Thursday, May 4, 2017

RACE REPORT: BOSTON MARATHON 2017

I didn't work out in the 9 days leading up to the Boston Marathon, aside from 2 days of 150 burpees each, which makes that week-before workout recap much easier...

Friday, I flew in, got some attraction tickets, hit the expo.


Since it was 3 days before the race, it was ok to walk around as much as I wanted today and not feel too bad about it.  I like free stuff, so Minute Rice (my dad won a box of brown rice that we had for dinner later in the week), Krave Jerky, Kind Bars, and Sam Adams were great.  It's also nice to try state-of-the-art technology, although I didn't do as much of that as I wish I did now (trying the leg compression thing would've been nice, especially since lines are short on Friday).


It's also cool to get the annual Adidas poster, and to check out their merch.  It's fun just being there, too, soaking in the atmosphere, the excitement, and being surrounded by so many hard-core runners.  Everyone's happy to be there, after putting in the work to get there.


After the expo, my dad and I went to the New England Aquarium.  Those seals moved in such a crazy, alien-like way that I've never seen before.


 I love penguins.  I had gotten to see some in the wild in Australia, and was excited to see them again.


The NE Aquarium is laid out well, and is very diverse and interesting.  Their tanks show you very unique sea life from all different parts of the world.  You see many types of sea animals that you don't normally get to see, at least in the few aquariums I remember going to.


They had touch-tanks, too.  I'm kind of afraid of touching animals, even though I like animals.  I did touch a starfish and stingrays, though.  The stingrays are soft like wet marshmallows.  They're surprisingly friendly.


Saturday, we went to Cape Cod.  I wanted to see whales.  It turned out to be a great day for whales.


We did a whale walk ranger tour.  They're kind of far away.  You can tell they're there, because you see a small black patch that occasionally spouts water.  You can see them a bit better with the zoom on the camera or binoculars, but even then, it's like a black line-like thing.


We saw many pretty rocks that are pretty when wet but less pretty when dry.  There were also a couple of baby crabs.



After the whale walk, we went on a hike on Beech Forest Trail (1 mi).



We stopped for a look at the Pilgrim monument and picked up a geocache there after looking at a much-needed hint.


We sought out some lighthouses, next.  One cool thing was that they use multiple lighthouses clustered together, to help people at sea determine what part of Cape Cod they're close to.  The far end had one light, the middle had three lights, and the part close to the mainland had two lights.  Good idea!




Lots in a day!  I was glad to finally get to visit Cape Cod, though.  It would've been fun to visit the potato chip factory while we were there, but they're only open on weekdays.

Sunday, my dad and I started off at the Museum of Science.  For the most part, it's kid-oriented, but it was fun seeing everything.  They had a special short-term exhibit for chocolate!



They did have a few marathon-related booths and tie-ins scattered around, which was nice.


Next, we picked up my sister from the bus station.  While she and my dad checked out the Institute of Contemporary Art, I hit the expo again.  The finish line was open, this time. 



I also stumbled upon the Runner's World pop-up store on Boylston Street, where I met Bart Yasso.  


They also had a machine that took instagram pictures tagged #rwboston, and printed them on-the-spot.



They actually had events going on for a few days, with famous guest speakers.  I wish I had known about it earlier!  Hopefully they'll be back.  Better speakers than the expo, even.

Next, we waited around for the pasta dinner.



Boston's beautiful.  The people are wonderful, too, with random strangers wishing you luck or congratulating you when they see that you're running it (usually based on wearing the jacket).




 Finally, dinner time, with more Sam Adams!



Marathon Monday!!!

My Wave 3 10:50am start time means that the temps would be warmer, on an already warmer-than-ideal day.  At least you get to wake up at a reasonable hour, though.  

 
Rode a car to the T, rode the T to the bus, rode the bus to the athlete's village, and walked to the start.  It's all part of the experience, though.  You see other runners making their way in.  They descend on Boston Common to load the buses.  On the bus, I met a girl from California, doing her first Boston.  Since the corrals are by time, the bus for corral 3 is mostly women.  The ride always seems long, but we're not going the most direct route to Hopkington.  It can be intimidating, if you're not aware of that, though.

