It is my first blog post, and what is a better topic than writing about my experience running the Boston Marathon on April 18, 2022?
Our running club receives some invitational entries from the B.A.A for the Boston Marathon every year, and I was fortunate enough to be awarded one for the 2022 Boston Marathon.
Since the Boston Marathon is one of the most famous marathons to be held in spring, training is hard and much more challenging in the New England area where I live. Snow, ice, sub-zero temperatures etc., all add to the already hard training that we go through.
Our club organises four training runs on the actual course seven weeks before the Marathon. We ran all of them, including one starting from Hopkinton and running up to the famous heartbreak hill. Due to restrictions placed by the B.A.A., we could not run the last one on the course. Our club devised a course in their area that included hills that helped us get some hill training
On race day, we got on the GLRR bus that the club organised and took us to Hopkinton. The bus was beaming with runners who have done multiple Boston Marathons, some of them for more than 30 consecutive years. They were all part of the Q.C.C. club, an elite club of runners who have done 25 or more consecutive Boston Marathons. We arrived at the Athletes Village in Hopkinton, where the runners get staged before they go to their respective corrals and waves.
Depending on which wave the runners get assigned to, the wait time might be between 1-2 hours. The race starts at 9 am. The wheelchair, professional and para athletic runners go out before the general waves start. We had to walk nearly a mile from the staging area to the start line. The wave that we were in began at 11.30 am. When the gun went off, it was a sea of people. It was fascinating, and we were excited that this was finally happening. We all trained for this day, and the time has finally come. We were all trying to contain our excitement. The first half of the race is net downhill, and it is very easy to get carried away and start going out fast. Runners go out fast at the start as it is downhill, not realising that the hard part of the race is ahead. I was conscious of my pace and made every effort to stick to my planned pace. I was cruising along at a steady pace reminding myself not to follow the crowd but to run at my race pace. The crowd also thins out in certain places as the miles go by, and runners must make every effort to keep themselves motivated. As we were approaching Wellesley college at mile 14, we could hear the boisterous crowd of girls that cheer upon the runners. It is the famous scream tunnel. They are loud and have posters and signs encouraging the runners. Some of them offer to kiss the runners, which sounds funny but is true. They are a massive boost to the runners. I waved to them and continued my run, trying to concentrate on keeping my pace.
At mile 15, I saw the green tent of our club, GLRR, and some members were cheering on me. Seeing the cheering and support was lovely, and I waved as I ran by them. As I approached the I-95 overpass around mile 16, I felt a bit of tightness in my legs, and all the rolling hills and pounding started to take effect. I had to make some effort to run over the overpass. The gradual climb over the overpass takes a toll on the runners and comes at a time when they are tired of running downhill over the last 15 miles.
Although the weather was in the low 60s, the sun was beating on the runners in the open as we approached the Newton Fire Station. I also knew what was coming ahead. As I took the right turn onto Commonwealth Ave, the famous newton hills stared in my face. The crowd was loud, encouraging the runners and making the run easy on those hills. I started to feel heavy in my legs, and I knew all the downhill running was beginning to show up. Running those 4 miles was difficult, and a glance at my watch showed my pace suffering. I anticipated this but kept pushing. The massive banner on the top of heartbreak hill was a relief as I knew that the hard part of the race was over. It was all downhill, and I also knew I had to push myself. I could see the giant Citgo sign on the horizon, which kept getting bigger as I approached Kenmore sq. When I saw the sign that said 1 mile to go, I realised what was coming. I was approaching Hereford street, and I could hear the roar from the crowd ahead. I turned right into Hereford street and then left onto Boylston street. I cannot forget what I felt as I turned onto Boylston. The crowd on both sides of Boylston street was at least ten rows deep. They were cheering for you. The finish line couldn't be that far, and the crowd was loud and encouraged the exhausted runners to run towards the finish line. I had to control my emotions and push myself for the few yards left. That was the longest run towards the finish line as it kept getting closer and closer.
Crossing the finish line was a truly remarkable experience. I finished the 2022 Boston Marathon and am now a Boston Marathon finisher for life.
The Boston Marathon is the holy grail of Marathons, and what makes it unique is the strict qualifying standards and the pride that comes with it. It is a dream for many young and old runners to run the Boston Marathon, let alone finish it. It's a privilege to run the Boston Marathon and a truly magical experience.