This post is coming over a year late, but better late than never right?!
With registration for the 2018 Boston Marathon coming up this week, I figured it was high time to write a little about my personal experience visiting Boston and running the marathon.
Living in Vancouver, we rarely have a reason to visit the US East Coast, but we had heard such amazing things about Boston. It was a little colder than we had anticipated, but it certainly lived up to our expectations.
The Boston accents and architecture were definitely a highlight for us. The corner stores (“Corn-Ah” stores –>insert Boston accent!), friendly locals and beautifully landscaped streets and parks certainly impressed us as well. There is so much history in this city and we wanted to take it all in.
We stayed at the Westin Waterfront, which was just “OK”. Although the Westin was a host hotel for the marathon, it was quite a far walk from finish line and wasn’t really close to any sights. For anyone actually running the marathon, I would recommend staying a bit closer to town (Bolyston Street) and book as early in advance as you can.
This is truly a world-class event. The race expo is HUGE and absolutely packed. Get there early to take in everything there is to offer. The usual samples, shirts and race accessories are plentiful, but be sure to watch the Boston Marathon Video that actually shows the course. There are tons of great photo ops as well It feels a bit surreal walking down the finish line and taking your photos before you actually run!!
Branded Boston race gear is pricey, so definitely plan accordingly. It doesn’t matter what the jacket colours are or how much it costs, it is a must-have representing all the hard work it took to get to this point in your running career.
We were also lucky enough to take in a Boston Red Sox game the day before the marathon. This is one way to curb to beer consumption (at least for the runner!) Watching America’s favourite pastime in the iconic Fenway Park Stadium was a throwback unto itself. I’m not even a baseball fan and I had a great time. They happened to be playing the Toronto Blue Jays that weekend, which made it extra special for us Canadians!
Pick your restaurant ahead of time so you’re not wandering around the city aimlessly wondering where you will be carb loading. We ended up eating at the runner’s buffet at the hotel the night before, but I’m sure there would’ve been better and/or healthier options elsewhere in the city.
The Westin did have a shuttle than took the runners to the gear check/start line. Be prepared to wait…and then wait…
That said, this marathon works like a well-oiled machine. School buses take you to the start line where you wait for your specific corral start time. There are plenty of washrooms and space to stretch out prior to your run.
This is not a typical marathon where you start first thing in the morning. Plan to fuel first thing in the morning and again within an hour of your race time. My go-to pre-race breakfast is oatmeal with a banana. Clif was the marathon sponsor and I was very impressed with the pre-race fuel provided!
What can I say, this race is a bucket list run for a reason! I have never seen such crowd support for a marathon. The scenery on the course is highly average (mostly suburban neighbourhoods), but what makes it special is the wall to wall sea of supporters young and old cheering on a bunch of strangers taking over their city. The energy is palpable.At some points, I felt like the cheerleader trying the get the crowd into it as I ran by My own motto was “You get out of it, what you put into it”. Running a marathon is as much a MENTAL game as it is a physical one. Having the right playlist of music, and being in a positive frame of mind were essential for me. If I could offer any advice while running, it would be to “just enjoy it” (as much as possible!).
I ended up finishing in an almost identical time to my qualification run at 3 hours and 29 minutes.. It’s never easy, but man it is ever rewarding! Just like most things in life, the harder you have to work for it, the more it means to you.
Recovery and Celebration:
This is the one day of the year it’s “cool” to wear your Boston medal and jacket around town. You’re literally treated like a celebrity! Take your 15 minutes of fame and run with it.
The next day hurt….I could barely walk down the stairs to the metro station; flip flops are a must! However, we made of point of making it to Harvard.The clover food lab is worth a stop if you’re headed over to Cambridge. The coffee culture ad breakfast sandwiches at clover were on point. They even had a digital menu board with estimated wait times for menu items.If you ever find yourself in Boston, be prepared to walk a lot and take in as many sights as possible.