On Saturday morning I woke up early to catch the commuter rail out of Back Bay station. They could have called this train the Marathon Limited because it was filled with runners. I was on the Framingham/Worcester line which runs along a significant portion of the marathon course (great for spectators without cars) so people got off at different points along the way. Looking out the window I could see packs of runners heading back into Boston.
I got off the train at Framingham, which is a little after mile 6 on the course. The train depot (see right) is one of the 116 year-old route's landmarks. I crossed over the tracks and took off due east. Even though I've run the marathon two times before yesterday's run felt new. Without the thousands of runners and spectators I could actually see everything I was passing. I also had more time to take it all in. At the same time, in my head I tried putting the run into race context. For example, by the time you get to Framingham on race day the course have pretty much leveled out after a nearly 300-foot descent in the first four miles. Your legs should still feel fresh and you should have plenty of energy, but you have already take a beating.
As I continued on I began passing many of the runners I had seen from the train. Most of the large groups were folks running for local charities like the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I was really impressed to see how many volunteers they had out staffing water stops along the way.
I found myself much more aware of the rolling hills than I have been on race day. Even the level parts of the course aren't really flat. In Wellesley I stopped at Marathon Sports and picked up a gel. It was the first gel I've had since NYC in November but I felt like I needed a boost. I didn't linger by the official marathon merchandise but I did take a quick peak at the jacket--bright orange! Not my favorite but I have a feeling I will probably end up getting one at the expo anyway. There was a bakery across the street and I really wished I could have sat down and enjoyed a pastry!
The final miles weren't bad--they're mainly flat--but there were far fewer runners on the course. I crossed the finish line--it's painted on Boylston year round, though since it hasn't been touched up yet it looked pretty roughed up. The next time I see it it'll be freshly painted and I'll be the one looking roughed up.
Today's (Sat.) Run:
21 miles at 7:33 pace.