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Articles tagged #Marathon Man Gary Allen
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Just how tough is the Boston Marathon? from Marathon Man Gary Allen File 6

Just how tough is the Boston Marathon and how many times are runners told to resist the urge to start too fast....a very common mistake at the Boston Marathon.

OK don’t take my word for it, statistics don’t lie, Dave McGillivray the race director shared the following, “Of the 26,658 finishers, onl 705 ran the 2nd half faster than the first half for a measly 2.64%.”

This of course means 97.36% of the entire field were slowed by the tough terrain of the second 13.1 miles. I personally believe it was less about the Newton hills and more about imprudent pacing.

You see, Boston’s early downhills are almost impossible to resist. Speaking from experience, I have run the Boston Marathon 24 times and I think I might have run negative splits just twice. Yes, I started too fast.

Is this a common phenomenon at the Boston Marathon? Check out these statistics from an experienced marathoner and a good friend Stephen Peckiconis, “it doesn't vary much.” His split stats show just 749 / 2.81% ran negative splits in 2016 and only 812 / 3.07% in 2017.

So if you want to have success at Boston, run conservatively early or you’ll join the vast majority who slow or struggle in the second half every single year.

Marathon Man Gary Allen is a regular writer for My Best Runs

(05/13/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's best-known road racing events. The event attracts 500,000 spectators each year, making it New England's most widely viewed sporting event. Though starting with 18 participants in 1897, the event now attracts over 20,000 registered participants each year. You have to qualify to participate. Among...

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Don't spend any energy worrying about the weather for this year's Boston Marathon says Marathon Man Gary Allen File 5

You can’t control the weather. Don’t spend any energy worrying about it. Instead prepare for anything and everything for this year's Boston Marathon.  

1. Wear lots of throw away clothes to the start. Layers rule. Make sure your outer layer is a green trash bag to keep you dry. Hours of waiting to start being cold and miserable is not good.

2. Carry your race shoes and wear some old beaters to tromp around in the mud at athletes village. Change into your dry kicks in the corrals and toss your old shoes.

3. Bring some Mylar blankets to wrap up in and sit on in the corrals.

4. Don’t over dress for the actual race. If it’s raining you will be weighted down by sopping wet not needed gear. Remember the faster you run the more heat you generate and you can’t run fast if you have 15 lbs of soaked gear on.

5. Hat and gloves are key. Race singlet will work just fine, maybe arm sleeves. If below 40 I sometimes would wear two singlets.

6. If windy use the people around you to draft. In the infamous nor’easter in 2007 we had gusts of 30 mph right in our faces all damn day. I tucked in whenever I could conserving energy and would pop out when the gusts subsided. I ran 2:55:17 good for 9th OA AG.

7. Start with a 12 oz Poland spring water bottle in your hand and skip the congested mile 2 and 4 water stops. I found in big urban marathons I’d drink 6oz at mile 2 and then finish it at mile 4 but most importantly I skipped the crowded chaos of those first 2 stops.

8. Don’t follow the crowds. If village is insane you don’t need to go there. The hopkinton green right at the start is a fantastic place to wait. Plenty of Porto’s and you can head straight to your corrals when called. Lots of big trees to help shield you from weather.

9. Have fun and even if Mother Nature kicks you in the face Smile and yell, “yo bitch, BRING IT....IS THAT ALL YOU GOT!”

From Marathon Man Gary Allen who has run many Boston Marathons over many years. 

(04/10/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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Maine Woman with MS is running the grand slam of Ultra Running - Marathon Man Gary Allen File 4

Melissa Ossanna, of Bar Harbor, Maine, has big plans for 2019.  Not only will she be turning 50, she has registered for the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning” (fondly called ‘The Slam’ by those who participate).  This involves running four of the fiveoldest 100-mile footraces in the US, scheduled from June through September. 

This is a laudable and often daunting goal for every runner who attempts it, but Ossanna has another challenge, she has Multiple Sclerosis.  She was diagnosed with the condition in her mid-20’s and struggled quite a bit with temporary blindness, weakness and numbness in her limbs, and severe fatigue, among other issues.  

In 2009, she was unable to stay awake all day at work and was forced to go on intermittent disability.   She thought this might be the beginning of the end of her ability to earn a living, and most importantly, to be able to stay active with her husband and young son. 

Ultimately, she learned that the fatigue was a result of MS-related sleep apnea, which is treatable.   As she started to sleep better, she got some energy back, and was able to return to work full time.  She also decided to take the advice of her neurologist and use this bit of extra vigor to start exercising.  For years, she had been too tired to even consider adding an exercise program to her schedule.  

