The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-406 – Dave McGilvary - How to Run Across the Country

(Audio: link) audio:]
Link epi4405.mp3

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

Hello, my endurance compatriots, companions and comrades and welcome to the RunRunLive Podcast episode 4-405. 

Had a bit of a scare or a potential set back in my training after the last episode.  You could hear it in my voice that I was had a little something going on and sure enough I woke up that Sunday sick as heck!

I was really looking forward to my long run that day.  It was just a plane Jane 3-hour and 15 minute surge run that would get me 21-22 miles.  Nothing complicated.  And I woke up with a fever headache.  After a few seconds of indecision, (you know me), I said ‘you’ll hate yourself if you don’t go try’. 

I met my buddy Tim who was only doing 2 hours and we got out.  I could tell I was hurting so I called it at 2 hours.  Got a solid 13miles in.  Went home.  Took a shower and laid in bed the rest of the day. 

I was concerned because I had a busy week with a 2-day road trip.  I figured I’d be out on the road, sick in airplane - you get the visual. 

It turned out better than I thought.  Coach had me scheduled for a recovery week anyhow.  There weren’t any monster workouts to add to being sick and traveling.  I was able to drug myself up and made the travel and meetings look easy.  And, most importantly it didn’t turn into something awful. 

You always run into some blips in your training cycle.  My training cycle has been going so well that I was due.  A couple more big weeks would be good for my confidence, but for the most part ‘the hay is in the barn’.  

Today I called up our old friend Dave McGilvary, head of DMSE sports and race director for the Boston Marathon.  I had a simple question to pick his brain about.  “What does it take to run across the country?”  We also chat a little about that other race…

Section one – the hay is in the barn… What to do when you have late-cycle training issues.

Section two – continuing homilies on being

Speaking of the Boston Marathon, they released the bib number assignments.  If you want to track me I’m 18,543. 

Think about that.  As hard as I train, with my finishing time around a 3:30 I’m nowhere near the mid-pack of this race.  There’s 30,000 runners in the race but only around 25,000 are qualified.  That means close to ¾ of the pack is in front of me.  You’d have to run my old Boston PR of 3:06 just to make it into the first wave. 

When they changed the standards by 10 minutes people wondered if the runners could keep up.  There’s your answer.  They certainly can.  The entire curve just shifted by 10 minutes and the race is still over-subscribed.  Amazing. 

This will be my 21st running of the race and I pulled out all the stops for this one.  I think I’m going to have a good race.  Regardless of what happens it is and has been an honor to be part of this thing, this slice of local history.  On April 15th this year, Patriot’s Day in Boston, my buddies and I have done the work and earned the right to play – and play we will!

On with the show.

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Section one – The Hay is in the Barn! -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Dave McGillivray, Founder DMSE


From his extraordinary 1978 run across the U.S. to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to serving as technical director then race director of the BAA Boston Marathon since the 1980s, McGillivray has helped organize more than 900 mass participatory events since founding DMSE Sports in 1981, while raising millions for worthy causes close to his heart.

Here are a few of his many career highlights:

In 1978 and over the course of 80 consecutive days, McGillivray ran across the U.S. from Medford, Oregon, to his hometown of Medford, Massachusetts, covering a total distance of 3,452 miles. He finished to a standing ovation of 32,000 fans in Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. His effort raised thousands of dollars for the Jimmy Fund, a charity that supports research toward eliminating cancer in children.

The 1980 East Coast Run to benefit the Jimmy Fund consisted of 1,520 miles from Winter Haven, Florida, to Boston, Massachusetts. McGillivray was joined by Bob Hall, one of the pioneers of wheelchair marathoning, and raised thousands of dollars for the Jimmy Fund. He also met with then-President Jimmy Carter at the White House during the trek through Washington, D.C.

In 1980, McGillivray competed in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, the premier individual endurance event in the world. He finished 14th overall and was only the 30th person to have ever competed in an Ironman. The Ironman consists of three back-to-back distance events: a 2.4 mile rough, open ocean water swim, followed by a 112-mile bike race, and finally finishing up with a 26.2-mile marathon run. He completed the event again in 1983-1989 and 2014, for a total of nine times.

The Wrentham State School 24-Hour Run was designated as the "Run for Our Dreams Marathon." In 1980, this run traversed 120 miles in 24 hours throughout 31 cities within southeastern Massachusetts, ending in Foxboro Stadium during half-time of a New England Patriots football game. Held to benefit the Wrentham State School for the Mentally Retarded, this particular run raised more than $10,000 for the handicapped.

1981 brought an invitation to participate in the Empire State Building Run-Up. The course consists of 86 stories, 1,575 steps, 1050 feet in elevation, 40" stair height. Finished 10th place overall in a time of 13 minutes, 27 seconds.