At least my corral isn't at the village for a prolonged time.  Some people comment about that.  It's perfect to me, though.  You're in line a while for the restroom, and you have the perfect amount of time to sit down, eat a little, and then it's time to start making your way to the start.  I ended up cramming 3 Gatorade Endurance concentrated juice packets, plus a Kind bar and maybe a mini clif bar, before the race.  Kind locals offered people coffee and sunscreen on the walk to the start, too.

I was fairly close to the start in wave 3, corral 2.  We were off!  Maybe 6 miles in, I could tell that my legs were more tired than they should be.  Maybe too much walking in the days leading up.  Maybe I went to hard with keeping up the burpees.  Oh well, sometimes, it's worth it.  Seeing Boston is part of the Boston experience for me.  And the burpees were a challenge I really wanted to complete.

As the miles went on, I started grabbing an extra cup of water to splash on myself to help with cooling, which is a tip I read somewhere.  It felt good hitting the 5K intervals, since I knew that as I passed the timing mat, I'd be signalling my position to my dad and sister who were waiting for me.  I memorize the names of the cities that we pass on the way into Boston, so I looked forward to counting those down.  



Each city has its own main cheering section.  Mile 13 has the scream tunnel, though both years I've done Boston, the Boston College crowd has been much louder - deafeningly loud, haha.  Kept chugging along.  You can never tell how your body is going to hold up.  You could start red-lining, you could start speeding up.  The marathon is a special animal.  You can only hope for the best and pace as well as you can.


I took in about 8-9 gels during the race, plus gatorade and water.  I wanted to not run out of carbs.  Some random kind strangers offered ice, too, or hose sprays of water, which was nice.  There were more and steeper hills than I remembered.  I kept thinking "is this heartbreak?  is this heartbreak"?  Eventually, we did get over the one that was heartbreak. 


After Boston college, you're in the section with the green line.  You're getting near, and doing your best to hang in there.  Last year, I didn't even notice the famed Citgo sign, since I was struggling.  But, the way it works is that when you get to it, there's only one mile left.  The thing is, you first see it long before that, and it looks so close, but the sign is huge, and you're really not close.  It disappears from view completely because of the elevation changes.  Eventually, you see it again, though.  I noticed it this time!

We go under an under-pass, then have to climb back up.  At the top of the climb, I heard my sister screaming my name loudly, above all other voices!


Up until the end, you keep trying to make a re-Q.  I wasn't sure how far behind I was, but anything was still possible.  Even if I was a minute or two behind, you could potentially run 1-2 min faster than your marathon pace and make it all up in the last mile.  You don't even want to waste time or energy looking at your watch to check.  Everything is focused on getting to the line.  When I do marathons, I don't even hear the crowds in the finishing stretch.  It's all about the internal battle of enduring the pain and pushing to the finish with every fiber of my being.  I think most people just enjoy it, though.  

I ended up being too slow by exactly a minute.  I didn't feel too bad, since there will probably be an additional cutoff on top of the qualifying time.  I tried my best, and paced reasonably well.  I didn't cramp up in the final miles like I nearly did two years ago.  It turns out that my 5K splits were incredibly close, aside from the Newton Hill patch, which is awesome.  

Mile splits> 8:23, 7:58, 8:05, 8:00, 8:15, 8:03, 8:07, 8:16, 8:17, 8:09, 8:14, 8:14, 16:34 for 2 (8:17), 16:49 for 2 (8:25), 17:14 for 2 (8:37), 8:18, 8:45, 9:02, 8:05, 7:59, 7:53, 8:02, 7:38, 1:33 for 0.2.  My last full mile was pretty good, but not good enough.  3:36:00, 8:15 ave.


Got my medal, a little thirsty, but not hungry.  In 2015, it was in the 40s and rainy, and I ran with a sports bra, and I could barely walk after finishing, so we didn't stick around.  This time, I wanted to watch other runners finish, which is part of the experience.



