Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014 Review, Part 1


The headline of The Boston Globe on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 read "UNSTOPPABLE".  It couldn't have been more true in every way.  Meb Keflezighi, the American winner, was unstoppable; Shalane Flanagan, the Boston native women's favorite who despite coming in seventh broke the American women's record, was unstoppable; the 31, 878 runners were unstoppable; and all eight cities along the course were unstoppable.  The entire marathon weekend was a dream and I didn't want to wake up from it.  I didn't want it to stop.

APRIL 18, 2014

My two littlest daughters and I flew to Providence from Orlando on Friday (Pete and the two oldest ones took the auto train and were going to drive up the rest of the way to meet us Saturday afternoon.  Saturday afternoon turned into Sunday afternoon because of train delays.  Needless to say, I was relieved to have flown.).  We rented an awesome (awesome will be used multiple times throughout this post) red Dodge charger for two days and too much money.  Budget Rental advertises only $36 a day, but then they push the ridiculously overpriced insurance on you and if you're a sucker like me, you bite.   Live and learn.  Anyway, we drove 40 minutes north to the Marriott Courtyard in Norwood, Massachusetts where we checked in for four nights.

APRIL 19, 2014

Pete called me Saturday morning about the train delay.  The girls and I had nothing planned that day, so I decided to do the expo.  I didn't want to take a chance waiting for the others Sunday only to miss packet pickup.  That would not be good.  We went out to breakfast at IHOP.  I ordered whole wheat pancakes topped with bananas.  You know, the "healthy" choice.  Of course, what are pancakes unless they're smothered with maple syrup?  Carbo loading at its best.  Halfway in I was already stuffed.  I saved the rest for the next morning.

This is some serious business.

I plugged 900 Boylston Street, the address of the Veterans Memorial Convention Center where the expo is being held, into the GPS.  Only 34 minutes from Norwood!  The sun is shining, the weather is going up to 60 degrees.  It was a gorgeous spring day in New England.  We were cruising in our awesome car busting out the tunes.  I was singing and dancing, the girls...not so much.  My 4-year old started crying that she was hungry and the two-year old always does what her sister does.  How could this be?  We  literally just piled pancakes into our faces moments earlier.  Suddenly, the good mood was turning sour.  Luckily, we were entering the city...or unluckily?  The traffic surrounding Boylston Street was worse than Rockefeller Center at Christmas.  The red lights seemed to be a minute longer, then once they turned green, we would crawl ten feet only to stop again.  I looked for a parking spot on the streets which was a joke.  There was a garage right around the corner from the expo, but it always seemed to be on the opposite side of the street.  I made a U-turn and backed into the garage, cutting off a pedicab.  Desperate times called for desperate measures and in seconds I just turned into that asshole driver.  Sorry, dude!  

I made it into the parking garage.  Everything was going to be okay now.  Ha!  There was less rhyme and reason in this garage than out on the streets.  There were no spots.  Cars were turning around in aisles.  As soon as you left an aisle, people would walk to their cars in that aisle.  Dang it!  I followed signs to more parking, but really to less parking.  Eventually, we were led to free valet.  Thank God!  We headed upstairs to the expo thirty minutes after entering the parking garage.

There's a mosaic with a cool statue outside.  I asked a fellow runner (I know this because almost everyone is wearing their Boston marathon gear) to take our picture.

Thank you, Good Samaritan photographer!  
Eh, I didn't need the statue in the picture.

We finally got inside the expo.  The packet pickup was on the third floor.  There's a huge 2014 Boston Marathon banner hanging on the wall where people were having their pictures taken.  I saw a tall blonde woman with a flower in her hair and immediately recognized her from Spirit of the Marathon 2: Rome.   I said hello and she smiled.  I asked another Good Samaritan if he would take our picture in front of the banner.

Eh, I didn't want the famous Boston Marathon
unicorn in the picture, anyway...

I went to the woman sitting behind the letter M sign to pick up my number.  I showed her my driver's license and she gave me my bib.  As I was walking away, she said, "I was surprised when I saw your name because my first name is Amy and my middle name is Mae!"  My name, by the way, is Aimée May.  "That has to be good luck!" I responded.  She nodded and gave me a thumbs up.  The negativity from the shit show car park experience faded instantly.  I went into the next room and got my goody bag including my awesome blue tech race shirt.

