Passport to Race: The 2009 Boston Marathon

Cathy running the 2007 Richmond Marathon

Cathy running the 2007 Richmond Marathon

Your Name: Cathy Polishuk

Name of Race: Boston Marathon

Place: Boston

Tourist or Local? Definitely a tourist. I’ve never been to Boston which made driving downtown with closed roads difficult. Note for anyone who decides to drive into the city for packet pick-up – bring a map!!

Distance: marathon

Date you raced: 4/20/09

Number of times you’ve run this race: First time!

Number of runners in race: 28 thousand and change – I’m not sure how many started, but about 22 thousand finished


I met 30 of my fellow Richmond runners at 7:30AM on Monday after getting lost on the way to meet them. The directions from MapQuest were terrible! So of course, I started off the morning with tears imagining that I would miss the race because I did not have a contingency plan for getting to the start. My boyfriend and I stopped for directions… The first lady Mike asked did not speak English. I then made him cross the road to ask a man that was running towards us who refused to help us. I was upset and imaging that all Bostonians were like this man but was soon proven wrong after we met someone who gave us great directions in addition to all the wonderful people along the marathon route.

I boarded the bus and we made it to Hopkington State Park where we walked up to the runners village and dropped our bags. We did not get there early enough to get the free B.A.A. gloves they were giving out, but we did take lots of pictures. The photographers were amazing! I made the mistake of not bringing any throw away clothes, so I hung around in my running gear for a couple hours – note to self: Bring old clothes to wear – they donate them after you throw them away.

I was in Wave 2 (of 2) and from there they put you in corrals of 1,000 people each. They started us at 10:30 which is the latest race I’ve started by more than 2 hours. This late start time will play a role in some lessons I learned later in the day…The beginning of the course was a nice easy downhill and the spectators were great. I was feeling positive and excited to finally be running Boston. Within the first 8 miles, I saw a girl cop a squat for the first time in my life. I’ve heard about it, but never seen it. Right there on the side of the road! Then we approached Wellesley and the boys slowly made their way to the right side of the road where the girls would be. And you may have heard rumors about those girls and I think they are all true. Yes, you can literally hear them from a mile away. Yes, a ton of them had “Kiss Me” signs and yes, it was a truly amazing feeling to run through all that noise. It gave me a taste of what it feels like to be a super star athlete. I have to admit I got a little teary. That’s embarassing…

The next portion of the race is a blur of screaming faces yelling out my name (which I had written on my shirt – smart move:) ). Then came the Newton Hills – a series of “rolling” hills that precede Heartbreak. First of all, I wasn’t exactly sure where Heartbreak was (another smart move on my part in retrospect) because I kept thinking, “was that Heartbreak? That wasn’t so bad.” And then I knew when I hit it. I barely made it up that road. But up ahead I saw a man walking and then the crowd began chanting, “run, run, run, run” until he did and I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to walk!

I was still feeling great – even smiling and high fiving little kids. I passed a guy who yelled out, “Go Cathy – you’re not even sweating”. He jinxed me. Remember that late start – well the only meal I had eaten that day was around 6:30AM and we were running through lunch time. All the Gatorade and gels on a relatively empty stomach did not go over so well. At 23, I started feeling sick, but I was surrounded by people. So, I started walking until I felt better, then ran until I felt sick, etc. This went on until 25 when we went under an overpass. Open grass! For the first time ever during a race, I got sick. But then, amazingly, I felt great. Puke and rally! I ran into downtown Boston with a smile on my face and crossed the line in 3:54:46. Certainly not my best time, but still an accomplishment.

After turning in my chip, I received my beautiful finisher’s medal, a much needed mylar blanket and a bag of food – very smart – how many times have you had to try to carry a bagel, a banana, powerade and whatever else you can get your hands on? It’s not easy. The bag was a miracle.

My recommendations for those who will run Boston:

Bring throw away clothes and a rain poncho

Keep eating as close to the race as you can get

Wear sunscreen (seriously – don’t forget)

Train on those hills and don’t be too scared of Heartbreak – the crowd will pull you up it

Soak up the noise of the fans and high five a few kids



Cathy runs and dances in Richmond, VA.  This was her first Boston Marathon, but third sixth marathon.


Faces in Places: Lady Southpaw

Lady Southpaw

Lady Southpaw

Your Name: Erin Sholl A.K.A. Lady Southpaw

Your Occupation: Musician

Your Town: Brooklyn, NY

When & why did you start running? I started running in college during the summer when I couldn’t use the gym. It was a simple way to stay in shape. A year ago I did an event with Team in Training (TNT) which is when I started racing and becoming more serious about it.

