In October of 2021 a few of us ran the delayed 2021 Boston Marathon. It was a scaled down version of the race with half as many runners, a rolling start and limited pre-race activities. Race Report
This week we went back to run the 2022 Boston Marathon. The race was back on the usual date, Patriots Day, with the usual field of 30,000 runners. Interestingly, for the first time in a few years – everyone who applied and had a qualifying time got into the race. It may have been because it had only been 6 months since the last one, or it may have been because you had to be fully vaccinated in order to run. There was definitely some backlash on social media about the vaccination requirement, but we were all quite happy about it. Even though everyone got in, the qualifying field was fast. Most of us had higher bib numbers than we expected.
We drove to Boston from Ottawa. The USA border crossing was definitely a little slower than usual, but it was straightforward. There is currently no COVID-19 test requirement. You do need proof of vaccination to get into the USA, but on one asked us for it.
Susan and I arrived in Boston Friday afternoon and went straight to the bib pick-up and Expo. It is usually quieter on Fridays. We picked up our bibs and headed over to the expo.
Unlike 2021, the expo was big and busy. Lots of vendors including all the usual ones you would expect: Nuun, Garmin, Gatorade, CEP, Asics, Hoka, and other shoes, clothes, and tech. There were a couple you would not expect: DNAhairtools who were selling curling irons and offering to style your hair and a guy selling rain gutters for your house? He was offering a deal.
One thing the expo did not have was the free posters with the names of all the runners. These were not there in 2021 either, so they may be gone for good. They did have the all the runners names on the wall.
After spending the past while in small groups, we were a bit overwhelmed by it all. So many people in one place at one time. Although we were wearing masks, the majority of people were not.
The 126th Boston Marathon was the 50th anniversary of women being “allowed” to run the Boston Marathon. I used that as an excuse, and I bought a jacket. The other advantage to going to the expo early is that they still have all the sizes left.
After we hit the expo, we continued on to “Fan Fest” this is a relatively new. It’s held outdoors by the finish line. On the way we stopped to admire the new memorials for the victims of the 2013 bombings they are well done.
We also stopped in at the “Church of the Finish Line” Its a nice old church.
Fan Fest includes a couple of stages where they have entertainment, a beer garden and a store selling race gear. It’s all outside so it felt a bit more COVID friendly. We discovered that you could get your jacket personalized with a crest, and because it was Friday night there was no line. We checked out the beer tent. We had to prove we were over 21 to get in which was quite amusing, but it was $10 for a beer so we did not stay.
We stayed at the Best Western Quincy Adams. It’s about 20 minutes away from Boston Common on the Red Line. It was our first time staying there. I chose it because it was much cheaper than staying downtown and the red line takes you directly to Boston Common. The hotel is not exciting, but it was about a 1 km walk to the subway, parking was free and a basic breakfast was included.
The hotel staff were excellent. The hotel is not an official race hotel, but they had posters up welcoming the runners, they were really friendly and excited about the race and they even supplied a brown bag breakfast for race morning. The only downside is that when you stay that far out you can’t really stop back at the hotel during the day. You make one trip into Boston and stay there. But staying downtown these days is really expensive. The Boston Park Plaza where we have stayed in the past is currently charging almost $5000.00 for 4 nights over the dates of the 2023 Boston Marathon and that is for a “Wicked Small Queen Room”. I have stayed in one of those rooms and you can barely walk around the bed. The staff do stand in line and clap for all the runners after the race!
On Saturday Susan and I were invited to stop by the community event for Fearless 261. An organization founded by Kathrine Switzer and Edith Zuschmann dedicated to empowering women through running. We met a great group of dedicated women who are working to make a difference for other women through running. It was a beautiful day so we also spent some time strolling around Boston. We met Pat and Yvonne in the park.
We also made a musical appearance in the park. We should probably stick with running! As we say “You can take your running seriously and still have fun”.
We had a group dinner at Mother Anna’s in the North End. They were friendly and accommodating: we even got a private room for our group, which was great. We will go back next year.
