Run Leaders / Chuck's Boston Experience

Nasties - Sunday Morning Run Leaders

During the summer I am looking for 8-10 people who are willing to lead 2 long runs. When I say "lead", that does not mean that you have to be the fastest person out there, it just means that you plan the course, location and starting time, and then show up that morning with maps and/or easy directions.   Location and starting time are up to you (I would suggest 7 a.m. in August!), but here are the approximate distances that we are looking for:

June:  8-10 miles

July: 10-12 miles

August: 12- 14 miles

This consistency will give us a great base to build into a fall 1/2 or full marathon.  Also, a weekly long run is vital no matter what distance you are racing.

Post a comment with your email address if you want to be a Sunday morning run leader, and I will be contacting you guys within a week or so to pick dates.  Please post a comment even if you talked to me last night.  If we get enough volunteers I would love to have 2 leaders per week!

Boston Marathon

For those of you who missed Hargrove's blinding neon yellow shirt, Chuck ran the Boston marathon.  He has documented his experience below.  Enjoy!

The 113th annual Boston Marathon was held April 20, 2009. This sporting event started in 1897, the year following the first modern Olympic Games. Participants must qualify for this race with times depending on age and gender.  In my case a 3:30 or better marathon was required within eighteen months preceding race. A 3:25 at December 2007 Huntsville Rocket City Marathon would earn my spot in the historic 2009 Massachusetts marathon.

For me the 2009 Boston race was a final running achievement.  In high school and college I had five running goals. Four pertained to interscholastic competition.  Through hard work, excellent coaching and motivated, driven teammates those goals were met.  Goal number five was the Boston Marathon.

December 1982 I qualified under the then Boston open standard 2:50.  As a college student-athlete our 1983 track season would host its national championships one month after Boston. Considering typical student financial limitations, priority was given to college teammates and partial scholarship. Alas I would miss 1983 Boston.  I would qualify again soon, or so I assumed.

May 28, 1983 I did not finish our NAIA national championship marathon.  Weather was hot; I would not score in event.  I had a ticket to next day’s Indianapolis 500.  Driving a Chevrolet Chevette from Charleston WV to Indianapolis was not the luxury one would expect. This marathon DNF (did not finish) would play an important role on my return home.

Fall 1983 we had another successful college cross country season but signs of burnout were showing. Eventually I would accelerate my studies and graduate a semester early.  I would not run another marathon.

Late 2003 I began running again.  Four years later I got my Boston qualifier.  April 2009 I would visit New England for the first time.  After a few days of sightseeing, then dinner with some Nashville runners and a Nashville friend attending Boston University, race day arrived.

Traditional race day is Patriots’ Day, celebrated third Monday of April.  This marathon is well executed and managed.  Course is point to point meaning course is a line between Hopkinton and Boston.  Shuttle buses take runners to a parking lot only yards from starting line. Volunteers on buses then collect running gear which competitors can claim after race in downtown Boston.

Race start was 10:00 and 10:30 for the two corrals, ensuring participants a smooth and clear running lane.  Rain was not in forecast for the day, although we would have wet weather day before and after race. Runners would face headwinds of 15 to 25 miles per hour. Temperature at start was 51 degrees, falling to 47 by race end.

Course runs through 26.2 miles (42.195 km) of winding roads, following Route 135, Route 16, Route 30 and city streets into the center of Boston.

My goal would be simply finishing the race.  This would be a casual jog.  Three weeks earlier I ran 21 miles at a comfortable 8:24 per mile pace.  My wardrobe would be an East Nasty dry fit shirt, a Key West Southernmost Runners visor as I am a member of both groups.  Shorts of green were a saulte to my Hillwood and Bellevue high school teammates.

Armed with disposable camera I was underway.  Here I was on the same course ran by greats Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, John Kelley, Amby Burfoot, Jacqueline Gareau, Joan Benoit and others.  First thought to mind was a quote from Sarah, a local Nashville running coach with Boston knowledge and experience.  Take first half easy as downhill route will dictate a fast tempo.

First three miles were easy and mostly downhill.  I snapped a couple of photos that are now posted on my Facebook page.  5k split was 26:10, 8:26 per mile.  This was about same as 21-miler three weeks earlier. Chanting, “Go East Nasty,” my shirt became a popular rally phrase.

An early impression was availability of aid stations.  Water and Gatorade tables were on both sides of street.  Medical and first aid tents were abundantly stocked. Participants, having qualified for this race, were aware of pace.  There was not much surging or corrals intermingling early.  I was seeded in tenth corral with number 10147.  First six mile surrounded me with numbers between 9,000 and 11,999.

Runners can be an eclectic bunch.  Boston was no exception.  One couple dressed in Revolutionary War costumes. 10k split of 52:30 was 8:26 per mile.

Feeling good and taking photos I passed 15K in 1:18:08 or 8:24 per mile.  Weather was continually windy and cool.

