Posted by: runsinthefamily | April 22, 2010

Boston Race Report

The nitty-gritty:  4:12:09, not what I wanted, but oh well.

The details:

Wow.  Just wow.  Boston was amazing.  We drove up to our hotel ( the Boston Park Plaza) and we had doormen and bellhops.  That was pretty cool for someone who is used to do-it- yourself service!  Everywhere, absolutely everywhere, were thin, fit people wearing different Boston Marathon jackets, from the different years.  The first night the oldest one I saw was from 1999.  I had driven all day with my brother Matt, his girlfriend Heather that we picked up in Albany,  my parents, and DS #2 and DD#2 – my husband was flying in the next day.  We arrived Saturday around 7pm, and after finally getting checked in realized we were STARVING!  Of course, not knowing exactly what time we would arrive, I didn’t make a reservation.  We tried the various restaurants attached to the hotel, only to be told an hour or more wait at one, but then McCormick & Schmicks was kind enough to mention we could sit in the bar area and be served dinner there if we could find a table.  And voila!  An empty table appeared.  Dinner never tasted so good.

The next morning was the BAA 5k, which I had signed DS#2 up for.  I didn’t really sleep that great the night before,  the kids were fine ( they are old enough they are easy to travel with) but I heard street noises and sirens off and on all night.  Of course the 5k started at 8am, we hadn’t picked up his number yet, so we got up early, got dressed, and jogged over to the tent a few blocks away to pick up his stuff.  I planned on having this be my shake-out run for the marathon, and that worked out great – we ran over, and I ran up and down the street after the 5k started.  There was an announcer at the start introducing the marathon winners from previous years – I got to see Jacqueline Gareau, the real winner of the 1980 Boston marathon ( the year of Rosie Ruiz), Katherine Switzer, who started it all for us women, Lisa Rainsberger, Geoff Smith, and of course, Boston Billy Rodgers.  It was awesome seeing all these winners that I grew up reading about!  I got choked up during the God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner – and the 5k started.

So I got to jog up and down Boylston Street, watching for the lead runners.  Soon ( very soon!) I saw Josh Cox coming down the street!  He won in a time of 14:34.  Soon my son came down, he finished in 18:07 – not quite as fast as he wanted, but definitely a respectable time.  We gathered his goody bag and some food and water, and jogged a cooldown back to the hotel.

After changing, we gathered the family, and headed off to Six Burner Boston, where we were meeting the Runners World BQ ladies for brunch!  It was awesome to meet these ladies who I have been posting messages with online- they were all so amazing!

After brunch, off to the Expo, with stops at the finish line for pictures.  We picked up my number, went and bought THE JACKET and then tried to look around….but it was really crowded, we were all getting tired, and they were sold out of all the sizes of the things we wanted.  I really, really wanted to get a shirt similar to one I had seen online last year, but wasn’t sure if it was available for 2010 – a special edition Nike shirt with WICKED FAST RUNNAH on the back.  We finally saw one on a spokesperson, asked, and were told they just sold out.  Ah well.  So back to our hotel room we went to rest up, meet up with DH, and go out for a pasta dinner in the North end.  Went to bed early – we were all tired from the night before, but not before planning everything and laying out my clothes for the morning.  Although it had rained off and on Saturday and Sunday, marathon Monday promised no rain, partly sunny skies, and ending up around 55°.  Just about perfect marathon weather.

