Tag Archives: Boston Marathon

Marathon Spectating: Boston 2014

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of cheering at the 118th Boston Marathon.

Even though I didn’t run and am far from qualifying, it was a truly electric and magical weekend. It took only a few minutes of being in Boston to understand why runners so desperately want to run this race. It’s about more than the prestige of hitting a qualifying time. It’s about banding together with thousands and thousands of people just like you – people that love a sport that can be so uplifting and heartbreaking – and having an entire city there to support you, like you’re a rock star.

My magical weekend started on Saturday with a 4.5 hour drive up to Boston after my last longish run before this weekend’s half marathon. The first event on the list was a Strength Running meet-up in Clarke’s at Faneuil Hall. Since Jason is actually my running coach, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet him in person. Of course, being the awkward turtle that I am, I simply introduced myself as Danielle and just assumed he knew who I was (who do I think I am?!). Since the e-mail I use for running related things is tied to my blog, it would make sense that a lot of people know me as “Foodosaurus Rex.” So it wasn’t until I was leaving that I mentioned my last name, and of course felt like a jerk for not having said something earlier. But at least we got a picture together!

Me & Jason!

Me & Jason!

After the meet-up I went to Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge for dinner and had a phenomenal veggie burger. I always like to search for vegetarian restaurants when I’m traveling since there aren’t a lot in my area. So when I saw this was a vegetarian diner, I was pumped to give it a try. I started with a beer (of course), and ordered their Kendall Square burger (hello beer battered onion rings) with a side of french fries. It was so delicious.

Kendall Square Veggie Burger

Kendall Square Veggie Burger

Since I was in the area for work, I drove back up to Lowell (about 30 minutes north of the city) and crashed hard. And before I knew it my alarm was going off and it was time to head back down to the city – this time for an Oiselle Team meet-up! I got to the city early to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem with parking, and did a quick lap around the expo. After the expo I made my way to our meeting spot and we posed for a picture before heading off towards the Charles.

A gaggle of birds

A gaggle of birds

I had three miles on my schedule that day, so I decided to run with a group that was doing a 4 mile shakeout, including Stephanie, Mollie, Mary, and Sara. I also had a nice mini-reunion with (two out of three) of my favorite North Carolina runners, Allie and Ellen! While on our run we actually passed Desiree Linden, and we got a little head nod and wave from her. Of course I geeked out and tweeted about it, which she favored… which resulted in more geeking out. After our run we took a short walk to Render Coffee, which a teammate’s brother owns. They were kind enough to offer free coffee for all of us, and I thoroughly enjoyed my hazelnut latte. Of course I continued my geek fest when I sat down next to none other than Lauren Fleshman, and wanted to say everything but instead said pretty much nothing. She was (no surprise) super friendly and down to earth, and I wish that I actually had things to talk to her about!

Hanging outside Render Coffee

Hanging outside Render Coffee

After coffee I took the T and wandered around Harvard a bit, had a delicious Easter brunch at Beat Hotel (in running clothes, while everyone else was in their Easter best… whoops), and then got to meet up with one of my college swimming teammates for dinner and drinks!

When my alarm went off Monday morning I was ready to go. I knew that the earlier I made the trip from Lowell to the Boston area, the better. I wanted to cheer around mile 23, figuring it’d be far enough from the massive finish line crowds and at a point where people really start to need encouragement. I made it to Brookline around 8am and stopped in to Eagle’s Deli for a breakfast sandwich to fuel the day of cheering. I walked up a few more blocks and positioned myself a few hundred yards away from the mile 23 marker. I had expertly staked out my spot, and was ready as soon as the first wheelchair competitors came whizzing by.

Rah rah!

Rah rah!

I’d been following the elites on twitter, so I knew what was going down in both the women’s and men’s race. At the beginning of the race I – along with almost everyone else – was completely consumed with the women’s race and Shalane. Unfortunately her race started to unravel a bit by the time she reached me at mile 23, but that didn’t stop me from screaming basically in her face as she ran by. I could see the discomfort and disappointment in her face, but I knew she was doing everything she could, and everyone in Brookline was thrilled to see her and applauded her gutsy race. And then, all of a sudden, we realized that Meb was leading the men. I’ve always been a big Meb fan, but my appreciation for him grew after the 2013 New York City Marathon, where he struggled but ran it in with someone and was so humble about it. To think that at (almost) 39 he was leading the race was such a thrill. He was almost 5 minutes ahead of the chase pack when he flew by, and we all screamed as loud as we could in hopes of propelling him those last 3.2 miles to the finish. Of course I was mesmerized by the thought of Meb winning, and followed along on the live stream… I was ecstatic when I saw him cross the finish line!

After the elites went by, I focused on trying to find all of the people I was tracking either via the app or text messages. It was kind of hard to keep track of everyone – for whatever reason I had a hard time figuring out from the 30k alert how long it would take them to get to me at mile 23. Plus, I was so afraid I’d look down at my phone and miss someone! I saw almost everyone I hoped to cheer for  – Jason, Jess, Jenny, Laura, Mary, Sara, Corey, Lindsey, Dani, Mollie, Julia, Stacey, and a few others I’m probably missing. It was tricky to try and yell loud enough for everyone to hear me and see me, but I was able to pierce the sound of the crowd around me for a few runners. My favorite was Mary, who happened to be running right on the side I was cheering. I basically screamed in her face – I’d like to think it helped propel her to her amazing PR! Unfortunately I missed a few people, and some people didn’t hear me, but I spent four solid hours cowbelling; I have the bruises and raw skin on my hand to prove it!

