Sunday, June 5, 2016

Vermont City Marathon: Where Heat and Humidity are abundant.

At this point, a week after race day I imagine that everyone (in the running world) knows that VCM was cancelled mid race due to some pretty extreme heat and humidity.
Spoiler: I managed to finish.
I have participated in some very warm, even hot races before but can honestly say that other than Boston '12 (which I spectated and it was too hot to even live) I have never experienced such relentless heat.
Anyway. More on this as my story unfolds.

Eric and I had VCM on the calendar for a few reasons. We were running the 2-person relay, I was using it as a back up plan marathon on the chance that Boston was a complete shit show and we had heard nothing but good things about this race. So off we went, in 90 degree weather knowing that we would just have to be smart and make good race day choices.

It was an unusually pleasant drive in the scenery department and we arrived at the expo late-ish in the day on Saturday (and it was still 90, we basically stopped looking at this point!)

The expo was straightforward and we collected our various numbers with ease, had some samples of beer and bourbon because VT race expos are cool like that and off we went.
I also caught a glimpse of the New England double medal, which (If I can actually complete both races) will be MINE later this fall. Bwa-hahaha. MINE!

The things we do for a finishers medal.....
I've never been to Burlington before and we were able to do some exploring before our dinner reservation. Lake Champlain was far, far bigger than I imagined it would be and I spend a number of minutes exclaiming over my delight in this. I'm a weird kid.

So big. So hazy.
Since half the reason I was excited about this trip was to sample some VT beers I was delighted to snag a Heady Topper right off. (I was worried that I wouldn't be able to buy cans to take home. Heady Topper is  big deal. Like, you need to be there when the truck rolls in and, needless to say that seemed unlikely what with the running and all...) The beer was great and when 90 degree running is staring you in the FACE you have to just man up and drink beers. Works every time.

Beer is fun
Saturday morning dawned cool and crisp.
It was like, 379 at 6AM and we planned our 0.0 MPH pace to the finish line in great detail.

ALL DAY bitches
I'm going to be honest for a sec. I really wasn't too worried about the heat because I did not care how I did. I hoped to finish the 13.1 so that we could complete the relay but I wasn't gonna hustle and I wasn't gonna die on my way there. I had already made the decision to go slow af, drink all the water and take 400,000 walk breaks. Maybe I would quit at 13.1. Maybe I'd continue to 16 which was basically back at the start. Who knew. The weather was batshit and there was nothing that anyone could do about it!

So with all that in mind I slow jogged away for, no shit, the hottest first mile of a race that I have ever run EVER in the history of ever. It was quite remarkable.
Obviously, it was all people were talking about. "It is SO HOT this is HORRIBLE" was the outcry.
I had to agree at that point, the sun was beating down relentlessly, there wasn't even a puff of wind and it was hot as balls.

Hot. Hot. Hot as balls. Balls. Balls. Balls are hot.
I have good news. After the first hellish mile there wasn't another long stretch where there wasn't a tiny bit of shade, a teeny puff of breeze or a waterstation to break it up a bit. Right away at mile 2 there was a nice stretch of shady road and during this time I was able to get it together and get my head right. I began to feel good and knew I would keep trudging along happily as long as the good feeling continued. *and good was the feeling of sweat literally pouring into my EYES!!*

There was a most unpleasant bit of road (mile 4-8ish) that was on a stretch of highway. I was pleased to be feeling quite well because if I had not, this would have been rather awful. Also, during this time the "warning" flags went from yellow to red. I was taking 2 or 3 cups at each water stop and walking leisurely through each one. Basically, leisurely was my pace throughout.

Starting early, around mile 4 there were runners down on the course. It seemed (to me) that medical staff was plentiful on course and that people in trouble were getting help quickly. Seeing that many people on the ground that early certainly made me take stock on how I was feeling, and I was fine.

Up to mile 13.1 things continued in very much the same manner, run cautiously, take a lengthy water break every mile, take oranges from strangers and, through the sweat try to look around and see the sights.

