First things first – Congrats to anyone who ran Boston on Monday! It was a tough day out there, so major high fives to everyone. I know runners who PR’d, runners who held back given the conditions and finished close to their goal time, others who suffered in the heat, and some who pulled themselves off the course. A marathon is kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket. You train for months upon months for ONE day, and sometimes that day isn’t perfect. The weather, a stomach bug, just not your day. But congrats to everyone who toed that line – it’s an honor in itself.
I mentioned on Facebook and Instagram that I’d be up in Boston for the weekend, but didn’t mention it here. (Terrible blogger, I know.) I headed up to Boston for a long weekend to hang out with my college friend, Amy, who loves Marathon Monday as well and therefore puts up with my annual trip. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to spring the extra money for Amtrak, so I took a Friday afternoon train to Boston. Luckily, I spotted Kelly as we lined up to board (actually, I spotted her hair and then confirmed it was her by looking at her shoes…runner friend, indeed!), so I had a much more entertaining trip than I was anticipated. This all worked out because we ended up having a major delay in Connecticut, so having a train buddy was definitely welcomed.
Upon arrival in Boston, I had plans to meet up with Chris, one of the guys who I ran Berlin with a few years ago. We met at Harpoon (!!!!) and had a couple beers, catching up on life over the past year. He and his wife are expecting, so I’m sure next year’s meet up will be a little different! Amy and her boyfriend, Sean, joined us, and we ordered some delicious pretzels. I love Harpoon’s Tap Room (and beer, obviously) and highly recommend it to anyone who is in Boston.
Saturday – Expo
On Saturday, Amy and I headed to the Boston Marathon expo! Mostly because I love expos and wanted to see what gear was out there, but also to hopefully meet up with a runner or two. I saw on Facebook that Meghan, a fellow running nurse from Florida who I met on Instagram a few months ago, was at the expo, so I sent her a text and a few minutes later, we met! (Hello, Meghan!) She said she actually had read my blog before, mostly about hating night shift, so that’s pretty cool. We chatted about the marathon (her first Boston!) and about her being in nurse anesthesia school (and training for a marathon!). It was fun to meet her and reminds me how much I love the online running community. As we were chatting, Jamie, who is an ER nurse in Seattle walked by – I stopped her and asked if she was Jamie, and Meghan said, “You’re the ER nurse, right?” Nurses from three corners of the country meeting in Boston – so fun.
After parting ways, Amy and I did a quick loop around the expo. I stopped by the Nuun booth to see Kim, which is always a highlight of visiting an expo! Nuun had some specially made tubes for Boston, which I thought were awesome…and in a delicious flavor! Otherwise, we didn’t spend too much time at the expo. If you’ve been to enough expos, many of the vendors are the same, so you necessarily feel the need to stop everywhere and see everything. (Or maybe it’s just me.) We did walk by Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg as they were taking photos with people, but I didn’t stop for one.
Post-expo, we headed to Back Bay Social Club for lunch with Sean and some of their friends. I had the Sam Adams 26.2 brew – an annual must – and a delicious California benedict. We hung out and chatted and I kept my eye out for all the runners! We then took a quick walk to Fenway (ran into Elizabeth during the walk – haven’t seen her since Hood to Coast!) to say hello to Chris and Emily before they headed into the game. It would have been cool to see the Olympic team throw out the first pitch – and it was a beautiful day for a game! (The only game I’ve been to at Fenway was cold and rainy before my first Boston – one of the few games I’ve left early.) Post-Fenway, we headed to Target (woohooooo!) where I proclaimed my love eight million times….and we bought poster board to make signs. Most excellent. We finished the night with some delicious Thai food and Legally Blonde. Life is good.
Sunday – Signs!
Sunday Funday!! We had a bit of a lazy morning before taking a walk to the North End for lunch. Pizza at Locale – we got a Brussels sprouts pizza which was sooooo delicious along with some salad. Next up was Mike’s Pasty for cannolis!! Luckily the place wasn’t a total mess and we got in and out fairly quickly. Good news since we had some signs to make! We headed back to Amy’s apartment with our goodies and prepared for our annual arts and crafts fest.
If you’ve been around the past few years, you may know that Amy and I take sign making very seriously. We’ve had some real winners that include “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear!” which we first used in the heatwave of 2012 and was quite the crowd pleaser. Last year’s highlight was “Pain is just the French word for bread,” which got quite a few chuckles out of runners. We knew we needed some good ones this year, so I spent the week before the race doing some research. (If only I was so creative as to think of them on my own…) Much of the weekend was spent staring into space trying to think of sign ideas. (No TIAs here, just creativity in the works!) When it came down to it, we decided to do a mix of oldies-but-goodies and some new fun. So we set to work. Sign making is a commitment, so we put on some Call Me Maybe Pandora and rolled with it.
I think it paid off. You tell me…
With the signs completed, we headed to an evening of trivia (and buffalo chicken wraps with sweet potato fries!!). We didn’t come close to winning, but trivia is always a fun time! Sunday night, we went to bed anticipating Marathon Monday, aka Christmas morning in disguise.<
The best day of the year. The most excited I may ever be. Move over Santa, Marathon Monday is here. We’ve fine tuned the spectating plan over the years and have it down to a science. If we’re tracking a specific runner, then we can make it to three spots. If we’re just cheering for EVERYONE, then picking a spot and setting up camp is the way to go. Wellesley Hills is our favorite spot because it’s just past mile 14 so runners should still be feeling pretty good and it’s not the most common location to go to (so runners get a little pick me up from a familiar face!). We stationed ourselves in our location about 10-15 minutes before the elite women came through – perfect timing! The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect for spectating…and certainly a bit too warm for running.
