The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-362 – Rick Hoyt – a Running Life

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Link epi4362.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Hello my friends and welcome to Episode 4-362 of the RunRunLive Podcast.  Chris here.  I am criminally behind in my production schedule.  As some of you may have divined, especially those of you on LinkedIn, I changed gigs over the last couple months and am now back in startup land.  It’s not my startup, but still the the urgency and lack of resources spills over. 

(Humorous editor’s note: Microsoft word tried to change ‘divined’ to ‘deveined’ which is something totally different. 

That combined with being in my last few weeks of marathon training for Boston creates less space and opportunity to write and record. 

The company is out of Silicon Valley, (of course), and I’m out of Boston so there’s a 3-hour time change.  Even thought you’d think you’d be able to adjust your work days, it always seems to add 3 or more hours to the day. 

It reminds me of when I had a job where I had to contend with Boston’s infamous traffic.  I devised a plan to go in a couple hours early to beat the traffic and then leave a couple hours early on the back end of the day to beat the traffic again.  What really ended up happening was I’d go in early, get caught up in the day, and end up going home late after the traffic. 

I’m sure there’s some math we could use there to make everyone’s lives simpler.  The way we have arranged it everyone’s whims always line up.  For example, let’s say you’re sitting at work on a warm Friday in June and you think “I know, I’ll leave early and get a jump on driving to the Cape for the weekend!” You can bet that there are a couple hundred thousand people having that same thought at that same time and you will be soon sucking C02 with them on Route 6. 

I’m sure all of this will be solved when the impartial Artificial Intelligence of the robot overlords takes over.  But, will we miss it?  Will we someday be writing long, sorrowful poems in praise of a good traffic jam?  How it brought our families together and made the fabric of society stronger? 

How did I get down this rat hole?

Oh, yeah.  It’s Saturday Morning and It’s snowing.  It’s been snowing for 24 hours and it’s April first.  Last time we got this kind of spring weather two weeks before the Boston Marathon was 2006.  It ended up being 85 degrees at the starting line that year. 

Today I bring you a RunRunLive podcast exclusive.  An interview with Rick Hoyt.  Rick has run almost twice as many Boston marathons as I have and I’m running my 19th this year.  I am thrilled to be able to ask him questions directly. 

My favorite Hoyt story is how Dick and Rick pushed their way into the Boston Marathon.  The Boston Athletic Association of the late 1970’s would not be considered an ‘open-minded’ organization.  They were steadfast in their belief that the Boston Marathon was a traditional race.  You had to qualify.  You had to be a man.  You had to pass a physical and be a ‘real’ able-bodied athlete to get in. 

Dick tried to get in and they wouldn’t let him.  They thought they had a good barrier to entry that he wouldn’t be able to get over.  They told him that he had to qualify, not only in his age group, but in Rick’s age group as well.  At the time this meant Dick had to run better than a 2:50 marathon with Rick. 

Dick didn’t whine about it.  He didn’t sue them.  Instead he trained and ran a 2:45 qualifying race pushing Rick.  This was before racing chairs existed.  This was before the first running boom.  These guys were breaking new ground.  They were all alone.  Their dogged persistence, their unassuming commitment to the sport, their grit earned them a spot on the starting line in Hopkinton. 

The way they did it also earned the respect of the running world and opened a door for a generation of runners.  They were pioneers who caused change.  They caused change by living that change. 

So that’s the context of our interview today. 

In section one I’ll go deep into how I do a pace run on the treadmill.  In section two, I’m going to give you an audio recording of the 2nd most read blog post I ever wrote, a chapter from my first book, called “Running with Buddy”.  This will give you a good lead in for the sentiment going into our next show which will include an interview with Luaren Fern Watts about her new book, Gizelle’s Bucket List.   

After we last spoke I attempted a 22 mile tempo run on the Boston course.  Frank and I did an out and back from Ashland, around mile 4, to Wellesley mile 15, right before the dip down into Newton Lower Falls.  This is the so-called ‘flat’ portion of the course.  I’m always surprised at just how not-flat it is.  It’s rolling hills.  Nothing major, but some good pulls when you’re racing. 

