have been there:

It’s all downhill. Or at least the first few miles are. That’s just one of the many challenges the Boston Marathon course presents to runners. Excitement, nerves and a little downhill can combine to make runners start out too fast — and pay later on the 26.2-mile route. Marathons are many things, but forgiving isn’t one of them.

The route that winds from the tiny town of Hopkinton and into Boston has a series of late hills that can crack even the most prepared runner. There’s even a name for it: Heartbreak Hill.

South Dakota has a long tradition of sending runners out east. So we asked some of them for advice on what to expect and what to watch out for in Boston. It’s good advice for most races.

On the course:

“I would say that if there is one thing to remember about running Boston it would be to take it easy the first four miles. Your adrenaline will be up, but these first miles are virtually all down(hill) and if you run them too hard whatever your strategy was for getting through the Newton Hills won’t matter.” — Rick Hanson, has run 11 Boston Marathons

“Start way easier then you think you should because the first half of Boston is mostly downhill and you’ll pay for too fast a start later.” — Mike Dunlap

“That first stretch, it’s like a big downhill. You just want to fly. Just don’t go out too fast. You can get so caught up in the atmosphere. I think I expended a lot of energy because the crowd is so electrifying. You just want to slap everybody’s hand. But that takes a toll in retrospect. I think it’s a matter of focusing. You just need to start out too fast. You’ll want to really bad.” — Ed Thomas, has run one Boston Marathon

“Do your homework and know the landmarks along the route. Citgo sign means a mile to go — and Boylston Street means you made it!” — Kristen Johnston, has run one Boston Marathon

Me and Kristen Johnston

Me and Kristen Johnston

“Line up a very specific meeting place after the race.” — Kristen Johnston

On the pageantry:

“The one thing that has always stuck with me is how loud and crazy it was at Wellesley. You could hear the crowd from half a mile away. So awesome. Be sure to enjoy it.” — Rob Sevold, has run two Boston Marathons

“Have fun because in all my marathons nothing compared to Boston. So enjoy the experience to the max!!” — Mike Dunlap

On being prepared:

“The first time I ran it was warm. That was 2004 and I believe at that time it was the second warmest Boston ever. Once we got to the start, we still had hours to kill. The veterans were obvious. They had cheap lawn chairs or other disposable seating, umbrellas, coolers, a throw-away blanket or even a sheet of plastic. There isn’t enough seating and Disney isn’t managing your wait time. So you need to have an idea how you’ll kill that time and stay race-ready. I was jealous of the lawn chairs and blankets as I sat perched on my plastic gear bag. At the very least I’d grab a nice sized sheet of plastic (in 2007 it was raining) and chunk of plastic would have served me on either occasion.” — Owen Hotvet, has run two Boston Marathons

“Wear old warm-ups that you can leave at the start. You get bused out to Hopkinton so early – you need to stay “warm” but don’t want to hassle with a bag that you have to put on the bus to be sent back to the finish. So just wear something you are willing to part with right before the start. They actually have containers that this discarded clothing goes into to be given to the needy.” — Mike Dunlap

On running your own race:

“Never wait for your friend going up the only hill in Boston. I did and it cost me qualifying again by 3 seconds. But I still like the guy.” — Rob Oswald

This entry was posted in Boston Marathon, Columns, Marathon, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Advice for Boston newbies

  1. msmidt says:

    Good luck next week. I hope the hip is feeling well.

  2. Danni says:

    My best Boston was the year I just went by feel. Probably my smartest marathon.

  3. Dave Graves says:

    Good luck. I’ve enjoyed your writing. Will be thinking of you Monday.

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