We made our way down to the second floor to the vendors.  The place was packed.  I was worried about losing the girls, but they were probably thinking the same thing.  They stayed close the whole time.  I bought myself a pair of cheap black sunglasses and 4 caffeine free Gus.  It was hard to navigate my way with the kids, so I decided to leave as soon as I could.  I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Meb or Shalane, but I had to settle for Julie Weiss (Spirit of the Marathon 2 lady.  Actually, even though she was a little kooky in the film, she BQ'd, ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks, and raised a lot of money for pancreatic cancer research).   On the way out, I went back to the banner at the number pickup and asked yet another Good Samaritan to take my picture.  This time I specifically requested the unicorn.

Well, I think I look better in the other picture...
Yeah, at this point I need to stop beating a dead--

We left the expo and grabbed a delicious lunch at Tossed in the connecting mall.  

APRIL 20, 2014
Pete and my eldest two children arrived Sunday afternoon.  I went for a quick 4 mile shakeout run near the hotel and then we headed back to the expo.  I wanted to pick up an emergency sports bra from the Marathon Sports vendor.  They also had a great Boston Strong t-shirt, but by 5:45pm on Sunday, all that was left was extra large.  

We headed to the pasta dinner.  Pete dropped me and the kids off at the Boston City Hall Plaza while he parked (hassle free, I might add).  We got on the end of the line which seemed to wrap around half the block.  The line moved along quickly, however.  We passed a "pay toilet booth", something we had never seen before.   My 12 year old suggested I carry a couple of quarters with me during the race in case I had to go.  As we got closer to the front, the two little ones had to use the restroom.  Pete took them to the pay toilet.  When they returned, he said it was actually a neat little adventure.  The door opened with a startling Star Trek swoosh and it was pretty clean inside.  When they were done, the door swooshed open again.  The line had moved forward since they entered, so the new people standing outside pointed, oohed and aahed when they emerged from the bathroom. 

Pasta party line

As we got nearer to the entrance, loud music was blaring from inside.  Young dancing volunteers from Wellesley and other local colleges greeted us with smiles and endless energy.  They set the tone which was perfect.  We were handed cardboard trays and then had a choice of penne with tomato sauce or pasta with alfredo sauce.  There were also meatballs, sausages, salad, Greek yogurt, and bread.  They were very generous with their portions.  After getting our food, we were led indoors and down a couple of flights of diners.  We shared a table with a lovely family from California on the lower level.  The husband and wife take turns marathoning.  This year, it was her turn.  While we ate our yummy dinner (light years better than the Mohawk Hudson Marathon pasta),  videos of past races were being played on large screens.  With the loud music playing in the background, it really got you pumped up for the race.  The announcer kept reminding people not to linger so other runners could be seated.  We quickly finished our meals and headed out the door.  More volunteers handed us goody bags filled with chocolates and chips.  Again, they were very generous, making sure all four of my children had their own bags.  I thought if the race was as fun and organized as the dinner, it will be a pretty good day.  And I was right.


  1. Thanks for putting this up so fast. I've always wondered about the legendary Boston pre-race pasta dinner. I should have warned you more about Boston drivers and parking in the city, although it probably wouldn't have helped.

    1. Of course the best marathon is going to have the best pasta dinner, right? ...And the worst parking... which one of these things doesn't belong?

  2. This is so exciting! I have never commented before but I follow the blog (very good and funny!) and was thinking of you Monday. Can't wait to hear all about the race. I am doing the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in October (it will be my fourth marathon) and hope to qualify for Boston. I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old and totally sympathized with your drive to the expo listening to crying and wondering how they could be hungry after a big breakfast. ;) Looking forward to the rest of your review.

    1. I lost your second comment. My first qualifying race for 2014 was the Baltimore Marathon in October 2012 (3:41:32). The registration closed for 2013 two weeks before this race so I was able to use it for 2014. Registration opened and closed the second half of September 2013. This was a big year for Boston, so I'm not sure if there will be another mad rush to register again. I ran Mohawk Hudson River in October of 2013 (3:37:08) and was able to use this time to get better seeded for the 2014 race. I can also use this race to run Boston in 2015, if I want. I think if MHRM is going to be your qualifying race, you will have to use it for 2016, unless the registration remains open past September 2014. Good luck! It's a fast, quiet course. Don't go to the pasta dinner :)

    2. Gotcha thank you so much for shining some light on that! It helps me plan :)

    3. How is your marathon training going? It's almost here!

  3. Loved reading this....I'm running Boston this year for the first time, having qualified last March.

    1. How exciting! Hopefully, your winter training is going well wherever you are! It is such an amazing experience to run this race. I hope the weather cooperates and you can enjoy every mile :)