Despite a 2 hour delay that kept me from getting to the expo on Friday, it turned out to be a magical day.
I think we got to our hotel room between 3 and 3:30, which meant I had time to unpack clothes for the fun run and the evening Meb talk and put out some things I’d want at bedtime. Nice view!
I changed clothes, swallowed some applesauce and started making my way to the Asics store on Newbury Street for a fun run with Deena Kastor (one of my 3 main role models/inspirations) and one of my all-time favorite guys, Bart Yasso. (together!!)
Then we all set off down Mass Ave to the Charles River path. We got stopped at a number of lights, but at one of them, a BPD car turned on its lights so we could cross against the signal. Boston loves runners!
As if it wasn’t cool enough to be anywhere near these folks, I actually got to run next to and talk with Deena and Bart, and hear some of their conversations with others. Let me just say that again – I got to run next to and talk with Deena Kastor!! We talked about twitter, social media, group runs and her Mammoth Track Club. Deena seems exactly like she’d be from everything you’ve read/watched over the years – nice, funny, warm, welcoming and supportive, enthusiastic and in love with running and runners. I heard she’ll have a book out perhaps next year (not sure if it’s her memoir – please! – or a cookbook (also good). Of course I was trying to watch her form, but I imagine it was a bit different given how much slower than normal she’d be running….that said, it was the fastest Bart shakeout run I’ve been on!
I listened to Deena talking to other runners as much as I could. She said that all marathons hurt, they just hurt differently, and course-specific training is really helpful. (comforting to hear elites say they hurt – just because it looks easy…) She was giving one man course tips on Chicago and he said he’d watched Spirit of the Marathon and loved it. I ran and talked with him about the movie, which I watch the night before a marathon to get inspiration from Deena. I also ran into him at the Meb event in the evening, sat in the row with him. He happened to have gotten a picture of me at the fun run which he kindly shared with me. Pretty great coincidence! I ran for the last bit with another man who gave me tips on Boston and chatted about other races.
I was pretty blissed out, but couldn’t stay for the fruit/veggie/bagel spread and chatting at the store as I had to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up to head over to Old South Church to hear Meb (another of my role models/inspirations) talk about his running and his new book (which I’d already read a couple of times – but we got additional copies, pre-signed, for attending!). I took my Asics swag bag – a nice collection of stuff, and hustled.
The Meb event, moderated by David Willey of Runners’ World (who is a great speaker and moderator) was terrific. Meb was front and center, and joined by Amby Burfoot of RW (1968 Boston Marathon winner, also roommate of/trained with Bill Rodgers), Mary Wittenberg of NYRR (impressive RD!), and Scott Douglas, who co-wrote Meb for Mortals. Left to right: Willey, Wittenberg, Meb, Burfoot (Douglas is obscured).
Meb’s wife Yordanos and their three daughters, and Meb’s parents were in the pew one over and one back from us. (I think his dad must be a hoot, he stood up to cheer for Meb at one point.) It was briefly odd to see them all, and Meb’s brother/agent Hawi, when I’ve seen so many pictures of them. Kind of unreal. Meb was candid and humble, gracious and open and genuine – and funny. He was touched that Deena Kastor showed up to the event (they trained together in Mammoth). He takes appropriate credit for his hard work and diligence but cites so many people as his inspirations – his parents, the bombing victims and survivors, his coach and other legendary figures in running, and even us regular runners. Again, he seems to truly be everything you’d imagine from everything you’ve read or seen.
I think that’s one of the reasons I really look up to and try to learn from/emulate Deena and Meb. They’re incredible athletes – champions in so many ways and runners who’ve made comebacks to compete again at the highest levels – but they also seem to be incredible people. They really make you feel like you’re part of the same community of runners they’re in, and that they respect you for your efforts. They work very very hard to be the best they can be – both talk about getting the best out of yourself every day. They also find ways to give to and inspire others, and to support the running community and the communities where they live. Their character and how they live their lives – with joy and passion, with dedication and balance, with accomplishment and service, with continuous goal-setting and perspective – is something I hope I can do with my life and my time and energy. Every time I think of them, I’m inspired to try again, try harder, do more. I’m so grateful and lucky that I had opportunities to get a little bit closer to them this weekend.
I wanted to get to the expo when it opened at 9 to get my bib and jacket and look for quad sleeves before the Meb/Greg McMillan Generation UCAN event at 10:30. I was a bit daunted at the long line outside the building, but as soon as the doors opened, it moved really quickly.
As you might imagine, I had some moments of tears at bib pickup. I wasn’t shy about telling the volunteer it was my first Boston, which of course got me congratulations. I found someone to take a photo of me and my bib at pickup. I then headed into the expo to get quad sleeves (so glad I did) and my jacket – the essentials. I also got two copies the poster that has every entrant’s name on it. Mine made it home safely, but I’ve yet to unroll it and search for my name – not sure my magnifying glass is strong enough. May want to get it framed.
