Race Recap: The Boston Marathon [part 1]

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The 119th Boston Marathon presented by John Hancock was held on April 20, 2015. Started in 1897, this is the world’s oldest annual marathon held the third Monday of April on Patriot’s Day. It is also one of the 6 World Marathon Majors (joining Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City).

As most people know, entrants must qualify using a set of gender and age specific standards, run for charity or be really important and get a bib. Over 170 million dollars has been raised for charity in the last 30 years!

It’s interesting to note that in the beginning the distance wasn’t 26.2 miles/42.2k. Instead it started in Ashland and was around 24 miles (the distance wasn’t standardized to what we currently know until the London Olympics in 1908). The inaugural field in 1897 was 15 men and 10 finished that first Boston Marathon. Things have certainly changed because the race was capped at 30,000 this year with an elite field followed by four waves of runners.

Recap of the 2015 Boston Marathon

Running the BAA 5k

As part of the weekend’s experience Trevor and I decided to do the BAA 5k (which was the most expensive 5k we’ve ever done). The race packet for the 5k is mailed to you and the bib has your name on it.

The race starts at 8am and with 10,000 runners was very crowded. We had to stand in line to use the bathrooms so by the time we started the elites were finishing and we got to see the final sprint.

Race swag included a nice medal, shirt and food bag. Later on Saturday there is the BAA Scholastic 1k, Invitational Mile and Youth Relay Challenge so there’s a lot going on downtown all day.

Race Expo

The race expo was held at the John B. Hynes Veteran’s Memorial Convention Center for three days from Fri. 2-7pm, Sat. 9-6pm and Sun. 9-6pm. The expo takes over the huge convention center–two full levels crawling with people. You need to use the runner’s passport that you received in the mail and a photo ID to pick up your race bib and bag of gear. Race swag includes a lanyard for the runner’s passport, commemorative cup, 26.2 sticker, Boston bracelet, and long-sleeve tech shirt in yellow. There were a variety of speakers and panel discussions that you could attend at the expo along with a huge number of booths.

Of course I wanted to buy my Boston jacket right away but the line was nuts and we had to get to the MTA meet up. *Tip: Buy the jacket at one of the other running stores like Marathon Sports in town (same price, much shorter lines). We walked down Boylston St. and took pictures near the finish line. The whole city gets excited about the marathon and Bostonians are probably some of the most knowledgeable and excited fans ever.

Something new this year is the Run Base Store on Boylston which is a partnership between Adidas, Marathon Sports and the BAA and it officially opened a few days before the marathon. The store exclusively sells premium Adidas footwear, as well as seasonal and official marathon apparel and accessories. It also has locker rooms and showers for runners and many historical displays from the 119-year history of the Boston Marathon including an interactive marathon course map and treadmill with a race simulator where you can run part of the course.

Meb and Generation UCAN

On Saturday morning after the 5k we attended the Generation UCAN Runner’s Panel at the Lenox Hotel. Speakers included Jonah and his Mom (the family who first spearheaded research into superstarch for his metabolic condition), elite marathoner Katie Edwards, Coach Greg McMillan, and Meb Keflezighi. I got a high five from Meb and when he was talking about racing weight came to the depressing realization that I weigh 20 pounds more than him. There was a full room of people in attendance (including one Meb super fan–a lady with Meb wraps on her nails)!

MTA Meet Up!

Pictured here in no certain order: Ange and Trevor Spencer, Amy and Jon Beadles, Janese and Brian Mickelson, Magan and Derek Curtis,  John Mouland, Kari Gormley, Jason Pina, Rusty Burns, Ross and Sarah Randolph, James Lynch, Tim and Meredith Beatty, Paul and Beth Sukphisit.

Pictured here in no certain order: Ange and Trevor Spencer, Amy and Jon Beadles, Janese and Brian Mickelson, Magan and Derek Curtis, John Mouland, Kari Gormley, Jason Pina, Rusty Burns, Ross and Sarah Randolph, James Lynch, Tim and Meredith Beatty, Paul and Beth Sukphisit.

