Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boston Marathon Advice! Your Comments, Memories, Tips, Strategies, and Thoughts are WELCOME!

Is it really only 8 weeks until the Boston Marathon?  Wooo weee!  I remember saying that it was only 20 weeks to go and that just seems like yesterday.  However, it seems like forever ago that I ran Boston in 2004.  And I don't remember much AT ALL.  People ask me about the course, what I did before the race started, good restaurants and hotels, the expo, etc. and I really can't tell them much.  This is pretty much all I do remember:

  • I didn't know anyone else running.  
  • It was my second marathon.  
  • I had just found out what the Boston Marathon was only a year prior to running it.
  • The expo was really cool.  I had never seen so much running stuff on sale.  And it was like a world created entirely for people like ME.  In fact, there were tons of people there that looked just like me...the runner look.  So exciting!
  • Some little kids handed me orange slices and some college girls yelled really loud when I passed their college that started with a W.  
  • I took a bus ride on the way to the start and talked to an old man who had done this ride many times.
  • I was handed a sharpie marker while sitting on the grass waiting to start the race and was told that the cool thing to do was to write my name on my legs and arms.  It was similar to what I imagine it being like at a concert when a joint is passed around.  Only it wasn't a concert and we were passing around a marker.  But everyone was really cool about sharing the black ink.  Ha!  
  • It was 80 degrees.  Record breaking heat for the Boston marathon.  
  • I had NO plan.  None.  I was there to have fun.
  • I could barely hit what felt like a 10 minute mile pace when I was finishing but I didn't keep track of my splits then and I surely didn't own a Garmin.  
  • Instead of an ice bath, I took a hot bath and then went out and partied after the race.  My husband almost had to get me a wheel chair in the airport the next day in order to make our flight.  But I got really pissed and yelled at him not to even DARE. How embarrassing.  Took me at least 5 minutes to sit down in my seat on the airplane.  
  • When I got back to my third grade class, they all cheered and told me that they taped the race and hoped to see me.  They asked if I won.  They thought I was a superstar.  I loved them for this.  
  • I bought a really expensive jacket in a size or two too big since apparently I thought I was a medium or large back then or maybe it was the style to wear oversized clothing.  Anyway, I never wore the jacket because I always felt funny about wearing a jacket with really big lettering that said BOSTON MARATHON 2004 on the back. Or at least it felt very big.  Not subtle.  I felt silly wearing it to races and stretching out and doing drills  so I would save it for when I'd run around my neighborhood. But now I would wear it with pride and plan on getting another one.  Luckily, it seems that they make the jackets a bit more on the modest side now.
  • I don't remember the race really.  What is happening to my memory?  I remember one mile before the finish line but not the finish line.  I remember being at the top of heartbreak  hill.  And I remember the start and some random parts of the race but not much more.  Oh, and I remember starting with a woman with a really nice body and being in Absolute AWE that she had three kids at home!!! I didn't understand how someone with three kids could be running the Boston Marathon and look like her.  
Well, that's about it.  NOT very helpful information if I were to be giving advice to someone who was heading to the Boston Marathon for their first time.  In fact, I'm hoping some of you have some helpful tips, advice, or useful pieces of information to share!  Even if you've never run the Boston Marathon but know about it.  

What Will I Do With Your Information??
I thought it would be great to get as many useful comments about the Boston Marathon as I can and then compile everyone's comments into one post that can be used by everyone that is heading to Boston this April or in the future. Even the funny random ones that have nothing to do about the race itself but might be fun to know while we are in Boston.  Like a certain stop light that drives you nuts or a good place to get bagels and cream cheese.  Or the best place to drink a nice cold beer after the race.  Or what NOT to do on the Newton hills. So....

  • What are some great places to stay? 
  • Where are the most affordable places to stay?  
  • Tell us about the most ideal spots to be near.
  • Tips about public transportation.  
  • Where are your favorite spots to eat? Drink?  Shop? 
  • Where do you run before the big day?  
  • Do you go early?  
  • Favorite mile in the race?  
  • Race strategy...this one is BIG!  
  • After race ritual?
  • Good place to celebrate?
  • Fun restaurant to carbo load before the big day.  
  • Things to PACK in your race day bag to take up to the starting line!!! I want to know this one.
  • Whatever else you can think of to share.  Even your favorite kind of bra to wear or some kind of superstitious routine.  
Please share as much or as little as you have to share.  Contribute to this bloggy conversation!  I want to hear from you way more than I want to spend time googling Boston Marathon tips and advice and reading long articles by people I don't know.  I want to hear from the people just like you, you and you that have, want to, or will run the Boston Marathon!  I hope to get lots of serious, funny, fun, useful, and wise words that I can share in one big post in a few weeks that we can ALL enjoy.  So, send your running friends over so they can contribute to this too.  