I came to the 13.1 mark in 2:03 which, while certainly not at my normal race pace was very good for the weather conditions. Eric and I had a chat and he gave me my relay medal which was lucky not to get lost during the later part of the race! I said something helpful about how it was "hot but totally do-able! just be smart not a douche! be safe have fun!" and, clearly inspired by this Eric ran off.

I sat down on a rock and drank a beer.
Well, not quite. If anyone saw my snap, at this point I said "It's hot! But I feel good! I'm going to keep running because this is kind of fun!"
Logic. The logic is strong.

Basically, to mile 18 my life continued on much as it had to this point. I was very very sweaty, like pretty inappropriately sweaty. I felt fine. Running was not feeling like a problem, which is always good. I needed sunscreen (despite a very thorough pre race application I must have sweated most of it off) So I found a mom spectator and she hooked me up. Mom's are always good like that.
There were quite a few spectators braving the heat, hosing us down, running DIY aid stations and playing dubious rock and roll.

More cowbell people, MORE

Also around this time I found Eric!!! This was very exciting and we had a nice chat as well as some ice pops. He was even sweatier than I was and his shoes were making "slop-slop" noises as he ran which was quite impressive.

YAY! We are lovely.
We saw some interesting things like a twerking T-Rex which is somewhat unexpected, at mile 19. The T-Rex actually chased me which caused me to squeal and scamper away, as I found his actions to be untrustworthy.
Eric considered taking a beer from a beer aid station. He did not... He still mourns this choice.

This little fucker chased me!
As much as we love each other, sticking together wasn't meant to be, mostly because I am a big jerk who really just wants to get done quick once mile 20 goes by.
So, we tearfully parted ways and off I went.

THANK THE LAWD at this point the damn sun had gone away and once I turned onto the bike path by the lake it was *almost* comfortable and I was able to run faster than I had all day. Cranking along. Like at a sub 9 pace which felt pretty darn quick after all the jogging.
Things were good. I was happy to almost be done and I was rejoicing in my hydrating skills and in how much nicer my legs feel at mile 24+  when I'm being cautious than when I'm not..!
And then.......
Just before the final aid station we were told that the race was cancelled. People continued to run, so I did as well. Follow the sheep? Perhaps.


At the aid station I stopped and asked a volunteer what I should be doing. She asked if I felt capable of walking to the finish, and I said I felt capable of RUNNING to the finish. She advised me to continue with caution. During the last mile I had a little time to think about what was happening. I assumed that they had turned off the clock and that my time would not count, which I found disappointing but I was ok with that. I wondered if I was going to be arrested because I had not stopped (this really did occur to me, I have never experienced anything like this before!) Eric texted me to see if I was still running and he was not impressed that I was. However, he was still on course too. From what I could observe, nobody else seemed to stop and since I was still feeling in excellent health I concluded that getting to the finish and cooling off was my best bet.

Was this a good choice? Since I finished healthy and did not require the attention of med staff then yes, I think (as an adult who knows her body) that I made a fine choice. I understand that not everyone might agree with this. In my defense, I had always assumed that in the case of a cancelled race we would actually be "forced" to halt and removed from the course. I know now that is not true.
(from what I understand, people who had to go through several aid stations were told that the race clock was off, that medical was unable to take more patients (the race directors say this is untrue) and, eventually from what I gather people were more strongly encouraged to stop and take shuttles back. I did not witness any of this. At the time that the race was cancelled, while I was still on course things seemed no more dramatic than they had a mile earlier. )
I finished (running thru very enthusiastic crowds, even in the heat) in 4:09:20 (so I was not lying about taking it EASY!)

1.1 was my race pace
 I was hot. I snagged some ice and evaluated the scene unfolding at the finish.

Phew. Hot.
The med tent did seem full and there were many runners being carried off the course. There were, what I assume to be EMT's doing triage on the grass outside of medical. There was a mild buzz of confusion as it seemed that many people were not able to tell med staff who they were, and had not filled out their bibs.. Mostly though, the med staff seemed to have it under control.