Where many people would start with a couch to 5K program, an introduction to fitness at the YMCA or something else reasonable, Ossanna happened into town the day before the Mount Desert Island marathon in 2011, had a moment of regret that she wasn’t a marathon runner, and then decided she would become one.  She registered for the MDI marathon 2012 before she even owned running shoes.  

The year of training was a long one, starting with not even beingable to run 0.8 miles (the length of the road she lived on).  However, once marathon day arrived in October 2012, Ossanna was ready and had learned to love running.  

That one marathon led to another, which then led to a 50K, then a trail 50K, then a 50-mile trail race, and then a 100-mile race.    Ever since she started running, Ossanna has not had any notable MS exacerbations.  She attributes her continued health to her running habit, and she never plans to slow down if she can help it.

With her decision to run the Grand Slam this year, Ossanna decided she wanted to raise money for a charity that meant something to her.  She had raised money for the National MS Society in the past, and had considered doing that again, until she ran the Vermont 100 in 2018 and became familiar with Vermont Adaptive.  Vermont Adaptive helps people with disabilities get outside and do active things.  

Becoming active in the outdoors gave Ossanna her life back, and has prevented any permanent disability for her, and she wants to help others to “get outside and play”, regardless of any challenges they face.  

If you want to support Melissa and Vermont Adaptive click on the link.

Top photo: Melissa at the Javelina Jundred 100 miler in AZ

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is an exclusive My Best Runs column.  Gary is one of only a few who have run a sub three hour marathon over five decades and hopes to make it six soon.) 

(02/10/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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What should I eat or drink during a marathon, pacing and what to do if you just are not into it early - Marathon Man Gary Allen File 3

Here are my thoughts on these three new questions.  Send your questions to bob@mybestruns.com Subject line Question for Marathon Man.

1. What should you drink or eat during a marathon?

Nutrition during a marathon is critical to your success. Back in the 1970s when I started running marathons sports nutrition companies didn't exist.  Besides water on the course we experimented with little things to help keep our energy going. My favorite was butterscotch hard candy. I pinned a few of these, still in their crinkled yellow wrappers, to the the waist band of my shorts, and would simply pop one in my cheek during the race. As it slowly dissolved, it would help give me steady energy.

Coke was also a go to product if we could get it on the course. Few races offered it officially but knowledgeable fans at old school events like Boston or Yonkers would sometimes hand out little mouth wash cups of Coca Cola, and it was pure gold.

I still think Coke works better than sports drinks. It offers caffeine, liquid and sugar and it helps keep your stomach happily settled. Today there are of course dozens of products and drinks and my best advice is to try a few in training and use the ones that work for you.

2.  How should you pace a marathon?

The most common mistake is starting too fast. Men especially  are far more impatient than women in the critical first 10k of marathons. If you are pacing well, the last 10k should be equal or faster than the first 10k. This means NOT starting like you were shot out of a cannon.

If your goal and training suggests a sub 3 hour marathon, you will need to average 6:52 pace but it would be a mistake to run that pace from the start. Instead you should run 7:00 to 7:05 pace and the 6:40s you will be running in the late miles because you were conservative early will  feel great!

3. If you just aren't into the marathon during the first three miles, what should you do?

Breathe and move. Often a byproduct of the taper period is feeing lethargic in the early miles as you body remembers what to do. Many times tough early miles are an indicator that you'll have a great day.

How many times have we all heard the winners say, "I felt terrible early" and then they go on to win! Remember you are only human and it doesn't matter that you followed a perfect training plan down to the letter.

The marathon is still more like the common persons Mt. Everest versus something as predictable as telemarketers calling at dinner time. Remember marathon running is more like an expedition than a drive thru and not everyone summits.

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is a regular My Best Runs column.  Gary Allen is one of a few runners who have run a sub three hour marathon for each of the last five decades.  He is also a race Director and coach.)

(01/14/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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Millinocket Marathon

Millinocket Marathon

The Millinocket Marathon & Half has again joined forces with the Mount Desert Island Marathon, Half & Relay to create the Sea to Summit Maine Race Series, featuring two amazing events and a very special finishers medallion! This FREE event was started in 2015 to help a struggling Maine mill town that has been devastated by the closing of their...

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Merry Christmas to all our My Best Runs followers from Bob Anderson and staff

We have been up here in Bend Oregon visiting my son and his family since Friday. My son Michael Anderson is our MBR results editor and post results as soon as they become available.  Sometimes it is as soon as the first runners are crossing the finish line. 