Happy Tuesday,



  1. This is a fun/great idea, Amanda! My big one is to say that heartbreak hill isn't that big of a deal! I remember having to ask someone if it was really heartbreak b/c it didn't seem like it could possibly be.

    Looking forward to seeing the final product!

  2. Well I got nothing....
    BUT I think this will be interesting to read !!! I will have a Boston marathon book giveaway again on my blog shortly..it is The story of Johnny Kelley, Boston's Marathon Man

  3. I've never run the Boston Marathon but I have been to it twice and I go to Boston a fair amount being less than an hour away! A good "lunch" place to hit one of the days you are there is Boloco. They have the BEST burritos there and they are super healthy! There are tons of them in the city and super tasty. You are going to rock Boston!

  4. My advice is to forego the magic marker and pass the joint around. LOL It might take you a while to finish, but I guarantee you'll have a good time.

  5. Oh wow! I wish I was coming too:) You did SO well there in that type of heat. incredible really.
    All I can say is that last year, I WISH i had turned back for the otter pops some people handed out around Newton!

    Also, wear shoes with room! My toes got annihilated!!
    Of course I will share more thoughts later, but you have a ton coming from people here and AM is the expert. :)

  6. Oh thank you for this! :) I will use the information wisely! Just watched the virtual course tour last night on the computer and my boys said, "Wow, that's a really long way." *sigh*

  7. Good idea for a post! I was going to do a Boston post at some point here too. Loved reading your memories. I remember Lulu and then Lulu and then there was this store I found called Lulu. First time I had ever been in a store and it left it's mark:)

    One thing that worked for me well but is different for everyone is how I ate because of the late race start. I ate supper-pasta bread at 6:30 on Sunday night-not a ton-just a normal amount and then I ate half of a bagel at 3 am and then ate the other half of a bagel with peanut butter and a banana and coffee at about 7 am and then ate part of a powerbar in the start corral. I never felt like I had a ball in my stomach and I felt perfect!

    I mentioned strategy in an email and for me that was even effort for this race. I remember being very conscious of relaxing my shoulders, very conscious of not braking on the downhills.

    I don't remember any of the restaurants we ate at the days after the race! There were some good ones too! I'll be excited to read your post! We went to some bar called "The Bleacher Bar" which was on the ground of Fenway. Joe was in his glory watching batting practice while I sucked down Sam Adams by the pitcher. Walked about 10 miles the day after the race all through the college campuses etc.

    OK-I'll be back to read some of the comments. I'll limit mine to 8 paragraphs tonight since we've talked about much of this:)

  8. There may come a day that I have the opportunity to have a similar experience as yours. Until then, I will watch and read with hope.

    From what I have read of your posts - this race will be monumentous. Peace and Godspeed.

  9. Oh Gosh, so much to say! About the course - don't expect any flats, it is all up and down. Don't expect to run 26.2, you will run at least 26.5 (the course is actually measured long - there are some articles on line about how this happened). Don't break on the downhills. HB hill is nothing compared to the hill at mile 15-16 (?)

    Restaurants -dependgin how much you want to pay.
    White Elephant in Cambridge; Any restaurant in the North End for authentic italian food. Emma's pizza in Kenmore square. ANything on Newberry street.

    Laughing at Jenn's comment about how she ate. Only Jenn would be eating at 3am, I would still be sleeping:)

    Great idea, A

  10. I'm so excited for you that you get to run it again!!! I BQ'd at Boston last year for this year, but it's an expensive trip for us ... so maybe next year.

    I just enjoyed the whole experience, from start to finish. As we get older, it seems like the experiences that "wow" us are few and far between. But I just remember it feeling like a total celebration for a huge accomplishment that almost all of the world, and most of the running community will never be lucky enough to experience. It was an honor and I look back on it with great satisfaction.

    (I PR'd there, but I respectfully disagree with the Zipster - HB hill just about killed me, it was ligit!)

    Best wishes and have a great time!

  11. Well, I have nothing to offer on this one because I have not only never run the Boston Marathon, I have never been to Boston, or run a marathon. I have the trifecta of ignorance of this! I hope you get good advice and this is a great idea!

