It’s been 2 weeks since I ran my first Boston Marathon (sorry for the posting delay), and I’m still sooo sad it’s over! Boston was the most incredible race I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of, and everything leading up to Boston felt really special. (The memory is right up there with finishing my first Ironman – both amazing events for different reasons!) I have so much I want to share, including things I learned completing my first Boston, so I’m going to break this up into a couple posts. First up, my race weekend recap with highlights and pics from the expo.
Jeremy (fiance!) & I landed in Boston late Thursday night, met his mom at the airport, and took a taxi to my Nana’s house where we’d stay through the weekend. Each day, more people filled the house until it was my parents, his mom, my grandma, 2 of my aunts, 2 of my uncles, 5 of my cousins, Jeremy, and me. Full house! I had a tough time staying relaxed with all the company, but I was happy to have them there for support. Normally, we only have this kind of turnout at Christmas, and there’s usually even more of us! (No this is not a mansion…I enjoyed the mattress in the basement.) :)
Friday we went to Market Basket for the essential supplies (coffee, oatmeal, bananas, coconut water.) Then, Jeremy accompanied me on my 45 min easy run with pickups to race pace along the Mystic River. It was cold!
Friday night, I did not sleep. I was up and down. Up and down. I seriously could NOT sleep. I think it was a combination of my nerves and the 3 hour time change…but mostly my nerves. I’m notorious for getting pre-race anxiety.
Tip #1: Get into Boston at least 3 days early to get settled, and West Coasters, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to adjust to the time difference!
I tried to follow my own advice from tip #1, but never felt “rested” going into Monday’s race. Saturday I woke up with intense back and shoulder pain. I thought I had a pinched nerve and started crying/freaking out. It hurt to sit, and it hurt to stand. I was terrified for the race. I didn’t want to start my 26.2 mile journey already in pain! My family came to my rescue with massage and icey hot, but we couldn’t get it to loosen up. Very nervous, I put on a smile and headed out to the expo. (P.S. I STILL have this pain when in a seated position, so I guess it’s time for a professional massage. I have no idea what I did to myself, but it doesn’t feel good.)
The Boston Marathon expo is 3 days (Friday-Sunday). I decided to sleep in on Friday and take care of shopping, running, relaxing and therefore hit up the expo on Saturday. In hindsight, I would have gone on Friday to get first dibs on the merch.
Tip #2: Get to the expo as early as humanly possible. Go Friday if you want everything to be available in your size. Maybe even order the apparel early online, like the official jacket.
With 36,000 runners, I heard it was extremely crowded every day, and waiting until day 2 resulted in sold out merchandise. My official long-sleeved participant tech tee, for example, was no longer available in an XS when I arrived on Saturday. :( I registered for an XS when I signed up, but apparently they were running big so everyone who registered for a Small decided to swap theirs for an XS at the “t-shirt exchange.” I’m not sure this is the right approach…you should know your size and stick to it. Going forward, I’m going to start getting to expos on day 1 because of this thing called a t-shirt exchange.
Otherwise, the expo went off without a hitch, and there was some pretty cool stuff there. The race bag came with a 118th Boston Marathon bottle opener and a bracelet made of banners from the 2013 Boston Marathon! Everything was quite efficient, lines were short, and the volunteers were very friendly.
Tip #3: The bib & t-shirt pickup is upstairs, completely separated from the rest of the expo, so you can get in and out easily. You don’t have to spend hours in expo merchandise land with swarms of people if that’s not your thing.
Once the packet pickup was done, we went downstairs to hoard the official Adidas race merchandise! But first, I needed to sign a wall. There were a lot of things to sign that weekend to document the 118th Boston Marathon.
Tip #4: Pick up a FREE poster as you enter the first floor of the expo. (It’s kind of hidden.) These are available in limited quantities, and they have every runner’s full name on them! Luckily someone else clued me in to this tip, so I got one!
Sadly, the XS Boston Marathon jacket was sold out. Why are runners so tiny?! Luckily, the Small fit just fine so I immediately snagged one. Once we realized that all the tiny people sizes were getting taken, we went on a mission to find anything in a XS or S. Grab now, decide later. Needless to say I found some great stuff, and my bank called me immediately after this transaction to verify my purchases. OOPS. Boston Marathon shopping spree accomplished! (Thanks Mom, Dad, Terri, and Jeremy for buying me things too!!)
I only had a couple of vendors I wanted to hit up (Vega and Oiselle) and was hoping we didn’t have to spend too much time in the expo madness so I could stay rested. I was wrong. The expo was big and crowded with narrow walkways. It’s in a huge convention center but didn’t feel spacious at all. How could it with 36,000 runners + vendors + families + friends?
Tip #5: If you’re staying outside the city, take the train in. It’s much quicker! Do not drive and then try to find $38 parking inside the convention center. We got very lucky to snag a spot after 15 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic in the parking garage.
I attempted to stay hydrated and took walking breaks whenever possible. I got a massage from the Stick guys and bought a targeted massage tool. (More expo money spent!) Next up was the Vega booth! I’m a Team Vega Community Ambassador, so I was verrrrry happy to find them there. I introduced myself and filled up on plant-based goodness. I completed my expo tour at the City Sports Center where Oiselle had merchandise. Unfortunately, I missed the autograph signing and I didn’t recognize anyone from Twitter verse by the time I got there. Moral of the story – get there early!
The most fun part of the day was taking pictures on Boylston Street at the finish line. I met “Captain Challenge”, a TCSD member from San Diego ironically enough, who was there on behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I tried to take sine mental snapshots of the area so I’d have something to visualize for 26 miles until I made the turn on Boylston for the final stretch. I also wanted to take more pictures!
We went to Uno Pizza (for carbs) and Starbucks (for calming tea) and took a few more pics on our way home from the expo. There was Boston pride EVERYWHERE you looked. Seriously. Everywhere. Boston went all out for this race, and I couldn’t get enough of the blue and yellow (and orange for this year’s race jacket of course). This was unlike any other pre-race experience I’ve had, and it was very awesome having my family there by my side.
I slept much better Saturday night but still woke-up in pain on Sunday. I knew the ultimate test would be on my 30 minute shakeout run. Jeremy went with me (so glad to have him there!) and guess what? My back didn’t hurt while running! I was sooo happy. One of my race day worries out the window. I spent the rest of the day off my feet, preparing for Marathon Monday. Oh, and it was also Easter. Happy Easter! I wanted to have dinner with my family so I skipped the pasta party downtown and stayed in. The last thing I did before bed was try to channel some positive energy from my Eugene Marathon race recap (aka my best race of all time. I didn’t sleep a wink that night, so I jumped out of bed at 5am, not even needing all 3 iPhone alarms.
Next up, my journey from Hopkinton to Boston!!
Does anyone else have problems with pre-race anxiety? Or an expo shopping problem? ;)