Last summer I spent a weekend in Boston with my family, and during the trip I paid a visit the the Bill Rogers Running Center for the first time. While there, I admired the many Boston Marathon shirts that were for sale, but chose not to buy one since I had not yet qualified for the race. Instead, I bought a shirt that had on the back a quote by Rodgers that said “The marathon can humble you.” Turns out that the choice of shirt was quite appropriate, as my running of the 2011 Boston Marathon last Monday was about as humbling an experience as I have ever had.To start, let me say that the entire weekend was truly amazing. Having lived within a few hours of Boston for much of my life, this was surprisingly my first ever trip to the city on marathon weekend, and it didn’t disappoint. I traveled down from NH on Saturday morning with my family, and we were joined by my parents and sister. I spent the afternoon on Saturday at a meet-up with some of my good friends from dailymile (see photo below), and then headed off to the expo for a few hours. For a gear junkie like me, the expo was like heaven, and I threw down quite a bit of money on race paraphernalia. I chatted for a bit with some folks from Altra and Saucony whom I’ve gotten to know through this blog. I also picked up a pair of the much anticipated Saucony Hattori (cool shoe!), which was available for the first time at the expo (it’s now available for pre-order at Running Warehouse). I’ve now run a few miles in them and they feel like socks with a thin, flat EVA sole.On Sunday I went to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology with my family, and then walked around Harvard Square for a bit (no rest for me, which might have contributed to events that followed the next day…). Headed back to the hotel for a swim and then met my cousin for dinner. By a complete stroke of coincidence my friend Mark Cucuzzella happened to sit down two tables away from us at the hotel restaurant, and it was nice to chat for a bit (he ran a 2:37 on Monday!). Went to bed early and actually got a really good 7-8 hours of sleep on marathon eve.I headed out early on race morning so that I could catch one of the early buses to Hopkinton, and ran into the husband of one of my fellow dailymile Team members (Blaise) – had a nice conversation on the bus ride over. The bus ride was longer than I had expected, and our driver seemed to be in a race of his own as he kept pulling out of the caravan of school buses to pass those that were in front of us. We arrived at the Athlete’s Village with a few hours to spare, and I managed to find my dailymile/Twitter friends hanging out near the backstop of the baseball field. We had some time to kill, and it was great to spend it with such a great group of people (that’s me in the orange jacket in the photo above). It was cold and windy in the village, and runners all over were wrapped in mylar blankets and trash bags in an effort to stay warm.As race time approached, I made a decision to wear arm warmers and gloves to the starting line. In retrospect, this may have been one of the first mistakes of many that I made on the day. I walked to the start with my friends Andy and Steve, and we met up with a few other friends while waiting in a porta-potty line (naturally!).Waiting in the corral (#7 for me) was yet another memorable experience. Standing there, knowing that I had earned the right to be there at that moment through years of hard work, was one of the most satisfying things I have ever felt. There’s nothing quite like waiting for the start of the Boston Marathon – every runner should experience it at least once. It was also cool to be grouped with everyone who had qualified with a similar time to mine, but this also created a challenge. I knew going into the race that a 3:15 was not in the cards – I’d lost too much fitness over the winter due to a combination of lousy weather and an excessively busy life. I’d also put on a good 5-6 pounds since my BQ race. My realistic goal was a 3:30, give or take 10 minutes depending on how I felt. However, when the starting gun went off I found myself sucked into running at the same pace as everyone in my corral – this despite the fact that nearly everyone I had talked to about race strategy warned me not be tricked into going out too fast by the initial downhill grade.