Boston Marathon Blog Part I: Pre-marathon Mistakes
Written by guest blogger Chandler Tucker, a senior nutrition major at Simmons College
When I was a sophomore at Simmons College, the opportunity to run Boston came to me. After applying to over 15 charities, I was called in early January to fill the spot of an injured runner. Running Boston had always been a dream of mine and I was unsure if this chance would ever present itself again, so I lunged at the opportunity, although it sounded very crazy. I was majoring in nutrition and dietetics plus working two jobs. I somehow managed to add in training for the marathon, and raising (I hoped) the required $5,000 charity entry fee.
Just barely completing a 12-week training plan, I was on track for a 4-hour race. I was fortunate enough to have an ultra-marathoner for a professor. She outlined the primary points of proper fueling for this kind of distance. Yet when that early April morning rolled around, it was as if I had never run a day in my life. I felt surprisingly unprepared. I made many rookie mistakes. In this three-part blog series, I want to share those mistakes with you, in hopes I can save you from going down the same path.
It’s not quite 5:30am and I am already showered, dressed, and fed. As I sit patiently on my bed attempting to not awaken anyone, I had nearly 6 hours until the gun would go off for the start of my first Boston Marathon. One of the benefits of being a charity runner is the 11:15am gun time, which allows for a more leisurely morning than that of the elite athletes. But now, two years later, I realize my first mistake of the day was when I jumped out of bed 6 hours —almost an entire work day—prior to start time.
Keeping a familiar routine, I toasted my whole wheat bagel, slathered on some peanut butter and sipped my coffee. Then, with a full stomach, I grabbed my minimal belongings and proceeded to make the 20-minute trek to the Boston Commons, giving myself nearly two hours of leeway for unforeseen public transportation problems.
Understanding that most personal belongings and larger items must be checked in a transparent bag prior to boarding the busses to the Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton, I gathered only my cell phone and complementary 8oz. water bottle, and headed to greet 30,000 of my fellow athletes. Assuming just 8oz of water was all I would need to stay hydrated for the next multiple hours was mistake number two. It was just barely 8a.m. and the temperature was already 68 degrees. I could tell the weather was going to be much warmer than the past three months of winter training.
The time had come for the charity runners to begin boarding the busses that would travel from the Boston Commons to Hopkinton, MA. As I filed my way to the back of the bus, I noticed everyone’s laps were filled with bananas, rice cakes, peanut butter and granola bars. They all had a minimum of two large water bottles at hand, as if it were a requirement for race entry. I took my seat, peered down at my one measly water bottle and otherwise empty hands. Mistake #3! I began to sweat nervously.
Casually chatting with the seasoned Boston marathoner’s all around me, I learned of how long we would have to sit in the Athletes’ Village, how there is a mile-long walk from the Village to the starting line, and although gun time was scheduled for 11:15am, I probably would not cross the line until closer to noon due to the vast amount of people starting. Great.
Nutrition resource for aspiring runners:
Food Guide for Marathoners by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD