A Week in Boston – Part I
Before I start, I just wanted to mention that I did post Week 15 here, the week before we headed out. It wasn’t a complete week, it wasn’t even a great week, I’m a broken record again, nothing new there. I’m having a real love/hate relationship with blogging and I’m not sure anymore how to continue but likely I’ll just whinge about it now and again and change nothing or at least not much. Let’s see.
Friday, 13 April
We were off EARLY and things went really smooth. I feel like we have a good handle on this traveling thing. At least on this day I felt it. The flight to Newark Liberty was good, I watched a few movies and we even had an early arrival. It was only when we were trying to get through passport control that things got stressful. They had 50 booths at border security and of course there were the US Citizens lanes and the Non-US Citizens lanes. Before our flight landed there was a flight from Hong Kong that had just arrived. Then ours, then a flight from Manchester I believe. So there were a LOT of Non-US Citizens. And I get it, don’t get me wrong. I choose to go to Non-US because my husband is Dutch and it makes ZERO sense for me to go through and then wait an hour + for him to come through. Anyway, 50 booths and 3 people working on the Non-US side. THREE. WITH THREE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS IN LINE. We hardly moved in an hour and we had to pick up our luggage, recheck it and then go through security again for the flight to Logan. I was really starting to lose my good nature (I really do try to go with the flow in these situations). At some point they opened up the other side (the US line) to us “non-Americans” but all it really did was make the line spread out. Then another half an hour later they did it again and we were right at the point where we could have gone through but then the security was going to stop us! I finally just said “Please! let us through, we have a connection!”. The guard wasn’t happy but he let us through. FINALLY! We picked up our bag, rechecked it and then went to the clusterf*ck of security. OH MY GOOD LORD. Total Chaos. Honestly, Newark Liberty you are NOT my favorite airport.
Had just enough time to get the train over to our terminal and get a coffee for our flight to Boston. That flight was 45 min of stomach-jumbling turbulence. Not fun. So glad it was over quickly.
We arranged an uber once we had our stuff and headed over to our airbnb in Cambridge. Our host was super nice and helped us make our way over to Trader Joe’s for a few items and for something to eat. We went to bed pretty early as at that point we’d been up almost 24 hours.
Saturday 14 April
Expo Day! We were up pretty early and out the door around 9am, I think. The Airbnb was close to Alewife station at the end of the Red Line so we walked down there, figured out how to get charlie cards and headed towards the expo. The weather was odd. Sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy and a little bit chilly. There were quite a lot of people going to the expo but it wasn’t crazy to get through security. We picked up the most important items first (the bib of course) and then went in to check out the vendors. Ron didn’t get a finisher’s jacket in Chicago but I really wanted to get him the Boston jacket so we went to adidas first to arrange that ( no actual WEARING of the jacket until after though!! ). We walked around quite a lot, picked up some Nuun and some special water bottles they were offering. Then over to Clif for some shot bloks, Brooks for new walking shoes for Ron (since it was going to rain we decided he’d get new shoes and then ditch his old nasty adidas walking shoes at the athletes village Monday morning), Altra, where I picked up some new shoes and back to Brooks to see Scott Jurek again (we met him in Berlin and Paris), picked up some free food items (cheese, yoghurt). At some point we were just done with it all so we left and just started walking. We dropped into a Starbucks to get our bearings and figure out our next move. I reallllly wanted seafood but Ron just isn’t a fan so we went for Italian for “lunch”. We both decided on pizza at Pasta Beach– and I just forget that portions are much bigger so we ended up having extra over that we ate for dinner later.
After lunch we walked around a bit, saw some of downtown, located the Hard Rock Cafe, found the not-original Cheers and eventually found the red line again to head back to Cambridge. Once we were almost back to the apartment, we stopped off at Dunkin Donuts for coffee (and, ummm…a donut) as we were feeling a bit low on energy.
Another early evening with the rest of our pizza and a local beer (our host said “have whatever you want in the fridge, including drinks” – so we obliged). Early mornings mean early bedtimes…
Sunday 15 April
We planned only to time walking and transport to the bag check and busses to Hopkinton today, so that we would know what time we needed to leave in the morning. It’s good to do a bit of a dry run if you are unfamiliar with the city! Today was already rainy and much, much colder. I was really hoping that the weather forecast just wouldn’t come true but it was not looking good at all!
I had contact with my friend Terra, whom I met here in the Netherlands more than 20 years ago; she just happened to be in Boston (she lives in New York on LI) and as we missed each other when I was in NYC 2 years ago we decided we had to see each other. So after Ron and I found the Finish Line and took obligatory pre-race photos, we went over to Eataly, which is basically the most amazing Italian Food shopping experience I’ve ever seen. Inside Eataly are several restaurants, and we appropriately met up at Terra where the food was absolutely divine (but, I have to say, a bit on the expensive side). It was SO GOOD to see her! We figured out we hadn’t seen each other for 2 decades! NUTS!
After our lunch we went our separate ways again (Terra was taking care of family temporarily in town) and Ron and I went over to Lir to meet up with my friend Robin, whom I’ve known for about 18 years but only online! Robin has been a huge influence on my running – she’s run Boston for 14 years for Impact Melanoma (she’s a well-respected Dermatologist in the area, so totally logical that this is her charity choice) and I imagine she’ll keep doing it until she can no longer run. Robin was having a fundraiser and general meet up for runners and supporters. It was also so great to meet Robin finally! And even though we only had contact online until now, it was just so natural sitting with her and her sister Karin chatting away.
