ABC 7 Chicago - Rich Zappen is taking a few days off from running this week, but he'll make up for it this weekend when he runs his 40th Chicago marathon on Sunday.
Then he will fly to Boston that afternoon to run his 11th Boston marathon on Monday, Columbus Day.
"It's a challenge," he said. "It brings me to a level I've never been before, and I like that."
The opportunity to run two of the biggest marathons in the U.S. on consecutive days is a rarity. The pandemic forced the delay of Boston's marathon, which is normally held on a Monday in April.
Many runners have been forced to choose one or the other, but some are taking advantage of the chance to do both.
"I thought this is a once in a life time experience, and as a runner I gotta go for it," said Jake Greenburg, who is also running both races.
Some elite athletes are trying to make some marathon history doing the double. Aaron Pike plans to race the wheelchair marathon in Chicago and then give whatever strength he has left on the hilly Boston course the next day.
After canceling last year's in-person race, Bank of America marathon director Carey Pinkowski said he's happy to be back. This will be the first major marathon in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. Boston in the second.
"It's a unique experience and a challenge, and we're gonna celebrate that," Pinkowski said.
While organizers are busy setting up the hospitality tents and other areas for runners after the race, those doing the double have no time for that. They have to race to the airport to catch a flight.
It doesn't say in this article, but yesterday at the Boston Marathon they announced that 3,600 people participating had just run 26.2 miles 24 hours ago in the Chicago Marathon.
Who are these maniacs?
Running is the most masochist "activity", or "exercise" one can do without dying.
Strike that actually. Plenty of people die while running every year.
A: So what is the frequency of mortality for these runners? Fox News reports that about 6 deaths per year occur during races.
And that's just in official races per year. Imagine how many people die training.
And I saw them yesterday. I'd never disrespect our servicemen/women by comparing the racecourse to a battlefield, but there were bodies dropping everywhere yesterday, and laying on stretchers, and being wheelchaired to medical tents. It was nuts.
As we discussed on Dogwalk last week, and Reags shouted out today, I ran the Boston Marathon yesterday.
It was hell. Absolute hell.
Huge honor, huge relief I survived and completed it. But back to the actual Marathon. It's about the 3,600 people who did this to themselves on Sunday, and then raced to O'hare Midway (the smart ones) to get to Boston, catch a few ZZZ's, then get up and do it again?
They're people like this lady. Shalane Flanagan.
NY Times - With the world’s six major marathons — Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo and New York City — squeezed into a six-week window this fall, most top runners had a tough decision to make.
Then there was Shalane Flanagan.
Flanagan, who won the 2017 New York City Marathon, these days coaches Nike’s Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Ore. But she saw an opportunity in the closely packed schedule created by the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed three spring races into the fall. Most marathoners wanted to run just one marathon. Flanagan wanted to run in all six, and to try to complete each one in under three hours, a pace of under 6 minutes 50 seconds per mile.
So far, so good. She ran the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 26 in a faster-than-expected 2 hours 38 minutes. Seven days later, she finished in London in 2:35:04.
Now comes an exhausting holiday weekend: the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, followed by the Boston Marathon on Monday. That is two marathons, nearly a thousand miles apart, in roughly 28 hours.
Nutso. Admirable as all hell. She won Silver for USA in the Olympics, and now she's running all six major marathons in the world in a 6-week time span. An incredible feat. But nusto.
What's even crazier is she's not just running back-to-back marathons, but she's trying to do all 6 of them, including the back-to-back Chicago and Boston, in under 3 hours.
That's a 6:50 per mile pace for the entire race.
The craziest part about the Boston native running yesterday was that she shaved time off her previous Boston record. In fact she said it was the best she's felt in ages.
If we’re being honest, I was prepared to implode. BUT, at mile 12, I looked over at my incredible running buddy @abumbalough and said “I think I feel better than I did yesterday…I think I’m having a good day.”
This lady is a freak.
So are the other few thousand people a year that qualify for marathons, especially Boston.
When you think about it, nobody is born to enjoy running.
