For many years the second week of April was filled with very little besides the anxiety and excitement of the quickly approaching Boston Marathon. As a runner in Boston its one of the most exciting times of the year. I would do nothing but browse the current race gear, hydrate like it was my job and obsess over the weather. I am not running the Boston Marathon this year but still excited for all of the race weekend events and looking forward to participating in many of them. I’m planning to visit the expo Friday afternoon, run the 5k on Sunday, I’ve been invited to the pre-race dinner on Sunday night, I’d like to visit the Running Film Festival (details below) and of course I’ll be cheering on the runners all day on Monday (Look for me at the SRR tent after the 30k mark). I’ve even agreed to run a mile with my good friend Rich ‘Shifter’ Horgan who is celebrating his TWENTIETH Boston Marathon this year with the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. I’m so proud to be a part of this special run for him. Learn more about Shifter’s 20 year’s of running Boston in the video below.
I’ve run the Boston course eight times over my marathon career and while I’m very excited for my own race in a couple of months, I will no doubt experience some ‘marathon envy’ over the weekend. Here are some of the things I’m most looking forward to about marathon weekend in Boston.
Mystery Weather – I don’t know if I really love this about Boston, but it is special. The weather for race day is always a surprise. Runners will stare at weather.com and harass meteorologists on twitter but honestly, we will just have to wait and see. Its not unusual for the spring to start off cool (like it has this year) and then have the temperatures shoot up 15-20 degrees just in time to freak out everyone getting ready for the marathon. In 2007 we were prepared for a full on hurricane that threatened to cancel the race. I was confident the race would go on since such drastic measures were almost unheard of (until now) but it was still unsettling to imagine running in such uncertain conditions. The nor’easter of 2007 turned out to be windy but a nice day and quite comfortable temperature wise. Generally I much prefer getting my weather predictions from actual people like the team at WHDH rather than weather.com or accuweather. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean they tell us what we want to hear, like the temps creeping up for race day. Below are the weather forecasts from WHDH – Ch 7, weather.com and accuweather. CH 7’s predictions look a little too warm for most runners’ liking and I think we can bet on a sunny day so just to be safe…don’t forget the sunscreen.
**Great news, runners. Since this post went up WHDH has lowered the predicted temperature on race day to 60. Its going to be a great day for a marathon!
The Expo – I’m a runner and I love shopping so the Boston Health and Fitness Expo is my heaven on earth. Its the largest marathon expo I have yet to see and all your favorite brands, gear and races from all over the globe will be there.
One reason I’m thankful to not run Boston this year is that I’m less likely to drop all my money on marathon gear. If there is one thing I do not need it’s another jacket with a unicorn on it. Regardless, all of our favorite athletic companies are there with the latest gear, marathon weekend discounts and fun t-shirts and things. A great example is my friend John Stoller’s Right On Hereford/ Left On Boylston t-shirt. It’s a must have to show that you found your way to the Boston Marathon finish line!
Wear your most comfortable shoes and try not to limit your time walking around. Otherwise, you’ll tire out your legs and spend all your money.
Boston Running Film Festival – The number rule of marathon weekend is to stay off your feet. A perfect way to relax while still taking in the energy of the city is attend the inaugural Boston Running Film Festival hosted by my friends at RaceMenu.
From the Press Release: The festival will feature 19 full length and short films about running, selected from submissions by filmmakers as nearby as Jamaica Plain, MA and as far away as New Zealand.
The three day film festival will be a welcome reprieve to many of the 80,000 people expected to visit the Hynes during Patriots’ Day weekend, including over 30,000 runners competing in a 5K on Sunday and a marathon on Monday. The festival will include six themed blocks of films as well as panel discussions with film directors and running celebrities, including Bill Rodgers, four time winner of both the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon. Emmy Award winning director Erich Lyttle will attend the screening of his film There Is No Finish Line, a documentary about Maine’s Joan Benoit-Samuelson, the first women’s Olympic marathon champion. The highly anticipated Spirit of the Marathon II, which follows seven runners’ journeys to the Rome Marathon and is due in theaters this summer, will release an extended trailer at the festival.
Spirit of the Marathon is one of my favorite running films so I’m looking forward to the sequel and will hopefully get to take in a couple of the films over the weekend. Visit the festival website for the schedule and tickets.
The BAA 5k – This will be the 2nd year I’ve participated in the 5k and I’m excited to run it again this year. Last year I lined up appropriately with my predicted pace (7:30) which was a huge mistake. It was so crowded that I had to walk the first quarter mile and when I finally got to start running I was passing walkers and young children – did they start up front?! I’ll get up closer this year and hopefully get to race the course which is mostly flat and very familiar to me. It means a lot to me that even though I am not running the marathon I still get to cross the finish line. I’m hoping to beat my time from last year (24:09) so I’ll have to take it easy on my long run the day before.
Tourists in a Good Mood – Boston is not always ‘tourist friendly’. The city is kind of expensive, our roads don’t make any sense and we are a little impatient. Thankfully, on marathon weekend people love to spend money, are too excited to get frustrated about the roads and all the cranky impatient people know to get out of town for a few days. It’s so fun to see all the athletes walking around with their race gear, getting in some pre-race miles around Back Bay and in such a great mood because for many of them this is a huge race. They have qualified for Boston and this is their victory run. Even Shalene Flanagan called it the Super Bowl of running in this boston.com interview. I love seeing all the visiting runners anticipating their first Boston because they are going to LOVE this run.
Limping runners in uniform – They are so cute. On Tuesday April 16, all 26,000 of them will be in jeans, flip flops, a t-shirt they bought at the expo, the official finishers jacket and of course their well-earned medal around their neck limping around the city and walking down the stairs to the T backwards. God bless em. They so badly want to take their kids of the Freedom Trail but all that walking is daunting to most of them so they buy a ticket to the Duck Boats instead. Good call. I love the video below from the London Marathon showing the post race challenges.
But what I’m looking forward to most is:
Marathon Monday! – I’ll arrive early Monday morning to the hills in Newton to help my friends at Somerville Road Runners get their cheering section together. We will then spend the day cheering on all the runners and our friends at the 30k mark, right in the middle of the famous Newton Hills. It’s an exciting place to watch the race especially when we start looking for the runners we know. I’ll eagerly anticipate Shifter’s arrival to the hills so I can join him for mile 19 and offer water and support to all the runners who need it. I know better than to tell them they are ‘almost there’ (because honestly they’re not) or that it’s ‘all downhill from here’ (nope, sorry). I’ll cheer for them by name if they have written it on their shirt and will look them in the eye when I tell them that they are doing great and looking awesome – even if they look awful. I’ve been there, I know exactly how they are feeling and how they are about to feel once they approach the last few miles of the race.
I left out so many excellent events for race weekend. Here’s a much more comprehensive guide from RaceMenu: Insider’s Guide to Boston Marathon Weekend
I must admit. I got a little nostalgic writing this post thinking back to my journey’s on the Boston course. I know there is a part of me that will be sad I’m not one of the runners on Patriot’s Day but I’m so glad I have found ways of still participating in the weekend and being there for all my friends who are racing. It’s a special weekend in Boston and I can’t wait! Look forward to a recap next week with all the dirty details of Boston’s most exciting weekend.
Finally, to all the runners – congratulations on making it to Boston. Whether you qualified in a previous race or raised funds for a well deserving charity, you have worked hard to earn your spot in Monday’s field. I’m proud of all of you and can’t wait to cheer you on. Good Luck on Monday!