An Eater’s Guide to Marathon Weekend

My running life began when I joined my high school’s track team in January of 2000. I had never run before and thought I might be a shotput/ discus/ javelin thrower or jumper. After it became clear I lacked any sense of coordination, my coach decided I should try sprinting. My first races were the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints. Running fast and short was fun, but I soon realized I would be a much better long distance runner! I joined the cross-country team that fall and continued running and racing competitively throughout my high school and college years.

Running in College
Running in College

Being a member of the cross-country and track teams while at Wesleyan University was one of the best experiences of my life. Upon graduating in 2007, I was sad to say goodbye to team athletics. After a year or so of running on my own, I decided to join a local competitive team – the Central Park track club. I qualified for Boston in the November 2008 New York City Marathon.

Alma Liebrecht and I began our Boston adventure on Sunday morning with a 9:00am Bolt bus from NYC to Boston. Once we arrived, it was time for a (slightly boring) lunch at the train station. We wanted something bland that would not upset our stomachs. I had a turkey, swiss, and veggie sub on a whole wheat roll.

We navigated the (crowded) T and made our way to the Marathon expo at the Hines Convention Center in the Back Bay neighborhood. After picking up our numbers, t-shirts, and race packets, we visited a few expo booths. I tried a bunch of different Clif and Luna bar samples as well as some Gatorade. The expo was super crowded, but the energy was great. Alma and I each got a hug from Katherine Switzer (first woman to enter the Boston marathon!)

1 2 3 expo Collage

We were able to meet up with Ani and Dani at the expo. Central Park Track Club in Boston!

Once we arrived at the hostel, I began getting everything ready for the next day. Check out my new Boston Marathon running spandex! Couldn’t wait to wear them!

Our hostel stay worked out pretty well – most people staying in our dorm room were either running or spectating the marathon. We met some cool and friendly people.

04 hostel Collage 4 6 7

We headed to City Hall Plaza for the pre-race pasta dinner. The weather was a little chilly, but the event was well organized. I had a Newman’s Own iced tea, salad with Newman’s Own dressing, a roll, and three kinds of pasta! Penne with tomato sauce, mac n’ cheese, and pasta salad. The food was good, but the pasta serving sizes were a little skimpy.

05 pasta CollageOn our way out, we were given a goodie bag of snacks. I had the chocolate bar and biscotti for dessert. I thought of Jen when I saw the Stonyfield Pomegranate yogurt!

06 dscf1912-225x300After dinner, Hannah came over to visit.

Unfortunately, the next time Hannah met up with me (Mile 17 of the marathon), I was a little less smile-y and cheerful.

07 dscf1916-300x225I slept fairly well from 10:00pm until 5:00am and only woke up a few times during the night. At 5:00am, I couldn’t sleep any more so I searched out some strong coffee. I was wide awake after that! Around 6:30am, I had the first part of my breakfast (banana w/ peanut butter) and saved the cinnamon raisin bagel until about 7:30am.

Alma and I walked the mile or so from our hostel to the bus loading area at Boston Common. There was quite the line for buses! We finally loaded a bus around 8:00am and began the 26 mile journey to the starting line in Hopkinton.

On the bus...
On the bus…

When we arrived around 9:00am, we almost immediately got in line for the port-a-potties. We waited almost an hour! It was ridiculous! Alma was really hurtin’….

Alma exhibits the effects of a long wait...
Alma exhibits the effects of a long wait…

Around 10:15am, we quickly dropped off our bags, and began jogging towards the starting corrals. The gun sounded at 10:30am and we were off! The first couple of miles were downhill and we ran at a pretty steady clip – I think our second mile was around 7:50! After that, we resumed fairly even splits – around 8:10 – 8:20 pace. I had some sips of Gatorade and a few jelly beans throughout.

When we reached Wellesley College at the half-way point, the crowds and cheers were amazing! I was smiling and laughing the whole time. The Wellesley girls all had t-shirts that said “Free Kisses for Marathoners” and the dudes were definitely cashing in on that! Hannah popped out of the crowd around Mile 17 and started running with us. I was very happy to see her!

At this point I ate a chocolate Power Bar gel. Unfortunately I became a bit nauseated and light-headed. This yucky feeling lasted for the rest of the race and miles 20-26 were not pretty. I really felt like I was going to throw-up around Mile 23. Ugh. When I say miles 20-26 were THE HARDEST AND MOST PAINFUL thing I have ever done, I’m not exaggerating. Thank goodness for Hannah and Alma! We stayed together the whole time and they encouraged me to keep drinking water and Gatorade.

The crowds were so loud and dense for the last few miles – it was crazy! Finally, the finish line was in sight. Alma and I crossed the line in 3 hours, 47 minutes, and 46 seconds. Pheww! We did it! Immediately after finishing, we were given heat sheets (i.e. foil space blankets), medals, and food bags. I had a really bad cramp in my lower back and I was worried my kidneys were failing. Fortunately, I stretched a bit and the cramp went away.
After we retrieved our bags and put on warm clothes, I started feeling a little better. Alma had to help me put on my pants; and a few swear words %&*#!!! escaped as I tried to maneuver my aching legs into the spandex.

11 medals CollageNate met us around 2:45pm and took a photo of the newly minted Boston Marathon finishers! Hooray for my #1 fan! Nate traveled a total of eight plus hours just to see me for a few minutes after I finished.

Immediately after finishing the marathon, I ate a Power Bar Protein bar to begin muscle recovery. In addition to the protein bar, our goodie bags included: a bagel, banana (potassium!), granola, and potato chips (salt!).

12 food Collage
…And a chocolate milkshake!

After taking a glorious hot shower at the hostel, Alma and I headed to the Back Bay train station. We picked up our tickets and then headed next door for some chicken sandwiches and milkshakes. My chicken sandwich included mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic spinach, and steak sauce on whole wheat bun.
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We headed back to NYC via Amtrak, tired and sore, but in good spirits!

Megan Kretz
New York, New York
April 20, 2009
Age – 24
Bib # 15702

[Megan’s blog The Runner’s Kitchen (Fueling the Miles with a Healthy Balance) documents two passions – running and experimenting in the kitchen. Check it out for more running and recipes]