Boston Marathon Part I: Mistakes and tips from a novice charity runner

Posted on 24-02-2018 , by: Nancy Clark , in , , 0 Comments


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.

Mistake #1.

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.

Mistake #2.

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.

Mistake #3.

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

Leave a comment