At this point there was a level of frustration/anger coming from runners who were upset thinking about how their time would not count. I actually chose to walk away from a conversation with a woman who was so upset and intense that I couldn't really handle it.  I had finished feeling well but I was quite hot, concerned about what was happening and there was a stress level coming from the ever increasing crowd that was undeniable. I didn't feel up to heated debate about decisions that the race management had made that I wasn't even clear on.

Eric was able to finish as well and he was concerned. There is no doubt that the on course tension had increased 10 fold as time rolled on and he was worried about my safety. When you have local law enforcement yelling that "there is no room in the med tent!!!" that certainly inspires a feeling of worry.

Someone was grumpy
In the post race emails that we have received it seems like concern for the well being of the runners was the number one goal of the day. In an emotionally charged situation there is always room for things to go wrong and on this day, it mostly went right. Nobody died. Was it the "right" choice to cancel the race? Well, there were guidelines and they followed them so no discussion is needed.
Would I be singing a different tune if I had not finished? Who knows. All I can speak to is my own experience. What I experienced were the words of one aid station's worth of volunteers saying to "consider walking." I know this, quickly, became more intense. And yes, I was motivated to finish. With just over one mile to go, and feeling good it was a no brainer.
(I also know that this was an amazingly well supported race. Abundant aid stations. Ample fluids. Tons of ice, including roving vehicles carrying ice, lots of med staff on course and PLENTY of cups!)

Despite the challenges of the day I give VCM respect for hosting a really great race. I wouldn't hesitate to return and I can't say that about every race (as you all know.)
We learned, after the fact that everyone who finished prior to 4:30 would have an official time. Thank heavens that my 4:09 is valid ;-) Looking at the results it appears that 932 people have a finishing time, which appears to be less than half of the starters. A tough day. 
Eric and I also enjoyed our time in Burlington very much, it was a beautiful town with lovely people are great beer!
To top off a fun weekend we were able to catch a Heady Topper truck and come home with an abundance of beer. WIN.  (Eric requests a whole blog post to cover this topic, which is valid.)

It was a unique situation to be part of and has, in the aftermath sparked some lively discussion about the responsibility of the runner, and the race on a day such as we saw.
I'm curious to get your thoughts. What would you have done if you were me? Would you have stopped or continued on? Would you have been concerned that you might get arrested!?


Thursday, April 21, 2016

BOSTON MARATHON! The longest, wordiest blog post EVER.

As usual, after the months of training and anticipation the actual marathon weekend was over in a snap. SO FAST. I've needed a couple of days to process and to attempt to come up with intelligent thoughts about my experience (don't get your hopes up.)
(and, as usual it has taken me days and days to pull this together. if I had begun to contemplate good writing it would have taken years so, there's that.)


It's interesting, over time how I have changed my view on what makes for a successful race day. It used to be ALL about hitting the goal pace, come hell or high water or sickness.
.....that was then.....
I had a couple of goals for this race.
1: A solid training cycle (DONE- best in years)
2: Weather permitting, a 3:30 (or, 3:31:30 since I refuse not to stop for 90 seconds in Newton.)
3: Be smart not dumb and run a well paced, healthy, successful race
Bottom line, it takes a bit of fortitude to make it to the start of Boston.
I know how to screw it up! I wasn't really feeling like doing that again.

Honestly. just getting here is amazing. Finishing is even better though!
I think anyone who follows the weather notice the warming trend and, while not terribly concerned I knew I had to adjust my goal time and so I did. I had a solid plan and was quite determined to stick to it! I know how it feels to go out "comfortably" in Boston just to find yourself dead on the street 15 miles later and it sucks, SUCKS. Not doing that again!
I also know that the best laid plans do not always work. The marathon is a sneaky beast who can mess up your day in any number of ways.
So basically I was like, whatever! I'm going to shoot for a 3:40 and hope for the best in the end.

