Friday, April 22, 2016

THE 2016 Boston Marathon

The dream... over two years in the making... three days, over in the blink of an eye. Hard to find a starting place for all the good memories so I suppose I'll go chronologically.

Saturday, April 16th
This was a family vacation. We left home at 10 am to get on a 12:40 pm direct flight to Boston. Clark's best friend William lives in Boston so he met us at the airport. We took a quick detour to William's office building downtown so we could see the city from it's 15th floor windows, then it was on to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Cambridge.

The hotel prices for this weekend were heart stopping. Anything at the finish line on Copley Square was $1400 a NIGHT! (Not that I could even get a room there by the time my entry was confirmed). We were about 3 miles from the finish line at $399 a night which was about as good as it was going to get. All things considered though, this hotel was a great pick. The "T" (subway) station was across the street. There was free parking, free internet, and free breakfast. The other nice thing was that the T station (Lechmere) was the end of the line for the Green E-train so we always had seats when we got on. We got 7-day T-tickets for $19 a piece. This was the most economical way to go and we got our money's worth.

After settling in, all of us took the T to the finish line at Copley Square.

The Finish Line. There were hundreds of people getting photos.
After getting photos at the finish line, we walked down Boyleston to Marathon Sports as well as Adidas RunBase Boston to look at clothing.
 Along the way we passed the site of the 2013 bombings.
The first bomb went off right outside Marathon Sports which is directly across from the finish line.
Marathon Sports had a countdown clock to the race in their window.

After looking around the finish line area, William took us on a walking tour of the city through the Public Gardens, past several cemeteries, famous government buildings, and into the North End which was a food lover's dream of Italian restaurants and bakeries. We had reservations at Vinoteca di Monica for dinner. I'm glad we had a Boston insider who knew to make dinner reservations or we never would have got a seat anywhere on the North End that night! Dinner was fabulous. I ended up ordering the gnocchi. We then wanted to get dessert either at Modern Pastry or Mike's Pastries as both are well known in Boston. However, the lines to even get IN the shops were around the block. I've never seen anything like it! We ended up at Bova's Bakery where we could at least get in the door but it was wall to wall people in there too. Finally we got cannolis to go. Took the T back to the hotel to feast on cannolis and then it was off to bed.

Sunday, April 17th
This was our "fun" day. Essentially I did all the things you're NOT suppose to do the day before a race. Spend all day on your feet doing things and eating all kinds of new things. Kids and I went to the Expo to pick up my bib and look around. Our intention was to spend about an hour there but we ended up spending several. It was wall to wall people with so much to see.

Adidas took up about half of one of the exhibit halls with their store. We picked up free posters that had all the entrants names on them then moved out to the periphery of the hall. One of the first booths we stopped at was the NormaTec booth where they were giving free 10 minute trials of their recovery boot system. The line was short so we went for it and took 10 minutes to get our legs pampered.

Dear Santa, we would like NormaTec boots for Christmas!

I got $10 worth of chews at the Gatorade booth cause one of the kids wanted the free Boston stocking cap that came with the $10 purchase. Went to the Marathon Tours booth so I could pick up my free Boston 2 Big Sur gift which ended up being arm warmers. Shalane Flanagan was suppose to be at the Runner's World booth and that area was insane so we skipped it and went back to Adidas were I bought lots of overpriced Boston merchandise.

Outside the Expo Hall

We finally left the Expo and went to check out L.A. Burdick, a chocolate shop just off Copley Square. William had said the hot chocolate was incredible - like drinking melted chocolate - so of course we had to try it. He was right. Heaven! I got a box of chocolate to bring home. G got a chocolate elephant and J got a chocolate mouse. They were almost too cute to eat.

What was suppose to be a quick trip to the Expo turned into several hours and we didn't get back to the hotel until almost 4 pm. We met back up with Clark and got back on the T to go to the Museum of Science where we got tickets for a Duck Boat Tour. A "duck boat" is actually a WWII amphibious landing vehicle. We got to tour the major Boston landmarks by land and by boat.