Michael (top photo) have carved out many running courses around his house.  We have already run 22.2 miles since Friday and will at least get in six  miles today.  

Last Christmas Michael lived in Eugene and we ran the Pre Trail Christmas morning.  

We have been running on Christmas Day forever.  When Michael lived in the Bay Area I would run with my daughter Lisa and her family and then run with Michael in the afternoon.  

Lisa (second photo) and family lives in San Jose, California.  She is our social media and newsletter editor.  We celebrated Xmas with them before heading up to Oregon.

Both of my kids have run marathons, my wife has run a half marathon and many other races but after operations on both feet can’t run now (Catherine works out at the gym these days) and all my four grandkids run even including my two year old, Bear. Owen age 12 have already run a 5:52 mile.  My son-in-law Justin has run a 1:27 half marathon.

We are a running family and have been forever.  There is no better day than Christmas Day to get outside and get in a few miles.  (Updated: Mike and I got in 7.1 miles through two inches of snow today.)

Two other members of our full time crew are Jaime and Manuel. They work at our La Piedad office.

Our webmaster Waitman Gobble keeps us all working and always is coming up with new features. 

Gary Allen (Marathon Man Gary Allen) and Larry Allen (Larry Allen on Running) have signed on to do regular writing for us sharing their many years of running wisdom and knowledge with us.  I am sure they will be getting out and getting in a few miles today.

Willie Korir is located in Nairobi, Kenya and has been sharing insights into what makes many runners in Kenya superstars.  He has also run and logged 2851 miles for our three Run The World Challenges since July 4. 

Our third Run The World team is not too far off of running and logging enough miles to circle the planet for the third time.  I am so proud of our team. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone.    Be sure to get out today and let’s all make 2019 a super year.  I know this is our plan here at My Best Runs.

(12/25/2018) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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Hitting the wall, what to eat and your longest training run were the first three questions for Marathon Man Gary Allen File 2

I am going to cover a lot of ground in my column here.  Here are my thoughts on three questions I have been asked many times.

1. What is the best thing to do if you hit the wall at 20-miles in a marathon?

Firstly, you shouldn’t hit the wall in a marathon, if you do you are probably undertrained or you likely ran far beyond your abilities, especially in the early miles.

Rather than tell people what to do when they hit the wall I’d like to share how not to. In most cases you need to train for years to harden you mind and body to the rigors of what you are undertaking. There are no short cuts to avoid hitting the wall besides training hard and racing smart. 

2.  What should you really eat and drink during the two days before running a marathon? 

Eat and drink whatever you typically eat or drink . Sadly in this internet age there is so much information flying around it actually turns marathon running into the proverbial alligator under your bed it’s not.

Remember a marathon is a man made distance and if you turn it into something more than the long road race it is, you unintentionally give the race mental power you’ll need to run. The moment you start feeling bad, because of all this information that is pinging off your brain about what you should have eaten or drank, it is like being handed an anchor.

3. How long should you longest run be training for a marathon, when should it be done and at what speed? 

You should be able to cover 28 -30 miles fairly comfortably. These long runs shouldn’t be timed but run at a very comfortable pace whatever that is. Long runs (aka time on your feet) are to help you build endurance and efficiency and not speed.

As far as frequency, I particularly hate weekly training schedules. Your body doesn’t know Sunday from Wednesday, instead I tell people I have coached to break down running into basic ingredients such as long runs, hills, speed etc and make sure you add all of these basic ingredients about every 10-12 days.

Running is not rocket science no matter how many people try to convince you otherwise. My advice is to go have fun and because you are having so much fun you’ll get much better at playing!

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is a regular My Best Runs column.  Gary Allen is one of a few runners who have run a sub three hour marathon for each of the last five decades.  He is also a race Director and coach.)

(12/21/2018) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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Don’t use winter as an excuse instead make it a reason to go outside and run says Marathon Man Gary Allen File 1

I get lots of questions about winter running. Many wonder about traction on ice and snow or even how to dress in cold temperatures. At our just run Millinocket Marathon & Half held in Northern Maine the air temperature was between 4F and 6F at the start depending if you were standing in the sun or not.

It was pretty icy on the Golden Road as runners headed north towards Mt Katahdin. (pic). 

The fact is that running on ice is not that difficult in standard running shoes. When we run, vs when walking, our individual foot strikes are in contact with the ground for much less time, meaning we are almost already falling forward, coupled with the fact that when running we  exert about 1.5 times of our body weight in down force per stride, which makes us into traction machines. The tricky part of running on ice and snow is turning or stopping. This is when we fall.