His 1981 New England Run was a triathlon (running, cycling, and swimming) of 1,522 miles throughout the six New England states. He raised $55,000 for the Jimmy Fund. Unusual segments included running up and down Mount Washington and swimming two miles across Lake Winneapesaukee, both in New Hampshire. In addition, highlights included swimming one mile from Woods Hole toward Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts and running three miles with inmates inside Walpole State Prison.

Officially completed his New England Run by swimming more than seven miles from Martha’s Vineyard to Falmouth, Massachusetts, again raising more money for the Jimmy Fund. McGillivray was greeted by thousands on shore including some of the world’s greatest runners, including Alberto Salazar.

In 1982, McGillivray ran the Boston Marathon in 3:14 while blindfolded and escorted by two guides to raise more than $10,000 for the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts..

He traded his running shoes for swimming shorts in 1983 for the Jimmy Fund 24-Hour Swim. He swam for 24 consecutive hours in the Olympic-size Medford High School pool, swimming a total of 1,884 lengths and covering 26.2 miles (distance of Boston Marathon), again raising funds for the Jimmy Fund.

Over the course of 14 days in 1983, he bicycled more than 1,000 miles throughout six New England states to raise money for a scholarship fund for McGillivray's alma mater, Merrimack College.

In 1986, he formed the first sanctioned running club inside a maximum security institution at Walpole State Prison. He also conducted and ran in numerous distance races inside the prison yard, including completing and winning a full 26.2 mile marathon against inmates.

Also in 1986, he biked for 24 consecutive hours around a five-mile loop course in Medford while simultaneously directing the annual Bay State Triathlon, which was being held on the same course at the same time. He covered a total of 385 miles, again raising money for the Jimmy Fund.

Since 1988, he has been the Technical and Race Director of the Boston Marathon. He manages and oversees all technical and operational aspects of the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world.

McGillivray’s many endurance events for charity are legendary, including running 120 miles in 24 hours thru 31 Massachusetts cities; an 86-story, 1,575-step run up Empire State Building in 13 minutes and 27 seconds; and running, cycling and swimming 1,522 miles thru six New England states while raising $55,000 for the Jimmy Fund.

In 2000, he was chosen as Race Director of the Year by Road Race Management/Running Times Magazine.

That same year, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award by Competitor Magazine for more than 30 years of service to the sport of road racing and triathlons.

In 2003, McGillivray created the DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation to support non-profit organizations that use running to promote physical fitness in children and help solve the epidemic of childhood obesity.

In 2004, McGillivray and a team of veteran marathon runners journeyed across the country following the same path he took in 1978. Trek USA raised more than $300,000 for five charities benefiting children.

The race director of the Boston Marathon as well as an accomplished runner, McGillivray has run the marathon each year since 1973. For 16 years he ran it with all the other runners and since he began working with the race in 1988 he has run the course afterwards.

His 2006 book, The Last Pick, which he co-wrote with Linda Glass Fechter, chronicles his childhood and career as the last pick for team sports because of his small stature, motivating readers to never underestimate their own ability to set and achieve goals. Order here on Amazon.

In 2009 he was awarded the prestigious “Jimmy Award” from the Jimmy Fund of Boston for his 30-year association and his work with helping to raise money to fund cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

A skilled motivational speaker, McGillivray has displayed his signature ability to engage and inspire listeners to more than 1,600 audiences from corporate executives to high school students.

McGillivray has received numerous awards –  valedictorian at both his high school and college, 2005 Running USA Hall of Champions, 2007 Runner’s World Heroes of Running Award, the 2010 Fleet Feet Lifetime Commitment to Running Award, 2010 Ron Burton Community Service Award, the 2011 Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center's 2011 100 list, inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2011 and also received the prestigious "Jimmy Award" by the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for 30 years of contributing time and expertise to help raise millions for cancer research and treatment. In 2015, he received the MarathonFoto/Road Race Management Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named One of the 50 Most Influential People in Running by Runner's World - tied for 6th place.

In 2017 he was inducted into the Road Runners Club of America Long Distance Running Hall of Fame, joined by Ryan Hall, Desiree Linden, and George Hirsch.

In 2018, he completed the World Marathon Challenge: seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

McGillivray has logged more than 150,000 miles, most for charity, raising millions for worthy causes.  He’s completed 155 marathons, which include 46 consecutive Boston Marathons (with 31 run at night after his race director duties are fulfilled).

In 2018 he published his first children's book, Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination, co-authored with Nancy Feehrer. The illustrated book is based on his 2006 autobiography, The Last Pick. Dream Big may be ordered here on Amazon.

His personal bests? Marathon: 2:29:58 and for the Ironman: 10:36:42.

Each year he runs his birthday age in miles, starting when he was 12, and has not missed one yet. He was born on August 22, 1954 – you can do the math.

