Weather can be a game-changer come raceday. Scientists of Nike’s Breaking2 Project determined the “ideal” weather conditions to be around 50F, low humidity, and light winds.
But we all know: those perfect days are hard to come by, especially in New England. And in recent years, it seems as though The Boston Marathon has become the one of the least-predictable marathons to run: 2012 was “the heat wave year,” and runners were allowed to defer their entry…2016 and 2017 featured early summer-like weather, with temps unpredictably rising to around 80F…and, of course my (least) favorite: 2015 – the year of the Nor’easter-like weather.
I’ve met some runners who love running in rain. They claim they thrive off running in the rain. They say things like, “it makes me feel alive!” and “I feel so connected with my run when it’s raining!” …which I think is total bullshit, because let’s be honest: running in the rain sucks. There’s nothing worse than being cold and simultaneously feeling like a wet rat.
Back when the weather for Boston 2015 was predicted to be crappy, I started freaking out very early. And I continued to freak out the entire week preceding the race. I hate to say it, but my shitty attitude really put a damper on my entire race experience that year.
And, by the looks of the weather forecast…Boston 2018 is looking to be a wet one again. But I promise you: it’s going to be ok. If anything: please realize that the low temps are actually a blessing at this time of the year, because unless you live in Florida, NO ONE has had a chance to acclimate to warm weather; a warm Boston Marathon is ten times worse than a rainy Boston Marathon. And for all those people wondering if heat acclimation is a thing: it is. Because science.
So going into this year’s Boston Marathon, I’d like to share a list of things that I learned from running the wettest and coldest marathon of my life, back in 2015 (the year of the Nor’easter-like weather). Because maybe, just maybe, it will give someone a shimmer of hope, and help you realize that Monday is going to be amazing, even though it might rain a little bit.
1. You’re going to get wet but it’s not so bad.
Let me repeat myself:
You’re going to get wet, but it’s not so bad.
Now you say it to yourself. Very slowly. Say it out loud. And really start to believe those words. Because they’re true.
I don’t know why, but I was TERRIFIED of getting wet in 2015. I thought it was going to completely ruin my race. But you know what? It didn’t. It started raining around 8 miles into my race, but it wasn’t a monsoon the entire time. The rain varied throughout my time on the course, and it was truly manageable. Yes my feet were sopping wet and yes my shirt turned into a dress by mile 26. But really, I stayed cool and didn’t overheat.
After running 2 marathons in 80° conditions in 2016, I can testify to the fact that heat sucks WAY more than rain does. So I beg you: welcome the rain on Monday with open arms. It’s so much better than a hot day would’ve been.
2. The rain won’t decrease your chances of a PR (but wind might)
I can’t tell you how many people I know that PRed at Boston 2015. Seriously, it was unreal.
Even myself: I was in mediocre shape and coming off an injury…yet I still managed to run only a few seconds slower than my 3:08 PR from the year prior.
The thing that could really make Monday suck is the wind. I’m not going to sugarcoat that. It might be crappy. But right now it’s only looking to be about 15(ish)mph, and even if that’s a headwind, it’s not the end of the world. Remember, you’ll be running towards the coast, so weather patterns really do change significantly. Let’s stay positive on the wind front (and maybe say a prayer that god will come through with some westerly winds).
3. You’re all in this together
When the heavens opened to the rain at mile 8 back in 2015, there was an eruption from the runners around me saying, “ahh here it is!!!” It was kind of a cool moment, knowing that we were doing this marathon thing together and even if the conditions were less-than-ideal, it was ok. There’s something about the Boston Marathon that really makes you feel connected to the people around you. Like in 2016, when I missed a water stop at mile 17…and the stranger next to me gave me his half-sipped cup of water because he saw I couldn’t get any. The Boston Marathon unites millions people in one little city for a weekend. It’s a pretty magical thing if you really stop and think about it.
