Boston Marathon Tips you Haven't Heard
|Athlete's Village in Hopkinton|
Unless you are staying near the start line, or are an elite athlete with concierge delivery you will be spending 2-3 hours in Athlete's Village in Hopkinton at the start of the race.
Taking your picture in front of the "It all starts here" sign in Hopkinton takes about 10 minutes so you're left with a lot of time on your hands. It's largely a grass field and regardless of the unpredictable weather it will likely be cold and damp and your lightly broken in lucky race shoes will get wet. You want to avoid starting a race with wet shoes so pack an old and/or cheap pair of shoes to hang out in with your race shoes in your dry check-in bag. You have a 1/2 mile walk to the corrals so you can wait until you get in your corral before you change into your pair. (tip courtesy of my buddy Tim.) One new "twist" with the 2014 marathon that's also in place again this year is NO BAG CHECK so whatever you bring on the bus needs to strap on your body for the race or be discarded in the village or corrals. This means a likely trip to Goodwill to buy layers of clothing to keep warm. Like the NFL stadium rules, you are limited to the clear bag that's provided to you at the expo. The other interesting challenge is what to do with your phone. I didn't want to carry mine in the race so that meant no pictures in the village. You'll have to think that one through.
You'll have time to kill and will want to stay warm. I've seen inflatable rafts, sleeping bags (in years past,) and lots of space blankets. Everything is outdoors and under tents, but I also stood in line for a pre-race massage one year. This not only killed some time, but I spent most of the time indoors in the school gym where it was warm vs. being outside.
|Scream Tunnel Euphoria|
For the women out there, you can skip this paragraph, but I've read about your sports bras and nipple issues (we men have nipples too) so indulge me here. I just explained that you're sitting around for two hours and you will be hydrating yourself and trying to time your last trip to the green phone booth (porto-potty,) but for as many toilets they have, they can never have enough. I got to the village early last year and there was no line at all, but by the end of the stay, long lines prevaled. You have to hydrate so make sure you have a "big mouth" Gatorade (or the like) bottle and save it once it's empty. Either in the village or in the corral you can deftly cover yourself and (ahem) slip yourself over the large target and fill 'er up. Cap it and toss and you will have a guilty yet relieved smile before start. This won't help the ladies or "number two" but could come in handy. While you think it may be your runner and God given right to pee on a bush when nothing else is available, Boston's finest will fine or arrest you. Goes without saying, avoid the discarded Gatorade bottles at the start.
Soak the Expo
|Meeting Bart Yasso and Mark Remy from Runner's World|
Toyota race towels with logo which has been a great gym towel for me reminding me on tough gym days of why I'm there at 5 in the morning. The biggest highlight for me is the video of the course in the John Hancock booth. If this is your first Boston, it's quite helpful to see the entire course including interviews with past runners. Far better than looking at an elevation map. I admit I "teared up" the first time I saw it realizing I was fulfilling a dream. Plan your time there...a lot to see, but you can walk away having met Hoyt or Yasso with a souvenir picture to prove it.
|Just rounding the corner of Hereford|
You Are a Rock Star
Last year (2014) with the emotions surrounding the first Boston Marathon since the bombing, the crowds were out in force at every step of the course. Given that, there are probably three spots where you feel like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith where the fan adulation is palpable. The first is the
infamous scream tunnel in Wellesley. If the wind is blowing the right direction, you can hear them from a mile away. More like the first arrival of the Beatles to the U.S. (or One Direction for those teens and Millennials.) It must be a quarter mile of the all-girls college lined up behind metal barriers with signs saying "kiss me." I'm married and of course would deny if I ever stopped for an innocent smooch with a coed, and I now have a daughter in college so it's a bit creepy to think about, but it's absolutely insane. Be careful, you will run too fast through here as your adrenaline is going ape-shit. The second area is after "Heartbreak Hill" around Boston College. Think drunk frat boy version of Wellesley--equally loud and again motivates you as you start heading downhill into the city. The last section is the infamous "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston" short block near the end of the race. It's a slight yet short uphill street among dense buildings and huge throngs of fans with deafening cheers that catapult you to the finish.
As I said, the best advice is to soak it all in. This ranks up there with my wedding and birth of children on the most memorable personal events in my life. I'm sure there are more obscure Boston Marathon tips so please comment, tweet, or Facebook post them for me and others. BLOGLOVIN