We saw a couple of women in burgundy singlets run Boylston, through the gaps between people in front of us.  Everyone was cheering really loudly for them.  It turns out that that was KV Swtizer, the first to "officially" run the marathon, albeit back when women weren't allowed.  She's 70!  And finished strong!  




There were lots of people around.  Security was tight.  I could stay there all day, soaking it in.  Although it was a little disappointing not BQ-ing again, I was reminded that I had a lot to be happy about and thankful for, just to be there. 

On our journey back home, the Green Line got stuck on the tracks, and it took us maybe 20 minutes on a very crowded (as you imagine it would be in the midst of a large event) to go a single stop.  At this time, my stomach started giving me issues.  The 9-ish during-race gels plus 3-ish pre-race concentrated sugar water shots, plus usual race gatorade stops started getting to me.  I might've almost fainted, from the tiredness, plus the nausea, plus standing in the crowded hot subway car.  My dad and others around me noticed and gave me a seat for a while. 

After a shower and re-fueling, my sister and I went back out.  The time flew by.  I finished at around 3:30, the ride back and forth takes like an hour each way, shower, food, and the party started at 6pm.  We got there one or two hours late. There's not a ton to do there, but it's nice to be at Fenway.




Since it wasn't raining this year, we got to walk around the field, and sit in the dug-out.



That night, it was almost difficult to sleep because the pain in my stomach was so bad.  It must've been all that sugar fermenting.  I've heard about the physics of osmosis making the amount that I took a bad idea on top of the fermenting thing, since water would be drawn back from my blood into my stomach to help with dilution.  Anyway, it eventually passed, but man, that was painful.

Tuesday, we started off with a special runners/families/friends-only 8:20am Sam Adams brewery tour and tasting - starting the day off right, haha.


Sam Adams is a great sponsor, and 26.2 Brew is the beer of marathoners.




After beer, we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, which was the best of the museums.  Lots to see there.




My sister had to go back to NYC mid-museum, but my dad and I stayed longer.  After the museum, we stopped at the Adidas Runbase for free jacket embroidery.  3:36:00 is a nice-looking number.  The line was long, but worth it!




On our way to the metro, we popped into the World's Smallest Trader Joe's.  I love Trader Joe's, period, so this was cool by itself.  But it was even more cool with the marathon-themed wall art.




After embroidery, my dad and I went to the Bunker Hill monument, where we got one of the last tickets to climb up.





It would be a long way down, if the grate wasn't there!

Finally, we went to the USS Constitution, after a walk down the tail end of the Freedom Trail.  You had to get security screened, to board the ship.




Wednesday, last day!  We went to Harvard, and went on a campus tour.  It's interesting to see what other Ivies are like, and to see what life would be like there.  For the record, they rejected me.  Their loss.  Princeton is better, anyway.

 


What a whirlwind trip.  This post took 2:25 to write!  And I didn't even write that much.  Mostly pictures.  Parting thoughts...

The first time is always the most special.  This Boston, I wasn't as psyched about it.  Still something to look forward to, for sure, but you know the game the second time around.  You experience different things each time, though, and it's always special no matter what.  I remember after my first Boston, feeling like I had been a part of something so special, I was so eager to try to re-qualify to get back, the same way Jack rode on airplanes after getting off the Lost island, trying to get back to a place where he felt special and like he belonged.  There's less of that this time, but while I was standing in line at the Adidas embroidery, I got that feeling again.  I was motivated to train hard and get back.  It was cool being able to see everyone's times on their back.  You could tell how fast everyone runs.  They should always do that.  It's interesting to see, and no matter the time, you have mad respect for anyone who has finished it.  I signed up for my next marathon already.  On the next one, all business.  It's in Huntsville, AL, so not much as many attractions to be tempted by.  Get the job done.  Put in the work.  Let's do it.  

If I do make it back to Boston, I may try staying in downtown for the first time, not rent a car, and just ride the T and eat Trader Joe's food.  It'll be a different experience, vs. long commutes to the suburbs.  Maybe a bit more expensive, but part of that is offset by the savings from not having to rent a car.  We'll see.  Gotta get back, first.

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