A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What it's like to run the Boston Marathon

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Hello readers! A few months ago I wrote a piece for the blog Jun Dishes. I would like to share it with you all here, on my blog! But be sure to go check out Jun Dishes. I discovered her blog through my love of the reality TV show Big Brother (Jun won Season 4 and is one of my favorite winners!). She has lived an interesting life and some of her posts are sure to make your jaw drop. That's why I love Jun!

Anyway, here is the piece I wrote. I elaborated on it for my readers. It was initially only about 500 words... and you all know it's hard for me to say something in 500 words!

Running a marathon is a unique experience that most healthy people can accomplish if they are willing to put in the training. Marathon running has become extremely popular in the past few years. Still, only 1% of the population has run a marathon. Of that 1%, only 8-9% qualify to run Boston.
A few years ago, I worked my tail off and ran Boston in 2009. I get to do it again in 2014- provided my knee cooperates! I’m cautiously excited.

My friend Chris and I after qualifying for Boston at the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon.
Yes, I was in pain! Yes, I cried a few times during the race!
3:38:08 (Qualifying standards were a little lower back then.)

What’s it like to run the Boston Marathon?

A day or two before the race you head to the Expo, which is held at the John Hynes Convention Center. There, you pick up your packet – which includes your bib, timing chip, shirt, and other goodies. There’s an extensive collection of Boston Marathon running apparel for sale. It’s severely overpriced but most runners buy a jacket anyway!
Jacket - 1
My cat puked on mine. Don’t worry, the stain came out. 

The Expo is only a block from the finish line, so runners stop by to have their picture taken at the most famous finish line in the world!
Finish Line - 2
Chillin' on the finish line.

The evening before the race, runners flock to area restaurants to eat all the carbs in sight. Early reservations are good because marathon morning starts early with a 6:30am bus ride to Hopkinton.

Dinner with my pals in Watertown.

Buses - 3
Ready to board the buses!
Those are my friends Chris, Donna, and my mother-in-law, Deb. We promised to run the race together and take tons of pictures along the way! As you will see, we lived up to our promise...
The Boston Marathon is actually a marathon to Boston, starting in Hopkinton. At Hopkinton High School, an Athletes’ Village is set up for runners to congregate. The race doesn’t start until a few hours after your arrival.
Athletes Villiage - 4
There is A LOT of waiting around in the Village. You can tell the seasoned runners from the newbies. Seasoned runners bring inflatable rafts to catch a few Zzzzs before the race. Newbies (me) bring a poncho.
Tarp - 5
All I remember was being very tired and nervous!

Port-o-Johns are a runner’s best friend. I never saw so many port-o-johns in my life until Athletes’ Village.
Toilets - 6
This picture probably only depicts 5% of them.
** Tip: After you use the toilet, get right back in line. By the time it’s your turn again, you’ll have to go!**
Two F-15s fly overhead as the race begins in waves…wheelchair racers, elites, and then the “common folk” broken into three more waves.

This huge sign hung at the exit of Athlete's Village. Every single one of us passed it on our way to the starting line, which is about a quarter mile down the road. Talk about inspiration...

My mother-in-law and I at the start. Happy as larks!

The scenery of the race is small town Massachusetts, passing through several small towns and colleges until the final finish line on Boylston Street. Friendly spectators line the course.
Newto - 7
Around Mile 13, the course passes by Wellesley College, where the college girls are out cheering. Many of them offer kisses to sweaty runners.
Wellesley - 8
Heartbreak Hill is around Mile 20. It’s really not that heartbreaking and gets more hype than it deserves. I mean, we live in Central PA for goodness sake... we're used to hills!
Drama atop Heartbreak Hill.
You see what's in my left hand? It's a wooden paint stick with a fake Hawaiian lei wrapped around it. We took turns carrying that the whole race. And we wore matching t-shirts so we wouldn't lose each other.
When you see the Citgo sign in the distance, you know you’ve almost made it! Boylston is just around the corner!
Citgo - 10
Hang a right on Hereford and a left on Boylston... There's the finish line!
As you cross the crowded finish line, you are handed a medal and mylar blanket.
Showered and cleaned up-sportin' my medal!