I was rolling off a hard week with a lot of miles. The plan was to run an hour in zone 2, then drop to race pace -5 for an hour and a half then do 5 minute on/off zone 3 surges for the last half hour.  My legs were heavy going in from the big week.  I ran 7 miles the day before and a set of hill repeats on the Friday.  It was around freezing and overcast to drizzly.  We didn’t see as many runners out as we thought we might. 

When we hit the hour mark I dropped into what felt like race pace to me, but my pacing ability proved to be clueless.  I was shooting for around 8 minute miles but we were clocking 7:30’s and 7:40’s.  At the end of each mile I’d say ‘Oh crap’ and let Frank lead for a while and we’d manage an 8:05.  Then I’d drop back into the 7:30’s.  It was a pacing disaster!

We hung in there trying to find race pace until around the 18 mile mark my wheels fell off.  We were climbing a long hill and my legs just went dead and said ‘no mas’.  This was about an hour into the pace part of the run.  I let Frank go and tried to find a pace I could manage and recover a bit.  I managed some to bash it out in the low 8’s with a couple of walk breaks. 

I finished up with over 22 miles and over 3 hours of decent effort.  I even recovered a bit in the last mile.  All-in-all I wasn’t horribly disappointed. It’s another brick in the wall and a good race-specific workout and a good reminder of just how deceptively nasty that Boston course is with its constant rolling hills.

Then I jumped on a plane to Silicon Valley.  Spent the week out there that nicely coincided with a rest week, although I did manage to run up a 1,500 foot mountain behind my hotel twice. 

Now I’m finishing up my last hard week and tuning up for the big show.  I’m off the beer and seeing how far I can get my weight down for the race, which adds to the stress of it all!  I made some poor nutritional choices in Cali and have been hovering around 180, which isn’t horrible for me.  This week I’ve stayed on top of it better and am down around 175. 

Those 5-10 pounds make a huge difference for me on race day.  Especially where my current bottleneck is my legs not my engine.  Taking a few extra pounds off my quads will buy me a couple extra miles at race pace on Patriot’s day. 

And the weather continues to not cooperate.  We are in the midst of yet another storm here 2-weeks out.  My day got away from me yesterday and I ended up doing a hill repeat session at dusk in the slush. 

Now normal people might think, “hey, the sun is setting, it’s 33 degrees out and alternating rain and snow, I think I’ll skip that hill workout.”  But, I think, “Here are the marathon gods putting another challenge in front of me.  Here is another opportunity for me to rise to the occasion.  To do what others will not.  And that has some merit to it. 

I kitted up quickly, before I lost my nerve, and headed out through the trails to a secluded road behind my house with a nice hill.  The woods were quite peaceful.  The snow/ice was a couple inches deep but nice and granular, like running on beach gravel.  There was no wind, and it was quite beautiful with the hiss of the sleet in the tree tops. 

The hill repeats themselves were a bit tricky.  I had 3 sets of 5 X 40 seconds.  It was snowing fairly hard.  There was slush on the road.  It was maybe an inch deep on the shoulders, but the tire paths from the occasional car were relatively clean with just a skim of icy slush.  There were parts where the melt water was running in streams down the hill. 

The question in my mind was where would I get the most traction?  The tire tracks?  The slush?  The shoulders?  I opted for the tire tracks.  It was slick and I had to run a bit flat footed. I couldn’t really toe off with any vigor.  The trick was to find the places where the road was cracked or lined because these irregularities provided a bit of a traction point. 

When the occasional car passed, I’d drift over to the slushy shoulder mid repeat.  That wasn’t bad either because there was barks and sticks and dirt under the slush on the shoulder that could give you some traction.  But you had to run through the deep stuff and got much wetter feet.  I switched back to my old Hokas for the outing so as not to abuse my race shoes.

