Runners are analytical types when it comes to their sports. We track all the numbers; pace, miles, rank, temperatures, etc. I have excel spreadsheets that track training and race pace, weather, how I was feeling that day, what I ate before my run, and even if I ran without music.
So what better way to sum up the last long marathon training run than in list form?
- The best way to kick start a running morning is with the morning news and weather (what that’s not normal?) I’m usually a loyal 7news viewer, however they don’t start super early on Saturdays (which is silly, I mean what normal person ISN’T up at 5:30am on a weekend??) so Channel 5 it was. Well thank goodness for the Channel 5 weatherman, whose forecast I saw revolved around Boston Marathoners heading out for their last long run. His slight West North West wind report “with the wind at the backs of those running from Hopkinton to Boston today” was all I needed to hear to calm some of my nerves about what lay ahead.
- The Bruins Foundation for hooking up our small but mighty team with another charity team to trek out to Hopkinton with.
- The Spaulding Rehab volunteers for welcoming us with open arms at 7am on a Saturday and organizing a bus to get all of us crazies in training out to Hopkinton.
- Meeting a new teammate on the Bruins Foundation marathon team, Stephanie. It was nice to have someone to talk out our anxieties with on the ride out to the starting line! And having another person I’ll know during the few hours we’ll be waiting around Athletes Village for our 10am start on 4/15.
- My Tinkerbell key-chain I needed to carry my car key with me since I wasn’t going to be getting back on the bus so I brought the key-chain that my dad bought my sister and I after we ran our first marathon as Tinkerbells. It definitely brought me luck (and I would be lying if said that I wasn’t hoping for some pixie dust to help me fly through that run).
- Arriving in Hopkinton and realizing how big this last long run really is. Driving towards the start and seeing cars lining the sides of the streets, masses of people unloading from buses, and police detail even closing some roadways all for a training run really put it into perspective how big a deal this run was to so many.
- The Easter crew. I’m not sure which charity they were running for but their entire team looked like Easter on steroids. There were men in pastel Under Armor with Easter baskets around their waists, women in tights, tutus and bunny ears, and plenty just sporting a cotton tail (well not JUST a cotton tail, they were in running clothes too).
- Neon. It was everywhere. Not sure if it’s because a lot of runs take place either before sunrise or after sunset, but runners tend to sport a lot of bright colors. I, of course, had my neon yellow shoes on, but some people’s ensembles looked like my winter jacket from the early 90’s. Saturday’s runway was long, but it was quite the fashion show.
- The weather. Despite it not feeling like we were a few days into spring, it was still dry and sunny which made for a fantastic 35 degrees. It was chilly in Hopkinton when we were standing around waiting to get going, but once we were out there with only a slight breeze at our backs (just like Mr. Channel 5 said!) the weather was close enough to perfect.
- The Irish Pub Rock Radio station on Pandora. Last weekend I had a not so great run and I was blaring Pandora’s “Workout Pop Hits Radio”. Every word that Pit Bull rhymed made me nauseous. The second I turned him off and switched to some Riverdance tunes the run was instantly better. So I kept with that momentum for this last long run and rocked out to Dropkicks and 12 different versions of “Finnegan’s wake”. It was great.
- The camaraderie. There is something special about the running community that only runners can understand. While many (including myself) were excited about the day’s run, I doubt anyone was thinking “21 mile run, BEST DAY EVER!!” In fact there were a lot of people who could’ve rambled off a million things they’d rather be doing. But once everyone started and was out on the course with hundreds of other runners, those complaints and stressors faded into the background. I normally am a solo runner however Saturday made me realize why so many people run in a pack. It mimicked race day in that I had my eye on someone and made it my goal to stick with them. Knowing there were so many out there doing the same thing helped me keep my pace relatively steady and my energy higher than usual. At mile 17 when the hills started to really hit, it helped to have people in front and behind me to give me that mental push. And in the last mile, seeing people make the final push (even though it was all uphill!) inspired me not to slow down.
- The Bruins Foundation interns. Kelsey, Julie, and Diane showed up in their Bruins gear and with their foam fingers bright and early to cheer us on and make sure we were all good. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I was in college I think the last thing I would’ve wanted to do at 7am on a Saturday was stand on the side of the road in March with a foam finger and a smile and cheer for people crazy enough to run 21 miles for fun. Seeing them at mile 9 and 17 (cheering as I approached) was a great mini pick me up to know there were people checking up on us, and you know, making sure we didn’t die.
- The police officers on duty Saturday morning. Not only were there cones out turning two lane roads into one, but the cops out directing traffic made sure that runners had the right of way, which really came in handy crossing some busy intersections and the 128 on-ramps. And all this for a training run! I made sure to say “thank you” to every police officer I passed, because not having to stop at every stoplight, on-ramp, and side street makes a big difference when you’re not sure your knees or calves will let you start back up again.
- The residents of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, and Newton. There were two kinds of town residents out that day. The first were my favorite, the ones beeping and cheering and hanging out their car windows waving at all the runners. These were also the ones who set up water tables on their front lawns or brought their kids out on the steps to watch. The other kind were the slightly annoyed drivers who all they wanted to do was get from dance class to the grocery store to home in less than 6 hours and while us runners were trying their patience making this task difficult, none of them beeped in anger, flipped me off, or ran me over so for that I am grateful!
- All of the fuel table volunteers. The amount of non-runners that came out Saturday to help everyone as we cruised our way to Boston was incredible. Every charity had rounded up their troops to provide water, Gatorade, candy, Gu, pretzels, icepacks, and most importantly encouraging words. Even people not associated with the teams were offering aid. Lulu lemon had a team out with awesome signs, cowbells, and cheers and the Girl Scouts were offering water and jelly beans (although I felt a little jipped that they didn’t have any Thin Mints on hand to help get me through).
- Heartbreak Hill Running Company’s Gorilla . I’ve seen him in pictures with tons of different runners throughout this training season and was so excited to be able to finally get my pic with him! (Side note: I was wearing my “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” sweatshirt on Saturday and was forced to kiss the gorilla.)
- The feeling of “wow, I can actually do this”. That feeling came right about the time I was in an uphill battle (literally!) with either the 2nd or 3rd hill in the lovely Newton series. I suddenly became aware that in a few weeks I would only have to go another 6 miles and I would have completed the Boston marathon. Just that thought quickened my pace about 15seconds/mi and pulled me right up that hill.
- The Church at Boston College. At the top of Heartbreak Hill on your right is the church at BC. It looks like a giant castle and on Saturday that castle was my finish line. It’s beautiful and was a great landmark to finish at. (I didn’t take a pic, I think I was slightly dehydrated and delusional at that point.)
- The finish (of 21). The Girl Scouts were back, and were full of cheers and signs of “WELCOME TO MILE 21!” It was so cool to look around at other people finishing and know that you all were officially in taper mode now!
- My brother with an enormous bottle of Smart Water. The benefit to my brother attending Boston College is that I was able to call him and mutter the words “water….water..” and he delivered. Well, not actually delivered, he made me walk to his dorm which was UPHILL (gahhh more hills!) but when I got there the 33oz of H2O never tasted so good.
- Getting my Boston Marathon Passport in the mail afterwards. I’ve already read every bit of collateral they’ve sent me, cover to cover. Twice.
And now we taper…
I WANNA KNOW: What was your favorite part of your weekend? Did you run far too? Do you like reading things in list form?