Boston Weekend - Marathon trip report

Apr 19th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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Boston Weekend - Marathon trip report

The Boston Marathon is the Crown Jewel of races. Itís the runners Superbowl.

Perhaps because itís the worlds oldest annual marathon. But more likely because the runners must qualify, so there is prestige involved.

The race was held on Monday, April 16. There were 22,000 registered to run.

I flew into Boston on Saturday evening. It was chilly and the forecast was bad: a Nor'easter was headed up the coast and had already caused damage in the Mid Atlantic states.

Sunday morning I met up with 3 friends who had flown in from other states. Between us, we had run 260 marathons.

We went to the runner's expo at the Hynes Convention Center. You receive verification in the mail once you have been accepted to the race. With this post card and retrieve your bib number. Then you go to the expo and proceed to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes, socks, jackets, key chains and any other souvenir you can imagine.

This convention center is attached a mall complex and hotels. I was at the Westin Copely which was very nice. It was especially well suited as these buildings were all connected and protected from the rain.

That evening we carbo-loaded at the kitch filled walls of Joe Tecce's on Washington Street. We sat around swilling some wine and told war stories of our previous runs: who had run in the worst hot conditions, the worst cold conditions, who had gotten the most sick and required the most IV's after a race ("It was a 3 bagger"). Oh, that was fun. Then we turned in about 8:30.

Most of that night I lay in bed and heard the wind and rain buffet my hotel window. I would get up every 30 minutes or so and look out to see if anything had changed. Then at 4 am, I gave up and just got up.

Runners have rituals and routines that they follow. Before a long run, I will drink a cup of coffee, and choke down a bowl of oatmeal. Then I watch the weather channel and make a decision on my clothing. Getting dressed I put Vaseline under my bra strap to prevent rubbing, affix my time chip onto my shoe, and write my husbands cell number on the back of my bib before I pin it on. This all takes about an hour.

I met my 2 friends in the hotel lobby at 6 am. There were only 2 friends now as the third had seen the weather report and had simply gone back to bed. I will say the weather was not optimal. When we left the hotel the wind was blowing so hard, I could barely make any forward progress and I remember thinking that this would be a 6-hour marathon.

Queenie is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 05:35 AM
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We walked to Tremont Street in Boston Common to get a ride to the start line. This race is called a point to point, where you ride a bus 26.2 miles away from the city, then run back to the city. Some races are out and back, or loops and no busses are involved. Those are logistically easier. Boston is not one of those.

So we wait in line with thousands of other runners to board the yellow school busses to take us to Hopkinton. It is raining, winds are gusting, and it's still dark. 45 minutes pass before we can get on.

The bus is wet, naturally. The bus smells of peanut butter and unwashed bodies. The body heat steams all the windows. I cannot see out. The ride is bumpy and takes an hour. But none of us wants to get off the bus when we arrive at the start line, because there is no protection until the race begins.

We exit the bus and the 3 of us hunker down on trash bags that we spread over the mud. We fashioned ponchos and skirts from plastic bags, and wrapped our feet in plastic grocery bags. We find shelter from the wind by squeezing between a brick wall and a row of porta potties.

Some folks are clever and find shelter under parked tractor-trailers sitting in the lot. We sit and wait for 2.5 hours. It is still raining, windy and about 40 degrees. We are exhausted and have not yet begun the race.
Queenie is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 07:10 AM
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I'm well aware of the pre-race ordeal at Boston, especially in bad weather, and I've always said if you can survive that, the race is easy.
That's why some people stay in the suburbs and have friends drive them to the start.
j_999_9 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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Queenie: for a non-runner, but one who has cheered the runners from the side lines during my college days at BU and after while working in the city, this is so interesting - the things we never think, or as a non-runner, do not know about - (the vaseline trick for one!) -

I hope you are not finished and there is more !
escargot is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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Great story...where is the rest.
We want more....please???
zlaor is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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There is a loudspeaker announcement that we are to proceed to the start line.

We walk en masse through the small town of Hopkinton. We are segregated by race number, which indicates how fast we are predicted to run: lower number / faster folks forward, higher number / slower to the back. Finally, at 10:30 the start gun sounds and we are off running. Plastic bags are shed, and jackets tossed as we warm up from the activity. It is raining very lightly now, and the wind has calmed.

The first few miles are through rolling country side. Some tenacious supporters have braved the weather to cheer us on. Bless you!

At mile 6 the clouds darken and the rain pounds. My running buddy is a math genius and calculates our pace every mile. This is his 90th marathon. We are on pace.