We hosted a meet up at Tico’s Restaurant on Saturday and had around 20 people in attendance. Trevor and I really enjoyed meeting some awesome people and talking all things running!

Marathon Monday

Race Start

Decked out and ready to load the bus to Hopkington

Decked out and ready to load the bus to Hopkington

Runners can choose to get on buses at Boston Commons depending on your starting time or you can drive or be dropped off in Hopkinton. Gear check is available in only the provided clear bags in Boston Commons.

You’re only allowed on the bus with what you can carry—no backpacks or bags other than gallon sized ziplock bags with your water, fuel and other race gear. No hydration packs allowed. Most runners were covered in layers of throwaway clothes (looking rather like homeless persons).

Many people also wore throwaway shoes to keep their race shoes dry since it was a wet day. Over 54,000 pounds of throwaway gear are donated to charity every year. The bus ride to the Hopkinton High/Middle School was around 45 minutes long and I sat by a lady named Cassandra from DC.

We were dropped off at the school where the Athletes’ Village is located. This is a large area with port-a-pots, some tents to stand/sit under and refreshments such as water, Gatorade, Clif Bars, coffee, bagels, and bananas. You have to show your bib to enter. When your wave is called you get in the corrals to walk to the starting line. There was a lot of security from volunteers, police, and military.

It was around a 15-20 min walk to the starting corrals and since my wave started at 10:50 I headed over around 10:30. Runners had to show their bib to get into the corral area.

There are several different start times:

  • Mobility impaired 8:50
  • Wheel Chair 9:17
  • Hand cycle 9:22
  • Elite Women 9:32
  • Elite Men and Wave 1 at 10:00
  • Wave 2 at 10:25
  • Wave 3 at 10:50
  • Wave Four at 11:15am

All in all, a total of 26,610 runners and 50 wheelchair participants finished the race, of which nearly 13,000 were women. This is notable because it wasn’t until 1972 that women were officially allowed to run Boston. Roberta Gibb was the first unofficial women’s finisher in 1966. Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run and finish with an official race number in 1967 although a race official at the time tried to throw her out once he saw she was a woman. I feel very grateful to these women for paving the way for me so that I could have this amazing experience.

My Experience

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Temps were in the low 40’s and it rained until mile 18 for me. I could really feel the headwinds especially through the Newton hills to the finish. Although the course has a 130 ft drop in the first mile I thought the first 5k felt fairly slow due to the course congestion. But it was so exciting to actually be running the marathon I’d dreamed about for so long. I probably had a goofy grin on my face for part of the race thinking, “I’m running Boston!”

The organization of this marathon is unparalleled with amazing volunteers. The course has clocks and signage at every mile and 5k mark. The aid stations had water and Gatorade starting at mile 2 beginning on the right side of the road and then followed on the left with sports drink first and then water. Clif Shots were available just before mile 17. However I used my trusty UCAN before and during the race for great, steady energy.

There were regular toilet stations—and I stopped after mile 8, however several were zip tied closed so I had to wait a few seconds to relieve myself.

The spectators were very enthusiastic and I was surprised at the number who turned out despite the cold wet conditions. In Ashland there’s a very loud crowd at TJ’s Food and Spirits with music playing. A helpful thing for spectators and those at home was runner tracking where you got every 5k split from your athletes.

IMG_0216At mile 8.7 the mother of a former coaching client of mine (Nicole) was there with a sign that said “Angie- Release the Kraken.” I also saw Shai Pina later in the race cheering. Wellesley College is located at mile 12 and you can hear the screams and cheering from a distance. This is the place to move to the side if you want a kiss. Boston College at mile 21 also has loud and enthusiastic students.

At mile 15 there’s a little climb and then the road drops down 200 feet before starting through the next nine miles of ups and downs including the Newton Hills. The 1st Newton Hill- 800 meters; 2nd hill- a little steeper but less than half mile long; then there’s the 3rd hill which people often mistake for Heartbreak Hill which is still coming.

There’s great crowd support as you start the steep half mile climb on Heartbreak and then there’s another small hill right afterward (by which time most runners are thinking “enough hills already”).