Around 5 we headed back to Cambridge for more carb-loading (NOT good for the supporter, I might add. I feel like it should be called carBLOATING) at Bertucci’s. And then it was time to be back in the apartment, getting ready for Marathon Monday. We had quite some discussions about what to wear etc. It was going to be a difficult choice. No one really knew just how horrendous and cold it was going to be.
We had to leave at 6 so the alarm was set for 4:45. Ron was going to wear a wind and rain proof jacket but decided at the last minute not to take it. In hindsight I think we both wish he had. The runners were allowed an extra clear bag to take extra shoes and rain gear so that was handy (otherwise you have a bag check bag + a small bag you can take to Hopkinton). Six o’clock rolled around and we headed over to Alewife station. We certainly weren’t alone! No issues with trains or transport and we met some nice runners and a drunk local on the T so we were chatting and getting the nervous energy out. Ron dropped his bag without issue (and was wearing a throwaway rainsuit he bought here in NL before we left – best investment ever!) and then I had to say goodbye since I was unable to go with him to the start.
I headed to the T and wasn’t quite sure yet what I would do. I knew I wanted to hit certain parts of the route but it was really early still so, did I go get coffee? Did I eat breakfast somewhere? I walked a bit and jumped on the T at China Town. I knew I had to take the commuter line and I noticed that in a few stops was North Station where I *thought* I could take the train… I arrived, walked forever to find the ticket agents only to find out I had to go to South Station! Yeah, my own fault – I didn’t dive into it enough and just assumed the commuter line was one line! So back to South Station where I arranged my tickets to Framingham. I had told Ron I’d be at Framingham, Wellesley Farms and then somewhere near the 40K/ 25 mile mark. But once I was looking at train schedules I was really worried that I would miss him altogether because of train times and his wave start time.
In the end I decided to go out to Framingham and get back on the train to Wellesley to at least see him at 15 miles. In fact I texted Ron that I would ONLY be at 15 miles and anything else would be a bonus. But I was in luck! At Framingham I was able to see the handcycle athletes, the women elites and the men elites later. This was at the 10K mark. Ron was on track to pass through at 11:11 and my train was at 11:16. I met a woman, Christine, whose husband was running almost the same as Ron, also in Wave 2 and scheduled to come through at 11:10. So we stood directly at the train station (right next to the road) and saw her guy and then Ron! He was surprised and happy to see me and he looked fairly ok. Mind you it was pissing down with rain. I had a rain jacket and another jacket under, but no gloves. My hands and feet were pretty cold. I didn’t care much at that stage, I was just happy he looked ok!
We jumped on the train to Wellesley farms. The “Scream Tunnel” is about a mile up, so we were not a part of that. Ron told me later this was his favorite part of the course. He was high-fived by “five thousand” women and they were all trying to give out kisses so eventually he kissed one of the girls! Ha! But this energy was short lived because as he passed a mile later, where we were standing (and it was absolutely bucketing down with rain and the wind was whipping these sheets of water upwards), he even stopped and said “I don’t feel so great. My belly is acting up. And I’m absolutely freezing”. I felt so, so bad for him. The qualifying. The last 6 months of training. And this is what it came down to. I saw anyway on the app that he had been slowing down so I knew that his PR that he worked so hard for was out of sight. We had seen Christine’s husband earlier and he also wasn’t looking like he was enjoying his run either. It was such a disaster for these runners.
After Ron left again we arranged a Lyft to head over to around the 25 mile mark (near Fenway). Ah it was so nice to be in a dry warm space for a little while! The traffic wasn’t so bad and we were able to get to Fenway easily (the game had been cancelled). It took a long time before we saw the guys again – Christine’s husband didn’t even see her at that point (I think he just wanted to finish) and a long wait for Ron made me feel even worse for the runners. Mile 25 and so many runners barely even able to walk through. And there was a huge puddle (lake) of water at that point and tons of discarded clothing, bottles and other stuff in the way! It was still raining as well! Christine had given me wooly socks for my hands and they were soaked at this stage. I gave her the socks back and told her to go to the finish and that I would be fine on my own. Eventually Ron came through and he was again surprised and happy to see me! I knew I wouldn’t see him at the finish and we already agreed to meet at the family reunion area so I quickly ducked into Dunkin Donuts to get some hot coffee before I faced the weather again.
Slightly warmed up, (not really, as I was completely soaked to the bone) I headed to the T to get to Arlington to walk up to the Family Reunion Area. It took ages to find him and it turned out it took ages for him to actually get his bag. He was able to go into a warm theater in the area where they were letting the athletes come in and change in a warm, dry area. When we finally were reunited I was just so very happy to see him. I was just so glad he made it. It was basically THE WORST weather situation he had ever run in (and I had ever experienced on the sidelines).
We stopped into a bar, had some food and a drink and then eventually got a taxi back to Cambridge. I had wanted to try to meet up with a few other people (at least my friend Martinus was in town, from 300 Pounds And Running and I was really hoping to catch up with him but it wasn’t meant to be) so that we could celebrate, but instead we ended up at home, taking hot baths and eating delivery pizza. The nicest part of coming back to the Airbnb? Our Hosts left us Champagne congratulating Ron on his finish at the Boston Marathon.
Part II is coming up!
Have you flown through Newark before?
What’s your favorite airport?
Have you traveled internationally where you had to wait in a long time because of your passport/ nationality?
What’s the worst weather you’ve had to run in?