Last year, I drove down from Maine with a friend from Maine. This year, I spent New Year’s Eve with another friend that lives in the Boston area, which was actually quite convenient because I was able to drop my car off near the Boston Public Library and have it waiting for me near the finish line when I was done.
We arrived in Hopkinton around 5:45 in the morning to join a quickly growing crowd of about 30 runners. Apparently, a good portion of our group was planning on running the course at 7 a.m. instead so they could sleep in a little, and I also heard that the B.A.A. had a group that was planning to run at 9:30 a.m. I’m not sure how many or if anybody showed up for those runs, but our group was around 30 runners strong and about a third of us planned on running the entire way.
The sun had yet to rise for a little over the first hour of the run, and despite warmer temperatures than last year the roads were much slicker from the previous day’s freezing rain. At least it wasn’t as slick as Maine had been on New Year’s Eve…before driving down I took a tumble on my morning trail run and hit the ground pretty hard. As far as I’m aware everybody managed to keep their feet during the marathon.
There was definitely more traffic this year. Last year we pretty much had the streets to ourselves until we got near Boston, but this year there was a regular stream of cars passing us or crossing our paths. I’d consider it light even by Maine standards, so while we couldn’t take up the entire road this year we still had no trouble and for the most part got to spread out across one lane at least.
Around 9 or 10 miles into the run, we passed a murder of crows that came out to watch us run. Gary told us not to look up because the one on the left looked pretty mean, but I think they enjoyed watching us. He also pointed out that we should “notice that there’s no unicorns up in the power lines to cheer us on.” I believe that the first of our group actually finished running the course before the first B.A.A. group got around to starting theirs.
Along the course, there are plenty of Dunkin Donuts that are open, even at 6:00 in the morning, for those needing to use the facilities. The only real problem with relieving yourself is that you then have to play catch-up to reach the group again.
The second time I had to catch up to the group, I decided to take my time doing so and spent a few miles on my own. When I did catch up, Amanda was in that pack and both of us seemed pretty content to take our time through the Newton Hills and moved into the grassy median going up the hills. While the ground was uneven and frozen, it wasn’t as icy as the roads around there so it was easier to keep our feet. We didn’t catch back up to anybody else and ran the rest of the way in to Boston together, where her boyfriend was filming the finish and caught our epic sprint to the line on film. I’m hoping that cut makes it past the chopping room floor!
We ran in a leisurely 3:37:08, about 15 minutes slower than I ran it last year and about 3½ minutes faster than the first time I ran Boston back in 2005. Of course, I was miserable in 2005 and felt great on Sunday so it’s hard to even compare those experiences.
After the run, most of us hung out at a Starbucks a few blocks away from the finish line where I showcased my new book and swapped stories with a great group of friends.
If you don’t have plans for the new year next year, you should really consider joining us.