I was exhausted by the time I got back to my hotel, but it was so worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat – and I hope I can be back up in Boston for Patriot’s Day 2015! Next up on my cheering schedule is this Sunday at the New Jersey Marathon. So if you’re running, let me know… I’ll be sure to cowbell for you! But first, I need to run my own race – Asbury Park Half Marathon tomorrow!

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Running United: Half Marathon Recap

I had an entire post about the Boston Marathon tragedy written, but just couldn’t bring myself to publish it. There aren’t any words or profound revelations I can write here that haven’t been said by so many already (and more eloquently, I might add) to truly express how I feel. Simply put,  as a runner I feel like my friends were attacked, and as a human being I’m horrified… and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

The running community really is something special; there seems to be an unwritten understanding between runners. We’re able to be competitive with one another, while simultaneously lamenting in each other’s pain, and celebrating each other’s success. I know a lot of other runners feel the same way, but that little nod, wave, or half smile you get from another runner while you’re deep into your own run is so much more than a simple acknowledgement. For a brief moment, it’s a shared connection with a complete stranger. I think I love these encounters because I am usually running by myself.

So when I toed the line for the RU Unite Half Marathon this past Sunday, the race’s name had even more meaning. This race was my goal race for the Spring, and based on my training and racing throughout the winter, it seemed like I would have little problem setting a new PR. The last two weeks of training were lackluster due to super tight calves one week, and an pinched nerve in my neck the second, that was still around on race day. So of course, I started to doubt myself and my ability to run as fast as I had hoped. But I knew that I needed to try as hard as I could, while also being smart about the race. I go into races a lot with “plans,” but rarely wind up sticking to them. I swore to myself this time would be different.

Pre Race!

Pre Race!

Race day started like they all do – peanut butter & jelly, and some Nuun. The race is only about 10 minutes away, so I’m lucky that I don’t have to get up super early for the 8am start (but let’s be honest, 5:30am IS early). It was chilly, but thankfully I had a spectator with me so I was able to wear a fleece and sweatpants until I got into the corral. There is only one corral and it’s self-seeded, so I tried to position myself more towards the front than I have in past years, and wound up in front of the 8 minute pacers. My ultimate goal was to run a sub-8 average, but I did want to start out more conservatively. Remember when I said I had “plans”? Well, you can imagine those went out the window once the race started. Before we took off, there was a moment of silence for Boston and our troops, and they played “Sweet Caroline.” Of course I teared up and vowed to remind myself of that moment when the pain started to set in later in the race. Next thing I knew, it was go time.

I started out conservatively with my first mile at 8:05, while trying not to weave and expend any extra energy (though cut-offs make it inevitable). As with most longer runs, the first few miles flew by and when I checked my watch at mile 3, I realized I had definitely dipped under the 8 minute pace earlier than I had wanted. I felt good enough, though, so I decided just to go with it. The next 7 miles were a combination of me running too fast, then slowing down too much, and having waves of feeling awesome with waves of feeling like death. I’ve run this race every year since it started (in 2010) and it was actually my very first half marathon… so I have a special place in my heart for the course. So you would think I’d know how to best pace myself.

Homestretch Pain Face!

Homestretch Pain Face!

By the time I got to mile 10, I wanted the race to just be over. The thought of another 5k made me cringe. But I powered through the park I’ve spent so many summer mornings doing marathon long runs, and over to the final stretch. I actually saw Oiselle Teammate Jess right around mile 11, and she was the push I needed for those final 2 miles… with the most hills. Mile 11 was my slowest (well over 8 minutes), but by the time I got to 12 I tried to dig as deep as I could – especially once on College Avenue. Of course the home stretch felt like it went on forever, but once I crested the hill and saw the finish line I knew it was only a matter of seconds to get there. I couldn’t spot a clock near the finish, so I crossed and stopped my watch – 1:43:01 (which turns out was my official time, too)!

My time works out to be a 7:52 average, which I’m very happy with. After running my PR 10k race at the end of March, I plugged in my results to the McMillan calculator, which projected a 1:43:22… so I did a little better than expected! This wound up being a 4 minute and 42 second PR… and quick math made me realize that in the last three years since I started running half marathons (I’ve run a total of 6), I’ve managed to shave off 20 minutes from my first half marathon! The next big thing I need to tackle is my marathon time… hopefully I can get a good training cycle in this summer and rock out a killer PR in the fall.

After the race I headed to a newish (and new to me) coffee shop a town over with Oiselle Teammates Jess and Kate to talk running and enjoy a latte. Of course I headed to Red Robin a few hours later for my celebratory veggie burger, a tradition I’ve kept since I started running this race back in 2010! All in all it was a pretty great day, and I’m SO thankful to be part of such a great community. It might sound cheesy, but running and its community really is something special.

I’m running another half marathon this coming weekend, the Nike Women’s Half in Washington D.C., and I’m planning to enjoy the race with Krissy. Can’t wait for the Nuun aide stations, post-race Tiffany’s necklace as a medal, and post-race delicious cupcakes and museum visiting in D.C!

So tell me…
Who raced this weekend? PR? 
Anyone racing this weekend? Anyone running Nike?

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