3am train ride home. I swear, I had fun!

Paul had fun, too. It's exhausting spectating at marathons!
He always makes it a point to clap at least 200 times...
(Inside joke, sorry! How rude of me!)

So that's what it's like to run Boston, friends! At least, that is what it was like in 2009. I'll give you the full scoop on 2014 when the time comes... if my knee takes me there!

Have you ever run Boston? What was it like for you?
What race is your favorite one you have run?
Have you ever stopped to take pictures along a marathon route?


  1. Running boston was wonderful. It was made even better because I was one of the friends that ran it with you. I remember it vividly and had so much fun.
    I will say the New York Marathon was an amazing experience as well. I ran it alone but ran for a fund raising group called Fred's Team. It was fantastic and I highly recommend it.
    I take pictures at most of the marathons I run. I have a PR that I am satisfied with so I just take my camera and enjoy the scenery. I love to take selfies with local dogs.

    1. I love that you take pics of you and the furry ones. :) It makes me so happy. I plan to have that care free attitude when I make it to Boston this year! Lots of pics, happiness, and soaking it all in. I'm glad we got to run it together. It goes down as one of the top 5 experiences of my life. :)

  2. Congrats to you! I ran Boston in 2013. Let's just say it was an experience I will never forget. ( I also made a few blog posts about it)

    1. Oh my word I can't even imagine... Would you go back and do it again?

  3. My favorite race was the Columbus Marathon :) I'm too type A to take photos during a race, that's what my husband's job is!

    1. What do you like about Columbus? I'll have to check that one out. :)

  4. I'm running Boston for the first time this year, I am SO excited and nervous, even though I have been going to the marathon for years!! Good luck with your training!

    1. That is exciting!! There is NOTHING like Boston. You are going to love it. Don't be nervous. It is all very, very, very well organized.

  5. "** Tip: After you use the toilet, get right back in line. By the time it’s your turn again, you’ll have to go!**"

    This tip is the ultimate race tip. I learned it at my first half marathon and I will always follow it ;)

    I hope you get to run Boston this year, I can't wait to read all about it!

    1. We should write a book about the racing tips people were afraid to mention. :)

  6. I love this post! Since I am training for my first marathon, I love reading about other people's marathon experiences! Qualifying for Boston has to feel so awesome!

    1. I read your blog and I'm very excited that you decided to go the full distance. :) You will love it!

  7. What a great recap!!! I can't wait to hear all about your 2014 race!!!

  8. Never in my wildest dreams will I be fast enough to qualify. It's so cool to read your experience!!!

    1. Don't even say that because I used to say that!

  9. Confession: Three years ago (I think it was that long ago, i am getting a little loopy), after I had run my first half, I was driving back from our annual family vacation in South Carolina, which always happens to be the same week of the Boston Marathon. Anyways, I was at a rest area in New Jersey, and I saw a girl that had obviously just run the marathon, because she was wearing a jacket. It was that girl (and even more, that jacket!) that made me want to run Boston. Then last year happened and I REALLY wanted to run in it, to show my support to all those who were injured. Since this year is going to be my first full marathon, I obviously won't be able to run Boston, but I am hoping to do it within the next couple of years, even if I do it through a fundraising team. My husband was like, "I'm sure you can just buy a jacket online, but my response was, "No, I want to EARN a jacket!"

    1. Cool story. :) Those jackets really stand out. Get, it girl!

  10. I'm like Ali and don't believe I'd ever be able to qualify. So, I will read re-caps like these and dream about it! Thank you for this!!

    1. Well I am glad to re-cap it for you but again I say, don't sell yourself short! I never ever thought I could qualify.