McGillivray, DMSE Sports and his DMSE Children’s Foundation have raised more than $50 million for various charities, including: The Jimmy Fund, Carroll Center for the Blind, Cystic Fibrosis, Lazarus House, Massachusetts Dietetic Association, Massachusetts Special Olympics, Moth- ers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sports Museum of New England, Wrentham State School.


Section two – Future, Past and Now -


Well, my friends you probably have not run 3000+ miles across the country to the end of the RunRunLive Podcast episode 4-406, but maybe you will some day.  

One thing I would encourage you to do is to look at Dave’s resume.  He has accomplished so much in his life.  But, that’s not what’s special about Dave. What’s special is that most of his accomplishments are focused on helping others, he lives his life in service to the greater good.  And even with all he’s done he’s extremely approachable and humble. A good role model for us.   

I’ve had a great couple weeks since we last spoke.  I did get that quick fever/flu/cold whatever it was but I got through it in a week.  I had a bit of a anxiety spot when I bailed on that long run. 

As you may remember I did most of my long runs on the treadmill in February and early March.  I was hitting my paces but in the back of my mind I was always cognizant of the fact that the treadmill is not the road.  Until I road tested some of those paces I was going to be tentative. 

Last week was a rest week but coach gave me a nice long tempo run for Saturday.  And of course, the weather didn’t cooperate.  We had 20 MPH gusting, swirling winds and I was almost ready to drive into work and knock it out on the treadmill again, especially coming off that cold. 

But, I stuck my head outside and it wasn’t too bad so I suited up and hit the workout.  The workout was to warm up for 20 minutes then run 50 minutes at faster than race pace. The out and back I run these on starts out as a rolling downhill.  This means that when you make the turn-around, the second half of the run is a rolling uphill.  Which, in theory is a great workout, but in practice sucks as you climb those hills at the end of the tempo session. 

It turned out that the wind was a tail wind on the way out and a head wind on the way back.  I don’t really look at real-time splits as I’m doing these workouts.  I try to run them by feel.  When I hit that tempo I try to ease into what I think feels like, in this case a 7:50 mile.  I get feedback on my pace every mile. 

I was a bit horrified when the first mile split was a 7:30.  Too fast.  I tried to ease off a bit and the second split came in at 7:30 again.  Going into the turn around I really tried to ease up and managed a 7:45.

The challenge here is now I was turning back into the wind and up the hill.  In previous training cycles this is where my legs would have gone on me.  But I was able to hold the pace at a 7:39 a 7:49 and a 7:58 up the hill into a stiff headwind without my legs failing at all.  And when I made the turn to be running with the wind for the last half mile I averaged a 7:25.

A number of positives.  I was able to go out too fast and recover without failing.  I was able to do the hard work up hill and into the wind and my legs felt great.  I was able to close it hard.  All good signs. 

And I followed up this week on Tuesday with a similar step up run, on the same route without the wind, with 30 minutes at 7:50’s and closing with 30 minutes at 7:30’s. 

Last night I knocked out a set of 200-meter hill repeats at sub-7 pace and it felt easy. 

How is this possible?  Am I just lucky or gifted to be able to pull this kind of speed out of my butt at the ripe old age of 56 going on 57? 

No, I mean, yeah of course there is some underlying DNA involved, but this is the result of 20 years of consistent effort over the long run and 6 months of focused effort on this cycle.

What have I done differently this cycle to get such great results?  Near as I can figure it comes down to the following:

  • Consistency – I do the work with consistent focus and effort over time. This isn’t different from previous cycles, but it’s the baseline. 
  • Nutrition – I have dropped close to 20 pounds over the last 6 months. I usually shed 10 pounds in a marathon cycle. The last few cycles I haven’t really focused on going the extra 10 pounds.  The combination of less weight and cleaner eating early in the cycle allowed me to have higher quality training and faster paces.
  • Stretching and core – Another difference in this cycle is an early focus on daily flexibility stretches. This allowed me to train harder and probably kept the injuries at bay. 
  • Finally – good sleep – I haven’t been traveling as much and my commute isn’t bad. I’ve been getting that full 8-9 hours of sleep every night and I’m sure that contributes to my ability to execute.

Turns out the secrets to success are no secrets.  You just have to do it! Which is the hardest thing, right? It’s easy to say these things, it’s another to actually do them. But, if you do, I guarantee you’ll see the results.

Next time we talk will be the weekend before the Boston Marathon.  I’ve got one more long run and I’m into my taper.  Remember, my number is 18543, If you want to steal it you need to be able to run a sub-3:30 marathon. 

Your etymology for the week is the word “compass”.  This is a combination of two Latin words.  ‘Com’ meaning with and ‘passus’, which means pace or steps. 

So following your compass means bringing together your paces.

And I’ll see you out there.


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


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Direct download: epi4406.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT





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