It was an incredible experience overall. The entire town of Boston seems to open up for all the runners. Everyone is very friendly for being overrun by 20,000 runners. The logistics to pull off this event is amazing, from the pre-race pasta feed (includ ing watching the Big Apple Circus and preparing over 20,000 lbs. of pasta to feed approximately 12,000 people) to all the water stops, thousands of volunteers, miles of fencing, hundreds of portapotties, etc. The energy of the town and the whole event is something to experience (even if you don't ru n the race) and something that I will never forget. Kind of makes it hard to pick the next race since this was so cool!
As for the race itself, really an awe-inspiring (and nerve-wracking) event. We caught school buses from the Boston Common at about 8am to ride out to Hopkinton to hang out, eat some food, listen to music (use the portapotties). Once there (at about 9:30) we waited until 11:00 to go get in the starting corrals for the race. This is a long wait to just be sitting around trying not to get nervous. I was in the first corral and was able to watch the elite men athletes come out and get in position in front of us. Overall it was a great day for the race, 50 degrees and overcast....great personal record conditions! When the gun went off, started near the front (I was seeded in the first corral just behind the elite men's runners). For the first few miles I went out really well at a good comfortable pace and just ahead of scheduled split times (I had a pace band specific for the Boston topography that showed how fast you need to run each mile to make a specific time goal, mine was 2:48). The course is lined with people, most of the time on both sides, throughout the entire 26.2 miles. Most of the time, they are clapping, yelling encouragement, high-fiving the runners, offering water or oranges or bananas, etc. It is really hard not to get caught up in the excitement and energy and run too fast. I ran with another runner targeting a goal of 2:48 as well for quite some time and I hit the half mark at 1:22:50, just ahead of projected time for a 2:48. But, the hills are still looming (most the experts will tell you to think of 18 miles as the half way point, not 13).
At about 16 miles, the Newton hills start. They really aren't all that bad, even Heartbreak Hill (80 feet over a mile wasn't bad if you used your arms). At about 19 miles, I passed Team Hoyt (the guy who pushes his paraplegic son) and started up the Heartbreak Hill. As I crested the hills and started on the downhill last five miles (which are not as downhill as advertised), started eeling my left calf starting to get a crampy feeling. At 23 miles, saw a runner right in front of me cramp up hard (grapping leg, hobbling to the side, etc.) so I decided to back off a bit on my pace and save up for the last quarter mile and so I don't get a cramp in my leg. Once I came around the corner onto Boylston St, I could see the finish and started to push hard to get in under 2:50 (2:48 was not quite in the cards), passing about 20 other heroic runners also pushing for the finish. I crossed the finish line in 2:49:40 (a new PR) and felt great (this is by far the best I have felt after my three marathons!).