Milford runner pens how to book on Boston Marathon

So, you think you want to run the Boston Marathon?

Well, before you lace ‘em up and start those 10-13 mile training runs, it would be a good idea to read “Conquering the Beast: Thirty Years with the Boston Marathon,” a small but valuable book by former Milford Area Senior High School boys track coach Nick San Martino.

San Martino, a physical therapist, has run Boston, as the subtitle says, “30 times and was handing out water at the finish line last year when the bombs went off.” He hadn’t run in 2013 but was planning to go this year, until he got hurt.

“I tore my quad muscle,” he said. “I’d just finished an eight-mile run and I slipped and fell.”

So, running Boston is out this year, but he’ll be at the finish line again, handing out water to exhausted runners.

“I will always want to be a part of the marathon,” he said in a recent telephone interview.

Running has long been a big part of San Martino’s life and he was the man behind the long-running, and oft-lamented Milford Miles road race that raised money for the Souhegan Valley Association for the Handicapped.

He helped some members of the MASH track team train for the Boston Marathon and, in discussing his book recently, he remarked upon Steve Pickett, one of his track team kids, who continued running after leaving MASH and once came in 33rd in Boston. He also recalled Chris Viljanen who was on two U.S. Olympic biathlon teams. And his book contains a number of photos of MASH kids decked out in running gear.

While his book, published by Peter E. Randall Publisher of Portsmouth, is a serious primer on training for, running in and getting to the end of the marathon, he sees it as something more than that.

“The main crux of the book,” he said, “is for people to understand the magnitude of the event.”

What he meant, he said, is the thousands of runners who take off from Hopkinton, Mass., and how they represent 94 countries. Then, San Martino said, there are the one million spectators who line the 26-mile route.

“It’s one of the toughest marathon courses there is,” he said, “if not the toughest.”

And this is where his book can be of help.

Much of the book is nostalgia, the beginning contains some history, but the runner eyeing Boston for the first time will start reaping value with “The Ten Commandments” of running Boston. They include things like:

? Thou shalt not go out too fast.

? Thou shalt drink water early and often no matter what the weather.

? Thou shalt watch out from whom you take any aid or advice.

Yes, well, who doesn’t know that, some runners might ask, and San Martino would answer, “You’d be surprised.”

Because runners, even those who know the basic common-sense rules, sometimes forget, or ignore them.

San Martino doesn’t just list his ten commandments, he goes into detail on each one. For instance:

No. 3. Thou shalt not take energy gel (goo), orange slices, or Gatorade until after the halfway point.

“I always safety-pin three packets of energy gel, or ‘goo,’ to the inside of my shorts,” he writes. “Everyone has his or her own schedule, but I find if I take one packet at mile 17, it gives me a boost. Then I take another at mile 21, or 22. I save the third for mile 24 for a strong finish … I am also a firm believer in having a Power Bar (with lots of water) before the race, and one later on in the race to enhance your performance when you may run short of energy stores. With too much energy loss, your system can, and will, start attacking your muscles.”

The most valuable section of the book, though, is the one on training and here he lists two things that I found surprising (having never run more than 7.5 miles):

1. You will need only four months of training.

2. If you can complete 13 miles without killing yourself, you can complete Boston.

Both sound a bit less than enough, but San Martino ran it 30 times, so …

Then he goes into diet and sleep and the equipment you need for your lower body, upper body and, of course, feet.

The book is short, only 93 pages, but San Martino packs a great deal of valuable information into it, along with a lot of memories.

His epilogue details what he saw and heard at the 2013 Marathon and it, too, is a worthy read.