Thursday, March 01, 2007

Boston Marathon Tips from Motor City

Today I'll let one of the pros show you how to get from Hopkinton to Boston.
Doug Kurtis won the Master's Division in '94 so read on...

A survivor's guide for the Boston marathon
February 28, 2007

Once a month, Windsor's Running Factory has a social run. It's an opportunity to run as a group and drink a few Canadian beers afterward. On last week's run, a number of runners who were preparing for the Boston Marathon asked for advice on how to prepare for the oldest marathon in the world.

With just seven weeks before Patriot's Day, let me offer a few suggestions to improve your race for Boston or other hilly marathons.

• Find some hills and run what I call stepladders. Run a quarter of the way up and down, then halfway up and down and so on. Treat it the same as doing a speed workout. Three or four sets should work depending on the size of the hill.

• Mark Bauman, who owns a running store in Flint, has run Boston 37 times. He suggests bringing plenty of Bodyglide and sunscreen to the start. "When the race started at noon, sunburn was likely on just the right shoulder, as the course runs east most of the way. With this year's earlier start time, runners should be prepared for a more overall tan."

• Bring a wide-mouth Gatorade container into the start corrals for those who can't get to a portable toilet.

• Run a smart race by using your head, not your emotions. The runners and the crowds get your adrenaline going, but they can push you to run too fast. Ask yourself at each mile mark: Am I running relaxed?

• Often the elite athletes run their best times by running faster over the second half of the course -- what we call a negative split. The second half is the toughest part of the course, but by taking it easy in the first half, runners find they can better handle the Newton and Heartbreak hills. Running easier over the fastest part of the course will also reduce the burning sensation in your quadriceps as you run downhill over the last several miles.

• Three buses will carry runners to the start from downtown Boston. They have bathrooms on board and will stay near the starting area until you are ready to depart. To hook up with them, call Bauman's Running and Walking Shop Center: 810-238-5981.

Because of the way the course is laid out, no other marathon beat me up physically as much as Boston. But it's a fast course if you run it properly. I won the master's division in 1994, at age 42, with my best time in 11 tries -- 2:15:47.

Contact DOUG KURTIS at Detroit Free Press, 600 W. Fort St., Detroit 48226 or