And you know what?  It wasn’t that bad.  I got my workout done and felt like a total stud.  I felt like I ‘won’ somehow. 

That’s the lesson here my friends.  You make your own rules in this world.  Don’t let the slush storms of life cause you to miss a workout. 

On with the show.

I’ll remind you that the RunRunLive podcast is ad free and listener supported.  What does that mean? It means you don’t have to listen to yet another Blue Apron or Hello Fresh ad.  As a matter of fact, stop being lazy and go shop for your own food.  We do have a membership option where you can become a member and as a special thank you, you will get access to member’s only audio.

I’ll also remind you that I have started raising money for team Hoyt for my 2017 Boston Marathon.  I would appreciate any help you can give.   The fundraiser is on Crowdrise (so I don’t have to touch any of the money) it goes straight to the Hoyts and supports acquiring equipment and supporting others who want to participate like the Hoyts do.

The RunRunLive podcast is Ad Free and listener supported.  We do this by offering a membership option where members get Access to Exclusive Members Only audio and articles.

Yes, we are still working on setting up the separate podcast feed for the member’s content.  Most recently I recorded and uploaded the first chapter of the zombie novel I’ve been writing for 30 years. 

    • Member only race reports, essays and other bits just for you!
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    • Intro’s, Outro’s, Section One running tips, Section Two life hacks and Featured Interviews – all available as stand-alone MP3’s you can download and listen to at any time.

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Become a member

Section one –

Treadmill pace run -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Rick Hoyt – Team Hoyt


The Early Years

Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick’s brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a “normal” life. This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

Dick and Judy soon realized that though Rick couldn’t walk or speak; he was quite astute and his eyes would follow them around the room. They fought to integrate Rick into the public school system, pushing administrators to see beyond Rick’s physical limitations. Dick and Judy would take Rick sledding and swimming, and even taught him the alphabet and basic words, like any other child. After providing concrete evidence of Rick’s intellect and ability to learn like everyone else, Dick and Judy needed to find a way to help Rick communicate for himself.

With $5,000 in 1972 and a skilled group of engineers at Tufts University, an interactive computer was built for Rick. This computer consisted of a cursor being used to highlight every letter of the alphabet. Once the letter Rick wanted was highlighted, he was able to select it by just a simple tap with his head against a head piece attached to his wheelchair. When the computer was originally first brought home, Rick surprised everyone with his first words. Instead of saying, “Hi, Mom,” or “Hi, Dad,” Rick’s first “spoken” words were: “Go, Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was clear from that moment on, that Rick loved sports and followed the game just like anyone else.

In 1975, at the age of 13, Rick was finally admitted into public school. After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years.

The Beginning of Team Hoyt

In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

This realization was just the beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.

In a triathlon, Dick will pull Rick in a boat with a bungee cord attached to a vest around his waist and to the front of the boat for the swimming stage. For the biking stage, Rick will ride a special two-seater bicycle, and then Dick will push Rick in his custom made running chair (for the running stage).

Rick was once asked, if he could give his father one thing, what would it be? Rick responded, “The thing I’d most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.”

The 2009 Boston Marathon was officially Team Hoyt’s 1000th race. Rick always says if it comes down to doing one race a year he would like it to be the Boston Marathon: his favorite race.

2013 was going to be Dick and Rick's last Boston Marathon together, but they were not able to finish due to the bombings. They vowed to be back in 2014 to finish "Boston Strong" with all the other runners, which they did; stopping many times along the 26.2 distance to take photos and shake hands of the many well wishers, and finishing with several of the runners from their Hoyt Foundation Boston Marathon team.

Dick and Rick will continue to do shorter distances races and triathlons together, and teammate Bryan Lyons will be taking over in pushing Rick in the 2015 Boston Marathon. Bryan and Rick ran some local races together this year, and will start training for Boston after the holidays, doing a half marathon in Carlsbad, CA in January, as well as, other local half marathons and races.

Neither Dick or Rick are ready to retire yet.

The Team Hoyt Theme Song “Run!” By the Ted Painter Band

It's available for download at as are other songs and information about the band.  

