There is a lot to be said for testing yourself against an exact course (apples to apples), I just haven’t done it in my 50 state effort for efficiency purposes.
2019 marked my 4th Boston Marathon; I also ran in 2009, 2012, 2018. I just love this race.
You have to qualify to run in Boston and the times are pretty aggressive; so sure, there’s a feeling that the race itself is special because you earned your way in.
I love the history of the race, from Katharine Switzer to Duel in the Sun legends Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley and more recently Des Linden. Bonus points: I get to see and stay with my friends from college, Heather and Jack.
I am social, so I enjoy what feels to some like a “hurry up and wait” day. I like riding the school buses from Boston Common to Hopkinton High School and waiting in Athletes Village with strangers (most of whom I find are just waiting to be friends!).
I love slapping outstretched hands in Ashland. I always seek out the smallest kids. I enjoy the spectators lining the streets, all celebrating Patriots Day and going all out. I swear there’s a bar in Natick that plays “Sweet Caroline” on speakers nonstop all day because it’s been on all 4 years at that point. If someone can confirm this, I’d be eager to know- it’s too predictable to be coincidence at this point!
My favorite part of the course comes just before the half, “scream tunnel” at Wellesley College. You can legit hear these girls from a full mile away. They are SO LOUD you can’t help but get butterflies & feel the tingles a full mile after.
I even enjoy the hills of Newton. I don’t have a runner’s build and spend a lot of time in the bottom of a squat, so they are a welcome challenge. I want my legs to feel like rubber bands at the end of Heartbreak Hill- it’s a feeling I earned!
There are too many places on the course to cite confetti popping, music playing, spectators lined 10 deep- it really is amazing. I don’t “need” these things to race but I sure do enjoy them.
The runners are great, too. You’d think it’d be a bunch of elitist types, but I find folks are generally proud to be there and eager to connect.
To be fair, with the exception of 2009, I’ve been in the 3rd wave so maybe that has something to do with it. Nothing like beating your qualification time by a full 5 minutes and still being seeded in “party pace”- really speaks to the depth of talent in the sport of running right now.
Did the bipolar weather bother me this year? Sure. When I saw it was going to be like last year about a week out, I panicked a bit but the decided not to even look at it until I arrived. Can’t control the weather, right?
That sort of backfired on me when all I packed were Light n Tight leggings and it was 63 (& very humid!) at the start. Nonetheless, the same hot pink pants that served me well in my 100K trail race powered me through here. They truly are, as the name would suggest, LIGHT so I was actually more comfortable than you’d think.
Pssst- I’m also beginning to think these hot pink leggings give me some sort of extra confidence, so there’s that to consider...maybe they are my new race uniform!
I remembered from my hot weather experience in 2012 to put ice cubes under my hat to stay cool. That was a great strategy from about mile 14 to the finish. I also made sure I stayed hydrated and balanced water with electrolytes during the race and never had any dicey episodes heat can sometimes cause.
I also chose the All Star Bra and, once again, had zero chafing. That’s now 2 marathons and a 12 hour ultramarathon I’ve had completely clear skin under my arms, at bra line, etc- it’s no longer coincidental. I will sing the praises of this piece until the unicorns come home (see what I did there?!).
I’m proud of my 3:34:48, which is the fastest time I’ve ever secured in Boston. Far from a PR, it reflects the work I put into my training and qualifies me for next year!
To God be the glory!