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1. Miles 1 through 5

The course begins with a significant downhill (300 ft. drop in elevation). It’s extremely important to resist the temptation to start fast and bank time. Run this segment 30-60 seconds slower than your expected average pace. Focus on establishing a rhythm of efficiency with your form and breathing. Land quickly and quietly with your feet close to your body. Starting too quickly places a lot of extreme force on your legs and presents a significant risk to your energy stores, form, and mindset. You will NEVER recover from starting too quickly. Runners who make this mistake risk losing minutes per mile off their average pace later in the marathon

2. Miles 5 through 15

You should be settled into a good rhythm with your form, breathing, and mindset as you begin this segment. Cycle through a checklist with your form (chin up, shoulders back and down, hands soft and close to your torso without crossing your center line, landing with a slight bend in your knees and your feet close to your body.

Try not to be distracted by others around you, Maintain your focus on conserving energy and sustaining a consistent and comfortable pace. You will encounter Wellesley College at approximately 12.5 miles. However, you will hear the screaming students long before then. Don’t be tempted to run too fast here, you’ll need that energy later in the marathon. Look for Coach Rick near Mile 15. He’ll be on your left side holding a Marathon Coalition sign. Don’t panic if you don’t see him. He runs with every Marathon Coalition runner and may have been pulled a little farther down the road

3. Miles 15 through 17

This segment can be extremely challenging for several reasons. You’ve already completed 15 miles and are feeling the effects of the mileage, a significant downhill into Newton Lower Falls is approaching, crowds can be sparse here and, once you arrive in Newton Lower Falls (commonly referred to as Hell’s Alley), you begin a long slow climb over Route 128/95 to Commonwealth Avenue. Continue to be mindful of your running form and breathing as you attempt to conserve energy for the next important segment.

4. Miles 17 through 21
You have officially arrived at the beginning of the Newton Hills. This is where your strategy of starting conservatively in Segment 1 pays dividends. This is also where you have ‘single digit miles remaining’ to the finish! You will be taking a 90 degree right from Washington Avenue (Route 30) onto Commonwealth Avenue. Unlike during Marathon Coalition training, you won’t be on the Carriage Road. You will be on the main road. The historic Fire House is located here.

WARNING!!! Crowds are thick here and will be extremely vocal as you begin your journey of the hill. Don’t push too hard here. Rather, transition from focusing on pace to ‘effort
.’ Remember, the first hill is short and steep. You can power walk nearly as fast as you can run. There’s no shame in power walking. You’ll save energy by adopting this method. Lean slightly forward, take short and quick steps, lean slightly forward from your waist, and use your arms more. Imagine grabbing cables that are close to your side that extend up the hills, grab them and pull yourself up.

Heartbreak Hill begins at Mile 20 at the intersection of Centre Street and Commonwealth Avenue and is 1 mile run. Boston College is located at the top. WARNING!!! These enthusiastic college students from Boston College have been waiting hours for your arrival. To avoid offending any BC students or alumni, just know they will have every concoction of alcohol imaginable in their red cups. They will be encouraging and tempting you to indulge. Regardless of how thirsty you may be, wait until the next water stop to quench your thirst.

5. Miles 21 through 26

This final segment is predominantly flat and rolling hills. Your legs will likely be tired and your glycogen stores exhausted. This is where your body and mind will be tested the most. However, the pull of the finish line will be your constant companion; willing you to Boylston Street. Return to the previously mentioned checklist in an effort to conserve energy.

This is where you should think about all the people who supported you throughout training, particularly those who supported your fundraising or have inspired you the most. When you take the right onto Hereford Street and make the final climb to take a left on Boylston Street, take some deep breaths and gather your emotions. Once on Boylston Street, take it all in.

This is one of the most amazing feelings you will experience in life. The cheering and screaming will be so loud you won’t be able to hear anyone near you speaking to you, your own breathing, or the hyperventilating you are feeling from the realization you are about to realize a lifetime achievement. Make sure you look up and raise your arms as you cross the finish line. The finish line photographers are on a scaffolding about the finish line.

DON’T LOOK DOWN AND STOP YOUR WATCH. As you cross the finish line, that moment will be indelibly etched in your mind and heart. That’s the moment you’ve worked so hard for months to experience.

You are a Boston Marathon Finisher…FOR LIFE

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