The Boston Marathon is like no other race. Period. End of Story. Well, not end of story but that statement cannot be stressed enough. I've been running for over half my life and have never experienced anything like it. I've raced in Louisiana, I've raced in New York, I've raced in Maine, I've raced in Florida, I've raced in California and Ireland and no other race was as inspiring, incredible and awesome as the Boston Marathon was. I wanted to use this weeks blog post to give you my thoughts and encourage everyone who has the opportunity to take part in this fantastic event.
The most well organized race I've ever taken part in. End of Story...alright I'll stop with that. The day begins with a bus ride to Athletes Village from Boston Commons. I'm not sure if I just got there super early but the wait to get on the bus was non-existent and it quickly took off to the village. The Athletes Village is a sight to behold, with large tents for shades, Porto-johns that seemed to go on forever, bagels, bananas, water, gatorade, coffee, tea it had everything you need pre-race. I arrived a bit early and wasn't a huge fan of hanging around for 3 hours before the race, but after a quick nap, some snacks, an unmentionable amount of trips to the Porto-johns the time flew by. It did get a bit crowded toward the end of my stay and I was super nervous about not using the bathroom just one more time before the start...buuuuuut after heading to the start there was another hundred Porto-johns on the way! Hallelujah! We hung out at the start, saw the elites line up...well the tall people saw them line up, watched some planes cover the course in 4 mins (super jealous) and then bang the gun went off.
The course really is fast the first half. Folks are not kidding when they say you can get carried away going out too quickly. The first few miles drop quickly and then you're gradually going down hill through mile 13. Go out too fast and you'll have yourself a tricky second half for sure. The course levels out a bit and then starts to climb in the latter stages, while I've heard a lot of heartbreak hill it seemed to go by quickly, probably because of all the trips we've taken up and down Rochambeau! They call it heartbreak hill because of where its placed and it comes at a point in the marathon where you'd like to just take a walk up and maybe a nap at the top. After that though the race quickly (or not so quickly) comes to an end. This could be because of all the down hills but most likely is because the crowd just won't let up! Which leads me too...
Ridiculous. Its just ridiculous. There are no breaks, there is no silence. The crowd is always there pushing you towards the next mile, where the crowd is even louder. You can even grab yourself a smooch from the girls at Wellesley College at Mile 12 (no I did not do that!). Each mile marker is surrounded by throngs of cheering people, and it helps keep you focused on the task at hand. No stopping. No walking. Don't give up on yourself. Speaking of, the pure grit of some of the other runners taking part is palpable. Witnessing a war vet with one leg, carrying the flag cover 26.2 miles is awe inspiring. There is no way you can give up, not with that guy on the same course. Incredible. Throughout my journey, I saw blind runners, amputees, wheelchair athletes all grinding it out with a smile on their face. You really can't help but smile along with them! The few miles to the finish are incredible with a crazy amount of people out there cheering you on! A big thanks to those who were out there cheering! Stephen, Jayman, Gary, Gilly, My wifey, Stacia, Chris, Katie and everyone else I missed! Your cheers were much needed and appreciated! Why were they much needed? Well that had a lot to do with the....
The weather this past Monday was lovely...lovely for those not running 26.2 miles. I'm sure the folks cheering enjoyed the opportunity to rock shorts and a t-shirt, for me and the thousands of other folks running the heat was not welcome. The marathon is tricky, a spring marathon is even trickier. You train and train and prepare to cover 26.2 miles as fast as possible. You train through December, January, February and March through the darkness, through the snow, rain and freezing temps. Then bam April 17th comes and its 75-80 degrees with no clouds and now what? Things need to adjust and my race plan was one of those things.
MY RACE PLAN
Initially I thought hey, I've been running for a long time now, I should go out there and give this thing a go. While my training hasn't gone quite as planned (or at all) I've put in a 20 miler and have been consistent for a month now...maybe just maybe I could bang out a good time. Luckily when race morning came I changed my mind and decided to be super conservative and just hit the goal of three hours. I thought really a month is not enough time to do this properly, its going to be hot and the Boston Marathon is an experience, just experience it and enjoy the run. The first few miles went by around 6:15 pace and felt nice and comfortable (probably because they were all down hill!) then around half way through I started to settle into 6:30s and eventually finished up around 7:00 minute pace. While it's nearly 30 minutes slower than my qualifying time, I was super pumped to finish at 2:54 and most of all have a pleasant experience at Boston. My two cents, run fast to qualify for Boston and enjoy the atmosphere of the Boston Marathon when you get there.
Overall it was awesome. Hands down the best race I've ever taken part in. If you can qualify do it. If you're not quite there yet, work hard and get there, you will not regret it. Big congrats to all the Rhode Runner Running Club Members who took part! You are super impressive and I'm so pumped to be on your team!
Eric Lonergan | Run Club Member