Navigating Athletes Village
By guest blogger Chandler Tucker, nutrition and dietetics major at Simmons College
In Part I, I shared my marathon morning mistakes. Here’s how the rest of the day unfolded…
After nearly 40 minutes on the bus of quietly regretting my decision to run the marathon, and ruminating over all the bad choices I had made thus far that morning, we finally arrived at the Athletes’ Village. Climbing off the bus, we were immediately greeted by race volunteers checking bags once more and ushering us under the entryway made from balloons. The music was pounding loudly, runners were finding far-away friends, and people were nervously pacing everywhere. For anyone who has competed in any kind of road race, this was far beyond any starting area I had ever experienced. Although it was extremely overwhelming, I was not alone with a massive smile spread across my face. Everyone was exuberating sheer joy, excitement — and many nerves.
Tip #1: Expect long lines
If there is one tip I can pass along to any of you, it is be prepared to wait in line. The Athletes’ Village consists of multiple tents filled with food and water, surrounded on three sides by porta potties, with lines stretching beyond my line of vision. Imagine the line for the women’s bathroom at any major event, and then multiply it by about 30,000. I checked my watch and still had about an hour and a half until race time. Planning strategically (as I had neglected to do earlier in the day), I grabbed 2 bananas, half a bagel, and two water bottles, and headed to the back of the porta-potty line. I was at the front of the line an hour later…
Tip #2. Chat with others
A key to navigating through the Athletes’ Village is to talk with as many people as you can, learn from the experts, and enjoy the process. I met a variety of interesting and inspiring runners, from those who were competing in their 12th Boston Marathon, to those who, like myself, were just wanting to finish the event. People were sharing tips and strategies to survive the long 26.2 miles that lay ahead of us, and where to expect the best fans (Hint: Wellesley scream tunnel and all of Boston College). By this point I was beginning to feel more relaxed, knowing many others were experiencing the same fears as I.
Tip #3. Expect a slow start
Around 11:00am, all runners had been shuttled to the starting line. The distance between the Athletes Village and the actual start-line came as a surprise to me. When the time finally came, the gun sounded for the start of all charity runners, and we were finally on our way! A benefit of being a charity runner is there is little to no possibility of starting off too fast. The first few miles are shoulder to shoulder with the vast amount of people starting at this time, allowing little leeway for large strides.
Slow to the end
From this point forward, the day was mine. Unfortunately, my first marathon did not turn out as expected. About 14 miles into the course, I felt depleted, overheated and underprepared. I walked at nearly every water stop and managed to do what was necessary to get myself to the the finish line. This included plodding at a pace that was barely faster than walking, consuming water or Gatorade whenever necessary, and stopping to stretch at any given time.
I believe I had a such a hard time completing this race due to 1) inadequate intake of fluids and calories, 2) initially pushing ahead at any opening despite my pacing plan, and 3) not sleeping enough in the days leading up to the race. Starting a marathon physically exhausted is a bad idea…