Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boston Marathon 2009 - Pre-Race

Twenty-three years is a bit of time between Boston Marathons for me.  This year's race was a lot different than 1986.  In '86 I believe we drove to the start.  In '86 I think there were only a few thousand runners.  In '86 I could run under three hours.  In 2009 twenty thousands loaded yellow school buses for the hour drive to Hopkinton.  In 2009 I ran a relaxed 3:32:54.  Almost 15 minutes slower than I ran in the Philadelphia Marathon last November, but I was in better shape for that event.  I hold that it is very difficult for a north-easterner to run a spring marathon, because most training must be done in the coldest weather with the least amount of daylight.  Add to that my own propensity to try to get thirty days of skiing in over the winter, and you have a serious lack of preparation for a spring marathon.  From January 1st of 2009 through the day before the Boston Marathon, I only ran 259 miles (and biked 551).  My plan was to go to Boston to enjoy the race, to train through it in preparation for the Towpath "Train"ing Run (34 miles on June 6th), and to finish smiling.  I accomplished those things, and finished in the time I predicted to everyone that asked.

It was a whirlwind trip for me.  I left as late as possible: about 1 PM on Sunday, April 19 for Monday's race. I had Ed pick up my number and other registration materials.  I was to meet him and others from my club at a restaurant in the North End section of Boston.  I almost missed them due to the NJ Turnpike going down to one lane for construction before the George Washington Bridge.  It took about an hour to go two miles.  That totally killed my drive time.  When I arrived in the North End of Boston, there was absolutely nowhere to park so I drove around for another 20 minutes looking.  I finally parked in a lot that looked like it had reasonable rates and seemed it might be close to the restaurant.  Ed and friends were on their way out of the restaurant when I called them after parking at 7 PM - six hours after starting this drive that should have been 4.5 hours.  They waited on a corner and I managed to navigate to them and get my stuff.  I got back to the car to find that the $4 rate I thought I saw for the first hour on that sign didn't hold on weekends - when everybody pays the same for any amount of time.  That 30 minutes cost me $14 dollars.

Back in the car for a 20 minute drive to a cheap motel in Lexington where I had a $10 spaghetti dinner at a little Italian place called Maria's.  Checkout that value compared to parking in Boston's North End!

Set up all my race clothes and bag before sleeping and set the alarm for 5:30 AM.  I was out of the room by 5:45 and parking at a metered spot in Boston only about a block from the finish line by 6:15.  I was meeting my running club buddies near the bus boarding area at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets at 6:30.  Found a perfect parking spot at a meter on the street only about three blocks from the finish line, near the corner of Clarendon and Newberry Streets.  Walked and jogged barefoot the 5 or so blocks to the meeting place and actually saw them in a taxi on the way to that location before I got there.  It was Ed, Bob J., John, John E., Jodi, Laura, Kristin & Justine.  There were tons of people converging on the buses to the Hopkinton starting line.  I needed a coffee to go with my banana and bagel that I brought in my race bag.  But I neglected to bring any money from my wallet that was tucked into my car's glove compartment.  There was a Dunkin' Donuts across the street packed with runners grabbing their coffee and carbs.  The heck with my personal DD boycott  - I had a marathon to wake up for.  Luckily, Bob J. was buying!

We took some pictures and soon we boarded one of the busses for the hour ride to the staging area of the Boston Marathon: Hopkinton High School.

Below: Ed's photo from the Boston Marathon bus ride - L to R: Laura, Kristin, Justine, Bob.

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