the race is 5 races and in my opinion begins at mile 16 with(depending on who you talk to) the 1st of, and again, in my opinion the most difficult of the 4 ‘Newton Hills’.
Part 1 is a total setup. it taunts. it lures you. The pent up energy released after literally being penned in, combined with the two week taper, combined with the crowd, combined with the constant drop in elevation, and the thrill of running in ‘not snow’, and the animated women of Wellesley College have you flying through this early part of the race culminating in a 120 foot drop at about mile 15.5.
You check in with yourself. all systems are go. all indicator lights are green. what’s all this fuss about Boston you wonder to yourself. Then Part 2 begins
Observes two time champ Geoff Smith: “This extended uphill (over Route 128), coming off a downhill, is an example of the reverse muscle usage which beats the hell out of the runner’s legs”.
The hill over 128 N E V E R ends. Anticipation of turning right at the Newton fire station fades. The enthusiastic fans to cheer us up the ‘hills of Newton’ are no where to be found.
It’s one of the biggest letdowns I’ve experienced in any race. Just 4 miles ago I was flying past Wellesley College and the girls were flashing their boobs and now I’m thinking that I want to head to the Newton Wellesley hospital emergency room and nap.
The right at the fire station is a relief leading into the climb at mile 19 and the hills through 21, culminating with the trek up ‘Heartbreak Hill’. The crowds here are manic and if you’re still managing your race, are an asset. the course does throw a little curve at you with another mini climb just past heartbreak.
Part3 begins with the haunted mile http://www.boston.com/sports/marathon/blog/2014/04/avoiding_the_pitfalls_of_the_h.html I didn’t experience this horror but I was also cooked at mile 17, so the demons got cheated. Excitement builds as you turn right on to Chestnut Hill Ave. heading down to Cleveland Circle and, for we Wave4’ers, what ought to be, a well lubricated by 3 p.m., on Patriot’s day, Maryann’s crowd. Managing the T tracks presents a bit of a challenge as much about maintaining focus as it is about not tripping over a train track at this stage in the race. My fondest memory of last year was seeing two GIs who were struggling with their (50# ?) backpacks, walking/jogging the course. They were an inspiration all day but one soldier in particular made me grateful that all I was dragging was my sorry ass at that point.
Part4 begins the mostly level/slightly negative elevation straight on trek from miles 23 to 25 as you approach Kenmore Square. The crowds along this stretch are again like a magnet pulling you along when your will is being questioned and the fuel tank is starting to ping E. Through Kenmore and the change to Comm Ave from Beacon where my and many other’s race ended last year in an indescribable haze.
Part5 will be uncharted territory for me. Right on Hereford and Left on Boyleston is the chorus that’s been playing in my head for over a year now. In subzero weather and slushy treks en route to Reggie Lewis to spin around the 200M track, I guess a couple hundred times over the last 10 weeks or so, that phrase echos in my mind. Those last few hundred yards down the final straightaway may be the most enjoyable and meaningful stretch I’ve ever run.
Alone we are rare. Together we are strong.™