Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boston Part One!

In an effort to get this up, I bring you the first part of my Boston report, which doesn't actually include any of the race - that's part Two! The spacing on some of this seems to be weird, but I'm not going to worry about that right now.

Warning - this is a picture heavy Boston report! I flew into Boston Friday night and so Saturday was Expo time! Step one is to get your race packet. Well, actually step one is to show your packet-pick up card and photo ID and THEN get your packet.

Once you're eagerly clutching your precious packet in your happy hands, you make your way over to the shirt table where you get your bag and selected shirt size. Part of the awesome thing about Boston? You first are handed the shirt size you think will fit. Then you head wherever you find space, try it on, and exchange it for a different size if you want.

Then you get herded into the actual Expo - beginning with a large section of official Boston gear. First thing's first, though. Picture time with my bib number! The smiley face on the bag is how they know you picked up your shirt. Too bad I don't look excited at all . . . It's so fun to be surrounded by lots and lots of runners. It's one of my favorite things about any race weekend but with 27,000 people in one race, plus their generally active family/friends/spectators, that's a whole lot of runners.

So, same as last time, the Expo is really the same as any expo except so very crazy crowded. And then there's the part where you get to meet Kathrine Switzer. She was super awesome again - spending so much time with each person that she started getting in trouble from whoever was keeping an eye on her line because it was getting too long. Luckily, I was towards the front :) She gives everyone a hug, asks your name and how you are and truly wants to know how you are. She finds a connection with each person.

I had her sign my book a second time, which seemed to amuse her (different page, though!), and I also had her sign my race number.

I don't think she necessarily signed it upside down on purpose but we giggled about it when she was done and decided that meant I could look down at it for inspiration while I was running, if need be. After that it was lots of general expo wandering. I had some gift certificate money to spend, so I had a blast picking out Boston gear. I even managed to hold back and save some, which allowed me to buy a running pack for Cedar on sale later (not at the expo - in a store that gave you 20% for showing them your bib number). I wandered around for a while looking for a companion to my bright pink Boston shorts from last time or maybe a Boston skirt but no luck. I settled for a black pair of Boston shorts with blue/yellow trim, since I did actually need another pair.

Over the weekend, I stayed with my friend from high school and I had two other high school friends who live near-ish by come over to watch the race and hang out. It was great to be with them for a couple days - thanks so much for coming, guys! Sunday, we headed back into Boston (my friend lives in Cambridge, about 5 miles from the race finish). There were several pictures that I didn't even think to take my first time and I needed to make sure they happened. Pictures like me at the finish banner:

Or of me me kneeling (on my bad knee, silly girl) on the Finish Line.

Close up of the part of the finish line the the person taking the previous picture would have been standing on.

Okay, enough of that! Time to get ready to run which means obsessively laying everything out the night before. No, I didn't run in Vibrams, those were for afterward. Not that I remembered to change into them . . .

So, Boston starts in three waves. I was in Wave Two, starting at 10:20. However, this meant I had to catch the buses between 6:30-7. Everyone gathers in Boston Commons and ques in giant lines waiting for the massive numbers of buses. Enough buses to bring 27,000 people from Boston to Hopkinton. I feel as though this picture doesn't quite do it justice in terms of the crazy number of people waiting for buses. There is a line 4-5 people wide going as far down as the picture goes and winding around.

The key was to move to the middle lines rather than getting off the subway and immediately joining the first line right there. Step one here, though, is to hit the port-a-potty line because the bus ride is 45 minutes to over an hour and you don't want to be stuck on there and really needing a bathroom. As I was waiting in line, the volunteer in my line was waving to the loaded buses driving by.

This made me really happy so I had to take a picture of him. I waved at him as our bus drove away, too. Since I got on a bus more toward the front of the line, this meant I was able to choose my seat and also get the window. My seat partner was a great guy here with a training group from Illinois who were seated in front and also kitty corner from us. He said I look a ton like his daughter, which is why he sat next to me.

We actually spent a lot of the ride talking about skiing - he's a super speedy age grouper. We took pictures of each other with our bags (I blacked out his name here so if you want to freakishly stalk him, you have to work at it at least a little) so we would remember names post-race. I looked him up when I got back to internet and made sure he finished when he wanted and was safe. He did and was.

After driving for a while (this is why you get on an early bus, those horror stories out there about 1.5+ hour bus rides with traffic jams and runners jumping out the back to pee are always from people who get on a late bus) and then driving slowly through part of Hopkinton, we're dropped off at the school and a parking lot full of the buses that came before us. Get off the bus and follow everyone into the Athlete's Village.

This is not actually the start line, mind you, just the entrance to the Village. There you sit for a couple hours. Well, first I hightailed it to the bathrooms after the bus ride (shockingly short lines at first) and THEN I sat down. This is why people recommend that you bring a garbage bag - so you can sit/lay on the ground without getting a wet butt. Or an inflatable air mattress, like some people do. I settled for a garbage bag, though. I spread mine out and settled down for a bit. The group next to me was from Iceland and one of the guys had a crazy low number in the 100-somethings. Yikes. After laying down for a bit, and eating a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it didn't take too long for me to get a little antsy. So then it was time to jump in the ever growing bathroom line again.

Towards the front of the line, I watched DUFF MAN (he put a nice red cape on, as well) and a hotdog getting dressed.

Both with lower numbers in the 4,000s so these were definitely not charity runners. It was fun to see.

I decided to head to the starting area a little early. So - change from my keeper warmup gear (to be worn at the finish) to my throw warm-up gear (to be worn to the start line and then tossed), exit the Athlete's Village, find the bus to put my bag in (which included my camera since I didn't want to carry it or stop for pictures so only official pictures from here until the finish), and start the .7 mile walk to the start line. It was a constant crowd of people heading down and some of the houses had people out just watching the show. Fence lined the whole way with collection bags for your discarded gear at regular intervals - they gather everything you toss off and donate it. Last time, I had two friends to walk to the start with so it was a little strange walking there on my own since I'm also used to being at big races with at least one other person. I knew I'd run into Tonya in the corral but I didn't expect to see her before then. When we finally got to the starting area, Wave One was lined up and they were doing some announcements so it was back to a bathroom line for me. Which took maybe a little longer than normal since I let a couple Wave One guys who were in line behind me go in front of me.

Oh! While waiting for Wave One to go (NO jet fly over! I was so bummed! That's half the reason I headed over early), I saw a woman wearing this running dress. It was so cute. I loved it! And now I kind of want one - she said it's super comfy and it would eliminate the rubbing raw that I always get on my lower back from shorts. Anyway. Sidetrack finished . . .

Wave One was off and it was time to boogie into my corral (7!) for Wave Two. I took off my toss pants before heading over but decided to keep the zip up hoodie on until I started running. As I entered the corral and headed to the front, I was looking around for Tonya and just maybe was talking out loud along the lines of, "Tonya should be around here somewhere" when she said hi! It was nice to wait for the start next to a friend.

Up next - the actual RACE part of my race report!

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