Thursday, April 24, 2014

My 2014 Boston Marathon Weekend

The weekend started Friday, April 18th with an easy 8 miler to Palmer Square prior to my flight to Boston. Once in Boston, I checked into the Adidas Boston365 VIP area at the Marriott Copley. (mini hotel review: a very convenient place to stay marathon weekend, the elevators are noticeably sluggish).

Adidas has partnered with Fleet Feet Sports nationwide to put together the Boston365 program which focuses on getting runners to Boston for the Marathon through training programs (both to qualify and to complete the Boston Marathon as well as fantastic race weekend amenities). I was blessed to be able to coach the Fleet Feet Sports - Chicago B365 program leading up to the 2014 event.

This is actually a pretty good segue into my reason for wanting to describe my pre and post race experiences: after underwhelming race performances in my previous couple marathon races, I felt the need to include community development as a part of my training. My running being focused around my performances was becoming depressing (it is of course not quite that simple or as well depressing as I make it sound, but we don't have all day). The Boston365 program was the perfect opportunity to do this. Our twice-per-week meetings over 15 weeks developed into new relationships that I am happy to say will live beyond April 21st, and being present race weekend was also a great way to continue to build existing relationships with runners living around the country.

Just a few of my new (and old) Boston365 friends
(Photo credit: Tom Swietochowski/Meg Kobza)

Any way, Friday night we enjoyed food and drink on Adidas at McGreevy's (which claims to be "America's First Sports Bar"). I tried the famed Sam Adams Boston 26.2 Brew (which tasted to me like they tried to make a beer with electrolytes...). I also was able to grab my bib number without much waiting at all, which was a pleasant surprise. From what I heard, Saturday was absolutely nuts!

For me, Saturday was the day I totally geeked out on everything running.

We kicked things off by watching the blazing fast B.A.A. 5k which was won on the men's side 13:26 by Dejen Gebremeskel (one of the most dominant road 5k runners ever) in a very, very close finish with Ben True (they were awarded the same time, Ben had an amazing 2013 and looks poised to do the same in 2014). Molly Huddle (the American Record Holder on the track) made her move late in the race to win in 15:12 to with Ethiopian Mamitu Daska's 15:14.

After the 5k, Eric Baum and I did a short run along the Charles River (along with the rest of Boston) ending at Mike and Patty's for their special breakfast sandwich, the Fancy (mine was sans cheese), an egg, bacon, avocado delight. Our coworker tipped us off on this place and also told us to call our order in ahead. This was key as the place is the size of a food truck and the wait for food was pushing 30 minutes.

Next on the agenda was the B.A.A. Invitational Mile races. Run around the Boston Marathon finish area, I was particularly excited to see the pros go at it on the roads.

As you can see we had a great view of the final turn!

I hope Morgan Uceny has a good 2014 season.

After the races, Eric and I got to high-five winners Nick Willis (he's pretty great) and Morgan Uceny!

Later we went to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game (it was hot in the bleachers!) and a swanky Adidas/Competitor Magazine party where I got to meet Steve Jones! Eric and I met up with Eric's friend Dave and Dave's folks for dinner at a Vietnamese place called Pho Basil. Our coworker Lindsey went 2/2 on restaurant recommendations as this place was full of locals and had some of the marathon crowd, but wasn't totally shut down by marathon craziness. The food was exactly what I needed, too. I slept very well after a full day geeking out on running.

Okay, I'm boring myself a bit so I'll skip ahead. Easter Sunday was spent previewing the course with our Boston365 inspirational leader, Dan Daly (Dan finished his 20th Boston Marathon on Monday), giving us tips for the final mile of the course, and grabbing lunch at Veggie Planet with my good friend Dan McDowell.

You can find a recap of my race here.

After the race, I felt pretty awful. My stomach hadn't felt great and I had slowed down significantly so I skipped my final Huma Gel (which I was supposed to take at mile 21). I was kind of out of sorts for a while, but then was able to catch up with a bunch of other runner friends at the Boston365 VIP area. I also had time to catch up with the mustachioed Matt Flaherty who had run a 2:21:20 for 32nd overall and 15th American! We ran into fellow racers Henry and Graham Peck and family while grabbing a pizza to eat at The Salty Pig.

Matt, Graham, Henry, and myself posing for a photo.
(Photo credit: Graham Peck)

Henry and Matt had met before and it was fun to trade stories of the day.

All in all, the weekend experience was what I was looking for. An opportunity to feel a part of the greater running community, race and celebrate with new and old friends, and a fantastic introduction to the city of Boston and surrounding areas. I feel like I also learned quite a bit about the logistics of the weekend and look forward to applying my findings to a Boston Marathon weekend in the future!

Some additional 2014 Boston Marathon links:
Read about how Shalane Flanagan ran like a champion.
A story (that has been circulating the web) about Ryan Hall's leadership on the course and how it played into the ultimate outcome.

BibRave founders Jessica and Tim Murphy guest blog their Boston365 experience.

What are your tips for the Boston Marathon weekend?

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