Eric and I drove back to Mass on Sunday evening and had a really nice family dinner with a great collection of Aunts. Uncles and cousins. We had great food and fun, always a great way to kick off a marathon!

I awoke to some very nice race day weather and went through my normal routine of getting my food together, having a coffee, slapping on the first layer of body glide and sunscreen and praying to the GI gods to limit my porta potty time.

Eric dropped me off close to the Common just after 7:00 and the temps were already climbing. Before I even got on a bus I dropped off my most outer layers and drank most of a bottle of water. I was hoping to make friends with my bus buddy but not only did she speak zero English but then she fell asleep. GAHD.

Everyone is already overdressed
I hopped out of the bus in Hopkinton and it was 7,000 degrees so I tossed all my extra layers and prepared for a beach day.

THEN the fun part of the day began. I found my FRIENDS!

Danielle's FIRST BOSTON!!!
Danielle and I spent two hours in various porta potty lines. SO. Much. TIME. We figured out many of the world's greatest mysteries like how to use snapchat filters to make bathroom selfies more fun, and why one has little fatty armpit bits that stick out and get sunburned. (I think without them you wouldn't have a good wingspan.... who knows...)
We also snacked, drank a shit ton of water and found more friends!

Leslie is tall. I stood close because she casts a tall shadow. #stayingcool
Basically, whenever I saw people I knew, it was a photo op. You must take advantage of seeing ALL the people, and on such a nice day there is no excuse not to pull out the phone and take pics and snaps to your hearts content.

Friends. Crows. TWINS.
Athlete's village was MOST enjoyable this year and the quality of the company and weather had a lot to do with it. I was also feeling 100% not stressed out because I had a plan and it felt solid. A lot can happen in 26 miles but I felt like I could avoid many disasters by playing it safe/smart. Maybe..

After watching wave one and two run away (into the pre-long-walk corral area) it was finally our time. Other than the sunscreen walking off on us, leaving us to potentially get horrific scalp sunburns and head cancer we all were as ready as we could be. (and I was basically double fisting water and gatorade on the walk to the start.)

And a long walk to a long run begins.....
All my extra hydration, of course, meant one more disgusting porta potty and ONE MORE amazing pic!

YAY!! SO EXCITED!! And a random photo bomb.
Right at 10:50 the gun went off and obviously, I was not in my corral. There is no need to rush these things. You always get in.

The gun went off. I'm out HERE.
Per the norm the first mile was very much downhill and exciting, so many runners and happy spectators and general excitement. I put my handbrake on HARD so HARD and it was really difficult, I'm not going to lie. I was all rested up and ready to fly but I was not going to pull shit in mile 1 that would haunt me at mile 20. UGH boring adult choices.

I realized early on that it wasn't going to be a great day for steady, sensible tangents. I was trying to run in the shade as much as I could and I also picked up drinks at 22 water stops. Yes, 22 of them. I REFUSE to get dehydrated, damnit!

You got used to running on cups. Lots of cups.
So yeah, I moseyed along for the first 10k and hit it in 51:59, an 8:21 pace.
It merits mention that I did have my watch on but set on watch mode, I still do not feel any reason to look at my watch while running. At all, ever. It can't tell me anything that I don't already know.

The first 6 miles of the course were noticeably and remarkably hot. I was prepared for this and expected it to be 70 from Hopkinton to Wellesley, mid 60's into Newton and then cooling off to about 58 coming into Boston.
This was all completely factual.
What I wasn't expecting was the fierce headwind that picked up around the 10k mark. It didn't take me long to be very, very thankful for this wind! Yeah, it was kind of a bitch to run into but it was nice and cool and it dried off some of my nasty sweat. I was very #thankful!

The pesky Natick hill was still there but I was busy thinking about other things (who knows what) so it wasn't much bother this year. There were a lot of people, some bouncing on trampolines which I found very entertaining.
Of course, not long after Natick comes Wellesely which is a lovely distraction and is something that I think I enjoyed more this year. Maybe I have started to get used to VERY LOUD WOMEN!

