Sunday, April 20, 2014

Boston expo & OMG this is really happening!

The race is tomorrow.  Tomorrow!!  I've officially started the "24 hours from now I'll be..." routine in my head.  (I'll be in Hopkinton center, milling somewhere around the vicinity of the Athlete's Village, FYI).

Remember how panicky we all were getting about the marathon weather forecast?  Well, apparently there's nothing to worry about, because we have "absolutely terrific weather" to look forward to!  Check out this latest marathon forecast!  I'm just gonna say what we're all thinking:  We deserve this weather after all the junk we had to run through all winter.  I've nailed down my race day outfit.  Still on the fence about arm warmers to start with, but I probably won't use them.  If I do, I'll throw them at someone (hopefully someone I know) a few miles into the course.

On Friday, Julia and I headed into the expo in Boston to pick up our numbers.  It was my first time going to Boston since last year and I was actually looking forward to getting into the city.  I started getting really antsy in the morning and didn't want to wait another second to head out.  I told Julia I would pick her up at 11, but at 9:00 I was thinking, well, maybe I'll just go now and we can go to breakfast first.  With great restraint I made it to her house at 11, and we headed to Boston.  Kristen and Danny were also each driving to Boston and weren't far behind us, so we expected to meet up when we got there.  According to Julia, no one goes to the expo on Friday.  Apparently it's so empty that you can actually park your car right in front of the convention center, walk into the expo, straight up to each and every booth and never have to navigate around a single person.  We got into Boston and it became clear, very quickly, that we weren't going to have the city to ourselves.  We jumped into a parking garage at Copley and circled a few levels before finding a spot.  Thank goodness for little Prius cars!  Does anyone else duck their heads when driving into a parking garage?  I always think the "low clearance" beam is going to smack me in the head, which makes no sense, since I'm in a car, yet I always feel compelled to scrunch way down in my car when I go under them.

We walked through the Copley mall, which turned out to be hysterical because we kept walking around in a circle up and down escalators.  Finally we made it over the sky bridge and into the Hynes Convention Center.  And so did about 30,000 other people.

Words can't express how long the line was for number pickup.  If you've ever been to Disney, picture the longest line you've ever had to wait in, and then triple that.  It extended throughout the building, up and down queue lines, and then snaked its way around an overflow room.  We were bewildered over the length of this line, but apparently that was nothing compared to the parking situation outside.  Although Kristen and Danny were each only a few minutes behind us, they couldn't find parking in any of the area garages!  As we made our way through the endless line, I kept getting increasingly enraged texts from Kristen and Danny.  What a nightmare!

Although the line was super long, it only took about 30 minutes to get through to number pickup.  Fortunately our bib numbers were close so we were in lines right next to each other.  We found out pretty quickly how easy it is to lose each other in these crowds!

Julia and I really wanted to wait for Kristen to go to the expo, so we waited around near the entrance.  Then we decided to kill some time by just perusing the first couple of aisles before the Adidas store.   Like moths to a flame, Julia and I can sniff out a beer station a mile away, and made a beeline for the Sam Adams table.  We got a sample of the Sam 26.2 brew, and then hung out with Sam himself.

Sam says "Carbo-loading done right!"
Kristen and Danny each eventually made it to the expo, but it was like the world's worst game of Marco Polo trying to find them.  Eventually we all met up around the Adidas store, where I bought everything I could possibly carry.

I opted out of the race jacket this year.  I wasn't a huge fan of the color or style of it, and decided I really only want my original race jacket of 2013.  This year I decided to buy every blue thing I could find.

The crowds really started wearing us down, so we only went to a couple more aisles before heading out.  One vendor approached me with a sticker and he was trying to stick it onto my shirt, which I *hate*.  I tried to grab it out of his hand but he was a swift one and beat me to it.  I immediately thought he was trying really hard to get the sticker on me before I could see what it said and when I mentioned that to Julia, she jokingly said, "it says punch me in this sticker" and we all started cracking up. Even after that we never bothered to see what the sticker said until a few minutes later.

Those energy bits people have a dirty sense of humor!  Then we laughed harder when we realized Danny was wearing one too.

If agonizing over the weather is the final mental challenge of marathon training, then navigating through the expo is the final physical challenge.  So many crowds, bags, aisles, jacket on, jacket off, we were all exhausted and starving by the time we walked out of there.  We immediately skipped over to McGreevy's for some lunch and beer!  The bar was filled with equal parts marathon runners and people heading to the Red Sox game.  What a day to be in the city!

After lunch we walked down Boylston Street to the finish line, and then down to the Old South Church where they were giving out handmade knitted and crocheted scarves from all over the country.  It was the "marathon scarf project", and it was an incredibly nice gesture.

"Marathon Scarf Project 2014: Year of remembrance and hope.  This scarf is interwoven with love and courage".  

We capped off the afternoon with a two hour drive out of Boston gridlock!  We decided that this is one marathon where it's actually a disadvantage to be a local.  Next time we are going to go somewhere else, and then fly into Boston like a tourist and stay at a hotel for the weekend!

Last night a few of us got together for our pre-race dinner, mostly bland pasta, bland rice, and bland chicken.  Julia made a collection of all the foods I can't eat and put it in one dish, and labeled it "the anti-Jill pasta"!  It had garlic, onions, pesto, tomatoes, and all other kinds of delicious but deadly ingredients!  

So that's the story.  Weather's good, race gear is ironed out, and I have friends to look for in certain spots along the course.  (Julie at TJ's, TVFR folks at the mile 2 water stop, Tony at mile 10, Anthony at mile 13, Jackie and Mike at mile 16, Mom at mile 21... and hopefully others!)  I'm spending today, Easter Sunday, relaxing around the house, eating rice, reading a book, and maybe taking in a movie later on.  

Twenty four hours from now I will be... still in Hopkinton center.  Most likely in a porta-potty.  

To all my fellow runners, have a safe and remarkable day.  I'm looking forward to writing about this adventure, a year and a half in the making, a couple days from now.  See you again on the other side of the finish line!


  1. Hi Jill - I found your blog via a Google Blog Search. I was a Marathon Scarf Project scarfmaker and volunteer. If you'd like to know more about the project I wrote an open letter to runners here:


    1. Thank you SO much for pointing me to this letter and for all the work you did on this project! Can't tell you how much it meant to all of us to receive these amazing scarves. I'd very much like to pay it forward... will this be a 2015 project as well? I love to crochet and would gladly donate some scarves to runners next year!