The Boston Marathon has become my main race for the year. Prior to running this race in 2013, my plan was to run it one time, check off the bucket list of running Boston and find the next race. Well sometimes plans change. After running Boston I realized there is just no other Marathon that compares to it, so now my plan is to run it every year. At least as long as I can qualify to run it.
Training for this race was going great. I remember saying almost too good. Well, during the last week of my training on a easy 5 mile run I started to feel a pain in my foot. It felt like a cramp that would not go away. Not a good time for an injury. I rested the last few days, iced a lot and hoped for the best. I figured my perfect race, and dreams of running a sub 3 hour marathon was not going to happen. So I adjusted my goals, just finish and try to PR, but if all else fails, at least qualify for next year. There is always another race. Injuries are all a part of running, life goes on.
Before running Boston in 2013 I took a lot for granted. Now I know that my problems are nothing compared to what other people are facing. All of the victims from the 2013 bombing, it is hard to imagine losing a limb and the sacrifices so many people have made so that we can run Boston. So as long as I can run, I will honor those that can’t and do my best at Boston, no matter what obstacles are in the way. It is unfortunate that it took that tragic event for me to learn that lesson.
So (my wife and I) arrived in Boston on Friday the 17th. We had a few hours before we could check in to the hotel, so we went to get lunch at Doyle’s. Of course we had to have a Sam Adams (well I just took a drink from my wife’s). Doyle’s is the first restaurant that started serving Sam Adams. Normally we go to the Sam Adams tour a few blocks away, and then go eat at Doyle’s every year. We missed the Sam Adams tour this year, but not Doyle’s.
We finished lunch and checked into the hotel. We stayed at the Newton-Boston Marriott. It is reasonably priced (compared to downtown Boston you could say it is cheap). This is the same hotel I stayed at for 2014. The course for the race is only about 1 mile away; it is also close to the riverside T station. So getting to Boston using the train is easy. The hotel has a shuttle that will take you to the T and pick you up. We have rented a car each time in Boston, but now I think it might be easier to just use the train. That way we don’t have to worry about parking downtown. Which is crazy as you can imagine during the Marathon. The garage they recommend to park in cost $32 a day. So ya, I’m a slow learner, but no more car rental for us. Also another perk using the train is it is free for runners on race day. Just show your bib and they let you ride. That made it easy this year to get to the Boston Commons and back after the race.
Saturday I woke up around 4am and got ready for the 5k. I drove to the garage (remember I am a slow learner) and parked. The plan for the day was run the 5k, test the foot and see how I felt. Then go to the expo, packet pickup. Then go see Meb at the UCAN presentation. Then back to the hotel to rest and maybe site see.
The weather was perfect for the 5k, 54^f and sunny. It was crazy packed, I didn’t remember there being this many people last year, but I think there was. It was so packed that the corral for 7:00-8:00 pace group was too full to get in. We had to wait for the race to start till there was enough room to get in. I took the first mile easy, the foot felt great. The 2nd mile was not as packed so I picked it up a bit, still felt good. So the last mile I did MP ~7:10 and I could feel a bit more pain, but it was manageable. That was encouraging; I had not run for 3 days and was not even sure I should run the Marathon. I had a little bit of hope that I could finish and maybe re-qualify.
After the 5k I found out Ben True and Molly Huddle not only won but both set a 5k USA road record. Ben finished @ 13:22 and Molly @ 14:50. Molly also won in 2014, she is one of the fastest 5k runners in the world. Ben finished 2nd last year, so it was good to see him win this year.
The expo was somewhat un-eventful. I got my packet, bought a few things and was off to the UCAN presentation. Last year I went to the same presentation and got to see Meb before he won. For sure something I will remember for a long time. I think last year there were about 50 people maybe. Everyone had a seat and it was not packed at all. This year, wow, there was at least 300+ people and I was a bit late I guess so no seat for me. Meb is such a great ambassador for not only running but for the USA. So humble and as Johnathan (the boy that really is the reason UCAN was invented) said in his speech (yes I teared up a bit), Meb is just a really nice guy. This year’s presentation was a bit more promotional, but still Meb took time to take a picture with everyone that came.
So back to the hotel, shower from the 5k, yep I was still in my running clothes and did not smell good. I stopped and got lunch and we ate in the hotel. We had planned to go see some friends, but I was tired and needed to rest, ice and electronic plus massage my foot. One of the items I bought at the expo, to hopefully help my foot a little.
We found a small Italian restaurant in Newton, Comella’s. Not fancy, but good food and close to the hotel. I got Grandpa’s mess (ravioli with meat balls and sausage). Then it was back to the hotel after dinner and to bed. Not easy to rest when you are just waiting for Monday and it is Saturday night. Tick, Tock….
We got up around 8am, kind of late for me, and decided to take the train down town as a test run for me taking it for the race. We took the hotel shuttle to the T and bought a $10 Charlie card. That was much better than paying $32 each day for parking. The T was relaxing, no traffic. We got off at Park st. right across the street from the Boston Commons (Buss loading and bag check for the race). We both needed to find a bathroom after the train ride. That was a challenge since there were 30,000 other runners in town, most shops would not let you use the restroom unless you bought something. So we stopped at McDonald’s and bought an iced coffee so we could use the bathroom.
Then we walked over to the commons looking for the Freedom Trail tour, our site seeing plan for the day. It was about 2 miles of walking and stopping, the tour guide covered all the history of Boston or at least a lot of it. After the tour we stopped at the Beantown Pub for lunch. This is located right across the Old Granary Burial Ground, founded in 1660; it is the city of Boston’s third-oldest cemetery and the final resting place for many notable Boston Patriots including three signers of the Declaration of Independence – Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine – Paul Revere, and the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The cemetery has 2,345 graves, but historians estimate as many as 5,000 people are buried in it. Yes we learned that in the tour. The Bean-town pub is the only place you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams (joke from the tour guide, haha). Yes we both had to have a Sam Adams out of respect for the dead of course.
So we learned a lot and had a good time walking and taking it easy. Took the T back to the hotel, then we ordered to go at Comella’s back to the hotel and eat dinner and rest the rest of the night.
I woke up early and took the shuttle to the T from the hotel. It was busy and had a few other runners but mostly everyone just going to work. I got to the Boston Commons early around 7 am. Now there were more runners around and the race atmosphere was everywhere. I checked in my bag, head to the bus and got right on.
The bus ride to the start seems sooo loooong. It took forever. And of course it started to rain on the way. Another runner on the bus offer me a trash bag, I had not prepared for rain. Finally we arrived at Hopkinton. Of course the tents were packed. Last year I was able to find a spot and lay down to rest. This year you were lucky to walk. I managed to get some coffee and found a few runners that I knew. It was great to see Maria, this was the first year I knew someone there and saw them. Before I knew it, they called my corral and I started the walk to the starting line. I stopped at the porta potty’s just before the corrals. I ran into another friend, Carlos. With 30,000 runners it is amazing to find someone you know. But as soon as I said “Hi” went to the porta potty, I had lost him again. I worked my way to the 2nd corral. Went through my normal race rituals and I was ready. No rain at the start, temps were in the 40’s and that was perfect. A bit of wind, but I guess you can’t have everything. I started off at MP and all was good. Of course the first 4 miles are downhill so that meant nothing. At around mile 3 the rain started. Not a down pour so not bad.
All was going great, my foot pain was manageable. One of the great things about the Boston Marathon is going through each small town. It lets you set smaller goals and not look at the finish line. As you pass each one, seeing the signs leaving Hopkinton; Ashland; Framingham; Natick; Wellesley; (by far the loudest section); Newton; Brookline; and then Boston. Each one you start to believe you are going to make it and hit your goal.
This year I choose to wear my A&M Texas shirt. I learned that yelling gigem and giving the thumbs up can cause your arm to go numb and use some energy that I might need later. Next year I plan to wear the same shirt, But not yell gigem back. Need to save that energy ;-/
At the end of the race I was not able to hit my 3:15 goal, I did finish with a qualifying time and that was my back up goal. The weather was just not good this year. Being in the 40’s and raining takes out too much energy to have a good race. So, lets hope 2016 will be better.