At mile 12, I hear something. It is the girls from Wellesley who do not disappoint; they are out screaming, and waving as we run by. Many shake signs saying "Kiss Me!". Boy does that boost the moral. We are on pace.

At mile 16 we start the climb of the Newton hills. It is no longer raining, but it is still windy. The first and second hills go by easily. We are on pace.

By mile 20, we are still climbing hills. I am cold and wet and my muscles ache. I am whining and tell my buddy to go ahead. I slow dramatically. I understand the meaning of Heartbreak Hill.

At mile 21 we pass Boston College. What great crowd support Ė they are even offering beer to the more hearty, or foolhearty runners.

We are getting closer to the city and the crowd thickens. We run past Fenway and I see the baseball game is on.
At mile 23, I have to stop and walk. I am hurting. Then this guy, who must have stumbled out of Fenway with a beer in one hand, cigar in the other and looking 9 months pregnant, yells directly to me: "Suck it up!". I looked straight at him, he smiles and I begin to run again. What an angel.

Queenie is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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I love your angel encounter and what a fantastic report of a very brutal marathon day. Thank you and well done!
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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the angels comments are too funny ! this is great - more coming???
escargot is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:19 AM
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what a great story. More please
china_cat is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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My daughter's new boyfriend ran on Monday too. She said it was not a pretty day for a run, and an even worse day for spectators.

Your account of the pre- race routine is fascinating, especially since our marathon here starts at the crack of dawn.

So how did it end for you?
lcuy is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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I don't remember much of mile 24 Ė 25 other than pain. The last mile we round the corner and on the home stretch I see the big blue finish line. God it looks so far away. And I know I have to push it and run fast to break my time objective. I just want to stop.

I cross the finish line in 3 hours 58 minutes. That qualifies me for Boston next year. Not bad for a middle-aged woman.

At the finish line you get some water and a reflective blanket. This race you must turn in your timing chip to receive your medal. This is done because there are so many bandits who run Boston and do not legally register. I get my gear and walk back to my hotel room.

In the hotel I shower, drink a coke and throw up. My usual routine. I watch the replay of the race on the TV, however seeing the course and the runners makes me nauseous so I switch to 'Dog Bounty Hunter' (have you ever seen that show?)

Shortly I feel better and celebrate with a cheeseburger, fries and 2 Sam Adams beers. Life is sweet; I love Boston.

I learn that one of my running friends returned to his hotel in the midst of a fire drill. He then had to climb the 19 flights of stairs to his room as the elevators were not operating. Quite a challenge after running a marathon.

My plane leaves at 7 am the next morning, so I am up and out of the hotel by 5. The weather is still dicey. My stair-climbing running buddy had his direct flight cancel and had to fly Boston to Chicago via Miami.

I was sorry I didn't see much of the town. The weather discouraged exploring. Perhaps I will do that when I run the race next year.
Queenie is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 12:20 PM
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Congrats on the completion and on qualifying for next year's race. I was amazed that people actually finished in that imclement weather.

Kudos, Queenie!
Apr 19th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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Fantastic, Queenie. You did very well. In my eyes, and anyone who runs it is a winner. When I was younger I ran in the Boston first women's 10K (peanuts next to your run
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 03:43 PM
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Congratulations - well done -
we'll hope for better weather next year and now I need to find out about Dog Bounty Hunter....
escargot is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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Congratulations, Queenie!!! I so enjoyed reading your personal account of the marathon. What an amazing accomplishment. You created such an visual - the angel - priceless!

You are right, it is the Runner's Super Bowl -- my son hopes to run it one day!

Thanks again for sharing. I really enjoyed it.
seetheworld is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 09:11 AM
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Thanks everyone! It was really a fun day (I can say that now).

Cigale - I commend you on your 10K. Your participation made a difference.

Most people have forgotten that it was ILLEGAL for women to run the Boston Marathon until the 1970's.

Escargot - Don't look to hard for 'Dog Bounty Hunter'. Its really strange.
Queenie is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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Wow. I can't even run around the block. I hate the cold. If Dante wanted to create a circle of Hell for me, he'd have had me next to you at that marathon.

But I do admire you.
missypie is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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Congratulations Queenie! I really enjoyed this report. In my college days, I used to stand at mile 21 cheering on the runners. (Might have even had a beer or two at 10 am. )

lvk is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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Congratulations Queenie on achieving a fine finishing time and writing a great report. As one who run a few marathons in the distant past, with your descriptions brought back a lot of nostalgia. Next year, the night before Boston I will carbo load in solidarity with you and all the runners. BTW, as an after the marathon snack, try a cream cheese and peanut butter sandwich. It is soooo good and sits real well.
basingstoke2 is online now  

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