I almost missed my 5th Boston Marathon!
Woke up Sunday morning to messages about my flight being delayed, connection missed, and a rebooking that would have me arrive after the expo closed!
I’ll spare you the airport gymnastics, but blessedly the airline got creative and I arrived in time!
Instead of a hotel, I stayed with my dear friends from college, Heather and Jack, who have lived in the Boston area for over 15 years.
Is a visit with them one of the reasons I love this race?
Best kept secret
On race morning, Heather drove me directly to Hopkinton. From there, I took a 10 minute shuttle to Athlete’s Village.
This is the race’s best kept secret! Of course, it only makes sense for folks who are commuting in north of the city.
It allowed me to sleep in two hours later (!) and most of the other passengers were local, so there wasn’t really any nervous energy or stress vibes on the bus.
From Athlete’s Village, I was able to go directly to a bathroom and begin my walk to the start. No “hurry up and wait”.
Now, none of this sounds appealing to someone who has never done this race (you probably want that bus from you the Commons and photo with the Hopkinton sign experience!) but I’ve done this race 4 times before.
I’m better off with more sleep!
The People’s Olympics
The early miles of this race are a pure celebration.
The Boston Marathon is often called “The People’s Olympics” and it’s because the folks on course make us feel that way.
Confetti popping, air horns blowing, kids on shoulders with pom poms and encouraging signs- it’s the best!
I stopped at a port a potty 2 miles in, which isn’t ideal but neither is being uncomfortable all day, ya heard?!
Since the early miles offer a gradual downhill, I was careful not to overdo it on speed.
I knew I’d need energy for the Newton Hills!
Solidarity and Support
CrossFit New England had live music and a team WOD going as we went by.
Rowers and barbells were out in the parking lot faced toward the runners on the road- it looked like a total party!
I imagine it was a unique experience for them and, as someone who has spent time in affiliates to injury proof my running, thought it was a cool way for the CrossFit community to show solidarity and support.
Scream Tunnel- mile 13
Scream tunnel is my favorite part of the race and this year was no different.
Around mile 13, students at Wellesley College line the streets screaming so loudly it can be heard at mile 12- a full mile away!
The sound is deafening and it brought me to tears. Happy tears!
The pandemic changed a lot about the way things are done now and, in that moment, I thought “this entire race is just like I remember!”
Even though the media asked runners not to kiss the students (legend has it a kiss from a Wellesley girl will bring you good luck) I still saw plenty of people smooching strangers.
See? The same!
We moved to the beach last year and I knew the hills would be challenging.
Here’s some perspective: the elevation gain in the second half of this course is more than I run in an entire month!
Sure, I do Peloton runs on the treadmill use incline- it’s not the same.
There are 4 hills in Newton and they’re a bear because they’re gradual inclines and positioned late in the race, when you’re already fatigued from earlier miles.
I’m proud to say I never stopped to walk…but by Heartbreak I was destroyed.
If you’re unfamiliar with this famous climb, here’s a two minute brief:
I didn’t want to feel like superwoman at that point (real talk: if you don’t feel something from these hills, you’re underperforming!) but there’s a huge difference between training regularly on hills and treadmill incline.
Two sets of friends from undergrad were out on the course. First, I saw Terrill and Ben around mile 20.
I got my catch up time with them the day prior over a meal, but there’s nothing like seeing your pals and high fiving them on the course.
Side note: Terrill (pictured above, right) recently took a job as the first ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Harvard Business School.
Safe to say he’s the most successful person we know from UNCG ( I know there’s an argument for Cody Rigsby, but I don’t know him personally) and we are proud of the change he’s affecting!
Around mile 22, I saw Heather, Jack, and their kids with a sign almost identical to the one they made for me in 2009, my first Boston Marathon.
Pssst- “run run run” is a reference to a band we listened to at UNCG.
Click on that player up there and picture a bunch of 20 year olds standing on the booths in a bar singing along. Ahhhh, college.
The photo Jack snapped of me high fiving his son is my favorite from the race:
I slapped the hands of pretty much every willing kid and adult from Hopkinton to Boylston St.
You may think I lost some time doing this, but I actually think it evens out.
I am energized by others! Engaging with the crowd makes me faster.
When I high five a kid, the buzz carries me for a bit until the next.
Boston is nonstop with opportunities to celebrate with the crowd and I took full advantage!
Real talk: the last 5K was rough.
My legs were destroyed from the hills and the tailwind we had enjoyed earlier turned to a headwind.
It felt like it took forever to get to the Citgo sign, which signifies 1 mile to go, and another forever to the finish.
I am proud of earning 3:30:54, a Boston Qualifying time by just over 9 minutes.
Though far from a personal record at this distance, it’s the fastest I’ve ever run this course.
I attribute it to consistency in training, perfect weather, and the energy from the people in Boston on race day.
To God be the glory!
Curious about my other trips to Beantown? Here are the recaps:
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