Favorite local running route: Now that the weather is getting warmer I like to run to the promenade along the New York bay. It goes under the Verrazano bridge and has an amazing view of the water and lower Manhattan. I run down the 69th St pier at the entrance of the promenade in the YouTube video I made last year while fund raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Favorite local race: Brooklyn Half Marathon

Favorite out-of-town running place/route: Running is definitely something I love to do when traveling as a way to connect to a new place. My favorite of all time was when I was studying abroad Rome, Italy. I lived near to the Gianicolo, a huge hill with a park at the top and a breath taking view of the eternal city.

Favorite out-of-town race: The only out-of-town race I’ve run was the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. It was fantastic.

iPod while running? If so, what artists? The past couple years I have been doing a ton of running with music in order to write songs that fit perfectly into the experience. Running and music are my two favorite things and they go so well together. There are so many natural rhythms happening in the body as you run and music releases pleasure chemicals in the brain that make running feel better.  I could talk about this subject all day which is why I started a blog about it called “Running Rocks.”

I have been listening to a lot of Hendrix since my marathon because there was a woman playing his covers that got me through the toughest part. I also like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” by Green Day, “Half Cocked Concepts,” by P.O.S. and “My Pad & Pen,” by Blackalicious. Although lately I am mostly testing out my own song experiments to see what works.

Favorite pre-run/race fuel? Chocolate Outrage GU

Favorite post-run./race fuel? Chocolate milk. Hello my name is Erin and I am a chocoholic.

Favorite people to run with? Running with TNT last year was a life changing experience. I learned so much and made so many running buddies that way. That’s where I met my friend Jess. We still run together almost every week.

Lady Southpaw & Jess

Lady Southpaw & Jess

Running heroes? Possibly due to all the Nike propaganda I get, my favorite elite is Kara Goucher. In fact I did a running lady sketch for my website that was based on Kara running the New York marathon last year (arm warmers included.)

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher

Place (or race) you’d like to one day run? ING New York Marathon of course!

Favorite running experience/anecdote? I used to have a favorite treadmill at a 25th floor gym in midtown Manhattan facing the window with an amazing view.  It was my morning sanctuary before going into an unsatisfying marketing job.  One day another regular on a neighboring machine asked me out.  I had seen him there for about two years without ever talking to him; now we’ve been together over two years!

Currently training for: I have been getting in my nine New York Road Runners races this year to qualify for the NY marathon in 2010. This includes the Brooklyn Half at the end of the month.

Why run? I recently wrote a song called “Why I Run.” It was inspired by testimonials of TNT team mates running for friends and family members with cancer.  It got me thinking about who gives me strength while I’m running and the person I thought of was my father.  He is a lifelong athlete with incredible work ethic.  I guess he’s really my running “hero.”  It’s something I can always work to improve at, it regulates my schedule, my weight, my energy levels and my moods.  Another reason I love both running and singing is because they both force you to breath deeply and be in the moment.  Running is a body, mind and spirit connecting experience I can have in my life on an almost daily basis.


Lady Southpaw is looking for runners to try out her songs and give her some feed back.  If you would like to try a free song please write to her at

The Songs for Running will be released for sale around the end of this summer. You can get the Lady Southpaw self titled E.P. (which is not written for running) on iTunes:

Call for Contributions!!!



Races in Places strives to be a community resource for runners all over the globe! We are interested in the people that run, why they run, where they run, and all the personal aspects of running.   We want to hear your stories, your interests, and all about the places where you run.

Running is certainly a solitary sport, but our solo runs form an undeniable community from which we can learn more about running, and about each other. We can also help each other out by sharing our experiences.

The idea is this, say you have to go to your cousin’s wedding in Dallas, but are in week 13 of your marathon training. You can’t afford to miss a weekend long run, but have no idea where in Dallas you run an 18 miler.  Rather than google “running groups Dallas” and hope to get in touch with some long distance runners, you could simply log on to, select “Texas” in the categories box, and read the Dallas entry of our “Passport to Run” column.  Hopefully, a Dallas based runner has filled out the form complete with links to the best routes, restaurants, and running clubs.  If that doesn’t give you enough information, you could then contact us and we will put you in contact with that Dallas runner, thus cultivating a new running contact and keeping you on your marathon training schedule!

Our mission statement explains further:

The Races in Places (RiP) blog is designed to be an interactive resource for runners looking for inspiration and information on running in new destinations. While topics concerning training and nutrition will not be avoided, this blog will focus more on the peripherals of running, including the comradery and overall experience of running, especially as it relates to different parts of the world. Regular columns will include:

  • Passport to Run A detailed account of how to navigate running in various large and small cities around the world.
  • Passport to Race A detailed account of various races around the world.
  • BackTrack A place to share your favorite, or worst, racing experiences.
  • Faces in Places A profiling of different runners from around the globe.
  • Mixtape Runners can share their favorite playlist to run to.
  • Race Fuel A recipe swap of favorite pre- or post- race meals & snacks.
  • Around the Waterstop An informal list of links or news bites relating to running.
  • Race Expo A highlighting and discussion of various pieces of running gear.