As you enter the expo, there’s a wall covered with graphics and space to write messages. I had to stop and write a message of my own, one I hoped would inspire others. I think the guy said they keep it, but I can’t imagine where they’d put it! (think it’s a John Hancock thing) I headed straight for Adidas – which is the first thing you see anyway – to get my jacket, which I tried on very quickly to avoid bad karma. I also picked up a blue/yellow shirt and a backpack (which I highly recommend). I didn’t love the china mug but kind of wish now I had gotten it anyway.
Would have loved to stay, but I headed back to the Lenox Hotel to hear Meb speak again, along with Greg McMillan (my “coach” as I have used his book to train for all my marathons in 2014 and for Boston).
It was terrific to hear Meb again, he talked about his past races and how he’d sat in this room 5 years ago (with a lot less attendees) at the beginning of his relationship with UCAN. UCAN has an interesting history – they helped Jonah, a child with a severe medical condition that prevents his body from breaking down certain carbohydrates. At one point in his life he had to be tube-fed every 2 hours to survive. UCAN has helped he and his family a great deal. Jonah and his mom were there. Jonah spoke at the end and his mom sat on the panel with Meb, Greg, and Olympic Trials Qualifier Katie Edwards. Left to right: Meb, Jonah’s mom, part of Greg McMillan (Katie is obscured)
Meb was incredibly generous with his time (and his wife and daughters were there again, patiently waiting) and allowed people to take photos with him, so I got a photo with Meb! I thanked him, and since they’d asked us not to, didn’t shake his hand (germs) even though out of habit he started to stick his hand out to shake. We also got 5×7 pre-signed photos from Meb and a couple of samples of UCAN products. (They had their new bar out for people to try, but I didn’t.)
I spoke to Greg afterward just to let him know who I was and thank him for the books and support via twitter and his emails to his “Pro” site members that helped me get my BQs and PRs and get to Boston. He told me where the McMillan cheering section would be out on the course. I also asked him for some tips on using UCAN as I had tried it in the past – seeing it worked for Meb, I got enthused and bought a bunch of it – and hadn’t had the results others had. It seemed to not only not work, but cause issues. He had some suggestions, as did the UCAN guys, so I may give it another try. I really want it to work and I can understand why it should work – but me and my tummy may be an n=1 for which it doesn’t. But that’s for me to find out in the future.
Then I stopped at B.Good for a salad to take back to the hotel for a quick lunch.
After that, it was back to the expo for more shopping. While out and about, I saw this
After I’d gotten overwhelmed at the expo, we went to B.Good for dinner. They were safe for my dietary restrictions and right by the finish line. The items I had at dinner were good but not great, whereas I’d really liked the salad I had for lunch. I’d eat there again, but probably choose a bit differently. Very nice and knowledgeable folks about dietary issues and quality product.
Sunday started with a well attended (video from MarathonKoach) Runners’ World 8AM shakeout run w Bart. Liz was there but not running. I saw other RW staff including Hannah McGoldrick (newly minted social media editor). I met and ran with Leah and she gave me some tips for Boston. She also talked about Chicago, which she’s run, and about the race she directs, the Rivanna Greenbelt marathon. I’m interested in perhaps RD’ing someday, so I love those conversations.
In the afternoon, due to the scary weather forecast, DH and I head back to expo yet one more time to search for gloves and then hit Marathon Sports again. If you read my race recap or my Thankful Thursday post, you’ll know I got gloves, a vest, and an ear band, and they made a big difference during the race.
We went to PF Chang’s for my pre-race “dinner”, eating around 2:30. It was quite disappointing. It’s also the 3rd time they’ve screwed up a pretty simple pre-race meal (steamed chicken and mixed vegetables) and it’s not worth the stress it causes, so I’ll be exploring other options in the future. Between the meal and the forecast, I was kind of twitchy and probably could have used more walking around to calm myself, but DH (rightly) was adamant it was time to get off my feet.
After “dinner”, we headed back to the room. Does anyone else feel kind of “trapped” in the hotel room that last day/evening? You know you should just lay down and read/rest but instead you pace, tweet, obsess about gear while taking 15 minutes to pin your bib on straight (a new PR). Then time pulls its accordion trick and all the hours you have left are down to an hour to bedtime. ….. or maybe it’s just me.
DH and I speed watched the Deena sections of Spirit of the Marathon before snacking and reading. I’d gotten slightly better sleep Saturday night and hoped that would be enough. I did my typical “wake up every 90 minutes” thing.
When I woke up at 4:15 on race day morning, I was SURE it was 5 (my “get up” time) or later. When I realized it wasn’t decided not to bother trying to sleep as I figured I wouldn’t but if I did I might be groggy when I actually did have to get up. So, I grabbed my earbuds and listened to my guided visualization one more time to calm me down. Then it was time to get up and head to Boston Commons and then Hopkinton!
All in all, it was a great weekend – parts of it really amazing – filled with people and sights and help that make me so grateful for the experience.