The first of many screaming ladies.

Anyway, after all that running through 70 degree headwind and after consuming approximately 12 cups of gatorade and at least as many of water I came to the half in 1:48:42 (slight increase of pace here to 8:17)

Yes, I am predictable. No matter what race I'm running there is always a bit of time around mile 14-16 or so that I get a bit like, ughhhh I make baaaad choices whyyyyy do I run??? The mopey time was brief and I was thankful for that because nobody likes a whiner. I had a couple extra snacks around this time and planned things to do (text my Dad to tell him when I got to mile 17, then see my Dad at 18.5 then make it over the hill, then see more interesting things, take some snaps, etc, etc.)

Just running along taking all the snaps.
Indeed at mile 17 I texted my Dad that I was on my way. Then I had to run over the stupid overpass that goes over 128 and there was a green Hulk right there that I really didn't care for. He was like, a badly timed Hulk. Nope.

Finally! I got to mile 18.5 and was so excited to see my Dad and Aunt and Uncle that somehow I did not notice the literal carnage happening all around. Apparently people were being hauled off by the ambulance full after succumbing to cramps and there were stretchers and what not everywhere.
Marathon tunnel vision at its finest.
Anyway, I enjoyed my 93 second pit stop and got re-sunscreened, got a bag of cheezits, took a selfie, forced everyone to hug my sweaty body and then I ran away, whoooooo!!!

 Right after that was the 30K which I hit in 2:35:49, right back on my 8:21 pace.

After the lengthy 93 second rest stop, clearly I was rejuvenated and prepared to tackle the hilliest part of the race. It was hilly, as usual but I chugged along. I was glad that it was somewhat cooler. I was GLAD that I had strictly monitored my pace in the beginning because I was still moving forward in a reasonable way and I was EXTRA glad that I had cheez-its because they are really tasty.

At the 35K I was at 3:02:15 and the hills hadn't hurt me much because I was still at an 8:22 pace.

Weirdly, with 5ish miles to go my left ankle and foot began to feel all broken. This was strange and prompted a lengthy converstion between myself and my ankle. This is the kind of crap that can only happen after one has been running for a long time.
Me: WTF ankle, this is not something normal for us
Ankle: What do you mean? This is my thing. This is what I do.
Me: SINCE. WHEN? I use you daily.
Ankle: Well. I'm broken. So kindly fuck off.

I ignored it because, seriously. That didn't mean that it went away though and I was honestly most uncomfortable for the last miles of the race. But who isn't.

Around this time I heard a voice calling my name (it was other Sarah) but I couldn't find her! She did get a pic though.
Right around then I ran through the 40K, at 3:27:56, yep, an 8:21 pace.

See me on the left? Looking right like "I hear my nameeee!"

I'd like to say that my last couple miles were a snap because of my logical pace. I certainly was not completely depleted but I was tired. Boston has a way of making you feel very unfit, I always question people who say it is an "easy" course. In what world?? I have yet to finish Boston feeling fresh as a daisy- if anyone has, please let me know what you eat for breakfast because I want some.
I did a lot of looking and listening during the last two miles. I never take running Boston for granted and you never know how many times you are going to make that turn from Hereford onto Boylston.
I really tried to take it all in, and it was amazing.
But I was also damn tired and just wanted to be DONE already so I hustle-gimped thru the finish,
In 3:39:13. DUH, an 8:21 pace.

Right away I felt fine. Body, fine. Stupid ankle, fine. I was pleased because I thought I might have to swing through medical for some ice and I was glad that I didn't and could simply make my way through the masses.

SO crowded.
I saw a glorious big dog and basically freaked out, as one does.

Gotta add cute frames to 170 pound dog pictures.

Shockingly, I didn't cry at all or even have a particularly emotional run. I expect this was because due to the tough conditions I really put the lock down on the feelings, in order to save my energy to make it to the finish.
I did, however enjoy my race very much. Coming in slightly below my Plan B pace, only 9 minutes over my "ideal day" Plan A pace was nice and I was really happy.

