Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm: Boston - 2011

So I have decided to make the whole Boston experience a two-part process. After all, we were there for 6 days, and want to make the actual Boston Marathon experience a whole other posting. So bear with me.

This was the first time visiting Boston. Greg and I were pretty excited to go there, partly because we have seen very little of the East Coast together, it was an actual weekend, and of course, the big deal towards the end of it. I had gone so far to do research in advance and have a list of things to do and see while we were there. You know, make the best of it.

Now that I think of it, I should revisit that list to see what I had wanted to do, and what we actually did. Let me dig that up....

  • Pick up race gear - DONE!

  • Buy Finisher’s Gear after the race! -DONE!

  • Go to see the Boston Red Sox! - DONE!

  • Visit Harvard University- DONE!

  • Patriot’s Day celebrations - Nope!

  • Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace. (Originally built in 1826 as a meat and green grocery hall, it now contains over 100 shops, caf├ęs and restaurants). - DONE!

  • Go for a great dinner in North End, full of Italian restaurants - DONE & DONE! (two dinners, plus picked up some delicious cannoli at an Italian bakery-twice)

  • RunBoston running tour ( -Nope!

  • Outlet mall- Kittery in New Hampshire (1hr north of Boston, and 1 mile of outlets)- DONE & Nope... we just went down the street to the shopping district and brought financial stability back to the area with the amount of shopping done.

  • Wrentham Premium outlet mall - Nope!

We first arrived in Boston around 7:30 on Thursday night. It had been a very long day of travelling, as we left our house in North Vancouver at 4:20am to be at the airport for 5am. Our first flight to Denver left at 7am. We spent a couple of hours at the Denver airport, where we funnily enough, ran into Greg's best friend's husband along the escalator. Our second flight took us around 4.5 hours to Boston's Logan International Airport. If you visit Boston, take the subway, and be sure to pick up a Charlie Pass, and it's $15 for 7 days. A steal of a travel deal if you ask me.

We booked into the Ames Hotel ( in the financial district just after I successfully registered for Boston. This historic building was redone into this swank hotel about 18 months ago, and we were so impressed by it all. We were upgraded to a Superior deluxe room, on the 12th floor, and it made the inner hotel snob in me, very happy indeed. Greg had made arrangements with the concierge to have a stunning bouquet of pink roses, pink lillies, and tulips greet us in our room, as a way to celebrate the weekend. Nice touch Greg!

We were ravenous by this time, so bobbled our way to Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace, and ate at McCormick & Schmick's for dinner. It was okay, but we decided to take advantage of the seafood options, since lobster is so much cheaper in Boston than Vancouver. Which explains this photo....

We made it back to our hotel around 10 and crashed hard for a good night sleep.

Friday midday, after sleeping for 12 hours each, we decided to get out and explore the tour. However, before we went out, Greg wanted to check in with the concierge to thank Charles for assisting with the flowers and ask about internet for the Canucks games. Much to our surprise, we were advised that a friend had called and made arrangements for a couples massage! Whoa! We have friends?!?! Turns out, it was Greg's boss, Sandra who had done this. Greg had told her some time ago of where we were staying, and she paid attention. (This wasn't the first time Sandra had done this- she had done the same thing to us by buying our dinner for us the night we got engaged when Greg told her what restaurant we were going to). Needless to say, we suddenly became very aware of all our aches and pains, and grateful that we had an hour long massage each to look forward to for Saturday.

First up on the agenda for Friday, was to hit the Boston race expo and pick up my race kit. Seriously, if an adult runner needed an example of Christmas, it was the race, and package pick up was like going to visit Santa on Christmas Eve. I was so excited to be there, and even had the eyes well up a few times, I was so appreciative to be there. The expo is pretty big and the Adidas official merchandise section was already a zoo at 3pm on the first day. I decided to pick up the race jacket (of course), a green short sleeve tech shirt, capris, 2 baseball caps (white and green), and a BAA logo beer glass. It was more than I had intended, but Greg convinced me that I might as well get the wardrobe. What the heck.