The next morning:  I got up at 6:15.  I had absolutely no problem getting up – this was THE DAY!  Took a shower to help my muscles wake up, and then got dressed – putting on the “throwaway clothes” I had picked up at Target, made sure my chip was on my shoe, and had my bag packed up and ready to go.  I had signed up to take a private bus from the hotel to the start – it left at 7:30am, versus the 6:30am bus the BAA was providing.  So I made my way down to the lobby, with a whole bunch of other runners – there were 4 big coach buses of us!  The bus ride was supposed to take about 45 minutes out to Hopkinton, the start of the marathon, but it went quickly.  We had a few moments of panic when the bus driver wasn’t allowed to take the exit he wanted in Hopkinton, but it ended up better – we were supposed to be dropped off at the industrial park nearby, and take another bus to the Athlete’s Village at the starting line, but somehow we were allowed to drive right up to the Village!  Awesome.  I ate my PB and honey sandwich, and quickly called my DD #1 Katie, a Boston College student who was also running the marathon, although as a “bandit” ( which basically means unofficially, without a number.  Boston is famous for its bandits – they plan for about 5000 extra runners each year, although they officially discourage them.  However it is a BC tradition.)  Katie was already there with the BC kids, and we were able to find each other and hang out for a while.  It was cold and windy, but the sun was shining strongly.  The wind was cold enough that I pulled out the garbage bags I had brought to sit on, and used one to wear to keep the wind out.  We saw the “It all starts Here..” sign, and went to take a picture.  Soon they were calling for the wave 2 runners to start moving to the starting line – Katie and the BC kids tried to figure out where they were supposed to go – so I left them and after one last pit stop, moved with the rest of the runners down the path to the starting corrals.

The race:

I got to my corral, #20, just in time – I never heard a horn or bell, but suddenly we all started walking.  There were so many people!  After about 5 or 6 minutes of walking we started running, and crossed over the chip mats at the starting line.  Wow!  I was able to look down ( we started going downhill) and saw a huge sea of people stretched out in front of me, moving down the road.  This would stay the same every time I came to the top of a hill and was able to see down the course – it never seemed to thin out.  Everywhere, absolutely everywhere were people cheering.  It gave me goosebumps!  I had left most of my throwaway clothes  in my bag that would be taken to the finish, but I had left one long-sleeved t-shirt on, and soon took it off, as the sun was shining brightly and the wind seemed to have died down.  I had brought an old pair of socks to wear on my hands instead of gloves, and soon took them off – although I held them in my fists for almost the whole race!  I think that may have been a mistake because afterwards I realized my upper arms and shoulders were tight and sore – maybe from those silly socks.

The first 5k passed sooo fast – I remember seeing the first water/gatorade stop at the 1 mile mark, and that my splits were 1 minute slower than my goal pace.  I decided that was fine, I needed to be careful so I wouldn’t blow up on the Newton hills!  I was mostly people watching – and would go over to the side of the road every so often to slap hands with the kids who were lining the course.  I had written my name on the front and back of my shirt with a Sharpie, and every few seconds ( quite literally, it was amazing) someone would yell “go Connie, you can do it!”  For the first 10k I would look absolutely every time – it was hard to get used too!  Finally I started just smiling every time instead of turning around to look!  We kept passing through the different towns, and there would be bigger crowds, music, orange slices, twizzlers, jelly beans, more kids, more people – it was never-ending.

Although the beginning is supposed to be downhill, there were definitely some rolling hills throughout the whole first half.  I stopped even bothering to look at my pace band at some point – and just ran- mostly people watching.  When it got too crazy I would run more in the middle of the road, then go over to slap hands and back to the middle.  I remember when we got to Wellesley – the girls might have been a bit tired by then, they didn’t seem so much louder than everyone else!  But they were all leaning over the barrier and holding signs that said things like “Kiss me, I’m Irish”  or “Kiss me, I’m Jewish”, “Kiss me, I’m Asian” – it was so funny!  Right after Wellesley was the half marathon mark – I think I passed it in about 1:55 on my watch.

So after the half marathon mark, I started counting down the miles until the Newton Hills started.  There were more and more people cheering on the sides, where before they were single file at the barriers, now they were 2 and 3 people deep.  I knew the hills started around mile 16 with the I-95 overpass, so I watched for that.  It came and went pretty fast – and I felt fine!  I was definitely slowing on the hills – I don’t like them, so I always do unless I really fight it – but I was making it up and over each one just fine.  I also knew BC was at the top of Heartbreak Hill, around mile 20.5-21 – so I kept watching for the BC kids, hoping I would be able to pick out Katie’s roommates out of the crowd, and knowing Judy from the BQ ladies forum would be somewhere nearby!  So Heartbreak hill – I did it!  Without walking.  And then came BC.