Mostly, I was happy that I felt great. No puking!

I found Eric and then quickly found my family for a nice chat and race recap. It's always fun to see people at the finish and I was coherent enough to enjoy hanging out.

Post race with my wonderful husband!
I was SUPER happy that all of my running friends (Danielle, Jamie and Leslie to be specific here) finished strong races on a hot day. We were all basically within minutes of each other which is awesome. A good day for all of us Crow Maine girls!

Eric and I wrapped up the day with a burger and beer in an Irish pub. Being able to go out and about almost normally was a nice change from last year when it was too much of a monsoon to do anything!

A 26.2 Brew!
I was a bit sore but overall feeling good. I know that I can run a faster time but I was very content with my execution and enjoyment of most parts of the race. Boston is always going to be a favorite of mine, thus far I haven't seen anything that matches the excitement and crowd support and overall feeling of this race.
Is it wrong to say I'm already looking forward to next year? :-)


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Boston training week #13 and Expo Day!

99% of the time the final week of taper isn't even worth mentioning.
Typically I run about 15 miles for a Sunday race and I faff around. Very dull.

This hasn't veered too sharply from the norm except in one area.

Last Saturday (so, like last week) the 10 day forecast became available and it looked warm. Definitely a tick up from the 25 degree runs that I had been having.

65 is the median temp that has been predicted. Okay.

There's not anything you can do about the weather. So, I said "whatever" adjusted my finishing goal time and proceeded to run the remainder of my training runs dressed as though it was 15 degrees.

See, I'm not lying.

Sara, are you cold... "No I'm sweating my balls off"
It was NOT warm this week in general but was around 50 a couple days (definitely shorts weather) so the neighbors must think I am nuts. When it's like, 42 I run in shorts so this is a strange outfit adjustment for me.

I am a strange kid
Let's be honest. Will this forced acclimation experiment pay off? Who knows! Probably not because the air has been so nice and chilly and dry. But it was amusing and, to be honest, very uncomfortable. Perhaps a good study in discomfort survival.
Just to give you an idea, I have been wearing the following:
-long tights
-winter socks
-other pants
-warm shirt
-some kinda sweatshit
-some vest, puffy or fleecy
-hat. gotta have the hat. and a visor because #sun
-big fuzzy gloves

History has proven that I'm not the most able bodied warm weather runner but that, with a logical plan that I can finish healthy and happy just not super quick. I'm planning to execute a smart plan and enjoy my day, get my medal and enjoy my race! And I'm going to snapchat SO MUCH!!

And it will be nice to be back in shorts... Seriously, I have never sweat as much as in the last 10 days. SO MUCH LAUNDRY.

So! My Dad, Eric and I headed to the expo yesterday. It opened earlier than last year and I had to work until late morning so we headed off and got there around 2:00.

LOW crowds! My DAD!!
 The lines for numbers and shirts were non existent. I walked right up which was nice.

Basically the only one here. And yeah, I know better than to post a pic with my number... So no number pic...
It was a little busy in the expo area but NOTHING compared to Saturday at Noon! While I wasn't too excited about the official merch this year I still managed to drop a mint since a sweatshirt now runs you a sweet $100. Ouch! But I bought it so obviously the steep prices aren't slowing business any...

We moseyed around, saw Meb, picked up some odds and ends and OBVIOUSLY a tiny beer!

Sam Adams is our most important stop!

Today's strange story:
I was checking out some new shoes, I go through a lot and am always interested in checking out new brands especially if they are a local company. At this booth I had a rather odd experience! While inquiring about their product to one worker,  an employee (who I later found out did not even work in that booth) cut in and was like "you know what shoe you would really like? HOKA'S!" This led to a lengthy chat (mostly him chatting) about the merits of Hoka's, which I mostly agree with and know all about. (keep in mind- I was NOT at Hoka.) After a period of time I basically had to cut him off and say "I came over here to look at THESE shoes but now I'm pretty sure I just need to go back to Hoka- WHO do you work for?" The whole thing was odd. I did not buy any shoes.
(I actually plan to contact this company and let them know this happened and try to get actual good information from them. I feel like they make a good product but wow- what a strange thing to run into!)

