Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Insider's Guide to the Boston Marathon

If you're running the Boston Marathon, you've done at least some research.  Whether that research is like mine, a thorough enough skim through the B.A.A. emails to know which wave you're in, or that research is like my friend Erika's, which included a mile by mile course analysis focusing on major landmarks... you know something before you arrive.

But just like anything else, there are just some things you can't know until you've been there.  It's the things they don't tell you in the race program, the things that don't get their own tent at the expo.

Just like anything, there is insider information that you can only get from, well, an insider.  But luckily for you, not only do you have an insider on your hands, you have one who likes to write things in bulleted form.  So without further ado...

The Insider's Guide to the Boston Marathon

  • Make sure your mom has your camera.  She might not be able to catch a shot of you at the race, but at least you will always be able to treasure that special picture of you in T.J. Maxx $10 sweats trying to open a pack of candy at 6:30 AM.

  • You may think that the strongly recommended recommendation (i.e. do this or die) to arrive at "Athletes' Village" two hours before your start time seems unnecessary.  Understandable, but incorrect. You will need at least one hour to navigate 36,000 runners wrapped in aluminum foil... err, I mean polyethylene blankets... looking for your friend who told you to meet at the gear check tent (side note: they stopped doing gear check this year) and then at least another 40 minutes to wait in line for the port-o-pot.  The extra 20 minutes can be spent using said port-o-pot, trying to figure out the logistics of fitting a pack of Starbursts in your running shorts, or just general nerves.
  • You will start in waves.  This means that, unless you are an elite athlete, you will not start immediately as the gun goes off.  This is important to keep in mind, especially if you are the type to jump up and down and scream when you get excited.  Remember, you will be standing with your fellow corral mates for at least another 10 minutes afterwards.  Don't be that girl.
  • The first three miles are downhill.  It's a trap.
  • Just because it isn't hot, doesn't mean you can't get a sunburn.  This is a good lesson for life in general, but especially relevant if you plan to run for three hours in arm warmers.  The reverse farmer's tan isn't an easy look to pull off.
  • Speaking of unfortunate tan lines, the Boston Marathon happens to be a straight shot from beginning to end.  This means that you will be spending 3-4 hours with one side in direct sunlight.  Sunscreen is your friend, unless you are planning on wearing a lot of one-sleeved dresses this season.
  • My biggest concern before the race was that I wouldn't know when I got to Heartbreak Hill.  That didn't end up being a problem.  You know.
  • Do yourself a favor and read as many signs as you can before mile 23.  Some of them are funny ("Kiss me!  My dad can't catch you."), some are kind of rewarding ("Your butt looks great!"), and some are exactly what you need ("This hill will not break you.").
  • After mile 23, read signs if you can.  Or just focus on every step... because if you stop focusing, you might just stop.
  • It's okay to pee your pants, it's okay to cry a little, it's okay to mostly black out.... just don't stop.
  • You may think that once you cross the finish line, the hard part is over.  Unfortunately, the hard part has just begun.  You now have a mile long walk out of the fenced-in finish chute.
  • Do not sit on the curb in the finish chute, unless you are ready to be swarmed by anxious volunteers with wheelchairs.
  • Do not trust the signs in the finish chute.  They all say "food/drinks/exit" but they really mean "food/drinks/exit after a 15 minute arduous walk of near death, and a right turn."
  • No, you cannot just roll out under the finish chute fence because your legs don't work.  Trust me, I asked.
  • When all else fails, just sit down.  Volunteers will bring you a PowerBar and eventually someone will find you.
  • Wear your medal and fluorescent orange jacket proudly until you leave Boston.  You'll spend the rest of the day being congratulated by strangers and, if you're really lucky, the cashier at Panera will give you an extra baguette for free.
  • Say you're never running again.  It's always good to end a long race weekend with a joke!

Happy Hump Day.
If you're down about the hump, look at it this way... it could be a heartbreaking hill.

Want more tea? Have a second cup!
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