Headed “home” to Boston last weekend to spend Easter with the family and got to do some Boston marathon recon work and take a run on the actual course. My kids were not impressed with our tour of the course, but it was a lot of fun for me. (My kids were even less impressed that this is what passes for fun for me. Teens and tweens. You can’t win.)
On Friday, I drove from the Hopkinton start to Heartbreak Hill to get a sense of what the early part of the course looks like, and on Saturday, I ran from Wellesley in to the finish line. I’ve run Heartbreak Hill many times, but never took the course the rest of the way in to Boylston. It was great, and I have a bunch of random bits to share:
- There is something about a point-to-point marathon that seems awfully long. 26.2 straight miles just seems longer than a loop. Yikes. When we were driving from Hopkinton to Newton, my 13 year old remarked, “I’m getting bored just driving this course. I can’t believe you have to run it.” Ummm…thanks.
- As I have heard, the starting stretch is indeed narrow, windy and steep. I am going to be lucky to get through it without taking a digger. Thank God my mother has never seen the start, or she would make me wear a mouthguard. All joking aside, it freaked me out a little bit. I’m the perfect size for getting knocked over. I’ve always wanted to be perfect at something, and apparently, this is what God chose for me.
- There is still snow in Boston, but fortunately not on the roads. Unfortunately, the roads are a MESS. Pothole city and lots of frost heaves with huge craters. I feel terrible for the city workers in the various towns who are working on getting the roads ready for the race – they have their work cut out for them. After a winter of hell. God Bless Them. And if they aren’t able to finish in time, then I feel terrible for me.
- The Boston Marathon is such a big freaking deal in Boston. For the first few miles of the course route, the fire hydrants are painted in BAA colors. The painted start and finish lines on the roads are permanent (although freshly painted every year) and there are already signs up about “Marathon Monday.” Got me very excited!
- Training for Boston in Boston must be EPIC! When I ran the Wellesley-Newton-Brookline section of the course on Saturday, there were at least another 100 or so people on the course, most of whom were with teams or wore BAA shirts. Several running clubs set up tables along the Newton stretch of Commonwealth Avenue with “Free Watah” for the “Runnahs.” Yes, that is exactly what their signs said. The energy on the course was incredible, and training teams had already put up “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston” signs.
- There were a lot of members of the Martin Richard team – Team MR8 – and it was both inspiring and heartbreaking to see them out there.
- The hills of Newton are, well, hilly? The one foot in front of the other method will be my strategy. And I’m glad I live in a hilly area. If the hills came earlier in the course, I don’t think they would be such a big deal. They were miles 6-9 of my run on Saturday and were no problem. The problem is that they start just before mile 18 on the full course. By mile 18, you’re kind of tuckered. And by the time you finish them at mile 21, you’re a shell of your former self.
- This was my last double digit run before the race and I couldn’t help but think that I should have used a formal training plan. Yes, I know it is a little late. And no, I’m not going to start one now. Just a realization to file away for my next race, whenever that may be. I don’t know if I would be in better shape physically if I followed a set plan, but I do think that I’d be in a better place mentally. More on this in another post.
- There is a definite technique to running downhills without killing your quads, and I don’t think I have figured it out yet. I have done many google searches in the past few weeks on downhill running, but probably not enough actual practice to grasp the technique. Note to self: a marathon is not a 9th grade history test. I’m pretty sure you can’t “cram” for it. I suspect I will confirm this on the 20th.
- For a bazillion years I have stood at the top of Heartbreak Hill and yelled to runners, “It’s all downhill from here!” This is just not true. I’m mortified. You have to run over the Mass Pike overpass at mile 25, and just before Hereford, there is a small incline that probably feels like Everest at that point. I am clearly a lying liar who lied. Apologies to all. I will never say it again.
- If the narrow, windy start doesn’t kill me, there is a good chance that the several stretches of the course where the roads are covered in trolley tracks will. God help me if it is a wet day. I am more than capable of falling on dry pavement – I can’t imagine running across wet iron tracks.
- The few blocks of Boylston between Hereford and the finish seem like a marathon in themselves. I thought city blocks were supposed to be short?
- You just don’t get more Masshole than running down Boylston Street, listening to Boston (Rock & Roll Band) on your headphones, training for Boston, while wearing a Red Sox hat. Aaaah…Home Sweet Home! You can take the girl out of Boston…
- There is no sweeter place to finish any run than here: