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Plenty of support made marathon do-able

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 18, 2012 07:03 PM

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100tara_bennett.jpg Tara Bennett is one of five Boston Marathon entrants testing the Polar RCX5 personal training computer and blogging about it for Boston.com

The last words of my last blog entry … well, Mother Nature did “bring it on.” Feeling a little “hot, hot, hot” on Monday was to say the least. So my run, and yes, it was a run and not a race, certainly turned out quite different than I had planned from when I excused myself from a meeting at 10 a.m. back in September to register for the Boston Marathon. My hopes of having a solid run on Monday faded quickly as I left Hopkinton on my 26.2 mile journey to Boston. And what a journey it was!

I was fortunate to connect with a good friend who invited my girlfriend Betsy (and fantastic runner partner) and I to come to a house her foundation had secured for their runners. Taking advantage of this offer was so perfect. The stage was set for marathon fever. I have never experienced the starting line festivities on marathon day. I thoroughly enjoyed the activities, seeing the wheelchair and elite women/masters start, and feeling the excitement, anticipation, and anxiety as the elite men and the first wave of runners took off. We had prime time access to a bathroom and met some new faces.

BetsyTaraMorning.jpgGot to love the spectators! You know life is good when, within 3 miles of the start of the race, you are surrounded by screaming adults holding plastic red cups and a rock band jammin’ away like it’s no one’s business. The fans made the race doable.

Thank you to all for the orange slices, Popsicles, loud cheers, cold water, and the sprinklers and hoses. And thank you to the fire stations for setting up the water tents and for opening up fire hydrants along the route. The Wellesley girls held up to their reputation, as did the students of Boston College. But I think the most memorable moments for me came when, after going through a water tent, I couldn’t clean off my glasses because my shirt was soaked so I ran up to a spectator and asked if I could use his shirt to wipe the water away – he said yes; and, when I was in the last mile and I stopped to stretch because I was fighting cramping and a woman kept telling me as I was stretching in front of her: “you can do it Tara, you will finish this race.”

These simple statements had been ones that I had been repeating over and over in my mind, but for some reason they hit me in the right place at the right moment. So thank you to all who made this run one to remember for me.

TeamBennett.jpgHowever, the best support came from Team Bennett – Bob, my husband, and my two kids, Liam and Aislinn. Wearing bright colors so I could easily spot them, the team met Betsy and me at five stops along the route – absolutely amazing! At each stop we had cold water and Gatorade, along with endurolytes, GUs, and ice, all of which was priceless at the last two stops.

Betsy and I found ourselves loitering a bit more at each stop as the race wore on. We were talking to other spectators and just could not get enough of the cold beverages. I would say from mile 10 on, we knew that this Boston Marathon was a marathon about finishing and not about racing. The heat was intense and this was evident in our heart rates.

After getting all my connections in order at the marathon expo Friday afternoon by Polar’s rep, Chris Zoller, I was eager to see my Monday results from the Polar products. Chris gave me his GPS belt clip, which rocked (thanks again, Chris!) so I didn’t have to wear the arm strap and I got my stride sensor connected with my watch.

Everything easily connected Monday morning (HR monitor, GPS, Stride Sensor) so I was ready to run. I took the first miles relatively easy, but still found my heart rate up in the lower 160s to high 150s – and this was going downhill! Good to have this info as it allowed me to adjust and made me realize around mile 2 that I needed to start dosing myself with water to cool down my body.

I was conscientious about my liquid and gel intake so as to make sure I did not fall behind my needs. In looking at my data, one would never know that I made it through the Newton Hills in decent shape because of the stops made to see both my family and Betsy’s family.

To say that the 2012 Boston did not match my expectations is an understatement. However, I am a realist and I believe I know my limits. I had to make adjustments to my expectations even before the start of the race. Though I qualified with a 3:38, I finished with a 4:25 on Monday; but I was happy not to part of the thousands who needed medical attention or DNF the race. I finished the 2012 Boston Marathon and I am happy with this accomplishment.

PostRace.jpgI will say that the Polar RCX5 provided me with solid and timely feedback on how my body handled the elements – especially in relation to my HR. I did have problems with my strap not staying in place. I attribute this to that I had it on top of my bra and it kept sliding from the moisture of the water. And I noticed that the distance did not come out to 26.2 – I swear I ran the whole race!! Other than that, I enjoyed using the Polar products.

I’m ready for my post-race massage on Wednesday and back to exercising on Thursday. I’m still enjoying the celebratory balloons, sign, chalk drawing in front of my house and beautiful flowers that my friends gave me.

Not sure what will be next on my running race docket but I am riding in the Pan Mass Challenge in August so I look forward to seeing how Polar will work when I start training on my bike.

Thanks again for letting me be part of this wonderful experience!

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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