On Sunday we did an easy shake out run along the beach. Three km in, Susan started getting back pains and had to walk back! I went back to the expo to meet some of the other Nuun Ambassadors while Susan did some yoga and stretching, and hoped for the best!
One of the highlights of my weekend was the panel discussion at Fan Fest which included 5 of the 8 women who were the first official women runners at the Boston Marathon in 1972. They are a remarkable group of women and between them they have made a huge difference to women’s running. A short story can be found here . The full interview is here and it’s definitely worth a watch Valerie Rogosheske who is now 75 went on to run the race with her daughters on Monday.
We followed that up with our usual group pictures at the finish line. It was great to catch up with so many friends.
Monday was race day. We grabbed our breakfast bags and headed to the subway dressed in our pre-race finest. Boston is point-to-point, you are bussed to the start and there is no bag check at the start. You generally hang around before the race in the athletes village so you need throw away clothes to stay warm. We usually do a pre-race trip to the thrift store, and we always try to be creative.
We arrived in Boston Common 20 minutes early so we decided to walk to the bag check (you can leave clothes at the finish line for after the race but it’s not beside the bus loading to the start). It was slow and crowded once we got close to the bag check and slow and crowded again getting back to the buses. By the time we were at the bus loading we were 10 minutes behind schedule. We got on a school bus with a driver who must race Indy 500 on the weekends. She passed all the other buses that left with us. We were at the back of the bus and when we hit a bump we were bounced right out of our seats! Even with our speedy driver we did not have very much time before the start. Usually we sit around in a tent in a field with friends, but this time we basically dumped our extra clothes, visited the porta-poties and went straight to the start line. It was a bit chaotic but I am not sure why.
I was in the front coral of our wave so I had to get moving to get there. I spotted Chris in the coral. The new RunK2J clothing really stands out and makes it easy to spot each other!
The gun for the wave went off, and away we went. It turned out to be much sunnier than expected, we had a headwind but the temperature was pretty good. I have run this race so many times you would think I know the course, but I never really remember the details. In my head I run from one town to the next knowing that Ashland is about 5k in, then comes Framingham around 10, Natick around 15K, the scream tunnel at Wellesley is a little before the half way point, Newton is around 30K and at 21 miles you are through all the hills. You just have 5 miles back to the finish line.
The first mile of the course is big time downhill. I always run it too fast but I have concluded over the years that it does not matter that much as long as I can slow it down after that. The key to this course is to hold back in the first half. If you don’t the Newton hills will really hurt and you will have nothing left for the last 5 miles. Despite what I say, I often go out too fast – and then end up running the first half faster than I should.
I had no real expectations this year. I am 3 months away from changing age groups and although I am in reasonable shape I have not really been focused on running. The plus side was I really not too stressed pre-race. I actually ran the first 10K without looking at my watch. I checked at the half and knew I could get under 3:30 so I set that as a goal. I still lost a lot of time in Newton and never really picked it back up to my pre-Newton pace after that. Something to keep working on.
The crowds were great as always. Yvonne’s kids were the only spectators I saw that I knew but everyone cheers you anyway. There must have been someone nearby whose name was “Karen” because people kept yelling “Go Karen”. Many of the group members saw each other during the race, though I did not see anyone else while I was running.
I crossed the finish line in 3:27:00, and as usual I was freezing cold by the time I found my clothes.
I found Susan whose back held up (thank goodness) and Yvonne in the park. We shuffled back to the subway and then to the hotel. The great thing about the Boston Marathon is that even miles away from the race, total strangers were honking, waving, and yelling congratulations out their car windows. Its awesome.
We finished with a group Japanese BBQ diner at Gyu-Kaku, and there was way too much food. Lucky for us we had Yvonne’s teenage son with us to help us eat it, as illustrated in the second photo below hoovering down the excess from everyone.
Overall it was a great weekend with a great group. It’s always a privilege to be able to run this race, and so much more fun with a great group of running friends.
Time to book a room for 2023!