We hope to become a resource for travelers looking for great spots to run, eat, and sight see, but in order to do that, we need your help!  We are currently accepting contributions for all of our columns, listed above.  All you need to do is email us at, and we’ll tell you what you need to do.  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter!

We look forward to building this online community of runners and travelers!

Happy Running!

Happy Mother’s Day!

running moms

In honor of Mother’s Day today, we’ve compiled a list of blogs and other online resources for all those running moms out there!

Happy Mother’s Day!

seeMOMMYrun a networking Web portal that allows moms to communicate and make their own arrangements for running or walking together in groups

Mothers Across America:MAAM – a nonprofit organization that empowers mothers to achieve personal goals through goal-based running programs

Running Moms – a network with the goal to nurture the inner athlete in moms everywhere

Running-Mom – a blog with a long list of online resources and articles for moms

Running Skirts –  a place to get running gear for ladies

Marathon Mommy – a collective blog covering issues ranging from sports bras to running during pregnancy

Moms That Run – a forum from running moms

These are just a few… feel free to leave more links in the comments, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Running Heroes: Phil Packer, Iraq Veteran & Marathon Finisher

Phil Packer


LONDON, England (CNN) — British soldier Phil Packer was told a year ago that he would never walk again, but on Saturday he finished the London Marathon.

He completed the race 13 days after it started, walking on crutches for two miles a day — the most his doctor would allow — in order to raise money for charity.

Flanked by cheering soldiers and supporters, an obviously emotional Packer had defied medical opinion after his lower spine was badly injured in the aftermath of a rocket attack on his base in Basra, Iraq, in February 2008.

The attack sent a vehicle rolling down a sand bank, striking Packer “head on” and dragging him under it.

The 36-year-old was left with no feeling or motor control in his legs, and no bladder or bowel control.

Packer was in hospital for more than four months and it was then he decided to complete three challenges to help raise £1 million ($1.5 million) for Help for Heroes, a British charity supporting wounded veterans.

In February he rowed the English Channel, and next month he plans to climb El Capitan — one of America’s iconic mountaineering sites — a 3,000-foot vertical rock formation in California.

Packer, who was met at the marathon finish line by British Olympian Steve Redgrave, said that he was £370,000 ($558,000) short of his goal but he was hoping for more donations.

Dressed in a white charity T-shirt and desert fatigues, he was emotional.

“It’s looking after our injured servicemen,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that can’t do this, so this is for them.”

Earlier this week he told CNN that he “wanted to be able to move on in life.”

“I wanted to do something for other personnel who had been wounded.

“I don’t want to be helped. I want to help other people. Not that I’m not grateful, but… you know… I really want to be able to help people.”

He attributed being back on his feet to “fantastic medical support” from Britain’s Ministry of Defense and National Health Service.

“So many improvements are being made” in medicine, he said. “It’s an evolving process.”

However, he did not know whether he would be able to walk without crutches.

“I gotta see how it goes. Take every improvement as it comes.”

Read the whole thing and then check out Phil’s personal website, full of inspiration, hope, and incredible achievement!

Passport to Race: 2009 Godparent 5k, Lynchburg, VA


Runner: Bob Huntington (above in green hat)

Age: 86

Home:  Lynchburg, VA

Summer Home: Van Buren Point, NY

Race: Godparent Home 5k (raised over $5,000 for Maternity Home and Adoption Agency)

Race Location: Lynchburg, VA

Race Date: April 18, 2009

Number of Racers: 300 runners

Describe your race experience: Beautiful weather- 55 degrees! Friendly race.  Ran with daughter Kathy, granddaughters Leigh and Kelly, and friend Andraya.  Course starts at the Old Kemper Street Train Station.  First mile and a half was all downgrade, so moved right along at a good pace. Passed numerous walkers.  The entire race is on the scenic Blackwater Creek Trail.  You run under bridges, train tressles and through a tunnel about an eighth of a mile long.  My favorite part was “hooting” like a steam whistle as I ran through! The second half was more challenging- all uphill! Finished strong with a 50:29 time.

Next race: Cameron 5k, August 8, 2009, Dunkirk, NY


Robert Huntington is a patriarch of sorts of Races In Places.  Inspiring numerous runners within his family and beyond, a perfect race day is a day you get to run with Bob!

Passport to Run: Spain

Races in Places co-founder Julia Hart is abroad in Spain right now as part of a Rotary Internation Group Study Exchange program.  She is super excited about not only learning about the country, getting to practice her Espanol, but also about running in so many new towns! She emailed me a few pictures from this morning’s run, though unfortunately I don’t know where in Spain this is! She did mention that while she was running in the AM, most runners there run after siesta time.

Here are the pics she sent, hopefully more to follow soon!






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