My day was pretty much over after the Duck Boat tour. It was back to the hotel to order pizza for delivery, then off to bed with a 6:30 am wake up call.
Monday, April 18th - Marathon Monday!
Unlike most marathons, Boston does not have an early morning start. The elite men as well as Wave 1 started at 10:00 am, with the elite women and wheelchair racers starting slightly earlier. I was in the first corral of the last wave, Wave 4, so my start time wasn't until 11:15 am. However, I still had to take the T to the finish line area, check my gear bag, then board one of the buses that would transport the runners to the start in Hopkinton. So, 6:30 am wake up it was. Ate oatmeal, coffee, and a banana, put a banana, a bottle of water, and a GU in my bag to take to the start, and it was out the door of the hotel by 7:15 am to get on the T. In retrospect, I wished I had left a bit sooner but it all turned out OK.
I got off the T at the Arlington Station as the stop at Copley Square is closed on Marathon Monday. I went to the finish line area to drop off my gear bag only to discover there were lines of runners going through security, having their drop bags checked. Ugh. Stay calm. Got through the line then ended up doing a brisk walk to board the bus by 8:30 am. Finally got on the bus and it was time to relax and take it all in!
The bus ride took about an hour. It was warm. So warm I ended up taking my throw away sweatshirt off. Then we were there. The Athlete's Village at Hopkinton High School and Middle School.
It was a sea of runners inside...
Finding a bathroom was the first order of business. It took me 40 minutes to get in my first port-a-potty. It took so long I seriously considered staying in there until they called my wave!
After taking care of business, I found a spot of shade under a tent and continued taking it all in. Caught up on some Facebook posts and tried to post this...
... but couldn't get things to upload from my end. Ate my banana an hour before the start. Ate my GU walking to the start... then it was GO time!
By virtue of being in the first corral, I was WAY in the front... like I could see the starter and everything! And away we went...
Mile 1 - 8:51. We're packed like sardines going down the road and I'm looking at EVERYTHING!
Mile 2 - 8:38.
Mile 3 - 8:39. It's pretty much downhill the first couple miles and the running felt effortless so I let my legs go at what felt like an easy pace.
Mile 4 - 8:34. Ashland. Entire families are out in their yards cheering us on. Pace still feels unbelievably easy and now I'm having an internal debate. I've never negative splitted a race and it's certainly not going to happen today. I wasn't planning on running anything faster than 9:00 pace today... Coach Ebersole told me I might have BQ'd in Napa last year if I had just allowed myself to run faster in the beginning rather than holding back... but I'm not trying to BQ today. I'm not nearly in the shape I was in last year either.
Mile 5 - 9:09. The field finally spread out a little and I could feel how hot the sun was and the headwind that we would run into for the rest of the race. I am NOT running under 4:00 today. I need to slow down! That's what I decided. Take it all in!
Mile 6 - 9:15.  Framingham. I think the whole town is out by the road. People lined the streets forming a continuous line of humanity, kids holding their hands out for high-fives. I had been running in the middle of the road since I didn't want to end up bent over to one side by the end of the race due to the camber of the road like Trena last year (Thanks for the tip Trena!). In Framingham I moved over to the right side so I could run in the shade and slapped hundreds of hands. I came upon a woman holding the front legs up on her full-size dog, paw held out for a high-five so I high fived the dog too.
Mile 7- 9:31
Mile 8 - 9:50
Mile 9 - 9:52
Mile 10 - 9:42
Mile 11 - 10:04
Mile 12 - 9:29
Mile 13 - 10:16
Mile 14 - 9:42
Mile 15 - 10:15
The crowds continued to line the road from Framingham to Natick. I don't think I've enjoyed a race this much since Chicago 2011 where I didn't have a time goal either. I wanted to remember everything in the film reel in my head. BE PRESENT!
Mile 16 - 9:35. Running through Wellesley now. The course goes downhill through the Wellesley campus, through the famous "scream tunnel." It was fun to look at all the signs the girls were sporting.
Mile 17 - 11:18. My family was suppose to be somewhere after the 16 mile mark. Finally found them!
Mile 18 - 10:47. The first of the Newton Hills started shortly after I saw my family... and I suddenly got twinges of cramps in my calves. My right foot started throbbing too. I willed myself to relax and not panic. Keep smiling!
Mile 19 - 10:41. Calf problems are gone now but now I feel like there are weights on my legs just above my knees and realize the medial heads of both my quads are solid knots.
Mile 20 - 10:43. Where the heck is Heartbreak Hill?
Mile 21 - 12:14. Never mind. THIS is Heartbreak Hill! The running was getting hard yet I realized there were only about 5 more miles left and, strangely, it made me sad that it was going to be over soon.
Mile 22 - 10:21. We entered Brookline. There were Boston College students screaming their heads off everywhere. They were at least ten times louder than the Wellesley girls. The cheering was just incredible and the crowds would just get bigger and louder from here on in.
Mile 23 - 11:48. Legs are really feeling it now and I'm thinking I need to protect them for Big Sur on Sunday. Lots of people are walking or running crooked around me. Thanks again Trena for telling me not to run on the side of the road!
Mile 24 - 11:38. I get my first glimpse of the big Citgo sign which marks one mile from the finish.
Mile 25 - 13:33. Shortly after mile 24 I tried to accelerate to get around a guy that was moving slow in front of me and got a full on Charley horse in my entire left leg from thigh to foot. I had to stop to massage it out so I could straighten my leg. Sigh.
Mile 26 - 11:13. Right on Hereford. Araminta is supposed to be standing in the turn but I don't see her. My family is also supposed to be on the right side of Hereford but I don't see them either. People are three to five deep screaming their heads off on Hereford. Left on Boyleston. The road opens up and the incredible cheering continues. No finishing kick for me. I run in the middle of the road taking it all in.
Official time 4:29:28
Not one of my faster times but definitely my most memorable marathon... plus, I didn't end up in the medical tent like my last two!
The finish chute was really short. Got my medal, warming blanket and food. Immediately downed the Gatorade Recovery drink, got my gear bag and met my family. Turns out it was so crowded they couldn't get to Hereford before I did so they worked to get to the other side of the finish line before me. It had been 75 degrees when I started and I was hot the entire race. However, it was actually cooler in Boston than Hopkinton and even with my track pants and sweatshirt on I started shivering in the breeze as soon as I stopped moving. I had planned on sitting in a tub of cold water as soon as I got back to the hotel but my teeth were chattering by then so I put my feet in trash cans of ice water instead and took a hot shower. After that, it was compression tights and socks and out the door for a nice dinner. William had reservations for us at Legal Sea Foods at 6:30 pm so there was no time to stop moving!
 Outside Legal Sea Foods
So there you have it. Three days. Over in a blink of an eye but the memories will last a lifetime.
Now it's onward to Big Sur!

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