Thursday, April 16, 2009

from the archives: 2007 boston marathon race report - part two, the baa freedom run

part two of my three part trilogy of the 2007 boston marathon: here is the first part, the 2007 brooklyn half marathon.
Boston 2007 Race Report: Part Two
BAA Freedom Run, 2.5M
Sunday, April 15, 2007

One of the more humorous aspects of getting to the Freedom Fun Run was the offhand conversation my wife and I had, as she drove me to Alewife Station on the Red Line. We were staying in Waltham, and I planned to take the T into Boston race morning to catch the bus to Hopkinton. This trip was a dry run of that plan. I said, "So you think I'll survive it" To which she replied, "you've done marathons in the rain, just take it slow and you'll finish it," thinking I meant would I survive Boston in the Nor'easter. "No, I mean will I survive this train ride into Boston!" And she looked at me incredulously, "it's just a train ride... how hard could it be? If I could figure out the subway in NYC, you can handle the T!"

We drove up to Waltham Saturday afternoon. We arrived too late for me to pick up my stuff at the expo, so I planned to visit the expo Sunday morning, after BAA Freedom Run. Normally, I'd run about 3 or 4 miles the day before a marathon to keep my legs fresh. This was a more sociable way to achieve that objective. After the run, I would walk over to the Hynes Convention Center, pick up my number and take the T back to Waltham.

To my astonishment, and with some help from the T information clerk, I purchased a ticket, navigated my way from the red line, to the green line via th Park Street station, and arrived a Copley Square without difficulty. Even easier was the streamlined registration process for the fun run. I was directed to a tent, handed in my race application (which was the back page of the runners handbook) and was, in turn, handed a bib and tee shirt.

A stage had been set up and a woman was leading the quickly assembling crowd of runners in warm-up exercises. The sky was overcast and occasional sprinkles came down. No actual rain, but it was humid enough for me to feel overdressed before the race even started. I didn't notice a baggage check, and since my knapsack was practically empty, I decided to keep it with me for the run. Soon the Mayor of Boston was introduced, and he, in turn, introduced the race director. It was quite a surprise when Kathrine Switzer, John J. Kelley and Nina Kuscsik [who we would meet at the 2008 empire state building run-up!], among other race related luminaries, took the stage. Finally, he estimated that 3,000 or so participants would run the race, a weather-impacted figure that was substantially lower than the 4,000 runners they had last year.

The race started a block beyond the Marathon finish line and ran down Boylston Street toward the Common, where we would board the buses to Hopkinton in less than 24 hours. Midway through the first mile I questioned the wisdom of wearing my knapsack. It was no fun, empty or not, to have it tossing from side to side with each step. When the course returned to the Common via Tremont, we turned right at the Park Street Station and confronted a very big hill. It was way too big to be located in the middle of a fun run. It's no exaggeration that I actually considered walking - but my ego got in the way of that choice. Luckily, once we reached the top and made a left on to Beacon Street, it truly was downhill.

At that point I was overheated and took off my jacket. But I didn't stop long enough to put it in my pack. For some strange reason, I carried it bunched up under my arm. I was distracted from realizing how ridiculous that technique was, as we passed the actual Cheers Pub. When that mini-thrill wore off, I was even more excited to see the CITGO sign. It was cool running down Beacon Street toward that classic race landmark, from the opposite direction! Eventually, a right turn had us heading back to Boylston Street. I was still too hot, so I stopped and took off my vest, and put both vest and jacket in my pack for the final stretch.

The race actually ended at the Marathon finish line. That, too, was pretty cool. I finished in 23:19, roughly a 9:20 pace. As I headed back along Boylston Street to the convention center, my friend Jim spotted me and we said hello. He was covering the marathon weekend for Running Times. I arrived at the expo 20 minutes early and waited in line until it opened. I chatted with a few other runners while we waited, but once inside it was all business. I picked up my stuff, had a quick look around, purchased a couple of vintage hats, and then headed to the T for the ride back.

By this time it had started to rain. My wife and daughter met me at the Alewife Station and we drove back to the hotel in a downpour. The Nor'easter, it seemed, had official arrived. My only question was "how long would it stick around?" As a consequence of the ugly weather, I skipped heading back into Boston for the pasta supper and, instead, had a dinner of take-out Chinese food at the hotel. Not only did I skip the pasta supper because of the weather, but it also sidetracked any thought of meeting up with a friend of mine at Boston Beer Works. But the early night was probably for the best, given what we expected Monday would bring.

continue on to part three, the 2007 boston marathon.

in 2008 the baa freedom run was cancelled and the womens olympic trials were held instead!

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