Best Boston Marathon Advice


The Boston Marathon is less than a week away and I cannot believe it is here.  I have been training for a while for this one and have been planning for a while.  I have been very focused on having a specific race plan and setting certain race-specific goals but the more learn the more I realize that perhaps I have not planned all the right things.

On their Facebook page Runners World asked the question to Boston Marathon veterans what was the one thing they wish they knew before their first Boston Marathon that they would like to share with a first-timer.  There were some great responses and things that make me realize I have a lot of additional planning to conduct as well as some perspectives I need to re-evaluate.  Some of the comments that stuck with me include:

Nancy Winchester The bus ride out seems to take forever and you may feel very intimidated by it. Don’t worry! With all of the spectators, you will fly back to Boston. Watch for the landmarks: shortcut sign, Rocky music, and the electric company that puts plastic in their windows so you can check yourself out are all in the early stages. Wellesley College at mile 13 is awesome – kiss a guy or girl! Then watch out for the beer drinkers squeezing down the course at Boston College, and finally, when you see the Citgo sign, you are almost home free! Almost. Best of luck from a 16 year veteran!

John Burcke The race really starts at mile 16 with the Newton Hills. Make sure that you conserve plenty of energy because miles 16 through 21 will be 5 of the toughest you’ve ever run.

Kristen Nystrom Mellitt I don’t typically use my iPod when I race, but I would encourage everyone who does to put away your earbuds for Boston! Really focus on the experience. The crowd noise along the entire route is so loud it will drown out anything you’re trying to listen to anyway!

Linnae DeVries Satterlee Last year was my first Boston and it was 90* out on the course so all my cold weather prep was not necessary! It was brutal in the heat, but an amazing course and crowds! I am going back in 2014 and can’t wait.  The bus ride IS intimidating! Bring food, water, throw-away clothes from Goodwill, a plastic trash bag to sit on, and your phone! It was nice to talk to my husband from athlete’s village to calm my nerves, and to find him after. The bag check is amazing, safe and super organized. Write your name on your shirt or arms, so fun to hear your name called out! Go SLOW to start, and ease into it. There are 4 hills not one, Heartbreak is last. Relax and realize you will make it through them. They were a non-issue for me last year because of the heat- I hardly noticed them! The crowds are unbelievable! Last year they handed out Popsicles and ice cubes, and sprayed us with hoses  Don’t worry about your time- you already earned the right to be here, just enjoy the course and soak it all in!

Lindsay Luce Take a warm blanket and clothes you dont mind leaving behind, to Hopkinton. Its a long, cold wait if you arent prepared

Laura Vigneau The only reason heartbreak hurts as much as it does is because many newbies go too fast on the first 16 downhill miles. Go slower than you feel you could on the first 16 and you won’t notice heartbreak hill and you’ll have 6-8 miles left to pick up the pace if you do it right!

Melissa M Mahoney Remember to ENJOY it and have fun! I went in with high expectations for myself and could have enjoyed the course more had I not been trying to hit a time goal. I personally think Boston the first time at least should be soaked in and enjoyed!!!! It was an amazing experience, congrats runners!

Katie Quinn Don’t eat before the bus ride!! Eat at the Village by the time I reached the area around Fenway I wanted to rip a hot dog out of a little kids hands. I don’t eat hot dogs!!! The gear check is quick and efficient ~ check lots of warm things for after the race to enjoy the finish area!

Bill Pritchett There are more port-a-johns between the Athletes’ Village and the starting line. Just walk toward the start and look in a big parking lot of the left to find them – you’ll avoid some long lines!

Darrell Johnson SAVOUR it: it’s the Boston Marathon! Don’t wear earbuds—you’ve gotta be able to fully enjoy the crowd. Write your first name on your shirt (I did it with tape) so you can get personalized encouragement. And s-l-o-w down for the first couple downhill miles. (Hard to do, but you’ll be glad later).

Kyle Knight Start slow! Write your name on your shirt or arms-Spectators will cheer you on! I missed heartbreak hill my first time-it’s not as bad as you hear it is. Wellesley is truly amazing!! Remember to enjoy it!

Julie A Slayton Bring something water proof to sit on while waiting for ur wave. The grass may be wet and you don’t want to be soggy before the race even starts. Also when you see the famous CITGO sign there is so much longer than 1 mile, u can see it for unite a while so don’t get to excited. All in all an awesome experience that u will never forget.

Allison Fiorini Don’t go out too fast! It’s so easy to do. The first 8 miles or so are rolling hills but mostly downhill, and it’s easy to do. The crowd is so exciting for the majority of the course that you just want to speed up. Hold back, because when you hit the hilly part of the course at the end you will wish that you did! Also, bring your breakfast or a nice snack to the athlete camp. You’ll probably want to eat there or on the bus, because you will in transition/at the camp for quite awhile.The first time I did it, I ate my breakfast before I left for the buses – probably around 6am or something – but my wave didn’t go off until after 10. I have a sensitive stomach so all I had with me was Gu. There is some stuff for the runners to eat there, though. Also, just because there seems to be a million bathrooms at the athlete village in the AM does not mean you won’t have to wait in line for the port-a-potties. Leave enough time to use them and check your gear before your wave goes off! Ohhh and also don’t be nervous about gear check there – it is the most organized thing I’ve ever seen and you can feel comfortable checking anything you bring! Okay, sorry for the novel. I am SO SUPER EXCITED!!! Good luck everyone!!!!

Robert Piper Throw away sweats – it’s a long wait to the start and it looks like it will be cold

Megan Thomas Robinson Don’t walk around Boston the day before site seeing. Save your legs for the race!

Rob Reinhard be prepared to sit and wait for hours prior to the race. if it is cold, bring warm clothes to dump in your drop off bag as you walk toward the corrals. bring an old yoga mat to sit on and stretch as the tented/field areas are often very wet.

Vince Hodges Bring a blowup pool raft to sit or lay on at the runners village. It is crowded and can be uncomfortable. If its cold bring a blanket you aren’t concerned about keeping. It’s a long wait.

Allison Kelleher The hay is in the barn….you did all the hard work already just enjoy the breeze! Bring trash bag/old blanket to sit on and stretch at athhletes village…..and toilet paper (they always run out)!   Most important soak in every step of the 26.2 and cherish the few in the moment friendships you’ll make on the way to the finish!

Lisa Totten It will never be like the first time again, so enjoy it. My first time at Boston was the best experience I’ve ever had in a marathon. I wasn’t concerned with my time. I was just so happy to be there!

Rebecca Rampton Sondrup Get to the start line pronto when they call your wave. I didn’t really get how many go to line up all at once and I almost didn’t get to my coral.

For the last several months I have been focused on trying to break 3 hours in the Boston Marathon.  I think at this point that is the wrong perspective.  I think that I need to treat this more as an life experience and something to be savored as opposed to a goal to be focused on.  I am very much looking forward to the experience.  There are many more opportunities to try to run focused goal-driven races and I guess what that means is that on October 5th I probably have a marathon to run in Leavenworth, WA!