Boston Marathon is not just about the race. Monday 18th April 2022 is the victory lap, the Road to Boston is a special one. A race that is extremely difficult to get in to. There are of course some different ways to get in with charity, tour operators and sponsor places, but these are extremely limited. There is no ballot, the way we get in is through the Boston Qualifier. This makes the race so difficult to get in, so I feel so lucky to be here.
I have been wanting a place for almost a decade, and each year I have written blogs about running faster, and the Road to Boston, but never managed to get there. In 2021 I got my first PB since 2013, both at London Marathon. But this was a 3:04:39, giving me a technical qualification, but 21 seconds usually wouldn’t be enough (it was this year). So I went for it again, a last minute decision to go to Barcelona Marathon, and here I achieved a 3:00:26, over 4 and a half minutes. I knew this was enough.
Boston Marathon weekend
This is a once in a lifetime event, as there is no guarantee I will ever get in again. So of course I took up my place and I also made it a family holiday so my wonderful wife and 2 kids could come and enjoy Boston with me. It wasn’t cheap, but we have made memories that we will cherish. We decided to fly on Thursday so I was there for the Expo opening on Friday, giving us the whole weekend to enjoy as a family. The Marathon is always on the Monday (Patriots day) and I booked the last flight home on the Monday as the kids are back at school.
As a family we had so much fun. We ate so much food, and I enjoyed a fair few beers. Obviously not the most ideal marathon preparation, but it’s a balance with enjoying the family holiday. I decided I would not risk ruining the experience by going out too hard on race day, the experience for me is being here with my family.
The Friday was mostly made up of attending the Expo, after a fantastic breakfast at the Paramount which I highly recommend. On the way to the Expo I bumped into a lovely Boston couple in a queue, which I realised was for a meet with Meb. Not only is Meb a fantastic athlete, he is the last American to win Boston, and did so in style in 2014, the year after the bombs went off at the finish line. Boston pulled together and we have #BostonStrong.
There was a large queue to get in to the Expo, but it moved quickly. Here I bumped into Stephen who had offered to pick me up a qualification hoody, but he surprised me by giving it to me as a gift. Such a lovey gesture, and I have put the money into this year’s fundraising page for Cancer Research. The Expo was well organised and fairly good. I just wanted some of the official merchandise from adidas and my race day nutrition from Maurten, so didn’t spend a lot of time there before heading to fan fest for a bit.
We then made our way to Samuel Adams. I knew you could pick up a free pint glass, and I wanted to buy the special beer can for the event, to go with my Chicago cans. They also had special glasses because it was the first Red Sox game of the season.
On Saturday we had lots planned for the family. More food and drink, and lots of fun. We started with Jamaica Pond Parkrun. I had initially liked into doing the Boston 5k, but Benjamin wasn’t old enough, so we ran Parkrun so he could do it with me. A great course which he got a 50 second PB with an amazing time of 25:33, so proud of him.
After Parkrun we stopped off for a coffee and the kids had the most amazing ice cream sliders in a a baseball cap cup which they got to keep.
It was then time to go and watch the Red Sox. I booked this as a treat for the family before we left, and I’m so glad I did. I almost didn’t, but if you go to Boston I highly recommend going to a game.
It was so much fun soaking up the atmosphere, drinking, eating and singing along to a Red Sox win. We stayed until the end and by the time we got back we were all knackered. We made it back in time to return for some amazing ribs and a few beers, I seriously loved the food.
It is our wedding anniversary in a couple of days, so it was great to have such a lovely trip with my wonderful wife. We really had so much fun, and the whole family love Boston.
We chilled out Sunday, giving my legs some rest, so we just spent the day in Downtown. We returned to the Paramount for breakfast, went back to the fan fest and I got my jacket personalised with a patch (free at the fan fest). It was then time to rest, and we went back for an early night. One last job was to lay out my kit ready for Race Day.
Boston Marathon 2022
On race morning it was an early start. My bus loading time was 6:45, which meant leaving my hotel at 5:30. Public transport was free for runners, and I made my way to gear check. You have to check in your bags at the finish, and you don’t have an option to take anything to the start and check in. I therefore took a poncho and gloves to try and keep me warm. It was very busy, but everything moved quickly and I walked straight into a toilet before going to the bus loading. The queue was huge, but once it opened at 6:45 I was loaded in 5 minutes. All buses for my wave left together for the long ride to the start line.