When we're kids, and all the way through college (professional sports too to be honest) running is the first and foremost form of punishment there is.
"Run some laps fuckheads"
Every coach in every sport, in every corner of the world, has uttered something that affect at least once, and every person who's ever played a sport has had to do it.
For people to just go out and do it by choice, for hours and hours, takes a dedicated and disciplined mind. I used to think it took a mental illness because I dreaded it my entire life, but a few years back that changed.
I took up running because just casually going to the gym and not doing cardio wasn't getting it done. Like every other male in America, (and Italian), I like to eat. A lot. And I don't like having to watch what I eat. That was starting to gain up on me as I got older. So to offset it I had to start running.
I was born with a heart defect called atrial septum defect, (ASD), and had a pectus. I had surgery when I was 16 and felt like a new person. Wasn't always out of breathe, or seeing stars when I played sports anymore. Felt amazing but I was always cautious from there on out. I was never good at running because of my issue that I never knew about, and after I did know about it, and had it corrected, I would use it as an excuse.
"I sucked at running, and didn't run (or do real cardio) because I couldn't"
I decided a few years ago I was done making excuses for a lot of shit in my life, and that anything I wanted to do I was going to find a way to do. And I was going to start challenging myself. Running was one of those things that fell into both buckets.
I figured I had to find out how to do it from somebody that was an expert at it. I'm a big fan of Tim Ferriss' podcasts and found one he did with Special Forces instructor Pavel Tsatsouline. This guys a maniac that used to run ultra marathons with little or no preparation. A complete “mind over matter” mother fucker.
He laid out a basic plan for starting from zero and ramping up that I began to follow.
Fast forward to right before the pandemic hit and lockdowns commenced, right around New Years, and my fiancé bought a Peloton tread without telling me. I walked in one day and this giant tank of a fitness machine was sitting in what used to be my studio/office.
I was pissed and told her it was a waste of money but after a week I was fully addicted.
The trainers, on demand classes, score board, stat tracking, sound tracks, everything about it was so well done I was hooked.
I told all my friends how awesome it was and casually mentioned that I now enjoyed running so much that I wanted to one day run a marathon. Gronk hit me up on the side and said if I was serious he might be able to get me into the Boston Marathon that April. Only a few months away I had to turn it into hyperdrive. I ran my ass off only to be disappointed that they postponed the race until the end of summer and were making it “virtual”.
That allowed me more time to train, and also more time to fundraise.
That’s to a ton of generous people I was able to raise $15,000 for Gronk’s Youth Foundation, a cause that’s very important to me and does a ton for underprivileged kids in New England.
With the money raised from the runners running for Gronk Nation we were able to build a brand new, beautiful playground right next to the Charles River for the kids of Boston to enjoy.
I ran from Navy Pier to Northwestern (13 miles exactly) and back while being tracked on the Boston Marathon virtual app and felt I did pretty good.
I had no clue my nipples would be bleeding like crazy since I didn’t bandage them, or that my toe nails would all fall off because my shoes and socks were too tight, or that running it alone was a very fucked up experience. But I was proud I did it and raised a ton of money.
Then the marathon charity organizer reached out a couple months later and asked if I’d be interested in running the real thing this year, in person.
Since I’d raised so much money, and was close with the foundation, they offered me one of the limited spots in this years cut-down field.
I couldn’t say no so I kept to the routine and got right back to fundraising.
Fast forward to this weekend and we flew to Boston Sunday morning. The city was alive.
The weather was perfect, the Sox were playing that night at home, and the streets were all blocked off and prepared for the race. Marathon runners and their families were everywhere. I checked in at Copley and got all my stuff and couldn’t believe how great of a job they did with coordinating everything. Everything ran so smoothly I was in awe. They got me processed and in and out in like 10 minutes. Why don’t they let these people run the DMV?
We went to Arya for dinner and I loaded up on pasta. They had the game on every tv in the place and when Vazquez went yard in the 13th the place went bananas.
It felt so great being back in Boston and seeing places busy, and people living life again.
The next morning it was time to take the bus out to Hopkinton and watch the city skyline disappear behind us.
We got held up at the start line even though it was a “rolling” start because we had charity bibs. One guy we were with, who had an Army shirt on and was carrying an American flag on a pole finally said “fuck this let’s go” and we were off.
The bullet points:
- the first 4-5 miles are surprisingly easy. There’s a few nice downhills that make you feel like you’re going faster than you are and give you the disillusionment that the whole race is gonna be easy.
- there are people everywhere out supporting the runners and doing everything from handing out water, Gatorade, and orange slices, to holding signs. Some of the signs were funny as hell. Lots of signs advising runners not to trust a fart.
- the girls in Wellesley are filthy. You could hear this roar up ahead from a mile away and then when you got to the college campus you saw why. There are hundreds of girls out leaning on the bike racks holding XXX rated signs screaming they wanted to blow you as you ran by. It felt like a prison scene in a movie.
- in downtown Wellesley I ran into my buddy Tom Smith. If you’re one of the few people that don’t know Tom’s story, you should watch this feature Bob Costas did on him a few years ago. He’s been paralyzed three times now, originally playing hockey, then working his ass off to learn to walk again and find treatments to speed his recovery. It happened twice more but he hasn’t given up. Over the course of his rehabs, he’s raised millions of dollars to help find a cure for paralysis. He’s an incredible person and a true inspiration. I knew he knew a lot of people but I had no idea how well known he was until I walked a couple miles with him on Monday. So many people shouted his name, came onto the course to shake his hand and take pics, and just thank him. It was incredible to witness. I’m pretty sure he could run for mayor and win.
- fuck Newton. Everything was fine until you hit Newton. It’s right after the half way mark around mile 13, and then it’s just all hills the rest of the way. Nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared me for how hard it was running up that first hill after just doing 13 miles. It was fucking torture. From that point on I said fuck it and walked up the rest of the hills I hit because I was so smoked.
- I finally realized why they call it “Heartbreak Hill”. What a cruel cruel punishment that shit was. The people flying by me running full speed up it were not human. So much respect.
- there were so many Stoolies out supporting everybody. I got stopped what felt like 100 times and offered everything from beer, to coke, to pizza. Took a ton of pics, and got razzed about my choke job in The Dozen finals. Rightfully so.
- coming down Chestnut Hill and into The Fens is an incredible feeling. You’re finally in the city and can feel the energy.
- coming up Boylston was nuts. The people lining the street we’re going crazy yelling and cheering non stop. (Sidebar - what the hell happened to McGreevy’s, Pour House, and Lir? How the hell do institutions like those go out of business? So depressing to see.)
- crossing the finish line is unlike anything else I’ve ever felt before. The combination of pain, relief, and pride is surreal. Getting to see your friends and family cheer you on as you make your way towards it feels like grabbing a star in Mario Brothers but in real life. Having them put the medal around your neck is pretty cool too, but not as cool as when they drape those space blankets around you. I have no clue what they actually do but I looked forward to getting one after the race and I finally did.
- I thought that golf gatekeepers were the biggest losers on the planet. (Why is our beautiful sport dying? We don’t get it. Ugh. Well guys, because instead of welcoming the uninitiated in, you’re pieces of shit who shame and intimidate anybody who shows interest in it, but wasn’t born in a country club like your silver spoon ass. That’s why) But running gatekeepers might take the cake. The amount of assholes that couldn’t wait to talk shit to me about how late I finished was wild. Twitter eggs tweeting and DMing me, fake Instagram accounts commenting and DMing me, and my fiancé. Wild shit I had no idea was gonna happen. Did you idiots think I was going out there to try to defeat the Kenyans or something?
- I helped raise another $11,000 putting the total at over $26,000 just from the people that donated on my behalf. Really amazing stuff I can’t thank everyone for enough.
- the pain is fuckin real. The entire body, but especially the ankles, hamstrings, and toes. I have no clue how people did two of these back today back. And how some are doing 6 of these in 6 weeks. Immense respect!