I never did see Katie’s friends or Judy, there were sooo many kids cheering, and even crowding in on the marathon course itself – there were a few policemen trying to hold them back.  But I loved it.  Knowing this is where my daughter went to school, I was so proud I was yelling “Go BC!  GO BC!” – the kids were amazing, and gave me such a rush.  I passed Katie’s dorm – where we had moved her in last August – we ran right by the entrance!  and hoped she was doing fine, and not inside there! I knew she wouldn’t have given up no matter how much it hurt~ and I kept going too.

At this point “marathon brain” kicked in – you know, when you don’t really think quite straight?  Well, I saw the 22 mile mark sign- just after another hill by the way – and somehow thought – ‘oh my, I only have 3 miles to go!’  Now why this happened, I don’t know.  So I picked it up quite a bit for the next mile, until I got to mile 23 and realized I was wrong.  Unfortunately, my legs that had been feeling pretty good, just slow, now decided to not want to move!  I wasn’t walking, but they felt so tight – I knew I was slowing down even more.  I ended up walking through the gatorade/water stop – and then forced myself to run again – more of a shuffle really.  Just like after a hard track workout with my team, now I was doing the “dead man shuffle”.  And that’s how I ended the race – I recognized the Citgo sign, saw the 1 mile to go sign, turned right on Hereford, left on Boylston – and ran for the finish.  4:12:09.


So here I sit a couple days later, still trying to figure out what happened.  I’ve decided to be gentle with myself, and just think it wasn’t my day – maybe I didn’t quite handle the taper right, or maybe I just started too conservatively and never really got going.  But I know I want to requalify and go back.  Running Boston really did feel like reaching the summit – even if it didn’t quite go the way I planned, I still did it.

Footnote:  Katie ran a 3:35!!  I’m so proud of her!

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Responses

  1. Great race report Connie! I love the pictures! You ran hard in your first Bosotn Marathon and that is what matters! I “borrowed” some of that line from another blogger that ran Boston and was told precisely that by Bill Rogers!! If you get a chance check out his blog (www.joerunfordom.wordpress.com) You did it and you crossed the finish line with a smile on your face!

  2. Connie, I too felt like I was running right along side of you. That was a good detailed report of your race experiences. It sounds like you really drank in the race! I’ve always gotten lots of advice from more experienced and older runners and the things you did in the race would sometimes be considered not adviseable. I have always been told to stay calm at the beginning and get settled in a good pace. Then make small adjustments. They also told me that if you are gonna “slap hands” and act excited, do it minimally and only in the first quarter of the race. By the time you reach just past the half marathon mark, you must prepare to focus
    on the late teen miles. Usually for me there is a invisible physical barrier around 20 miles followed by a false sense of euphoria at 22 miles. This is why I usually run 21 followed 23 miles for my last long training runs so I can mentally get past those obstacles. With that said, sometimes we really can’t control what happens in the race, what happens to your body, and what happens in your heart. That must have been extremely gratifying to have all that support from so many people for this race. You trained, you prepared, you ran, you enjoyed the experience and you finished. You drank the race! Despite all the advice I’ve been given on this, if I were to qualify for Boston and have the honor of running with so many other well trained athletes in this great tradition, I would have done the same thing! Good job, I am proud of you!

    • Thanks Langston. I was definitely nervous at the beginning, and felt like I was running tight the whole way. But I did have a good time enjoying all the people!

  3. Hi Connie, I love your report. It sounds to me as if you were running by feel without concern about your time, not checking your pace band. I think that’s why you ended up with a slower time than you wanted. But it sounds like you enjoyed yourself on the course, really enjoying the Boston experience. (I wasn’t at the top of HBH, but was at the corner of Commonwealth and Hereford, the second to last turn. It was a terrific spot to view the race, and a few forumites spotted us -I was with Kazz’z DH.)

    • Judy, thanks! I thought after I wrote it that I was thinking you were in the wrong place, but couldn’t remember so I left it. I did start off by checking the pace band, but at a certain point just stopped – probably around mile 7 or 8. It was a great experience, and I can’t wait to go back!

  4. sounds amazing, great recap!


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