Then there’s another quarter mile climb at the end of mile 22. Finally, there’s a small bump just before mile 25 where you run up an overpass and it felt challenging by that point. As you enter Kenmore Square “one more mile to go” is painted on the road and that’s certainly a sight for sore eyes. I could almost smell the finish line by this point and was feeling very strong.

Then there’s a right on Hereford and left on Boylston and you can see the finish line. You don’t want to start your final sprint until after you hit Boylston Street because it still seems like a stretch to cross the famed finish line.

Post Race

When you cross the finish line you continue walking forward and are given water, a Mylar blanket with hood, THE medal and bag of food. You can go back to Boston Commons for the changing area and to pick up your gear check if needed. Otherwise the best place to meet family is the Family Meeting Area. Family carrying any kind of bags will have to go through screening so they should allow for extra time.

I had to wait 20 freezing minutes for Trevor to show up. At that point if you’d asked me to choose between my Mylar blanket and medal I don’t know what I would have chosen. We went back to the car and I changed while Trevor got me some coffee. Then we went to the post-race party of Jason’s charity (Tenacity) located upstairs from Cheers Bar (which we walked through).

The official post-race party presented by Samuel Adams was held from 6:30-10:30pm at Fenway Park. The official beer of the Boston Marathon is called 26.2 Boston Brew.

We stayed with Jason and Shai Pina in Providence, RI prior to the race and the night of the marathon. They were wonderful hosts and it was awesome to get to know them. Then we drove to Harrisburg, PA and stayed with Jeff and Julia Paladina and family for a couple days. He is a long-time podcast listener and it was a pleasure to get to make new friends. We did a run on Wednesday evening with the Harrisburg area River Runners.

We also got to spend some time with Academy member Chris Monasmith and his wife Arian who gave us a grand tour of Carlisle, PA.

With our friend Jason Pina who gave us a place to stay and guided us around Boston.

With our friend Jason Pina who gave us a place to stay and guided us around Boston.

Jeff and Julia Paladina welcomed us to Harrisburg, PA.

Jeff and Julia Paladina welcomed us to Harrisburg, PA.

Having lunch with the Monasmiths in Carlisle.

Having lunch with the Monasmiths in Carlisle.

Read part 2 of our Boston Race Recap here (more photos)

5 Responses to Race Recap: The Boston Marathon [part 1]

  1. Adolfo Salgueiro May 1, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    I am so glad you took the time to mention Maikel Melamed’s finish in the Boston Marathon. You hear here and there that he is an inspiration and I am going to tell you a true story on how he inspires. When he finished the NYC Marathon in 2011 in about 14 hours, he stated: “It is not about why I am as I am but about what do to with what I have”.

    I had stopped running for 17 years because of a bad knee and his finished made me realizes that I could adjust my expectations and get back to the asphalt walking instead of running. In the next three years I have finished 3 marathons and 13 halves thanks to his inspiration. I even had a chance to thank him once when I passed him in a race.

    The last paragraph is not to show how great I am, but to show how great Maickel is with what he is doing. It is but one example of how he has inspired so many people, not only Venezuelans or in Venezuela, but around the globe.

    Thanks for taking the time to recognize this warrior.


    • Angie Spencer May 1, 2015 at 7:50 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing this Adolfo. I often find those who finish a race last to be more inspiring than those who finish first because of the huge challenges they often have to overcome. Maickel is a hero and an inspiration to all of us!

  2. Michael Mason May 13, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Hey Angie. As I was looking at your marathon map, it looks like Boston was #25 on your quest to run all 50 states. Congratulations on reaching the halfway point. Best of wishes as you keep reaching for your goal.

    • Angie Spencer May 13, 2015 at 8:48 am #

      Thank you Michael. You’re right, it was my 25th state (and marathon #31 overall). It was very exciting to be able to check MA off the list by running the Boston Marathon.

  3. https://www.lpsg.com November 20, 2019 at 10:50 pm #

    . What events led Congress to pass the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts?
    The murders of the Mississippi civil rights workers in June 1964 and the Selma Montgomery March in March

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