We broke out the cowbells as the elite women came by – I didn’t really know anyone in the pack, mostly since the Americans were out since it’s an Olympic year. The “back of the pack” elite trailed behind, and I always think how hard it must be to run in that spot. At least if you’re male, you get the entire front of the pack to push you along, but if you fall off the elite women’s pack, you’re basically by yourself. That’s gotta be rough especially when the going gets tough. Props to them.
Soon enough, the elite men came through, followed by the masses. Game on for spectating. We cowbelled and yelled like crazy. I was getting an eye out for a runner who I went to college with – he ended up finishing 38th overall, which is crazy awesome. It definitely looked like it was going to be a long day for the runners, even as the top runners came through. I had a (long!) list of people to look for, so I scanned the crowd as everyone ran by. The tracking seemed to be off, at least in the beginning, so I just relied on knowing somewhat what pace people might be running and the order they might come in. (Definitely not the most accurate way since anything can happen on race day!) I totally missed Chris and Chris, while Justin (who I know from Twitter but never met) ran by and said hello…and then had to tell me who he was because I didn’t recognize him. Oops.
We cheered, yelled, cowbelled – basically you just need a fifteen second loop of cheering, as you get new crowd very quickly. I mainly stick with, “You look good! So good! Look strong, runners! You’re doing amazing!” and threw in some, “You’re all really fast! You have nice legs!” just to mix it up a bit. I mostly like looking for things on runners’ shirts – their names, schools, charity affiliations, etc. I love when people cheer specifically for me, so I like to do it as well. It’s fun when you see someone’s head pop up because you cheered for them. On Sunday, Amy and I had wondered if one runner, Michael, who we’ve seen basically every year since he first stopped by our signs, would be running. We got our answer when a guy in a Purdue shirt (his signature look) ran up to Amy and gave her a hug – MICHAEL!! Ah, the best.
And the only runner I got a picture of. It’s hard to hold a sign, shake a cowbell, cheer, look for runners, and take pictures at the same time. I figured cheering was more important, so I stuck with that. Thanks for stopping by, Michael!
Like I said, my tracking game wasn’t really on point, so I missed a lot of runners. Betsy was about a mile-ish ahead of us on the course (around the halfway point), so she texted me when she saw a few people – I even missed most of them. It seemed really crowded this year, but isn’t it always? Most of the people who we ended up seeing actually saw us first, which I guess is how it usually works when I’m running a race, so that’s fair. The runners I did see include Allison (who rocked the race despite the heat – she’s new-to-me blogger and I’ve loved following her training), Michele (love following her training), Elizabeth, Meghan, Kelly, and Robin…I think that’s it. I mostly got flustered when someone yelled, and basically said silly things like, “Ah! It’s so good to see you!” and maybe “You look great!” Excellent.
Although the day was quite warm, at some point I noticed a breeze in the runners’ faces and felt cooler myself. That would be nice, I thought, although a headwind is never fun. Some runners had their visors blow off their heads, so that’s not good either. But it was still a great day for cheering, and runners seemed to like the sign! Some spectators walked by and runners ran by and said, “That’s the best sign all day!” WINNING. A few people stopped to take pictures, and Amy made it on the boston.com website (#16) – woohoo! Mostly we got a bunch of laughs and runners saying, “What?? They’re drinking my beer??” Ironic in that the Ethiopians swept both the men’s and women’s races, but in our defense, “The Ethiopians are drinking your beer!” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like, “The Kenyans are drinking your beer!” So that’s that.
We cheered and cheered and saw the multiple waves come through. The charity waved started running by, and it’s fun to cheer for everyone who raised so much money. I know people have mixed opinions about charity runners at Boston, but I like them. It’s nice that people can run Boston if qualifying isn’t in the cards for them, and they raise SO much money for charity. It kind of sums up why I love the running community so much – anyone can do it! Sure, qualifying for Boston is a goal and sets people apart, but running is welcoming to everyone. The cheering crowd tends to thin out as the running crowd does, and the back of the pack runners really appreciate the cheers. We stayed out until the trail car came through, at which point we felt solid about having cheered for hours. (Runners were still behind the car, honestly not sure what happens after that!)
After packing up the car, we headed back into Boston for a celebratory beer. I got one from Singlecut called “Eric! More Cowbell!” which I thought was appropriate because Eric is my boyfriend, and we did a lot of cowbelling today! And it was a delicious stout, so that’s a winner. We had some dinner before grabbing my stuff and heading to the train station. I was on the 6:30pm train and parked myself in the quiet car to listen to my tunes and catch up on the social media of the day. Loved reading everyone’s quick recaps of their races – from the perfect days to the really tough ones. Looking forward to reading the longer versions!
Boston Marathon weekend is definitely one of my favorites – so many runners in one spot. So many runners who have worked so hard to qualify, to prepare for the race. To raise money for great causes. It’s the best. I hope to get there again (soon!) as someone running the race, but I need to get healthy first. I can’t wait to run fast again – Boston always reminds me of how much I love to do that. Being on the sidelines, not running, always reminds me what a privilege it is to be able to run. You see signs that say, “One day you will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.” You don’t understand that until that day comes, even if it’s only temporary.
Major, major, MAJOR congrats to two survivors of the 2013 Boston bombing who ran the marathon – a marathon is hard on two legs, let alone on just one. Patrick Downes and Adrianne Haslet crossed the finish line that changed their lives three years ago. Monday was not that day for them. Amazing.
High fives again to everyone who toed the line in Hopkinton on Monday! I’d love to hear about your Marathon Monday experiences – whether it was on the course, on the sidelines, or tracking at home! Definitely keeping an eye out for those upcoming race reports.