I was scheduled to run the Boston Run to Remember half marathon, which is hosted by the Boston Police Department and the Boston Police Runner’s Club. It’s a great race to run on Memorial Day weekend to honor all the Massachusetts officers that were killed in the line of duty. Net proceeds benefit community and kids programs of the Boston Police Runner’s Club.
But after I got into the thick of training, I realized that I wasn’t going to run the Boston Run to Remember half marathon. My body was just not ready for that type of mileage. I was considering switching to the five miler but got an email saying it was too late. Then this week I got news that you could still switch to the five miler when I picked up my number and of course I just couldn’t resist.
Start Time and Transportation
Both the half marathon and 5 miler races started at 7 am. I like earlier races because I feel like I still have a lot of time left in the day. I can hang out a bit at the finish, get home and shower, lounge around, and nap while still having time to get food prep done and errands run.
The only downside to early races is that you have to get up early! We drove because the first T wouldn’t leave until around 6:15 am which might be cutting it close. Normally we are only about a 15 minute drive from the start, but with everyone trying to get there we hit some traffic at the exit to the race and also on our way out. On our way home we hit some initial traffic in the parking lot but then we went back roads that others didn’t know so we could get to the highway faster.
The 5 miler had 3 water stops and the half marathon had 10 water stops according to their website. Stops had water and Gatorade with a lot of volunteers ready to give you want you needed. I actually didn’t use any of the water stops for the 5 miler. If it were hotter, I probably would have.
I heard that the first Gu stop was around mile 9. This might be too late in the race for me because I typically try to Gu every 45 minutes or so when racing. But thankfully, I carry my own fuel and water for races just to be safe. I never can drink the water from the cups without stopping and my body hates the stopping-I just need to continuously run. The only time I usually grab water from stops is to shower myself in it which I can do while running.
For the most part the course was good. My only critique would be that there weren’t so many turns in the beginning. With the half marathoners and five milers, corners were tough. I found myself having to really slow down. People were jumping onto the grass and sidewalks to try to get out of the pack of people. You didn’t really have any control over your pace in the first mile or two because you were restricted to what the people in front of you were running.
Once the half marathoners and five milers split off, it was much easier. It even felt a little quiet for me on the course because there weren’t as many spectators. The half marathon course is an out-and-back and had more spectators. Some people don’t like out and backs, but I like being able to see other people running on the other side. It makes me feel like there are more people and I can try to see people’s faces rather than their backs. Once I hit the turn around point I know I am more than halfway done! Out-and-backs can sometimes be easier for spectators too because they can run to the other side of the course to see you on your way back.
As for the elevation, there were a few small hills but nothing too major. Once you get up a small hill in the end, the last stretch is a long straight away. I have a love/hate relationship with the long, straight finish. They are great because if they are flat, you can SEE the finish. But it can be bad because if you turn on the “I’ve got some gas left, let me sprint to the finish” too soon, you can get burnt out. I waited until I was about a quarter mile from the finish and then put my boosters on.
See the course map for yourself!
Once you finish the race there are volunteers handing out cups of water, Gatorade and EAS bars. Then there are tables of bagels, bananas, oranges and Cape Cod potato chips. There was plenty of space to stretch after inside and race results were up pretty fast.
I started the race off thinking, “I will use this as my long run for the week” but I quickly remembered why I wouldn’t let myself run the half marathon-I had to push myself.
I ended up running a lot faster than I had expected. My hips are a little sore but no more than they usually are. I foam rolled before and was sure to stretch after.
I’m glad I switched to the five miler. I need race motivation to get me running these days!
DISTANCE OPTIONS. Not all races have distance options. Having both a half marathon and a 5 miler because all levels of runners can have something to aim for.
CITY RUNNING. I always like being able to run through the city without worrying about having to stop for cars. It makes me feel like I own the city.
HYDRATION. The course seemed to have enough water stops. The past two years I ran the race it was really hot, so having enough water is key!
START TIME. At first I didn’t like that the half marathon and 5 miler started at the same time. Then a friend mentioned that in the past they had the race times separate and top finishers would get stuck when they caught up to the race that started before them.
POST-RACE WATER. There were no bottled water or Gatorade at the end of the race-they had the cups handed out right when you enter the post-race area. This is more sustainable than handing out bottled water/Gatorade but where the station was located was really crowded if you wanted to get more. Maybe they could have a second station where everyone was stretching so that it would be easier to grab more to drink.
PACE SIGNS. There wasn’t enough or clear enough signage for pace groups at the start of the race. I know some people don’t really pay attention to the pacing groups, but I always find it helpful. I think that there might have been signs on one side of the street, but maybe having it on both sides would be easier for all to see.
NO RACE WAVES. Since the race is so packed, I wonder if having small waves would be helpful. Once you get past the first few miles, the crowds aren’t too bad but if you are trying to run a PR, you might want to get to the front so you don’t get stuck trying to weave through the crowds.
TURNS. As I had mentioned, the turns acted as a bottleneck for the runners. I think they could have made a few less turns by going a different route.
Questions for you
Are you good with self control during races?
What are some of the top things you look for in a good race?