Since it’s April I thought I would write a post about the Boston Marathon. While I won’t be there this year, it is amazing how only just running it twice this race has imprinted upon my life and given me memories I will cherish forever.
So for those of you heading to beantown for 2013, whether it be your first Boston Marathon or you are have ran it more than once, I wanted to share some of my experiences of things that I enjoyed from my time there. If anything maybe it will get you hyped to read more about the Boston Marathon. I remember all to well trying to fight off taper madness by busying myself with plans of our travel and the race logistics. So here’s a few thoughts on my time there, I hope you find it helpful, or at least entertaining.
Original posts can be found here:
Both trips to Boston (2011 and 2012), Rob, Coco, and I loaded up the car and drove from IL to Mass. 18 hours of driving broken up into two days. Crazy to some? Perhaps. For Rob and I, we enjoyed every minute. We start the trips at night after work (take a little personal time to get out a bit early) and get on the road to knock out the first 8ish hours. Which means that we roll into bed around 11pm-ish (midnight if we’ve changed timezones, which I think occurred). Then the following day we got up early to get the next 10 hours of driving accomplished.
People have asked, “You guys fly (have a plane), why not fly yourselves there?” or “Why not get a commercial flight, it’s the same/cheaper than driving?”.
Good questions. Driving for us was never a cost thing, it basically evens out between gas vs. tickets/bags. We don’t even use our car when we get to Boston, so it’s not that we need it there or anything.
I would say our reasons to drive included:
1) Rob and I don’t get a lot of downtime. Spending time in the car telling stories, singing to music on the radio, and telling jokes is great bonding time for us. Plus I get to learn that Rob knows the lyrics of most songs, including super random tunes that I have never heard in my life.
2) Rob and I haven’t seen much in the Eastern states. For our first trip this would was big factor because it would give us an opportunity to see each state along the way.
3) Driving meant Coco could go with us and be comfortable. I know that there are options to bring your pet as carry on to flights, but it really sounds like a hassle and I’m not sure that Coco would like it too much. She’s precious cargo for us.
And if we had taken our plane, I don’t think we could have got everything packed with us, I like to pack a lot of stuff and driving allows me to load the car up.
4) We could get into side-adventures along the way if we wished. On the way back from Boston 2011 we drove an extra 3 hours out of our way, litterally calling 80+ stores to find the LAST White iPad 2 with 64MB this side of the Mississippi because everywhere was sold out. Rob got a black one for himself too because he saw how happy I was about mine, one of our most favorite purchases.
Here are some travel tips I have from our adventure that you may find helpful.
1) Know your route and the options you have along the way. Weather can be nuts. While we have never had an issue getting to Boston, it could happen. In fact, one of our trips to Las Vegas got cancelled due to unforseen weather that was impassable.
2) Give yourself enough travel time. If your schedule allows, give yourself a day buffer so you could still get to the race using your alternate route or after weather clears. I figure, if the weather is that bad, no one is flying either so it’s better to add a buffer of time and see if you can safely get to your destination, if not then you have to be ready for that too, driving or flying.
3) I like to not have a full out itenterary along the way. We just let the day happen. For long car trips Rob and I live off of Starbucks and Subway that we just search out along the way. If our schedule allowed I would search out a nice restaurant, but I’m usually too excited to get there that I leave the side adventures for the way back. Although we did jump out of the car just to get a picture of PJD from American Choppers.
Check out something in Boston:
For us it’s the Boston Red Sox. We figure as Cub fans they aren’t in the same league so it’s not a conflict of interest. Heck, while we are Cub fans, if they aren’t playing we root the home team and get into it. Cub fans and Boston fans are similar, they both like to party and really get into the game which makes it that much more fun. It feels like you make friends with everyone around you at both ballparks.
Something that we added to our agenda in 2012 was running the BAA 5K the day before for fun. Definitely consider doing this! It was so nice to get to run this with Rob and enjoy seeing more of Boston Commons with him.
Eat some amazing food:
Maybe if you are from the east coast, this is no biggie. For me, I LOVE seafood. So it’s a must do in Boston. Get the chow-da, get the lob-sta, and oysters on the east coast are different from other places, so try it all!
Must eat places for us include: Union Oyster House
and Barking Crab – Lobster roll with sweet potato fries (it may have been the best thing I ever ate in my entire life, no joke)
Meet up with blogger friends:
Both visits we met up with Alaina who works for the Fairmont – Copley Plaza. She is such a sweet person and it has been nice to get to see her in real life and hang out with a real Bostonian. She showed us around the area and to new restaurants.
Make new friends:
Maybe I got extremely lucky, but I met an amazing lady in Athelete’s Village at my first Boston. I didn’t know anyone else running the race so I was there alone and under prepared on what to bring to wait around for 2ish hours. Natalie took pitty on me immediately and shared everything, her blanket, her extra set of throw away pants, and food. Even without all the goodies she was just the perfect person to hang out with. It was both our first time running Boston and we gabbed so much that time flew and I actually forgot about the race and my nerves. Luckily she didn’t find me too dorky and wanted to be friends. The bonus was that we both were able to run the following year and meet up again! She even brought me Starbucks! We are totally Boston Marathon BFFs. Neither of us will be there this 2013 and while we still keep in touch, I have to say that I will miss seeing her this year as much as the actual race.
Oh yeah and the race
1) If you are taking the bus shuttle to the start, then get to the buses early if you are like me and don’t like to feel like a herd of cattle standing and waiting around. Yes, you still wait around in Athlete’s village, but at least you are able to lie or sit down and meet new people. Plus, I think both times the bus got turned around and the trip was longer than planned. It all works out because chances are your bus is full of Boston Marathon vets and in both cases they redirected the bus driver where to go.
2) Come prepared (because I didn’t the first time), in fact bring too much stuff. You can leave what you bring for other runners, donate (there will be people with bags closer to the start), throw things away, or gear check. I will say I’m not a fan of the gear check. It’s a long wait to get your stuff back so instead I have Rob with an extra set of clothes and meet him in the family meet up area. Just my personal preference.
3) If you haven’t done the course and are not from the area (and worse you are from somewhere flat like me), the course is no joke. It’s a complete mental trick and really grinds on your legs. So soak in the run and consider just letting things happen as they come. 2012 was 85ish degress with the sun unrelentingly baking us for most of the race. Don’t over estimate your power over the elements. If you feel good in those conditions savor the moment, but play it smart and consider not speeding up. There were people throwing up by mile 8 and it was a war zone of people dropping off the closer we got. I heard many stories afterward of people who it was their first Boston and they DNFed from the heat. One guy dropped and busted his face at mile 25. It’s your Boston medal to get and when conditions or your body don’t cooperate adjust your plan and be smart so you can try to finish no matter what. Much like any marathon, you never know what you will get that day, but this race seems to up the ante.
4) Smile, cry, wave your arms and shout….soak it in!!!!! The crowd is amazing the whole way, but when you get to the last 4 miles it really becomes a wave of cheers. I imagine that’s how professional sports players may feel entering the stadium/arena. I burst into tears I was so happy and the crowd just loves it more. They know how much it means to us runners. Show them the love you have for their towns and hospitality.
Hopefully I will get to be there again either running myself or watching Rob. There is nothing like the experience of the Boston Marathon. For those of you running, I hope you have a wonderful and safe 2013 Boston Marathon! Celebrate every bit of it, no matter the outcome!
Updated to add a video of 2011 and 2012 Boston Marathon: