The Boston Marathon ranks, in my estimation, Is the greatest marathon in the world.
It is the oldest continuous marathon, steeped with tradition, celebrating the period of time when we Americans began to fight for our freedom. The unique, unforgiving point-to-point course, the journey through New England towns, Fenway Park, and, of course, the crowd, combine to make the Boston Marathon a must on any marathon runner's bucket list.
From 1978 to 2013 I've toed the starting line at Hopkinton sixteen times. So, for those runners who will run the 118th Boston Marathon in two weeks, and for those who hope to run it in the future, today I will offer my 10 Ten Tips For Boston.
1. GET THERE-You can run marathons, or you can race marathons. In order to earn a place at the Boston Marathon, you must qualify. It can be difficult, but not impossible, as it is age-graded. Furthermore, you must do so by September of the previous year. So, to get to the 2015 Boston Marathon, you need to plan now. I have offered several training plans to runners on the site: www.fiverr.com. Check it out, and we may be able to work on a plan that will get you to Boston.
2. SATURDAY TO TUESDAY-In order to appreciate the Boston Marathon, you need to spend some time in the City of Boston. Get there on Saturday. Go to the South End, where you can get a delicious seafood dinner at a terrific price. Let the folks of the Greater Boston area know you're running the marathon, and you'll earn Rock Star status. On Sunday evening, dine at one of the North End's great Italian restaurants. Celebrate after the race. Go to a pub. Display your medal proudly. People on the street will honor you with congratulatory greetings.
3. RELAX AND ENJOY-Chances are, unless you are an elite runner, you are not going to turn in a PR at Boston. Rather, when the cannon sounds, relax and enjoy one of the greatest spectacles in the world of sport, and embrace the fact that you are a unique part of it.
4. DON'T LET THE GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE-The first six miles or so of the Boston Marathon are the fastest miles on the entire course. You are excited, pumped, and filled with energy. If you go out too fast, however, you will definitely pay later, as the challenging portion of the course lies between miles 16 and 20.
5. INTERACT-Boston Marathon spectators love you! They appreciate a hand slap, a fist pump. They will call you by your first name, or by the words on your singlet. Acknowledge them. Blow kisses, beat your chest, or kiss the girls at Wellesley.
6. IT'S NOT A HEARTBREAK-The last of the Newton Hills, Heartbreak Hill isn't that bad. Keep in mind, I live in Northeast Pennsylvania, where we run hills daily.Crowds are thick on the Newton Hills, so, again, use their support to launch you over the hills. When you get to the top of Heartbreak Hill, it's, literally, all downhill to the finish.
7. A 10K TO REMEMBER-The final 10K of the Boston is remarkable. Crowds grow along Commonwealth Avenue, and it sounds like one continuous applause. If you feel good, methodically pick off runners ahead of you. Psychologically, 'painting a target' on runners is an excellent way to take your mind off the late marathon pain.
8. THE CITGO SIGN-Fenway Park's giant Citgo sign rises like a beacon at 25.2 miles, exactly one mile to go. You have made it. You have run the Boston Marathon. The best is yet to come.
9. FINISHING MOVE-You make the right on Hereford, then the left on Boylston. After the Citgo Sign, you should begin to prepare your "finishing move/" As you make the left onto Boylston Street, you will feel as though you have entered a giant stadium before the big game. Pandemonium will rule. The crowd noise will be deafening. You will feel goose bumps and chills down your spine. My finishing moves have included: arms out, palms up, urging the crowd to increase the volume. Hand cupped to the ear, like Hulk Hogan. Kisses, points to the crowd, and waves, all in in effort to blow special kisses to my family, who, depending on the year, I may or not spot. Develop a special finishing move, and I guarantee the crowd will reward you for it.
10. CELEBRATE-An army of dedicated race volunteers will greet you at the finish line. Your celebration has begun. No matter how badly you may feel, you have finished the Boston Marathon, and people all over Boston will honor you for it. For the next 24 hours, you will experience a special post-marathon elation like you've never felt.
Yeah, this race is the best.
They've been doing it for 118 years, so they must be doing something right.