My 15 fave things about running Boston Marathon

My Life as a Runner > races > My 15 fave things about running Boston Marathon
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OK, this post is inspired by the article from Zelle about Des Linden’s 15 fave things about running Boston. I am copying hers first, then my comment on each, regardless of my ranking.

Des Linden’s fave #15: The start- the energy, the excitement, the nerves and that moment when the gun goes off and I take off on a 26.2 mile journey to see what I’m made of.

State of my mind at the Boston Marathon start is not as intense or focused as hers but still, it is special and enjoyable at the same time. Also, the experience before the start is different every time and something I remember well. I took those school bus rides from Boston to Hopkinton the first three times, which is fun to meet and talk with fellow runners. At the athlete village, you see all sorts of runners getting ready for the race in different ways: Some sleep, some socialize with other runners, while others just focus quietly. When they start ushering the runners to the start, blood pressure and breathing go up a little, and we exit the athlete village shedding our warm-up gears. The rituals of standing in coral line, trying to keep warm and listening the national anthem all come back vividly.

14: There are only five turns– I can’t even get lost on this course.

I did not know there are only five turns. There is no way for me to get lost because I am just following the faster runners. This would not be one of my top 15 favorite things.

13: Sam Adams 26.2 Brew- The rowdy Boston fans are probably already indulging as we truck along towards home, but my brews are hard-earned and taste much sweeter — perhaps like victory?

Yeah! Though I do think about beer while running, this is technically not about running Boston, is it? However, I do love the brew and have visited Sam Adams factory a couple of times after the marathon. The factory in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston is small and intimate. Employees there are super nice and fun. One should go visit the factory and join the tasting tour. Don’t forget to bring your bib, so you can get the 26.2 brew beer mug.

12: Wellesley College- The women are CRAZY! Plus, they’re halfway through the race.

The women ARE crazy, crazy fun, that is. And all runners love their presence and enthusiasm. Some runners actually do, amazingly, kiss those girls with the “Kiss me” sign. Not sure if that is adrenalin or what. I hope that adrenalin would be under control by this point in the marathon, though. In any case, this is definitely one of Boston Marathon traditions that it cannot go on without. The high-pitch scream that they produce for us runners can be heard from half a mile away, and something we look forward to.

11: No pacers – just race, baby.

This is even true to runners at my level. No pace groups or leaders. I think a lot of runners are happy to be running Boston and don’t worry about the pace. For me, I would like to run a BQ, so that I don’t have to run another marathon to get a BQ for the following year. Marathon training is time consuming, and it is getting harder and harder every year to keep the time commitment.

10: The Newton Firehouse is a major landmark on the course. Where there is a fire station, there are firemen – yow!

This is a landmark that I remind me of upcoming challenges: Up hills and down hills. Muscle fatigue. Emotional drain. But after this point, the size of crowds grow and it becomes a great motivator to keep going when tough gets going.

9: Cresting Heartbreak Hill and knowing “it’s all downhill from here,” but wondering, “What does downhill mean? ”

Having been training in San Francisco, Heartbreak Hills should not be that difficult. But they are, because you’ve already run 19+ miles! Even your hearts are not broken on those three up hill running, you could possibly break your quad running down hill. After the hill, at Cleveland Circle, I have seen a lot of runners stop to stretch their quads and calves that are about to cramp up. I have been there, too. This is also a point I start to see runners start walking.

8: Fans with a sense of humor – I’m talking about you lady at mile 23 with the “Never trust a fart in the marathon” sign.

OK, I have never spotted that particular sign, but some people have fun and clever signs. What are the signs that I remember? Hmm… I have to think about that. By the 23 mile mark, I am no longer reading signs…

7: The start, finish, and mile markers are painted on the ground year around. They get fresh paint for race day, but the marathon course owns the Boston streets all year long.

I did not know this and think it’s nice to know those markers are there year around. Not that I or anyone would want to run the course when it’s not marathon day, but it’s nice to think the marathon is physically part of the community.

6: Passing Fenway Park and getting Sweet Caroline stuck in my head just for a second, then remembering I’m running a marathon – FOCUS!

Do they play Sweet Caroline at Fenway? Is this a new thing after 2013? I have to keep my ears out for this.

5: Mile 26, because I’m almost freaking done.

Ditto.

4: Running past the huge CITGO, because I don’t have to see it anymore and think, “one mile to go?”

And another up hill. OK, it’s not a hill but there is elevation gain. Who built an overpass there? I usually am not in a good mood when I run by the Citgo sign. I remember quite vividly, especially the 2012 marathon when the temperature shoot up to almost 90F, and it was hell going up the hill, I mean, the overpass.

3: Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston – the fans are insane, no matter how my day is going, I feel like I’m winning. This is the greatest finishing stretch in the world.

I cannot agree with her more. This is one of the glorious moments I soak in. My legs are so tired, but I feel like I am running afloat in the shower of applause and encouragement from the spectators. At the same time, there is a faint sadness that the marathon is about to end. I want to finish the marathon, but I don’t want this moment to end. Bitter sweet.

2: For 118 years Boston Marathon runners have covered the exact same ground, I get to cover the same course and literally run myself into the history books.

Even when I don’t run into the history books, I appreciate the history. My name, like everyone else’s, is in Racer’s Record Book, though! the Tradition of this marathon is why runners dream to run Boston and crave for more. It’s the best marathon in my book.

1: The laurel wreath, made of leaves imported from Greece; who hasn’t dreamed about having it placed on their head after a Boston Marathon victory?

I hope she gets to wear it! Needless to say, this is not something that crosses my mind while I run Boston. I do admire their athleticism, though. Still out in the course, even before I get to the Heartbreak Hills, I start to hear who won the race among spectators. It’s inconceivable to me that the elites run the same distance over one hour faster than I do. Still want a sub 3:00 marathon, though I won’t get the laurel wreath.

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