4. You don’t ‘need to bundle up like it’s a blizzard
OK so most of you are all like, WTF AM I GOING TO WEAR, and I’m not here to tell you what to wear, but I am here to tell you what I wore back in 2015:
- Long socks
- Arm warmers
- TWO tank tops (core warmth, yo)
- A hat w/ a brim
- Also: I DID start the race w/ a jacket, which I ended up throwing away shortly after the rain started.
I will say with 100% conviction that two tank tops was way too much. I would’ve been fine with 1 tank, shorts, arm warmers, etc. Note that I also was racing the marathon and attempting to PR, not just running at a leisurely pace.
Remember this: you are going to want to stay as dry as possible for as long as possible.
Which leads me to…
5. Bring enough warm clothes (and shoes) for the Athletes’ Village. And something to sit on.
Don’t be shy about layering up with 25¢ Goodwill specials for the bus ride out to Hopkinton. Athletes’ Village WILL have tents and it will be muddy. I might consider wearing a shitty, old pair of shoes and socks out to Hopkinton and then bring your racing shoes and socks to carry to the starting line and change right before you start running and dump the crappy pair. Also bring something to sit on, like an old yoga mat, because you want to be off your feet as much as possible before starting the race. Remember: stay as dry and warm as possible for as long as possible. Keep those muscles moving.
6. Keep nutrition on point, even though you’re cold.
Most of you have trained for Boston through a cold winter, so you’re pretty used to understanding what your body needs – but for some reason, the rain can make us forget to drink as frequently as we should. So be mindful of that and make sure you’re not only getting your calories in, but also your liquids.
7. The crowd will still be there. Because it’s Boston. And it’s amazing.
Someone told me that the crowds would be thinner in 2015 because of the weather, and that really bummed me out leading up to the marathon. My first Boston was 2014, the year after the bombings, and it was probably one of the most inspiring and magical days of my life, and the crowds were out of this world.
So maybe the crowds in 2015 were a little thinner than they were in 2014…but, honestly? I barely noticed. Even through the cold and wet…the people of Boston were all still there to cheer, from Hopkinton all the way to Boyleston Street. So, trust me. There will be plenty of cheerers on Monday to pull you into the city.
8. Wear a visor or hat.
Wearing a hat with a brim was hands down the best decision I made in 2015. Quite simply: a brim will help keep the rain out of your face.
Also: Shalane and Amy wore matching visors when they qualified for the 2016 Olympics at the LA Marathon, so channel their energy and feel like a badass if you decide to go the visor route (I may or may not have purchased a white Nike visor after watching them).
9. You will finish and it will be the coldest moment of your life. In fact, you may even have flashbacks about this freezing moment in the months after the race. And you may end up in a med tent with hypothermia. But it will be worth it.
Once you stop running it will suck. You will be the coldest you’ve ever been in your life. Being in the rain for 3+ hours will soak you to the core. Your lips might turn purple and you might even land yourself in the med tent, which is cool because then you can lie down with blankets before everyone else. Eventually, you’ll waddle your way to The Commons and you’ll be freezing the entire time. You might feel optimistic enough to take a quick photo, but you will probably want to immediately beeline to your hotel to take a piping hot shower (With a beer. Always with a beer.)
But remember to take a second and realize your accomplishment. Thank the volunteers and hug a stranger. Relish in the glorious moment that is the finish line of the Boston Marathon. You might not ever find yourself crossing the finish line ever again – so be thankful that your legs and body were strong and healthy enough to grant you with a marathon finish. This running thing; it’s so easily taken for granted. Just remember that.
10. Everyone, let’s just nut up and do the damn thing!
The only thing you can control at this point is your attitude. Sure, be nervous for the weather…but turn the nervousness into positive stress. Take some dip breaths. The training is done. The taper is done. You’re hopefully packed by now. Whether Mother Nature gives us a monsoon or just a sprinkling on Monday…that’s yet to be determined. But the weekend is (finally) here! We’re all shipping up to Boston. Marathon Monday is upon us – so let’s get ready to celebrate together and kick some serious marathon ass. All in for Boston.