I have written race recaps for the Boston Marathon twice now. (2015 Recap, 2016 Recap) This year was my third year and not a whole lot changes when recapping the race. Lots of runners. Awesome spectator support. Heartbreak Hill … ugh. My time was 3:14:35. The slowest of my three Bostons. I still had a great time running the race, but the real fun came from the events leading up to race day. I could write a novel about the weekend as a whole, so I’ll break it down into highlights. I will start with the race, though, since that is what you came for.
Race morning – Monday, April 17, 2017
5:00 AM – Hopped out of bed, showered, threw on my gear (Injinji socks, TOPO ST-2‘s, shorty shorts, Running Dad Singlet, bib affixed with RaceDots, Spibelt, Goodr glasses, For Lucas Headsweats Hat, Garmin 220), grabbed a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana and a water bottle with Nuun. Good to go!
6:00 AM – Met Mario, Candace, Michele and Alex at the buses for the hour long ride from Boston Common to Hopkinton.
7:15 AM – Unloaded at Athletes Village where we ran into several other Winchester area runners.
9:05 AM – Headed to the start line as the first wave was called. It is a 3/4 mile walk. It would be the ideal warm up run, but there are so many people that it is hard to dodge in and out. So just walked it and relaxed.
10:00 AM – The starting gun goes off and the race begins.
10:02:20 AM – I cross the start line. I was in wave one, corral 5 and it takes that long to get to the actual start line since there are so many runners.
The temps started in the low 60’s at the beginning of the race. As the day went on, the temps rose into the 80’s. My main goal was to finish in under 3 hours. My miracle goal was to be below 2:50. Yeah … that was a bit ambitious. For the first 10 miles, I was clicking away at a steady 6:40 per mile pace. Right on track. I even spotted Mario ahead of me. He started in corral 4, so he had a little bit of a head start. I tried to speed up a bit to catch him, but soon realized my energy reserves were not where I expected. This started the decline of pace that I feared as Newton and Heartbreak Hill were coming up soon. It was going to be a long, hot day. But it wasn’t all bad.
- So many kids to high five along the course. I stuck to the left and got as many of them as I could.
- Fist bumped Rick Hoyt, from the legendary Team Hoyt, as he was being pushed in his racing wheelchair by Bryon Lyons.
- Double high fived Bart Yasso who was spectating from the sidewalk. I’ve met Bart a couple times and it was cool to see him as a spectator.
- The girls at the Wellesley College scream tunnel were in full roar, but I was not interested in any smooches. Yes, that’s a thing. You can get kisses.
- Finally seeing the Citgo sign, but it still seemed to take forever to get to the finish. I passed Vern and Lisa who were yelling at me, but I was so far in the bag it didn’t register. I felt like I was swimming upstream.
- Making the right turn from Commercial Avenue onto Hereford Street, then left onto Boylston, I knew I might be able to find Connor, Jen and Sharon in the crowd. I usually have my eyes set on the finish line at this point, but I scanned every inch of the crowd on that left side where I thought they might be.
- I spotted Connor in his florescent yellow attire and waved and yelled back at them as I passed. I would have stopped for a quick hug or high five, but I might not have been able to start back up.
- I finally peg-legged it across the finish line! I knew where to meet Mario, Jen, Conor and Sharon after the race, so I just rolled through the finish area, snagged my medal, food and drink, thanking volunteers along the way.
- Headed for the “George Washington on a Horse” statue – that’s what I call it – where I met up with my crew and headed to Sharon’s to get a shower and a beer. mmmm Beer.
- Boston #3 in the books!
The rest of the weekend
Friday, April 14, 2017
Like I said, the marathon was really just a snippet of the whole Boston experience this year. Since the race fell on the Monday after Easter, Connor was off from school and able to join us. For a kid who likes running and hears me talk about the Boston marathon all the time, this was an opportunity we could not pass on.
We flew into Boston on and met our friend Sharon for dinner. Sharon went to high school with Jen and lives right in the heart of Boston. We ate in Harvard Square, where Mario joined us before heading to the airport to pick up Vern and Lisa, and then walked around Harvard Yard before returning to Sharon’s apartment where we would spend the weekend.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Connor and I ran the B.A.A. 5k. His goal was to finish in under 20 minutes. His previous best was 21:30, so he had set a pretty ambitious goal. Wonder where he gets that from? Mario even promised all the ice cream he could eat if he set a new personal record.
Before the race, we spotted Mike Wardian, fellow Running Dad and ultra runner extraordinaire. He was hard to miss in his Elvis costume. It was even harder to try and have a serious conversation with a dude dressed in a white jumpsuit, wig and oversized glasses. He, Connor and I talked about upcoming races and Mike talked to Connor about his goals. That alone made Connor’s day.
Connor and I lined up in the starting area fairly close to the front. The race had around 10,000 participants. That’s the biggest race Connor had ever been part of. As the race started, it was hard to get up to speed with the congestion of runners around us. I knew that first mile was going to be slower than planned. We passed Team Hoyt, this time with Dick Hoyt pushing his son Rick in the chair. I yelled “Go Team Hoyt” and got a nod from Mr. Hoyt.
I had to run with my head on a swivel to make sure Connor stayed with me. By mile 2 he was struggling a bit, since we had to pick up the pace to meet his goal. Right around then, as we were making the turn onto Hereford (the 5k course follows part of the marathon course, running through the actual marathon finish line and then finishing back at Boston Common about a half mile later), Mike Wardian, being blindfolded and led by a guide, passed us. The past few years, he has run like this as an advocate for blind runners. I yelled “Go Mike! It’s Running Dad and Running Kid” since he couldn’t see, obviously. He blew by us. I wanted to try and keep up, but there was no way I could leave Con behind. Together, we made the famous left turn onto Boylston and continued on through the finish area for the marathon. Connor held it together for the last half mile and come across the line at 20:30. Just a bit off his goal, but that can be expected with the crowd we had to weave through. A new PR and a great memory!
After the race, we hit the Expo. It was crowded, but we once again ran into Mike Wardian at the Hoka booth. He thanked us for cheering him on while he ran blind through the streets. it turns out, he had tripped and fallen at the beginning of the race and couldn’t get started with so many people around. He still managed to pass us after all that. He is crazy fast. Or crazy and fast. However you want to look at it. He signed autographs for our group and chatted a bit.
Jen has been wanting to visit Down East Cider since she tried it two years ago for my first Boston. After a stop at Aeronaut Brewery, we headed to Down East Cider House and sampled all of their ciders. It was a huge hit among our friends. We all had fun and enjoyed the interesting flavor combos. Maple Coffee was very good as was their summer and winter varieties. Connor found a soccer ball to play with, so he was content. Mission accomplished.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Connor and I woke up and headed out early to meet Candace for a pre-race shakeout run. We ran along the Charles River and across the bridge into Cambridge. This is one of my favorite places to run. Usually, there are rowing teams out in their long boats, but being Easter Sunday, the river was pretty vacant. We got in a nice 5 miles to get our legs ready for the big race the next day.
Our next planned excursion was a tour of Boston with Duck Tours. These tour buses take you through the streets of Boston, with a guide giving you interesting facts and tourist tips. They then head to the Charles River and drive straight in. The aquatic vehicle becomes a boat and takes you for a different perspective of the city from the water. Connor even got to drive the boat.
Our final destination for the day was an Italian Restaurant on the north side of town. Jen, Sharon and I had eaten there last year and loved it. We reserved the biggest table we could get weeks before. It did not disappoint. Mother Anna’s is a very good choice for dinner. Since we were on that side of town, we had to stop at Mike’s Pastries for Canolis. So good!
We said our goodbyes and made final preps to meet up in the morning for the bus ride to the start line.
I am so thankful for having the opportunity to bring Connor along to see what the most famous marathon in the world is like. He had such a good time. The marathon itself was such a small detail in the story he can tell for years to come. He wants to return when he is old enough to run the marathon himself. I hope I can still qualify for Boston so I can tag along.