Bob Halloran: Marathon Man (Part IV)

(note: Bob is going to provide weekly diaries as he prepares for the Boston Marathon. We’ll provide links to all of the previous posts in each new one, or you can click on the Boston Marathon tag below.)

Read Part I here.

Read Part II here.

Read Part III here.

Just in case I finish the Boston Marathon, there are a few people I’d like to thank. First, I have no idea whom to thank first, because it feels like every piece of advice and support I’ve received has been equally important. For the past three and a half months, I have been obsessed with doing everything exactly right. When you work this hard, you really don’t want to wind up having any regrets. So, I’ve spoken to lots of different people and picked their brains. Everyone who’s run a marathon knows more than I do about running marathons. Everyone who’s tried and failed knows more than I do. Everyone who’s tried and succeeded is a potential role model for me.

So, there’s Tony at the gym who told me to add leg strengthening exercises to my running routine. I absolutely believe the exercises he showed me kept me from getting hurt. Quads, hams, calves – check, check and check. Thanks, Tony.

There’s my wife’s colleague, Peg, who said I should run the last nine miles of the course to familiarize myself with the terrain. She told me to park at the Woodland T-stop, run to Copley, and take the Green Line back to my car. Do it more than once, she said. So, I did. Now, I believe I’m more prepared for the mental challenges of Heartbreak Hill and beyond. Thanks, Peg.

To my tennis partner, J.P., who lent me his water belt, thanks. I’ve had it with me on all of my long runs. It’s a Velcro belt with holsters for four water bottles. I’ll have it with me on race day, so I can keep hydrated without having to stop for water. I hate stopping. It’s too hard to start again.

Certainly, I couldn’t have gotten to the starting line without the fine men and women in the Lower Mills Running Club. They’ve been running together for years, and they welcomed me as one of their own. They run early, and they run far. And their stress free training program really helped me to relax. I hope they all do well on Monday, and I can’t wait for the post-race BBQ. Pasta salad is on me.

My friend and sports producer, Mike, who’s running his third Boston and fourth marathon overall was kind enough to let me pepper him with questions for the past few months. He showed me a great calf stretch which he attributed to Mike Lynch, and he told me about the Gatorade Endurance and the GU gel packs. Also, without knowing it, Mike motivated me to start this crazy thing in the first place. By the way, Kevin from the running club is the one who told me about the chocolate GU which is much better than the strawberry banana flavor I started with.

Kristen at New Balance set me up with a terrific pair of running shoes, other apparel and a watch that tracks my mile times. As an accomplished marathoner herself, she also offered consistently beneficial advice and encouragement throughout the training process. Thanks, Kristen.

Liz Brunner told me about the high potassium in coconut water. David Brown told me to eat ten bananas a week. And I think it was Mike Wankum who told me to get my water at the end of the water lines instead of the beginning. Thanks, guys.

J.P., who’s going to be waiting for me at mile 19 with a bottle of Gatorade, told me to squeeze the cups of water so they’ll be easier to pour. Wankum told me to keep the water in my mouth for a moment before swallowing which will help to avoid choking. Little tips like that are not little at all.

Bill with the state police invited me to ride on one of their buses that take us right up to the starting line also sends informational emails about diet, training, wardrobe, and etiquette. The emails are funny, too. Thanks, Bill.

Of course, my wife gets tremendous thanks for accommodating my training schedule, for putting up with the incessant smell of Ben Gay, and for a couple of long, deep massages. My daughter rolled my calves with a rolling pin more than once. She thought that was pretty weird, but now she’s being thanked in an on-line blog. So, there’s that.

To everyone who’s offered an encouraging word, and to the crowds who will cheer me and thousands of others on to the finish line, thank you. It helps more than you know.

And if I happen to not finish the race, my appreciation remains unabated. If that unfortunate result occurs, my effort will be in question, not yours. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

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