As far as what to wear? In temps below 10F it’s always about layers.  For example a tech tank top, a tech short sleeve, a tech long sleeve, plus a wind jacket on top. Tights plus wind pants on the legs, two hats and face protection, if windy, and gloves with mittens over and you’re good to go! 

As I like to tell runners, don’t use winter as an excuse instead make it a reason to go outside and run!

(Marathon Man Gary Allen - Read more from Gary here at My Best Runs.  Gary is one of only a few marathoners in the world who has run a sub three hour marathon in each of the last five decades.  In 2020 he wants to make it six.  No one in the world has done that.)

(12/19/2018) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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He hopes to be the only man on earth to run a sub three hour marathon in six consecutive decades - Marathon Man Gary Allen introduction

Gary Allen is going to sharing his thoughts and knowledge here in MBR’s Running News Daily under the banner “Marathon Man Gary Allen.”

In his first column I sent him some questions so we all could get a flavor of what makes this incredibly creative and talented man tick.  I know I am looking forward to his writings here and I hope you are too!

So Gary, how did you discover running?

”I wanted to be a hockey player,” wrote Gary “but there weren’t enough kids on the small Maine Island I am from for a team. Then in 1972 I saw a skinny guy named Frank Shorter run into a stadium in Munich and I was like cool, you can win a gold medal just for running.”

How important is running to you?

“I have been involved with running for my entire life so assigning importance to who and what I am is like trying to describe how big the universe is to an ant. It is impossible for me to adequately portray how all encompassing running is to me as a part of my life,” says Gary. 

Does being an accomplished runner help you put on first class events?

“Absolutely! The races I direct are direct reflections of what and how I expect races to be run. I would never ask anyone to do something I haven’t done so I merely apply my expectations and my creativity to every race I help to organize.”

What one race you have run stands out as number one?

“Ahhhhh I can’t narrow it down to one race. However, Boston is always high on every list. I have one more to run to make a quarter century of unicorn chasing. The Burning Man ultra (photo) is a race I love beyond words. It helped change my thinking about how races run.

“A combination of an other worldly environment and no entry fee helped to expand my thinking. NYC (19 finishes) is where I was inspired to become a race director after watching Fred Lebow in action in 1980. It is reality true, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere! 

Tell us about your coaching?

“I have coached at the HS level and coached many individuals over the years but my current team is at Mount Desert Elementary School where I have been the XC coach for the past 12 years.

“My philosophy is pretty simple, make running fun and kids will want to run more and the more they run the better they get at running which is of course even more fun for them!

“One of of our key workouts is called, zombie tag. We run in the surrounding Maine woods and trails and I assign a few zombies and the rest of the team tries to run away and not get caught. 

“I also love to hide pizzas in the woods and have the kids run around and find them! Apparently my methods work cause in the past decade plus we have won almost every meet we’ve run!”

What are your personal goals as a runner?

“As a race director: I want to leave our sport better than I found it.

”As a coach: I want to inspire the next generations of runners to think about running for their entire lives. Rather they run or not matters little, but I want them to always remember and to love running knowing some will go on and be involved in our sport as competitors, coaches or even as race directors.

”As a competitor: I have accomplished pretty much every goal I’ve set for myself. Of late I struggle some with the naturally selfish nature of being a long distance runner.

“The single dimensional, ‘I’m training for,’ ‘Look at me’ has become less and less appealing to me over the years.

“As you know one of my proudest achievements is joining the five decades Sub 3 hour marathon club. At this point nobody on earth has run a sub 3 hr marathon in six consecutive decades so maybe it’ll give it a shot in 2020!

“Incidentally Joan Benoit Samuelson is the only other Mainer on the list and the only woman who has done this and I wouldn’t count out Joanie to run a sub 3 for her 6th decade.

Can you give us some background info?

“For Work: Lobsterman, Boat Builder, Carpenter, Yacht captain, Farmer, Auctioneer, Coach, Inspirational speaker.”

”Some Personal Records: Marathon 2:39:10, Half Marathon 1:13:20, 50 miles 6:21.

”My family settled on Great Cranberry Island in the 1670s.  I am 12th generation. It’s a small offshore Island off the coast of Maine. It’s probably the most unlikely place to become a runner as the main road is only two miles long. I built my own house by hand from trees growing on my land. I dug my well with a shovel figuring they used to do it that way so why couldn’t I?”

(12/16/2018) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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