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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > begin your boston at baystate!

Begin your Boston at BayState!
Find out what local marathon hopefuls have known for years – run the BayState in Lowell on October 15th this year.

Begin your Boston at BayState!
Christopher Russell

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By Christopher Russell
Posted Tuesday, 3 October, 2006

Begin your Boston at BayState!
Find out what local marathon hopefuls have known for years – run the BayState in Lowell on October 15th this year.

Don’t Train in vain!
One of the best qualifiers is getting better!
This year the ’06 version of the BayState Marathon is reaching out to personally coach you through a successful Boston qualifying campaign. Add this feature to the well know, fast, flat, and pretty, river-side course and it adds up to a winner for you and plenty other mid-packers this year.

I have gifted friends who can just show up and run a qualifying marathon, but if you’re like me, a qualifying marathon is a lot of work and takes months, if not years to accomplish. The execution of a good marathon starts with commitment and desire but it relies on lots of groundwork and daily discipline to get you to the starting line. After a few years and a few campaigns you learn the tricks. It’s still hard, but it’s more formulaic. You learn the recipe and the qualifying cake is easier to bake. The BayState Marathon is reaching out this year with personalized coaching that adds the last piece to that puzzle.

BayState is providing personalized coaching for you. Here is how it works….They have set up a coaching program whereby UMass Lowell Head Coach Gary Gardner and 2:15 Olympic Trial Qualifier Nate Jenkins create a personalized plan and work you through it. The coaches will provide you with your own plan based on your goals and capabilities. They will run weekly coached sessions through the summer to keep you on track and review your progress every couple of weeks.

They will also host supported long runs on the course throughout the training. Knowing the course is a huge tactical advantage in a marathon campaign. You can participate virtually as well, and make those sessions that you can. This is a great opportunity to hit your goals and timed perfectly to start in early July. You should jump on this one if you want to qualify in ’06-’07.

If you think about it, it is a natural extension of the race support concept. They’ve simply extended that race support to the point in time when you decide to start training. The BayState staff continues to provide support through to your triumphant finish on the Jumbotron in LeLacheur Park and the massage table afterwards.

Understand your race preparation
Those of you who have run a marathon or a half marathon know that the race itself is only a few hour execution of a 14-16 week training program. The event itself is a blink of an eye compared to all those weeks and days and hours of training, stretching, eating and praying!

The process begins when you decide to run or decide it’s time to qualify. From that point on you are a passenger on a physical and emotional roller coaster ride. Once you set your goal you have bought your ticket. From that point on you need help. External support greatly increases your chance of success. This is why runners club together and share experiences. This is why they find competent coaches. This is why BayState is a compelling fall marathon selection. They add this dimension of coaching to the existing flat, fast marathon friendly course. This could make the difference for many marathon hopefuls.

A training program can be a heck of a ride. The longer you stay on the ride, the closer you get to your goal date, the more it picks up speed. Towards the end the process starts to consume you. If you can hold on through the long runs on cold mornings, miserable, sweaty track workouts, the isolation from your “normal” family and friends, at some point you begin to sense a light at the end of the tunnel. The ride starts to coast downhill. You arrive at your destination race fit and confident.

BayState is providing experienced guides to help you navigate the dangerous shoals of this river journey. This is not just a physical journey. In fact, a big part of the attractive mystique of the marathon is that it is a mental exercise. The training process will test you and can break you both physically and mentally. As you progress through your campaign the physical stress magnifies along with the mental stress of staying on track. If you make it to the starting line you are in peak physical and mental shape.

This is where good personal coaching and BayState comes in. After a few campaigns you know what to expect. You know where the physical and emotional peaks and valleys are. Because you know, you are able to more easily work through them.

If you were going on a 16 week trip across Europe and Africa would you ‘wing’ it? Would you jump in the car without a plan and a passport? Well you might, but not if you cared about the outcome and had limited capital to spend. That is essentially what you are doing if you embark on a marathon plan without coaching.

After a few campaigns you will learn the tips, tricks, tactics, traps and secrets of the veteran that will allow you to surf the highs and navigate the lows, but it never gets easy, only comprehensible. Even savvy veterans, (especially savvy veterans), have coaches. A coach brings out the best in you physically while helping you maintain the sanity balance emotionally!

Always been a great place to qualify.
BayState has for years been known as a New England qualifying race. This is the place where the club runners gathered in the fall to run their Boston qualifiers. I speak from experience. I ran my first qualifying campaign here along the grassy banks of the Merrimack River.

BayState has been growing up over the past couple of years. The number of participants is growing and the infrastructure has been put in place to support it. Opening up Tsongas arena for runners at the start allows for comfort and efficiency. I had plenty of room to stretch out in the cavernous arena last year – and the restroom were plentiful. The adjacent parking garage is an easy in-out and can handle the capacity. The marathon will be capped at 1,000 this year and they may get that many. Registration is way up.

