Saturday, April 23, 2011

Boston Marathon 2011, Part 1: Arriving and the days prior

In planning to run Boston, I knew I would need to train, but long before I did that, I reserved my hotel room (a full year in advance, in fact). By doing this, I got a Doubletree for just over $200 a night. This turned out to be a great rate, which I found out because when I went back later to try and adjust the reservation, the rate had gone up over $300/night. They would not let me adjust my stay, but that ended up being fine for my vacation time anyway.

There is nothing special about air travel, other than the fact that it is generally lousy, cramped, uncomfortable, and inconvenient (says the 6'4" guy who does not fit comfortably in any seat of any vehicle). We found a decent price on Delta and took it. For travel from the airport, we ended up taking a cab, which cost us $25. Had it not been 1 AM when we arrived, we might have taken the Blue line to the Orange line and down to our hotel. The "silver line", by the way, is actually a bus service, not connected directly to the T system. We never took the silver, so I can not comment on how well it does or does not work.

As for the T, we took it everywhere. Very easy to navigate, as long as you pick the right train on the green line. Of course, Boston is also a very walkable city. It is hard to appreciate, but downtown is only a few miles across and we did a ton of walking, especially after the race when I was not afraid of tiring myself out too much.

Oldest continually operated restaurant in US
Since we arrived late Friday night, we had plenty of time to eat at some great restaurants such as the Rattlesnake Bar and Grill (excellent Mac and Cheese), the Union Oyster House (oldest restaurant in the US), and Chau Chow City (for authentic Dim Sum). We elected to go to the race sponsored pasta dinner the night prior since I already had a ticket, and we were happy to meet some other runners and be social. That dinner was held in City Hall and I have never before seen so many 8-top round dinner tables in my life. As would hold true for everything I experienced, the logistics were excellent considering the challenges of feeding 27,000 people (and any family/friends who joined).

Outside Boston City Hall for dinner

Obviously we also had to go to the expo to pick up my race bib and other goodies. The volunteer posts were well staffed. With one for each few hundred runners, I had no wait to pick up my stuff. As expected, this was quite a spectacle of fitness consumerism with booths for every shoe, clothing, and food product manufacturer you could imagine. If there was one thing that I thought needed more attention, it was the interior of the expo, which was crowded and a little stifling from all the attendees. People were selling their diet and therapy secrets, books and magazines, and gear you never knew existed. A few races had booths trying to drum up business and there were several non-profit and fundraising booths as well. The John Hancock booth had bleachers set up in front of a screen which ran a video giving you an overview of the course, along with some notable tips from prior runners and champions.

Number pickup
Not my number pickup
Inside, the chaos

Running stores are abundant in Boston and we walked past a few. We only stopped in one though, Bill Rodgers' store near the Quincy Market. There, I bought my official Boston windbreaker (totally cheated, this year they were screenprinted, not embroidered!) and took in the sights of some of the memorabilia at the store.

The wall of painter's gloves

That is all for the pre-pre race notes. In my next post, I will talk about the morning of the race.

1 comment:

  1. A very complete and comprehensive post on your experience at Boston, I enjoy your Blog. I look forward to part 2 with great anticipation, and assume you ran well, and met your goals, i'll wait to find out. I watched the marathon via 'Universal Web TV', it was inspiring to say the least. I have never run a marathon, but am getting in the habit of competing in 13.1's. I am actually supposed to run a marathon in 2/2012, but am contemplating withdrawing, because...I really don't have that desire. I registered because a friend encouraged me to....but it's not really what I want. I enjoy my running just as it is, and also enjoy watching runners such as yourself, compete in the race of all races...the Boston Marathon!