We happened to still be in the expo for a moment of silence at the time the first bomb exploded in 2013. I don't talk much about how that has affected me because I certainly was one of the lucky ones. However, I think that everyone who was there in 2013 was impacted by the events of that day. I still feel incredibly fortunate because I know how close my family was to being right in the line of fire. I am thankful every day that I don't have a story to share, I am one of the lucky ones.

 Anyway. Enough feelings.

On our way out we ran into Danielle, who looked calm and collected and ready for race day. She had just wrapped up her run and ran INTO the expo to say hello, which was great!
It's her first Boston and I'm really very excited for her!

It is ALL HER FAULT that I run marathons. <3

After all the excitement my Dad and I took off and left Eric in the city to fend for himself since he was staying to run the 5k this morning. (and he stayed with my cousin and cousin in law, THANKS for hosting you guys!! so he wasn't just cast out...)

This year we did not have to valet park so we did not lose the car which was good.
We drove back to Maine in ALL kinds of traffic and since arriving home I have been pretty much straight out busy ever since. I'm about to call it a day and say what's done is done, and if it isn't done it's not gonna get done! And get off my damn feet for good.

So kids! This is it. Feel free to follow my musings on the Instagram for the next couple days because I certainly won't resurface here for a bit.

TWO DAYS!! GAH. How did this come up so quick? Anyways... Send me good thoughts, fast feet and cold rain! (and may the sun shine on the spectators, may the wind fucking ALWAYS be at our backs, may your sunscreen not be expired and may your chafing be minimal.....)

Good luck runners. Have a kickass day. Get yourself a damn unicorn!!

Next time I see this will be MONDAY!!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The 10 Commandments of The Boston Marathon

I think that everyone will agree, that with 3 (almost 4!) Boston Marathons under my belt I am in a good position to dish out advice willy nilly.
This is basically all the info that you need to have a great day, obvs.
I'm going to leave it to the actual experts to tell you how to run, what to wear, etc.
But this! This is the stuff that you NEED to know. Much Expert here.

Thou shalt not forget to bring thine own TP.
Believe me, not only will your bung hole thank you but so will random strangers who ask if you can spare a square.
Pro tip: if you think you might use a porta potty or *ahem* a tree on course stick a couple napkins in your pocket. You need half as many napkins to take care of things, trust me on this....
Also, you might cry and napkins are great for wiping your glasses/face/snotty nose. (not that I'd know.)

VERY VERY Important. This should have been #2 hahaha.
Thou shall trust the pace of thy corral despite its seemingly sluggish pace.
Duh, you're all tapered and ready to rumble. You wanna RUN!!! WHY is everyone so SLOW??
Relax home slice. You're in with your peers. Roll with it and soon the road will open up.

Your view for a few miles. Just go with it. This isn't the time to make a move....
Thou SHALT NOT forget to apply, liberally, thy sunscreen
Seriously on this one. SERIOUSLY. Want a blistering sunburn? Slack off on the application. Have fun with that. The sun is relentless and unless you really wish to look like a lobster you'll heed my words. Every year I still miss a spot, and that spot sucks.
If you happen to have friends on the course ask them to bring extra and reapply. Pack lip balm with a high SPF too.
(friends, I am packing two different kinds of sunblock and I'm happy to share.)
Takeaway message: Don't burn. It hurts.

