Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 Boston Marathon - Race Recap Part 1

Much like all of the Boston Marathon recaps I have been reading lately, I have been struggling to find the words. I wasn't sure I would write anything at all - because - how do you capture what we experienced? I decided it is important to write it down. This was one of the best weekends of my life and I want to share it with you all. Most importantly, I want to put the experience down in words while it is still fresh in my mind. 

Boston Magazine Cover - April 2013

Just like everyone else preparing to run the 117th Boston Marathon, I was so excited in the taper weeks building up to the race - picking my race outfit, packing, making tourist plans for time in Boston, talking to my students about the race. On Friday before the race, I woke up to a house fully decorated in Boston colors - streamers, balloons, a sign stretching across my kitchen that just said "BOSTON." I wore my Boston jacket to school and everyone showered me with good luck wishes. My students had me in tears when they presented me with a "Good Luck, Miss Zerzanek" poster that still hangs in my classroom. I was definitely feeling the love all around me.

We arrived in Boston early Saturday afternoon. After getting situated in the hotel, we decided to grab some oysters at our Boston favorite, Marliave. From there, we took the subway over to Cambridge based on some recommendations from my Twitter friend, Stacey (@runzor.) It seems strange now - and it seemed strange then - but when we came out of the subway on the MIT campus, police were out with sniffing dogs. In hindsight, I wonder if they had some knowledge of a threat ahead of time. Just seems coincidental. We ended up having some wonderful food in Cambridge and headed back toward the North End before calling it a night.

Truffle Fries at Lord Hobo in Cambridge - YUM - Thanks, Stacey!
The hotel - while beautiful - was extremely chaotic that first night. We were staying at the Millenium Bostonian right next to Quincy Market. Gorgeous. Great location. Super comfy. 

Photo: Steve Dunwell - Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall at Night
BUT SO LOUD. It sounded like there was a night club directly below our room. I could hear the lyrics to the songs and I swear the bass was making me bounce in the bed. I'm the worst sleeper in the world, so this sent me into a panic - straight up sobbing because I thought I would not be able to get any sleep before running the marathon. The hotel was very responsive and kind - agreeing to move our room the next day. Around midnight, the alarms went off in the hotel along with an announcement saying "An actual emergency has been detected in your hotel. Evacuate immediately." Unsettling, right?! We ran down the eight flights of stairs in our pajamas (stuck behind a woman in stilettos) and poured into the street with the rest of the hotel guests. Fire truck after fire truck kept coming. Alarms going off. We had no idea what was happening. Then shit got real when the Boston Fire Dept extended their ladders and dragged hoses into the building. All I could think, was "Oh no - my runner's passport is in the room!" It turned out to be an electrical issue with the elevators but geeeeez. Way to start the weekend! 

Sunday morning proved to be equally exciting but for a much different reason. My hometown paper, the Journal Times, ran an enormous article about me running the Boston Marathon. As soon as people back home started to see the Sunday paper, they saw my face on the front page. Facebook and my phone started to go nuts. It was very surreal to see my big face and congratulations messages popping up all morning, but the article was very kind. It made me feel proud to be representing my town and my students in Boston. 

Adding to the excitement of Sunday morning, another Twitter friend, Sara (@SaraBradley15) had great news for me: free tickets to see the Red Sox later that day if I wanted to go! Are you kidding me? HELLS YES! So, we got ready - headed over to the Expo and got ready for what was turning out to be an amazing day. We started with a subway ride to the Copley Square stop. We got out and saw all of the pomp and circumstance for the first time. Blue/yellow jackets everywhere! Nerds in running gear. Officials. Bleachers. Banners. Like-minded homies in all directions. I had entered runner heaven - holy ground. Here is the obligatory picture at the finish line before you actually cross the finish line.

We went straight to the Expo and wow - amazing! I felt so much relief when I finally had my bib in hand. 9079! WHOOP! The place was packed. I was so glad we had skipped breakfast because they were handing out a ridiculous amount of samples - some delish, some not. Either way, I was stuffed to an uncomfortable degree by the time we left the Expo. 

Strike a pose! All in for Boston!

From the Expo - straight over to Fenway Park to meet Sara and see a Red Sox game. Amazing. It was a little cold, but it was so cool. 

Look how close it seems! Screw you, Miller Park.

The last stop for the night was the Pre-Race Dinner put on by the BAA. I thought it would be a lame pasta buffet, but we had an amazing time. We hopped from table to table meeting other runners, making friends and plans for the following day. It was the first time I got to try the Sam Adams 26.2 Brew - made special for the marathon - and it was wonderful. The whole event was wonderful. Sunday was one of my favorite days of my whole life...true story. I went to bed happy and excited for Marathon Monday.

(I'll post tomorrow)


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