Running is a form of therapy for me. I like the way it clears my head mostly, and gives me a sense of peace and quiet. I run early, and love watching the sun rise. I find running is more than just fitness, it’s a way to get to know yourself, a way to connect with nature and a way to genuinely feel good about something.
I ran my first marathon in Davos, Switzerland five years ago. I was living in Switzerland at the time and really wanted to try running a race in the Swiss Alps since I knew the scenery would be incredible.
I finished that race in 3 hours and 59 minutes and figured if I could run a marathon in the Alps in under four hours, I might be able to run a city marathon a little faster.
So I trained and ran another couple of marathons. When it comes to training, I like thinking “the decision has already been made,” so when I have to wake up at 5:30am, I know I’ve got to get up! While running, I like thinking “you’re stronger than you think.” That attitude paid off in 2014 when I qualified for the Boston Marathon on a very flat course in Ottawa, Canada.
Running Boston is something I have been wanting to do since that Alp marathon in 2010, but I had envisioned running Boston later in life. It was a bucket list type-deal, so it was such a pleasant surprise to qualify for 2015.
The race itself has different starting times depending on your qualifying time, so I didn’t have to start until 10:50am. I slept in until 7:00am, ate breakfast (banana, peanut butter and a scone), and hopped on the bus to Hopkinton at around 8:30am.
Hopkinton itself was really lively, and the runners seemed to be full of energy, despite the weather. It was cold, about 9°C (42°F), but it didn’t start to rain until about 10:45am, which was nice, because running in the rain is one thing, but standing in the cold and rain is another! In Hopkinton they had some food to give out, and the longest bathroom lines EVER! Like, 40 minute waiting lines. Insane!
The gun shot in the air to set us off at exactly 10:50am. The start was kind of slow, but nothing unusual if you’re used to big races. People were throwing their warm clothes off all over the place, but the volunteers were amazing at cleaning up.
The course was lovely. I’ve never seen crowds cheer like I saw on Marathon Monday – the whole town comes out! People were set up on their lawns and students were screaming at the top of their lungs at high schools and at Boston College along the way. I had headphones in, but when I took them out to listen to the cheers my ear drums almost exploded from the noise.
I felt good running. All anyone talked about before I left for Boston was Heartbreak Hill, but I didn’t even know I had just run up it until the very “top.” I guess Canadian marathons have more hills or something… Anyway, I’m glad the course wasn’t as hard as I expected. There was a lot of downhill though, which was NOT fun, but I felt great at the finish!
The picture here is what I wore for the entire race: capri leggings, long sleeve, running jacket, and little orange hat (so my family could recognize me as I ran by)!
The Boston Marathon has definitely got to be one of the best managed races in the world (with the worst website ever). The staff and volunteers were super friendly, the lines at the race expo were short, and there was a killer swag bag! Also, before the race the organizers sent out a bunch of emails keeping runners up to date. I was so impressed!
The only thing I had a problem with was the amount of gels and food given out along the course. The Ottawa Marathon, Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and Montreal Marathon all provide gels every 10 km along their courses along with orange slices and bananas! I was expecting this in Boston, but was definitely wrong. The locals were giving out orange slices though…I wanted to kiss all of them. At mile 17 Cliff was giving out energy gels, so as I passed the volunteers I picked up about six. Note to self: be better prepared for energy shots along the way!!
We stayed at the Westin Boston Waterfront, which was only a 25 minute walk to the Hopkinton buses and close to the fitness expo as well. We walked everywhere, and were really pleased with the location. Also, we checked out of the hotel on the morning of Marathon Monday and the hotel let me come back after we had already checked out to shower in the gym locker room!! I would definitely stay there again.
For coffee, check out Thinking Cup for a fantastic cappuccino and delicious lemon poppyseed scone.
For some solid seafood and Sicilian-style grub, check out The Daily Catch.
[Biology geek and self taught cook Katrina Dingle describes herself as a marathon running vegetarian with a mean sweet tooth.” Visit her blog Warm Vanilla Sugar / Vegetarian with a pinch of Sweetness and a Side of Running.]