The bus ride was about an hour, so we arrived in Athletes Village at about 8 am, with 2 hours before race start.
Honestly there wasn’t a lot to do, so lots of waiting around. There were a few photo opportunities and toilets. There was plenty of water available but I had everything I needed. I laid down for about an hour, trying to keep warm, as it was a cold start to the day.
It was soon time to get to the start, with a 0.7 mile walk to the start line. It felt so amazing walking through Hopkinton, and this set the scene for the whole day. The crowd support was just fantastic from start to finish.
I set off with a few goals in mind. Obviously a sub 3 would have been fantastic, or failing that a Boston Qualifier time. I had said that I didn’t think it was realistic as my training has been really poor the last few months. My plan was to set off at sub 3 pace to see how it felt, but ease off if needed. I have dreamed of running Boston Marathon for so long that I wanted to enjoy it. This was my victory lap and my main goal was to finish and have fun.
I set off at 6:50 and it felt fine. I’ve had a tight calf for a few days and it didn’t feel great, but it was OK, just something I was mindful of. Everyone said not to get carried away in first half which is net downhill, as there are 4 hills from 16 to 21. First of all I couldn’t get carried away even if I wanted to. It was very busy, so I couldn’t really pick up the pace, but it was fine. But I did not find the first half easy. I am not great on hills at all, and although there were lots of downhill in the first half, there were lots f climbs. I love downhill and didn’t find it a challenge at all.
At 10k I was on target for sub 3 and felt comfortable. It was starting to get warm, but my nutrition strategy was going well. All was great, but I started losing time on the hills. I realised by 15k that if this was the easy half, then I was never going to be able to keep on pace. So I let myself ease off the uphill and run a bit faster downhill.
Approaching 20k I heard a roar about 1k before I got there. In Wellesley there were literally 100’s of College girls screaming, and holding signs asking for kisses. It was a really uplifting section with amazing atmosphere. I obviously didn’t go for a kiss, but it was a fun section and a unique experience.
At half way I was at 1:33. But I knew if I carried on at this pace I would be on for between 3:10 and 3:15. I was happy with this, I was having fun, and once my goal time was gone I just wanted to enjoy. I didn’t want to risk pushing too hard and needing to walk or stop, and I saw a lot of this. Instead I carried on, taking the hills slowly.
By mile 16 the real hills arrived, and I lost more time here. It was OK, by this point I was just soaking up the crowds and wasn’t even looking at my watch. The crowds are not the biggest of the Majors I have seen, but probably the most consistent. We were cheered all the way from Hopkinton to Boston.
After mile 21 I had planned to pick up the pace. But honestly, I didn’t see the point, the extra time wasn’t going to add any value for me. So I just counted down the miles, looking forward to seeing my family.
The turn onto Boylston Street was electric, but I was looking out for my family. I slowed because I didn’t want to miss them. I wanted to go and give them a hug but you couldn’t get close, so all I could do was blow a kiss. This filled me with joy and gave me a boost for the finish.
I had tears in my eyes when I finished. A race years in the making, an amazing holiday with my family, and a damn good time of 3:24:41, on a tough course. Today wasn’t about a PB or a sub 3, I threw that idea out the window about 20 miles before the finish. But as I finished there were runners struggling to stand, others being sick, and I felt great. It meant I could go straight to see my family, and able to go for food and some beers before going to the airport. I needed to be in good shape for my family, and I enjoyed the experience.
Today was my 103rd marathon (plus) and the first time in my 100 Marathon Club vest, and what a great first outing. I had aways thought that Boston Marathon would have been the end to my six star journey, but the cancellation of my 2020 Tokyo Marathon means that one day my six star journey will end in Japan.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to take part in this event. I worked hard to achieve it, but I know I am lucky and privileged to be able to get to the start line. I always want to try and do some good with my running if I can, and Boston Marathon kicks off my fundraising for Cancer Research. I am at £140, and it would be great if you could donate, if you are able to.