The 2007 Boston Marathon was a blast -- literally, with heavy rains and gusty winds, which fortunately tapered shortly after the 10 a.m. start. Overall, I had a good day, running within 49 seconds of my 3:10:00 goal.
Boston was hit hard the day before the marathon and in the early morning hours of race day -- when I got up at 4 a.m. on raceday for the bagel/banana/coffee routine, the street was partly flooded in front of my hotel with sheets of rain blowing sideways. I had a four block walk to the 6 a.m. bus pick-up on Tremont St. at the Commons, and by the time I got there my shoes were already wet. Fortunately, the temp was warmer than forecast -- mid 40s vice the mid-to-high 30s that was predicted.
I wore three layers -- tights, sweats and rain gear -- and packed extra socks, gloves, a hat and my running shoes in plastic bags (double wrapped) -- planning to send the extra stuff back in the bag check from Hopkinton.
The bus ride to Hopkinton is usually 45 minutes. With the weather and because the driver got lost, it took us 2.5 hours. I got on the bus at 6 a.m.; we arrived at the Hopkington high school at about 8:30 a.m. The good news: we stayed on a warm bus, high and dry for much of the morning. The bad news: when we got the huge tent erected for the runners, there was no room to do much except stand around and wait for the 9:15 a.m. call to head to the corrals for the first wave. I was hoping to find Wade Gaasch out there, but my cell phone was dead and there was no way I could find him in the standing room only tent.
I was conflicted on whether to wear long sleeves and tights -- the temp wasn't that bad, but the weather can change there in an instant. When a cold gust of wind with a torrent of rain occurred at about 9 a.m. when I was changing, it forced my decision. Tights and drifit turtle neck under a singlet -- with a light poncho that I'd drop after a few miles. I think I would have been fine in only shorts and a singlet, but I wasn't uncomfortable (until I stopped running and the chills came).
The rain started to taper about the time we were called to the corrals, but even my dry shoes were wet within 10 minutes of putting them on. A few good gusts of wind and showers came just before the gun, so we were wet at the start. The rain didn't last though -- and the wind didn't seem as strong once we started running.
The race went pretty much according to plan for me. My first half marathon was a minute fast and the second was two minutes slow: 1:32:21 and 1:38:28. My 5k splits were pretty even until the hills, then I slowed 45-60 seconds/mile on the hills.
Despite Jesse's PR, most of us find Boston deceptively difficult. The course is net downhill and the first 10-12 miles seduce you into a fast pace -- silently pounding your quads -- you don't notice the devil on your shoulder until about mile 19 -- halfway through the Newton Hills. The devil starts to whisper and then the quads normally start to scream after Heartbreak Hill when you go down the steep hill near Boston College. (The uphill at Boston is overrated; the downhill is underrated).
For me this year, the devil was generally quiet and the quads seemed to complain only a little. Except for a side stitch for about 6-8 miles and stomach cramping in the last mile, I have few complaints. It was generally a pleasant marathon.
The crowds this year were thinner, but seemed just as noisy. The Wellsley Girls were out in full force -- I've never heard them so loud. Apparently, they were making up for last year when they were on spring break during the race. My ears actually hurt this year when I was in the scream tunnel. It made me speed up (without realizing it) to sub six pace for about a half mile. (A pace that for me is a recipe for disaster with the Newton Hills around the corner).
Boston is an amazing experince -- whether rain, shine, sleet, snow or gale. It is unbelievably well organized, excellent crowds and friendly, top notch runners. 95% are qualified runners -- the winning Masters time for men was 2:28:55! The City treats you like gold. It is, without a doubt, your own personal olympics whether you run 2:30 or 4:30. I lost count of the number of people that stopped me to talk about whether I ran, what my time was, how I liked Boston, etc. This happens every year. Bostonians are proud of their marathon and embrace the runners warmly.
I'll run this race every year I can qualify and drag my bones to the start.