It was written by yours truly and band members John Prunier and Kat Duffey, recorded in Nashville and Harford, CT. and performed by the Ted Painter Band. 

Incidentally, I'm also a member of Team Hoyt and have been running with Nick Draper, a 27 year old man with a similar disability as Rick, for the last 3 and a half years.  This will be our 4th Boston marathon and 16th marathon.  We also do triathlons.  If interested, you can learn more about "Team In the Nick of Time" at

Thanks for your interest in the song, Chris.  

Take care,


Section two

Running with Buddy - The Mid-Packer's Lament: A collection of running stories with a view from the middle of the pack Paperback – November 21, 2005

by Christopher J. Russell (Author)


Alright my friends.  I’m running out of daylight so I have to get this show out the door! You have slip-slided through the snow and slush to the end of episode 4-362 of the RunRunLive Podcast.  Like I mentioned, next week we talk about dogs! Going to the dogs.  I love my old dog. 

He’s lying on the floor by the door here with me as I write.  He’s bored.  He’s wearing one of the ridiculous shirts Teresa bought for him.  

The music in the Rick Hoyt interview today was the The Team Hoyt Theme Song “Run!” By the Ted Painter Band.  I got permission to use it from Ted who also runs pushing Nick for Team Hoyt Boston Marathon team- they do sub 3 hour marathons and this will be their 3rd or 4th Boston together. It's available for download at as are other songs and information about the band.  

To learn more about Ted and Nick search for “Team in the Nick of Time” on Facebook – or find the link in the show notes.

It was written by yours truly and band members John Prunier and Kat Duffey, recorded in Nashville and Harford, CT. and performed by the Ted Painter Band. 

"Team In the Nick of Time" at

I just assume at this point that everyone knows what I’m talking about but I guess it wouldn’t kill me to give you a quick review.  I post the text of all these shows on my website,  You can also click on the show in your podcast player and all the links and notes and text are in the actual show file. 

That’s what I mean when I say – it’s in the show notes. 

I would appreciate any contribution to my Team Hoyt fund you can make. The crowdrise link is ironically enough, in the show notes.


I told you my hill-repeats-in-the-slush story.  Let me tell you another story from this week where the evil gods of marathon chaos beat me. 

Tuesday I had one of those 13 mile pace runs on the calendar.  I had it scheduled for mid-morning. I had a gap in my schedule and weather window where it would warm up a little and before it started raining. 

Of course calls got rescheduled and things went sideways and I couldn’t get out.  I repositioned it for early afternoon. 

The challenge for me with this kind of run is I’m looking at close to 2 full hours out on the road.  It’s hard to squeeze into a day.  And that 2 hours is just the running part.  I should have done it early morning but I was still recovering from West Coast jet lag. 

Early afternoon comes and I’m still at my desk.  Now it’s getting dark and it’s raining.  I’d squeeze in a regular run in these conditions but a 2 hour tempo run in the pitch black rain, not really.  I didn’t have the right clothes with me or a headlamp. 

But, I had a flash of inspiration.  I still have the key card for the gym at my old office.  I had to pick up Teresa later so I would drive to the treadmill, knock out this run and get to the train. 

I ended up getting to the treadmill after 6 and had to take some potty breaks, etc. but was getting the work out done.  Then around 8:00PM I’m 8 miles in, 2 miles into that last 5 hard zone 4 miles and I notice I’m the only one in there and the cleaning staff is in.  I look at the clock, and I look at the cleaning lady and it turns out the gym closes at 8:00! 

That was it.  I got my 8 miles in and didn’t concede defeat as much as called it a draw.  The evil marathon gods of entropy and chaos didn’t let me complete my planned workout, but I did get an 8 mile tempo run in.  We’ll call it a tie.

Because sometimes.  Even when you really hang in there.  When you make the extra effort.  The chaos and entropy still wins. 

Just go down swinging.

And I’ll see you out there.

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Direct download: epi4362.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT





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