The race has grown up from the club race I used to run ten years ago. The May issue of Running Times Magazine recognized BayState as “One of the nations fastest marathons.” This was said in the same breath as Chicago and other notable big-city marathons. That’s quite an achievement. For me it’s like watching someone I went to high school with make the national news! (We’re all so proud…)

There are water stops very 2 miles. They have managed to recruit enthusiastic water stop crews from all the local high schools and let them compete for who has the best stop, with the winner getting a donation to their favorite charity.

The course
The BayState course is a great tactical course for racing. It is flat, but not so much to bore you. It has plenty of shade and protection and good on-course support. The mighty Merrimack River is always close by – lending its slow, easy strength. The course is a double loop course with a strong, flat-to-downhill finish inside the baseball stadium at LeLacheur Park.

At the end of your weeks of training come the hours of truth. A good course will help you from ‘losing it’ on race day. The course, like the race, goes through a series of phases. Some of the old-timers will quip “the marathon is a 20 mile run with a 10k race at the end.” More appropriate would be to say it is four distinct races lined end to end.

The first quarter of the race is an adrenaline fueled struggle to hold back and run your pace even though it feels too easy. The crush of the crowd in the starting corral, the nervous last minute worries about hydration and strategy, it all comes together to that point of no return when the gun goes off. You jostle for position, trying to relax and get comfortable. Then you start to settle.

At BayState this first part of the race takes you out of the old, brick city of Lowell and along towards the river. Soon enough you are running alongside the mighty Merrimack River and starting to settle down as the crush of runners subsides enough to let you relax.

The second quarter of the race is where you settle in and comfortably relax in anticipation of the work to come. You should be running comfortably and able to strike up conversations with those around you. Maybe you join up with a crew of like minded qualification hopefuls and have a nice chat as the miles go by. You will be well on your way through the first loop of the BayState Marathon during this phase. You will cross the signature bridge in Tyngsboro and start to head back in towards town and the half marathon point.

The third quarter of the marathon is where things start to get serious. As you start to pass into the higher mileage it begins to feel like work. You have to focus on your mile splits and religiously work to keep your assigned pace. You may start to feel fatigued and have to push a little to stay on pace. You may feel great but have to keep your foot off the gas, because it’s still too early to let the horses fly. Towards the end of the 3rd quarter, if you have trained well, you will start to feel elated and closer to your goal. If you have not trained well, or if you have gone out too fast, towards the end of the 3rd quarter you begin to feel it. As you round the corner and cross the Tyngsboro Bridge for the second time you should have a very good idea of how your race is going to end

For now you are entering that surreal country that is the final miles of the marathon. If you have trained well you will maintain your pace expectantly watching the miles roll off one by one in slow motion. If you are struggling then your race is probably already over except for the run-walk-head-down shuffle that will allow you to cover the last few miles.

It is the in-between races that take all the effort -those races where you are working hard for the last 10 miles and are waiting for the wall to make its ugly appearance. These are the races where mental and physical training allows you to say “No!” to the inner demons and forge ahead triumphant. These are the times where you have to muster all your physical and emotional energy. These are also the best memories. You will always remember the races that you fought to the end, whether you win or lose, because these are the mortal combats that make us immortal.

Once you cross the Tyngsboro Bridge for the second time, you are heading into the finish. The road is flat and bordered by the river on the right. Just as the river flows to the Atlantic, you can flow to your finish. Instead of turning for another loop the last 2-3 miles tilt downhill towards the ball park and your finish. You cross one last bridge in the final mile then circle the park and make your entrance at the third base line. Your family and friends may be in the stands cheering you as you round the field, finishing along the first base line towards home plate. The medal will be hung around your neck and you will stagger triumphantly into the locker room for a free massage.

The Brewery Exchange is back!
Who remembers the old Brewery Exchange Classic? This was a 5k in Lowell most notable for the excellent free beer! The BayState Marathon has co-opted the old brewery for their after-race party. You’ll have to train extra hard to survive this post race party.

Last year’s race
I missed my time at BayState last year, but it had to do with my not training well enough and the hurricane-force winds we had. Many people did make their times (I know, I saw them pass me in the last 4 miles!). BayState consistently has a very high percentage of finishers who run qualifying times. Weather is typically perfect for racing – mid 50’s and cool-ish. Last year was a weather aberration and the course is well protected and moderate as it hugs the river valley.

Thirty Five year old Robert Lukaskiewicz from Rutland, VT won last year with a 2:37:18. He ran ‘only’ 6 minute miles in the wind. Johanna Thomas from Allston, MA won it for the women with a 2:58:39 - 6:49.

Make your date – qualify in ’06 for ’07
Sign up now for the BayState Marathon. Take advantage of a classic qualifying course. Get free, personal, professional coaching. As the race director, Mark Coddaire likes to say, “BayState 2006 is your best bet to qualify for Boston 2007!”



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