Thou shalt not underestimate the amount of time thou shalt be spending in travel/waiting and thus, thou shalt bring entertainment!!!
I hate being bored. And no matter what you are looking at MANY hours of bus time and athletes village time. Even if you have a ton of friends you might want to plan to chill for a bit with a nice game of candy crush to get your head together. So bring a charger. (buy a cheap one from Walmart and toss it, guilt free.)  Or maybe junk mags are more your style? (admit it, nothing like a good entertainment weekly!) Bring a couple, it's another good way to make friends. I've seen people playing cards which seems clever too.
Also, as fun as it is to wander around and take *so* many *candid* pics of you and your friends oh-so-casually jumping in the air, now is not the time for using up your energy. So bring stuff that requires you to sit and chill.

I only allow this to enter my life on planes, or at race starts. (it's like crack)
Thou shalt not be "that guy" who forgets her food and is rendered starving and helpless...
OK no explanation needed here. You are going to be running through lunch. THROUGH LUNCH. In my world, this is not good. Bring a crap ton of food. I'm not kidding. I won't share mine!!! (I will)
Last year I saw this poor poor woman going around asking for some very specific food items because she ate all of hers pre race. This sucks, learn from her.
Suggestions: Two sandwiches (I prefer PB & Honey) some little snacky things like cheez-its or pretzels, one old fashioned Dunkin' donut (no shit, every race every time) some potatoes and maybe, if you feel really picnic-ey a slab of Thanksgiving turkey.
I don't cope well with being hungry, so I plan ahead.

Me. NBD.

Thou shall expect to feel a bit overwhelmed.
Or not, if you are a cool cat and don't react to insane crowds, the nervous energy of 10's of thousands of runners and general mayhem. If this describes you I am jealous!
If you get a bit *edgy* in crowds then practice your calming strategy! It's not cool to be the kid that runs, screaming off the bus ;-) (it's not that bad....) (almost though) (I'm so chill.... except not)

Me, running off the crowded bus. Just kidding, my hair is way better than this.
Thou shalt not underestimate the first half of the course:
Why? Because it can fuck you up. This is the only piece of actual race strategy that I'm going to offer. Everyone dreads the second half of the course and most people are at least vaguely familiar with it. But treat the first half with care. If you do, the second half is doable.
I mean, who talks about the Natick hills right? But it's there. Don't be the dummy who runs up it like a lunatic. 
(also, don't underestimate the shit mountain that one must climb over Rt 128.)
Please refer to this honest map for some good info:

This map is good
Thou shalt not fear dressing like the homeless:
"I wear your Grandad's clothes... I look INCREDIBLE!"
That's me, every year at the start. You'd better hope you need some throwaway layers, if it's too warm for them you're straight fucked and simply should continue straight to the #2 commandment  and await further instructions.

#thriftshop chic, thanks.
Thou shalt not accept cups (and expect water) from:
a: the party animals on the WAY to the start
b: the BBQ extravaganza on runners left around mile 2
c: the Boston College kids (if it's a hot day you'll find me here)
d: from anyone handing out something that looks like beer, or shots because it is.
So while you might want to avoid taking said *hydration* from these people GO for it if you want to party! Every year I see people pounding PBR's on the way to the start given to them by the aforementioned party people. If you just want to have fun, and maybe barf a little you go for it and get down with your bad self.
Since it's gonna be a hot one this might be me!!

Not water but maybe not a bad choice!
Thou SHALT NOT delay in purchasing thine very own FANNY PACK!!!
Because, clearly, my fanny pack game is strong.
Yeah, it's a bit of a mystery why the BAA approved fanny pack is an less of a security hazard than, say a clear plastic bag. But whatever, when else can you bust out a sweet FANNY PACK?
Embrace it bitches. You can fit a ton of shit in one of those bad boys. SO many things.
Last year I forgot about the fanny pack until the Saturday before the race and I was sad because a: it was lame b: I had to ask my Mom to get it for me in the manner of a small child and c: I also paid like $22 for it which is offensive.
Anyway. I have an awesome one for this year and this is the most exciting thing. Obviously.

Oh YES. This is my fanny pack for this year. You're jealous, that's ok.

So there you have it kids. The 10 essential commandments of the Boston Marathon. If you heed my words then you are bound to have a fabulous race day experience!