Mobility impaired athletes are granted an early start.  Around 15K I saw one wheelchair bound athlete pushing himself backward through the course, using only his feet.  Another runner was attached and running with his oxygen tank.  These athletes were inspiring. An Atlanta friend was participating as below knee amputee and would finish  in just over six hours.

Half-marathon split 1:49:23 was comfortable, but I felt an adrenaline surge at the Wellesley Wall.  Wellesley College is famous for their cheering and vocal support.  You can hear the thundering din nearly a mile before reaching this energetic crowd.  One sign read,”Runners, kiss me before I graduate.” Looking at 8:21 per mile I was slower than Huntsville qualifying pace.  That was fine by me.  However I was running too fast to keep my four hours plus finish pledge.

25K 2:10:02 was 8:23 per mile.  Soon I knew the famous hills would be here. First hill is Newton Hill. The Newton hills confound contestants (out of proportion to their modest elevation gain) by forcing a late climb after the downhill trend of the race to that point. Many Nashvillians told me these Boston hills were small compared to Warner Park hills.  They were correct.  I began taking more photos and noticing crowds.  Orange slices and water were offered by families and fans along the course. Hamstring became tight for a moment, likely from downhill running.  Another mile or two and all systems were back to normal.

30K 2:39:00 made 8:32 per mile. Heartbreak Hill is an ascent over 0.4 mile of the Boston Marathon course, between the 20 and 21 mile marks, in the vicinity of Boston College. At this point I may have missed the John Kelley statue.  Kelly is a two-time winner at Boston and completed many times. He continued to race at Boston until 1968, when he did not start, and again through 1992, when he at age 84 started his 61st and final Boston Marathon. He completed that Boston Marathon (his 58th finish) in 5:58:00.

Atop Heartbreak is where I would become a small local celebrity.  After cresting Heartbreak Hill a female reporter with local CBS affiliate WBZ-TV ran alongside with microphone in hand.  She asked me to stop, talk about the hardest part of the course and what I thought.  Thankfully the brain to tongue filter was working.  My first answer would have been, “The hardest part for me is dragging a 45-year old, 220 pound frame up that hill.”

What came out of my mouth was chamber of commerce gold. “This race is an awesome event.  Running this race has been a lifelong dream finally come true.  My Nashville friends told me what a fun race this would be.  They could not accurately describe the excitement and history of this event.  This will be my first, and last, Boston Marathon. “ At this point cute female reporter chuckles.  I have my game working today. “The fans and crowd support are fantastic.  This is a well-organized event.  You have a wonderful town here.  I am honored to run this race.”

35K 3:13:04 became an 8:53 pace.  This was the price of celebrity.  “East Nasty” chants were mixed with,”We saw your interview on television.  Great work.”  Then the obligatory high fives.  More photos and high fives induced carpal tunnel syndrome later I was feeling tired .  Temperatures were cooler.  Drafting was no longer effective. I would look for my Nashville friends’ daughter around mile 23 to 24. My hamstring had another 30-second flair, likely from downhill running and cooler temperatures.

My mind recalled stories from runners in the 2007 marathon.  A noreaster breeze and snow storm made that day’s run a struggle.  Today was tropical compared to two years ago.

40K split was 3:50:29.  At this point I am near Fenway Park. Crowds are seven deep on each side.  The second wave of runners are passing me.  I don’t mind.  This would be my last 1.3 miles at Boston, I wanted to enjoy and view every step. I would cover last 1.3 miles in a virtually walking 17:39.

The final stretch down Boylston Street was incredible. Finish was 4:07:39.  The last 400 yards, the sea of runners getting their final burst of energy, was an awesome sight. The public address announcer called names,  including,”Number 10147, Chuck Hargrove from Tennessee.” One second later I hear,”Hey Chucker.” The only person who calls me that is Mike Neal, one of my employees also in Boston.  Mike was cheering for his Brentwood neighbor also running.

My race was over.  A dream was fulfilled.  I felt pretty good, but cold.  I walked through the medical tent seeking something warm to drink.  My eyes and nose detected warm beef broth. Some runners were treated for hypothermia.  Walking through the medical tent I could hear doctors and nurses comparing runners’ body temperatures.  95.9 degrees was not an uncommon reading. Fortunately all runners I saw recovered.

That night Fanuiel Hall was the site for a runners’ appreciation party and reception.  Before the party I grabbed dinner at a local seafood restaurant.  At next table I overheard some runn ers discussing their ace.  A large crystal bowl was table’s centerpiece, and age group trophy belonging to new friend Tom.  Tom won the M65-69 age group title with a 3:16:02 finish.

As mentioned earlier the Boston Marathon was a long overdue, lifetime running goal now a dream fulfilled.  I was awestruck by the history and crowds.  If you get the chance to run Boston, DO IT.  You will not regret your decision.

I do not plan on running Boston again.  Who knows? Perhaps one day, if I am pacing friends through a marathon and my legs feel good, I may push for that M45-49 qualifying time of 3:30.  Should I be fortunate enough to break that time, I will again run Boston.

For now and the forseeable future I shall run with East Nasty friends.  Hopefully I can help those with Boston dreams.