The week before Boston: taper, travel and hotel woes

The week prior to April 20th was a real doozy. Not only did I have to finish off a final paper for my present MA course, but in addition to getting ready to fly to Boston I also had to shore up several details for my current big work project. I’m glad it was a few easy runs as a taper for the race. It’s a little bit anti-climactic, since I’m writing this a couple days after the race, and as such, I know how it went. I’ll cover that in a race report I write shortly after this.

I’m also going to document my travels here, as getting to Boston ended up taking a little longer than expected and rest prior to the race was almost non-existent. The travel day to Boston is all part of the pre-race week, so I’ll include it here. Since my taper is so mundane, you can find the details at the end of this post, below the travel log and hotel woes.

Getting to Boston

We left Friday, April 17th on a Continental Flight at 8am PST to Houston. Yes, I said Houston, Continental’s main hub. While not the most efficient routing from Vancouver to Boston, we redeemed Air Miles and this was the flight that best suited our time frame, particularly given that I wanted to be in Boston at least a couple days ahead of the race. Two hours at the airport, a four and a half hour flight to Houston, a three hour layover and another four hours to Boston, plus at least an hour getting our bags and cabbing it to the hotel added up to about 14 hours of expected travel time.

Leaving on an 8am flight meant getting up at 5am to leave for the airport at 6am. We arrived about 6:20, which was probably a little tight for an international flight. However, while we didn’t have much time between customs and boarding, it all worked out pretty well. Everything was fine until we were about an hour out of Houston. Heavy rain and a coming thunder storm meant we had to circle south to San Antonio and then circle a little more as we were re-routed twice. We finally arrived about an hour late and were the last plane allowed to land as they waited for the storm to pass. Apparently this does happen quickly near the Gulf of Mexico and we ended up delayed about three hours in total.

We were supposed to arrive in Boston at about 10pm last Friday. With the delay, it was more like 1:30am Saturday morning. By the time we got to the hotel, it was 2:30am and checking in and settling meant we fell asleep around 3:30 or 4am. I won’t go into details about our cab ride, but imagine getting a driver who can’t speak English and doesn’t know about the road closures on one of the main downtown thoroughfares for the race. He wasn’t even sure where the street we were going to was located and the ride probably cost us $10 more than it should have by the time he did an extra circle to get us further away from our destination that we had been when we first hit Boylston.

When he first tried to let us off two blocks from our hotel at 2:30 in the morning in a city we’ve never been to, I made him get us closer and refused to get out. We got a bargain because we didn’t pay for that extra few minutes of driving. Good times.

Hotel woes

We are staying at the Charlesmark Hotel, located right at the marathon finish line on Boylston Street – and I mean behind the bleachers right at the finish line. The location and appearance of the rooms on the web were significant selling points.

Getting to sleep at 4am and expecting a solid few hours of shut eye (as perhaps the best night of sleep prior to the race), it was more than a little upsetting to be awakened by a semi truck in the back alley at 7am, as it slammed doors, raised and lowered its hydraulic lift and left its motor running for about 45 minutes, just below our third floor room. I started to drift back asleep sometime after 8am and was awakened another two times by 11am by housekeeping tapping on my door, asking if we wanted our room turned. Yeah, please clean the room before we’re even up when we just checked in at 2:30am.

To the hotel’s credit, when I called management after this, they did credit us $25 on the first night (only 1/8 of a night’s stay, mind you), moved us to the fifth floor and bought us lunch on Saturday. $25 doesn’t go very far for two people in Boston’s Back Bay for a decent meal.

Other issues that have become clearer since we’ve stayed here for a few days …. While there’s a ton of satellite TV listed you can only get less than half the channels and they are not set up for guests to order PPV movies and sports games. There are no phone books in the rooms and the nice leather chair is pretty much useless without a table. Mind you, the room (not including the bathroom) would have to be larger than 9 x 12 to fit a double bed, chair, TV/stereo AND a table.

The spaces look nice but are very cramped. That’s apparently where they put their budget because it certainly wasn’t in soundproofing when they refurbished the building. Anything happening in the hall or in rooms that share a wall are pretty easy to hear. Footsteps in the room above are fairly loud and the joists creak a fair bit. As a light sleeper, I’ve been using earplugs for safety. Beyond looking nice, I will say the wireless internet is nice and fast. If only I had a table for my laptop …

Since Connie did the inaugural BAA 5k on Sunday morning, I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night either. History told me that the night before the marathon would be a sleeping gong show and I wasn’t wrong. All three nights in Boston prior to the race might have netted me 12 hours sleep, total, and that’s being generous I think. As I’ll note in the race report, this lack of sleep was probably significant for the marathon.

Taper training details

No weigh-in this week
Pre-race weekly mileage: 10.68

Tuesday

The first of three short planned runs leading up to Boston. I ended up doing it on the treadmill out of convenience and split it into two 1.55 mile splits with a walking break between. No HR or actual distance data. BCIT’s treadmills are ‘fairly’ accurate, based on how I feel at displayed paces. Wanted to keep it easy for the first half and go harder than anticipated race pace for the second.

Workout: 3.10 miles
Split 1: 1.55 miles @ 11:30 … 7:24 pace, 2:00 walk between
Split 2: 1.55 miles @ 10:40 … 6:52 pace

Wednesday

My second taper run the week before Boston was another planned to be about 5k. Went a little longer until I had a good turnaround point and also didn’t have my Garmin, so no HR, speed and distance data again. This one is measured via gmap-pedometer.com.

Workout: 3.44 miles @ 23:30 … 6:50 pace
Split 1: 1.72 miles @ 12:00 … 6:59 pace
Split 2: 1.72 miles @ 11:30 … 6:41 pace

Saturday

Did a final pre-race run along the river in Boston on the Saturday before the race. Beautiful location and a nice, easy run. Mild weather, to boot. Didn’t use my Garmin here either, so data is courtesy of gmap-pedometer.com.

Workout: 4.14 miles @ 30:07 … 7:15

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