We ventured through the expo and had planned to leave. One quick last bathroom break, and then suddenly, we realized that we had only been in part of the expo and there was a whole huge wing more to explore. From a work standpoint, there wasn't a whole lot there that I would call unique or innovative (can you tell that I look for trends and innovative ideas at tradeshows as part my living). From a consumer standpoint, there were all the big brand names with big flashy booths and lots of gear. However, there was a lot of redundancy, and saw over and over again, compression socks, various marathon organizers, nutrition and kitschy stuff. I bought four sports bras, all at 50% off and a cute sun visor to support breast cancer.

After the expo, we went back to the hotel to drop off our stuff, get changed, and then headed to FENWAY PARK to catch a Red Sox game. Greg, my super shopper, had scooped a pair of tickets that ended up being primetime at $50 each. We sat in the front row, right field, literally beside the Toronto Blue Jays' bull pen. We just looked at each other with shock on our faces at what we had scored for these seats, it was incredible. We fully enjoyed the experience, complete with Italian sausage hot dogs, kettle corn and a hot chocolate. The only thing we regretted of the whole experience, was not being prepared enough to handle the cold winds that came whipping through.

Following the game, we went to the first sports bar we saw and sat down to watch the Canucks playoffs game. Much to Greg's angst, as much as he was there to support me for my race, he also didn't want to miss out on the hockey games. So we ate pizza, watched hockey and thawed out. Then back to crash at the Ames hotel.

Saturday morning, and we greeted our two RMT's at 10am for the now much anticipated couples massage. Admittedly, I was quite nervous, as I had been experiencing serious issues with my left periformis. Nothing says confidence when your left glute is chronically throbbing. That was my biggest concern along with a tight left IT band. Seriously, after Boston, I need to unwind! Greg took advantage of having his back worked on. It was a blissfully tortuous hour, but we both felt better for it. Following massage, we ventured to the shopping district down the street from the hotel to scout out our potential shopping areas for Monday. After that, we went back to the race expo to see if there was anything we had missed previously, and then continued on our way. Our intention was that we didn't want to go too crazy, as we didn't want to be on our feet all day. That idea went out the window when we decided to take the train out to Boston College, so we could check out the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Walked long way from the subway to the top of Heartbreak Hill, then realized at the bottom of the hill that we needed to go back up to find the subway. Just making sure we hit our 10,000 steps for the day, no big deal. Finally made it back onto the subway and then headed out for dinner.

I should mention that trying to go out for a good old fashioned pasta load on the Saturday night in Boston before the Boston Marathon is a bit of a stretch. We were recommended by a stranger on the subway to go to the North End, Boston's Italian district, to Antico Forno ( Despite the hour-long wait, it was well worth it. The food was incredible, and it was entertaining to sit beside the waiters station and hear them talk. We stuffed ourselves silly, then headed to Bova's Bakery for cannoli and other various desserts to eat back at the hotel. I felt so full and guilty at the end of the night for the gluttony, but it was worth it.

Sunday morning, after another big sleep in, I went for a short run (to try and work off the dinner) and then we went out to sightsee again. This time, we went along the waterfront so I could see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. However, it didn't happen without controversy and will remain memorable for the fact that a bird crapped on my head. Yeah, that was a lot of fun, but I couldn't stop laughing. What else could I do besides find the closest bathroom to try and clean up.

Despite this wardrobe setback, we made the trip to Cambridge and explore Harvard University. I had never seen what the campus looked like, so I was curious to see what one of the most prestigious schools looked like. It was nice, there were some sections closed to students only, but yes, it was a school. Finished off at Harvard and then back for the pre-race dinner.

The BAA hosts a pre-race dinner at the City Hall, which as it so happens, was literally behind our hotel. It was really well organized, despite the super long line-ups of attendees. The food was good, but my only complaint was that I had to go out and around the building just to find desserts. That part was ridiculous. Otherwise, it was nice to meet a few other runners and share in the excitement of the race.

Following the dinner, back to the hotel to prepare for the race. I had prepared my race gear for the most part before we left Vancouver, but had to get the last minute details together. Greg had the Canucks hockey game to watch on the laptop, and then finally settled in.

Now that I have led up (for a really long post I might add) to the BIG event, which I will do separately, for the sake of keeping my sanity.


  1. Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing

  2. No problem! I figure there are enough people who were like me, researching on the internet of how to make the best of the Boston marathon experience. Besides, it was a hoot! Thanks for reading Kristie!!!

  3. Angela,

    We hope you can join us for a running tour the next time you are in Boston.

    Take care,
    Jared (RunBoston Running Tours)