  12. okay. i dont have much to offer about the race but i had to comment and say that it was the cutest thing about your class being so proud of you! that had to be such a good feeling :)

  13. I enjoyed reading about what was memorable for you from 2004. Although I am not qualified to give advice on the running aspects, I do have some suggestions to make Boston 2012 special:

    1. Just like a fit mom of three impressed you in '04, you will impress other young women who might not have started their families. I would say to take the time to encourage them in that they can still have a running career, even with multiple children, if they set reasonable priorities.

    2. If you have the energy, encourage those around you during the race. It will actually pump YOU up and it will be appreciated by the recipients as well.

    3. ENJOY your run. Use this historical race to reflect on your love for the sport.

    4. NO negative self talk. Talk to yourself with love and respect...the way you would talk to your one of your own children if you were trying to get them through something like this.

    5. Be grateful. For the health to run, the family support it takes to run, the resources to run, and the heart to run.

    6. When it is over, party like the rock star that you are!


  14. I love this idea and will absolutely be referring back to it. I have lots of friends who have ran it and they all highly recommend the Blessing of the athletes ceremony that is held on Sunday before the race. As far as strategy goes I have only ever heard don't start out too fast.

    I also have an incredibly cool spreadsheet my crazy elite runner friend made that you plug in your projected time and it gives you exact splits based on elevations, fast start, slow start, ect. I will e-mail it to you right now.

  15. You will Be AMAZING! I've never done Boston - but looking forward to the day!
    You go GIRL!

  16. I haven't run Boston yet, so no words of wisdom there. I live about 30 minutes away though, so we go into the city often. Piggy backing onto AM's comment about the North End...there's an awesome pastry shop called Mike's Pastry. They have amazing cannolis. Also near Fanueil hall is an Irish pub called the Black Rose that I love.

  17. I've never gone to Boston, but I know in my post-race bag, I keep a pair of flip-flops, my own first-aid kit (Bactine, Neosporin & Band-aids). Some peppermints to settle my stomach. And the perfect finish - either a damp washcloth in a ziploc or some portable wet-naps to wipe the salt off my face and sticky feeling off my hands. Yes, my hands always feel kind of gross from spilled fuel after a run.

  18. So excited for you Amanda! Boston is still just a dream for me so I have no advice other than HAVE SO MUCH FUN! Oh, and heck yes to getting another jacket :)

  19. Well, you know I"ll have nothing to say. But I have a question. If it took you 5 mins to sit on the plane, how many minutes did it take for you to get off it once you'd really seized up? And did you need to go to the toilet mid flight? That would have been a challenge.

  20. ONLY 8 weeks?!! SO EXCITED FOR YOU! Running has come full circle. I know you will be wearing your hot Brooks gear to represent!

    Can't wait to live vicariously through you!

  21. So I will just bookmark this page and refer to it myself ;-)
    Oh, but we did vacation in Boston last year and here are some links about what we did:


    Just re-reading those posts made me so homesick for New England. I loved my Boston visit; I just wish I had more time this year. Oh well, incentive to qualify again, right?!

  22. I am so glad u are doing this. I just said to Steve last week that I needed to do a post asking people about where to go and what to do! Can't wait to read the responses!!!

  23. Hmm being I've never run Boston I can't help! :)

  24. Wow...time is creeping up fast. I remember two totally different races each of the two times I ran Boston...I think because one I raced and one I just ran...you see different things thing way I think.

    A few things I'd suggest from the list you compiled (but I can definitely answer more if you want to email me anything specific :))....

    - If you can, stay at the Marriott Copley Square. It's a direct shot to the expo over one of those enclosed bridges and therefore you never have to go outside to get to the expo. Sooooo convenient, and the Marriott has a couple nice restaurants. Meg had my birthday party there :).

    - I LOVED taking the bus to the start line. LOVED meeting all sorts of cool people and their stories how they got to Boston. You miss that when you rent a private bus.

    - If you have some time before or after, take a trip to the North End and tour all the amazing history, such as Paul Revere's house. Be sure to stop and get a red velvet cupcake for $1 (and the size of your entire hand :)) at Mike's Pastry!!!


  25. This post "almost" makes me wish I were fast enough for Boston. I'd just need somebody to run those last 6 miles for me. :o) Good luck!

  26. i've always wanted to go/race/etc. Maybe someday, but for now i will live vicariously through you and your memories. Good to hear from YOU!

  27. I have ZERO advice, but I can't wait to see what everybody says. I'll be there! I'm only running the 5K, obviously, but then I'll be on the sidelines cheering everyone on for the BIG race!


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