Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boston Marathon 2011, part 1

It really doesn't get any better than this race. Everything about it is amazing. Where do I begin? I guess I'll start where most runners started their race weekend, the expo. Last year was so simple, I went Friday after work by myself and took my time really enjoying the experience and taking it all in. This year was the exact opposite. I decided to meet a ton of people there on Saturday (the busiest day) AND I still needed to get my singlet to run the race in.

So, the plan was to meet my friends Jenine and Mandy at 11:00, they were leaving Melrose at 10:30. My friends Scott and Paula were also planning to get there around that time so I told them I would see them there too. I got there a little after 11:00, traffic was insane and parking was only easy because I have a small car, thank God. As soon as I got to the Hynes Convention Center I texted Jenine and Scott and see if they were there yet. I should have known it would not be that easy. Jenine is chronically late (and I still love her to death), she called to say Mandy had forgotten her Garmin at work and they were stopping to try and get it. Why they couldn't do that on the way home from the expo when someone wasn't waiting for them is beyond me, but I accepted it and sort of expect unexpected delays when meeting up with Jenine. Lucky for me (and unlucky for my visa bill) there was plenty to keep me distracted while I waited. Scott was relying on the Green Line to get him and Paula and their two kids to the expo (along with the other 20,000+ people in the city for the weekend). So, naturally that was taking longer than they anticipated.

11:45 still waiting at the expo, Jenine stuck in traffic and trying to find parking, Scott and Paula on the Green Line with about a 5 minute walk to the convention center once they got off the train, a happy coincidence occurred. One of my blog followers happened to be in town for the weekend also running the marathon. We had been emailing back and forth for about a year and now we were in the same building. One of the things I love most about running, and probably the main reason I keep doing it, it's amazing ability to bring people together of all shapes and sizes and levels of experience and fitness. I joined the soccer team in high school to try and meet people and failed miserably, had I known then that I just needed to sign up for a local 5K maybe high school would have gone a little differently. Anyway, it was so great to finally put a face to the name I had seen in emails for the last year and connect in person with someone that has connected with me and my "funny stories" (his words not mine) online. Here is a photo of us (me, Gideon, and his two daughters Celia and Sadie):
His wife was kind enough to take the photo. His daughters were a little shy, but very polite. I told them I was shy at that age too, but I eventually came out of my shell. Although, now that I think about it, kids probably shouldn't talk to strangers their parents meet on the internet. Good thinkin' girls! :)

Scott and Paula finally made it to the Expo and shortly after Jenine and Mandy showed up. I left Scott and Paula to find Jenine and Mandy and then attempted to navigate the expo with the two of them. By this time it was the peak hours for the expo and it was insanely crowded. It was Mandy's first marathon so I can only imagine how overwhelmed she was feeling. I still needed to find my singlet somehow in the chaos and I wanted them to get to look around a little before we went to lunch. I got a text telling me a person to see at a particular booth to pick up my singlet and started asking people, "is this booth 1929, are you Dom?" Eventually, I found Dom and my singlet, but I lost Jenine and Mandy. I texted Jenine and she tried to call me, but it was so loud I couldn't hear her. We managed to find each other and Jenine decided it would be a good idea to call the restaurant and make reservations for lunch. It was about 12:45 and she wanted to make the reservation for 1:15. I tried to tell her to give at least an hour for us to get out and get to the restaurant, but she insisted 1:15 would work. We slowly moved through the crowded isles and didn't stop unless they were giving away free food (that wasn't loaded with junk and artificial colors). Made it to the street and walked to the restaurant, got to the hostess and asked about our reservation.......well, since it was now 2:15 they couldn't hold our table so we had to wait.

It was totally worth the wait. We ate at Cafeteria on Newbury St. It's not ridiculously expensive like everything else on Newbury St. and it's not snooty or pretentious, they serve simple food like grilled cheese and tomato soup and burgers and fries and the best brunch ever, BUT it's all locally sourced and the meats are all hormone and antibiotic free and the burgers are made with grass fed organic beef. It's delicious! I had a bacon cheese burger with fries. YUM! I'm drooling just thinking about it.

After lunch, I actually had to go BACK into the expo to swap my singlet because the one I got from Dom was too small. So, I had to bring it back to him and then find a girl named Sarah at the Gatorade booth. It was like a twisted scavenger hunt in the middle of the most chaotic crowded ever. At least now I was on my own and not concerned with meeting anyone or losing someone. I found Sarah and got my new larger singlet and then relaxed and shopped around a bit before leaving. Boy am I glad I did. Not only did I find some really cute stuff and load up on freebies, but as I was walking back through the Prudential Center and over to Copley Place where I had parked my car, walking in the opposite direction was this oddly familiar tiny brunette walking with her friend. She was pulling her hair over her face, unlike most girls that tuck it behind their ears, which I thought was strange until I figured out who she was. It was Kara GOUCHER!!!! I didn't want to cause a scene and try and get a photo or disturb her and possibly ruin her pre-race calm before the storm so I quietly went on my way knowing that I had seen her and to me that meant a sign from above, I was gonna run fast like her (well, maybe not as fast as her, but fast for me). It was AWESOME!

I got home sort of late and I was exhausted so I passed out on my couch around 7pm and woke up around midnight and went to bed. I tried to sleep in, but my cat had other plans, he was hungry. I still got about 10hrs of solid sleep so it was ok. I lounged on the couch all morning and caught a few more z's here and there between segments of the Today Show. Then I texted my friends to see who wanted to join me for a pre-race lunch at Flatbreads. Shannon, Kim and our newest Lowell lady, Ryann joined me and we had the most delicious pizza ever. The Carne special was chicken, bacon, ranch and the Veggie special was bell peppers and baby spinach with fresh figs. We got one of each. We almost finished both, I ended up taking home a few extra slices (which I pretty much inhaled as soon as I got home).

I spent Sunday night relaxing and going over final preparations for the big day. My bag was packed, a made a mental list of things not to forget in the morning - body glide, garmin, iPod, camera, gloves, throw away shirt, etc. Pinned my number on my singlet and tried it on to make sure it was straight and wouldn't bother me while I was running.
I was as ready as I could be. I tried to go to sleep at 8:30 but tossed and turned and woke up every hour anxious and excited to run. Good thing I got so much sleep the night before. Stay tuned for my race day recap and post race update......

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